Although the end of the year is coming, along with all of its attendant and obligatory “Top 10″ lists, I thought this year I’d try something different . While 2008 was a year of great films, I wanted to pause and reflect on some of my favorite quotes of the year. Some pretty great actors said some powerful stuff this year. Taken together, these quotes capture some of the memorable moments, and give a taste of the zeitgeist of 2008. Before we begin, you should know:
MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ALL THE FILMS MENTIONED BELOW. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED…
Actor: Morgan Freeman
Quote: “Shoot THIS Motherfucker!”
Why: Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted is not a good film. It’s a crap script covered with pure cheese, topped with escapism and a small dose of visually arresting action, the type of midnight cinematic treat that might taste good going down, but that leaves you with the feeling you’re going to wake up with a mess in your bed (and if you’re lucky, the toilet) when you wake up in the morning.
In the midst of all the chaos, there’s Morgan Freeman, whose appearance in this film is as bizarre as it is necessary for giving the film just enough credibility so as to prevent you from laughing throughout the proceedings. Like many actors approaching or experiencing their golden years (see: Alec Baldwin), Freeman seems to be cutting loose and just having fun at this stage of his life. This is nowhere more obvious than in this monologue at the end, where Freeman finally loses it and tells the society of weavers to end James McAvoy’s life. A departure from the normally calm, austere, father-figure that Freeman usually embodies, this F-bomb is pure awesomeness.
4. Iron Man
Actor: Jeff Bridges:
Quote: “Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave! With a box of scraps!”
Why: In a year filled with angsty, self-loathing, and tortured superheroes, Iron Man showed us that a superhero film which didn’t take itself too seriously could be an absolute blast. Iron Man’s style is best encapsulated by this quote by Jeff Bridges. Trying to master the outlandishly implausible arc reactor technology, Bridges loses it at one of his underling scientists. The resulting quote leave us asking, “Yeah, how the hell DID he build that in a cave anyway?” before we realize that we don’t really care. This quote is self-reflection at its finest.
Actor: Ben Burtt/Elissa Knight (plus computer enhancement)
Why: Some people might not remember that the first 20-30 minutes of Wall-E had virtually no dialogue whatsoever. Pixar took a chance on its animation, betting that it could create characters and animations that could successfully anthropromorphize robots, and I’d say it unquestionably succeeded. They were able to make you believe that these machines had emotions.
But while the animation deserves a lot of credit, the voicework is also phenomenal. This exchange between Wall-E and Eve (their first “conversation”) has Wall-E uttering his name in a timeless combination of human voice and computer enhancement. This single quote was so powerful, so adorable, that, coupled with Wall-E’s appearance, it moved at least one girl to tears (click here to see the video and click here for the awesome story behind it).
2. The Dark Knight
Actor: Heath Ledger
Quote: “Why so serious?”
Why: While The Dark Knight was filled with lines that are certain to be repeated ad nauseam by college students and high schoolers for years to come (“Wanna see a magic trick?” “Let’s put a smile on that face.” etc. etc. However you cut it, the Joker was this year’s Borat), I thought Joker’s chilling “Why so serious” rose above the pack. Joker’s bizarre backstory was imbued meaning as it changed, Rashomon-like, throughout the film. In the end, he remains as inscrutable as he is completely and utterly destructive. And as Gotham falls apart around him and corpses fall to the ground, it’s almost as though Joker’s asking us the whole time, “Why so serious?” (You can hear us review The Dark Knight with writer/director Kevin Smith by clicking here.)
1. The Wrestler
Actor: Mickey Rourke
Quote: “I’m an old broken down piece of meat.”
Why: In David Ansen’s wonderful review of Darren Aronofsky’s tremendous film, The Wrestler, Ansen writes the following: “[This film] was a kind of harmonic convergence of player and part that happens once in a blue moon—the actor vanishing so completely inside a role that our sense of his ‘real’ identity is permanently altered.” Indeed, Rourke’s career and personal life have mirrored the tragedy of wrestler Randy Robinson’s story arc. Between his bad career choices and the near-horrific plastic surgery that left his face straining to display emotion, Rourke had used up virtually all of his good will with the moviegoing public.
But in The Wrestler, Rourke takes control of his public image and of his latent acting talent. When Rourke breaks down in front of his daughter and confesses his sins, on some level he’s confessing to the audience as well. And as the tears flow down his face, we are left with the simple conclusion there is still some redemption in the world left for Mickey Rourke. In fact, there’s probably no other lead actor that could have made The Wrestler one of the best films of the year.
Discuss: What were your favorite quotes of 2008?
David Chen can be reached at davechensemail(AT)gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.