Break out the sandwich bread and pass some more gravy down to this end of the table — nothing at Thanksgiving beats a plateful of seconds.
With that in mind we're listing our favorite cinematic seconds, if you will — Hollywood trends that we're most thankful for and wouldn't mind seeing more of in 2008.
Everything Old Is New Again
Who could've guessed that the two biggest leaps forward in cinema would come from tales we've been telling for centuries? First, Zack Snyder's "300" told a hyperstylized tale of the Battle of Thermopylae, taking in big bucks with a movie made on a near-empty soundstage. Then Robert Zemeckis launched his own attack with "Beowulf," the most advanced motion-capture film yet, which not only brought animation closer than ever to photo-realism (hello, Angelina!), but did it employing such acronyms as CGI, IMAX and 3-D. If this keeps up, look for George Lucas' "Adam & Eve: The Adventure Begins" to hit theaters sometime around summer 2009.
The Return Of The King
After 30 years in the business, horror maestro Stephen King is listed by "Guinness World Records" as having more movie adaptations made from his work than any other living author. Too bad for him (and us) that quantity hasn't always equaled quality. Think all work and no play are what make Jack a dull boy? Try watching "Dreamcatcher." This year, however, brought not one, but two masterful adaptations of King's work. First came "1408" with John Cusack as a cynical writer in a haunted hotel room. It's not just the highest-grossing horror film of the year, it's King's highest-rated horror adaptation since "Misery." Next up is "The Mist," written and directed by longtime King collaborator Frank Darabont. The quality flicks signal that, for the first time in a long time, it's good to be the King.
The Rise Of The Schlub
The biggest movie stars of the year were Tobey Maguire, Matt Damon and ... Seth Rogen? And guess which one of them actually got the girl? Look, we all know it's important to work out, stay in, grow up and settle down, but really, is that any kind of way to have fun? Not according to the code of the schlub, and its cinematic patron, St. Judd of Apatow. This year the writer/producer already gave us two movies about messy-looking guys who get the girl and win the day — "Knocked Up" and "Superbad" — and he's going for a third on December 21 with "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story." It's enough to make us leave our shirts untucked for one more year.
Bad Things Happening In Threes
Yeah, we sat through a lot of bad threequels this year, but look at it this way: The worst is probably behind us. "Resident Evil," "Rush Hour" and Danny Ocean's gang all seem to be finished at this point, and such quickly stalling franchises as "Spider-Man" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" seem unlikely to return without some major retooling. Unfortunately, the one threequel that still showed signs of life — "The Bourne Ultimatum" — also seemed to mark the end of its franchise.
Put Them In The Iron Maiden
Decapitations, castrations, cremations ... oh my! With deepest apologies to our good friends Tobin Bell and Eli Roth, 2007 mercifully signaled the beginning of the end for a genre of films known by detractors as "torture porn," and known to me as "the movies that make me sick to my stomach." Movies like "Captivity," which made a grand total of less than $3 million despite starring Elisha Cuthbert. Or Roth's "Hostel: Part II," which clocked in at $17 million despite starring a severed scrotum. And while the granddaddy of them all proved an exception to the rule, "Saw IV" still managed to make substantially less than the series' previous three installments. May devotees to the genre be waterboarded in their own river of tears.
Some two decades after theatergoers left him for dead, we're thankful for the return of Jason Bateman. The "Arrested Development" star began 2007 with a tiny but unforgettable turn as an action-loving attorney in "Smokin' Aces," then single-handedly helped audiences endure a tour of duty with "The Kingdom," a gig he landed thanks to "Aces" pal Peter Berg. He'll close out the year by teaming again with co-star Jennifer Garner in "Juno," which many are already calling the best film of the year. Sure, that awful Zach Braff flick showed that nobody's perfect (Was it "Fast Track"? "The Ex"? Did anybody care?), but Jason's drier-than-thou delivery and super-powered smirk has us hoping for "Teen Wolf 3."
The Year Of The Cameo
The one-scene drive-by is a cinematic tradition as old as Ernest Borgnine, and 2007 gave us some memorable ones. From the Rock's explosive performance in "Reno 911! Miami" to Tom Hanks sending himself up in "The Simpsons Movie," often the cameos were the best part of their films. "Walk Hard" is giving us everyone from Jack Black to Jack White with Ghostface Killah stuck in the middle, while "Pirates" finally confirmed that Keith Richards was Johnny Depp's dear ol' dad. Stan Lee got his best Marvel-movie line yet in "Spider-Man 3," "Blades of Glory" gave us enough star skaters to fill an Olympic ceremony, Kevin Smith rocked "Live Free or Die Hard" and "Knocked Up" featured memorable moments from the likes of James Franco, Steve Carell and even Ryan Seacrest.
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