The best movies of 2008

The best movies of 2008

(Updated to include The Wrestler and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) – Continuing my Best of 2008 series, we have the Best Movies of 2008.  It was a really good year for movies this year with some of my favourites not even truly being 2008 films.  Gone Baby Gone, Juno, and No Country for Old Men all technically were released in 2007 even though we didn’t see them here in London until 2008.

In the end though there can only be one absolute favourite, and for me this year it was pretty much a no-brianer.  The film was a tour de force, worked on several differnt levels, and totally brought a genre forward.  It was…

The Dark Knight
Everything from the costume changes through the performances by the actors was evolutionary, and while I think I still like Batman Begins better overall as a film, The Dark Knight holds up on repeat viewings as well.  Heath Ledger’s performance was subtle and nuanced and yet still over the top.  The multiple choice retellings of how he got his scar were awesome and yet chilling.  There was even a moment in the flick where I really believed they had killed Commissioner Gordon!

For a movie that doesn’t have any significant dialogue in it for about the first hour, the fact that this flick can enthrall both children and adults is proof that the Pixar magic formula works.  I’m a little worried about their next film Up, but right now Pixar can do no wrong (and their mojo seems to be rubbing off on Disney who produced Bolt this year which was an Incredibles level CGI action flick).

Slumdog Millionairre
Tony Boyle does for fast Indians what he did for fast Zombies and fast Scotsmen.  Shows us the one shining example of the best of humanity in the middle of the absolute worst of humanity.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
You can read my full review, but suffice it to say that it’s in my top 10 of 2008.

The Wrestler
There has never been a serious story told about wrestling, and my time as a so-called “wrestling journalist” proved to me that there’s not a whole ton of happily retired 80’s wrestlers.  I met guys like Typhoon, Ike Shaw and Waldo Von Eric, who were not having the best of time in their post-grappling career.  This movie shows that side, and I think I’ll probably write something longer form about it when I have a little more time to digest it.

Burn After Reading
I just love the Cohen brothers.  This seemed like the perfect antidote to No Country for Old Men, and to me felt like them cleansing their palatte after that somber experience.  Even though it was ridiculously dark, it was a blast to watch, and my favouirte line is the final line in the film by JK Simmons which pretty much sums up what everyone in the theatre was thinking.  What did we learn from this?  Absolutely nothing…but damn it was a fun ride.

A good old fashioned monster movie.  Ryan and I had to watch this one front row centre, which kind of sucked (we couldn’t believe that there was a time where we actually fought for those seats), and gave you a dizzying sense of vertigo.  The story was good, and the hook of shooting it all handycam style was brilliant.

In Bruges
Equal parts profane and profound, this was one of the best Brit-Gangster movies I saw last year (though I finally got around to watching Layer Cake last year which was also brilliant).  Colin Farrell was absolutely great…and the midget with visions of a race war may have been the most hilarious character in recent movies.

Iron Man
Wow.  I expected a lot out of this movie, and not only did it deliver, but it exceeded expectations!  This is one of those great movies that leaves you begging for more, the final moments where Tony announces “I am Iron Man” totally set up a sequel.  The great coda with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury pretty much induced a collective nerdgasm in every comic book fanboy out there.

I’ve tried to watch Nightwatch and Daywatch a couple of times now but never really got into them, however Wanted was kinetic and just enough of a twist from the comic to keep it fresh without losing the spirit of what made the comics great.  If anything this is a case of the movie being better than the comic as the comic is pretty mean spirited.

Biggest Disappointments:

The Quantum of Solace
I remember when they first made this movie and called it “The Bourne Identity”.  I love James Bond movies for the beautiful people, beatiful clothes, beautiful cars, beautiful locales…and the spectacular action scenes which are centered around all of the above.  Casino Royale was great.  Quantum of Solace was okay.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Ugh.  George Lucas continues to rape my childhood.  The last thing we needed was a 90 year old Harrison Ford trying to relive old glories.  Actually, the last thing we needed was a ton of CGI gimmickry.

The Golden Compass
So much potential, and it just rang so hollow.  The only good part of the movie was the Polar Bear battle.

Hellboy II The Golden Army
I love the comic books, but for some reason the movies are lacking a little bit of something that makes the comics special.  It’s almost like they’re missing a soul.

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
I can’t believe that we sat through this POS.  It was so horrible that not even the popcorn could save it.

Still unwatched this year:

  • Australia
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Happy Go Lucky
  • In the Valley of Elah
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • RocknRolla
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles
  • W
  • The Wackness