The Best and Worst of 2008
I have to admit it – I love lists. I love writing them. I love reading them. I love both agreeing with and disagreeing with them. I love it when someone turns me onto something special that I wouldn’t have discovered on my own.
One of the most common questions people ask me is “what is the best film you’ve ever seen?” This time of year, however, that question is reworded to “what is the best film you have seen this year?” So without further ado, I’d like to share with you the films of 2008 that I feel you need to see or stay far away from.
The Best of 2008
1) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Brad Pitt is a man that is born old and grows young, while the love of his life, Cate Blanchett, ages normally. Not just a beautiful love story, this epic is more Forest Gump than wacky sci-fi. Every minute of this film had my eyes and ears glued to the screen.
2) Slumdog Millionaire. When a young man from the slums of Mumbai makes it to the final round of the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, he must prove to the police that his win has been legit. Director Danny Boyle has a very strong chance of taking home the Oscar this year for this brilliant picture.
3) Wall-E. Centuries after humans have left Earth, a clean-up robot named Wall-E goes on a wild adventure that just might save human-kind. Pixar has been very consistent at bringing us creative and thought-provoking films throughout the years and Wall-E could be the first animated film since Beauty and the Beast to get a Best Picture nod.
4) In Bruges. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are two hitmen that are forced to lay low in Bruges, Belgium after they badly botch a hit. With terrific performances by all, and a very clever script, In Bruges serves up a wonderful comedy as well as a dramatic thriller.
5) The Visitor. Richard Jenkins leads this very gentle story of a man trying to move forward with his life after his beloved wife dies. When he visits his New York apartment that he hasn’t seen in a while, he discovers a foreign couple that has been duped into thinking they were living there legitimately. Rather than booting them to the curb, he bonds with them and tries to help them survive both the city and America.
6) Mongol. This film about the early years of Ghengis Khan is as big as Braveheart and almost as good. This movie left me salivating for part two, The Great Khan, coming in 2010.
7) Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I absolutely loved this sweet but naughty comedy about an average guy that tries to forget about his movie-star ex-girlfriend leaving him by vacationing in Hawaii, only to find that she is staying at the same resort. Between this, Step Brothers, and Pineapple Express, the Apatow gang has proven that it is still on the cutting edge of comedy.
8) Hellboy ll: The Golden Army. It’s been a good year for super hero films, but when it comes to originality, writing, visual effects, and action, Hellboy 2 runs circles around Dark Knight, Iron Man, and The Hulk. This is the kind of movie that Blu-ray was made for.
9) The Wrestler. Mickey Rourke is a down-and-out professional wrestler who is desperately trying to hang on to glory. With a performance this good, it’s hard not to imagine Rourke’s upcoming emotional Oscar speach. After all, the film mimics his own life closer than he would want to admit.
10) Let the Right One In. Forget about Twilight, the best teenage vampire film this year was this Swedish import about a young boy who discovers that the girl next door is a vampire. Both ultra-violent and super-scary, this little genre pic offers up one of the most disturbingly beautiful climactic sequences in recent memory.
Honarable mention: Frost/Nixon, Bolt, Rachel Getting Married, Tell No One, Burn After Reading, Milk, The Reader, Man on Wire, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The Worst of 2008
1) Mamma Mia! Horrendous singing, bad storytelling, and hideous acting abound in this putrid Abba musical. I can’t imagine a worse night at the movies.
2) X Files: I Want to Believe. This was almost a dare to X-Files fans to hate their movie. And they did. It is hard to believe that this joke of a film could ever receive a green light.
3) The Happening. M. Night Shyamalan bombed with his film about the revenge of Earth’s plants. Note to Hollywood – would someone please stop giving this guy money???
4) Street Kings. We’ve come to expect Keanu Reeves to give us bad films, but Forest Whitaker’s need for a paycheck clouded his judgement on this crooked cop caper.
5) What Happens in Vegas. I know that there are some good romantic comedies floating around out there just begging to get made, but Hollywood keeps churning out crap like this. With the lack of good rom coms this year, folks had to turn to other genres for their date nights. While chick flicks aren’t dead yet – they sure were hurting in 2008.