Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Best Movies Of 2008

1. Wall-E: Easily, without question and hands down the best film of 2008. The movie is a brilliant mixture of humor, emotion and message. Never before have I seen a character so engaging, likable and emotionally investable without ever really saying a word (other than Eve a couple of times). It is the #1 critically rated film of the year for good reason.

2. The Dark Knight: Sometimes you just have give it up for the leader. And this one dominated the box office for the best of reasons: outstanding technical elements, a story that thrills and provokes and a crackerjack cast led by the cackling Joker of the late, great Heath Ledger. If only every blockbuster were this good.

3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: The special effects alone make you stare in wonder, as Brad Pitt seamlessly transforms from senior to newborn. But there's also grand fable and epic inspiration in this life lived backwards, with David Fincher's skilful direction pulling it all together.

4. Kung Fu Panda One of two fantastic animated films in the first half of 2008. The great thing about both animated features this year is that neither one of them relies on silly pop culture references and actually have a fun story to tell. So many animated films today think name dropping pop culture icons and mimicking them is an easy out for a source of comedy, but, as Shrek has proven, it’s an old tactic that many audiences are wise to.

5. Cloverfield I Loved it.... So what? I don't care what many critics said about it — I loved this movie!

6.Ping Pong Playa Easily the funniest movie of the last two years. It eventually hit theaters earlier this year, but barely anyone knew it even existed. It was sad to see it go unnoticed because not only does its lead actor, Jimmy Tsai, and its director, Jessica Yu, deserve plenty of praise for their skills, but it is literally one of the funniest movies I've ever seen.

7. Tropic Thunder I certainly was skeptical when I heard that Ben Stiller was directing himself and Jack Black in a war comedy, and then there was that whole business of Robert Downey Jr. in black face, which got a lot of "what the ?!?!" reactions. Amazingly, this works, not really as a spoof of war films as much as a war film gone horribly wrong, and it's already up there as one of my favorite comedies. The opening war sequence is really impressive, but when it gets into the relationship between a group of actors stranded in a South-Asian jungle filled with armed drugdealers and the behind-the-scenes of making such a film, that's where the movie delivers the best laughs of the year. Robert Downey Jr. as Australian method actor Kirk Lazarus playing a black soldier was particularly genius--well worthy of what looks to be another Oscar nomination in the fallen actor's comeback year--but it was the work of the ensemble as a whole that made the movie so funny.

8. HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY One of the best action movie of the year didn't make the most money at the box office or even come inside the top ten. What it did do is bring Guillermo del Toro's artistry of Pan's Labyrinth to a superhero template and went far beyond where most action films dare to tread. He ended a set piece on a sad and contemplative note with the defeat of the Forest Elemental. He took us to a world unlike any we'd seen before with the Troll Market. He contemplated the conflict between the fantastical and the mundane and where a demon, sent to destroy us all and instead working as our protector, finds a new destiny. GdT did all of this and more with "Hellboy II" and while I respect "Hulk" and "Iron Man", Big Red easily bests them both.

9. Iron Man I think the first half of Iron Man is utterly fantastic, this film suffers from major final act problems that are too many to mention here. Simply put, turning what could have been a kick ass war on terrorism into a monster movie wasn’t what the first hour was building toward.

10. Hulk I believe this may be the first time ever that I actually enjoyed watching an all out CGI vs. CGI monster mash battle. The climax in The Incredible Hulk was a fun and extremely loud brawl that gave me plenty of enjoyment.

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