Movies of the Year 2008
We pick the movies that made 2008 great at the cinema...
The Best Movies of the Year
1. The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins sequel was 2008’s undisputed must-see big screen experience, and if you were fortunate enough to catch it on IMAX you’ll know that no other film this year touched it in terms of breathtaking scale. But Nolan’s achievement was just as much in the film’s thematic depth, probing what it means and costs to be a real hero, while simultaneously presenting, in Heath Ledger’s unforgettable Joker, an unparalleled personification of chaotic terror. [The Dark Knight Review]
No-one would have predicted that the most moving cinematic moment of the year would be an animated interaction between two robots of limited vocabulary, but that’s precisely what Andrew Stanton achieved with WALL-E, arguably Pixar’s greatest film yet. [WALL-E Review]
3. No Country For Old Men
The Coen Brothers refused to play this one simply, presenting an immaculately constructed and faultlessly acted thriller that defied generic conventions by mutating into something much more meditative in its final third. The resulting masterpiece only gets better with repeat viewings. [No Country For Old Men Review]
4. There Will Be Blood
Daniel Day-Lewis deserved all the accolades for his stunning portrayal of soulless oilman Daniel Plainview, but the film is also a testament to director Paul Thomas Anderson’s evolution, marking him out as a filmmaker of peerless vision.
5. Waltz With Bashir
More animation but, unlike WALL-E, Ari Folman’s investigation of his troubled memories of war could only find darkness in the soul of man. With rotoscoped animation, Folman found the perfect way to represent the gap between recollection and reality, creating unforgettable images in the process. [Waltz With Bashir Review]
This beautifully observed comedy not only gave young actress Ellen Page a worthy showcase for her enviable talents, but also introduced us to Diablo Cody, one of Hollywood’s most exciting new screenwriters. Expect them both to burn bright in 2009. [Juno Article]
7. Son of Rambow
Much more than a fond nostalgia trip, Garth Jennings’ hilarious venture into his own childhood memories was the year’s best kids’ movie that’s really for adults. [Son Of Rambow Review]
8. In Bruges
Colin Farrell brought the funny, Brendan Gleeson the weight of the world. Together with debut writer/director Martin McDonagh they made two talky hitmen oddly endearing, in one of the year’s most unique, and blackly funny, films. [In Bruges Review]
9. The Visitor
In which eternal support player Richard Jenkins got a lead role worthy of his ample talents, and Todd ‘The Station Agent’ McCarthy proved again that for warm, insightful character drama he can’t be beaten.The Visitor Review
10. Man On Wire
Tightrope-walker Philippe Petit is a fascinating enough subject in himself for a film; the fact that he also pulled off one of the most incredible stunts in history made James Marsh’s transcendent documentary truly unmissable. [Man On Wire]
And the Worst…
We’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight some of the year’s biggest turkeys. 2008 saw Disaster Movie taking the alleged spoof genre to a jaw-dropping, barrel-scraping low, while M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening was bland and stupid; unbelievable from the man who made The Sixth Sense. Talking of great directors brought low, Cassandra’s Dream was Woody Allen’s worst for a long time, poorly written, acted, directed and edited. The long-awaited Sex and the City movie provoked one of our editors to cry tears of boredom, and The Bucket List continued Rob Reiner’s run of stone cold turkeys, dragging Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman down with him. And as the year draws to an end, Max Payne is flying the flag for video game adaptations that suck. In fact, its star Mark Wahlberg is also the lead in the aforementioned Happening, making him our honorary wooden spoon winner of 2008. Oh Mark, was it really only 2 years ago that you were Oscar-nominated for The Departed?
To the Future!
So that wraps up 2008, and now we look ahead to what is already shaping up to be a fantastic year. Trust us, we’ve seen Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler, both of which are out in early January, and both of which will be guaranteed contenders when it comes to making this list again in 12 months time. See you on the other side…
Written by Paul Gallagher
Friday, 12 December 2008