The Best Movies of 2008 - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

The Best Movies of 2008

"The Dark Knight" proves how great a comic book movie can be. "The Dark Knight" proves how great a comic book movie can be.

12/30/2008

There were 573 films released this year. Trying to pare down that list to one's top ten, if you're a film critic, can be difficult. I have a very selective taste when it comes to movies, but at the end of the year, I always find a surfeit of films from which to choose the 10 best.

I spent many weekends in the theater, seeing as much as I could, to provide as best a relation as possible to say these films are:

The Best Movies of 2008

  1. THE DARK KNIGHT - This film proves how great a comic book movie can be. Not by relying on special effects, in terms of computer-generated imagery that makes the movie seem less real, this movie gives us a great crime story with compelling characters that grab hold of you and take you on a ride that doesn't ease up and has you on edge till the very end.
  2. THE WRESTLER - There aren't that many sports films that are made, probably because they've all been done before. Most that have been made lately have been very formulaic. While this feels like a kind of Rocky Balboa, it's so much more than, and it is, thanks to the phenomenal performance by Mickey Rourke.
  3. REVOLUTIONARY ROAD - This reunion between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet since their blockbuster pairing in Titantic, takes them into suburbia to battle emptiness and hopelessness. Yet, the two together electrify the screen.
  4. THE FALL - The film is second only to Baraka in the scope of its production, having been filmed on location in 18 countries. It may not have been shot on stunning 70 mm film, but the breadth and beauty of this movie is beyond compare. It's simply a man telling a little girl a story, yet it becomes the best treat for the eyes ever.
  5. CHOP SHOP - Filmmaker Ramin Bahrani creates what could almost be considered a documentary in his gritty, realistic story. He went to the Iron Triangle in Queens, New York, and was so stunned by what he saw he had to come back with cameras and actors. He captures lightning in a bottle.
  6. WENDY AND LUCY - It's not Marley & Me, but it's the best story you'll see about a woman and her dog. It won't be the happiest or funniest, but in my book, heartbreak has never been so good. Michelle Williams gives the performance of her career.
  7. VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA - All I have to say is Woody Allen is in top form. This is a breezy, sexy comedy that was so fun to watch.
  8. SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK - Charlie Kaufman is a strange writer, and in this, his first film, he proves he's also a strange director. This is by far the most confusing film of the year, but with Philip Seymour Hoffman as an anchor, we somehow don't get completely lost at sea. Plus, the fact, it's funny.
  9. CHANGELING - Clint Eastwood directs Angelina Jolie in this chilling and very curious crime, set in the 1920s. A woman's son goes missing and the police find him. The only problem is the boy returned is not her son. What unravels is an amazing testimonial of police corruption and evil. Yet, it becomes an inspirational drama, done so brilliantly by Eastwood.
  10. THE VISITOR - Richard Jenkins gives an Oscar-worthy performance, as an elderly, white, conservative man who's life is interrupted by two young Muslim, illegal immigrants. Not only is it an awakening but also it is a wonderful story of friendship.

The Best Documentaries of 2008...

  1. STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE
  2. BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER*
  3. ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD
  4. TROUBLE THE WATER
  5. RELIGULOUS

The Best Animation of 2008...

  1. WALL*E
  2. WALTZ WITH BASHIR
  3. FEAR(S) OF THE DARK
  4. BOLT
  5. VEXILLE

Honorable Mentions...

  • CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
  • THE READER
  • NOAH'S ARC: JUMPING THE BROOM
  • THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE
  • BALLAST
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