Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Top 10 Movies of 2008

I'm a person who likes to make lists and ranking things. I think that's all the explanation that's necessary here. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am here.

10. Hellboy 2 - The first of two comic book movies on this list. Not as great a film as Del Toro's last film Pan's Labyrinth but every bit as beautiful to look at. A lot of the jokes fall flat but a lot of them work too and the action and cinematography more than make up for sometimes weak dialogue.

9. Religulous - Bill Maher's documentary about religion didn't have much new information for me, in fact he was pretty much preaching to the choir here (which is a totally inappropriate metaphor when discussing this movie but it fits). I agree with virtually everything stated in this movie and Maher actually doesn't come across as a total prick in the film which he almost always does on TV. The movie is a genuinely funny and, in the end, scary look at religion in America today.

8. Burn After Reading - I like almost everything the Coen Brothers have done and this movie is no exception. It's not close to the level of their absolute best films in my opinion (No Country, Lebowski and Raising Arizona) but it is a strong second tier entry. A good comedy with some shocking twists and tons of great actors made for a very enjoyable experience.

7. Wall-E - I'm a fan of Pixar films and this is without a doubt their best film. Maybe it's a little too long but the first half of the movie is near perfect and the satire in the second half is spot on even if it does get a bit tiring by the end. Obviously, it's great looking and I really enjoyed all the physical, non-verbal comedy in the movie.

6. Iron Man - The best superhero movie of the year. Robert Downey Jr. is perfect as Iron Man and the supporting cast is great as well. The story is lightweight to be sure but it's clever enough with lots of good scenes. The action was excellent and Iron Man just looked really cool. I'm a little upset that they fired Terrence Howard for the sequel but I still have very high hopes.

5. Doomsday - The biggest surprise of the year for me. A completely whacked-out, insanely violent science-fiction movie in the vein of the Road Warrior. I was absolutely entertained from the beginning to the end of this movie, I don't know how well it will hold-up to repeat viewings but it's fun to watch a movie like this where I had no clue what is going to happen next.

4. Forgetting Sarah Marshall - It wasn't a very good year for comedies. This was, by far, the funniest movie I saw during the year. Alduous Snow (the British guy) might be my favorite character of the year.

3. The Wrestler - Mickey Rourke rules in this movie. I'm sure he will win the Oscar and he deserves it. The movie is just really well made with great acting and a great script.

2. Transsiberian - A thriller set on the train of the title. It's a classic story that could easily have been a Hitchcock film. It feels like something made in the 60's or 70's, a great script, great actors and an amazing location for a movie. This movie didn't seem to get a lot of attention and I really don't know why. It's a story about a couple travelling by train through Russia that get mixed up with drug smugglers and eventually the Russian police. The movie is very intense and unpredictable but still makes sense. Just really great film making on every level.

1. Funny Games - My favorite movie of the year by a long ways. It's the scariest movie I've ever seen. The acting is great and the concept is even better. The idea is to make the audience second-guess why they watch scary and/or violent films and it definitely worked on me. Your mileage may vary. It's a remake of a German movie by the same director Michael Haneke. He chose to shoot the movie exactly the same shot for shot. The movie was always aimed at American culture and I think works best in English (although I did watch the German version as well).