Top 15 Best Films of 2008

Once again, as with my Top 25 Best Performances of 2008, I just couldn’t bring myself to only make a top ten, because there were a few movies this year that wouldn’t make my top ten, but in my opinion certainly deserved to be mentioned, so I made a top 15. This was a great year for films even if it didn’t start to shine until the summer. It was a tough year from a critic’s stand point, mainly because it gets very hard to make a list like this at the end of the year. It was fortunately a great year for anyone who’s a fan of films. Well here’s my list, I hope you enjoy it.

15. Appaloosa

It was very nice to see another good western to come out this year. I love this genre and I hope it never ends. This one in particular had a plot that was both simple and developed very well. The acting was great and two of the performances made it onto my top 25 performances of the year. I loved all the the performances, but Viggo’s and Irons’ performances were especially good. If you enjoy the genre you won’t want to miss this one.

14. Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading was a great movie, but it isn’t getting the credit it deserves mostly because its not really being understood. Well I enjoyed every character, every line, and every second of what is now in my mind a classic Coen Brothers movie. Extra props goes out to Brad Pitt for playing a limited role to pure perfection. I laughed out loud every time he came on screen.

13. Milk

Milk was a great movie, but I do believe it is getting way too much credit because there were many movies that came out this year that were much better. Either way, Milk was well made and incredibly acted by all especially Josh Brolin and Sean Penn. Its a tale that needed to be told and it couldn’t have been told mush better or with a better cast then this. 

12. In Bruges

In Bruges was rather surprising finding almost a perfect middle ground between comedy and drama. It was able to be very dramatic and even sad at times, while being absolutely hilarious at others, Ralph Fiennes was amazing and I had no complaints with any of the other actors. I just saw this movie for the first time on DVD and I only wish I would’ve been able to catch it in the theater. I probably would’ve liked it even more.

11. RockNRolla

Another great Guy Ritchie movie with great characters, dialogue and writing. There was a bit more story to this one instead of just a fast-paced shoot em’ up, which was a very nice surprise. I can’t wait till Guy Ritchie’s next project. People say that Guy Ritchie just directs the same movie over and over. I don’t agree, I think Ritchie has just established his own movie genre for himself. Others have tried to copy and done great like In Bruges or Layer Cake, while others have failed like Smokin Aces, but nonetheless, this is Ritchie’s territory and he owns it. 

10. Quantum of Solace

I enjoyed Quantum of Solace much more than people are saying. Sure it wasn’t as good as the first, but it was still a great movie. There were some small details that should’ve been fixed and a certain line that needed to be said. All that aside, Quantum of Solace was an intelligently crafted and well-acted action thriller that deserves a place in memory. I for one can’t wait for the next. 

9. Gran Torino

Gran Torino was a highly entertaining movie due mainly to Clint Eastwood and the wonderful dialogue and transformation he exuberates. Gran Torino is a wonderful drama that teaches us morals of race and the ability to change, while being completely entertaining the whole way through. The suppoting acting wasn’t that great sure, but Clint Eastwood sure makes up for it.

8. Body of Lies

This is very sadly, a highly over looked movie. I was very excited for it and saw it in the first weekend. It was incredible, it told a very good story with a great cast and had some really great action sequences to boot. I didn’t understand why not many people were seeing it and why it wasn’t getting very good grades, but either way, I loved the movie and can’t wait for another viewing. If you get the chance, check out this movie. Its a very entertaining watch.

7. W.

W. was a fantastic movie from start to finish. Some might disagree with me putting this movie so high (his name may start with an L and end with an ANCE), but I loved this movie. It was not what I was expecting, in a good way though. I was expecting a very well-made comedy with Oliver Stone at the helm, that would just bash on Bush. What I got was a drama with a bit of comedy thrown in. I actually liked Bush better after seeing the movie. The movie tells his story and allows you to draw your own opinions, I felt empathy for the guy. The movie was also great because of the performances of Josh Brolin and Richard Dreyfuss. They made a perfect team. The direction made what could’ve been very boring into very entertaining and what else can be expected of Oliver Stone.

6. The Wrestler

The Wrestler was movie I just recently saw and I’m so glad I did. It was such a good movie and its just really hard to describe why without giving away much other than saying that Mickey Rourke was spectacular in a role that won’t soon be forgot. The Wrestler was also probably the saddest movie I’ve seen, ever. The fact that it made me feel sad tells me that they did exactly what they set out to do. The Wrestler is a must-see this year not only for Rourke’s performance, but also the incredible story of someone whose not so incredible any more.

5. WALL-E

WALL-E is a fantastic movie. It is visually a spectacle to watch and yes it is an animated movie, but nonetheless it deserves to be this high like any other movie. It is able to have many criticisms on society, while telling a wonderful tale of how love concurs all. Each character and scene is more beautiful and creative than the last. It makes you feel every emotion and is able to keep you enthralled with the story even with the limited dialogue it has. 

4. Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire is an incredible movie and it tells a story of love that we’ve all heard or seen before, but it tells it in a way that is so different and original. Slumdog Millionaire is being called by most, the best films of the year and yes it is up there, it is one of the best, but is it the best? No I don’t believe so, obviously, as you can see, I enjoyed three other movies more than this one, but I do not think this is the best. I will be disappointed if it wins the oscar for best picture, but I will not be angry because it still is a great movie.

3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is an epic in all shapes and forms. It tells one of the most beautiful tales I’ve ever seen of love and life. It is acted and directed to perfection. The movie is so astoundingly beautiful and it shows such original thoughts and morals. There’s a whole strew of well-crafted characters and scenes and through the whole movie, not once did the length bother me. It felt almost short because it was telling a story that took place over an 80 year time span. This is an elegant tale that shows that all people are special and different and everyone deserves to be loved. 

2. FROST/NIXON

FROST/NIXON was an event to be remembered. It was such a surprise of a movie, it was amazing how much better this movie was then I originally thought and I already thought it was going to be a great movie, what I saw was nothing short of perfection. It wasn’t just the incredible action, which was IN-CRED-I-BLE, it was a direction, the way the film just kept building nonstop tension, never let up and gave you everything you wanted to see and more. Frank Langella was of course breath taking, but not just him, but everybody just fit perfectly into every role. FROST/NIXON unfortunately was pretty over-looked because of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire came out around the same time and I actually enjoyed FROST/NIXON more then both of them. It’s a movie with no action, but dialogue so well written and acted that the audience feels so involved to the point where it does feel just like action. FROST/NIXON is the kind of film you could watch over and over because you just fail to release that your watching a movie. A spectacle to be hold that only comes around once in a blue moon. 

1. The Dark Knight

Anyone who has read this site before will find this of now surprise because I’ve stated in the past multiple times that not only is this the best movie of the year, but the greatest movie ever made, and I’ve seen a lot of movies. The Dark Knight is an epic masterpiece of good and evil. What more could you ask for? The classic ritual of good vs. evil has been used sense the beginning of film and it will be used until the end of film. This is the greatest depiction of good vs. evil ever created. Each understands that god needs the devil, good needs evil and they need each other. There is no good without evil and there is no evil without good. The Joker is the greatest character in film history by far. He is so evil that he kills innocent people for fun and is willing to be killed knowing that it will instill chaos and anarchy into a world that he thinks desperately needs it. While the hero of the story won’t kill anyone knowing that’s what seperates him from the dark side sort of speak. The Joker won’t kill Batman though either because he knows that evil needs good. He knows that he won’t have nearly as much “fun” without him. That’s the genius of the film and the whole Batman series, the greatest hero ever who never even asks for anything in return will never kill the greatest evil ever and vice-versa. The Dark Knight is a masterpiece, in my opinion, that’s the best way to describe a film, and it most certainly is a masterpiece.

Top 25 Best Performances of 2008

2008 was a great year for film and most of all it was a great year for performances. I decided a while ago I wanted to make a list involving performances this year and I just could not bring myself to making it a top ten because there were way to many good performances this year. I finally decided on a top 25 and I’m proud of my list. I think most will enjoy it too. What I love about this year was every performance should such a wide range in emotion, sure some more than others, but I’ve thought long and hard about this list and here it is:

25. Viggo Mortenson (Appaloosa)

Viggo Mortenso always does a good job and its very unfortunate that he doesn’t get that many roles to work with. Then when he does have a really good role, like he had las year in Eastern Promises, there’s always someone better (Dainel Day-Lewis). One day he’ll win an oscar, but until that day I’ll just watch him in great roles like this.

24. Tom Wilkinson (RockNRolla)

Tom Wilkinson is a fantastic actor and sure you sort of hate the character he’s playing here, but that was sort of the point and he’s absolutely perfect in this role. He had the same type of role in Batman Begins and he got o change it and expand on it here. I loved every second.

23. Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace)

Daniel Craig is the perfect Bond. There is not one person I would rather see playing this part. The movie wasn’t as good as the first (only cause the first was amazing), but Craig stayed consistent and that’s very nice to see.

22. Tom Cruise (Tropic Thunder)

I absolutely hate Tom Cruise with a passion, I do not like him at all, never will. Least favorite actors: Tom Cruise and Ben Afflek I did not like Tropic Thunder at all, but the only parts I did laugh involved Tom Cruise. It pains me to say this, but he was hilaurious, I loved every short second with his character.

21. Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight)

Here we find a fantastic actor in a very different role, normally you would probably find Gary Oldman playing some kind of villain, whether he’s a drug dealing pimp (True Romance), an intergalactic salesman (The Fifth Element), or even a crazed dirty cop (The Professional). Here he’s one of the few good cops in the city he’s trying so hard to help save and he’s absolutely fantastic.

20. Josh Brolin (Milk)

Josh Brolin didn’t have as big a part as you would’ve hoped in Milk, but he worked with what he got and created a spectacular performance. This is a very different character than you’ve ever seen him play and he chewed up every second he was on screen. He ofcourse didn’t have the best performance in Milk, but was a close second.

19. Jeremy Irons (Appaloosa)

Jeremy Irons is a fantastic actor, who once again doesn’t get enough work. I love all roles I’ve seen him in and here is a western where he plays a gunslinging villain. I get chills just thinking about it. He does a fantastic job, and as always plays a highly believable villain here.

18. Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man)

This was a great year for Robert Downey Jr. and he found his best performance of the year in a cocky and sarcastic billionaire he in his spare time flys in a battle suit and saves lives. Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic in a role you could just tell he had a blast playing. 

17. Mark Strong (RockNRolla)

RockNRolla had many likable characters, and even more likable actors, as do all of Guy Ritchie’s movies. One stood out above the rest and that was Mark Strong who played Archie, the loyal right hand man to the crime boss Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson). He was amazing. It might be in part that I hadn’t seen him in any movies before, but either way, RockNRolla deserves a watch by all if only just to view his performance.

16. Brad Pitt (Burn After Reading)

Brad Pitt is shortly becoming one of my favorites. If you can forget about roles he played in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the Ocean’s movies, he’s actually a really good actor. In Burn After Reading, he’s absolutely perfect as the dim-witted, peppy, gym worker, he stumbles onto something bigger (or actually probably smaller) than he thinks. 

15. Sam Rockwell (Choke)

Choke was a highly disappointing movie especially sense the book was a masterpiece, but that doesn’t exclude the fact that Sam Rockwell was born to play this role. Victor is an amazing character and you needed a great actor to play him and no one, and I repeat, no one would’ve been able to be better than Sam Rockwell in this role.

14. Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire)

Dev Patel was fantastic and I’m thinking that because I haven’t seen him in other movies and that’s why he made this part so real, but all I can say is that he was great and played the role to its full potential.

13. Michael Caine (The Dark Knight)

Michael Caine is a really good actor and here we find him in a perfect role that could be played by many actors, but absolutely no one could’ve played it better. He had a much bigger part in this film as opposed to the first and that made me very happy, because he made every second golden.

12. Christian Bale (The Dark Knight)

Christian Bale is the perfect Batman. People say how he has a corny voice and it just annoys the crap out of me. What people don’t understand is that Christian Bale is ten times that Batman that George Clooney, Val Kilmer, Adam West, or Michael Keaton will ever be. He’s better because he knows, unlike them, is that Batman has to be three different people. The cocky Bruce Wayne you show to the public, the real Bruce Wayne you show to Alfred, and Batman. He plays the part perfect, I have zero complaints. The voice is amazing.

11. Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges)

Ralph Fiennes is fantastic in what ever he does. Bad movie, good movie, doesn’t matter, he’s good always. In Bruges is a great movie and he’s incredible in it as, the fast-talking, loud and dirty mouthed crime boss. He unfortunately just barely misses my top ten. He’s fantastic in all movies, but especially in this one.

10. Russel Crowe (Body of Lies)

Russel Crowe is on and off for me, but in my opinion, you find in Body of Lies, what I feel to be one of his best roles. He’s not a villain, but he’s definately not a hero. He’s a sleazy fat guy who trys to do the right things in the wrong ways, but never gets screwed, he has others get screwed for him. Russel Crowe was great and was the perfect choice for a this great character.

9. Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight)

Aaron Eckhart is an up and coming actor. He’s going places, he was amazing in Thank You For Smoking and he’s amazing here. He plays a very entertaining role the goes from pure good, to almost pure evil. He plays the role to perfection and not many actors could’ve. 

8. Richard Dreyfuss (W.)

W. was a great movie and it was great in part because of Richard Dreyfuss’s performance. He plays Dick Cheney, whose actually sort of the villain in this pitch -perfect biopic of our most recent president. The movie was great and he’s great in it. He made such a great transformation, I actually looked past his highly recognizable voice and had to wait for the credits to role to figure out it was him. 

7. Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

Once again Brad Pitt proves that he’s becoming better and better with each role he plays. The Curious Case of Bejamin Button is no different. This would be a very tough role to play for anyone, but Brad Pitt played it to perfection. This was a long movie, but it felt shorter than it was because of this performance.

6. Josh Brolin (W.)

Whether you liked W. or not, you had to admit that Josh Brolin was fantastic as Bush. He got everything down pact. This was a movie that had to be driven by performances and direction. Well, your gonna have the direction if you got Oliver Stone and they certainly got the the performances in Richard Dreyfuss and especially there leading man, Josh Brolin.

5. Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)

It’s pretty unfortunate that this very well could be Eastwood’s final movie. I pray that it’s not, but either way this was the perfect role for him and he played it to perfection. He had to be grumpy and racist, but then he had to make the transformation to hero and because of his incredible performance, this was a really goo movie.

4. Sean Penn (Milk)

Well for my top 5, number 4 was much better than 5, and pretty close to 3, while 3 and 2 are basically a tie, and 1 is so far beyond the others to the point of insanity, but here we are at 4 and we find Sean Penn’s name. He was amazing in Milk and this was probably his best role. He deserves all the praise he’s getting, but he does not deserve the oscar. Sean Penn made the role his own and did it with flying colors. He was FAN-freakin-TASTIC, but unfortunately this was a year of amazing performances and there were a few better than him. 

3. Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

Mickey Rourke performed masterfully in The Wrestler. He was showed such large amounts of emotion and he made every feeling so real. It saddens me to put him this far from the top because I could name a lot of years where I would’ve most certainly given him the top spot. Some people are saying that he didn’t do as good as others just because he’s supposedly just like the character he’s playing, well that’s load of crap and actually probably compliment to him because your saying he’s a better actor. Mickey Rourke deserves more roles and after this perfect performance, I see many to come.

2. Frank Langella (FROST/NIXON)

The number 3 and number 2, as I said before are basically tied for second in acting ability, but I just had to give Frank Langella the second spot because he just showed more of a transformation and much more charisma in what is unfortunately a much more entertaining character. Frank Langella deserves the oscar, even though he probably won’t get it. I’ve read in a couple places that he’s more Nixon than Nixon is. That doesn’t make kuch sense for someone who hasn’t seen the movie, but it completely makes sense. Langella fully embodies our 37th president, whether is the voice, the posture, or the ticks, he made a role to be remembered.

1. Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

Anyone who reads my sight probably saw this coming, but here’s the thing. I don’t just think this is the greatest performance of the year, I truthfully think this is the best performance I’ve ever seen. It’s not just the fact that Heath Ledger passed on and I’m just giving him a pity vote. I believe he will and would’ve won the oscar either way (knock on wood). If he doesn;t win the oscar, I will never watch the oscars again, which will be very hard for me, because I love watching the oscars, but if Heath Ledger does not win, in no way does it deserve my viewing or anyones viewing for that matter. Every moment The Joker appeared on screen I just stopped breathing for a second because I didn’t want to miss a second. He made absolutely every word he spoke memorable and he created the greatest character ever put on screen. Heath Ledger created a character with nervous ticks, subtle emotions, and feeling ironically only for the one person he’s supposed to hate. In Heath Ledger’s character we learn not only, that there is no good without evil, but also we learn what acting is truly about.

#1 Interrogation Scene (The Dark Knight)

Many will disagree, who am I kidding, most will disagree. My job isn’t to please viewers, it’s to tell them my opinion. Even if I were to attempt to please my viewers I couldn’t succeed in pleasing them all especially in a such a broad topic of movies. The interrogation scene in The Dark Knight is, in my opinion, the greatest scene ever put on to the silver screen. It’s a scene right smack dab in the middle of the greatest film ever made and it has the long awaited meeting between good and evil. Not just good and evil though. This good is the most heroic good there is, while this is the most diabolical evil ever depicted and this is the meeting between the two. This will forever be an iconic scene, whether you think it’s one of the best or not. The Interrogation scene has so much meaning behind it, but don’t take my word for it, watch it for yourself. This scene is what movies are all about.

Best Character: The Joker

Best Quote: “You… you complete me.”

Scene:

The Wrestler Review

The Wrestler is certainly one of those movies that keeps you thinking long after the movie’s over and a movie you will never forget. You will remember this film because of its emotional story and a masterful performance by one of the greats, a Mr. Mickey Rourke. This is a film that will make you feel every emotion there is, because everything in this film is felt by both the main character and the audience. Every punch, chair, and staple gun Randy gets to the leg, face, or back, every word he’s called, every feeling of happiness is felt by both Randy “The Ram” Robinson and the audience. These feelings are felt because of the spectacular direction and amazing performances by all, except for Rourke’s. His performance can’t just be called amazing, that’s an insult. His performance was nothing short of perfection.

 The Wrestler is the emotional story of your average common man who wants to be somebody. Except the only difference here is that this average joe is that he has been somebody, only that was 20 years ago and his life has gone down the tubes. He’s now just an “old broken down piece of meat” and he’s got a lot of regrets that he wants to make up for. He’s made mistakes like anyone and he wants to make up for them. He wants his daughter’s (Evan Rachel Wood) affection back. He wants to love again and he attempts to find that love in a stripper with her own problems (Marisa Tomei). The only problem is that “The Ram” isn’t so easily changed. He can never forget the blood, sweat and cheers. 

This much more to say, but I don’t want to give away too much. The Wrestler is a film that manages to find and tap into all of our deepest emotions and dreams. Its much more than your average movie, which ironic because it’s about a very average character. This will surely strike a nerve in the hearts of millions because of its sad tale of love, life, dreams, and regret and also because of one of the most believable performances ever filmed. 

Grade: A

Gran Torino Review

Walking into Gran Torino, I was expecting an average movie that would attempt to show that Clint Eastwood could still be an action hero and kick ass. Well I saw that Clint Eastwood can still act and direct to close to perfection at the age of 78, but this was so much more then the gritty action movie I was expecting to watch. Its an unexpected must-see of racism and people changing for the better. It’s was much better than I was expecting it to be.

Gran Torino is the story of a bitter old man named Walt Kowalski who just lost the only person he ever truly loved. He’s an enraged bigot and a war veteran. He’s the last american living in his neighborhood and doesn’t like it. He uses offensive stereotypical names throughout and doesn’t let up. He ends up befriending a few of his neighbors and learning that there’s more to life than lonliness and hatred. Throw ina 1972 Gran Torino and a gang whose leader is related to one of the chinese neighbors, and what you’ve got is a fantastic movie.

Clint Eastwood was absolutely spectacular in this film. I loved every moment he was on screen, which was 95% of the movie. I pray that this, even though it was a great movie, won’t be his last movie. If its not too much to ask I also pray he would do just one more western, that would be amazing. If there’s one complaint I would make about this film it would be the acting. Aside from Clint Eastwood being amazing as usual, the rest of the cast was a bunch of mediocre no-named actors. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with no named actors, they sometimes can add to the realism of the movie, but the least you could’ve done is picked some good ones.

That was the only con out of a lot of pros. What was so enjoyable about Gran Torino, was while is was a very emotional and dramatic tale race and the good that can shine from the darkest of places, it also had a lot of comic relief. There were many moments that made me laugh out loud. It wasn’t the racist jokes that were funny, it was the arrogance of the character that was funny. It was the way Walt treated everybody especially his friends. All and all Gran Torino was a great watch and I can’t wait to enjoy watching it again.

Grade: A-

Top Ten Most Anticipated Films of 2009

Looking ahead to the future year of films I am very excited for a large amount of them. There is one movie that I am very excited for that unfortunately did not make this list. That film is Terminator Salvation. Terminator Salvation looks exceptionally good and more intense than the last few, but I’m also thinking of boycotting it because I don’t think you should make a terminator movie without Arnold. On a different note for any frequent viewers, I will be posting my top ten movies of 2008 and my top ten performances of 2008 soon, so stay tuned and be patient. Well here’s my top ten most anticipated movies of 2009:

 

 

10. Shutter Island

Without knowing much about it other than its about a serial killer escaping to a desolate island, I am excited for it because its directed by Martin Scorsese.

 

9. The Soloist

This looks like an excellent film of story, acting, and friendship. The trailer gives chills every single time.

8. Watchmen

This looks visually amazing and its based on what’s supposed to be the greatest graphic novels ever written and within the top 100 greatest novels ever written. The story should be great, I’m just worried about the acting and direction.

7. Taken

I love Liam Neeson, the trailer looks great, and this looks like a good piece of entertainment to get this year started.

6. Up

Every ixar movie ever made has been good in my opinion and this looks no different. You can expect a top ten pixar movies list after this is released.

5. Sherlock Holmes

Robert Downey Jr. in a Guy Ritchie movie based on a famous novel, sounds like the recipe to a masterpiece to me.

 

4. The Wolfman

A remake starring a fantastic actor taking a simple story into much poetic and complex depths. Benecio Del Toro has never disappointed and won’t.

 

3. Public Enemies

This is the next classic gangster movie based on the true crime wave in the 1930s. Its the story of the FBI and the infamous gangster it was invented to stop. The movie stars Christian Bale and Johnny Depp and will be fantastic.

 

2. Nine

No, not the animated movie by Tim Burton, the epic musical starring Daniel Day-Lewis about a director in the search of his next big money maker and the women trying to force the art out of him.

 

1. Inglorious Bastards

Quentin Tarantino is a spectacular director, Brad Pitt is a great actor and I haven’t seen a good war movie in a long time. All of Tarantino’s movies are incredible and this is his next masterpiece.