The Movie Board: My favorite movies of 2008
Well, 2008 is over and the 2009 movie season looms over us like a petulant child, demanding our attention and constantly wanting to be fed and changed. These new movie seasons sure are screaming, poop machines, aren’t they?
Anywho, the Academy is deciding on the 2008 Oscar nominees as we speak (this year’s Oscars are supposed to air on February 22). When the nominees are finally announced (Jan 22), I’ll be sure to let you know what movies made it and also give a little review of how I think the Oscar committee did like I did for last year’s Oscars nominations.
So, on to the movies I saw in 2008. The Movie Board, just to give a small history, was started by me in Dec 2006. I use it to keep track of all the movies I watched that were released on DVD or in theaters during the calendar year. This way I can easily look back at my list at the end of the year and see, at a glance, what my favorite movies were. Here’s the list for 2007 to refresh your memory.
So, without further ado, here is my 2008 Movie Board with all the movies I saw this year (click the image for a bigger view).
According to its all-knowing dry erase-ness, I saw 49 movies last year. Just over 4 a month or about a movie a week. Last year, I was up over 50 movies. Of course, this doesn’t include older movies not released in 2008 that Steph and I watched from Blockbuster and/or Netflix. Nor does it take into account multiple viewings because I saw Iron Man, Hulk, Hancock, Jumper, Tropic Thunder and several others at least twice last year (some in the theater and some on DVD).
So, which ones of these were my favorites? First, let’s discuss this list. It’s by no means the BEST movies of the year. The idea of BEST movie is so subjective. For me? My tastes are simple. Just entertain me. Honestly, I’m pretty shallow when it comes to movie enjoyment. I don’t need a movie to tell me how to live, or what is right and what is wrong. I don’t like being talked down to by a movie, or having moral platitudes thrown at me for 2 hours. Just entertain me with a good story and/or exciting visuals. That’s all I ask, man. Not a tall order.
So with those ideas in mind, here are my favorite movies in no particular order:
The Dark Knight- Obvious, right? This is on everyone list. It speaks to how good this movie was that everyone thought the movie would be good when it came out and then it went and beat all of those high expectations to do even better than everyone thought. Everyone was good in this. Maggie Gyllenhaal was an upgrade to Katie Holmes. Heath Ledger blew it out tha box, yo. And Aaron Eckhart continued to prove he can hold his own with the best. The only thing I didn’t like about the movie, was Christian Bale’s grating “Batman voice”. Really bugged me during his monologue at the end. Other than that, this movie defined how a Batman movie should be made. Hopefully a few actors get Oscar noms.
Iron Man- Probably another obvious choice. This movie was lightning in a bottle. The combination of Robert Downey, Jr, a great story and a hero that not a lot of people really knew about combined to create one of the best comic book movies of all time. How about Gwenyth Paltrow? Wow, she looks fantastic. Good to see her back. Jeff Bridges was his usual awesome self. Oscar nomination for Robert Downey, Jr? I could watch him play Tony Stark in like 15 more Iron Man movies. Hopefully some special effects awards, too, because the suits looked fantastic.
Valkyrie- I was surprised how much I really liked this movie. It doesn’t end happy. But you should expect that going in. I find the whole Hitler and the dynamics of the Third Reich fascinating. Seeing the story of German soldiers that think Hitler is the ruin of Germany is a great hook. These German nationalists band together in a secret coalition to assassinate Hitler. Great story. Good to see Bryan Singer return to his X-Men/X-Men 2 form. Tom Cruise is really good. I really like him as an actor despite his off camera shenanigans.
Frost/Nixon- This had a small release just before New Year’s so it barely snuck into my list. I thought it would be good and I was blown away how fascinating this movie was. I had never heard of the Frost-Nixon interviews and seeing it play out in the mid-to-late ’70s was so cool. Michael Sheen continues his brilliant character work as David Frost, TV sensation that is granted an interview with the disgraced Nixon. Frank Langella loses himself in the role of Nixon. I can’t say enough about this movie. There is also great supporting roles by Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt.
Kung-Fu Panda- It was tough to pick this last slot. I really went back and forth on it. Finally, I had to succomb to the undeniable AWESOMENESS that was Kung-Fu Panda. Jack Black was born for this role. He may, in fact, have found his Shrek. This movie is funny, touching and full of action. I love kids’ movies and this was one of the best I have seen in a long time. The opening monologue by Jack Black made me laugh so hard I think I blacked out for a second…..and maybe peed a little. SEE THIS MOVIE!
Okay there’s the top five. How about some Honorable Mentions since I found it really hard to narrow down the above list? The below movies are also really good and worthy of your attention.
The Incredible Hulk- Understand, I have an almost embarrassing man-crush on Ed Norton. Ever since I saw Primal Fear, in the theater, in 1996, I have grown to love him almost to the point of quitting my job and stalking after him like a Grateful Dead hippie. He is one of our generation’s finest actors and he is fantastic in this movie. This movie is a “semi-sequel” to the 2003 Ang Lee fiasco. This movie kicks Ang Lee’s movie in the nuts. The Hulk effects are much better and the action is much more “action-y” and less “artsy”. Norton plays the constantly on the run and fear of changing Banner perfectly. I think the switch of Liv Tyler for Jennifer Connelly was a wash, but William Hurt for Sam Elliot was a winner. Great, great Hulk movie. I hope Norton returns for the Avengers movie in 2010.
Quantum of Solace- Bond continues his kick ass revival. Daniel Craig and the Bond re-vamp has really infused some life into this character. The gritty, “not afraid to get blood on my tux” Bond is a joy to behold. I think Craig is second only to Connery. And barely, at that. The intricate plot of both this and Casino Royale almost require multiple viewings, but you won’t see me complain about that.
Tropic Thunder- This movie is an interesting animal. I could have put several other movies in this spot, but I chose this. What’s interesting is that parts of this movie are awesome. And parts of this movie aren’t…awesome. The whole is most definately not greater than the sum of the parts, but it’s close. The things I love about this movie? Tom Cruise as Les Grossman. Might be Tom’s most entertaining role…EVER. You have to see it to believe it. Robert Downey, Jr as Kirk Lazarus and his interactions with everyone else while in black face were genius. He owns that role. Matthew McConaughey as Stiller’s agent is really funny as well as Stiller performing his Oscar bait role, Simple Jack. Not to mention the fake trailers that precede the movie. All of these things are so funny it makes up for the 20% of the movie that’s only so-so. But you still have that so-so 20% of the movie.
So that’s it everyone. My top 5 movies of 2008. There were several big releases I never got to see. Wall-E, Punisher: War Zone, Burn After Reading, Pineapple Express or Zach and Miri Make a Porno never got a chance to make this list as I never got a chance to watch them. I’ll catch them eventually on DVD, but there’s only so much time to watch movies (or read books, or play Playstation, or create my own bionic legs from spare Atari 2600 parts). We’ll see if I can get 2009′s movie total up above 50 again.
Well, now that you’ve seen the top 5, get ready for the bottom 5. The five worst movies I saw in 2009. Prepare, because it’s coming next week!!!
UPDATED!! – And here’s the 5 Worst movies of 2008