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- Mannix, Season Two. On DVD now. (******6/10) »
Ordinarily, I am all over these lists at the end of the year. I love reading peoples’ selections for the best and worst movies, whether that person be Roger Ebert or Peter Travers or Jim From Spokane. I was going to skip out on it entirely this year, however, because I haven’t seen some of the movies considered to be the best. I have yet to take in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Milk, and Slumdog Millionaire, and countless others. But I will go ahead with my own list anyway, and once I see those films, I will come back and edit this list if need be. Here goes, with the best of the year:
1. The Dark Knight. The best acting, the best cast, the best story, the best action, and far and away the best villain of the year. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was in no way enhanced in my perception because of his death. Rather, his death loomed larger, and became more tragic, because of the power of this performance. He looks, talks, and even walks like an absolute lunatic, one who exudes danger, lunacy and an incredible menace all at once. This is the best comic book movie ever made, and Ledger’s Joker is perhaps the best movie villain of all time. I’ll let him fight it out with Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates.
2. WALL-E. An absolutely breathtaking achievement. I have seen a few movie critics who believe that this movie signals the end of the need for actual actors in movies. I wouldn’t go that far. I will only go so far as to say that this is the best, most brilliant movie ever made for children. It is also one of the top-five science fiction movies in history, up there with one of it’s clear inspirations, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Absolutely stunning, charming, and magnificent.
3. In Bruges. An absolutely perfect movie. It’s little, it’s modest, but it’s staggeringly offensive, and by far the funniest movie of the year. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are magnificent as hitmen sent to cool their heels in Bruges, a quaint and picturesque town in Europe. Ralph Fiennes is side-splittingly funny as their brutal, murderous boss, and the dialogue is spot-on. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. In Bruges is one of the great black comedies. Ever.
4. Gran Torino. Clint Eastwood still has it. And Gran Torino continues his impressive streak of impressive movies. This is the last hurrah for Dirty Harry, the Man With No Name, William Munny, and Josey Wales. This is how Eastwood sees all the characters he has played over his career, now, through the lens of history and the filter of age. Another incredible, powerful, movieng (but decidedly UN-sappy) achievement from perhaps the best director working today.
5. Iron Man. It’s a good thing this movie came out when it did, before The Dark Knight took over the movie world. That way, Iron Man managed to get some praise as “the best movie of the year” before it was supplanted. And deservedly so. Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic as Tony Stark. The special effects are terrific. The story is fantastic. And everything else about this movie is totally engrossing. It’s as close to perfect as movies get without being The Dark Knight.
Honourable mention to Kung Fu Panda, Burn After Reading, Shine A Light, and The Bank Job.
Constantine’s Sword. A fascinating, incredible documentary about the history of Christianity, and the evils that have been done in the name of the religion throughout history. The movie is based on a book by James Carroll, and Carroll takes us through the crusades, the emperor Constantine, and the rise of anti-semitism. A tragic, but illuminating movie that is the best documentary of 2008.
A Hole In A Fence. Yes, it’s a movie about a hole in a fence. And yes, it’s less than 45 minutes in length. But the way it’s shot is remarkable, and the story is compelling, and this little gem is worth seeking out.
American Teen. A really interesting look at five real-life teenagers and their high school trials and tribulations. At times it comes off like an after-school special, but the fact that real lives are like this adds credence to after-school specials, and doesn’t detract from this documentary. Very interesting.
Passion And Power. A truly fascinating, educational and funny look at the history of female orgasms and vibrators. Terrific stuff!