Now, I know that everybody does a top ten list at the end of the year. And I'm not going to deviate from the norm. I've always wanted to do my own top ten, so let's dive in and take a look.
Before I list them, I just want to say that this list includes some 2007 films I saw in 2008.
10. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I didn't think this was going to be the best thing ever. I also didn't think it would be the worst. The film struck all the right chords of nostalgia with me, while at the same time including a nonsensical but awesome jungle car chase scene. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it.
9. Pineapple Express
Because of my non-drug abuse proclivities, I didn't think I would enjoy this as much as I did. This is the most heartwarming story of two idiots who become best friends while at the same time getting shot at and shooting ineptly. I absolutely adored this movie and everybody was fantastic including the mighty James Franco, almost unrecognizable as the drug dealer in over his head. This is pure comedic gold.
8. Atonement (2007)
A very complex and post-modern love story, I knew I was going to love this and I did. From the opening scenes to the never-ending tracking shot to the surprise ending, I was enthralled. Top drawer acting from all hands, including the young lady at the heart of the film, and tremendously confident direction from the same artist that brought us Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice. Excellent film.
7. Michael Clayton (2007)
A gripping drama that features absolutely amazing acting. The cast is impeccable and the story is complex and engaging. One of two films on this list to feature George Clooney, one of my favourite actors ever. Tony Gilroy, the writer and director, manages to create believable dialogue and situations without every trespassing into overwrought shout-acting.
6. Burn After Reading
The second film to feature George Clooney, this is the Coen Brothers' return to "comedy". This madcap zany screwball comedy about the ineptness of the CIA and everybody in the world is - at times - a brilliant social commentary, and a laugh-outloud stage play. The direction is perfectly subtle, it's endlessly quotable, and fantastically acted. What more could you ask for?
5. Iron Man
I never would have thought an Iron Man movie was going to be made, but there it is. Again, I hate to harp on the cast, but it's the acting that sells these movies. Robert Downey Jr is terrific in his role and everybody else, including the normally bland Gwyneth Paltrow is good. Action scenes are great, the comedy is natural, and the characters feel organic. High praise for a film based on a comic book, I might add.
4. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
More emotion in a single scene than any Judd Apatow or Will Ferrell movie combined. The story is of a TV show composer off to Hawaii to grieve when his actress girlfriend shockingly dumps him and of course, runs into her when he gets there. Every scene is quotable. Every action is pitch-perfect and the cast is impossibly well-suited for their roles. This is a perfect comedy film. Perfect.
3. Into the Wild (2007)
The best film of 2007 and arguably one of the best films I've ever seen. I could devote an entire blog to this movie. Even months later, I sigh and look over wistfully at it and remember all the good times and bad times we shared. Never has a film so touched me emotionally. Terrific.
I saw it twice in the theatres and once on Blu-Ray and it still manages to choke me up at the end. If I was teaching a course about children's films, I would use this as the perfect example of how to make one. Biting social commentary, cynical and yet oddly positive about the future, hilarious and experimental, this movie has everything except one thing that every other movie also lacked but one...
Yes, the best film of 2008 is, unsurprisingly...
1. The Dark Knight
I saw this on the Imax and in the regular theatre and then again on Blu-Ray. I hyped this film to everybody I ever met and nobody was disappointed. The next bold step forward in superhero film, this movie fires on every possible level and has the best cast ever assembled for a superhero movie. I don't care what people say, The Dark Knight is the best film of 2008 only by a small margin. I strongly recommend every film on this list. There's a movie on this list for every member of the audience.
2008 has been a great year for movies and 2009 is shaping up to be just as good. I love film and I hope it shows. Thanks everybody.