Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Bit Maelstrom's Top 10 Movies of 2008

OK, The Boy decided, after much deliberation, that The Dark Knight was his favorite for 2008. He finally made up his mind based on the movie's characters which were, undoubtedly, among the best drawn this year.

I had a harder time because I felt this year had a lot of very good movies but not a lot of truly great movies. Let's try to narrow my "very good" list down a bit.

  • Among the movies I saw this year that were really good, but weren't from this year: The Fall (2006), Live And Become (2005), A Man Named Pearl (2006) and Young @ Heart (2007).
  • Appaloosa was the best (and possibly only) western I saw this year. I think it will weather well but it doesn't stand right now as a great movie.
  • Cloverfield was the best English language horror I saw this year, though I also really enjoyed The Ruins and Quarantine. Truly great horror is very rare, though, and I'm just pleased there were solid entries this year.
  • Hellboy 2 was probably my favorite summer movie. I loved Iron Man and enjoyed Incredible Hulk, and I'm not sure Dark Knight was all that summery a movie. Hulk doesn't quite realize its potential and Iron Man peters out at the end; Hellboy is so near excellence it's hard for me to leave it out, but there's some real weaknesses in the story.
  • Kung Fu Panda was an unexpected delight that holds up excellently under multiple viewings.
  • In Bruges was my favorite dark comedy and Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day my favorite light comedy.
  • I'll mention The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Reader because they're critic's darlings and nominated for Oscars. Both have extraordinary features but I wouldn't put either in my "best of". I can say this, sight unseen of Revolutionary Road and Milk, too.
That leaves me with the following ten films.

  1. Changeling
  2. Let The Right One In
  3. Rachel Getting Married
  4. Slumdog Millionaire
  5. Tropic Thunder
  6. Wall-E
  7. Defiance
  8. Doubt
  9. Frost/Nixon
  10. Gran Torino
So, there's my top 10. Eh, Doubt probably shouldn't be on there.

You know, weird as it sounds I might be leaning toward Defiance as my best of 2008.


  1. We have Appaloosa at home, slated for a viewing. I also want to see Frost/Nixon.

  2. I've added a lot of these to my queue. I appreciate the documentary recommendations, because I love them when they're good--and not agenda-driven).

    Loved Day of the Triffids,btw. The plants were really almost secondary, weren't they? It was really just: "here's what it might be like if the world came to an end and there were a few survivors, trying to figure out what to do next." Very well done, imo.

  3. Yes, well, I doubt they could've done much with the plants on the budget they had. Low budget is a constraint, but like all constraints it can spur creativity. And the English can apparently draw from an infinite well of acting and writing talent.

    The last couple years have seen fewer documentaries get into the theaters around here, which is a shame. 2005 gave us both March of the Penguins and Murderball, the latter being an under-recognized gem.

    Slants on documentaries is one of the first things I wrote about when I started shifting from forum posting to blogging.

    (As a side note, I'm not really pleased with the blogger searching and organization functions, though--it's way too hard to navigate through old entries. I'm going to have to do something about it.)

  4. I have to check out some of those when they come on HBO. Or the movie channel.

    I hesitate to watch Appaloosa because I know Parker's book so well and his stuff doesn't adapt well.

    I guess I have to take Elmore Leonards advice and realize that the book and the movie are two totally different things.

  5. That's good advice.

    It's the only way you'll be able to watch the new "Witch Mountain" movie.

  6. Troop--

    Keep in mind that this is my own idiosyncratic list. Like, Rachel Getting Married really worked for me, but I can see people not liking it at all. It has a very static feel to it.

    Let the Right One In, too.

  7. Of new movies this year I only saw so far:

    Tropic Thunder
    Leaving Sarah Marshall
    American Gangster

    and that's about it I think.

    I only saw them when my daughter and granddaughter were over and wanted to watch movies.

    I generally am not a big fan of movies made before 1965.

  8. American Gangster was 2007, just FYI.

    And I think you mean after 1965, yes?

    I agree with you there as far as 1965-ish to 1975-ish. You might try Mrs. Pettigrew; I thought it was very old school.


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