by GEOFF GEIB
2008 was the worst year I have spent at the movies in my adult life. This is partly the fault of Hollywood (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Happening, The Love Guru, 10,000 B.C., Prom Night to name just a few of the appallingly bad films of last year) but in complete and utter truthfulness, the fault is just as much mine. I simply didn’t get out to the movies with anywhere near the regularity I normally do, and as a result, I struggled to put together a ten best list. Since I agree with other posters on this site that context is important in these matters, I felt it was important to state as much at the outset. The following movies are all good, but in fairness, many of them would not normally make a ‘best of’ list, with the exception of the top three, which would grace any top ten list in any year.
1. In Bruges
A glorious film filled with audacious performances, profanity and wit – in no particular order. I could gush about this film for pages, but suffice it to say, In Bruges is like a fucking fairy tale. Far and away my favorite film of 2008.
2. The Dark Knight
There are not enough superlatives to describe this intelligent and exciting film with a peerless performance from Heath Ledger as Batman’s nemesis. We’ve seen some good superhero/comic book movies of late, but director Christopher Nolan has raised the bar with The Dark Knight.
3. Let The Right One In
A gripping, layered horror film that is so astonishingly good it is doomed to be remade in the U.S.
4. The Wrestler
A curious film centered by a titanic lead performance by Mickey Rourke. Director Darren Aronofsky utilizes a stripped-down visual style and ‘real’ wrestlers to create a film that is by turns tragic and elating.
Deception is the primary weapon of the great thrillers, and writer/director David Mamet’s latest confection lovingly and unabashedly plays with the audience from beginning to end. Chiwetel Ejiofor is superb in the lead role.
6. Slumdog Millionaire
The most classically ‘Hollywood’ film of the year, this is crowd-pleasing fluff of the highest order, masked with director Danny Boyles’ skillful and electric direction and masterful editing by Chris Dickens.
A great thriller with Emily Mortimer’s star turn front and center as a woman who is trapped in circumstances of her own making stemming from an inability to simply tell the truth. Ah, valuable life lessons there for you kids.
8. Body of Lies
Perhaps not a great film, but it is put together with such skill and attention to detail, the flaws melt away. DiCaprio deserves special mention in 2008 for his fine performance in both this and Revolutionary Road.
I have a soft spot for westerns and the easy rapport between Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen smoothes over the occasional rough spot.
10. Iron Man
Popcorn entertainment to be sure, but impossible to dislike, with as charming a lead performance as there is by Robert Downey Jr.