Top 10 Movies of 2008

Number 10.  –  Pineapple Express

A classic, best pothead film in a long time. Stoner Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) is a insurance salesman who on one of his sales he witnesess a murder, and the first place he goes after is his friend and his weed supplier Saul (James Franco). The rest of the film the two have a hilarious journey as they get high, escape the killers, and try not to f#ck up everything. The plot was so dumb but thats the point, the characters are the true star of the movie. James Franco and Seth Rogen are amazing together, they should team up for movies. Overall I liked this film a lot, funniest movie in a long time. The characters could have been played by anyone as no actor in the film were able to express what they can actually do. Such as Seth Rogen, the central protaganist. Despite this Pineapple Express has belly aching laughs and sometimes emotion.

Number 9.  –  Kung Fu Panda

My expectations were pretty low considering Dreamwork’s downfall, but giving it a shot was entertainment delight. A greatly detailed animation film that is full of fun. You can tell when an animation film has had a lot of time, care and thought put into it. The quality of the lighting, shadows, reflections and even fur are up there with the best animations. It’s bright and colourful as well to appeal to the kids. Didn’t notice the strong voice cast until the credits came up including Jackie Chan, to have all of them in one film is impressive, in an animated film even more so. Outrageously entertaining! Jack Black, along with the rest of the voice cast, does an incredible job of making us believe that these animals are actually part of a kung fu team. I loved this movie from beginning to end. The witty humour, the hidden adult humour, the fight sequences, the visuals, and the storytelling, are all small parts that come together to make this movie one to remember. Dreamworks has definitely hit it’s mark in super-stardom. Common sense has just been kicked into me and I am ready for so much more. This movie is just not enough. Kung Fu Panda is incredible!!!

Number 8.  –  Zack & Miri Make A Porno

Not your average crude comedy, Zack and Miri is at heart a very realistic and sentimental love story between two friends who are governed by the age old adage of sex ruining friendship. The main characters are best friends living in the worst of conditions, no respect from their friends, peers, or co-workers, but are each lovable in an off the wall kind of way. The beginning is raunchy but very down to earth with the portrayals of the degenerate characters living in Pittsburgh, working blue collar and never making rent. Highlights include a great scene with Justin Long, who plays a character I could never see him as in my mind’s eye, paired with the gorgeous Brandon Routh. The second half turns into a tangled web between the protagonists as they maneuver the idiocy of false pride. There are some very dirty sequences, and some scenes only added for the fact that it’s about pornographic films, but there’s only one that crosses the line into puke worthy, and I personally found it hilarious, if not oddly placed and virtually unneeded. The ending itself was convoluted, and though funny at times was a waste of film to explain pretenses that no one cares about. Still, it’s hard to create such romance and sincere love between two people in the midst of absurdity, and that’s what this film accomplished. Not for everyone, but certainly hilarious in high doses.

Number 7.  –  The Hurt Locker

Gripping, intense, and extremely well-acted, “The Hurt Locker” shows the war like never before. Jeremy Renner is in his breakout performance, which will eventually lead him to superstardom. As we follow a bomb-defusing team, we are placed in events that seem so real you will be on the edge of your seat, hoping for our cast to make it out alive. I give Kathryn Bigelow a standing ovation for outstanding direction. A phenomenal achievement. This movie is created perfectly; the editing, the cinematography… Kathryn Bigelow brings us into the tense and dangerous environment of these characters. You can grasp the tension that this movie throws at you. HOWEVER, I do not agree this deserves best picture or best screenplay. The dialogue is awful. And though this movie was directed to a perfection, the plot was not engaging enough. When there were action scenes, the audience would be in that exact situation, panting and sweating just like the characters, but when the plot advanced, there was a disconnection due to many different factors. Overall, I highly recommend this great but flawed movie.

Number 6.  –  The Boy in Striped Pajamas

World War II’s greatest horror as seen from the eyes of an innocent child. Quite a riveting drama, with magnificent acting all-around. The subject is really nothing new, but it has a fresh-thinking approach on how it takes us through it’s story. Placing focus on the children, and their reactions to the strange and unfathomable actions by the adults around them, is a brilliant concept that made the film all the more engaging. For authenticity’s sake, I would have prefer a German cast over a British one, but I suppose you can’t get everything. The movie during the holocaust and is about a young boy who after he moves to another town because of his fathers promotion in the Nazi army, the boy discovers his fathers concentration camp. There he sits on the outside of the fence talking to a young Jewish boy on the inside, and two people who are supposed to be enemies become friends, but what happens in the end will test each ithers loyalty, trust, and ultimate friendship. I found the plot to be amazing, truly showing how a naive child would witness World War 2 and the Holocaust. The young actors are great and live up to the amazing acting of the adults. At any rate, however, this a beautifully executed motion picture, with many powerful and heart-rending moments. Be sure not to miss it, because it’s one of the best of its kind.

Number 5.  –  Wall-E

“Wall-E” is not just your average loveable Pixar film, but it also has the brains and a realistic tone to go along with it. As a world is stripped of everything, a banned wasteland remains with a little robot to re-inhabit the earth. It shows what life could really be like in a thousand years from now, with a society that is corrupt on technology, becoming fat and run by computers, having no relation to the outside world. When opportunity presents itself, the story then becomes a mission to repopulate the earth. There are so many symbols for adults to notice and appreciate what their childhood was like, and so many symbols that this generation to snap out of and notice as well. Forget great Pixar film, this is just a great science-fiction film period. The title character and Eve make for a cute duo. Kids will enjoy the charmingly funny antics while adults will be taken in by the film’s surprisingly dark and biting social commentary (obesity, commercialism, environmentalism). Every scene from the desolate Earth to the vastness of space bursts with some of the most beautiful animation committed to film. The robot characters are well-designed and manage to be endearing with very little dialogue. ‘Wall-E’ is a heartwarming love story combined with a great sci-fi tale and it remains a testament to why Pixar is one of the best things to ever happen to cinema.

Number 4.  –  Iron Man

Jon Favreau’s Iron Man is a terrific and highly thrilling superhero action film. This is a brilliant film with a stellar cast and a well crafted plot. Robert Downey Jr. is perfect in the role of Tony Stark, and he brings charm to his performance, which really makes it unique. The film is packed with memorable action that reinvents the genre after many bad movies such as Daredevil and Cat Woman. This film brought the genre back in top form, and is certainly one of the best recent superhero films. The appeal of the film lies in the performances, the choice of actors], story and well crafted action. Favreau’s direction is terrific and he is able to craft something highly engaging from start to finish. Where other superhero films have failed, Iron Man has succeeded. The aspect that stands out the most about the film is the action that is well executed. This is a must see action film that is among the finest superhero films in the last ten years. Along with Nolan’s Batman trilogy and a few others such as V for Vendetta, The Avengers and Watchmen, this one is definitely worth checking out and is sure to deliver the thrills that you’d expect from a well made movie. This is a near flawless film that I really enjoyed from the first moment on, and if you’re looking for an outstanding film, then this one is the one to watch. What makes this one work is the well thought out script and the varied talent involved in the project. An aspect that I really enjoyed was seeing Jeff Bridges as the villain, it was nice to see him playing a different type of character this time around, and he really did a great job. Iron Man is not a perfect film, but it manages to a well structured superhero film that proves, that when it’s done right, the end result is an impressive and memorable picture that will delight comic book fans.

Number 3.  –  The Dark Knight

If you ignore the hype surrounding the film and its reputation of being the best superhero film ever made, it’s a pretty solid film that’s almost ruined by the idiotic fanbase who threatens others who says otherwise. he level of sophistication in this movie and its adult themes leave all other movies in the genre in the genre. The intertwining character arcs propel the plot. The most heartbreaking of these is the fall of Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart. Batman (Christian Bale) and Gordon (Gary Oldman) complete a triad of “good” characters who are forever changed by the mechinations of the Joker, played by the phenomenal Health Ledger. Ledger is not just acting; he is channeling something very dark and frightening. What makes this one of the greatest movies of all time is the full repertoire of emotions, tones, and themes that Nolan deftly constructs into a complex journey without an easy ending. There are scenes of suspense and tension as horrifying as anything in horror, exhilarating chase scenes, several moments of thoughtful reflection, difficult decisions made by complex characters, heartbreaking losses, witty humor, the best moments between Bruce and Alfred yet, an opening and an ending that flow smoothly and inevitably, and a bewildering number of themes grounded in the complexity of unfolding events in a huge modern city. It’s rare to see a movie so enjoyably stunning, dramatic and still possessing a complicated plot which silences audiences. It was clever, shocking, dark and just complex and dramatic enough to blow you away. .

Number 2.  –  Let The Right One In 

While yes, this is a “vampire” film, it’s not really a vampire film in a typical sense. It’s more like a romantic study of loneliness, friendship, and the pains of adolescence, with some occasional gruesomeness. Think of vampirism as more of a metaphor. Is this a horror film? Only in an unconventional sense. As with the vampire connection, look at it as more of a drama with some moments of intensity. Atmosphere, mood, and tone are the real stars here. This is a quiet, small, and brooding film. The Swedish setting fits vibe perfectly. I loved the look and the camera work here. While this film is okay to watch anytime, it works best if you watch it on a cold, dark, and eerie winter day- it really heightens the mood. Great cinematography and a haunting score help to provide a high quality vampire film experience. There’s an odd tenderness in this nightmarish experience. An unsettling combination. Many plot points come across as subtle instead of being thrust in your face. This is sort of a play on the romance horror angle of vampire lore. Worth your time. An incredibly sweet, unusual love story, one of the only great ones I can remember or care about. The film focuses on a strong bond that develops between a young boy who is terrorized by bullies and a mysterious girl who is in fact a vampire. The girl entrusts the aid of an adult guardian to find blood that can keep her alive. The film is incredibly done, while the bleak feel of the Swedish countryside wonderfully adds to the film’s plot and setting. Director Tomas Alfredson adds a great story between the two main characters, while both actors have terrific chemistry. The film is haunting and beautiful, while also proving that the vampire genre is not dead.

Number 1.  –  Waltz with Bashir

This is the VERY FIRST animated documentary that artfully accounts the filmmaker’s forgotten, but haunting memory of the 1982 Lebanon War, Sabra and Shatila Massacre. Ugly history presented with irresistible creativity and charm; a strong and powerful work that explores the psychological trauma by warfare and does it much better than any war film ever created. This film is so goddamn creative by making such build up with the director of the documentary, Ari Folman, as himself animated interviewing as many veterans of the 1982 Labanon War as possible to piece out the stories and remember what did he do in the war that haunted him for years. The film uses a striking combination of frame-by-frame and computer generated animation to create a powerful and at times surreal portrayal of war and the way memory plays tricks on the mind. I love the fact that this film is animated because they were able to animate all the war stories told by these veterans. In fact, it was impossible to get any live-action footage of this war (except for the end sequence) this film took the perfect opportunity to use animation because this is the prime example that you can literally do anything with animation. There were a lot of scenes that were impossible to capture in live-action but Waltz managed to put display all it can with its unique usage of CGI animation. No way on Earth could a live-action movie could be done like this, ever! This film is so in-depth into the structure of this war that it’s nearly a psychological thriller due to the presentation of the traumas of these veterans. As you watch this film it really does open your eyes on its unrelenting and very powerful (yet very disturbing) messages. Waltz With Bashir is an animated documentary (possibly made out of guilt) that really is a life-changing experience. I mean there were so many entertaining and mesmerizing war stories being told and right after Ari Folman pieced everything out and remembered what happened at the end, I swear no one could see it coming. Waltz with Bashir is definitely a film where the more you think about it, the more and more you’ll feel appreciative it, not only what this film did in telling us about this war that not that many people today ever heard of, but also what it did to animation in general for going an extra mile, period!

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