Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Drama best movies of 2008

best movies of 2008

2008 was a great year for movies, over ten movies had made my year’s best list. Here they are in order and reasons the why I chose them.

Best of 2008 – Paul Zav’s picks

1. WALL E  –  Disney Pixar continues to top itself. Out of all the Pixar animated features, this one probably the most thoughtful and separate from the other animated Pixar movies. There are social and anti technology messages that little kids might not see but adults will recognize. This one makes you think.

Humans are over weight and move around on mobile floating comfortable seats on a huge cruise liner-like ship in the middle os space. Everything is at their fingertips, food, candy, drinks, etc. They’ve gotten used to having everything ‘when they want it’ and ‘how they want it’.

The Earth has become a desolate ruined planet with no hope, except one clean-up robot called W.A.L.L – E. He just knows there more to his existence than being a programmed clean up slave.

2. The Wrestler  –  Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler is a sad touching authentic look at an aged beaten down wrestler. Randy ‘the ram’ Robinson played by Mickey Rourke is a brilliant performance in acting and dialog. Randy seems like he is on is last legs but before he checks out, he wants one more attempt to reconcile with his daughter he left behind. This should earn Rourke an Oscar, it’s one of the year’s best movies.

3. Revolutionary Road  –  If Jack and Rose from Titanic had lived, maybe this is how they would’ve turned out? Let’s hope not. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are married couple Frank and April Wheeler, they live the Connecticut suburbs. They seem to have it all together, he has a great paying job, while she stays home with the kids. But April is unahppy and unsatisfied with everything she has and who she has it with. They agree to move to Paris, France where life there should be more easier for them and thier family, but an unexpected thing happens that holds them back in the states.

Leonardo DiCaprio is still so underrated as an actor. Every line he delivers here has such emotion and feeling to it. Kate is very convincing too as a lost house wife that dreams of something better and different. It’s another great job by both actors.

4. Frozen River  –  Melissa Leo and Misty Upham’s acting preformance is so athuentic and sad. In desperate times people do desperate things, right or wrong. Melissa Leo plays Ray Eddy living on the border of New York. She’s a mother with two kids and a husband who is a gambling addict. He took off with money needed to pay the bills. They are fighting to get by on lose change and cups of tang and bowls of popcorn.
While looking for her husband, Ray soon catches Lila (Misty Upham) stealing her car. Before long, the two are involved in traffic smuggling of people across the Quebec border from and into Mohawk territory. To say any more would be giving away some very powerful scenes.

As I watched Frozen River I realized that I was seeing selfish people doing selfish things as they expected to be considered and not forgotten. The movie doesn’t tell us to take any sides, it shows that there are consequences to every choice we make even if we have no choice at all. Frozen River is easily one of 2008’s best movies.

5. Gran Torino  –  Clint Eastwoood is is Walt Kowalski, a Korean war veteran who wants to be left alone to drink his beer and live a quiet life with his dog in a poor run down Detroit neighborhood. He is a racist old man that likes to crack jokes and comment towards everyone he talks to.

Soon Walt becomes involved with a Hmong family and the deadly gangs that come around them on a daily basis. The movie takes a personal turn towards positive values and the goodness most people lack. If you get caught up in all the jokes, vulgar language and hateful acts, you might miss it. It shows that doing good and taking responsibility defines your character even if you have intentions to hate others.

The movie doesn’t go where you might think by the end. Clint is too smart of a director to make predictable endings and out comes. It’s a funny and sad effective movie that I really enjoyed.

6. Speed Racer  –  Here’s one of those movies that many people judged by the trailer before seeing it. So because of that fact, it made hardly any money at the box office when it was released last Summer. I caught it on dvd and I was blown away by the intelligent dialog, plot and characters.

It’s so much more than neat bright CGI visual effects and race cars. Speed Racer is thrilling and at the same time it has a big heart too. The theme is family is the most important thing, than winning. This is the biggest surprise of 2008.

7. The Dark Knight  –  Christopher Nolan’s vision of Batman has sure made the other first four Batman movies look like eye candy. The Dark Knight has been hailed as the best comic movie ever made, certainly this one might be the best Batman movie to date. Heath Ledger’s passing bought the movie extra attention, his performance as the Joker got even more rave reviews. However, I did not feel he stole the show. Every actor got just enough amount of screen time to move the story along, and they all did a great job. The Dark Knight is half comic movie, and half crime drama. It’s a real masterpiece.

8. The Fall  –  This movie is a visually stunning piece of work that took 4 years to make in over 18 different countries, and it shows. Tarsem Singh’s The Fall is a bizarre fantasy that’s sad, astonishing, and heartbreaking. It constantly moves without a break.
A young wide-eyed little girl named Alexandria wanders around a hospital in Los Angeles in the 1920’s. There, she meets Roy Walker. Both are injured badly from an apparent fall to the ground. Roy can’t walk and is bed ridden and Alexandria has a full arm sling cast on her left arm. Soon Roy tells her a story of 5 brave men (six if you count the tribesman), but Roy has a plan of his own for Alexandria.

9. The Visitor  –  I love human stories that we can all relate to. Richard Jenkins is as great as any other actor around today. He plays Prof. Walter Vale, he has been notified that he has to travel to New York City to take part in a conference. Soon he finds a young couple living in his apartment, they are illegal immigrants. He accepts them takes them in and shows nothing but kindness and love towards them. To say anything more about the movie would be giving away the ending. The movie is really about accepting different cultures even if they make us uncomfortable. The Visitor is a great drama with quality acting.

10. Doubt  –  Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep show why they are one of the best veteran actors around. 1964, St. Nicholas Catholic school, the Bronx, NY. Father Flynn takes notice of an African American student, Donald Miller, who feels out of place and is mistreated by some of the boys there. Flynn asks Donald to a meeting with him one day in private. What happened in that meeting with the two of them? Meryl Streep’s character goes on a quest to find the truth, and so does the viewing audience. Based on play, Doubt leaves you with just that, doubt and questions. This is the kind of movie you have to see again to make your own judgements.

11. Changeling  –  Another fine performance by Angelina Jolie. She plays a single mother working as a supervisor for a telephone company. One day her son goes missing while she is at work. The corrupt Los Angeles Police Department tried to help her, but the boy they bring her is not hers, why? And what really happened to her son? Because she speaks out against the cops helping her it only results in more turmoil for her. This is based on a true story and it’s the perfect material Eastwood loves to direct.

12. Slumdog Millionaire  –  I liked this movie a lot and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how great it is. Slumdog Millionaire might have the ‘look’ and feel of City of God, but it stands on it’s own. It’s a good personal story.

The movie goes back and fourth between flashbacks and present day to show us how Jamal Malik knew the answers to the questions on the India version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. What the characters in the movie believed in is what decided the outcome of their lives. This is a story of survival, and a love story at it’s finest.

13. Under the Same Moon  –  Ok, so what do you say about a movie that sings about sending Superman back to his planet Krypton and saying his back is as “wet” as mine.

Like the brilliant powerful movie The Kite Runner, this movie is about family, courage, love, and how people make desperate choices during desperate times. It’s also about taking a chance and trusting those who offer help when we don’t even trust ourselves to make the right decisions.
If you think about it, this movie is not even really about illegal immigrants sneaking into the USA, it’s a journey of a boy who needs to reunite with his mother. It’s an uplifting movie with a great ending.

14. Fireproof  –  The fact that this movie got made and showed on many screens across the country was an amazing accomplishment in itself. The movie was put together by the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia.

Caleb and Catherine Holt are on the verge of getting a divorce. His dad asks him to “hold off on the divorce for forty days”. Later he sends Caleb a written journal through the mail titled ‘The Love Dare’. It’s a 40 day step by step process into healing your marriage through God’s word. Basically the book is to teach anyone how to communicate and reconnect with their spouse by doing practical everyday chores around the house and treating your spouse good. All combined with the grace of God.

What’s remarkable about Fireproof is that most of the cast and crew were not paid for this movie. It was about 12,00 volunteers doing this project. The movie opened on only 800 screens across the country and made it to the number #4 spot on it’s opening weekend. Kirk Cameron was the only professional actor hired to do this movie and he donated his salary.

Marriage is a big life changing step that is not to be taken lightly. It’s not a question of ‘If’ problems and issues come up, it’s a matter of ‘when they do. How are you going to deal with it? Are you gonna stray away and cheat on your spouse? or shut him or her out and never communicate, or perhaps turn to God and take responsibility for what you’ve caused in the relationship, than learn. Fireproof is one of the most important movies of the year, and many years to come.

15. Let the Right one In  –  This movie fills in where Twilight failed. Twilight was pretty much two hours of two young teens staring into each other’s eyes while trying hard not to have sex with each other. Here we have a much younger pair. A young boy named Oskar is bullied at school by three kids, he puts up with it and doesn’t really know how to fight back. Soon he meets a young girl outside his apartment who is the same age as him, on the outside anyways. She turns out to be a vampire. It was loneliness that really bought them together. What we have here is a story of friendship combined with true horror.

16. The Reader  –  A dark story about a woman who has a sexual relationship with a young boy. She is about 30, and he is 15. Later we find out she was enlisted as a German guard in the SS and is set to stand trial for her involvement in the execution of Jews.

The movie no doubt raised some controversy about the age difference in the movie. But to condemn this movie because of it’s subject matter would be jumping the gun. It’s a sad tragic story with no happy ending, there are consequences. I cared about the characters and what happened to them.

17. Iron Man  –  The first big budgeted Summer blocbkuster, and it lived up to the hype. Robert Downey Jr. was a very interesting choice to play Tony Stark, but he pulled it off nicely. Iron Man is smart, funny and very entertaining.

18. Kung Fu Panda  –  Jack Black as Po , an over weight Panda bear who dreams of becoming part of the Furious Five martial arts team. Well his dream comes true accidentally, or was it fate. Kung Fu Panda is not filled with big laughs, but the action is thrilling and it’s so much fun to watch.

19. Bolt  –  Here’s an animated movie that kind of came out of no where. It’s a pretty good animated feature that gets better as it moves along. It’s about loyalty and friendship.

Bolt is a white short haired Shepard mix with a big black nose and a lighting bolt printed on his fur. He’s tough and shows no fear. He is the star of his own television show with the same name. His co-star is a wide eyed young actress named Penny, voiced by Miley Cyrus. Penny doesn’t just act with Bolt on tv, she takes care of him on and off the screen.

Bolt soon escapes from his safe mobile home away from the tall buildings and sound stages of Hollywood. Bolt’s doesn’t know that his perception of reality is not real and made up. He still thinks and believes he has super powers all the time. Along the way he becomes friends with a cat named Mittens and a hamster who calls himself Rhino. The rest of the movie is a road trip to get back home and reunite with Penny.

I wasn’t expecting much but I was very surprised how fast the characters grew on me. Bolt doesn’t have the same emotional pull as such classics like Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, or WALL-E, but it’s just as exciting as Kung Fu Panada added with some sad touching moments. Don’t miss this one.

Zav’s picks :)

2 thoughts on “best movies of 2008”

  1. How can you put the dark knight at seventh it made the most money than any other in the last decade?? Also the movie itself was amazing especially with Heath Ledger playing an incredible role as the joker.

  2. First and foremost, you have gone Bat-S*** crazy! Your list was a shock considering I was seeing The Dark Knight ranked below Speed Racer? Are you kidding me? 2008 was one of the most memorable years for cinema, headlined by The Dark Knight which was literally in every way an achievement in story, acting, directing, editing, and special effects, making it the best picture of 2008 that did not get a Best Picture Oscar. You had this picture out of the top five and ranked below Speed Racer which won some Razzies last year and was frankly a load of cow dung on screen. You did have a lot of the best pics of last year, but how in the hell could you leave off Frost/Nixon, Ron Howard’s best film in years, nominated for best picture, and include Bolt? Bolt was ok but in no way does it deserve a spot on the best pics of 2008 list. You also had Slumdog Millionaire in 12th, are you kidding me. Your list sucks and you have no credibility with me, and what is funny is I don’t think I am alone in this category. Here is my top five, just for your info: 1.The Dark Knight 2. Wall-E 3. The Wrestler 4. Frost/Nixon 5. Slumdog Millionaire

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