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Favorite Films of 2008

The List:

Wall-E
The Dark Knight
Vicky Christina Barcelona
Iron Man
Tropic Thunder
Pineapple Express
Teeth
Burn After Reading
Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Wall-E

Unlike other Pixar films, I went into this one knowing next to nothing about the characters or storyline. I was absolutely floored. The film reminded me of Kubrick's '2001' and Chaplin's 'City Lights' and 'Modern Time' with Wall-E as the cute Chaplinesque robot on a mission of self-discovery and love. How often can a film, much less an animated film, mesh romantic silent film with sci-fi, consumerist satire, and post-apocalyptic dark comedy all in one? 'Wall-E' is one of the greatest animated films ever made.

The Dark Knight
What can I say. Heath Ledger's performance is scary good, literally. It alone elevates 'The Dark Knight' above all other Batman movies. The film is disturbing not only for Ledger's portrayal (in light of his untimely death); it also explores the concept of what a society should accept in trading freedom for 'security'. I'll leave it at that without ruining the plot. If you ignore the allegorical angle, it still is the best action blockbuster of the year.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Sure, if you know me you know that I love Woody Allen movies. Yes, I would have ranked this just as highly without Penelope and ScarJo's sexy makeout scene. Barcelona and Oviedo provide a beautiful cinematic backdrop for this dark romantic drama, which offers a commentary on the wealthy and the romantic plight of artists. It's better than 'Match Point' and is probably Woody Allen's best film since 'Crimes and Misdemeanors'. Javier Badem cleans up nicely as the estranged artist. Penelope Cruz turns in an Oscar-worthy performance as the neurotic ex-wife of the artist. Rebecca Hall does a fine job as the sensible fiancee and ScarJo isn't bad either as the open-minded romantic free spirit that reminds me of every ex-girlfriend i've ever had.

Iron Man
One of the best comic book-to-film adaptations I've seen. This film balances humor and action in appropriate measures, thanks in part to Robert Downey Jr.'s nuanced, versatile, and comical portrayal. Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow also give commendable performances.

Tropic Thunder
Like Zoolander meets Apocalypse Now, 'Tropic Thunder' is a biting satire on Hollywood and war movies. Robert Downey Jr. steals the show, but Ben Stiller and surprisingly, Tom Cruise, are also hilarious.

Pineapple Express

This is a hilariously over-the-top mix of stoner comedy, cheesy action, and police chase drama.

Teeth
Gentlemen, check your man bits after watching this film. No, it's not about the African disappearing penis myth. It's about vagina dentata. Basically, it makes 'The Crying Game' seem not so bad. Jess Weixler is terrific as Dawn, as she suffers horny creeps one after another in this campy thriller-comedy.

Burn After Reading
An interesting but uneven screwball comedy about greed, vanity, and the CIA. If that sounds pretty random, that's because it is. The film struggled to find an appropriate tone, juxtaposing funny and serious elements haphazardly. Thankfully, the all-star cast of Pitt, McDormand, Clooney, Swinton, and Malkovich isn't completely wasted. However, in the end, the viewer is left with an inconsequential, so what?

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Yes, folks, more sex jokes. It's another Apatow film! Jason Segel plays the charmingly pathetic Peter; Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell are solid in their respective roles.


Films I have yet to see: Australia; Che; The Class; Crossing; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Doubt; Everlasting Moments; Flight of the Red Balloon; Frozen River; Gran Torino; Rachel Getting Married; The Reader; Revolutionary Road; Synecdoche, New York; Waltz With Bashir; The Wrestler

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