Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2008

These may not all be Oscar-worthy, but they rank as the ten movies I enjoyed watching most in 2008.

In no particular order:

1. Slumdog Millionaire - Gorgeous, gripping and ultimately feel-good. Devl Patel is an extremely engaging underdog and Danny Boyle manages to capture the cacaphonous exotic beauty of India and its people.

2. The Fall - This movie had Tarsem Singh's gorgeous visuals and the delectable Lee Pace, but it also had an engrossing story (and story within a story) and a completely natural child actor Catinca Untaru.

3. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Sadly this little gem of a movie will miss out on much deserved Oscar love due to the gnat-sized attention spans of the Academy. Great performances by Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Lee Pace and Ciaran Hinds along with exquisite costumes and production design made this charming little movie an absolute delight to watch.

4. Tropic Thunder - There were a lot of good comedies released in 2008, but Ben Stiller's send-up of the action movie genre--and Hollywood in general--was by far the funniest. Whether it was Robert Downey Jr's delusional divo or Danny McBride's trigger-happy special effects guy or Tom Cruise as a grotesquely profane studio exec, Stiller and company pulled no punches. The action sequences were top-notch as well.

5. Iron Man - I was dubious about Robert Downey Jr. being cast as an comic book action hero, but the dissolute and sardonic Tony Stark fit Downey Jr. like a glove. Or more accurately like the armored suit the superhero wears...

6. BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER* - Chris Bell's documentary on the use of anabolic steroids manages to be both topical and personal, educational and entertaining.

7. The Visitor - Richard Jenkins gives a subtly nuanced performance as a reclusive professor whose life is shaken up by two immigrants living in his apartment and Haaz Sleiman is a delight as the catalyst that inspires Jenkins' character to find the music in his heart and life.

8. WALL*E - Given the hyperbole and high expectations for this latest Pixar release, it would be easy to have been disappointed. But the charming movie about a sweet-natured robot who falls in love manages not only to meet all expectations, but to exceed them--and offer a little ecology lesson as well.

9. Ghost Town - It's hard to imagine Ricky Gervais as a romantic leading man who sweeps you off your feet--but as the awkwardly misanthropic dentist who can see dead people, Gervais manages to be quite beguiling in this quirky romantic comedy. Tea Leoni is no slouch either.

10. RocknRolla - Guy Ritchie's back with another Cockney gangster flick. Gerard Butler is great as a lovable thieving bloke and Tom Wilkinson is dependably fabulous, but Toby Kebbell steals the movie with his turn as the title character.


  1. I soundly agree with a lot of your top ten. I loved The Visitor and Slumdog and enjoyed Miss Pettigrew (though it wouldn't make my top ten). I still need to see Doubt and Milk before I make my final votes.

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  3. I loved Milk. Sean Penn is gonna nail the Oscars.

  4. Sean Penn was excellent in Milk--as were James Franco, Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin. It was a great movie.

    Miss Pettigrew, however, was sheer perfection.

  5. I have to agree with "The Visitor" and "Wall-E." (I haven't seen "Slumdog Millionaire.") Richard Jenkins gave a great, understated performance. And Wall-E was a pretty captivating fellow. I also thought "Milk" was very compelling. The acting was strong, especially Sean Penn but I also really enjoyed Emile Hirsch. I like the way it told the story of a man as well as a movement.

  6. Went to see Slumdog Millionaire on this recommendation and LOVED it! Thanks Stella!