2008 was a so-so year for film in my opinion. I consider it a good year for film when there is at least one go-to movie per month, but this year, there are only six movies that I think were absolute go-tos this year and they make up my best of list. *The one disclaimer I have is that I never got around to seeing Milk, but I heard it was worthy of inclusion. My apologies.
#6 - Iron Man - Robert Downey, Jr., is going to make a run at an Oscar in the upcoming film The Soloist, but it was his performance in this action hero flick that put him fully back into leading man conversations and resurrected his career in a big way. With a $140+ million budget, the Downey-led cast, which included Terrence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow, raked in a cool $318 million, making it one of the biggest movies of '08.
#5 - Seven Pounds - Sure, it gets cheesy at parts when Will Smith and Rosario Dawson start playing "what if", but if you see this movie for what it's worth, you see two great things: 1) Smith in is most balanced and challenging role ever (even moreso than Ali, which left you thinking that they should've waited a bit longer to make the film) and 2) a movie that wasn't afraid of the element of surprise. Everyone knows Will Smith is the biggest thing in Hollywood since Tom Cruise's Oprah couch event, but it's incredible how well they kept the mystery of the movie under wraps with such a big name attached to it.
#4 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - I saw this just last week and I still think my mom put it best when she said it was a lot like Forrest Gump. Obviously, Forrest Gump is a great movie (although it shouldn't have won best picture [Shawshank Redemption anyone?]) and isn't nearly topped by Button, but Brad Pitt gives a winning performance not because he loses himself in the role, but because he amplifies the role with his astonishing good looks after an hour-plus of seeing this old ugly guy come of age. It's an incredible script by F. Scott Fitzgerald with an assist from Forrest Gump writer Eric Roth.
#3 - Wall-E - I would not at all be surprised if this gets serious consideration for best picture. No, not best animated feature, best picture. If you haven't seen this movie and you were wondering what should be next on your Netflix queue, here you go. Pixar never fails to amaze. Who knew a robot could be a leading man in such impeccable fashion?
#2 - Slumdog Millionaire - No review necessary. The only people who won't like this movie are people who don't like film. If you prefer movies with no drama, no love and no passion...and no substance, stay away from this one.
#1 - Dark Knight - THE BEST ACTION MOVIE OF MY GENERATION. This is my order of post-1990 action flicks...#3 The Matrix, #2 Bourne Ultimatum, #1 - Dark Knight. I don't just want Heath Ledger to win the Oscar because he died. I want him to win it because no one else is close. And man, what an opening scene. And boy, what a jam-packed story. And my God, what a sensational cast of villains, good guys, and guys in between that you root for then root against like Aaron Eckhart's character. That guy is about to put himself in Christian Bale territory in terms of good leading men for under $15 mil.