A year of film! What a year! There was a Batman movie!

I think it is a shame to deride 2008 as a bad year for film. I think what everyone really wants to say is that it was a bad year for SERIOUS films. Think about it, all the Oscar bait flicks that came out at the end of the year were pretty far and wide rather average. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Gran Torino at two really good examples of work that has the pedigree behind it without much results. That's a nice way to say neither was any good.

2008 will stand in my head as great year for comedy. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Pineapple Express, Role Models, these films weren't just funny, they were drop down on your knees with hilarity funny. Not to mention Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Tropic Thunder, which shouldn't have been that good(I'll never forget McConaughey and the TiVo). And superhero movies, holy shitballs. I don't think I need to mention what a year it was for superhero movies. Nothing can touch 2008 when it came to the supes on film. So, if you wanted important films dealing with deep issues, maybe 2008 wasn't your year. But if you want subversive Homo Comedies and Tony Stark being a dick, 2008 was killer.

Cloverfield is a hella entertaining film. Until I die, I will continue to use "hella". Along with being thrilling and exciting, it occured to me the other day that it is essentially every bland drama you have ever seen on television with a monster dropped on top of it. Or better, it's every party(fun or not fun) you have ever been to, with a monster killing everyone who didn't chip in for the keg. Remember every party at Robot House? Cloverfield is a Robot House party but instead of getting a noise violation, Justin gets eaten on the lawn and Ryan films it. Tor is the guy who gets killed on the bridge. Ambyr is Lizzy Caplan and I dunno, Sarah or Stacey is the chick in the tower. Is that everybody? OH shit, Joe. Joe is there. In closing, Cloverfield is like going to a party where everyone dies. It is so awesome.

9)The Fall
The most beautiful film of the year. Tarsem isn't a guy who is huge on story, but nobody can make a better looking flick. It is easy to be cynical about movies, about the circumstances that take place in them, but The Fall doesn't have a cyncial bone in its immaculate body. When a man riddled with arrows is a thing of disturbing beauty, I know that a film has hit on a special note. Tarsem mentioned in a interview that people love his work with water, both of it and under it. Well, it ain't bragging if you can do it.

8)The Wrestler
Back in 1999, I made a short film with the guys for AP English where I openly mocked Mickey Rourke for his failed career and joked at his expense, presenting a scenario where Sean Connery, yes, the star of Entrapment himself, refused to work with him. Come to find out, in '99 this wasn't far from the truth, and with his performance in The Wrestler, my presentation on Flannery O'Connor is now not only worth about a C/C-, but it is also dated. Congrats, Rourke, you did it.

7)Pineapple Express
Right now, the DVD for Pineapple Express is sitting on Rachel's shelf underneath a copy of Mission Impossible 2(M:I 2 if you're in a hurry). This is apt because both are pretty gay films. Also, both are awesome(this is fact, not up for debate). Pineapple Express is Seth Rogan making his version of those great action comedies of the 80's, with ridiculous fights, chases, and the homosexual overtones rocketed right to the forefront. I've heard plenty of complaints, both online and from actual people I know that the third act action sequence is "stupid", "impossible", and most appalling, "not funny". To this I say that if you can't laugh at Seth Rogan flying through the air and saying "You've been served", well, I think you probably should be killed by a DaeWoo. Motherfucker.

6)Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Jason Segel's greatest comedic ability is to cry like a little bitch. He did it to great effect on Undeclared and he does it to perfection in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Everyone kills in this movie. Segel, Bill Hader, Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell, all funny, and let's not forget the greatness of Russell Brand. Sure, he's since proven that in real life he isn't particularly funny, but in FSG he's gold with every word out his mouth. On a more serious note, these characters were more fleshed out and real than in any other Apatow production. Brand's exaggerated persona aside, the relationship between Segel and Bell felt like a real lived in thing, and Segel's use of real life experience probably went a long way toward establishing this tone.

5)Iron Man
This film is really lightning in a bottle. While I'm sure that future sequels will be cool and fun, none will carry the surprise and thrill that Iron Man delivered. Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark is another great cinematic drunk, and with a stripper pole in his jet and loose attitude towards his "secret identity", he's one of the most charming cads ever. Iron Man is a grand example of not listening to studio suits and "the general way things are done". Plenty of scenes present themselves as rote and typical, only to twist on their heads in a smart way that wakes you up and says, "Fuck the rules". Two scenes that stand out are Stark's post escape press conference where he makes the press corp sit on the ground while he eats a sandwich and the great end line where he reveals his identity to the world. Because, really, fuck it, Tony Stark definitely wants everyone to know he's Iron Man. Because so many people are going to want to fuck Iron Man.

4)Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Another guy who makes his own rules, Guillermo del Toro makes whatever he wants, and I've yet to see him phone it in. Besting the original, HB2 is more gorgeous and action packed, with sequences of great imagination and joy. Hellboy jumping from car to car fighting a giant tree creature, heck, I got giddy just typing that. Rachel hated it, but Hellboy dueting with Abe Sapien on "Can't Smile Without You" is the kind of silly abandon I look for in a movie. Ill advised and sure to hated by some, it was one of my favorite moments in any film this year. Not to mention the final battle against the Golden Army, the hidden city, the drunk fight. Y'know, the whole thing. That's what I loved, the whole goddamn thing.

3)The Dark Knight
What can I say that you, your mom and the fat guy online haven't already said? Heath Ledger, great. Christian Bale, also great. Same for Gary Oldman. And Aaron Eckhart. And Chris Nolan's direction. The script. I mean, you saw it, you know what I'm talking about. This is like discussing the importance of air or the fact that Hov has the flow of the century. The Dark Knight is amazing and spectacular, and it has Eric Roberts in it. We shall never see its like again.

I like to imagine the Pixar crew sitting around with things that no one could ever consider cuddly and saying, "Hey, let's make the most adorable tractor robot movie ever." Bugs, monsters, rats, and hey, this summer they're doing a movie about a cranky old guy. I'm sure I'm going to want to give him a big hug too. Wall-E does indeed have the greatest opening 45 minutes of the year, fairly plotless and poetic without dialogue, and also genius.

1)Rachel Getting Married
This is actually one of those heady, Oscar bait movies that I mentioned in the beginning, except this one got it right. After either being miscast or just plain sucking in everything, Anne Hatheway finally nails it here as the rehabbed trainwreck sister to Rachel, who, guess what? is getting married. Jonathan Demme pulls the most natural and real performances out of his actors here, presenting moments both funny and sad that never stray from feeling one hundred percent true and honest. The camera work is also a top example of how to do hand held while not forgetting how to frame a shot and keep it steady. Rosemarie Dewitt as Rachel is just about as perfect as they come here, and that's why she hasn't been getting the notices of so many other actors this awards season. Without being showy, which no one here is, it can be easy to overlook the performance and forget that is just what is, a beautiful, natural performance. I rarely get to see something like it.

Honorable Mentions
Tropic Thunder
Role Models
Funny Games
The Strangers

Punisher War Zone

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire

Worst Shit of the Year
Gran Torino
Diary of the Dead
The Foot Fist Way

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