The Best and Worst Movies of 2008

THE WORST

The Dark Knight

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We liked the first act of Nolan’s second Batman movie very much. In fact, nothing in the whole movie could top the robbery scene at the beginning. Yes, we loved Heath Ledger’s Joker. He wasn’t in it enough. But we were getting pretty bored by the end of the second act, and by the time it became clear that Two Face would be a villain in this Batman film and not the next sequel, well, we were downright exhausted. The clunky editing, clumsy fight scenes (you really couldn’t see anything in the film), and convoluted plot turns didn’t help a film where the hero endorses the Bush administration’s methods (torture; spying on its citizens). And don’t even get us started on Bale’s silly “Batman voice.” Worst of all was all the praise this film garnered, as if everyone had been primed to love it and had no other choice. The Dark Knight is a crushing fascist vision; that its true hero is the Joker will be lost on all.

Hancock

An interesting premise and a funny opening scene quickly devolve into an incoherent mythology and a superhero story absent of any real villain. We usually like our films short, but Hancock felt thin at under 90 minutes. What was cut?

Speed Racer

Speed Racer, a psychedelic cartoon blur of flat characters and unfun nonsense should be the nail in the Wachowski’s brother-sized coffin. We’re beginning to think that The Matrix was just a matter of the right William Gibson rip-off at the right time (right time here = right technology). Ugh.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

You saw that South Park episode, “The China Probrem,” right? Where Spielberg and Lucas literally rape Indy? That’s about right…

The Happening

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Shyamalan owes us the ninety minutes he stole from us. We suggest he show up at Biblioklept World Headquarters (shamefaced, of course) prepared to work–there’s always some caulking and mowing and painting that needs doing. On second thought, we’re sure he’d figure out a way to fuck up even the simplest chore. Possibly the worst movie we’ve ever seen.

THE BEST

Iron Man

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Where The Dark Knight plumbed the worst aspects of human nature, Iron Man gave us a hero with a truly redemptive arc, and did so in a way both moving and humorous. Iron Man also looked great, and featured the best origin story of any of the big superhero movies of the past decade. In fact, we’re calling it: Iron Man is the best superhero movie of the decade.

 

Be Kind Rewind

We laughed, we cried, we wrote a review.

Burn After Reading

Coming after No Country for Old Men, the Coen brothers’ shaggy dog comedy felt light and even superfluous at times. Still, elements of the story stuck with us long after the viewing, and, as usual, the Coen’s get great performances out of their cast.

In Bruges

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We don’t want to give away too many details from In Bruges, but it’s worth pointing out that the trailers and ads totally missed–or misrepresented–the tone of the movie. In Bruges is funny, but it’s hardly a buddy film–at it’s core it’s a sad, even philosophical, reflection on loss and guilt. Great stuff.

Pineapple Express

Enough has been written at this point on Judd Apatow’s crew and the successes they’ve had in recent years that we don’t need to comment, except to point out that we loved Freaks and Geeks when it originally aired and it’s great to see what all these kids have done since then. Seth Rogen is hilarious, but James Franco steals the show here as a dope dealing loser who just needs a friend. Great action scenes too. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, also featuring Apatow cohorts, was pretty good too, of course.

Wall-E

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Who knew a post-apocalyptic film criticizing consumerist culture and our ever-increasing loss of connection to both the natural world and our own bodies would be so good? We loved, loved, loved Wall-E. Best film of 2008.

Films we still haven’t seen but in which we have interest: Rachel Getting Married, Synecdoche, New York, Hamlet 2, Hellboy 2, The Wrestler, Quantum of Solace, Let the Right One In.