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Top Ten Films of 2008

Observer Scene | Thursday, February 19, 2009

1. “The Wrestler” – An awe-inspiring tour de force of a film, Darren Aronofsky’s masterpiece is so deeply penetrating that it becomes a sort of beautiful requiem. Mickey Rourke’s performance as an over-the-hill wrestler trying to hold onto the false hope that he can mount a comeback is iconic at the least and deserves placement alongside the great screen performances of all time.2. “4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days” – This isn’t a movie about illegal abortion in the communist bloc. No, it’s a surreal, downright horrifying freefall into the confines of human suffering and isolation so washed in unbearable rawness, that at its end, a part of you will wish that you hadn’t seen it because of how scarred it leaves you.3. “Wall-E” – Very little dialogue and a robot with feelings as the main character? No problem. This searing love poem straight from the masterminds at Pixar studios is so heartfelt that its title character has probably become the studio’s most beloved, which is saying a lot. This is one of those rare films that even the coldest of hearts can’t keep from cheering for.4. “Waltz With Bashir” – A paradox of a film, this animated documentary about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the 1980’s is a marvel in every sense of the word. It will at once tug and tear at your insides forcing you to want to look away in anguish, only to fail because the animation draws you in and doesn’t let you escape its otherworldly allure. In the end, this is powerful filmmaking at its best. 5. “Revolutionary Road” – This is the most underrated film of 2008. Sam Mendes directs Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in this emotionally wrought, brutally honest drama about the struggle to hold onto one’s individualism when its seems as though life is resigning itself only to leave behind a numb existence. There isn’t an ounce of happiness in this film, but it works because of how well it’s put together and how poignant the end result is.6. “Let The Right One In” – One of this year’s real finds, this foreign gem of a film takes the huge risk of trying to tell the tale of a young vampire girl who unexpectedly falls in love with a socially outcast schoolboy, and surprisingly enough, it works. 7. “The Curious of Benjamin Button” – It’s the “Forrest Gump” of 2008, with Brad Pitt showing once again that not only is he a A-list movie star, but a gifted actor. David Fincher’s time-driven, wildly imaginative love story may be a bit long and sloppily edited, but overall it succeeds in being what so many other movies try to be but fall short of being – epic. 8. “The Dark Knight” – Undoubtedly the audience favorite of 2008, “The Dark Knight,” is one of those once-in-a-blue-moon films that unite both general audiences and critics alike. Although many factors make up the film’s success, Heath Ledger’s career-defining performance as The Joker is the single reason why “The Dark Knight” manages to be the accomplishment that it is. 9. “Slumdog Millionaire” – A critical darling that has left audiences cheering all across the country, “Slumdog Millionaire” is, in essence, this year’s “Juno,” or if you want to go one step further, 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine.” Only, for some reason, it has succeeded in dominating this awards season. It’s a loveable film and a great one at that, but when it really comes down to it, this is probably this year’s most overrated film.10. “Shotgun Stories” – A truly American story of redemption and family rivalry, this small, hardly seen Southern masterpiece is as subtle as they come, which is both its greatest success, and the single greatest obstacle keeping it from being a true Goliath among films.