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Top 12 Films of 2008

This was originally supposed to be just a Top 10 list, but since the world counts time in duodecimal, I threw in two more films and made it a Top 12 list.

I have seen quite a number of films this year, but still, I know some people who've seen a lot more than I have. So if one particular film is not in the list, it's probably because I haven't seen it. This list is limited only to those films which I have seen and reviewed in Da Couch Tomato.

Some films which were released in 2007 yet only made their theatrical run in the Philippines in 2008 are not included. This list is strictly limited to only those films released in 2008. Oh, and the list is also limited to foreign, more specifically, Hollywood films, as I don't believe I've seen at least twelve local films this year.

So without further ado, here are the Top 12 films of the year. Click on the title to view the original review as it appeared in Da Couch Tomato.

12. Horton Hears a Who

So far, this film is the closest Hollywood has ever come to bringing the essence of Dr. Seuss to life. Well, The Grinch was okay (it also starred Jim Carrey), but Mike Myers's live-action take on The Cat in the Hat was a terrible move, which prompted Dr. Seuss's widow to declare that henceforth, there shall be no more live-action adaptations of the children's stories. I always wondered why it took Hollywood so long to realize that the only way to breathe life into these stories, and do justice to them, is through the animated medium, and nothing else.

11. Pineapple Express

Viva la stoner flick. Well, even if this weren't a stoner flick, it would still probably be on the list, since Judd Apatow's comedies are one of the most intelligent comedies churned out by Hollywood today. Funny man Seth Rogen is in it, and so is James Franco, whose performance alone will make this film worth watching.

10. Iron Man

Probably one of the most decent Marvel Comics adaptations to come out, Iron Man puts the cherry back on top of Robert Downey, Jr.'s career. This goes on to prove that superheroes with no real superpowers (like Batman) tend to become the most successful in the box office. Normal human beings can really relate to guys like Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne. Plus the fact that they're both millionaire playboys probably adds to their appeal.

9. The Happening

M. Night Shyamalan is still one of the most talented visual storytellers in the industry today, yet he is often chided when he strays far away from his macabre style. Somehow, people always expect him to stick to The Sixth Sense formula, yet they don't realize that Shyamalan's diversity is one of his greatest strengths as a filmmaker. The Happening may disappoint some viewers, but its subtlety is what actually makes it work.

8. Burn After Reading

First of all, it's written and directed by the most recent Oscar winners, the brilliant Coen brothers. Second, it has a great cast. Third, Brad Pitt gives a terrific performance. The Coens do a terrific job of balancing darkness and humor, and the cast does an even better job of executing the directors's vision.

7. Kung Fu Panda

For capturing the spirit and essence of the eighties Chinese kung fu flicks, and successfully translating it into animated animals, this film deserves a lot of credit. Kung Fu Panda again showcases the power of the animated medium to go places where live-action dare not tread, and if you're not turned on by the excellent action sequences, then Jack Black's humor probably will.

6. Tropic Thunder

Ben Stiller's weird brand of comedy (he co-wrote and directed the film) is enhanced by a screwball cast of really talented comedians, including Jack Black and Robert Downey, Jr. (who's on a roll this year). The film-within-a-film type of movie is something viewers haven't seen for a long time, and with unexpected cameos from A-list actors, this film is sure to entertain from the time the cameras start rolling all the way to the DVD commentary.


Again, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone why a Pixar film appears on a list of the best movies of the year. What pushes the envelope this time is the film's minimal use of spoken dialogue (the dialogue comes only in the latter half of the film), which makes you appreciate how brilliant the animators are in letting a computer-generated robot do all its acting with just the eyes.

4. Vantage Point

The "whodunit" is one of the most entertaining genres of film, as it keeps you on the edge until the film's resolution. But more than an effective script, Vantage Point has excellent directing, a great play of great actors, terrific editing and sound designall the individual aspects of the film combine to form one action-packed suspense thriller. In the end, it doesn't really matter whodunit; it's the ride that counts.

3. Wanted

Adrenaline-pumping action and fantastic camerawork make this film a must-see, along with possibly the best action sequences of any film to come out this year. James McAvoy's convincing portrayal of an accountant-turned-assassin provides the glue that holds this entire comic book adaptation together, and director Timur Bekmambetov's filmmaking style, imported from across the Atlantic, should give the Hollywood studios a heads-up on the advantages of bringing European storytelling onto American soil.

2. The Dark Knight

I was deciding on whether to use Christian Bale's or Heath Ledger's picture, and although Mr. Man-Crush Bale's face looks more aesthetically pleasing, it's Ledger's Joker that captures the essence of The Dark Knight. Expect several Oscar nominations for this film, and I'm not just talking about Heath Ledger's performance. Christopher Nolan's filmmaking is excellent in all aspects, and he literally puts the word "dark" in The Dark Knight.

And finally, the best film of 2008 is...

1. U2 3D

Like I always keep telling people, 3D is the future of movie-going. This is the way movies are supposed to be seen. And if you've never seen a 3D film before, U2 3D would turn you on to the magic of 3D cinema. This film has broken new ground on several aspects of filmmaking, possibly re-writing the rulebook on how 3D films should be made. This is not a regular flick converted to 3D; this film was conceptualized and shot especially for the 3D medium, resulting in the best mind-blowing sensory experience without resulting to psychedelic drug use. The film itself is its own drug, and come Oscar time, expect several nominations for this, especially for Editing and Sound Design.


Unknown said...

U23D FTW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "The film itself is its own drug" LOL

TOTALLY AGREE RE IRON MAN (OH LORD..CAPS) and Tropic Thunder really made me laugh (esp. the full vs semi ret^%d rusty crowe bit)

@the captain:

Yeah I know you're a big U2 fan, captain hahaha. This is my all-time favorite film. Of all time. Hahaha. :-)

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