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Arts and Entertainment

Films of 2008: A restrospective look at this year’s best

By Artie Augustyn
Published: December 2008

2008 was a great year for film. Each of the 12 months was filled with interesting movies to be seen. However, not all of us had the chance to see every one. So in an attempt to narrow down your options, I’ve made a list of five movies I think everyone will enjoy.

The first movie I’d recommend is the hilarious comedy Tropic Thunder. Directed by and starring Ben Stiller, the film follows five snobby actors who become too difficult to work with on a set. The director decides the only way he’ll be able to finish the movie on deadline is to throw the cast into the jungle, and place secret cameras everywhere to get the shots he needs.

Each actor gives heart-attack-worthy performances, especially the surprise performance of Tom Cruise. Cruise is literally so funny in this movie he almost makes me forgive him for jumping on Oprah’s couch. Almost. The jokes made in this film are shocking. Tropic Thunder is rated R for many reasons, and has a good chance of offending you with its unadulterated comedy. If you want to laugh, check out Tropic Thunder, but try to keep an open mind.

Next up is In Bruges. Directed by Martin MacDonagh, In Bruges follows the tale of two hired assassins (Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell) who have to hide out in the Belgian city Bruges after completing a job in London. As the story progresses it’s revealed that some things didn’t go according to plan in London, leaving the two assassins in a complex predicament.

It’s hard to label In Bruges as any particular genre, all I can say is it’s about friendship, family, and killing people. What I enjoyed about In Bruges the most was its undeniable charm. Each character is written and acted perfectly, so you’ll care about each person’s fate. Be warned though, In Bruges is violent and European. I’ve shown this film to some of my friends who hate both violence, and European movies, and they loved it anyway. Just be sure to set your expectations accordingly, and understand that this movie might not be up your alley.

Third on the list is Cloverfield. Directed by Matt Reeves, with J.J. Abrams of Lost fame supporting as lead producer, Cloverfield is about a monster attacking New York City, a simple but excellent idea. The entire movie is shot from a narrative perspective. Prior to the monster attacking, the lead character Rob plans to leave America permanently to live in Japan, so his friends throw him a going-away party and one friend documents his last night.

Cloverfield’s sense of companionship is top notch. Very few movies give you the sense that you’re part of the ride. Cloverfield aces this aspect, providing one of the most exciting experiences you’ll have with a DVD. Since it’s not playing in theatres anymore, it’s best to watch this movie at night with a couple of friends who also have not seen the movie, to effectively recreate the “theatre feel. Turn the lights off and the sound up, and you’ll be in for a ride you won’t forget.

If non-stop heart pounding action is not your cup of tea, give Wall-E a shot, the latest film from the prestigious studio Pixar. Wall-E is about a robot that’s designed to clean trash from the world after consumerism took over and made the planet inhabitable. Despite being a robot, Wall-E has evolved and developed emotions such as love. He meets, and falls in love with, a fellow robot named Eve, but she has not evolved like Wall-E, and has no emotions. The entire film is told through body language and quick audio bytes, as opposed to standard dialogue. Like every Pixar movie, Wall-E is heartwarming and a joy to watch. If you’re not into Pixar movies, this won’t change your mind, but if you can enjoy the simplicity of this film, you’ll be in for a treat.

The defining movie of 2008 is The Dark Knight. There’s not much to say about this movie, other than you have to see it. In The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan has masterminded a near perfect superhero movie. An epic film in every sense, its dark and serious tone makes insane and wacky characters like The Joker believable. Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker is one that cannot be missed.

Given the fact that it’s a superhero movie it probably won’t be winning any Oscars (even for the spectacular Heath Ledger) but that doesn’t make it any less remarkable. If there’s one movie you have to see from the year of 2008, it’s The Dark Knight.

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