The Year In Film: 2008

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-The year 2008 was interesting. While music and TV were in a bit of a struggle, movies seemed to be somewhat thriving this year for the most part. There were superhero films, top tier comedies, a new Indiana Jones (not that I liked it), some really good movies for kids and much more. For me, 2008 was a year that I think I spent more time at the movies on the weekend than in the house (that might be an exaggeration but it was a good year for me). If it wasn't a film like The Dark Knight or Iron Man, it was Tropic Thunder or Step Brothers. If it wasn't Wall-E or Kung Fu Panda, it was Pineapple Express or Forgetting Sarah Marshall. This isn't including the films that made the awards season light up either, most of which I wasn't entirely interested in anyways, but the fact remains they were huge for the year. Today, we are here to talk the year 2008 in film and it'll be interesting to see what everybody's favorite movie is. Let get into it.

We’ve done an overview of some years in film and they’ve been great. 2008 for me was lackluster at best. With over 150 movies that were released that year, only a handful stand out to me and while Marvel gave us two films this year with a couple releases, it still wasn’t enough to make the year “pop” so here are the five (that’s really all I liked) that I loved in no particular order. 

One film I enjoyed that year was Vantage Point. I’m not the biggest fan of Forrest Whitaker, but for some reason I watch almost every movie he’s in. He’s always cast in movies with depth and an alluring storyline and Vantage Point is exactly that. The story is simple: the American president is to address the public about terrorism in Spain, and is about to be assassinated…go figure. However, the twist, and what makes this such an engaging movie is, that it's told and re-told from various perspectives. From the moment leading up to the assassination, those few minutes are replayed and it’s thought-provoking to see it from different angles. It takes a minute for the viewers to clue in to the flow of the movie, but when we do, it all unravels quickly. Aside from Forrest Whitaker, we also see Dennis Quid and Matthew Fox in this movie and they all deliver a great performance. 

Of course, I have to mention Seven Pounds. I love Will Smith movies (well most of them anyways) and while this particular movie was depressing and morbid, it has a hopeful and inspirational side to it as well. The best way I can describe this is that it is an emotional roller coaster. The beginning is a bit jarring and unexpected, as Tim Thomas (Will Smith) is driving while sending a text message and causes a huge accident in which seven people die; his fiancé being one of them. Unable to live with himself and the guilt, he plans a suicide but sets off to better the lives of seven people as a means of redemption. Like I said, the storyline is a bit twisted but it has some uplifting aspects as well. We get to see the process by which he picks the seven people and we also see him donate anything he can to make their lives better including his organs, as we learn he has a suicide planned. What I loved most about this movie is how “life” and “living” is treated with such priority and genuine kindness is shown to others. As Tim goes along, he makes sure that those he is helping “live life abundantly” and even falls in love with one of the people he’s helping, although he “fights” it for the greater goal he has. Learning she requires a heart transplant, he decides that it’s time for him to go, as he reports his own suicide and instructions on what to do with his remaining organs. This movie was just a great example of selfless acts of love and kindness, and captivated the audience, elicited so many emotions and left us teary eyed in the process. 

2008 was the arrival of Twilight to theaters. I don’t think I had ever anticipated a movie release as much as I waited for this one. I have a fascination with vampires and I love every movie about vampires and of course Twilight was the “fluffy love” version of it so I couldn’t wait. I had read all the books in 3 days so this was important and then finally the film releases. However, the movie was just okay to me, but because I loved the books so much, I liked the film and watched it a couple of times. Any movie that is based on a book is usually disappointing because of time limitations but what I did love about this was the important parts in the book (the meadow scene and the sparkly vampire skin) were well depicted. Those particular details were well executed and overall, Twilight the movie laid a good foundation for the rest of the films much like the books did. As for the cast, I wasn’t thrilled with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart as the “best” characters. In fact, I could think of a million other people who would have been better however I did love the Cullen’s extended family as well as the other characters though as they were all executed well. Although the movie had holes in it compared to the book, the anticipation was memorable to me, so this one stood out. 

If you've read my heist films article, then you know 21 would make the list here. I don’t know where to start with this movie. First off, it’s based on a true story AND it’s a heist film so of course I loved it instantly. The angle of MIT students who are incredibly intelligent and using that as a “weapon” to count cards at blackjack tables is so dope. The rules are clear and make the anticipation of when they will break them exciting. I think the best part of this is the twist at the end, as it’s a story of the student outshining the teacher, but then turning on him too. Another great part for the viewers is that although this is clear theft, we are on the “villains” side the entire time. We want the casinos to lose, we certainly don’t want security to catch them and part way through, we end up hating their teacher. They are students trying to advance their education and turn to this lifestyle to finance it. How can you hate on that?! Kevin Spacey, Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth and the rest of the cast were so believable and nailed each one of their roles. I couldn’t think of a better way to turn this real-life story into a blockbuster.

In the superhero realm, of course The Dark Knight has to be mentioned. It is a Christopher Nolan directed movie so of course this was THE BEST movie of 2008. Easily. I know this year also gave us Ironman and The Incredible Hulk, but I still think this was better. Christian Bale became my favorite Batman after this because he was a flawless Bruce Wayne and fit the Batman persona very well also. Heath Ledger was never on my radar and I never thought of him as a good actor until this. He was truly the PERFECT Joker. He was psycho, unpredictable and all around crazy. The scene that proved this was when he blew up the hospital and walked out in nurse attire. Aside from the cast (Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are incredible also), the entire movie was edge of your seat exciting and just unraveled so well. It was suspenseful, it was puzzling, there was a love story and of course all this within the superhero world. There is nothing bad I can say about this film. If anything, this carried the year in film and was a great addition to this installment of the Batman and DC Universe. 

Although I didn’t mention “Ironman”, “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button” and “Changeling”, I know those are great movies as well, they just didn’t stand out as much to me personally. Disney/Pixar also had a few releases, but again they just came up a little short. 2008 wasn’t the greatest year in film, but the five I mentioned were the most memorable for me.

2008 movies for me were cool. I didn't get around to seeing everything, but I saw enough. There were films I saw that I didnt particularly like such as Twilight. I thought it was a cool film, but too light for me as I wasn't a reader of the books. I guess I was expecting more gore and action like there was in Cloverfield, but got more of a campy love story. As far as The Incredible Hulk, I just didn't like what they did with the character and the CGI wasn't visually pleasing. Surprisingly, despite me not being a big Batman fan, I really enjoyed The Dark Knight. The dark cinematography was a plus and Heath Ledger was amazing in his portrayal of The Joker. 

It took me a while to watch Ironman, but that movie was better than I was expecting with Robert Downey Jr. in that role. His other major role that year was in Tropic Thunder with him playing a black man which was ridiculous but I found it humorous. Speaking of superhero films, Hancock was a good movie to me. A film with an original concept and no comic origins, which made it interesting. I wish we could've gotten a little more into the background of it all and even a sequel. Gran Torino was about an unlikely friendship developing between a teen and an old seemingly bigoted white man who has issues with the minorities in his area. I enjoyed this film. 

This year was mostly about the comedies. Pineapple Express, a stoner action comedy about a guy and his weed dealer ending up on the run from a crooked cop and a drug lord after witnessing a murder was pretty funny. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a film about a heartbroken guy trying to get over his ex who dumped him was pretty good. He goes to Hawaii only to find out his ex and her new man is there. Step Brothers was another good comedy about 2 grown men who start a rivalry when their parents split. All of these were hilarious to me for sure. They made 2008 solid.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-What's the best movie of the year? Is it The Dark Knight? Iron Man? Step Brothers? Slumdog Millionaire? Benjamin Button?  Gran Torino? Though out of these choices, I would always go with The Dark Knight, but this year in film had so many great movies and moments for the audiences despite the team not thinking so. For black films, there were less and less options here, but The Express was solid, The Longshots had its moments, Soul Men was the last Bernie Mac film, and Miracle At St. Anna tackled a black military narrative that hadn't really been explored before. For some, The Secret Life of Bees was a great movie, with both Alicia Keys and Queen Latifah putting on great roles in this film. I wasn't the biggest fan of that film or Cadillac Records, but each film had something to bring the intended audience in. If you were a Tyler Perry fan (I'm sorry if you are), The Family That Preys and Meet The Browns came out that year. While I wasn't a fan of these, I'll give The Family That Preys some credit for not being entirely terrible. Martin Lawrence made an attempt at a return, and had roles in two films this year. After playing in the awful College Road Trip, he somewhat delivered on the mildly funny Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, which had a few good moments and Joy Bryant, who is always a delight to watch in films. Overall, black movies weren't thriving too much, but there were at least some actors who were thrived at the box office, two to be exact.

For Will Smith, after I Am Legend gave him huge numbers, he bounced back with a massive success in Hancock and a solid success in Seven Pounds. I wasn't fond of either movie, but I can respect the work ethic and drive. However, the comeback of the year award goes to Robert Downey Jr. without question. At one point, he was the drug riddled, troubled star who couldn't get his life together. In 2008, he was involved in two of the biggest movies of the year. He was Ironman. Then, he became the dude playing a dude that's disguised as another dude in the hilarious Tropic Thunder.
For both of these actors, 2008 proved to be career changing in a way. For Will, despite a successful year, it would be one of his last successful years film wise and a slow start to his decline. For Downey, it was the rebirth of a career many thought was over or at least impossible to repair. Now he's bigger than ever and involved in the biggest movie franchise of this era. What a turnaround.

In closing, while I enjoyed the movies that I saw in 2008, I realize there were a lot of movies to not enjoy. There was the horrible Jessica Alba "horror" film The Eye, which is laughably bad. There was the awful Twilight film, there was the Keanu Reeves train wreck The Day The Earth Stood Still, and of course, the worst movie ever, the M. Night (insert long last name here) directed, Mark Wahlberg starring (this will be great) film, The Happening. You know what, now I have bad flashbacks of this movie and the year in film. Like how could a film be so bad? Like, when they were directing and filming this, did they not know it was the drizzling shit? Did they not know it was fucking terrible? How can you in good confidence make a movie where Mark Wahlberg has to be serious and express emotion? Why? Why was the plot "twist" stupid as hell. Fuck 2008 for bringing The Happening into existence. Sure, there were a lot of great comedies, but The Happening cancels almost all of them out. Wait, Mike Myers put out The Love Guru this year also? Oh wow, this is worse than I thought. Forget what I've said in the beginning of this article. 2008 was awful, it was dreadful, it was a disaster at the theaters. It was still a good year for me personally, but these film studios can go to hell. The Dark Knight, the Pixar movies, Ironman, and the comedies? They're good as gold. However, the rest of the films from the year? They can all burn. There was a movie called Prom Night. Prom Night. It was a horror movie. How far have we strayed from the light? 2008, while I appreciate you for the great movies you gave us, someone has to answer for the bullshit we received on the big screen. Someone. Anyone. I'll never get those hours back for watching The Happening. Fuck you Mark Wahlberg. Fuck you M. Night. Let's just end this here.



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