Pop Of King (91) – 10 Best Movies of 2008 – (19 grudnia 2008)

Let’s start with a confession: I’m not trustworthy when it comes to movies. I’m two-minded about them. Take this year’s Saw film. I sat there in my favorite seat – third row middle, so the screen towers above me – and my forebrain was thinking, Oh, man, this is the year’s biggest pile of cinematic dog vomit. But the rest of my brain is thinking, I’m at the mooooovies! IS THIS GREAT OR WHAT?

So when I get flamed in the letters column, as I usually do after one of these lists, I know why. This is almost surely the only 10-best list you’ll read that contains not one but two Jason Statham movies; it’s that two-brains thing.


This loose remake of Death Race 2000 features the redoubtable Statham as an unjustly convicted (in this sort of movie they always are) felon doing long time in a near-future prison. The canny female warden (brilliantly played by Joan Allen) sets up a series of pay-per-view ”death races” that are huge ratings successes. Death Race is filled with laconic violence and blasting muscle cars, but just beneath the surface is a biting satire of reality TV.


Mike Terry is a barely-getting-by martial-arts instructor. He doesn’t believe in prize bouts, but is forced into one here, with nail-biting and unexpected results. Terry is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who brings gravity and grace to Terry’s moral dilemma. Written and directed by the always ferocious David Mamet, this is not your father’s Karate Kid.


The film version brings the novel’s bleak theme to the screen intact. Terrible things happen by accident, and when they do, folks are usually on their own. Like all the best horror movies, the premise is simple: Five young people are trapped on top of a pyramid, surrounded by carnivorous plants. It could have been ludicrous. Instead, it’s unrelenting.


Is Samuel L. Jackson in every movie? No…but it might be a better world if he were. Directed by Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men and the admittedly crappy Wicker Man remake), Terrace offers a unique take on racism by turning it upside down. Jackson is terrific as the smiling, mentally unbalanced cop who doesn’t like the interracial couple who live next door. Jackson’s performance deserves an Academy Award nod, but won’t get one. Too bad.


Any doubts that Jason Statham is more than a muscle boy are set to rest in this rich (and often amusing) story of one of the biggest bank robberies in British history. High-tension cerebral thrills.


This grim story of home invasion by two thrill-seeking young men in white gloves was the most terrifying movie of the year. Although the blood here is measured in drops rather than in Saw’s gallons, the film is relentless, and all but unbearable. It works as a savage parody of the snuff-porn genre even as it transcends it.


The funniest, most daring comedy of the year. Thunder is crude, rude, and constantly entertaining. Tom Cruise got the critical bouquets, but I relished Nick Nolte’s performance as rough-and-ready John ”Four Leaf” Tayback, whose prosthetic hooks turn out to be as false as his war record.


One of the longest animated features of the last 25 years or so, and certainly the best; the first half an hour is an almost wordless tone poem that combines humor with ?an elegiac sadness for our throwaway culture. I don’t think it deserves a Best Picture Academy Award, but it certainly deserves to be nominated.


Combine Bollywood, Huckleberry Finn, and Oliver Twist, and you come out with this brilliant, sentimental, hilarious, and ultimately uplifting epic of survival in an urban world of cataclysmic poverty. The cinematography is beautiful, and the performances shimmer. It’s been years since the movies have produced such an affecting story about the power of friendship.


The best superhero movie ever. It’s crowned by Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, but Christian Bale makes a great Batman, delivering a performance where dignity and despair are in perfect sync. The supporting cast (especially Michael Caine as Alfred) is wonderful. This is to cape-and-tights movies what Godfather II was to the gangster movie: a genre-defining event.

Any questions? No? Good. Because I have to catch up with Jason Statham in Transporter 3.