Ralph Arida’s Best & Worst Movies of 2008

1. The Visitor

This movie is so touching in its sincerity and subtle complexity that it definitely stands on a league of its own. Thomas McCarthy is definitely a director to keep an eye on and Richard Jenkins delivers without a doubt the best performance of the year. If you have not seen this movie, please do, it will make you a better person. The Visitor is a fulfilling and enriching movie-watching experience.

2. Slumdog Millionaire
If you are a fan of Danny Boyle, than this movie will not disappoint. From the first visually stunning frame on, Boyle transports you into the colorful Indian slums, and serenades you with an uplifting and truly inspiring narrative. A masterful exercise in style and storytelling, Slumdog Millionaire truly deserves its unanimous critical praise.

3. The Dark Knight
The most efficient comic book movie adaptation of all time has finally arrived. The Dark Knight is a true testament to the Batman mythology, and will finally allow the batman geeks to die knowing that at least one person in Hollywood (Christopher Nolan) understands what this cape crusader is all about. Great writing, epic action, refined performances and stunning music make of this movie an instant classic. Now that this smart and dark action movie was the most financially successful movie of the year, hopefully it will open doors for more to come.

4. The Wrestler
Ever since I was shell-shocked by Requiem For A Dream, Darren Aronofsky has become my movie-directing god. I may be biased, but the critical praise confirms it: no matter what style, no matter what story, this man knows how to deliver memorable movies, and knows how to work with actors. This is the best ensemble cast of the year by far, and one of the most touching stories to have hit the screen in a while. The Wrestler is definitely a must-see.

5. Traitor
One of the smartest movies about terrorism since Syriana, Traitor is, in my opinion, the first North American film to genuinely explore the world and mindset of suicide bombers. Surprisingly devoid of useless political propaganda, and enhanced by mesmerizing performances, this is by far one of the best and most underrated movie of the year.

6. Hamlet 2
Forget Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder, this independent comedy is the funniest, rollover on the floor and piss your pants off comedy of 2008 by far! A little of Little Miss Sunshine, mixed in with a pinch of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and a drop of The 40 Year Old Virgin, this zany comedy will definitely become a cult indie-film in no time.

7. Boy A
Technically this British film was made in 2007, but it did not hit our North American screens until July 2008, so I insist on putting it on my list. This story about an 18 year-old murderer fresh out of juvenile detention is stunning and memorable. The movie lingers in your head for weeks as it explores the darker side of the human condition and haunts you with its ominous sense of reality.

8. Zack and Miri Make A Porno
Kevin Smith is finally back with something worthy of his fan base/cult. Zack and Miri is by far the perfect blend between romance and comedy. Crude humor is definitely not an easy feat, and way too many alleged comedies have tanked attempting to master it, but this movie pulls it off seemingly without a sweat. In a nutshell: hilarious, touching, gross… and I’ll be damned if Elizabeth Banks isn’t Parker Posey in a blond wig.

9. Gran Torino
Dirty Harry is back and angrier than ever! Were it not for his arthritis, bad heart and aching back, he’d be beating all the gangsters in his neighborhood to a bloody pulp. Don’t judge this movie by its poster though! As badass as it looks, this is not an action movie, but one about acceptance, tolerance and compassion, and a tale about how it is never too late, no matter how old and senile one seems, to have an epiphany.

10. Revolutionary Road
Sam Mendes proved to us that he knew what suburban life was about with American Beauty. With Revolutionary Road, he confirms to us how much he hates it. Revolutionary Road is a haunting depiction of the monotonous suburban life set in the 60’s starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet. The Titanic duo plays a perfect couple that, after moving to the suburbs, goes down the hellish path of self-loathing, self-doubt and ultimately self-destruction. Dicaprio and Winslet play off of each other masterfully and make of this film a very riveting experience.

Worst movies of 2008: While She Was Out, Death Race, Baby Mama, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Seven Pounds, The Happening, 88 minutes, 10,000 BC, An American Carol and Slacker Uprising.