Skip to main content

The Year of the Anti-hero (Best Films of 2008)


Whether it is a matter of coincidence, schadenfreude or just the copycat nature of Hollywood, this year featured a great deal of morally grey characters. Films that resonated with the times surrounding us. Disconnect, war, an ever-increasing sense of paranoia have seeped into mainstream films like Frost/Nixon, Cloverfield, The Dark Knight and the like.

Maybe this darker trend should not come as a surprise while indie productions like Paramount Vantage, Warner Independent Pictures and Miramax are all closing their doors. The effect won't be felt immediately, but in three-four years, they will be missed. Though if there is any indication, the studios will pick up the slack as they have this year.

A majority of 2008's film were not "good guys". Batman, universally renown for being a hero took an antagonistic turn in Christopher Nolan's genre masterpiece. The other comic-book superhero is predominantly viewed as a playboy with a taste for danger. The whistle-blower of a Catholic Church is demonized by the victim's mother and her fellow members of faith. A personal acting highlight of the year featured an IRA activist slowly starving himself to bring attention to the government attacking his people. Characters like Colin Farrell's Ray in In Bruges don't fit the template of your standard hero and that is what made 2008 so indelible. It was so unique.

Colin's Top Ten
10. Wall-E 
9. Let the Right One In
8. Tropic Thunder
7. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
6. Revolutionary Road
5. El orfanato
4. In Bruges
3. Doubt
2. Hunger
1. The Dark Knight

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Anomalisa

Weird is rarely used as a good quality in film criticism, but few words so completely describe Charlie Kaufman’s work as weird does. All of his films are a window into his very particular worldview, and that p.o.v. is certainly unlike anything seen in pop culture. For that reason, Anomalisa became an entry on many most anticipated lists for 2015. That Kaufman chose stop-motion to tell this story made the picture an event. So it came as a disappointment when the film was one of the year’s more mundane efforts.

Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have an energy and heart at the center that is not present here. Previous collaborators like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry were able to temper the overwhelming negativity Charlie Kaufman occasionally falls prey to, but, this time, the writer doesn’t have a director to rein things in. In all of his efforts to create an experience that is both familiar and alienating, Kaufman may have accidentally created something host…

Review: Selma

It may surprise many that Martin Luther King Jr. never received the celluloid treatment prior to Selma. Sure he had been mentioned in other historical pieces, but short of documentary footage, King was never given center stage. Quite shocking given the man's legacy and the lingering effect of his efforts still felt today. Several years of production and a director change later, Selma arrives as the film worthy of the man.

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…