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And the Jeffie goes to ...

POSTED: January 7, 2009 7:10 p.m.

2008 was a good year for comedy, a great year for blockbusters and a so-so year for drama. We saw the return of satire and increasing success of the chick flick. We'll always remember it as the year we lost Heath Ledger. 2008 will linger in more literal ways, too: most award-nominated films used Oscar buzz as publicity, so they won't make it to Gainesville until later in 2009.

In a year in which few films clearly distinguished themselves, here's my top 10 and my personal picks (not to be confused with predictions) for the big awards.

1. "WALL-E"

This might be Pixar's best movie. That alone puts it in the running for the best of any year. It's an epic, weird love story that will influence family movies for years.

2. "In Bruges"

A tremendous sleeper with great writing, spot-on acting and an enchanting supporting role by the title city.

3. "The Wrestler"

The role of a lifetime for Mickey Rourke in a consuming character study. A nice twist on the once popular "down-on-his-luck wrestler" movie, too.

4. "Slumdog Millionaire"

This one has flaws, but several scenes actually reminded me why I love movies. Exhilarating, no-holds-barred filmmaking makes us earn a triumphant ending.

5. "Doubt"

The acting equivalent of the Thrilla in Manila. Could have sworn I heard a ringside bell ding before Streep and Hoffman started sparring.

6. "Roman de Gare/Crossed Tracks"

French gem that made it to our shores this year. The kind of movie that can creep us out and make us laugh in the same scene.

7. "The Dark Knight"

Overhyped, yes, but this is about as good as a superhero movie gets. And Ledger deserves all the praise.

8. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

Brad Pitt's insistence on working Hurricane Katrina into the plot nearly ruins it, but David Fincher is the current Rembrandt of cinema. It looks spectacular, and I shed a tear.

9. "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

Europe has been good for Woody Allen. This sexy comedy is like a 90-minute vacation.

10. "Hamlet 2"

None of you saw this, and that's too bad. Steve Coogan whirls through the full spectrum of humor, and Amy Poehler schools the young 'uns on how to make vulgarity funny.

Honorable mentions

  • "Tropic Thunder"
  • "The Cake Eaters"
  • "Iron Man"
  • "Hellboy II"
  • "Son of Rambow"
  • "Hors de prix/Priceless"

Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.


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