As I did with my albums of the year list, I have to begin this list lamenting the fact that the 2008 year in film was not as good as the 2007 year in film. It was a down year for art in general, as pretty much any critic you read will tell you. Part of the reason for the negativity is the fact that the usual year end glut of awards baiting prestige films were largely disappointing, often ranging from merely solid to outright bad. And since that’s the steady diet critics (and myself) are fed around the time they write year end lists (albeit theirs come out at the actual end of the year, whereas mine waits until February, but I have to pay to see my movies), so it’s not surprising that the same enthusiasm wasn’t there, especially when the year before featured instant classics like No Country for Old Men, Zodiac, and There Will Be Blood.
Instead, the greatness in 2008 came not from the types of movies Hollywood likes to get dressed up for to dole out awards, but from the films fans line up for to buy overpriced concessions to see on opening day, or movies released early in the year when people weren’t paying attention. So this list is still filled with movies I enjoyed quite a bit, and recommend to everyone. As of this writing, I’ve seen 63 films released in North America in 2008, which includes some foreign language films that were released in their native countries in previous years, but doesn’t include some TIFF films I saw that haven’t yet been released (some of which would definitely contend for this list and will probably pop up next year… unless it is phenomenal). Of those 63, these were the best… Continue reading →
I grew up a comic book fan, falling in and out of the habit as I got older. The times in my life where I stopped reading comics didn’t have too much to do with the comics themselves (although they probably did at times parallel a downturn in quality in the X-Men, the primary series I collected), but more to do with a lack of funds or my other entertainment options taking up my time. But then they started making movies about comics — more specifically, they started making GOOD movies about comics, and I decided to start reading comics again (albeit in much smaller doses).
So I write this list both as a fan of movies and a fan of comics. Thus, I’m also a big fan of movies based on comic books, when I’m not busy being a big critic of movies based on comics that fail to live up to the source material. This is a list I’ve been meaning to write for a few years now, and in that time, the list of candidates has only grown. Because the world of comic book adaptations has grown to encompass a nice variety of of genres and types, I felt a bigger list of 20 would lead to a more diverse and interesting collection than would a traditional list of 10. I’ll admit, I haven’t seen every comic book movie released, but I have seen every one that’s been released that I plan on seeing (meaning that if I haven’t seen a movie by now, I probably never will, because I’ve heard it sucks).
But first, I’ll clarify what I mean by “comic book movies”. For the purpose of this list, a comic book movie is any feature length film whose story and/or characters originally appeared in a comic book (and a comic book includes comics, comic strips, graphic novels, or manga). So films with comic book themes that didn’t originate in the world of comics, such as The Incredibles, Unbreakable, or Hancock, don’t qualify. Nor do sci-fish properties that originated elsewhere but have since become comic books, such as Transformers (not that it would ever make a list of mine).
The other thing I should clarify is what I mean by “top”. In this, I’m mostly judging the films by the quality of the films themselves, and less so by how strong they are as adaptations, although that will obviously come into play. The reason this isn’t simply a list on the best adaptations is twofold: one, I haven’t read all the source material for every comic book movie, and two, some movies don’t necessarily adapt one source as much as they borrow from several (that said, if I have read the source material, it would obviously affect my opinion of the film). Other than that, “top” is an amalgamation between “best” and “favourite”. And now, on to the list… Continue reading →