Top Ten movies of 2008
This list is a personal one and as I have not been able to see many of the films I wished to, particularly the English ones, this list will remain very subjective. Where English movies are concerned, all the best ones are not released in India and even when they are, most of the time they do not show at a cinema hall near my place. I avoid seeing movies on CD.
First, the Hindi movies. I manage to see most of the decent Hindi movies released and here is my personal list of movies I thought were the best of 2008 (by date, not in any order of preference), six in all:
Jodhaa Akbar (February 2008) is a 16th century love story of a Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great and a Rajput (Hindu) princess Jodhaa. The movie is amazing in its scope…and manages to switch between the battlefield and court politics to the love scenes very smoothly. It casts thousands of characters…soldiers and ordinary people…and everyone in authentic costumes. Overall I saw this as good pathbreaking Indian cinema.
Jaane Tu … Ya Jaane Na (July 2006) is a romantic comedy which shows collegians behaving like collegians. The acting was so natural that one forgets that one is watching a movie. The movie is funny and it’s emotional. It’s all about love. The love between friends. Love between married people. Love between lovers. It’s funny as well.
Rock On!! (August 2008) is about music. It’s also about a group of friends who drift apart and how music brings them back together again. It was a little odd to hear Hindi lyrics set to rock music, even though there is such a thing as Hindi rock today. Indi-rock however is not mainstream. The way the movie was shown I thought that they weren’t really talking about Hindi rock, but English rock. The movie tells us that life is not worth living if it’s just about making money. Life has to be about passion.
A Wednesday (September 2008) is a short (100 minutes) movie about how a terrorist holds a whole city to hostage by planting five bombs in the city. Although the story itself may not be realistic, the way it is shot lends it realism. There are no elaborate sets, but plenty of shots of railway stations, streets and buildings instead. The suspense has been well handled, the pace of the movie doesn’t falter and the movie builds up to an interesting climax, the proverbial twist in the tale.
Fashion (November 2008) may not be a groundbreaking movie as one is aware of the dark side of the glamour world…the desperate struggle that newcomers go through, the compromises they have to make and the drugs and the partying which can take its toll. But this movie was nicely done, a story told through a myriad of interesting and believable characters. The movie is about people rather than fashion as such. It’s all about the designers, the models and the agency owners.
I am also adding Khuda Ke Liye even though it is not an Indian, but a Pakistani movie. It’s original. It’s bold. It’s very brave as well as it tackles the relationship between moderate Muslims and the extremists and it’s coming from a deeply religious country like Pakistan.
There are two films not in this list although I enjoyed them and these are Aamir and Ghajini, and I have not included them as both have been accused of plagiarism. Aamir is said to have been inspired by Cavite and Ghajini is a re-make of the Tamil film which had been inspired by Memento.
Now for the best of Hollywood (by date, not in order of preference). There are four films that I loved:
American Gangster (February 2008) is based on a true life story of a druglord of the seventies Frank Lucas. The movie was not as dark and violent as I expected, and there are a lot of interesting bits about Lucas’ family, about what makes Lucas the man he is, about his wheeling and dealing. We also find out what makes the policeman Ritchie Roberts (Russell Crowe) tick, about why he is honest when all the cops around him are not.The whole story is a win-lose game between these two characters. And the characters have shades of gray. The performances and characterisation in this movie make this a worth a see.
Speed Racer (May 2008), an animation movie, is a cinematic cocktail of Science Fiction, Action Adventure and Fantasy. The movie is a visual treat and one of the most entertaining movies I have seen. The best part of it is that it makes you feel. The underlying theme is that of filial love and family values and the other more overt message is the passion that one needs to have for what one does. In this case – Racing.
Iron Man (May 2008) is a cinematic adaptation of Marvel Comic’s superhero and is just what we wanted to take us away from the now stale (and boring) masked heroes flying around. Iron Man’s super heroism is not in his genes like in the case of Superman or Spiderman. He builds it. The armoured suit that Iron Man dons has no magical powers…it is an engineering feat, a machine that needs to be powered.The movie is technologically brilliant but that is not why one is impressed. The story is great and so is the acting and all in all a refreshing superhero flick.
Mamma Mia (September 2008) is enjoyable and funny. It is a sweet sweet movie, with a fantastic singing and acting performance from Meryl Streep. The movie is loud, at times the dance steps border on the vulgar, and the acting over the top…but there were some great things in the movie! The subject for one. The movie is about mothers and daughters, a daughter’s desire to search for her father…and it’s also about romantic love. Some might call this a chick flick, but then labels like these often don’t capture the spirit of a movie.