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Top Ten movies of 2008

January 2, 2009

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.

The worst Hindi movie I saw this year was U Me or Hum and the worst Hollywood fare was 27 Dresses.

Related Reading: The Top Six Movies of 2007
The Top 10 Bollywood and Hollywood entertainers of 2006
Favourite Movies of all time
Will Hollywood beat Bollywood?
Why we love Bollywood films

29 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2009 7:36 pm

    Nice List Nita !! ..

    I guess you missed out the blockbuster “The Dark Knight” in the English Movie list !! .. It was a hell of a movie .. I dont think anyone can dislike it !!

    No, I didn’t dislike it at all and in fact enjoyed The Dark Knight. However I was put off by the blood and gore, which I felt was overdone. – Nita.

  2. January 2, 2009 7:38 pm

    Finally I get the opportunity to be the first one to comment on your post🙂
    The first 5 on your list are my favourite movies too. I couldn’t gather courage to watch Ghajni because I don’t usually like Violent movies.

    sorry Prerna! This time somehow Soham’s comment went into moderation and so was hidden. And yeah Ghajini was extremely violent and if it wasn’t for Aamir I would not have seen it. – Nita.

  3. January 2, 2009 7:56 pm

    Very nice list Nita.. but I have missed watching American Gangster. Now I have to catch it in DVD.

    Here is my new year gift for you Nita:

    http://kanaguonline.wordpress.com/2009/01/02/looking-back-with-satisfaction/

    Thanks Kanagu!🙂 – Nita.

  4. wishtobeanon permalink
    January 2, 2009 8:09 pm

    A happy and a prosperous New Year to you and to all your regular readers!
    I have yet to watch Jodhaa Akbar and since you give it a good rating, I will watch it sooner or later.
    Nita, if you get a chance, do watch ‘Wall-e’ and ‘Horton hears a Who’.

    thanks for your wishes and happy new year to you too! I did see “wall-e” and yes it was a nice movie but I didn’t like the story much. I haven’t seen horton, but will catch it if I can! – Nita.

  5. Padmini permalink
    January 2, 2009 8:35 pm

    Nita, I noticed that ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ wasn’t on the list. I thought it was well made even though not perfect. Hope you get a chance to catch it sometime if you haven’t seen it yet.

    It’s not released in India yet! – Nita.

  6. January 2, 2009 9:32 pm

    thanks for the ranking Nita! – I am glad you listed Jodha Akbar first – imagive I was watching it in the New Year night!!! (the film is just tooooo good ).

    I agree the film is good, but actually I listed the films according to date. I always have a difficult time deciding which film is the best. – Nita.

  7. January 2, 2009 10:02 pm

    I haven’t any of the english ones!😛

    The English ones are really good! Perhaps when your exams are over you can catch them on CD! Except for Mamma Mia I think you should enjoy them – Nita.

  8. January 2, 2009 11:29 pm

    I would have Aamir and also oye lucky on my list🙂

    Rambler, I did mention Aamir at the end but did not include it in my list because it was plagiarised, inspired or whatever. I think filmmakers who steal should not be admired. As for oye lucky I thought the second half was terrible. – Nita.

  9. January 3, 2009 12:30 am

    Hullo Nita
    I just happen to come across your blogsite and was amazed to find the diversity covered by you. it is indeed a very herculean task that you have accomplished.
    I will find some time to read all your pages in detail. keep up the good work.
    reagrds
    Lt. Prashant Rai (retd.)

    Thanks Lt. Rai. Hope you keep reading and commenting! – Nita.

  10. Naveen permalink
    January 3, 2009 1:45 am

    I love Matrix, it made me understand the concept of ‘Maya’ better, probably. “Something the lord made” was an incredible movie. I don’t think it will be released in India because it is a HBO movie. But you could try downloading it. Its worth all the hardwork.

    Matrix I have seen, not once but several times. It is not a 2008 movie. – Nita.

  11. January 3, 2009 9:50 am

    Oye lucky is better than Fashion, wouldn’t you say?

    Aathira, I liked only the first half of Oye Lucky, in fact I liked it very much. I disliked the second half thoroughly! If the quality of the first half was carried onto the second half then I would say that Oye Lucky would have been 10 times better than Fashion. – Nita.

  12. January 3, 2009 10:17 am

    FASHION ??????

    re think yaar !!!!

    Re-think my own enjoyment of a movie? I doubt it.🙂 – Nita.

  13. January 3, 2009 10:18 am

    DASVIDANIYA >>???????

    I have not seen dasvidaniya. – Nita.

  14. January 3, 2009 10:27 am

    Wish you Happy and Prosperous New Year!!

    I did not like Jodha Akbar! It showed more of Hrithik and Aishwarya than Akbar and Jodha!!
    Of course it was Hrithik which made the movie tolerable!

    I agree with you on Janne Tu… It was refreshing and can be watched again!

    Fashion .. becomes repeating concept like Corporate and Page 3, but still better than typical bollywood movies.

    Ghaijni , perhaps the first movie carrying name of the villain character. The movie loses its grip sometime but the ‘efforts’ of Aamir Khan is worth watching it once.

    About hollywood movies, I have not watched them as they come out but during the year I have enjoyed quite good movies. UTI World Movies has opened new treasure of foreign movies and I enjoyed many French/Italian movies and few movies ,of languages which I did not know!

    JV, ofcourse the stars were a big part of why Jodha Akbar worked. Without good actors the whole thing would have been pretty unconvincing. You are right about Fashion in a sense but as I have missed seeing corporate etc, I think I found it refreshing. The movie had a story, which I think is essential to any movie. – Nita.

  15. January 3, 2009 10:56 am

    I got bored with Mama Mia very fast😀
    where is mumbai meri jaan ?😀
    wedneseday was a perfect movie .. and then, did you get to watch Aamir ?

    I loved mumbai meri jaan but then the list would have gone to more than 10 in total and I wanted to keep it short. But if there had to be another movie to be added in, it would have been Mumbai meri jaan. And yeah, I did see Aamir. I think you have not seen my last couple of lines explaining why I didn’t add it. – Nita.

  16. January 3, 2009 11:44 am

    Hi Neeta
    I think Jodhaa akbar
    & Wednesday Are Flops
    What u think Guys ?

    Well, I think neither Jodha Akbar nor A Wednesday did very good business. But box office success doesn’t affect an individual’s personal satisfaction with a movie though. – Nita.

  17. January 3, 2009 12:39 pm

    Nice list of your personal favorites Nita. I haven’t watch Ghajini and Mamma Mia. But I have watched Slumdog Millionaire – and do catch it as soon as it releases in India🙂 Happy 2009!

    Am waiting for Slumdog. I believe it will release this month. Lets see. – Nita.

  18. January 3, 2009 7:58 pm

    Thankfully I didnt see 27 dresses. But I did see Tropic Thunder and the Love Guru…Both sucked!

    Tropic thunder, never heard of it though! And as for Love Guru, the name sucks too! – Nita.

  19. January 3, 2009 10:42 pm

    I loved Tropic Thunder and its irreverent humor, and I haven’t laughed so hard while watching a movie. I’d be surprised if Robert Downey Jr. is not nominated for an Oscar – he was brilliant!!

    Amit, Robert Downey Jr. is a favourite actor with me too so I guess I need to see this film! – Nita.

  20. January 4, 2009 1:37 am

    nice list ..
    but how come joker missed out the place ..
    where is DARK KNIGHT ???

    everyone is asking me that!🙂 I liked the Dark Knight very much but not enough to put it in my top four English films of the year. – Nita.

  21. January 4, 2009 3:27 am

    A Wednesday is one of the few Hindi movies that I watched this year. It was quite simple and entertaining. Worth a watch for sure.

    Happy to know that you enjoyed American Gangster too. One of my all time favorites. I didn’t like Iron Man that much, to tell you the truth. Sure, it was entertaining. But I think it got overshadowed by The Dark Knight.

    Ruhi, for some reason I liked Iron Man much better, although I enjoyed the Dark Knight a lot. Most people seemed to have liked Dark Knight better though. – Nita.

  22. January 4, 2009 6:08 pm

    A wednesday was the best which came out this year. And we do have very similar lists of favourites.🙂

    Yeah, I think so too! It was orginal, based on RK Laxman’s common man. – Nita.

  23. January 5, 2009 9:54 am

    Wow, Nita, I see your lovely new header – where did you make that photo of snow???? 🙂

    Axinia, that is at Changu Lake, Sikkim, where we holidayed some years ago. I scanned a photo that I had and in fact have used this photo as the header over a year ago, once. It is actually a frozen rivulet emptying into Changu Lake – Nita.

  24. Chirag permalink
    January 5, 2009 3:29 pm

    Nita *suprrise* you didn’t like Dark Knight😦 I watch hindi movies only after I have read You and Amit review it. English I have seen then all🙂 2MPs internet connection. Let hope for better Hindi stuff year. Do you agree Masand (CNN-IBN) is a moron and a heavily biased moron? Specially a sucker to BigB Clan

    Whether Masand or that Kazmi person from TOI, they suck up to certain powerful film people and their reviews are heavily biased. But I did like Dark knight, although I agree not that much. I think I thought there was needless violence and gore. – Nita.

  25. January 6, 2009 1:49 pm

    Aaah..nice list. I didn’t like Fashion much. It was regular Bhandarkar manipulation.

    Rest I like almost all and Sorry Bhai too. Added you to my blogroll.

  26. wishtobeanon permalink
    January 9, 2009 9:35 pm

    Hi Nita, I found this humorous article on Bollywood on msn.com – http://www.slate.com/id/2208198/?GT1=38001 – thought you might like it!

  27. January 10, 2009 8:05 pm

    I know you didn’t like 27 Dresses, but you didn’t have to push it down this deep. 😦

    Well.. James Marsden was in it and he gave a good time for my eyes. 😛

  28. hari permalink
    January 21, 2009 4:24 pm

    Nice list Nita,
    these all are the very interisting films i saw the all films, but just i missed 2 (mamma mia and Khuda Ke Liye) movies i’ll try to see that remaning movies.

  29. wishtobeanon permalink
    February 9, 2009 9:35 pm

    I watched Jodhaa Akbar a month back and I liked the fact that there wasn’t any melodrama in it. The movie was pretty good and enjoyable.

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