I really didn't see that many movies in theaters in 2008, but of the ones I DID see, these are the ones I consider to be the best.
THE DARK KNIGHT
I was blown away with this when I first saw it in an Imax theater for work. I enjoyed Batman Begins, but I thought this was a much better film than the first. Christian Bale was great as Batman, although his "Batman voice" started to get a bit annoying after a while, but the real star of this movie is Heath Ledger. He gives a knockout performance as the Joker. Playing a psychotic and crazy Joker, as opposed to Jack Nicholson's goofy and loony version in Tim Burton's Batman. The whole cast is incredible and the music and direction are great too. Probably the best movie I saw this year.
VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
I'm a sucker for most Woody Allen movies, be they comedies or dramas. And his last few films, Match Point, Scoop, have been good too. This movie had me from the beginning, with its funny voice-over narration and Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall playing totally opposite friends on vacation in Barcelona. While there they meet a womanizing Spanish artist, played by Javier Bardem, at an art show and Scarlett's character is quickly attracted to him. That's when the story takes off, with both girls eventually each sleeping with him and his crazy ex-wife, played by Penélope Cruz, showing up later and causing all kinds of turmoil. A funny movie about life and the decisions you make.
I thought this was more of a Superhero movie than The Dark Knight was. Iron Man was just plain fun and showed everyone else how a Superhero movie should be made. With great direction by Jon Favreau and Robert Downey jr. well cast as Tony Stark. The ending was a bit clichéd, with a huge battle between iron Man and his mentor gone bad, but overall, a great movie!
Now this is how a giant monster movie should be done! I really liked how it was shot, from the point of view of the characters holding a video camera , with a lot of quick edits and just a few shots of the giant monster. But when you do get to see the monster, it's an original and new take on how a monster should look. Watch this all the way to the end credits too, because there's a hidden message concerning the monster. A great and original take on the giant monster genre.
I first saw the original version of this, from 1997, when I rented it from Netflix not too long ago. This new version, both directed by Michael Haneke, is basically a shot-for-shot remake of the original. Both pack a punch--with the main characters breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience about what they should do concerning a family they've taken hostage. Extremely disturbing and original. I kept thinking about it days after I had seen it.