David Blaustein is ABC News Radio's senior entertainment correspondent and movie critic. His reviews can be heard weekly on such radio stations as 1010 WINS and WABC-AM in New York, KGO-AM in San Francisco, WBZ in Boston and KABC in Los Angeles.
Blaustein's Top 10 of 2008
Each one of these films moved me in some profound way. Whether thought-provoking, gripping, informative, idealistic or hilarious, all of them stayed with me long after I left the theater -- which always made for an awkward moment when the projectionist would chase after me and demand the movie back.
Here they are, starting from No. 10:
10. "The Wrestler" Mickey Rourke may Ram Jam his way to an Oscar for this one. Darren Aronofsky's intimate portrait of a washed-up wrestler who is essentially willing to die for his art because it is the only thing that he's a) good at and b) knows how to do, is filled with universal truths. It also body-slams convention and puts a sleeper hold on many of the cliches we've grown to expect from Hollywood fare. Oscar winner Marisa Tomei is so believable as a stripper named Cassidy, you'll try to stuff dollar bills into the movie screen.
9. "Milk" I deal with a lot of conservative talk radio stations and their hosts HATE Sean Penn's politics. But even some of Penn's most vociferous detractors have to admit: Homeboy can act! You don't have to see footage of the real Harvey Milk to know that Penn completely transformed himself to portray one of the first openly gay elected officials and renowned activist. Penn is supported by actors who each deliver indelible performances, including Josh Brolin, James Franco and Emile Hirsch. Like "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (see below), "Milk" could've left some scenes on the cutting-room floor, but there's no denying that it is one of the year's best.
8. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" If it was 45 minutes shorter, this could have been the year's best film. As Benjamin got younger, I could feel myself getting older. That's how long this movie is. But discounting the unnecessary framing technique involving an elderly lady in a New Orleans hospital room, "Benjamin Button" is spell-binding. Yes, there is a "Forrest Gump"-ian element to "Benjamin Button," but because it was written by the same guy who wrote "Forrest Gump," and "Forrest Gump" is an exceptional film, consider that a bonus.
7. "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" At 73, Woody Allen is still a genius. The only movie that made me laugh harder in 2008 was "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," but that movie isn't nearly as clever or as sexy as "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." Forget the snappy dialogue and the beautiful scenery, who could resist Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz, the promising Rebecca Hall and Javier Bardem in a bizarre love rectangle?
6. "Iron Man" I remember the first time I saw "Weird Science" with Robert Downey Jr. as the obnoxious, preppie, popular Ian. I thought to myself, "That guy would make a fantastic Aqua Man." Twenty years later, Vinny Chase landed THAT role, while Downey got stuck playing Iron Man. Hey, if I went on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and told that story, would it be more believable? Anyway, up until July 18, the release date of "The Dark Knight" (see below), "Iron Man" was, hands down, the best superhero comic book adaptation ever made.