The year 2008 was a significant year for movies, with a diverse range of genres and themes being explored by filmmakers. From blockbuster hits to independent gems, there were many films that left a lasting impact on audiences and critics alike.
Some of the most notable films from 2008 include Christopher Nolan’s superhero epic “The Dark Knight,” which became a cultural phenomenon and earned widespread critical acclaim, as well as the Coen Brothers’ dark comedy “Burn After Reading,” which showcased their signature blend of wit and violence.
Other standout films from 2008 include the biographical drama “Milk,” which told the story of LGBTQ+ rights activist Harvey Milk, and the sci-fi thriller “Cloverfield,” which used a found-footage style to tell a story of a monster attacking New York City.
Overall, 2008 was a year of bold and innovative filmmaking, with many films pushing boundaries and exploring new ground in terms of storytelling and cinematic techniques.
1. Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)
“Happy-Go-Lucky” is a comedy-drama film directed by Mike Leigh and released in 2008. The film follows the life of a cheerful and optimistic schoolteacher named Poppy, played by Sally Hawkins, who lives in London.
The story of the film revolves around Poppy’s daily life, as she goes about her job, takes driving lessons, and deals with the ups and downs of her personal relationships.
Poppy’s carefree and positive attitude is challenged when she meets a troubled driving instructor named Scott, played by Eddie Marsan, who is filled with anger and bitterness.
“Happy-Go-Lucky” was praised for its performances, particularly Sally Hawkins’ portrayal of Poppy, as well as its realistic portrayal of life in contemporary London.
The film was noted for its exploration of themes such as optimism, resilience, and the pursuit of happiness. The film received positive reviews from critics and won several awards, including the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival.
2. The Wrestler (2008)
The Wrestler is a drama film released in 2008, directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Mickey Rourke in a career-reviving performance as an aging professional wrestler named Randy “The Ram” Robinson.
The film follows Randy as he struggles to cope with the physical and emotional toll of his profession, while also attempting to reconnect with his estranged daughter and find meaning in his life outside of the ring.
The Wrestler received critical acclaim upon release, with many praising Rourke’s performance as one of the best of his career. The film’s realistic depiction of the wrestling industry and its emphasis on character development and emotional depth also received praise.
The film’s themes of aging, regret, and redemption resonated with audiences and helped establish it as a modern classic.
3. WALL·E (2008)
“WALL·E” is a 2008 American computer-animated science fiction film directed by Andrew Stanton and produced by Pixar Animation Studios.
The film tells the story of WALL·E, a waste-collecting robot who is the only inhabitant of a deserted Earth, which has been abandoned by humans after it became too polluted to support life.
WALL·E discovers a new purpose in life when he falls in love with EVE, a sleek and advanced robot sent to Earth to search for signs of life.
The film received critical acclaim for its storytelling, visual design, and themes, with particular praise for its commentary on consumerism, environmentalism, and the dangers of over-reliance on technology. “WALL·E” won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, among numerous other awards and nominations.
The film’s impressive animation, which seamlessly blends computer-generated imagery with live-action footage, has also been widely praised.
The expressive character designs and the film’s attention to detail, particularly in its depiction of the garbage-strewn Earth and the gleaming, futuristic spaceship where the human characters reside, are notable.
Overall, “WALL·E” is a visually stunning and emotionally resonant film that appeals to audiences of all ages. Its themes and messages continue to be relevant today, making it a timeless classic of the animated film genre.
4. Waltz with Bashir (2008)
“Waltz with Bashir” is a 2008 animated war documentary film directed by Ari Folman. The film is based on Folman’s own experiences as an Israeli soldier during the 1982 Lebanon War and follows his attempts to recover his lost memories of the conflict.
The film uses a unique blend of animation and live-action footage to recreate Folman’s memories and experiences. The animation is designed to give the film a dreamlike quality, with bright colors and surreal imagery.
As Folman delves deeper into his memories, he begins to uncover the truth about the war and his own role in it. The film explores themes of trauma, memory, and the nature of war.
“Waltz with Bashir” received critical acclaim for its innovative storytelling, stunning visuals, and powerful themes. It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for an Academy Award in the same category.
The film is considered a landmark in the history of documentary filmmaking and a powerful meditation on the impact of war on the human psyche.
5. Iron Man (2008)
“Iron Man” is a 2008 superhero film directed by Jon Favreau and starring Robert Downey Jr.
as Tony Stark, a billionaire industrialist and genius inventor who is kidnapped by terrorists and forced to build a devastating weapon. Instead, he creates a suit of high-tech armor to escape, and uses it to become the superhero known as Iron Man.
The film also stars Gwyneth Paltrow as Stark’s personal assistant Pepper Potts, and Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane, Stark’s business partner and eventual enemy.
The film was a critical and commercial success, praised for its witty script, thrilling action sequences, and Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as the charismatic and flawed Tony Stark.
“Iron Man” launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has since grown to become the highest-grossing film franchise in history.
The film was followed by two sequels, “Iron Man 2” and “Iron Man 3,” and Downey Jr. has reprised his role as Tony Stark in numerous other Marvel films.
6. Milk (I) (2008)
Milk is a 2008 biographical film directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California.
The film follows Milk’s rise as a community activist in San Francisco’s gay community and his eventual election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Milk’s career was tragically cut short when he and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White.
The film explores themes of activism, tolerance, and the struggle for equal rights. It is notable for its strong performances, particularly Sean Penn’s portrayal of Milk, as well as its nuanced portrayal of the LGBT community and their fight for equality.
Upon its release, Milk was met with critical acclaim and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning two, including Best Actor for Sean Penn’s performance.
The film was praised for its authentic depiction of Milk’s life and the LGBT community in San Francisco in the 1970s, as well as its relevance to contemporary LGBT issues.
It is now considered a landmark film in LGBT cinema and a powerful tribute to Harvey Milk’s legacy.
7. The Dark Knight (2008)
“The Dark Knight” is a 2008 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale as Batman and Heath Ledger as the Joker.
The film is a sequel to 2005’s “Batman Begins” and follows Batman as he teams up with Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) to combat the rising threat of the Joker in Gotham City.
The film received critical acclaim for its dark, gritty take on the Batman mythos, as well as for the performances of Bale and Ledger. Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker, in particular, was widely praised and posthumously earned him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
“The Dark Knight” also explored complex themes such as morality, chaos, and the nature of heroism, elevating it beyond typical superhero fare.
The film’s stunning action set pieces, impressive practical effects, and stunning cinematography helped to further cement its place as one of the most iconic superhero movies of all time.
Overall, “The Dark Knight” is widely considered to be one of the best superhero movies ever made, and its impact on the genre and popular culture at large cannot be overstated.
8. Frost/Nixon (2008)
“Frost/Nixon” is a historical drama film directed by Ron Howard and released in 2008.
The film is based on the 2006 play of the same name by Peter Morgan and follows the story of the television interviews between British talk-show host David Frost, played by Michael Sheen, and former US President Richard Nixon, played by Frank Langella.
The film tells the story of Frost’s pursuit of the Nixon interviews, which were conducted three years after Nixon resigned from office following the Watergate scandal.
The interviews were widely watched and discussed, and are considered a significant moment in American political history.
“Frost/Nixon” was praised for its performances, particularly Frank Langella’s portrayal of Nixon, as well as its historical accuracy and its exploration of themes such as power, ambition, and redemption.
The film received positive reviews from critics and was nominated for several awards, including five Academy Awards.
9. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008 British drama film directed by Danny Boyle, written by Simon Beaufoy, and produced by Christian Colson. The movie is based on the novel “Q & A” by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup.
The film follows the story of Jamal Malik, a young man from the slums of Mumbai, who participates in the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and surprises everyone with his vast knowledge.
As Jamal answers each question on the show, the film tells the story of his life through flashbacks, revealing the challenges he faced growing up in poverty in Mumbai, including violence, exploitation, and corruption.
The movie explores themes of love, friendship, and destiny, as well as the stark contrast between the rich and poor in India.
Slumdog Millionaire was a critical and commercial success, winning numerous awards, including eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
It is regarded as one of the best films of the 21st century and is known for its energetic style, brilliant cinematography, and memorable soundtrack. The movie’s success also helped to raise awareness of the issues of poverty and exploitation in India.
10. The Visitor (I) (2007)
“The Visitor” is a 2007 American drama film written and directed by Tom McCarthy. The film follows Walter Vale, a widowed college professor who travels to New York City for a conference, only to discover that his Manhattan apartment is being occupied by a young couple who are living there illegally.
The couple, Tarek and Zainab, are immigrants from Syria and Senegal, respectively, and Walter soon forms a friendship with them that challenges his assumptions about identity, culture, and human connection.
The film received critical acclaim for its nuanced performances, insightful writing, and sensitive portrayal of the immigrant experience. Richard Jenkins was particularly praised for his understated and moving performance as Walter Vale, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
“The Visitor” is a poignant and thought-provoking film that explores themes of loneliness, isolation, and the search for meaning and connection in a rapidly changing world. It is a testament to the power of human connection and the transformative potential of empathy and understanding.
11. I’ve Loved You So Long (2008)
“I’ve Loved You So Long” is a 2008 French drama film directed by Philippe Claudel. The film stars Kristin Scott Thomas as Juliette, a woman who is released from prison after serving a long sentence for a crime she committed 15 years earlier.
She moves in with her younger sister Lea (Elsa Zylberstein) and tries to rebuild her life and reconnect with her estranged family.
The film explores themes of forgiveness, redemption, and the nature of memory. Juliette is haunted by her past and struggles to reconnect with her sister and her niece, who were just children when she went to prison.
As the film progresses, we learn more about Juliette’s past and the crime she committed, leading to a powerful and emotional climax.
“I’ve Loved You So Long” received critical acclaim for its powerful performances, sensitive direction, and poignant storytelling. Kristin Scott Thomas received numerous award nominations for her performance, including a BAFTA Award for Best Actress and a César Award for Best Actress.
The film is a moving exploration of the human condition and the power of forgiveness, and is considered one of the best French films of the 2000s.
12. Bolt (2008)
“Bolt” is a 2008 animated film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. The film tells the story of a white dog named Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) who stars in a television series in which he portrays a superhero dog with various powers.
Believing that his powers are real and that he must save his human co-star, Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus), Bolt escapes from the set and embarks on a journey to find her.
Along the way, Bolt meets a streetwise cat named Mittens (voiced by Susie Essman) and a hamster named Rhino (voiced by Mark Walton), who is a huge fan of Bolt’s television show.
Together, they travel across the country and encounter various obstacles and challenges.
“Bolt” was well-received by audiences and critics alike for its engaging characters, heartwarming story, and impressive animation. The film was nominated for several awards, including an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and won the Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Animated Movie.
13. Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Kung Fu Panda is a 2008 animated action-comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and directed by John Stevenson and Mark Osborne.
The film follows Po, a clumsy and overweight panda who dreams of becoming a kung fu master.
When an ancient prophecy predicts that a chosen one will defeat the evil Tai Lung, Po is accidentally chosen as the Dragon Warrior and must train with the Furious Five to become a skilled fighter.
The film is notable for its colorful animation, martial arts action sequences, and humor. It features an all-star cast including Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, and Jackie Chan.
Upon its release, Kung Fu Panda was met with critical acclaim and was a box office success, grossing over $630 million worldwide.
It was praised for its engaging storyline, stunning animation, and strong voice cast. The film has since spawned two sequels, as well as several spin-off series and merchandise.
No products found.
No products found.
14. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is a 2008 romantic comedy directed by Nicholas Stoller and starring Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Russell Brand.
The film follows Peter Bretter (Segel), a heartbroken composer who travels to Hawaii in an attempt to forget about his ex-girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Bell), only to find out that she is staying at the same resort with her new boyfriend, rock star Aldous Snow (Brand).
The film received critical acclaim for its sharp writing, comedic performances, and the chemistry between the cast. Segel’s portrayal of the lovelorn Peter was particularly praised, as was the film’s ability to balance its raunchier moments with genuine emotional depth.
“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” has since become a beloved cult classic, known for its memorable quotes and hilarious scenes, such as the infamous Dracula musical performed by Peter.
The film also launched a series of other successful comedies from the same creative team, including “Get Him to the Greek” and “The Five-Year Engagement.”
Overall, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is a hilarious and heartfelt comedy that deftly balances its raunchier humor with genuine emotion, making it a standout in the romantic comedy genre.
15. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” is a supernatural superhero film directed by Guillermo del Toro and released in 2008. The film is a sequel to the 2004 film “Hellboy” and follows the story of the titular character, a demon who fights supernatural threats to humanity.
In the film, Hellboy, played by Ron Perlman, and his team at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) must stop an evil elf prince, played by Luke Goss, who seeks to awaken a mechanical army of unstoppable soldiers known as the Golden Army.
Along the way, Hellboy grapples with his own identity as a demon and his place in the world.
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” was praised for its visual effects, creative creature designs, and imaginative world-building.
The film also explored themes of identity, acceptance, and belonging. Despite receiving positive reviews, the film did not perform as well at the box office as its predecessor.
16. Ghost Town (I) (2008)
Ghost Town is a 2008 American romantic comedy film directed by David Koepp and starring Ricky Gervais, Téa Leoni, and Greg Kinnear. The movie tells the story of Bertram Pincus, a misanthropic dentist who dies for seven minutes during a routine medical procedure and gains the ability to see and communicate with ghosts.
As a result of his newfound ability, Pincus is constantly bothered by the ghosts of deceased people who seek his help in resolving unfinished business with their loved ones.
He is particularly haunted by the ghost of Frank Herlihy, a businessman who wants Pincus to prevent his widow Gwen from remarrying. In exchange for his cooperation, Herlihy offers to help Pincus win over his neighbor, whom he has a crush on.
Ghost Town received positive reviews for its witty screenplay and the performances of the cast, particularly Gervais.
The movie was praised for its blend of humor and romance, and its portrayal of the afterlife. Despite receiving positive reviews, the film was not a commercial success, grossing only $27 million worldwide against its $20 million budget.
17. Rachel Getting Married (2008)
“Rachel Getting Married” is a 2008 American drama film directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Jenny Lumet.
The film follows Kym, a troubled young woman who is released from rehab to attend her sister Rachel’s wedding. As Kym reconnects with her estranged family, tensions and resentments rise to the surface, threatening to derail the wedding and push Kym back into her self-destructive habits.
The film received critical acclaim for its raw, emotionally charged performances, particularly from Anne Hathaway in the lead role of Kym. The film’s hand-held camera work and naturalistic style add to the film’s intensity and realism.
“Rachel Getting Married” is a powerful and moving exploration of family dynamics, addiction, and the struggle for redemption and forgiveness. The film is a testament to the power of human connection and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
18. In Bruges (2008)
“In Bruges” is a 2008 dark comedy-drama film directed by Martin McDonagh. The film stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two hitmen, Ray and Ken, who are sent to Bruges, Belgium, after a job goes wrong.
While waiting for further instructions from their boss, they explore the city and encounter a series of eccentric characters.
The film explores themes of guilt, redemption, and the nature of morality. Ray and Ken are forced to confront their own actions and the consequences of their choices, leading to a powerful and emotional climax.
“In Bruges” received critical acclaim for its witty and darkly humorous script, strong performances, and beautiful cinematography. It won the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated for an Academy Award in the same category.
The film is a unique blend of comedy and drama, and is considered one of the best films of 2008. It is a must-see for fans of dark comedies and character-driven dramas.
19. Tropic Thunder (2008)
“Tropic Thunder” is a 2008 action-comedy film directed by Ben Stiller, who also stars in the film alongside an ensemble cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, Steve Coogan, and Tom Cruise.
The film follows a group of actors who are filming a big-budget war movie in Southeast Asia when they find themselves caught up in a real-life conflict.
Downey Jr. plays Kirk Lazarus, a method actor who undergoes a controversial skin pigmentation procedure to portray a black soldier, while Stiller plays Tugg Speedman, a fading action star who is desperate for a hit. Black plays Jeff Portnoy, a drug-addicted comedian, and Baruchel plays Kevin Sandusky, a young and inexperienced actor.
“Tropic Thunder” was a critical and commercial success, praised for its clever satire of the film industry and its memorable performances.
Downey Jr. in particular received widespread acclaim for his portrayal of Lazarus, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film was also nominated for Best Makeup and Best Sound Mixing at the Oscars.
20. Departures (2008)
Departures is a 2008 Japanese drama film directed by Yojiro Takita. The film follows Daigo Kobayashi, a cellist who loses his job when his orchestra disbands.
He returns to his hometown with his wife and begins looking for a new job, eventually stumbling upon a position as a “nokanshi” – a traditional Japanese ritual mortician who prepares bodies for burial.
Despite the initial stigma and reluctance he faces from his wife and friends, Daigo comes to embrace his new job and discovers the beauty and dignity of the nokanshi profession.
The film explores themes of life and death, family, and finding one’s purpose. It is notable for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of Japanese culture and traditions, as well as its poignant and emotionally resonant storyline.
Upon its release, Departures was met with critical acclaim and won the Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Academy Awards.
It was praised for its beautiful cinematography, strong performances, and heartfelt exploration of themes of life and death. The film has since become a beloved classic in Japanese cinema and a powerful tribute to the beauty and dignity of life’s final journey.
21. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is a 2008 romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Woody Allen. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz, Rebecca Hall, and Javier Bardem, and follows the romantic entanglements of two American women, Vicky (Hall) and Cristina (Johansson), while on vacation in Barcelona.
The film received critical acclaim for its sharp writing, nuanced performances, and the stunning cinematography that captured the beauty of Barcelona. Cruz’s performance as Maria Elena, the tempestuous ex-wife of Bardem’s character, earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is a character-driven film that explores themes such as love, passion, and the complexities of human relationships. The film also features an evocative soundtrack and a strong sense of place, capturing the vibrant culture and beauty of Barcelona.
Overall, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is a charming and sophisticated film that showcases Woody Allen’s talent for crafting compelling stories and characters.
The film’s strong performances, beautiful cinematography, and exploration of complex themes make it a standout in the romantic comedy-drama genre.
22. The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
“The Spiderwick Chronicles” is a fantasy adventure film directed by Mark Waters and released in 2008. The film is based on the popular children’s book series of the same name by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.
The film follows the story of three siblings, Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace, who move with their mother to the secluded Spiderwick Estate.
While exploring the house, the children discover a field guide that unlocks the secrets of the magical creatures that inhabit the surrounding forest.
However, they soon learn that their discovery has put them in danger as they become embroiled in a battle between good and evil forces for control of the magical world.
“The Spiderwick Chronicles” was praised for its imaginative world-building, stunning visual effects, and strong performances from its young cast. The film also explored themes of family, loyalty, and courage.
While it did not perform as well at the box office as other fantasy films of the time, it has since gained a cult following and is considered a beloved family-friendly adventure film.
23. Che: Part Two (2008)
Che: Part Two is a 2008 biographical war film directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Benicio del Toro as revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
The film is a sequel to Che: Part One, which covers the events leading up to the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s. Che: Part Two focuses on Guevara’s role in the Bolivian Revolution of the 1960s, which ultimately led to his capture and execution.
The movie depicts Guevara’s efforts to organize and lead a group of guerrilla fighters in Bolivia, despite facing numerous challenges such as poor living conditions, lack of resources, and betrayal by local informants.
As the Bolivian military closes in on Guevara’s group, the film follows his final moments, including his capture, interrogation, and execution.
Che: Part Two received mixed reviews from critics, with some praising del Toro’s performance and Soderbergh’s direction, while others criticized the film’s slow pace and lack of character development.
Despite its mixed reception, the movie was recognized for its historical accuracy and attention to detail, with many viewers appreciating its portrayal of Guevara as a complex and multifaceted figure.
24. Never Forever (2007)
“Never Forever” is a 2007 American independent film directed by Gina Kim. The film stars Vera Farmiga as Sophie, a woman married to an affluent Korean businessman who is unable to conceive a child.
In order to save her marriage and give her husband a child, Sophie enters into a risky and forbidden affair with a young Korean man, played by Ha Jung-woo.
The film explores themes of cultural differences, identity, and the complex power dynamics within relationships.
It received positive reviews for its nuanced performances and its exploration of the emotional toll of a complex and taboo relationship. Vera Farmiga’s performance was particularly praised for its sensitivity and depth.
“Never Forever” is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged film that delves into the complexities of human relationships and the lengths people will go to in order to find connection and meaning in their lives.
It is a testament to the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
25. Horton Hears a Who! (2008)
“Horton Hears a Who!” is a 2008 American animated adventure comedy film based on the 1954 book of the same name by Dr. Seuss. The film is directed by Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino and features the voices of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell.
The plot follows Horton the Elephant (voiced by Carrey) who hears a tiny voice coming from a speck of dust and discovers that there is a whole community of creatures living on the speck, called Whoville.
Despite the disbelief and ridicule of his fellow animals, Horton is determined to protect the speck and the Whos who live on it.
The film explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and the importance of standing up for what you believe in. It also teaches the lesson that everyone, no matter how small, has a voice and deserves to be heard.
“Horton Hears a Who!” received positive reviews for its charming animation, engaging storyline, and strong vocal performances. It was a commercial success, grossing over $300 million worldwide.
The film is a heartwarming and entertaining family film that is sure to delight audiences of all ages.
Best 2008 Movies – Wrap Up
Here are some of the best movies from 2008:
The Dark Knight
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Burn After Reading
These movies were widely acclaimed by both audiences and critics alike, and received numerous awards and nominations, including multiple Academy Award nominations. The year 2008 was a particularly strong year for cinema, with many iconic films being released that have continued to be popular years after their initial release.