Eugene Cho

best movies of 2008


As I’m surfing through a list of the best films of 2008, I realized that Minhee and I didn’t get out very much.  In fact, I don’t think we went out and saw a single movie together.  Part of it is time and most of it is finances.  We realized that going to see a movie now costs us about $50-$60 a pop: $20 for the movie tix and $30-$40 for a babysitter and well, no movie is worth $60.  Which is another reason why the DVD is my best friend.

But we are trying to watch a film this week while we’re on vacation and have the services of our parents but to be honest, I haven’t heard of most of these films.  

Here’s a list from the American Film Institute [AFI] on their Top 10 Films of 2008 and so I have to ask:  

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” 
“The Dark Knight” 
“Frozen River” 
“Gran Torino” 
“Iron Man” 
“Wendy and Lucy” 
“The Wrestler”

  • What do you think?  
  • Agree or disagree?  
  • What was your favorite film of the year?  
  • What was snubbed on this list?  
  • What would you recommend we watch this week?

I am leaning towards “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” if we can convince our parents that 3 hours go by really quick.  🙂

Filed under: entertainment, , ,

25 Responses

  1. DK says:

    This film should be on everyone’s top 10 list:

    Slumdog Millionaire

  2. i saw The Dark Knight & Milk and enjoyed both very much. i HIGHLY recommend Milk as he was a very inspirational man and especially since you are from SF. i heard Frost/Nixon is horrible & Wall-E & The Wrestler are fantastic. Everyone is raving about Slumdog Millionaire.

  3. Beth says:

    Haven’t seen too many on the list. But my favorite of the year was definitely Lars and the Real Girl – a quirky little film that every church leader should see. It challenged me to think about community and the cost of loving people to wholeness.

  4. blackwasp19 says:

    I have seen several of the movies and I have no problem with them being the top ten. Another one (other than Slumdog Millionaire) that should be considered in the Visitor, which is about immigration, finding your way in life, and love.

    I haven’t seen Doubt yet, but I have heard that it is amazing as well.

    Lars in the Real Girl was one of the better movies I have seen, but i think it was technically 2007.

  5. Caleb Nachtigall says:

    Iron Man and Wall-E were excellent movies. Dark Knight was pretty good… but I’d probably suggest steering clear of Milk. That is, unless you don’t mind seeing Sean Penn getting frisky with another guy…

    Bolt was another incredibly cute movie that should have at least gotten a nod. Um, Quantum of Solace wasn’t too bad either. I’ve been a bit disappointed with movies overall though; it seems like we’ve used up all of the good stories (LOTR, Ben Hur, Star Wars, the Matrix, North by Northwest). As a Christian and an avid fan of the movie/VFX industry, I love telling stories on the big screen; cinema has a way of capturing audience’s attention and telling tales that no other medium has. However, it really bugs me when a writer decides that his movie needs a sex scene or two, or maybe a brutally bloody murder, to make the finished product more marketable. If you’re going to write a story, it should be able to sell regardless of how titillating it is. But of course, that is what most people want: Sensation. I really miss the days of the epics like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, when they could make PG-13 movies free of gratuitous sex or violence and still have it break box office records. Now don’t get me wrong; I really don’t mind R rated movies (I’ve seen at least a dozen of them), and sometimes the violence or the sex is a big part of the story being told. I just hate it when you’ve got a movie coming out that looks amazing (Watchmen anyone?) and then you come to find out it’s rated R for violence, nudity, and sexual content. I don’t mind the violence, but is it possible for you guys to make a movie that isn’t packed with sex? I mean seriously… what is it about sex in movies? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that people are searching for something…? I dunno.

    So yeah. All that to say… go see Iron Man. Amazing movie.

  6. reJoyce says:

    Of that list, I’ve only seen Wall-E, Iron Man and The Dark Knight. Of the three it’s hard to pick one as a “favorite” since they aren’t really the same type of film. (They’d all be great choices to watch at home. But don’t let the kids watch The Dark Knight until they’re older.)

    I’ve heard from friends whose movie taste I trust that the Benjamin Button movie is very good.

  7. eugenecho says:

    i did see kung fu panda in the theaters with my kids and enjoyed it very much.

    saw dark knight on DVD and was unimpressed. good but not great. thought batman begins was better.

  8. Beth says:

    Lars and the Real Girl in 2007? Geez, I am further behind then I thought!!!!

  9. pjchris says:

    Ok, here goes…I have to say that I really enjoyed Marley and Me…yes, it does star (several) tremdously cute dog(s), but that’s not really the point (neither was that really John Grogan’s point when he wrote the book). It’s really about reality of “growing up”, especially as a couple. A one point Jennifer Aniston’s character says something along the lines of no one ever tells you how hard it is and how much you have to give up (to be married, to be a parent). Owen Wilson’s character replies that maybe they do, but we never believe them. Yes, it’s shmulz, but it’s wise shmulz 🙂

    Also, really LOVED Australia.

    I’m not usually so sappy on the movies…must be a sappy year 🙂

    I really enjoyed Bolt (the hampster rocks!) and Wall-E (how exactly do the main characters get so much across when they only share 12 or so words between them-case in many ways can EVE say “Wall-E” and yet we know exactly what she means by her tone of voice 🙂 )

  10. Dan says:

    Batman Begins better than Dark Knight? Are you crazy? I could understand it being good not great, but not as ood as Batman Begins?

  11. Brad says:

    Never left a comment on your blog before- but I feel a recommendation toward Slumdog Millionaire is worth it. Honestly… one of those movies that is so good on every level.

  12. PC says:

    The Dark Knight
    Get Smart
    Iron Man
    Kung Fu Panda
    Slumdog Millionaire

    and then various DVD rentals like Wordplay and 10 Items or Less.

  13. VL says:

    transamerica – felicity hoffman’s oscar nominated performance
    Christmas in August- one of the best korean films out there
    my house in umbria- there is a reason they call maggie smith “dame”

    infamous – toby smith is an awesome truman capote
    gone baby gone- alfleck’s noir is more compelling than “mystic river”
    next- nicholaus cage’s korean waitress wife has a small part

  14. ac says:

    Oh man, you forced me into thinking about this one…

    The Wackness
    Slumdog Millionaire
    Son of Rambow
    In Bruges
    Dark Knight
    And when did you last see your father
    Female Agents
    Emmanuel Jal: Warchild
    Synecdoche, New York

  15. Fusion! says:

    I’ve heard good things about Slumdog Millionaire. I saw Benjamin Button and was blwon away. Give Pitt an Oscar nomination. Cate Blanchett too. Doubt was very well done (but left things up in the air imo) and Valkyrie was better than I thought it would be. Dark Knight was well done. It is one of the few movies that gives you more with subsequent viewings. I can’t wait to see how it all pans out come awards season. I might add, Cloverfield anyone? And not sure if it was 2007, but Once was a great movie as well-they earned that Oscar for best song.

  16. janowen says:

    I enjoyed Valkyrie if you can say the topic is enjoyable. Since you know the ending, I’ll just say it was a very sad movie, but full of courage. FYI, the July 20 plot it was based on is the one Bonhoeffer was also involved in and executed for although he is not mentioned in the film.

    I enjoyed Wall-E.

    I don’t go to movies much so I’m not much help.

  17. katie says:

    what i want to know is: who are you paying $40 to babysit your three kids for 2 hours? and, can i undercut them? 🙂

    just saw Wall-E with the family…there’s something about that movie that causes every couple to act really cheesy instantaneously when watching it. other than that, i loved the social commentary.

    give The Dark Knight several more chances. I’ve been a huge Batfan my whole life, and I didn’t think it was possible to outdo Batman Begins, so I wasn’t a huge fan the first viewing…but then I saw it on the IMAX and my mind was changed – it’s a completely different movie, so I love them both for different reasons. After seeing it four times, I’m convinced that each time I see it I’ll understand the complexity of the characters more and more.

  18. jobechoi says:

    sangre de mi sangre. beautiful film making. tight polish on the editing too. cannes festival winner in 2007. it’s on dvd.

  19. eugenecho says:

    @katie: $10/hr. 3 hours = a quick meal and 2 hour film.

    need to see wall-e.

  20. I would definitely add “Slumdog Millionaire” to the mix! Excellent movie! I think it was the best of the year.

  21. Dennis says:

    Hello Pastor Eugene,

    Iron Man had a good message of what true repentance looks like. It was a good movie minus the indecent adult scenes in the beginning of the movie.

    Dark Knight is deeply disturbing and the Joker (played by Heath Ledger who committed suicide studying how to portray evil) is basically Satan. I would skip this one unless you want to have nightmares. Don’t let the kids watch it, no matter what they say.

    One to add: Bella is an excellent movie. Check this out first. You’ll like it.

  22. Kevin says:

    Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose on prescription medication… not because Evil consumed him. And you’re vastly underestimating the Devil if you think the Joker is even a vague approximation. Whatever your take on its artistic merits, the Dark Knight is decidedly not a Satanic movie.

  23. Jill C says:

    My favourite movie I saw this year (2008) is on DVD, and I am not sure of it’s original release date, but since I saw it in 2008 I am saying it is great! “Bella.” A great little DVD about choices, hope, healing. It is awesome.

  24. Matthew says:

    Eugene, I feel for your situation; of the movies mentioned here, I’ve seen only ‘Iron Man’, ‘the Dark Knight’ and ‘WALL-E’. ‘WALL-E’ I enjoyed immensely – both for the technical sophistication with both graphics and sound and how the movie manages to be both endearing and prophetic at once.

    ‘The Dark Knight’ was for me a mixed bag. Yes, Bale, Freeman, Eckhart and Ledger were absolutely amazing actors, and there were some good ethical questions raised in the movie, as well as some well-needed challenges to our concepts of what heroism entails, but the entire thing to me came off as excessively, almost comically grim. It took the gritty darkness of ‘Batman Begins’ and nearly caricatured it, which kind of threw me. (I had the same gripe with ‘Quantum of Solace’, actually – if Bond can’t manage even one successful moment of levity, it doesn’t really feel like Bond.) In that respect, I far preferred ‘Iron Man’, which managed to be good in all the right ways – the acting, the story pacing, the effects, the humour.

    ‘Gran Torino’ is on my list of movies-to-see, but truth be told, I’m a little too busy to get around to all of these…

    God bless,

  25. Katie says:

    Milk was wonderful! Gus van Sant always does an incredible job, but everything went together so well in this film. It’s also particularly relevant given Prop 8. Slumdog Millionaire is next on my list to see and I have heard amazing things about it.

    Whoever mentioned the Visitor – I agree, it was an incredible movie. Very moving and well done.

    Loved Dark Knight but is in a different vein than the previous 3 I mentioned. But don’t feel bad Eugene, a fair chunk of those movies haven’t been released yet. I’m really looking forward to seeing Wendy and Lucy, but hear it’s a little slow. I’ve heard Gran Torino and the Wrestler are supposed to be great – though, I’m pretty sure the love interest in the Wrestler is a stripper – I’m not sure what you’re comfortable watching with your parents 🙂 or when either or those films are to be released.

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the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

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Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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