I have already posted my 2011, 2010 and 2009 "most anticipated" movie lists. And just when you thought it was over, here is how well I did at predicting the movies to see in 2008. (For reference, critic scores from Rotten Tomatoes are also included for each film.) As usual, my formula for success is equal parts good character development and explosions.
1. The Dark Knight
Result: FULL OF WIN (Tomatometer 94%). Christopher Nolan showed he knew how to make a good Batman movie with Batman Begins, but it was Heath Ledger's haunting performance as the Joker that made TDK the best Batman movie ever.
2. Iron Man
Result: FULL OF WIN (Tomatometer 94%). This was my favorite of the year and one of my favorite movies of all time. It perfectly straddled the line: it was fantastic enough to wow us, and down to earth enough for us to connect with it. Robert Downey, Jr. was a big part of the reason: his portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man showed amazing depth and a wicked sense of humor. The cool gadgets and effects didn't hurt either.
3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Result: FULL OF WIN (Tomatometer 77%). Yes, it was a sharp drop-off from The Last Crusade, and we could all use a little less Shia LaBeouf in our lives, but the latest Indiana Jones chapter was still tremendously fun to watch.
4. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Result: FULL OF WIN (Tomatometer 87%). Hellboy was a movie I never thought would get a sequel, but thank goodness it did. Director Guillermo del Toro's bizarre vision and fantastic design made this installment even stranger - and more wonderful - than its predecessor. Highly recommended for fans of fantasy, monster and superhero movies.
5. Quantum of Solace
Result: MIDDLING (Tomatometer 64%). It wasn't terrible, but it was boring compared to Daniel Craig's first James Bond movie, Casino Royale. I watched it, but I really can't remember much about it. Yawn.
Result: FULL OF WIN (Tomatometer 96%). It wasn't quite Pixar's best, but it was close. This little-robot-that-could movie manages to capture and hold your attention with hardly any dialogue - just lovable characters, grand adventure and tremendous animation.
Result: FULL OF WIN (Tomatometer 77%). This new take on the giant monster movie makes great use of the "found footage" approach to create a suspenseful and downright thrilling movie.
Result: FULL OF WIN (Tomatometer 71%). This movie about high-powered assassins hooked me with Angelina Jolie, but it was James McAvoy who stole the show. This was kind of overlooked when it came out, but definitely worth checking out if you love insane action scenes.
9. The Incredible Hulk
Result: FULL OF WIN (Tomatometer 66%). This movie was also largely overlooked when it was released - probably because we were all turned off by Ang Lee's touchy-feely take on the Hulk just a couple of years earlier, but it turned out to be the best screen adaptation yet of the famous Green Goliath. The movie skips the typical "origin story" (flashes of it are seen in the opening credits) and launches right into the action - which never stops.
Result: EPIC FAIL (Tomatometer 40%). This movie actually starts off with a fairly interesting premise - a self-destructive, unloved superhero gets a P.R. makeover and becomes a true hero. The second half takes it in a completely different direction, though, and falls flat. What should have been on my list: Tropic Thunder (Tomatometer 83%). This action farce was about a group of actors making a war movie who stumble into a real war. Robert Downey, Jr. and Ben Stiller were especially funny.
11. Speed Racer
Result: EPIC FAIL (Tomatometer 38%). This live adaptation of the famous kids' cartoon was a visual feast, but the story itself fell flat. What should have been on my list: Bolt (Tomatometer 88%). This animated film about a dog who thins he has superpowers turned out to be surprisingly good.
12. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Result: EPIC FAIL (Tomatometer 19%). Say what you will about the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but at least those films were watchable. This one, a two-hour commercial for the new animated TV show, was not. What should have been on my list: Kung Fu Panda (Tomatometer 88%). Action, comedy and a panda who learns to harness great power. Minus the talking animals, this is what an animated Star Wars film should have been.
Final tally for my 2008 predictions: 8 winners, 3 losers and 1 movie that was just so-so. (71%)