The countdown of the top 10 films of the year starts tomorrow, but first, a few of 2008's also-rans:
Quantum of Solace: James Bond is back, and he wants revenge. This is the shortest and most stylized Bond film to date, and I loved it. True, Quantum lacks some of the things we've come to expect from James Bond (no Q, no Moneypenny, no 'shaken, not stirred', etc), and it takes itself rather too seriously. Nonetheless, Quantum comes very close to capturing the spirit of Ian Fleming's original books, while also succeeding as a film in its own right.
Flashbacks of a Fool: Also starring Daniel Craig, this one's about a disreputable, embittered Hollywood movie star who is devastated to learn of the death of a childhood friend. Most of the film is a flashback to the actor's youth in rural England, and the terrible chain of events he inadvertently triggers. This won't be to everyone's taste, but it's beautifully shot and packs a real punch at the end. Great soundtrack too.
Mamma Mia: Speaking of great soundtracks, I can't overlook Mamma Mia, the film adaptation of the Abba-inspired musical. Starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth amongst others, this has become the UK's biggest box office hit of all time, and its fastest selling DVD to boot. I found the female characters highly annoying, and the men just can't sing. Somehow though, it doesn't matter – Mamma Mia is pure, escapist fun.
The Dark Knight: Everyone else seemed to like this sequel to 'Batman Begins' a lot more than me. Personally, I thought it was too long and too self-indulgent. Minus half an hour and a handful of sub-plots, it could have been fantastic. The film still succeeds thanks to a brilliant final performance from the late Heath Ledger – as Batman's psychotic nemesis, The Joker – but it should have been so much better.