Here we are at the last part covering my 4th decade of movies so let’s get right into it!
2008: The Dark Knight
In my opinion it’s still the best superhero movie ever made. Heath Ledger’s Joker is chilling and perhaps the definite performance (with all due respect to Mark Hammill’s voiceover work as the clown prince). He’s creepy, unhinged, and believable in his lunacy. The idea that someone exists who just wants to see the world burn has never been more clearly evidenced as it is in the Joker.
Play that character opposite Bale’s Wayne/Batman and you have such a strong hero/villain combo that it only helps to strengthen the already strong plot and story.
The Dark Knight is a rare movie in that I believe it plays to both the superhero and the non-superhero crowds respectively. You don’t have to be a junkie of the superhero blockbuster to enjoy what this movie accomplishes and you don’t have to be deep into Batman lore for it to make sense.
Honorable mentions: Tropic Thunder, Gran Torino, Ironman, and Hurt. 2008 was another one of those magical cinematic years (sorry, Tropic Thunder – you deserve better than this).
2009: Inglorious Basterds
It’s true: I love Tarantino flicks and this one is one of the better ones. This alternate story of Nazis and a band of Brad Pitt led Nazi hunters is standard Tarantino fare but perhaps what makes it stand out the most is Christoph Waltz’s performance as Hans Landa.
Waltz plays a character so evil that the first time I saw him in an interview post-movie release I still hated his face.
Honorable mention: Up
2010: Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
The Michael Cera led early arcade homage film based on the comic Scott Pilgrim vs. the World directed by Edgar Wright is simply an all-time favorite. The cast is brilliant and the script is witty as it follows Scott Pilgrim as he tries to win the heart of Ramona Flowers but must fight off each of her 7 evil exes.
Seriously, this movie pretty well does everything right from the nods to 16 bit era games and garage band punk inspired soundtrack this movie is special and was without question a no-brainer as my choice for 2010.
And because I love the music so much here’s a cut from Scott’s band Sex Bob-Omb.
Very distant honorable mentions: Inception and Kick-Ass
2011: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2
It’s not very often that you can conclude a beloved franchise in a way that feels satisfying especially after they decided to take the last book and milk it for two movies (a thing that hurt books like the Hobbit and the the Hunger Games: Mocking Jay) but Deathly Hallow Part 2 absolutely teaches other franchises how important ending strong is.
2012: Django Unchained
This may seem controversial to many Quentin Tarantino fans but Django Unchained is my favorite Tarantino film.
Remember when I said I hated Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds? Well, to the degree I hated him in that film I love him in this one.
And my man crush on him was born.
The movie centers around Waltz and Jamie Foxx’s title character as Django’s freedom is bought and the two seek out his wife who was taken from him as the two were sold into slavery.
It’s an incredible western film with performances by Waltz and Foxx that were both Oscar worthy in my opinion.
And that’s not even mentioning the stellar performances by Leo DiCaprio, Sam Jackson and the return of Mr. Miami Vice himself – Don Johnson.
Honorable mentions: the Hunger Games and the Avengers
2013: Man of Steel
I’m sure this is another controversial pick but I loved this installment in the franchise as I felt it humanized Superman and the father/son dynamics (both earthly and biological) just had a sense of realism to them that only bolstered Supes’ humanity.
I loved it and I’ve blogged about it before.
Hate me if you want.
We can at least agree it was better than Suicide Squad.
2014: X-Men: Days of Future Past
It’s difficult to pull of a time traveling movie that doesn’t feel clumsy but I thought Days did it incredibly well.
In addition to just being a time traveling X-Men movie based on a beloved comic book series run, it effectively rebooted the franchise with an all new cast as the major players. It’s too long to explain but believe me, it works.
It also featured one of the more creative and memorable scenes in a superhero film that was one of the moments everyone talked about afterward.
2015: Star Wars: the Force Awakens
This film managed to wash the bad taste of the prequels out of my mouth and give me hope going forward.
2016: Rogue One
It feels fitting to nearly bookend this list with Star Wars films and I really wanted to give this to my honorable mention candidate but in the end I couldn’t talk myself into it because Rogue One is the best Star Wars film (best Star Wars anything, really) since Empire Strikes Back.
Honorable mention: La La Land
2017 (so far): Logan
I enjoy the big blockbuster comic book films like Avengers and Civil War but what I’ve always felt partial to has been the smaller, more personal stories.
Logan nails it especially since it is rated R so Logan can finally do more than just cut the ends off guns with his claws or bury them into some bad guys chest. In other words – he’s not boring anymore.
Logan is more than just gory action though. It is an emotional story and a fitting send off for both Hugh Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine and Sir Patrick Stewart’s Professor X.
And the trailer features one of the greatest songs ever.
Thanks for sticking with me as I went through this list! With the next blog post I’ll be going back to the 500 word limit.
As always, I’d love your thought and feedback!