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The Best Films of 2008

Updated on January 28, 2009

When I first tried to think back on the films from 2008, I couldn’t think of any that really stood out as terrific films. However, a quick glance on the Wikipedia pages for the top-grossing films of 2008 and the films that made number one at the box office in 2008 reveals that there were indeed some really cool movies released in the past year. A more comprehensive look at the Wikipedia page on all of the films released in 2008 in the U.S. reminded me that there actually were quite a lot of movies that I either saw in 2008 and really liked or wanted to see in 2008 and didn’t get the chance so I’ve added them to my must-see list of movie rentals.

More than fifty of the films in 2008 managed to gross over $100 million each which gives them the right to “blockbuster” status. Ten films made four times more than that and each achieved “international blockbuster” status. And then there was even one film, Dark Knight, which made records by earning over $900 million and doing it really quickly after its release. Having seen Dark Knight in the theatres, I can say that I see why it was such a popular 2008 film; it was a really fun movie to watch!

10 Box Office Number Ones of 2008

 There was more of a mixture in the types of films that made number one at the box office in 2008 but there were some record-breakers here as well. For example, Cloverfield broke three records for the highest earnings as a January debut, a Martin Luther King weekend debut and a Martin Luther King weekend movie. Here’s a look at the ten films that had the highest earnings at the box office in 2008:

1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets

2. The Bucket List

3. Cloverfield

4. Meet the Spartans

5. Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert

6. Fool’s Gold

7. Jumper

8. Vantage Point

9. Semi-Pro

10. 10,000 BC 

10 Highest Grossing Films of 2008

What was really interesting to see was that the movies that really made a lot of money in the last year were almost all movies that were made for kids but loved by adults – movies like Dark Knight as well as Kung Fu Panda and Iron Man. Perhaps this says something about the things that we want to see when escaping from our real lives into the world of movies! Here’s a look at the ten films that grossed more than $400 million each in 2008:

1. Dark Knight

2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

3. Kung Fu Panda

4. Hancock

5. Iron Man

6. Mamma Mia

7. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

8. Quantum of Solace


10. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

 So, there you have the twenty films of 2008 that really stood out in terms of the money that they earned while they were in the theatres. But that’s not the only thing that defines a great movie is it? Often there are movies that are really moving, really inspiring and really eye-opening but they just don’t make the big bucks at the box office. I saw a few of those kinds of movies in 2008.

So, regardless of how much they earned, here’s a look at my personal top ten favorite movies of 2008:

1. Milk. This movie about the history of the Mayor of Castro Street was far and away the best movie that I saw all year. Of course, I was lucky enough to get to see it at The Castro Theatre in San Francisco, right in the heart of where all of the real history took place. But the story is moving enough that I’m fairly certain that I would have loved it in any theatre I found it in.

2. Changeling. This movie left me breathless and speechless. It’s another movie based on true history and a part of history that I wasn’t fully aware of until seeing the film. It’s a dramatic, touching, shocking movie that I would recommend to anyone.

3. Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This movie superceded my expectations, twirling together a wonderful tale of the different kinds of women that there are and the way that it can be difficult to figure out which type is the type that is right for you to be.

4. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. What a really fun movie this was! Absolutely charming.

5. Definitely, Maybe. This was a really cute romantic comedy that was also really well done.

6. Tropic Thunder. Perhaps I was won over by the fact that I saw this movie at a drive-in theatre which is a really great way to see a movie but whatever the reason, I had fun watching this one.

7. Iron Man. What can I say – I like some of the things that everyone else likes too!

8. Sex and the City. I admit it; I was a fan of this movie. It was total fluff and I probably wouldn’t have liked it if it hadn’t been the continuation of the TV series but it was what it was and I enjoyed watching it.

9. Doubt. I didn’t absolutely love this movie, at least not as much as I thought that I would from the previews that I saw, but it was definitely a 2008 film that was worth seeing.

10. Smart People. In fairness, I didn’t really like this movie in the theatres but I do think that it’s good enough to check out on Netflix.

Those were all terrific films. And it should be noted that I haven’t even yet had a chance to see a few late-2008 releases that I wanted to see such as Revolutionary Road and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Plus there were several films released earlier in the year that I managed to miss out on and now have in my Blockbuster Queue including Stop-Loss (mostly because I’m a Ryan Phillippe fan), Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and The Secret Life of Bees. 


Submit a Comment

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Thank for the nice post!

  • Princessa profile image

    Wendy Iturrizaga 

    9 years ago from France

    Thanks for a great review Kathryn.

  • Reynolds_Writing profile image


    9 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

    Good picks for your top movies of 2008. Iron Man, Sex & The City & Definitely Maybe were all fun picks!


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