Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #11
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale and Heath Ledger
If Toy Story 3 is 2010's controversial list-ascender, then The Dark Knight is 2008's – and possibly the first truly shit-stirring one of all time. To summarize a two-year old story, The Dark Knight stormed into theaters on a swell of hype surrounding Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker which may or may not have killed him, it was universally loved, everyone got trigger-happy with awarding a 10/10 on the IMDb, and it was in the Top 10 within a couple of days. Some people said this was ridiculous and evidence that the Top 250 was useless, cooler heads said it would drop over time. Well, two years later and it dropped a little, but is still the eleventh greatest movie of all time. Is this right?
In short: hell fucking yes. I'm about to go on a tirade, but if you have good taste in movies, you won't complain with a single word that I say. If you can't get behind a brilliantly crafted, dark movie about Batman that unequivocally destroys just about every comic ever written about the Caped Crusader, you don't have a soul. If you don't like watching career performances by Christian Bale ("Batman voice" notwithstanding), Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, and above all, Heath Ledger, who deserved the posthumous Oscar he received for his role a thousand times over, then you don't deserve to have eyes. If you didn't jump the first time you saw the Joker's pencil trick, you shouldn't be going to the movies. Basically, if you can't see the merit in The Dark Knight being among the Top 250 movies of all time, you're crazy.
The people who complain about its high position are the same people complaining about Toy Story 3's high position. They probably all work for the American Film Institute – which, by the way, is a stronghold of backwards, conservative cinematic evil. The logic for wanting to keep The Dark Knight out of the top ten is the same logic that says the screenplay to Casablanca will never be bested so we might as well all stop trying. It's a logic that precludes any action movie, summer blockbuster, or, God forbid, comic book movie from ever being good enough to earn the kind of praise that The Dark Knight has earned. The only problem with this is that all the praise that the film has earned – and there have been heaps of it – has been completely justified. It is one of the most awe-inspiring achievements in the history of cinema, sacrificing none of its enormous visual and mythological scope in its quest for getting great performances from its cast and telling a great story with images and words. I hate to name-call, but the only people who can't appreciate this movie are elitist snobs, and that's coming from an elitist snob.
The Good: Heath Ledger's performance stands out as the best thing about the movie, but really everything about it is fantastic.
The Bad: Uh...I got nothing. Seriously, hate to be a fan boy, but what's not great about this movie? The Batman voice, I guess?
The Skinny: Deserves its spot. Would probably be even higher than #11 in my personal canon.