No flu shot can yet immunize us from the annual plague of Top 10 lists; the best you can hope for is a weaker, less-contagious strain than last year's. Stephen King gives us hope.
The world's bestselling novelist and resident EW culture critic today unveiled his 10 Best Movies of 2008, featuring typically abstract list-blurb boilerplate for top three The Dark Knight, Slumdog Millionaire and WALL-E. But it's his lower five that remind us how rare — and refreshing — a non-ironic taste for sheer junk can be this time of year:
6. THE BANK JOB
Any doubts that Jason Statham is more than a muscle boy are set to rest in this rich (and often amusing) story of one of the biggest bank robberies in British history. High-tension cerebral thrills.
8. THE RUINS
The film version brings the novel's bleak theme to the screen intact. Terrible things happen by accident, and when they do, folks are usually on their own. Like all the best horror movies, the premise is simple: Five young people are trapped on top of a pyramid, surrounded by carnivorous plants. It could have been ludicrous. Instead, it's unrelenting.
10. DEATH RACE
This loose remake of Death Race 2000 features the redoubtable Statham as an unjustly convicted (in this sort of movie they always are) felon doing long time in a near-future prison. The canny female warden (brilliantly played by Joan Allen) sets up a series of pay-per-view ''death races'' that are huge ratings successes. Death Race is filled with laconic violence and blasting muscle cars, but just beneath the surface is a biting satire of reality TV.
No one can blame chain-novelist King for forgetting his own TV allegory The Running Man predated Race by about 25 years, but who cares? He also wants an Oscar nod for Sam Jackson in Lakeview Terrace! Such a maverick! And then, as if to invalidate the whole exercise, he ranks Funny Games at number five. Sucker move, King — everybody knows friends don't let friends sit through that crap.