8. "Hellboy II: The Golden Army"

Guillermo Del Toro's just making one big movie, and each time he releases something, it just adds brushstrokes to this one giant-scale phantasmagoric painting that won't really come into focus until he's finally finished.  He is the American Miyazaki, a fantasist who is intent on not just thrilling us from film to film, but who is actually building an alternate world on film, brick by brick, monster by monster, his unique gifts becoming stronger and stronger each time he makes a film. In its own way, this feels as much like a series reboot as Universal's other big comic book movie, "The Incredible Hulk."  Del Toro seems to both acknowledge and correct most of the problems with the first "Hellboy," which I liked a lot, but which had a few major missteps built in.  This time out, everything works better.  The characters are looser, more alive.  The world is more vibrant, more filled-out.  And there's a sadness here that really does seem to be part and parcel with Del Toro's best work, a sense that we live in an age where wonder and magic aren't valued at all.  I have to give special credit to Del Toro for doing something i didn't think was possible... making me like Seth McFarlane.  A lot.  That may be the greatest special effect of the year.