Last week, we posted our Top 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2008. This week, we present our Critics' Choice Awards for the Top 10 Films of 2008.

What's the difference between the lists? The "redeeming" list speaks for itself—films that included a redemptive element, sometimes blatant, sometimes more subtle, but always there.

Our Critics' Choice list, on the other hand, consists of the 10 films that our panel believes were the most excellent films of 2008, whether they carried a redeeming message or not—though seven of our top 10 choices also appeared on our Most Redeeming list. But all of the movies here are films of excellence, and many are up for various honors at the upcoming Academy Awards.

We also let each of our voters choose "One That Got Away"—a single film they wish had made the final list. Think of those extra films as sort of our "honorable mentions."

For each of the top 10 films, we have included random comments from our critics. To learn more about the film's synopsis, click "Our review" at the end of each summary.

1. The Dark Knightdirected by Christopher Nolan "Elevates the comic book genre with mature storytelling and grand vision." "Few superhero films transcend the conventions of the genre to earn the accolades of great art, but Nolan's film is strikingly relevant to urgent conversations about America's fight against terror." "Nolan transforms a summer blockbuster into an American epic, a mythology that brims with all the emotion and drama of the human experience." "An exploratory film about big, tricky political and moral issues that deftly plays both sides and doesn't allow for easy answers." "Heath Ledger's horrifyingly nihilistic Joker joins Darth Vader and the Wicked Witch of the West among ...

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