1. Heath Ledger
Let's just get right to it, shall we? Yes, Ledger will likely get an Oscar nod out of this performance and yes, it's deserved. Director and co-screenwriter Chris Nolan's vision of The Joker is as a destructive force of nature that also happens to be smarter than everyone in Gotham (including Batman). Basically, it's Joker-as-Hannibal-Lecter. And Ledger makes it work.
This Joker is genuinely scary. You get nervous when he's onscreen, and not in a good way. In an "Okay, you're really starting to creep me out now," kind of way.
2. Aaron Eckhart
Although Ledger will get most of the buzz, Eckhart's performance should not be overlooked. First off, Two-Face represents the most disturbing make-up job in recent memory. Secondly, narratively and thematically, Harvey Dent/Two-Face carries a major chunk of the film, and Eckhart's equal to the task.
3. A Better Saw
While many critics are (aptly) drawing parallels to great crime dramas when they describe The Dark Knight, I'm put more in mind of the serial killer genre. In particular, Se7en or the Saw series, where grisly murders are used as object lessons (usually as a jumping off point for debating the "worth" of humanity). This film has the most effective use of that paradigm since Se7en.
4. Gotham's War on Terror
Also in question (as another dimension of that whole human nature thing) is how a society behaves when threatened. The "T" word comes up unreservedly in describing The Joker and the film even finds a clever way to bring up privacy issues, too. Not bad for a movie that could just as easily have been a collection of battles between costumed freaks.
5. Smashy Smashy
Just because it's full of all these highfalutin' themes doesn't mean they forgot to make it an action film. The opening sequence works as a gripping heist short and the car chase/battle that introduces the Batmobile ranks with the best of 'em.
6. Tommy "Tiny" Lister
While you should make it your mission in life to see every film this character actor icon is in, he has an especially memorable cameo here.Powered by Sidelines