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Diablo Cody: 5 reasons '08 rocked

After a year of historic ups and downs, EW columnist takes heart in shining examples of pop cultural goodness, from the return of Mickey Rourke to Wii Fit to the pitch for a high-tech rag

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Drew Pinsky
Beatrice Neumann/VH1

Diablo Cody: 5 reasons ’08 rocked

January: The month when all of your favorite rags are glutted with best-of-’08 lists. And who am I to ignore a trend? Well, excluding those skinny scarves, which I refuse to wear. I didn’t move to Southern California so I could swaddle my throat in acrylic. Dov Charney be damned!

Anyway, here’s a handful of my favorite things from 2008. (In the spirit of neutrality, I left off Obama’s election. Though it has to be said that I did order an Obama ”Historic Victory Plate” off the TV. I am officially a black grandma.)

1. The Wrestler
I first saw this incredible movie at a film festival in Greece. The house was packed with eager Greek cinephiles, but when the lights went up, they seemed flummoxed; the world of pro wrestling was maybe too foreign. Not for me! I grew up watching WWF and GLOW — Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling! — when my parents were asleep. (My favorite wrestler was Dementia, a proto-riot grrrl who was wheeled out in a circus cage like something off a Barnum’s Animal Crackers box.) On a nostalgic level, The Wrestler totally delivers, but that’s not the source of its power. The wrestlers in this film aren’t golden gods; they’re aging, punch-drunk, rheumatoid wrecks. Darren Aronofsky has created a masterful vanitas-style portrait of a world in decline. Mickey Rourke is amazing as Randy ”The Ram” Robinson, a fading cartoon of a man. I went into this expecting a sleeper hold, and instead I got a sharp elbow to the face.

2. Wii Fit
The commercials for this game/virtual fitness system depict attractive people practicing sun salutations and abdominal crunches. Their breathing is measured; their environments are serene.

This is not the reality of Wii Fit. The reality is me sweating in my pj’s, struggling to master the ”tree pose” while a Chihuahua nips at my ankles. And unlike a conventional touchy-feely fitness DVD, the Japanese Wii Fit doesn’t pull any punches — in fact, it’s like having an in-house Mean Girl. Wii Fit boldly announced that a friend of mine was ”OBESE” and told me that my true ”physical” age was 52. Blunt cruelty aside, Wii Fit makes it possible to hula hoop, ski, even walk a tightrope in your underwear. (Plus, you can use the Mii Creator to design your own workout partners! I frequently jog with ”Al Pacino” and ”Hayden Panettiere.”)

NEXT PAGE: Nick & Norah, Celebrity Rehab, and ShamWow!

3. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
First of all, the art of the adapted screenplay is not duly appreciated. When a screenwriter elects to adapt a book, they have to create something entirely new while honoring the original text and respecting the mental ”movie” already dreamed up by the book’s protective fans through the weirdly cinematic process of reading. Such an undertaking requires major balls.

Okay, writerly tangent over. Nick & Norah, adapted by my friend Lorene Scafaria, is that rarest of creatures, a movie about young people that doesn’t feel condescending or clueless. Maybe that’s because it began as a passion project rather than a millennial-targeted cash grab conceived by a studio. Kat Dennings‘ Norah is shockingly cool for a girl who’s supposed to be a goody-goody, and Michael Cera actually gets to be sexy. The beautifully sincere script is, in my ever-so-humble opinion, on par with any of the late-season award baiters currently on parade.

4. Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew
This is easily the best Gary Busey-centric reality show since I’m With Busey. D-list celebrities have always been game to expose themselves (sometimes literally), but this show takes candor to a whole new level. Maybe it’s because the life cycle of the average micro-celeb has accelerated considerably; it’s as if there’s a new fast-track career path from American Idol to televised therapy. Seriously, though, rehab used to be taboo. Can you imagine, say, Elizabeth Taylor having consented to being filmed at Betty Ford? Nowadays, we’ve got Jeff Conaway threatening to commit suicide on VH1, a channel that used to be rather genteel. I can’t complain, since I actually watch all this. I just pray that Bo Bice stays away from the hard stuff.

5. ShamWow!
I refuse to buy paper towels in 2009. These high-tech rags soak up beer faster than Steven Adler. And Vince from the omnipresent infomercial is the best fast-talker since the Micro Machines guy. In a way, the ShamWow! is perfectly representative of 2008: weird, woolly, prone to occasional suckage, but mostly bright. Yeah, I wrote that.

More from EW:
Best & Worst of 2008