Ten reasons why 2008 was good

top ten reasons why 2008 was a good one for everything that didn’t stick to the ordinary.

1. Barack Obama

Claim to fame: The first African-American President-elect of the United States.
Headline hunter: High

This is the year of Barack Obama. The first African-American President-elect of the United States, Obama has emerged as a symbol of change for a country that’s being weighed down by a costly war in Iraq and Afghanistan and a crippling financial crisis.

The defining moment of Obama’s global stature as a politician came much before his landslide victory in the November 4 election. During a campaign tour that took him to Europe and the Middle East, he addressed a 200,000-strong gathering in Berlin at the Victory Column in Tiergarten on July 24, 2008 – no American politician has ever had an audience of this proportion, such is the buzz that the man generates today.

2. Seth Rogen

Claim to fame: Hollywood’s brightest comedian
Headline hunter: High

Seth Rogen is today a hot contender for ‘the funniest man in Hollywood’ and he’s achieved all this by just being himself. In the last 15 odd months, the 26 year-old has either scripted or acted or done both in some of Hollywood’s biggest hits – Superbad, Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, Drillbit Taylor.

There’s more coming – Rogen’s now producing and starring in the screen adaptation of the comic book The Green Hornet. It’s no wonder he’s made it to our list of 2008’s most talked about people.

3. Usain Bolt

Claim to fame: The world’s fastest man
Headline hunter: High

At 1.96metres, Usain Bolt is too tall to be a sprinter. Yet, the Jamaican, who was virtually unknown even six months ago, left Beijing achieving rock star status.

Bolt now holds the Olympic and world records for 100 metres (9.69 seconds), the 200 metres (19.30) and the 4x100m relay (37.10). He is the first man to win all three events including the 4x100m relay at a single Olympics since Carl Lewis in 1984, and the first man in history to set world records in all three at a single Olympics.

4. The Joker

Claim to fame: He gave us a better class of criminal
Headline hunter: High

Granted, Heath Ledger’s untimely death set the hype machinery rolling, but The Dark Knight outlived all the hype and ran away with the box office crown of 2008. And at the centre of it all was Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker – a character so twisted and anarchic, that he reduced a terrific Christian Bale’s Batman to a sideshow. Ledger carved out an iconic character; he gave Hollywood a better class of criminal. Too bad we’ll never see him again.

5. Aravind Adiga

Claim to fame: Winner of the Man Booker Prize
Headline hunter: Moderate

So you write this really edgy debut novel, a novel that stuns the reader with the injustices prevalent in Indian society, that lays bare India’s binary nature – the ‘Light’ and ‘Darkness’ – a book that goes on to win the Man Booker Prize, and you hope not to draw criticism from your fellow countrymen in India? That’s the story of Aravind Adiga, the 34-year-old resident of Mumbai, who struck gold with his debut novel, The White Tiger.

Adiga, who has in the past worked with The Financial Times and Time magazine, lives in Mumbai defends his work saying that his depiction of modern India in the book was more like a ‘self-examination’. “A lot of poorer Indians are left confused and perplexed by the new India that is being formed around them,” Adiga said in a recent interview.

6. Chevrolet Volt

Battery-powered concept car
Claim to fame: Electrifying future transport
Headline hunter: High

This car will offer Americans a chance to redeem themselves – a chance to atone for all those years spent driving those big, petrol-guzzling, exhaust-spewing trucks.

If everything goes according to plan in 2010, the battery-powered Volt will run up to 64km – a distance that covers more than the daily commute of 75 per cent of Americans without using a single drop of petrol. And it doesn’t look like an electric car, which is to say, it doesn’t look like a golf buggy. To give you an idea of how influential the Volt is, know this: every other big car manufacturer is now working hard on similar projects.

7. Duffy

Claim to fame:
Think Amy Winehouse without the bad press.
Headline hunter: High

Aime Anne Duffy’s rise coincided with the fall of Amy Winehouse, who, despite winning seven Grammy awards for her knockout Back to Black album has looked like a car crash the whole year. Duffy’s Rockferry, released in March this year, debuted at number one on the UK album charts and sold more than 3.4 million copies worldwide.

Wide-eyed, fresh-faced and with none of the drug problems that Winehouse has been dealing with, Duffy’s had a remarkable 2008 and is now busy writing songs for her next album.

8. Robert Downey Jr.

Claim to fame:
Giving the superhero a soul.
Headline hunter: Moderate

How do you prevent a character like Iron Man from falling into that same celluloid abyss that claimed superheroes like the Daredevil, Blade or Spawn? Luckily for Marvel, they got it right with the casting – Robert Downey Jr. dug deep into his once-debauched personal life to make Tony Stark a character most blokes could relate to. He followed it up with a ripper of a role in Tropic Thunder. For sheer versatility in 2008, Downey makes the cut.

9. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak

CEO, Mubadala Development
Chairman, Manchester City F.C.

Claim to fame: Putting Abu Dhabi on the world sporting map. Headline hunter: High

At 32, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak is a vital cog in the machine that’s transforming Abu Dhabi into a key tourism and business hub in the region. He was instrumental in bringing Formula One and the FIFA Club World Cup to Abu Dhabi in 2009 and is today the chairman of Manchester City after a group of investors from Abu Dhabi bought out the Premiership club. He is the CEO of a company that owns shares in Ferrari, AMD and the Carlyle Group.

10. Rafael Nadal

Tennis professional
Claim to fame:
Usurped the once-invincible Roger Federer from the No. 1 ranking.
Headline hunter: High

Nadal did the unthinkable this year – he beat Federer in an epic final at Wimbledon just months after thrashing him at Roland Garros in the French Open final. He ended Federer’s record 237-weeks at the top spot in men’s ranking in August and then went on to win the gold medal in the single’s final at Beijing Olympics. The 22 year-old with the rippling muscles and the pirate pants has defied doubters who questioned his ability outside clay courts. Though fatigue forced him out of the season-ending Master’s Open, it’s going to take some doing to topple him from his high-chair now.



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