Movie of the Year
The sad part about this movie is that, while it is probably Tom Cruise's finest hour as an actor, he is completely overshadowed by Dustin Hoffman's iconic performance. Hoffman is totally convincing in his role as Raymond - nailing all of the little ticks and nuances that make his portrayal as natural and immersive as any you will ever see. Cruise's role as Raymond's brother, Charlie, certainly isn't such a total transformation and talent showcase - however, Charlie's subtle character growth and evolution is equally important to making the whole story work and Cruise does it brilliantly. Worth watching for the performances alone, Rain Man also boasts a solid story as well as a great musical score from Hans Zimmer. Rain Man is one of that select group of movies that grown men don't mind admitting they got choked up while watching. Rain Man is the best movie of 1988. Definitely the best movie of 1988.
Runner Up: Beetlejuice
Honorable Mention: A Fish Called Wanda
Album of the Year
Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime
You'll often hear people hail this album has the epitome of progressive metal and the band as the fathers of the genre itself. Both of these claims are absolutely ridiculous simply because there is hardly any reason to call Queensryche a progressive band at all. Sure, there's a bit of unorthodox song structure here and there and a general prog "flavor," but I'd place Queensryche squarely in the heavy metal category. That being said, this album is one of the absolute best concept albums in any genre of metal, prog or otherwise. A solid storyline involving revolutions, assassinations, religion, sex, and society in general - all delivered by Geoff Tate at the peak of his career (which represents the best that 80's heavy metal vocals have to offer outside of Dio himself). It's hard to pick favorites here, but I feel the album really kicks into high gear with "Spreading the Disease" and is perfect straight through to the final notes of "Eyes of a Stranger." Certainly one of the great heavy metal albums of all time and one of my favorites in any genre.
Runner Up: Bathory - Blood Fire Death
Honorable Mention: Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking