2008 wasn’t a bad year for movie watching. I told myself I would see more Hollywood pictures. That lasted three months. Instead I watched a fistful of small movies made by director’s with a singular vision.
I’m doing a top ten list like the rest of the blogging world. I would feel bad about it but I really want people to see some of these films. Quite a few of my favorites this year were movies that aren’t playing at the mall in Akron, Ohio. Many of these are movies that help us look at ourselves and that is what art is all about. With one exception, all of them are the kinds of movies I would like to make as a writer and director.
Lets think of these movies as RECOMMENDED viewing. I would recommend all of the movies below to anyone unless they refuse to watch a subtitled movie. And away we go…
Top Ten (okay, eleven):
Ballast (Lance Hammer) – Not all of you are able to see this beauitful, powerful depiction of life in your local cinema, but seek it out because Hammer has created a film that stayed with me for a long time after I watched it.
Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman) – A sprawling epic of the interior of one man, this movie read like rabid ID filmmaking. It works for both the intellect and emotion, filled with pitch-perfect performances.
Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt) – Another “small” movie made by people with an interest in exposing the struggle of regular people without making a polemic.
The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky) – The final images of this film stuck with me for long after I left the theater. Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei… two of the best performances of the year.
The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan) – Simply the greatest movie based on a comic book superhero, ever and also one of the best action movies I’ve ever seen. Great performances abound, I was invested emotionally in an action movie for the first time since I saw The Professional (Besson).
Un Conte De Noël (Arnaud Desplechin) – I like domestic drama especially when the matriarch is as fantastic as Catherine Deneuve. Great performances all around.
Frozen River (Courtney Hunt) – Melissa Leo is riveting in the powerful depiction of life at the edges. Of the same ilk as Wendy and Lucy, and Ballast, if this is a film in a new movement then it would be great news for me as a cinephile.
Che (complete) (Steven Soderbergh) – Another epic about the revolutionary’s successes and eventual death. I saw this when it was released as one film with an intermission. I thought that Del Toro was fantastic and I was very involved in the story, so much I didn’t want it to end. The shortest, long movie I’ve ever seen.
Blindness (Fernando Meirelles) – I went into this film expecting little and ended up loving it. The ending in particular, was moving and beautiful. Julianne Moore is great as the only woman who can see in an asylum for the blind. Filled with great performances.
The Edge of Heaven (Faith Akin) – A powerful film that I still think about. Inspite of an ending that I found unsatisfying, the film was great and tied with the film below, thus creating a top eleven.
Frownland (Ronald Bronstein) – I reviewed this here. It was an important film. Great.
- Snow Angels
- Married Life
- Iron Man
- Savage Grace
- Brideshead Revisited
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona
- Rachel Getting Married
- Paranoid Park
- Zack and Miri Make a Porno
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Revolutionary Road