Top Tens of the Decade: 2008
This list of the most memorable films of 2008 was much easier to create, since I posted it here a year ago. It seems that ’08 was a very good year for film. Much better than 2009. I saw over a hundred movies in theatres that year, so perhaps it wasn’t the film that was better, but just a larger sample to draw on. I reviewed almost all these films on my site. Click on the movie posters if you’d like to read them. And check out the lists for 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
– There’s not much new in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire that we hadn’t seen a million times in movies before. But the skill of the direction and the vibrancy of the cinematography was such that it made this love story feel new and fresh. Immediately after watching it, my brother-in-law called it winning the Oscar for Best Picture, claiming that it was just edgy enough to feel like you experienced something real, but stayed well away from pushing boundaries so that everyone could jump behind it. He was right.
– Although time has faded some of the enthusiasm I felt for this film, it’s still clear in my mind as a classic. I won’t argue this is Gus van Sant’s greatest achievement, but it’s definitely up there. The stellar cast helped as well. Too bad it didn’t have quite enough oomph to get proposition 8 pasted. Damn republicans.
– As I make these lists, trends are appearing that I didn’t realize were so strong. Apparently I really like Gus van Sant, Danny Boyle, and definitely Mike Leigh. Happy-Go-Lucky, for me, was the feel good comedy of the year. I recommended this film to everyone I know (it didn’t go over as well for them) as a charming, heartfelt, authentic character study. I’ve seen it several time.
– I carried a serious torch for French films in 2008. And the one that really stuck out in my mind was Claude Chabrol’s Girl Cut in Two. It’s a vicious exploration of the vices of the upper class and it’s disastrous effects on an innocent girl. The rich direction of the film is proof that Chabrol is a master at his craft.
– Dark comedy is certainly one of my favorite film genres, and In Bruges takes the cake when it comes to them. It’s bitingly hilarious, and at the same time a heavy film (without being heavy handed). And it provided some acting cred that was desperately needed by Colin Farrell, who starred along side Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gellson, both of whom were utterly fantastic.
– I really cant do this film justice with a blurb. I generally tend to avoid holocaust films, it’s too emotionally draining for me. But The Counterfeiters is a film, based on a true story, that everyone should see. It’s brutal, like most of it’s fellow similarly themed films, but more so, it’s inspiring. And incredibly well done.
– I hadn’t heard of this film before it popped up at the local art house theatre. I took a chance on it, and couldn’t have been happier with the result. The film certainly has it’s problems, but Tarsem’s vision has never been more beautiful. It’s filmed at the most amazing locations in 24 different countries, and has the feel of a fairytale. Not to mentioned the whole thing is coupled with some incredible classical music. The result in mesmerizing.
– The actual year this was released is supposedly 2007, but it didn’t come to my area until 2008. Gus van Sant released two stellar films that year. Paranoid Park was mostly overlooked. And understandably so. It’s a quiet, understated piece, with unknown actors. But it’s a powerful, intriguing piece of film that really haunted me all year.
– This little film really impressed me. I can’t think of a lot of great stuff out of Norway (except this year’s Dead Snow), but if this is any indication of the state of film over there, send over some more. The ironic narration, flashbacks, and fantasy scenes that illustrate the story of two best friends struggling to make it as author made quite the impression on me.
– Vicky Cristina Barcelona is still one of those films that I love to pop in at any given time. It’s witty, super well written, extremely well acted, and pure cinematic magic. I’m not the biggest Woody Allen fan, but this film certainly made me want to be.