Monday, May 9, 2011
Top Ten Films of 2008
1. Synecdoche, New York
I could go on and on about this film. It might also be my favorite film of the decade. Charlie Kaufman is a genius; I love all of his films (okay, Human Nature...not so much). I wonder how Charlie will follow this one up, because, in my mind, he says everything you would ever need to say about life, love, hate, and death. It's a highly ambitious directorial debut and it doesn't disappoint in any way. It's also one that you can watch several times and take away something new each time. I can't praise it highly enough, and yet, it's disappointing that no one other than Roger Ebert has given this movie its due.
2. The Fall
I was completely blown away by this film; everyone should see it. Each shot is a work of art and the script is exceptionally original. The interactions between Lee Pace and Catinca Untaru are a joy to watch - both hilarious and heartbreaking. Really, it has everything I would want in a film. Storytelling at its finest.
3. The Dark Knight
I love Chris Nolan. Not only does he write interesting stories, but the guy has really re-defined the comic book/superhero genre (too bad no one else is following suit). This is more than just a comic book movie - it's grittier and more realistic. Now obviously you can't talk about this film without mentioning Heath Ledger. This was a complete transformation on his part and he rightfully won an Oscar for his performance (a damn shame that it was posthumously won).
4. Let the Right One In
I'm not a big fan of the horror genre, nor am I a fan of the Vampire subgenre. I guess I just needed to see this film. Visually - it's stunning; I love the shots outside with the snow. Also, the final scene is one that I don't think I'll ever forget. Very cool stuff in a fucked up kind of way.
Maybe it's my favorite Pixar movie? I love the fact that there's no dialogue until the middle of the second act. The film relies on visuals and physical comedy - something Pixar had not done on a large scale before, so I do commend them for trying something new. And the visuals are beautiful with junk-yard Earth and the shots in space. A side note on this film is that Jim Reardon (long-time Simpsons director) helped animate this film...so it gets points for that as well.
6. The Class
I don't really want to admit on this blog that I substitute teach, but it's obviously pertinent here. Now, even though subbing is more like babysitting than teaching, I was still able to connect strongly with the film. It's one hell of an accurate portrayal of the life of a teacher, and it really speaks to the challenges a teacher faces each and every day.
This was an important film to make because Harvey Milk's story needed to be told, since homophobia is just as prevalent today...if not, more so. Thankfully this story was told by all of the right people. Gus Van Sant is always a very interesting director. Sean Penn portrays Harvey Milk brilliantly and the rest of the cast matches his performance -props to Franco, Emile Hirsch, Brolin, and Alison Pill.
8. Tell No One
A very interesting mystery. It's one of those movies where you almost forget that you're watching a film because you're so immersed in it. The performances are all top notch and cinematography is great. I love the way the scenes at the lake are shot.
I love the theme of this film, and even though I'm not a religious person, I'm still interested in the subject. The notion of faith is a strange concept to me, and what's stranger is that I'm in a minority with that opinion. The performances in this film are all great, as you would expect. With the script, I love the fact that you never actually find out what happened between Father Flynn and Donald Miller. Also, the conversation between Meryl Streep and Viola Davis is probably the best scene in the film - a great dialogue on morality.
10. Revolutionary Road
This movie makes the cut because of the performances. The script is a brutally honest one - I'm expecting as much (multiplied by ten) for Blue Valentine. This is a film that doesn't hold punches; it puts it all out there and doesn't apologize. The good thing about that is the cast. With a slightly weaker one, this film probably would have been much harder to watch. Leo, Kate Winslett, and Michael Shannon are all phenomenal, though. Shannon has followed this film up very nicely with his work on Boardwalk Empire.
Honorable Mention: The Reader, Religulous, Pineapple Express, Man On Wire
Shite Films: The Happening, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Happening, Step Brothers, The Happening