The best film of the year was MAN ON WIRE (1) This documentary about Frenchman Philippe Petit's 1974 tightrope walk between the two World Trade Center's twin towers plays more like an incredible thriller. Like a Frederick Forsyth novel it’s all about the intricate planning of his illegal dream stunt. It’s a stunning piece of storytelling.
I’ll honor the January release plan and consider CHE as two different films and they definitely play like two separate films. Also with the more morose and difficult to get behind PART TWO not weighing it down PART ONE aka THE ARGENTINE (2) is the best non-doc of the year. Steven Soderbergh’s epic, visually stunning, fly-on-the-wall account of the the guerrilla overthrow of Cuba is a mesmerizing experience. It definitely helps to go in with a knowledge of the events because the movie throws you in right there. I think Benicio Del Toro out does even Mickey Rourke for the best lead actor performance of the year, but I suspect he will be overlooked when Oscar nominations are announced. Soderbergh again doing his own cinematography under the name Peter Andrews is becoming on of the most impressive DPs working today.
On the subject of near perfect, the first half of WALL-E (3) is a masterpiece. The second half, once people come into it looses some of that greatness and plays like a very good Pixar flick. But that first half is the best film of the year. If only they too had cut it in half and and released it as two separate films.
The last quarter of THE DARK KNIGHT (4) kinda lost me (that bomb on the boat and Harvey Dent becoming Two-Face), but still amazing film making and an iconic performance by Heath Ledger that is sure to last the test of time.
Admittingly I have not seen many of this years acclaimed foreign films yet (The Class, A Christmas Tale, Let The Right One In, I've Loved You So Long, or Gomorrah, etc). But I did catch the Hitchcockian French thriller TELL NO ONE (5) and was rightly on the edge of my seat. One of the most suspenseful flicks in years.
ROUNDING OUT A TOP TEN I would add:
CHICAGO 10 (7)
THE READER (9)
GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF HUNTER S THOMPSON (10)
15 MORE 2008 FLICKS I ENJOYED:
Baghead, The Bank Job, Boogie Man: Lee Atwater, Che Part 2, Control, Constantine’s Sword, The Curios Case Of Benjamin Button, Dear Zachary, Frost / Nixon, Ironman, Milk, Roman Polanski: Wanted & Desired, Slumdog Millionaire, The Visitor, The Wrestler
SOME KINDA, GUILTY PLEASURES
VERY GOOD LEFTOVERS FROM 2007
Starting Out in the Evening
BEST REVIVAL HOUSE FLICK
Sicilian Clan (1969) at The Egyptian Theater
FAVORITE OLDER FILMS I SAW FOR THE FIRST TIME
Black Narcissus (1947)
Clair’s Knee (1970)
Classe Tous Risques (1960)
Mississippi Mermaid (1969)
Peter Pan (2003)
Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)
I’ve seen these on some Top-Ten Lists.
Some are not bad, none would come close to mine (though Stuck did kinda suck and Priceless was incredibly annoying).
Burn, After Reading
Synecdoche, New York
Young @ Heart
WORST FILMS I'VE SEEN
By Directors who have made at least one or two films of quality in the past
Be Kind, Rewind
Diary Of The Dead
Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
Rambo (I liked Rocky 3)
Shine A Light
AND THE WORST FILM OF THE YEAR
Even worse then his previous effort, Lady In The Water....