I have a soft spot for lists and an even softer spot for film so even though Natalie doesn’t get a mention (The Other Boleyn Girl was decent but not really near a favourite, nor was it close to being amongst the dreck I saw in the past year) I’m gonna post my 2008 films lists here. If you have no interest, move along. If you do, click on.
Before I begin I must mention that I haven’t seen Benjamin Button, Synecdoche NY and The Class…three films that I’m really looking forward to and might have made the list.
25 – Frost/Nixon
The second half absolutely kills, thanks to Frank Langella.
24 – Girl In The Park
Wonderful drama that is unfairly stuck in release hell. I didn’t want to leave these characters.
23 – Iron Man
An absolute blast. Pity the big action scene at the end had nothing on Roberty Downey Jnr simply trying to put together the suit.
22 – Three Monkeys
Turkish film that the Cannes jury (which included Natalie) awarded Best Director. Incredibly subtle and powerful character drama.
21 – The Wrestler
Director Aronofsky is 4 from 4 as far as I’m concerned. Simple but powerful stuff.
20 – Kung Fu Panda
A delightful surprise. Pure entertainment from beginning to end.
19 – The Visitor
Richard Jenkins is stunning as this author who has his spark reignited by new friends and music.
18 – Time Crimes
Time travel is really hard to write if you don’t try and cheat the theories. This sticks to one particular theory like glue and its fascinating to watch it all unfold.
17 – The Dark Knight
Jeez, what’s left to be said? With a bit of editing this could have been near perfection. The success, for a film that is very smart and dark for its genre, is not something to be sniffed at.
16 – Son of Rambow
Finding a great child performance is hard. Finding two (arguably three) is astounding. This film totally captures the friendship and feeling of being a kid.
15 – Lars and the Real Girl
Really should not have worked. There is a scene late on where Lars is having an argument with his…girlfriend, that is so funny, insane and sad that I wanted to stand up and applaud. Is there anything Ryan Gosling can’t do? Well, aside from keeping Rachel McAdams happy.
14 – There Will Be Blood
My favourite director aims for the fences and comfortably clears them once again. An absolutely fascinating film that will just get better and better with repeated viewings.
13 – Revolutionary Road
As bleak as it gets. Hollywoods favourite “couple” are re-united to punch our collective guts and force our eyes open. Powerful stuff.
12 – Nothing But The Truth
I loved Lurie’s The Contender and now he’s finally back with another smart and political thriller/drama. In this and Snow Angels Kate Beckinsale has truly won my respect and knowing that she can finally sleep well tonight.
11 – Cloverfield
The best cinema experience I had all year. I’m sure when I see this on TV in a few years I’ll hold my head in shame but I thought it was thrillingly effective.
10 – Rachel Getting Married
Damn you, Anne Hathaway! Natalie would have been fantastic in that role. Not that Anne isn’t. She really gives the role everything. The raw nerve pain thats festering is offset beautifully by the loose and relaxed documenting of the wedding festivities.
9 – Silent Light
Opens with what must be a close to 10 minute single take of the sun rising that is amongst the most moving and incredible images I have ever seen in a film. If you’re not asleep after that sequence you might just be as mesmerized by this film as I was. I concede that I am utterly unequipped to talk about this film in any substantive way so I would encourage anyone to find some proper articles and reviews.
8 – WALL-E
Pixar is the best thing to happen to kids (and parents) in a long time. Artistic and entertaining, fun and smart, loving and thrilling…what more could one ask?
7 – Let The Right One In
Twilight for adults. It’ll full up your heart while creeping the hell out of you. Brilliant.
6 – Inside
I like my horror cerebral. I’m a big believer in films that understand that scares come more from not seeing than seeing. This French horror fits the bill for about 30 minutes or so and then…and then things get messy. As violent as anything I’ve ever seen, this film practically assaulted me. But when all was said and done (those final images…my god…) I was absolutely buzzing.
5 – In Bruges
2008 wasn’t such a great comedy year for me, which is maybe why I appreciated this film so much. The dialogue and actions of Colin Farrel’s character had me in stitches. It also boats a strong story and a surprising dose of depth.
4 – Waltz With Bashir
A stunning achievement really. It’s a story I sadly knew very little about but even if I knew the history back to front, I would have still been just as entertained and moved. Plus Natalie loved it!
3 – Hunger
How does one even begin to describe this film? It has an opening act with hardly any dialogue but amazing and disgusting imagery of prison life. Then we have a two shot sequence featuring two characters talking for close to half an hour with a still camera and incredible acting and writing. And finally, back to the silence as a man starves himself to death. Yes, its bleak stuff but each section is, on its own merits, absolutely masterful.
2 – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
A story that should be so damn depressing and boring is brought to life by wonderful cinematography and a dark sense of humour. Hollywood loves its “triumph of the human spirit” type films but they will never reach these heights.
1 – The Orphanage
I don’t get spooked easily but this had me white knuckled. While it is very scary it also has a damn fine story, which would be fantastic even without the chills. If you liked The Others you need to go rent this NOW!
5 – Awake
“Oh my gosh I’m being cut open. Ouch owieee this really smarts.”
4 – Step Brothers
I just wanted a bit more shake and bake. How do two funny guys and a decent concept miss the mark this much?
3 – 10 000 BC
I can’t believe someone was actually paid to sit down and write this thing.
2 – The Happening
Nights biggest twist is what has become of his career. I used to adore this guy but anyone that thinks running from wind and a lion attack that would be more fitting in Wonder Showzen, is scary needs serious help.
1 – Diary of the Dead
Please stop giving this man money to make films. Its like an especially bad episode of The Hills.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS/YOU MEAN PEOPLE LIKE THESE FILMS?
5 – Che Part One
I actually think I know less about the man and the story after watching the film. It didn’t even work as a procedural fly on the wall experience, feeling more like a a highlights package of the more forgettable moments of a fascinating mans life.
4 – X- Files
After all these years they finally bring everyone back for THIS? If it was an episode it would have been one of the least ambitious of its season. Fox Mulder is dead, long live Hank Moody.
3 – The Reader
One of the most shocking Best Pic nominations in ages. A film that has nothing to say and hopes we don’t notice. So lazy.
2 – Miracle at St Anna
Spike Lee done lost his damn mind. Comically inept in places and a contender for worst ending of the year.
1 – Gran Torino
Critics love it. Audiences love it. Dazza sat there slack jawed at how poor the filmmaking was. What does my head in is even people who love it will string off a list of things that are dreadful about the film. I like Clint and the character has potential but everything else around him is just really weak. Silent Light coaxed amazing performances out of non actors. There really is no excuse.
5 – Taxi to the Dark Side
4 – Man On Wire
3 – Joy Division
2 – No End In Sight
1 – Lake of Fire
MALE PERFORMANCES OF THE YEAR
5 – Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
4 – Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)
3 – Michael Fassbender (Hunger)
2 – Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
1 – Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
FEMALE PERFORMANCES OF THE YEAR
5 – Michelle Williams (Wendy and Lucy)
4 – Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
3 – Vera Farmiga (Nothing But The Truth)
2 – Kristen Scott Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long)
1 – Naomi Watts (Funny Games)
So, what did you like last year?