Ten Best Films of 2008
There are three films I’d put at the top of my list for 2008, except that they were 2007 films that just didn’t play here until 2008 – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, by Julian Schnabel, and Persepolis, the animated film about a girl’s growing up in Iran in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, and Four Months, Three Weeks, Two days, from Rumania. And then there was “I Served the King of England.” from Czechoslovakia, and “The Fall.”
But here are my own picks of the 2008 crop:
10 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons – a film that shouldn’t have worked but did quite well.
9 -- Burn After Reading – the Coen brothers in an absolute take-no-prisoners mode; kind of the obverse of “Fargo.”
8 -- Iron Man – there’s something about Robert Downey Jr. –he has an ironic view of the film that works for me.
7 – Mamma Mia – what can I say, I’m a prisoner of the seventies. I love Abba’s songs and I had a wonderful time at the film.
6 – Happy-Go-Lucky – This is a brilliant film by Mike Leigh, with a great performance by Sallie Hawkins – I might have moved this film closer to the top of the list, but I’m not sure what I would have changed it for.
5 – Frozen River – an independent film that is unsparing in its portrait of an abandoned woman – Melissa Leo in one of the best performances of the year – plus a cruelly honest look at white-Indian relations.
4 – Vicky Cristina Barcelona – We don’t have “Volver” and Penelope Cruz this year, so her performance in Woody Allen’s film will have to do. Touching, funny, with wonderful performances by Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall. Get rid of Scarlett Johanssen and I’d move it up even farther.
3 – Synechdoche, NY – I put this up at number 3 because it attempts to cover every possible aspect of the world that an artist can do, and almost succeeds. I give it great marks for that.
2. Slumdog Millionaire – Just a brilliant film about India, with no punches pulled.
1 – Milk – with the best performance of the year by Sean Penn.
Other films that didn’t quite make my list:
the Dark Knight, for Heath Ledger’s performance
The Rape of Europa
Romance and Cigarettes – just because it tried to do everything – sing, dance, romance, tragedy.
Ghost Town – Ricky Gervais’s performance
The Secret Life of Bees – a film that got me to cry and cry.
Dark Knight – for Heath Ledger’s performance
The Rape of Europa
Romance and Cigarettes
The Secret Life of Bees