Top Favorite Movies of 2008
I was going to do a commentary about the Golden Globes, but I thought it was a total train wreck with the witless banter, the horrible hairdos, and the incessant shushing by the presenters. Whatever. Congrats, Kate Winslet, Mickey, and Colin Farrell. I was rooting for them.
I am talking about my favorite movies of 2008. I will countdown my favorite movies from ten to one. I want to keep you in suspense.
My criteria of ranking films:
– What movies would I see again?
– Which movies affected me personally? Did I cry? Did I laugh? Did I have a visceral response to it?
– Which movies would I recommend for others to see?
– What movies make me think after I watched it?
My List (Subject to change)
This Swedish language film by Tomas Alfredson filled the void that was left by the mediocre “Twilight”. A story about a young boy, Oskar falling in love with a vampire. Isn’t there anything better? It has bleak, stark landscape of snow. The blood-letting was awesome. When I heard about the true origins of Eli, the vampire, I had to put this on my top ten list.
This film came out under the radar early last year. I saw the commercials and I thought that it was a another hit man movie. I heard a couple of friends say that this movie should have gotten a lot more attention that it should. I caught when it was released on DVD and I loved it. The politically incorrect humor, a pregnant woman, racist dwarf and a barrage for “F” bombs.
I was eagerly anticipating this movie for the fantastic buzz surrounding it, including Heath Ledger’s turn as the manical Joker. It was an overstuffed movie that I thought it should have cut out the Two Face storyline to be expanded for the third movie. I loved that it was dark and chaotic. It left you with the moral paradoxes of human nature. I am still thinking about those classic scenes, the pencil disappearing, the huge pile of money set ablaze and much more.
John Patrick Shanley created a superb narrative that left the viewer with more questions that answers. I like that in a film. The performances were excellent, especially Viola Davis. She was fabulous. I wish that the kids were not in the film like it did on the stage version. It took away the ambitiousness of the material. It made me side one way about the relationship between Father Flynn and Donald Miller.
This movie by Glenn Gers slid under the radar by most of the general public. I heard from Michael Vox on the Cinebanter podcast praising this film. I searched this film. It was shown in New York for a week and dropped off. It did not receive a wider release. I saw it a couple of months later and I never been affected a movie to my core. At first, I thought it was a documentary. The story between Lydia and Darcy was so heart wrenching that I had to pause the film, collect myself and resume it. Also, it was fitting that the director, Glenn Gers, personally emailed me and thanked me for spreading to the word about this film.
This picture was so good that the first two minutes of the film, I was choked up. That’s rare for that to happen to me. It felt like in was made in the 70s. I was so ignorant about the way gay life was during that time. I am glad that people like Harvey Milk existed. Sean Penn was good as well as Josh Brolin, which I felt that he needed more screen time. He was fabulous. The major flaw about this movie is Diego Luna’s character. I did not like him. It took the focus away for the main storyline. What was he there?
Being the black sheep of the family myself, I can identify with Kym. Every time, she walked into a room, there is trouble. I could relate. Jonathan Demme directed this organic masterpiece that felt more like a documentary. He brought out fantastic performances from Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt and Debra Winger. The tension in the air about what happened to Ethan was great.
This beautiful, touching documentary by Yung Chang affected me so much that I have to collect myself a couple of times before resuming it. Chronicling the story of Shui Yu as her childhood hopes to be a scientist are dashed when she has to quit school in order to work on a cruise ship to help support his family. I wish I was there was Shui Yu when her identity is completely obliterated to conform to Western ideals.
In Courtney Hunt’s debut, it tells the story of Ray and Lila trying to survive in a tough world and the lengths that they have to do. Melissa Leo and Misty Upham give tremendous performances in this film. Everybody goes through hard times. The film asks the question, “Would you do something illegal in order to survive?”
Darren Aronofsky’s latest effort struck a chord with me. Randy “The Ram” Robinson is a man that is battered and bruised is told by society that you are too old and washed up. He has a passion to entertain people of all ages. He tries to do something else, but the lure of the ring was too much. The Christlike parallels are a little off-putting but it centers you in some reality that only Darren can bring.
Here are my honorable mentions:
“Revolutionary Road”, “WALL-E”, “Encounters at the End of the World,” “Gran Torino”, “Stranded: I’ve Come From A Plane that Crashed in the Mountains”, “Happy-Go-Lucky”, “Iron Man” and “Mr. Blue Sky.”
It has been a good year for the independent movie side of things. Not so much for the “Oscar baity movie. ” I wonder what 2009 will bring us. I can’t wait.