Saturday, February 21, 2009

Brian's Top Ten Films of 2008

What were your favorites?  Here are mine, so far.

I'm not sure this is my favorite of 2008 but, of the films I've seen, it is without a doubt the best.  Set in communist Romania circa 1987, the film follows a woman who has agreed to help her college roommate get an illegal abortion.  I am not recommending it for every one, but 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is almost perfect.

The Visitor is the film on this list I can recommend unreservedly.  After the death of his wife, Walter Vale returns to his long neglected apartment and is surprised to find a couple of immigrants living there. Goodwill and positive relationships are hard to portray in films without becoming cheesy or overly sentimental, but director Tom McCarthy has proven himself a master.  If you haven't already, check out his first film The Station Agent.

BIG, bleak and brilliant.  If you're not already familiar with Charlie Kaufman's films (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovitch, Adaptation etc.) don't make this one your introduction.  If you already have a taste for his previous work prepare your mind for the usual contortions and existential quagmires. Except this time it's not so light!

Having met all kinds of interesting people in her adventures as a casting director, Jennifer Venditti told herself that one day she was going to make a film about one of them.  This is that documentary.  Billy is a small-town misfit who is simultaneously awkward, sincere, courageous, and funny.  And even though Venditti and her crew spent only a few days with Billy and his kin we are granted a very vulnerable, intimate, sometimes uncomfortable look at the lives of an extraordinary young man and his loved ones.  

The best superhero movie you'll ever see.  Because it's more than a superhero movie.

Simple storytelling, understated performances, pregnant pauses in a Southern landscape, and an achingly gorgeous score. Reminiscent of The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and Terrence Malick, Shotgun Stories tells the story of feuding half-brothers, born of a father who led two very different lives.

Yes, the visuals are beautiful (almost to the point of being tiring) but the little girl steals the show. This is The Princess Bride and Pan's Labyrinth (which, if you haven't seen, is a not-for-children fairytale) thrown in a post-modern blender.

Breathtaking  and inspiring.  Philippe Petit's high-wire walk between the two towers was deemed the artistic crime of the century and this film captures the determination and exhilaration behind the realization of one man's dream.  I wholeheartedly recommend this very entertaining movie even as I wish it explored more thoroughly the relational complexities between Petit and his friend-collaborators.

A bizarre comedy-thriller that balances, ever so precariously, dark and light. 

Honorable Mentions:

Films I suspect might displace some of my top 10:



Anonymous said...

you had tie to watch movies in 2008? i must be doing something wrong...

Brian said...

I've yet to watch Ballast and Le Silence de Lorna.
I'd definitely add Doubt (upper half) and Rachel Getting Married (midway) to the list.
Other adjustments based on my memory two years later and other factors, like my desire to see them again: bump The Visitor down a few spots, and bump Man on Wire up.