From Philip in CT, "I still have 17 films from 2008 I'd like to see. I saw 22 of the eligible films so far this year, which is a huge leap for me from last year. Hopefully 2009 will be even better.
Meanwhile, here's my Top 10 List for 2008 (so far...)"
For my year-end list, I always have a somewhat arbitrary cut-off point numerically for my Top 10, but it's actually not all that arbitrary. These 16 films are the best of the year's films for me... the ones that made the most impact and from there there is a definitive drop-off. So without further ado...
There are a lot of "big" films I haven't seen yet and some that have been getting way too much attention, so I will focus simply on what I liked best so far.
- Synechdoche, New York (Heartbreaking, provocative, sad, funny, horrific, inscrutable, distressingly strange and achingly authentic--if this film does not cement Charlie Kaufman's reputation as a true cinema auteur, nothing will.)
- Iron Man (Not an action film or comics buff by nature, I loved this, its hammy performances and stunning special effects, and it was great to see Robert Downey, Jr. in such fine form.)
- Doubt (John Patrick Shanley brings a theatre director's intensity and subtlety to this intense chamber piece, full of dreariness and misplaced passion; it often feels like it's not a film at all, but some sort of diorama, that makes us tilt our heads and draw up our collars and cluck our tongues in sympathy.)
- Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (I have been bothered by critics who have dismissed this out of hand for its admittedly heavy-handed conceit; but the film itself is beautifully-balanced and the acting is very strong, particularly David Thewlis as a reasonable man asked to do insane things, who ought to be conflicted but isn't. This film is suspenseful and unforgettable.)
- Happy-go-lucky (I have been a fan of "newcomer" Sally Hawkins for years now and she's a wonder in this role where a lesser actress might have seemed shallow. Mike Leigh continues to improve with age, refining his mise-en-scene and adding unexpected touches this time around: a colorful palette, conversational Altmanesque dialogue, moments of gentle inconsequentiality punctuated with sputtering rage. Eddie Marsdan has the face of a troglodyte and the soul of a poet and is easily one of the finest English actors working now.)
- Under the Same Moon (Charming, contagious, white-knuckle storytelling full of sentimental silliness. A boy travels from Mexico to Los Angeles to find his mother meeting every possible misfortune along the way with humor and aplomb; simply delightful.)
- Khadak (Minimal, mythic, desolate and depressing. The story of a young shaman forced to leave his pastoral village for a bleak urban existence, and the young rebels he encounters there. Brutal yet uplifting.)
- 8. Milk (Just awesome.)
That's all I got for now. Maybe more when I get caught up on some viewing.
Tom sends his Top 10 in from Japan... and as one might suspect, the films he gets to see are a little different that ours. Here's what he has to say.
I know that Lars and Blood came out in 2007 in the States, but we were busy in the last months of 2007 and they opened in Tokyo in 2008. My fave movie of 2006 is opening next week here.
20th Century Boys
The Best of the Rest
Gaku no Ue no Ponyo
Lars and the Real Girl
The Sky Crawlers
Genius Party/Genius Party Beyond
The Rest of the Best
The Magic Hour
K-20: Kaijin 20-menso
Chou Gekijoban Keroro Gunso 3: Keroro vs. Keroro Tenku Dai Kessen de arimasu!
Major: Yujo no Winning Shot
There Will Be Blood
The "Please go away, Natalie Portman" Award
You think US move ticket prices are insane?
1800yen (US$18) to see a movie anywhere in Tokyo
Honorable Mention for Kicking Ass
Gene Simmons in Detroit Metal City
The greatest moment of my life
Meeting the director of Godzilla vs The Smog Monster
Sig of the Year
"Go! Metal Buffalo!"
For the first time ever, I had trouble picking a top film of the year between two worthy candidates - and I don't believe in ties. For more detailed commentary, go to my blog.
Best Chlotrudis non-eligible: Wall-E
Honorable Mention: Alexandra, Ballast, Billy the Kid, Chop Shop, Chris and Don: A Love Story, Encounters at the End of the World, I've Loved You So Long, Milk, The Princess of Nebraska, The Tracey Fragments, The Universe of Keith Haring
Beth Caldwell reports that putting her Top 10 in order this year was PAINFUL, so I'm glad she didn't injure herself doing this.
I haven't been paying a whole lot of attention to this year's award's season yet, and while I've been watching with some interest the critics' prizes for 2008, I haven't been moved to post anything about them. This week the Director's Guild of America and Cinema Eye Honors have announced the first rounds in their respective awards, and I felt they worth pointing out. The former because it's always interesting to see which directors are being honored by their peers, and the latter because Cinema Eye Honors is a project created by IndiePix and Chlotrudis Awards Advisory Council member A.J. Schnack.
The Director's Guild's nominations are pretty unsurprising if you've been paying attention to the critics' lists these past few weeks. The winner will be announced on January 31.
The Cinema Eye Honors released their short list of documentary contenders from which a list of nominees will be culled. It's a pretty varied list with representation from all styles in the non-fiction filmmaking spectrum.
THE BETRAYAL (NERAHKOON)
ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD
THE ENGLISH SURGEON
IN A DREAM
MAN ON WIRE
THE ORDER OF MYTHS
ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE
STRANDED, I COME FROM A PLANE THAT CRASHED ON THE MOUNTAINS
TROUBLE THE WATER
UP THE YANGTZE
WALTZ WITH BASHIR
Looks like Chlotrudis members have been slacking off with their reviews! Nominations will be announced on January 19 in Park City, Utah, and the awards will be announced in New York City on March 29. A.J. has an in-depth look at the nominees at his blog. Expect several of these docs to show up on the Chlotrudis Best Documentary list, to be announced during the first week of February.