The Ann Arbor Film Fans Meetup Group Message Board › Films of 2008
Ann Arbor, MI
I'm a serious film junkie, especially independent and foreign, seeing 60-70 a year.
Each year I send a 'best of' film list. Here's the 2008 edition.
10. Teeth. You’ll either give me thanks for tipping you off to an under-the-radar film truly like no other this year or curse and send me a bill for your rental cost, plus damages.
9. Battle in Seattle. Didn’t think a drama about the 1999 World Trade Organization protests would work, but this very effectively conveys the dynamics of a demonstration and the often-contradictory movements surrounding it.
8. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. Two women try to navigate the maze of bureaucracy and cultural conservatism in Ceausescu-era Romania. One of those ‘give yourself a few days to recover after seeing it’ films, as the intensity level is high.
7. The Visitor. Begins with a clichéd character, the aging, tenured professor who has lost all motivation. Becomes a film of great warmth about people making unexpected connections and reviving each other’s lives.
6. Persepolis. Based on the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, who also makes her directing debut. Unforgettable animated story of a girl growing up in revolutionary-era Iran. My favorite scenes involved the girl’s confrontations with nihilistic western teens who had the luxury of wrongly thinking that nothing matters.
5. Vicky Christina Barcelona. What the J. Geils band said so succinctly – love stinks – Vicky Christina says with great flair. Despite the bitter theme it’ll leave you wanting to hop the first plane to Europe and get in (and out of) a passionate relationship.
4. Before the Rains. Stunning scenery, visuals as lush as you’ll find. The story, however, is one of colonial injustice in 1930s India. Provides a reminder that kind words from the colonizer mean nothing when power is threatened.
3. Milk. Director Gus Van Sant kept it simple and let the heroism of the nation’s first openly gay elected official speak for itself. Despite the violent ending, the film is joyous and uplifting, speaking to what social movements can make possible.
2. There Will Be Blood. The final half hour rambled – it was obvious oilman Daniel Planview would eventually go mad - but everything that preceded it was brilliant. The conversion scene alone was worth the price of admission.
1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Based on a true story about a man hit with ‘locked-in’ syndrome, a form of stroke that results in total paralysis. Be forewarned that the opening section, where the visuals are what the man’s lone functioning eye sees, is a challenge to watch.
U2 3D. I’ve seen U2 live 17 times but never like this. Actually felt like cheating on my favorite band, having the experience of a live show without their presence. A huge thanks to director Catherine Owens for not cutting from shot-to-shot every half second, the overused technique that makes so many concert films and music videos unwatchable.
12. Be Kind Rewind
14. Burn After Reading
15. Tropic Thunder
16. Trouble the Water
17. Rachel Getting Married
18. Taxi to the Dark Side
19. The Counterfeiters
20. Slumdog Millionaire
22. Man on Wire
23. Batman: The Dark Knight
24. Synecdoche, New York
25. Frozen River
Burn After Reading. 2008’s funniest. When the Coen Brothers put their mind to silliness, much ensues. Up there with Raising Arizona, Fargo, and O’Brother.
Tropic Thunder. A close second to Burn After Reading. A genuinely funny Hollywood comedy is a true rarity. This one holds up throughout.
Be Kind Rewind. Michel Gondry’s ode to community. You’ll forever want all your rentals (or Netflixed movies) ‘Sweded.’
Bolt. Tale of a super-hero dog that learns the hard lesson that his magical TV powers aren’t real. Like the best animated films, as much fun for adults as young ‘uns.
Hamlet 2. Closing scene, the ‘big play,’ may be the funniest mock theater scene since Rushmore.
I grew up a huge fan of the rock band Rush. Saw the film Happy Go Lucky in Rush’s hometown, Toronto. So I was more than a bit pleased to have none other than Geddy Lee, the band’s lead singer and bass player, sitting immediately to my left!
Battleship Potemkin (1925) ~ The Bible Tells Us So ~ Body of War
Encounters at the End of the World ~ Flow ~ Foot Fist Way ~ Happy Go Lucky
Iron Man ~ Killer of Sheep (1977) ~ Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Oscar Animated Shorts ~ Paranoid Park ~ Pineapple Express
Slacker Uprising ~ Stop Loss
The Animation Show ~ Bab ‘Aziz ~ The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Contempt (1964) ~ In Bruges ~ The Life Before Her Eyes ~ Religulous
The Spiderwick Chronicles ~ Tell No One ~ Where Is Osama?
Then She Found Me ~ Run Fatboy Run ~ Son of Rambow
Cloverfield. Yeah, I know. I paid to see it and deserve no sympathy.
Get Smart. Steve Carell owes me eight dollars. The second half was dreadful.
War, Inc. John Cusack’s Iraq War satire fell flat in every way possible.
Edited by Brian on Jan 6, 2009 12:03 PM