The guidelines:

  • Any movie viewed in the year 2008 that hasn’t been seen before qualifies for the list.
  • I balance artistic merit with swinging good time.
  • In order of importance I rank artistic brilliance, “re-view-ability”, and only then “a swinging good time”.
  • I do twelve top movies (B-listing 12 more), consider it cinema calendrics.

The selections for 2008:

There Will Be Blood : 2007 : Paul Thomas Anderson

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Back when I saw this movie on February 1st at 4pm, 2008 my first thoughts were that this is the most enduring piece of cinema I have ever seen. There will be film studies, there will be articles shaming the Oscars for giving Best Picture to “No Country for Old Men” (not that the Oscars means anything), there will be midnight showings fifty years in the future. My full review of the film is here: Violence in the Future Tense.

4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile : aka 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days : 2007 : Cristian Mungiu

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If you watch movies to unwind and enjoy then this isn’t the movie for you. But if you want to be changed, if you want your mind blown, if you want to be harrowed then you need to watch this movie. My review is here: Let Us Promise To Never Speak of This Again.

The Darjeeling Limited : 2008 : Wes Anderson

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Wes Anderson’s films are always enjoyable, but they never seem to come together, always seem to spin out of control at the end. And as much as I enjoy them they always seemed a little thin, even though he avoids the language they always come off as “Find Yourself/Be Yourself/Be True to Yourself” stories, but The Darjeeling Limited takes all his strengths, all the heart and quirk, and nails the ending. I advise you not to watch the short film that serves as the prologue as the film is much stronger without it.

Amator : aka Camera Buff : 1979 : Krzysztof Kieslowski

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Krzysztof Kieslowski is my favorite director and I’m slowly working through his early work. There’s so much there to get from him that you could watch his movies for the rest of your life.

Once : 2006 : John Carney

once_2Since keeping a film blog, the first movie of the year has made the top twelve at the end of the year (Reconstructed 2007, 3-iron 2006). This year is no different, Once, the first movie I watched this year is a fantastic musical, avoiding the cliches of romantic movies and exalting the whole genre.

Dare mo shiranai : aka Nobody Knows : 2004 : Hirokazu Koreeda

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A beautiful film, one of the best films starring children. Watching children go about their life, living in their world has all the drama you’ll ever need.

Wall-E : 2008 : Andrew Stanton

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One of the great things about Pixar is that they exalt the cinematic abilities of kids. After teaching them to enjoy culinary invention in Ratatouille they entertain us with a classic Buster Keaton flick, a movie with nearly zero dialogue, driven entirely by actions that indicate personality. Kids raised on this will be ready for Andrei Tarkovsky by their early teens. The movie becomes a little too conventional at the end, but maybe it will teach kids not to litter so danged much.

Sunshine : 2007 : Danny Boyle

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I’m always so impressed by Danny Boyle’s ability to take up genre’s like he’s lived with them his entire life. I had to wrestle with the ending a little to get this one fixed in my head, but an intense sci-fi flick nonetheless.

(TIE) Zerkalo : aka The Mirror : 1975 : Andrei Tarkovsky

Stalker : 1979 :  Andrei Tarkovsky

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Tarkovsky’s films are some of the most visually rich you’ll ever see. Both The Mirror and Stalker are difficult and are not for those requiring splody fastaction, but for those willing to invest the time and reflection these two films are well worth it. Also, I’m pretty sure Stalker is key source material for the television series LOST.

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Margot at the Wedding : 2007 : Noah Baumbach

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This is one of the most misunderstood films of the year. Funny and cruel, another family horror show by Noah Baumbach of “The Squid and the Whale” fame.

The Dark Knight : 2008 : Christopher Nolan

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Fun, popcorn flick with a little more depth than most popcorn flick, but not as much as its fans say. Those who place Iron Man above it our just reacting against TDK’s popularity. It certainly doesn’t deserve a Best Picture Nominee, but will probably get one all the same.

Suna no Onna : aka Woman in the Dunes : 1964 : Hiroshi Teshigahara

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I had a hard time deciding on my final film. The Valley of Elah was very good, as was The Savages but compared to Synecdoche, not nearly as ambitious. And while Synecdoche was grand and thought provoking, it has some flaws. In the end I went with Woman in the Dunes, on the strength of its visuals.

There Will Be Blood
4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile
The Darjeeling Limited
Amator
Once
Nobody Knows
Wall-E
Sunshine
(TIE) The Mirror : Stalker
Margot at the Wedding
The Dark Knight
Woman in the Dunes

B-listed : Alphabetized Descending Order

The Valley of Elah
The Savages
The Fall
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Taxi Driver
Synecdoche, New York
Paranoid Park
Lars and the Real Girl
La Femme de l’aviateur
Beowulf
3:10 to Yuma

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