2008 Movies Of the Year List

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


Margot at the Wedding : 2007 : Noah Baumbach


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


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


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
Nobody Knows
(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
3:10 to Yuma


8 thoughts on “2008 Movies Of the Year List

  1. Watching Wall-E for the second time with my boys this afternoon, I realize I need to raise my evaluation of it. I’ll be reranking the Pixar movies in light of this too.

  2. So I’m reading through your list, and I”m thinking many thoughts, not many of them worth repeating here. But just a few, in chronological order:

    1.He speaks too highly of There Will Be Blood, and is pretty far off on his grand plans for the film. But I thought it was superb, so it’s all good.

    2.I never want to watch a movie about abortion, even though I believe you that it’s freaking life-changing.

    3.No way is Darjeeling better than Rushmore. All the crap you said about his endings in no way applies to Rushmore, but whatevs, glad you liked an Anderson movie so much.

    4.I love Once.

    5.I need to see Wall-E.

    6.Remy is WAY too pretentious for me and watches some weird *expletive*.

    7.I wish I had seen more this year, but as I have more children, my number of movies viewed drops exponentially, and that makes me a little sad, but not really.

    Finally, and most importantly:

    8.I LOVE Jack Black, as you know, but Margot at the Wedding was an awful, disgusting piece of trash and I never want to watch another Noah Baumbach movie ever again. My opinion of this list just hit the *expletive*.

    But you know I love you, dude.

  3. Jason, I can just say that you weren’t in the right frame of mind to enjoy Wall-E, but you should definitely try again.

    Josh, when there is a film festival celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of TWBB I’m dragging you to the midnight showing and you’re buying my popcorn.

    I watched Rushmore for the second time last year and was able to appreciate it more, it’s a very good film, but it slides into the farcical at the end. There’s also more heart in Darjeeling and I favor that.

    I the latter I affirm, the former I deny. Weird maybe, particularly Tarkovsky, but pretentious…most of the less well known films are the ones universally appreciated. I’m down right pedestrian when it comes to appreciating Woman in the Dunes or Amator. I’m most pretentious when I praise something like Margot at the Wedding or TDK than when I praise Nobody Knows or Stalker.

    As for Margot, I would love to take the time and write up something to help you appreciate Margot, but I can’t at this moment. The short answer is that Baumbach is saying something about human reaction and the audiences reaction is part of his point. I understand your reaction, because it certainly isn’t fun to watch in places, but there’s a lot there, I think, to work on.

  4. Rems:

    You won’t have to drag me if there does happen to be that elusive film festival. I’ll go with you happily, and may even throw in a Coke. Remember, I really loved the film. However, I rank it behind Magnolia and don’t think it warrants every iota of praise you give it.

    As for Rushmore, I think there’s more heart in the first 5 minutes than the entire Darjeeling. And I’m not sure how him putting on a play and inviting his friends and family could be considered farcical. And you’ve only seen it twice? Really? That’s not enough, old friend. But like I said, this isn’t a hill worth dying on for me.

    You hit the nail on the head with the pretentious/weird paragraph in your reply. Praising something like Margot is exactly why I used that word. And yes, weird with the Tarkovsky. But please don’t think I’m using those words in any mean-spirited kind of way, I just shake my head and laugh. I take it with the same spirit I took your necktie argument phase :-)

    I don’t think you’d ever be able to persuade me to appreciate Margot. Not only was it not fun to watch, I deny that there was anything there to work on. Even the performances were lame. I find crap like that more vulgar than even stuff like Superbad. I didn’t just dislike it or not enjoy it, I loathed it. You know, I was kind of reminded of it recently, when Lacey and I went to see Rachel Getting Married. We decided on that over Gran Torino and Slumdog Millionaire, to our regret. It wasn’t that it was bad, we wanted to see Anne Hathaway in the role, and she did not disappoint. And we did actually enjoy it (me more so than her). But it was in the same spirit as Margot, and was far more well done, I think, which maybe made me loathe Margot even more. (and I say to our regret because that’s the last movie we’ll see in a long while since Lacey’s due on Friday, and we’ve heard so many good things about the other 2 since then)

  5. Remy, if you haven’t already done yourself the favor, I highly encourage you to see Slumdog Millionaire. Danny has done it again. I saw it twice in the theater. And not just a cheap theater, mind you.

  6. Josh, I favor Magnolia more, it changed my life. But you have to recognize when another Citizen Kane shows up.

    Blondie, I live in Monroe, which despite being eight times bigger than Moscow, still only manages to get three good movies a year.

  7. There Will Be Blood is absolutely the most impressive movie I’ve ever seen – Every single part, from the acting to the soundtrack, makes it without a doubt my favorite movie!
    I love your list of movies too.. im off to add all of them to my Netflix Queue!

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