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Top 10 Films of 2008

Top 10 of 2008

I did the Top 10 a bit different this year and went ahead and ranked them in order from 10 to 1. Since I have written about most of these in more detail over the last year, I’m just going to say a few words about why the film made the list. I’d love to hear why anyone agrees or disagrees with the choices.

10. Milk – Truly stellar performances by Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Emile Hirsch set this film as one of Gus Van Sant’s very best. The pacing was great and production design made the film a joy to watch.

9. The Bank Job – I loved the classic style of filmmaking on display from director Roger Donaldson. The story was intense and the resolution really worked for me.

8. The Fall – Tarsem’s imagery is just incredible and the story is odd but fun. I wanted to spend a week immersed in the fantasy world he created.

7. Frost/Nixon – Peter Morgan’s script is certainly one of the best of the year and an all around great cast lead by Sheen and Langella make this a definite top film.

6. Sugar – Hopefully this fantastic story of a Dominican baseball player’s immigrant struggle will get a theatrical release sometime soon. It is a very worthy follow-up to Half Nelson from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, one of the best filmmaking teams working today.

5. The Wrestler – Mickey Rourke’s stellar performance and brilliant filmmaking by Darren Aronofsky should allow this film to find a place in just about everyone’s top 10.

4. Reprise – Joachim Trier’s touching Norwegian film about two friends has the perfect mixture of comedy and drama and above all else, narrative innovation.

3. Rachel Getting Married – Anne Hathaway’s performance is definitely her best and probably the year’s best. Jenny Lumet’s script is also great. But what really impressed me above all else was the flawless direction by Jonathan Demme.

2. The Wackness – Yes it is aimed squarely at me with its 90s coming-of-age theme and amazing hip hop soundtrack, but it works better than I ever would have thought a film like this could work. Jonathan Levine has set the personal story bar for our generation of filmmakers and Olivia Thirlby will forever be the girl that got away. It is a true shame that more people didn’t see this film in the theaters – but as a consolation prize, it has been near the top of the pirated movie charts for months.

1. Let The Right One In – Very rarely does a film come along that crosses genre lines so well – horror, drama, emotional angst, love. Give it to Swedish director Tomas Alfredson and writer John Ajvide Lindqvist for leaving us all stunned.

There you have it. There are some notable films that didn’t make my list. Flicks that didn’t quite make the cut: Slumdog Millionaire, The Dark Knight, The Visitor, Man On Wire, Benjamin Button, In Brouges, Iron Man, American Teen. I have yet to see Waltz With Bashir or The Reader. But all in all, with a bit of Scandinavian help, I feel like it was a rather solid year. More solid than last year? Here my 2007 Top 10. What do you think? 2007 or 2008?

Posted by enderzero at 10:59am on Jan. 15, 2009  


  1. josh says:

    I think you might be stuck behind your own rules for top 10’s. THE FALL, SUGAR and REPRISE all premiered at festivals before 2008. Maybe you could move them off your 2008 list and make room for films like TROPIC THUNDER, DARK KNIGHT, and ohmigod how can you not have GRAN TORINO on this list? SUGAR still hasn’t had a theatrical release yet, has it? You’re cooking the books, man! There’s no way a straight-to-HBO movie that premiered at Sundance in 2007 and MIGHT have a theatrical release in 2009 belongs on your top 10 when GRAND fucking TORINO is absent!

    And no SLUMDOG? I want to hear you justify that omission. Go ahead.

    I liked MILK alright, but if there’s one thing it doesn’t have it’s pacing. Great performance an production design in service of a story that, while important, simply doesn’t have enough character evolution to sustain a feature.

    RACHEL GETTING MARRIED was very good, but too uneven. Production design was tops for the year, and went a long way to making the film seem better than I think it was. Go watch it again and tell me Anne’s performance isn’t all gestures and gimmicks. Also, try to track the POV’s in the messy handheld style– they’re totally random. I think this is a better-than-mediocre film that has been elevated for presenting one of the most common events in cinema history– a wedding– in breathtakingly vibrant and orignial detail. Good movie? Yes. Best movie? Sorry, not in 2008.

    My tops in no order beyond my typing:


    still need to see BUTTON, BRUGES and CHE. Will now add BANK JOB to that list.

    Jan. 19, 2009 at 7:58am  
  2. Gary says:

    Not sure about the RULES, but definitely agree on The Fall. Exquisite surreal cinematography, brilliant setup. Check it out if you haven’t seen it.

    Feb. 4, 2009 at 6:18pm