Saturday, January 03, 2009
2008 FILMS TO SEE
Here is a retrospective of some of the most notable films of 2008. Best films, popular films, fun films, terrible films, cult films, thoughtful films, indie films, etc. Often one critics worst film is another's best, so this is not a rating, just a bunch of suggestions for films that I or others thought could be interesting to see.
A few abbreviations for festivals genres and other things:
** Award worthy work
*** All time great work
CANN = Cannes
NYFF = New York Film Festival
HIFF = Hamptons International Film Festival
COM = Comedy
ROM = Love story or romance
DRA = Drama
WAR = War film, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, WW2 & Holocaust
HOR = Horror (including Gothic, and horror/romance/comedy like Twilight)
ACT = Action
RUF = Rough action; not for the tender.
ANI = Animated
KID = Child Safe
CBC = Comic book character
DDR = Docudrama, including bio pix
DOC = Documentary
ISS = Strong issue oriented message
SEQ = Sequel
$$$ = Popular film that made lots of money
WST = On a worst list also
FUT = Takes place in the future
PER = Period piece
FL-F = Foreign language: French
FL-G = Foreign language: German
ENG+FL-H = ENGLISH & Foreign language: Hindi
TOP CRITICAL ACCLAIM
These films were at the top of many critics' best lists:
Slumdog Millionaire -- IND ROM DRA ISS ENG+FL-H D:**Danny Boyle -- The horrors of growing up in the slums of Mumbai told in flashback while competing on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire".
Curious Case Of Benjamin Button -- DRA ROM D: **David Fincher C: **Brad Pitt, **Cate Blanchett -- From a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona -- COM ROM D: **Woody Allen, C: Rebecca Hall (Vicky), **Scarlett Johansson (Cristina), **Penélope Cruz, **Javier Bardem - This is THE classic film of a summer holiday romance abroad.
Milk -- DDR D: **Gus Van Sant, C: **Sean Penn (Harvey Milk), **Josh Brolin (Dan White), Victor Garber (Mayor Moscone) - Biopic story of Harvey Milk, the openly gay supervisor in SF, who was assassinated, along with Mayor Moscone, by Dan White.
Wall-E -- COM, ROM, ANI, KID FUT-- PIXAR -- Animated robot romance set in the future.
The Wrestler -- DRA D: **Darren Aronofsky, C: **Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood
These films were noted especially for great acting performances or unique quality (ie The Class):
Changeling -- DRA DDR MYS PER D: **Clint Eastwood, C: **Angelina Jolie -- A child is kidnapped. When the mother is told her child has been found, she denies the boy they return is her child. NYFF.
Dark Knight -- DRA HOR MYS CBC RUF ACT D:Christopher Nolan, C:Christian Bale (Batman), ***Heath Ledger (The Joker), Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman & more!-- Fantastic film, except that the last few minutes are very confusing: check imdb for what the plot was. If the last few minutes were clear, this would be one of the greatest movies ever. (New director's cut, please.) ***Heath Ledger's Joker is one of the greatest movie characters ever.
Wendy & Lucy-- DRA D: Kelly Reichardt, C: **Michelle Williams (Wendy) -- Lucy is a dog. Wendy is lost.
Iron Man -- CBC DRA FUT ACT D: Jon Favreau, C: **Robert Downey Jr. Arms Dealer with cool.
with Richard Pena, Chairman of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
The Class -- FL-F ISS DDR D:**Laurent Cantet -- A year in a racially mixed, tough French school. NYFF CANN.
Frost/Nixon-- DRA DDR D: Ron Howard, C: **Frank Langella, Michael Sheen -- Nixon interviewed by David Frost.
Doubt -- DRA ISS D: **John Patrick Shanley C: **Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams -- A priest suspected of improper behavior with a youth; written and directed by Shanley from his award winning play.
Gran Torino-- DRA D: **Clint Eastwood, C: **Clint Eastwood -- Clint Eastwood being an older Clint Eastwood in a Clint Eastwood film.
Che I & Che II- DRA DDR ACT WAR ISS D: **Steven Soderbergh C: **Benicio Del Toro (Che), Demián Bichir (Fidel) -- Note- "Che" is apparently pronounced "chay". Part I describes the Cuban Revolution. Part II is unique in film:a description of failure -- the defeat of Che in Bolivia. NYFF CANN.
Burn After Reading -- COM DRA D: **Ethan Coen, **Joel Coen C: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, **Brad Pitt -- Amateur blackmail concerning espionage; a la mode Coen Bros.
Reader -- DRA ROM WAR PER D: Stephen Daldry C: Ralph Fiennes, **Kate Winslet -- WW II aftermath.
Note added Jan 22...: Here are some of the Academy Award nominations. (The awards show is Sun Feb 22 on ABC.) In addition to saluting many of the films noted above, there are a few additional movies hailed here!
Note added Feb 23...: Winners in bold red.
'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'
Danny Boyle, 'Slumdog Millionaire'
Stephen Daldry, 'The Reader'
David Fincher, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'
Ron Howard, 'Frost/Nixon'
Gus Van Sant, 'Milk'
Richard Jenkins, 'The Visitor'
Frank Langella, 'Frost/Nixon'
Sean Penn, 'Milk'
Brad Pitt, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'
Mickey Rourke, 'The Wrestler'
Anne Hathaway, 'Rachel Getting Married'
Angelina Jolie, 'Changeling'
Melissa Leo, 'Frozen River'
Meryl Streep, 'Doubt'
Kate Winslet, 'The Reader'
Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, 'Milk'
Robert Downey Jr., 'Tropic Thunder'
Philip Seymour Hoffman, 'Doubt'
Heath Ledger, 'The Dark Knight'
Michael Shannon, ' Revolutionary Road'
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, 'Doubt'
Penelope Cruz, 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'
Viola Davis, 'Doubt'
Taraji P. Henson, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'
Marisa Tomei, 'The Wrestler'
Best Animated Feature Film
'Kung Fu Panda'
Best Foreign Film
'The Baader Meinhof Complex' (Germany)
'The Class' (France)
'Waltz With Bashir' (Israel)
Best Original Screenplay
Dustin Lance Black, 'Milk'
Courtney Hunt, 'Frozen River'
Mike Leigh, 'Happy-Go-Lucky'
Martin McDonagh, 'In Bruges'
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter, 'WALL-E'
Best Adapted Screenplay
Eric Roth, Robin Swicord, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'
John Patrick Shanley, 'Doubt'
Peter Morgan, 'Frost/Nixon'
David Hare, 'The Reader'
Simon Beaufoy, 'Slumdog Millionaire'
Best Documentary Feature
'Encounters at the End of the World'
'Man on Wire'
'Trouble the Water'
Tom Stern, 'Changeling'
Claudio Miranda, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'
Wally Pfister, 'The Dark Knight'
Chris Menges, Roger Deakins, 'The Reader'
Anthony Dod Mantle, 'Slumdog Millionaire'
Best Costume Design
Catherine Martin, 'Australia'
Jacqueline West, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'
Michael O'Connor, 'The Duchess'
Danny Glicker, 'Milk'
Albert Wolsky, 'Revolutionary Road'
Best Live Action Short Film
'Auf der Strecke (On the Line),' Reto Caffi
'Manon on the Asphalt,' Elizabeth Marre, Olivier Pont
'New Boy,' Steph Green, Tamara Anghie
'The Pig,' Tivi Magnusson, Dorte Høgh
'Spielzeugland (Toyland),' Jochen Alexander Freydank
Best Animated Short Film
'La Maison de Petits Cubes,' Kunio Kato
'Lavatory - Lovestory,' Konstantin Bronzit
'Oktapodi,' Emud Mokhberi, Thierry Marchand
'Presto,' Doug Sweetland
'This Way Up,' Alan Smith, Adam Foulkes