Favorite Movies of 2008

One advantage of being married to a professional film critic is that I get to see a lot of movies. I've seen some really good ones in 2008, especially in the past couple months. Here are my favorite eight movies of the year, not exactly ordered, but somewhat grouped into three sets of varying enthusiasm.

The Wrestler — This movie is my very favorite movie of 2008. I wrote a blog entry that talks about why I like this movie so much. It hasn't opened in Austin yet. I was fortunate to see my wife's screener review disc, for free. When it arrives in Austin theaters next month, I so totally will pay to see it again. And if I still like it then as much as I do right now, I will buy the DVD when released. I like this movie so much, maybe I'll buy you a copy. As far as Oscar picks, this is my choice for best movie of the year, and Mickey Rourke is my choice for best actor.

Standard Operating Procedure — I like movies that affect me in some way. While "The Wrestler" was a transformative experience for my right brain, "Standard Operating Procedure" was one for my left brain. As I noted in a prior blog entry, it formed a meticulously argued essay that I found compelling. This is my choice for best documentary of the year.

Rachel Getting Married — The next group of three movies are my second tier. All of these movies moved me in some way and I enjoyed them. This movie came from behind and won me over. I really did not enjoy the first half hour. It looked like a poorly lit HD video. The sound was so bad that I thought about asking the theater management if there was a problem. Worst of all, the story just meandered along. Then a magical thing happened. I don't know exactly when, but I got really interested in these characters and their story. Anne Hathaway is my choice for best actress of the year. I may change my mind on this, but right now I'd pick Debra Winger for best supporting actress.

Let the Right One In — This is the best mismatched lovers movie since "Harold and Maude". It's a very blue and moody Swedish vampire movie. I suppose that, by default, makes it a horror movie, but it's unlike any horror movie you've ever seen. This still is showing in Austin, currently at the Alamo South Lamar.

Wendy and Lucy — The freezing, bundled woman selling apples on the street corner is our symbolic remembrance of people during the Great Depression. This movie presents what may be the archetype of the victim of the Great Bush Recession of 2008. It's a very small movie, about a few days in the life of a girl and her dog, on the road and trying to survive. Look, it pisses me off too when snotty ass critics pick movies you've never even heard of and can't see. But this movie has so much heart, it's worth taking note so in the event it does arrive in local theaters or on DVD.

Here are the movies that round out my favorites list:

Milk — The filmmaker made a really smart choice hanging this movie around not the Milk assassination (we know how that ends), but the fight for California prop. eight...ummm...I mean six. Josh Brolin is my favorite supporting actor, portraying a Dan White that you simultaneously revile and feel sorry for.

Son of Rambow — Cute as a box of LOLcats, and often just as funny. It's come and gone from theaters. It's currently available on DVD.

Gran Torino — I'm such a big fan of the Clint Eastwood stripped down, straight ahead storytelling style. Eastwood snarls his way through this redemptive morality story. It will be hitting Austin theaters soon, and I recommend it.

Comments

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The Visitor

What about "The Visitor"? I thought I remembered, when we saw it, that you said you thought it might be one of the best films of the year. Admittedly we saw it pretty early in the year, though.

Oh Yeah

Oh, yes, please add "The Visitor" to the list. I enjoyed that a lot.

I Agree with Your Picks

I've seen (or intend to see) all the films on your list and couldn't agree more with your choices. I liked Rachael Getting Married immediately (rather than warming up to it after half an hour), but otherwise I share your opinions about the films I've seen so far.

To your list I would add The Fall (by far the most creative film I've seen in years, and visually stunning), Slumdog Millionaire, and August Evening (probably my favorite film of the year, with great performances from nonprofessional actors).

No Slumdog

"Slumdog Millionaire" was not an oversight. I enjoyed it an awful lot less than very many people did. I'll look into the others.

The Vistor

holy cow, that was a good recommendation.. I really liked that movie.