15. Burn After Reading – The Coen Brothers follow up the incredible “No Country For Old Men” with a comedy that, to me, had mixed results. But there’s no denying Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt’s performances in this. Seriously, they alone own the movie hands down. Add in exceptional deliveries of George Clooney, the always outstanding John Malkovich, J.K. Simmons and “Sledge Hammer” himself, David Rasche and you’ve got an uber oddity that hit way more than it missed
14. Happy Go Lucky – This little gem written and directed by Mike Leigh, took Mel and I by surprise by being a completely different film than the trailer led us to believe. Generally this is a bad thing. But honestly, this “slice of life” movie about the always optimistic Poppy (played by an incredibly inspiring Sally Hawkins) and her life, is more documentary than the typical romantic comedy that Mel and I paid to see. Needles to say, it gets under your skin and glows! I thought about it days after the fact and smiled.
For that it gets a spot.
13. Quarantine – An almost shot for shot remake of the spanish zombie flick (REC), this film is what the Blair Witch Project only wished it could be. Told completely from the point of view of a news anchor and her camera man, you witness a late night fire department call that goes horribly wrong. Shot and acted extremely well, there is some really good scares here. Definitely check it out!
12. Red Belt – Who could have ever thought so much drama could come out of a drug addled attorney stumbling into a dojo late one night?
David Mamet that’s who! Written and directed by himself, Mamet takes us into the crazy world of extreme mixed martial arts competition. I already wrote a review on this very site! Please feel free to check it out! There’s a lot of drama in this one, but it’s the performances (particularly from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Emily Mortimer) that you’ll take away with you. It teeters on the edge of melodrama but never quite goes over. A definitely thought provoking film.
11. Funny Games – Speaking of shot for shot remakes and thought provoking films! Mostly revered and somewhat reviled, Michael Heneke’s opus “Funny Games” brings his magnifying glass to the states and turns it viciously on his viewers. I wrote a pretty thorough review for this film right here on my site, so I won’t expound any more than I already have. But I definitely recommend giving this one a view. Very intense, disturbing and incredibly thought provoking. The horror fans who hate this film are completely missing the point in my opinion.
10. Religulous – I’m more of a Bill Maher fan than Mel, but she’s quickly becoming one. His film on the merits and weight that ALL current organized religions have on each and everyone of us, is well done, pretty outspoken, well informed, and, most importantly, thought provoking. Truthfully, it’s a tad too over-edited (IMHO), but see it with some open-minded friends and talk about it afterwards. That’s point of the film really.
9. Cloverfield – With all the media hype, Mel and I expected to HATE this film, but it honestly floored me!
Shot completely on handheld DV cams, this modern day Godzilla film from relative feature film newcomer Matt Reeves, is masterfully done! Lots of tension, a few really legit scares and surprisingly good acting; add in a totally original monster and you’ve got some big screen gold in your hands!
Seriously, I absolutely loved this film and thoroughly didn’t want to.
8. Iron Man – How cool is it that John Favreau (of “Swingers” fame) aced the Hollywood litmus test and made a summer block buster more than worthy of the 20 spot Mel and I put up to see it? I love the justice in all of it! Add in Robert Downey Jr. rising like a glorious pheonix from all the CG and rockin’ soundtrack and you’ve got box office gold.
Thanks for making a smart and dazzling summer popcorn flick Mr. Favreau!
7. Rachel Getting Married – Jonathan Demme’s latest, brings us his take on a pretty dysfunctional family and the thoroughly organic situations that proceed after one of their brood (Rachel) gets married. He scores an A+ for his direction, it’s so damn intimate, and an A++ for his use of a soundtrack. All actors get high marks too, particularly Anne Hathaway (who I previously hadn’t cared much for… at all) and the wonderful return of Debra Winger.
6. Inside (À l’intérieur) – I hesitated to put this truly exceptional, ultra-violent, incredibly gory french horror film on the list. But honestly, the visuals in this film are so incredible and well done that I couldn’t resist. Due to it’s subject matter and how far this film pushes the envelope, I could never in good conscience recommend it to the masses. But if you love horror and would like to see an extreme (seriously folks…), yet beautiful micro budget horror film, than step right up.
Just don’t get the bastardized version at Blockbuster.
5. Dark Knight – What can I say? Above all the hype, Ledger delivers the first and only serviceable Joker to the world. The Batman mythos more than endures in this very “blockbuster” film and Christopher Nolan proves yet again that he is incapable of making a less than expertly made film.
4. The Fall – Tarsem returns after his horrifically (and not in a good way) beautiful “The Cell” and gives us the tale of a stunt man who wants to kill himself and the fairy tale he weaves to the only young girl who can help him achieve his goal. This movie will have your jaw on the floor more often than not from the visuals alone, but add in the wonderful performances from Lee Pace and the incredible young actress Catinca Untaru and you’ve got moving art on display with heart to boot.
3. Son of Rambow – Speaking of heart! I won’t even spoil this one with much explanation. Not since Danny Boyle’s “Millions” have I felt this happy after seeing a film. If you’ve ever dreamed or created any kind of media as a child (preferably with your best friend), than you need to see this film! If you just need to feel better about all aspects of life in general, you also need to see this film!
2. Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) – If it weren’t for the number one this year, this Swedish import would’ve easily taken the top spot. There’s so much going on here, but really when you boil it down to it’s barest essentials, it’s an intensely beautifully shot vampire flick about survival. My greatest fear is that this film (even with all the film geek buzz) won’t get the recognition it so rightfully deserves in it’s original form.
Why the worry on my part?
It’s being remade here in the states. Why? Because apparently Americans can’t stand the thought of reading during a film. So, instead of the incredible cinematography, sound track and acting you get in the original. You’ll get inferior acting and dialogue from “Abercrombie & Fitch” models who speak “American”, oh… sorry, I meant to say “english”. Grrrrrrrrr……
Please, please, please…. just see the original? For me?
1. There Will Be Blood – I know, I know… “Tad, this movie was out in 2007!!”, but since I can honestly count the total amount of folks I know who saw this film when it was micro released in 2007 (just in time for the ’07 Oscars) on one finger on my right hand, I’m counting it in 2008. This film is so epic on every scale that I can’t even really do it justice with words (and that’s all I got folks!) but suffice it to say, every frame of this film; acting, cinematography, direction, soundtrack, dialogue, you name it… adds up to one of the best (if not THE best) films I’ve ever seen. Period.
A couple of friends have tried to prove to me otherwise and have failed miserably (nice try though…).
If you haven’t seen Paul Thomas Anderson’s smoldering masterpiece yet, please do yourself a favor.
And with that, I bid you all an amazing, safe and wonderful New Year!
What a cool year for movies eh?
All the best,