So here we go (in no particular order):
No Country For Old Men, Cohen Brothers – I mean, you just can’t go wrong with the Cohen brothers…
I’m Not There, Todd Haynes / Control, Anton Corbijn – “I’m Not There” was a radical departure from the banality of the biopic genre. After seeing it, I can’t imagine a Bob Dylan biopic done any other way. “Control” was a great looking (in B&W with tints) film about Ian Curtis of Joy Division. Anton Corbijn has made some great music videos (including my favorite, Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box), so I was glad to see him move into the world of the cinema.
Superbad, Greg Mottola / Knocked-Up, Judd Apatow – Finally Judd Apatow is getting the respect he deserves. He teamed up with Seth Rogen for both of these and we got the best comedies of the year. Looking forward to more Apatow efforts…
Flanders, Bruno Dumont – Technically this film came out in 2006 (it won the Grand Prix at Cannes) but it didn’t reach me in the theater until this year. This film deals with the horrors of modern middle eastern warfare better than any film I’ve seen [besides Battle of Algiers (1966)].
Into Great Silence, Phillip Groning – This film also came out some time ago but didn’t get a small theatrical release until this year. It is an experience. Sitting in a cold, quiet, darkened theatre for 162 minutes puts you near the carthusian monks the film documents.
Killer of Sheep, Charles Burnett – Well this film is actually from 1978, but we finally saw it released theatrically this year. A classic.
Manufactured Landscapes, Jennifer Baichwal – This film showcases the power of Edward Burtynsky’s photography. Stunningly beautiful portraits of disturbingly huge Asian industrial structures. The 10 minute tracking shot of an factory floor is perhaps one of my favorite movie openings.
New Maps of the New World: The Short Films of Roger Beebe, Roger Beebe – This was my favorite experimental showcase of the year. His Fall tour gave me some hope for the touring experimental filmmaker.
The Bothersome Man, Jens Lien – This film is basically “Groundhog’s Day” for the 2000s. A great subversive look at modern corporate culture.
In The Shadow of the Moon, David Sington – This was a documentary about NASA missions to the moon with interviews with the astronauts who went there. Being a simple look at this remarkable feat, I’m surprised no one had attempted to document this before.
Grindhouse, Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez – It seems everyone was “too cool” to put this on their lists. I preferred Rodriguez’s to Tarantino’s. I enjoyed the idea of bringing the double feature grindhouse experience to the theaters again. I’m also sad that it will never be released that way again (the DVDs are the seperate full length cuts of the movies). And while it wasn’t the strongest film of the year, I had more intense film debates about this movie than any other this year. Everyone seems to have their own opinion…
Transformers, Michael Bay – Actually the worst film I saw this year. Buried not so deeply within, it wraps all the current excesses of America into one two and a half hour Michael Bay epic.
On to 2008….