Sunday, December 07, 2008

Are These The 20 Best Films Of 2008?

Roger Ebert has published his list of the 20 best films of the year on his website, and here they are in alphabetical order:

Ballast, The Band’s Visit, Che, Chop Shop, The Dark Knight, Doubt, The Fall, Frost/Nixon, Frozen River, Happy-Go-Lucky, Iron Man, Milk, Rachel Getting Married, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, Shotgun Stories, Slumdog Millionaire, Synecdoche New York, W., Wall-E

Now, there's an awful lot of films on that list I would never dream of including on a list of my own (and, yes, I'm going to come back with such a list) and even a small handful of films I haven't yet seen (and, yes, that's why I'm not giving you my list now - there's still some contenders to be viewed) and even more still that I might render exempt as here in Blighty they'll not be given a full release here until next year, so I'll hold them over.

The one film on there that strikes me as most misplaced is The Dark Knight, but I'm definitely no fan of W. either. I swear to you, they won't be coming within a hundred miles of my best-of-year-end-a-thon. I might even write a special piece on why The Dark Knight is a genuine 2/10 ranker and just how - and for that matter, why - I think the wool has slipped, more than been pulled, over people's eyes.

Moving on. More encouraging is Ebert's support for Synecdoche New York which seemed to underwhelm most critics. Kaufman love is always welcome here.

So, which of these is on my longlist? Wall-E, without a doubt. The last two thirds are a mere shadow of the majesty and wondrousness on display in the first section but even those scenes stand head and shoulders above the competition - which is, while we're making lists like this, the remainder of 2008's films but could be extended to apply to all films, ever.

And... that's it, actually. None of the others are on my list. Yet. Mainly because I don't rate them, but other times because they've yet to unspool before my eyes in the first place.

Films not on Ebert's list that are pretty much shoo-ins for mine (or would be if it ran to more than 20, anyway)? There's.... The Mist. Burn After Reading. City of Ember. Juno. My Winnipeg. You, the Living. Garage. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days. Be Kind Rewind. Chocolate. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Hellboy 2. Redacted. In Search of a Midnight Kiss. La Antena. No Country for Old Men. The Spiderwick Chronicles. Dan in Real Life. Teeth. The Savages. Walk Hard. River Queen. Honeydripper. CJ7. The Boss of it All. Talk to Me.

Of course, a number of those would have been 2007 movies for Ebert... not that he included them all a year ago either.

Films I really, really wish I had seen and feel pretty darn confident about include Rachel Getting Married, Frozen River, Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Che, Tears for Sale, American Teen and Encounters at the End of the World. From all available evidence, they'd be on my list had I been lucky enough to see them.

There's a bunch of lesser known films in the running too - but I won't reveal those now because - drum roll please - coming in the next few days is my Gift List recommendation post. A nice little pile of DVDs that you may not have heard of, each one a genuine and heartfelt recommendation as a gift for that special movie geek in your life. I've come across my own copy of each of these truly special gems this year and did so either by accident, by determination or by miracle - but definitely in spite of popular neglect.

So, coming next: the DVDs to treat yourself or your loved ones to for a gift; then, the official film ick 2008 Films of the Year, Alright? rundown; and finally, just before New Year, I'll tell you why 2009 looks like an even better year than 2008 (which was a better year than 2007, itself a better year than 2006, and - pretty much without exception - so on and so on...)

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