A third of 2009 is already over, and I still haven’t posted my top 10 films of 2008.
In a way it’s a good thing, because it gave me a bit more time to think things over and see which films really stayed with me.
It’s a really hard list to come up with and it keeps changing in my mind all the time, but this is it for now.
1. Dark Knight
2008 belonged to Dark Knight. It’s the #1 film in the box office and it’s the only film I saw more than once in the theater. Christopher Nolan has crafted what is probably the best superhero movie ever made. It’s rich, dark, beautiful, exciting and it got better with each viewing.
2. The Wrestler
Darren Aronofsky’s film is an intense character study with an amazing performance by Mickey Rourke. It’s a really touching film about a dreamer who continues to dream no matter what the consequences are, a theme that I find particularly appealing.
3. The Good, The Bad, and The Weird
Kim Ji Woon’s loving tribute to Sergio Leone and Italian Spaghetti westerns is the best action film to have come out of Asia in years. A must see for any fan of action cinema or Asian cinema.
4. Der Baader Meinhof Komplex
Uli Edel’s political thriller/biopic is rich and ambitious. It’s a complex film that one has to see and form their own opinion about. Definitely one of the most thought provoking films of the year.
Timur Bekmambetov’s film might be a bit too angsty and angry for it’s own good, but it’s an energetic and highly original action film. To me, one of the most entertaining films of the year and the biggest surprise of the year. (I didn’t think I was going to like it that much).
Best “Oscar Season” film, and one of Ron Howard’s best films overall. It’s amazing to see Howard and the actors create such a rich and multi layered film with what seems to be so little.
7. Forever The Moment/The Chaser
OK, I’m cheating and including two very different films in one ranking, but it’s just to show that 2008 has been a bit of a comeback for Korean cinema. Both of these are very different and amazing in their own way. Forever The Moment is an intelligent and moving sports drama that stands out because it chooses to focus on the humanity of it’s characters and the situation. The Chaser is an original and intense serial killer thriller with an amazing performance by Kim Yun Seok (whom I always liked, ever since his turn as the popcorn munching detective in the TV show Resurrection)
8. CJ7/The Way We Are
Cheating again. Not the best year for HK films, but there were a few standouts.
CJ7 might have disappointed a lot of Stephen Chow’s fans, but I found it charming and lovingly made.
The Way We Are is moving in it’s honest and humane depiction of day to day life of the lower class in HK.
9. Everlasting Moments
Powerful Swedish drama about the liberating power of photography (and film making). Precision film making by veteran Swedish director Jan Troell
10. Waltz With Bashir
As with Baader Meinhof Komplex this is a problematic film that will certainly anger and divide film goers, it’s also an important film that has to be seen. Certainly the most meaningful Israeli film of the year.
Some more notes:
Ip Man is out of the list because I only saw it in 2009.
Red Cliff is out too because I haven’t watched it (Still keeping fingers crossed for a screening on film some where in the LA area).
Jean Francois Richet’s Mesrine films are not in the list because I just caught them at the colcoa film festival, but are already a major contender for best film(s) of 2009 for me.
Both Changeling and Gran Torino deserve to be on the list. Not entirely sure why they are not there.
Surprisingly absent are Japanese films. I guess it wasn’t the best of year for Japanese cinema – or maybe I made some wrong choices.