These are the ten films I rate highest from 2008 – but it’s from everything I watched, not from the release date. I haven’t included films I re-watched though, otherwise I’d be obliged to have The Big Lebowski etc clogging up the list every year.
I have had a glorious year of cinema. So many wonderful nights spent engrossed in these and other films.
1. I’m Not There (2007) – Bob Dylan’s life retold as an ensemble of intercut myths; film doesn’t get much better than this.
2. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2008 ) – a nasty thriller which unravels from a seemingly simple opening robbery scene into something more and more complicated until you finally realise the significance of what you first saw.
3. The Dark Knight (2008 ) – as good as the hype, an epic vision, satisfyingly complex.
4. The Apostle – a decade old now, but I couldn’t take my eyes off Robert Duvall as a fundamentalist preacher full of hypocrisy and violence and yet earnest and charming with all the language of the fundamentalist world down pat.
5. Charlie Wilson’s War (2008 ) – a political drama with brilliant dialogue and moral ambiguity.
6. The Counterfeiters (2008 ) – set in a German concentration camp, it made me realise how hard it is to be heroic, made me think in all likelihood I wouldn’t be defying Nazis in that situation.
7. The Darjeeling Limited (2007) – at times quirkily poignant as three brothers set out across India to find their mother.
8. Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueberger (2008 ) – charming Australian coming of age film as a Jewish girl finds herself.
9. Be Kind, Rewind (2008 ) – not the masterpiece I hoped for, but a silly, funny film as some video store clerks set out to reshoot all the videos in their store.
10. The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2005) – captures the 1970s very well in tracing the deterioration of a lonely man into madness as he finds himself at odds with the world and decides to get rid of the man behind it all – Nixon.
Honourable mentions: The Bothersome Man; King of Kong; The Italian; Bonnie and Clyde; There Will Be Blood.