The Best Films of 2008 that Were Too Good for the Academy


In honor of tonight’s Hollywood circle jerk, I decided to finally put up my list of favorite films from the year 2008.  Note that my criteria for a film being on my favorites list is as follows: the film had to premiere in the US in 2008 and it could not be adapted from a comic book or any other medium that induces huge jets of semen from chunky gomers.

Get comfy, there is no dress code here– well just don’t wear sweatpants.  Or have a unsightly neckbeard.  Enjoy.

My Favorite Films of 2008: A List of Excellence

Up the Yangtze (directed by Yung Chang)

Brilliant documentary about the socioeconomic sea change occurring in China.  We are brought into the home of an impoverished family living along the banks of the Yangtze.  Without money and soon to be without a home due to the government’s dam construction, they send their daughter off to work on a tourist ship that travels the Yangtze.  Touching and thought-provoking commentary brought to life with gorgeous photography.

Flight of the Red Balloon (directed by Hsioa-hsien Hou)

Intoxicatingly lyrical and extremely understated, Hsioa-hsien Hou’s “Flight of the Red Balloon” is a heartwarming look into the lives of a family living in Paris.  Devoid of typical film plot devices like major conflict or resolution, “Flight” relishes the opportunity to be the subject of voyeurism.  We watch these people live their lives, much like our own.  Beautiful Parisian street shots and steady performances all-around.

Let the Right One In (directed by Tomas Alfredson)

Far from the poorly-written fan fiction affair that is Twilight, Tomas Alfredson’s “Let the Right One In” is a vampire film done right. Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson have enormous chemistry, and their interactions in the film come off feeling extremely authentic.  What’s not to love about a creepy coming of age tale with a few buckets of blood?

Paranoid Park (directed by Gus van Sant)

The true Gus van Sant treasure of 2008, the criminally overlooked “Paranoid Park” is the story of one boy’s torment.  After accidentally killing a security guard one night, Alex tries to cope with the aftermath.  Van Sant is always at his best when he is operating from the more experimental side, and “Paranoid Park” is just further proof of this.  This is a distinctly-filmed psychoanalysis of innocence lost.

My Winnipeg (directed by Guy Maddin)

“A chunk of home.  White.  Block.  House.”  Canadian auteur Guy Maddin’s humorous, fragmented love letter to his home is as touching as it is bizarre.  My Winnipeg is a series of embellished and disjointed memories connected by the thread that is Maddin’s longing to escape the frost-covered surroundings of his upbringing– The only home he has ever known.  Shot largely in black and white with different technologies and then stitched together, “My Winnipeg” is a fevered dream that manages to project itself into our own subconscious.  Some people have dubbed this film a “surreal documentary.”  That is an apt description, but I just prefer to call it the best film I saw in 2008.


~ by theoberlander on February 22, 2009.

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