The Best of 2008
Now Showing at: various
Review by: Larry Thomas
It’s time once again for writers everywhere to offer their “Ten Best” lists. Granted, you’ll not see movies of this quality in one sitting, or even over a couple of months. And, it’s entirely possible you may have missed some of these jewels simply because of time constraints, or you may not have taken the time to search them out.
Here, in no particular order, is a subjective list of the ten best films of 2008:
Tell No One – A French “man on the run in search of the truth” thriller owes more than a passing nod to Hitchcock. Great performances; stunning execution.
Man on Wire – In 1974, a French wire-walker strings a cable between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and proceeds to do what the title says. It’s an audacious piece of performance art that leads to an equally audacious documentary film. Truly compelling.
Burn After Reading – The Coen Brothers gave us one of their funny films. It’s goofy and harebrained, and the cast makes it really enjoyable.
Cassandra's Dream– This Woody Allen film was seen by almost no one, but offers skillful filmmaking and stellar performances by Ewan MacGregor and Colin Farrell.
Mamma Mia– Not a perfect movie by any means, but impossible to watch without having a big smile on your face. It provided the best time I’ve had at a movie all year.
Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – Tim Burton and Johnny Depp teamed up once again to bring Stephen Sondheim’s grand guignol musical to the screen and succeeded admirably.
U2:3D in IMAX – The title says it all. One of the group’s performances is captured in two of the best formats going these days, and the result makes the viewer feel like being part of a real concert.
Iron Man – Of all the super hero movies, this was the most engaging, and featured a terrific performance by Robert Downey Jr.
Romance and Cigarettes – Directed by John Turturro, this virtually orphaned film played only two days in Cincinnati, but those in attendance were bowled over by it’s cast, style, and charm.
Crazy– I saw this at a film festival in Paducah. Crazy is the musical biography of Hank Garland, a session guitar picker for all the great names in country music, who also branched out to embrace jazz as part of his repertoire. How his career tragically careened out of control is part of the heartbreak. The fresh-faced cast is excellent, and the period look of the film belies its low budget. Why this hasn’t received a regular release, at least in art houses, is beyond me.
As you think “movies” in the coming weeks, don’t forget that it’s the smaller, under-the-radar titles that are likely to produce your most cherished movie memories.