2008 Best Of – Film Edition


Rachel Getting Married (USA) (for anne hathaway. for jenny lumet’s flawless script, and inspired cinematography)
Entre les Murs (France) (for authenticity and the desire to generate a debate)
Wall-E (USA) (for being a perfect movie, and pixar’s best to date)
The Dark Knight (USA) (for making batman play out like Nietzche)
Up the Yangtze (Canada/China) (a truly compelling documentary)
La Graine et le Mulet (France) (for the most genuine characters this year)
The Edge of Heaven (Germany/Turkey) (for being true  to human emotions and confirming Fatih Akin’s supremacy)
The Band’s Visit (Israel) (for the sheer simplicity of its story and message).
Happy-Go-Lucky (UK) (for Mike Leigh vision, script and Sally Hawkins’ fantastic performance)
Changeling (USA) (for eastwood’s masterful directing, avoiding any superflousness and focusing on the characters)
Synecdoche, NY (USA) (for awaking the existential demons in me — and making me say “what the fuck@#!@” again at the movies)
Let The Right One In (Sweden) (for being original, moving and creepy at the same time — and having the creepiest scene featuring house-cats)

Update ( January 15) – New films added to the list
Revolutionary Road
Slumdog Millionnaire

NOTE : there are films I have yet to see and that could end up in this list : Slumdog Millionaire, Doubt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Milk, Frost/Nixon… If needed, I will post an update as soon as I have seen them, in early 2009.

ALSO : non-2008 releases that graced my eyes and ears

Delicatessen (France)
Some Kind of Monster
Into the Wild (USA)
4 minutes (Germany)
12 angry men (USA)
Network (USA)

Robot pleasure
July 17, 2008, 10:00 am
Filed under: Movies | Tags: , , , , ,

I went into Wall-E with very high expectations. Every Pixar movie I saw uptil then had somehow managed to top the previous one and, after Ratatouille, I was very skeptical about Pixar’s ability to surpass themselves once again. So you can imagine how shocked I was to see them go in a totally unexpected direction : the art film.

Yes, I said it. Art film. Because that’s what Wall-E feels like : A modern Metropolis, a simpler 2001: A Space Oddysey, with a hint of E.T. , all well-mixed in a perfectly balanced pixar-sauce. Yes, these comparisons are huge, but frankly that’s what it felt like. This movie is what Spielberg’s A.I. failed to be : a modern masterpiece about the future of mankind, the dangers of current human behavior and the looming of the robot age. The film has barely any dialogue! You’ll be stunned by how well it bypasses that fact and you have to salute whoever greenlit this project at Disney. This was a risk, a huge one; but one worth taking.

There is no need to mention that the look of the film is top-notch. However, added to that is a particularly inspired cinematography that captures the essence of the story so precisely and proves that animation too can be sensible and personal.

The directing, by Andrew Stanton, is outstanding. It’s not everyday that you notice the director in animation films. These movies usually feel so author-less but not this one- this is a highly personal film, and the vision is far from generic. Speaking of vision, this is not your typical children movie. The subject is apocalyptic, strikingly approrpriate in today’s political and environmental landscapes, and most of all, it’s relevant.

I read that somewhere : Daring and traditional, groundbreaking and familiar, apocalyptic and sentimental, Wall-E gains strength from embracing contradictions that would destroy other films. I totally agree with that statement: Thanks to one of the best scripts in animation history, these contradiction work so well together and it’s hard not to be in awe.

I can go on talking and talking about that film. It would be easier if you just do yourself a favor, let go of your preconceived anti-hollywood notions, and go see that film. You won’t regret it.

Note : I will throw in an early Oscar prediction : Wall-E will get a nomination for Best Picture this year, making it one of the very few animation films to ever make that category (I think only Beauty and the Beast made the cut before). I also smell nominations in the Best Director and Best cinematography categories. We’ll see if I’m right next january 😉