"Milk," "Doubt," "The Wrestler" or "The Reader," any one of which might have made it on my Top-10 list had I seen them, haven't opened in the Valley yet, but then I'd have to make room for another pick on my list. And that would mean leaving off one of my following favorites. So, here goes ...
1. "Let the Right One In" - Quiet and restrained but also disquieting and outlandish, this snowy Swedish gem is based on a best-selling vampire story. But I liked it for the poignant portrait of the real and imaginative lives of two 12-year-olds.
2. "Edge of Heaven" - A multi-national, tri-partite drama somewhat reminiscent of "Babel," the German-Turkish "Edge of Heaven" is like an anxiety nightmare about trying to connect with someone, but continually missing, despite connections with my loved ones.
3. "Rachel Getting Married" - Anne Hathaway is unforgettable as Kym, a recovering drug addict on a weekend pass from the rehabilitation center to attend her more successful sister's wedding. The beautiful thing about the movie, lovingly directed by Jonathan Demme, is that we not only come to understand and forgive Kym, we identify with her.
4. "W."- The wonderful actor Josh Brolin's portrait of George W. Bush endows the outgoing president with humanity, while suggesting that he is always short of grasping the reality of the grave situations that confronted him. I felt sad not only for the world that we had elected Bush but for W. too.
5. "Slumdog Millionaire" - Old-fashioned storytelling at its best. The hero, under great duress, is forced to explain how he knew the answers to all the questions in the Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" It's because his life was so rich, even though he grew up on the mean streets of Mumbai.
6. "The Dark Knight" - I highly recommend it for its dark atmospherics and the psychological complexity Heath Ledger brought to the Joker.
7. "Wall-E"-- I never would have thought I would recommend an animated movie, but Wall-E is an instant classic as deep as it is charming. It's about how we humans could destroy the world if we keep producing and consuming too many unnecessary things.
8. "Frozen River" - This one is like "Rachel Getting Married" in how "lived-in" it feels, but as different as night and day from that movie in the society it documents. "Frozen River" introduces a viewer to a place somewhere in upstate New York, where the winter is as cold as in "Let the Other One In" and immigrants are sneaked into the country from Canada via the Mohawk nation. An eye-opening experience.
9. "Paranoid Park" - A hypnotic slice-of-life directed by Gus Van Sant about a mysterious death in Portland, Ore. and a dreamy, sensitive teenage skateboarder who may or may not have had something to do with it. It's a fascinating exploration of a boy's interior life.
10. "American Teen" - A deftly edited documentary about a group of teenagers in their last year of high school in Warsaw, Indiana. Packed with touching as well as awkward moments, it will take you back to highschool - the template, after all, for the rest of life, if you ask me.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Top 10 movies 2008
Here was my Top 10 Movies of 2008 before seeing "The Wrestler," "Doubt" and "Milk," each of which I would include on the list, although I don't know which ones I would demote as a result: