January 9, 2009

Top Five Movies of 2008

I'm a little slow on the draw here, but it's still early January, and, anyway, does anyone really ever need an excuse for a Top 5 list?

1. Rachel Getting Married

I'm not positive that this is the best movie on the list, but I certainly enjoyed watching it the most. Shot in Dogme-style with handheld cameras and music played live on set, the film makes you feel like a weekend guest at a real wedding, from the cringe-inducing, over-long wedding speeches to the gleeful post-ceremony dancing. Bill Irwin is wonderful as the father. I laughed, I cried, and I also enjoyed the blue elephant wedding cake. Nom nom nom.

2. Man on Wire

The true story of Philippe Petit, a French tightrope walker who walked a high-wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. A beautiful, riveting film. You'll be pleased to know that the destruction of the WTC is never mentioned.

3. Snow Angels

When I saw this in the theatre, I thought it was perfect. Filmed in Canada (Nova Scotia doubling for Pennsylvania), the small town setting and the snow as a backdrop for tragedy reminded me a little of The Sweet Hereafter, another one of my favourite films. This flew flew under the radar but was truly lovely. There is a great review of it by Katrina Onstad on the CBC website.

4. Happy-Go-Lucky

Mike Leigh's movie about Poppy, the insanely upbeat kindergarten teacher, was not unexpectedly excellent, and I loved the way it brings the viewer from a kind of native aversion to Poppy's impossible sunniness to a complete and utter sympathy with her. Less dark than some of Leigh's other films, but still complex.

5. Synecdoche, New York

A sort of terrifying epic movie, brilliant but exhausting, and perhaps a wee bit expository towards the end. I love Kaufman but find him harrowing. I still haven't been able to bring myself to rewatch Adaptation or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I have a feeling those viewings are coming a lot sooner than a second screening of Synecdoche. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, though, and I feel like as a screenplay it is dazzling.

Also terrific:

My Winnipeg: Guy Maddin's beautiful and surreal tribute to his hometown.

Pineapple Express: If Snow Angels didn't make David Gordon Green any money, this sure did. Hilarious.

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation: A Brazilian movie about a boy who ends up staying with an elderly Jewish man while his parents flee the city to avoid being 'disappeared' by the dictatorship. Set against the backdrop of the 1970 World Cup.


Claire Cameron said...

This is almost exactly my list, except it would be titled, "the top 5 movies I meant to see, but didn't." You've given me a new resolve.

saleema said...

That's great! There are still a bunch of apparently good ones I haven't seen yet either: Slumdog Millionaire, Wendy and Lucy, and Burn After Reading. But it's good, too, to leave some to rent and watch at home in our long, long winter...