Responses from Kevin Bannerman, David Bevans, Matt Carpenter, Dave Stewart, Mike Dempsey, Devin DiMattia, Tom Elce, Mark F., Sean Gill, Jonathan Hastings, G. Hess, Jason Hutt, Aundre Jacobs, Ryland Walker Knight, Diana Little, Jeremiah McNeil, Mike, Papageno, Johnny Price, Tom Roll, Eliza Rosenberry, Michael Joshua Rowin, Aaron Simler, Alejandro Spinach, Nicole Taupe, Nick Tinsley, Adam Whybray, Blake Williams, Gregory Zinman, & anonymous contributors
Man on Wire: I’m not sure if it was the film on the man or the man on the wire that touched my inner acrobat, but so it is that I am now determined to walk every wire, line, and crack that comes my way. I haven’t seen The Wrestler, but if Mickey Rourke inspires me to punch people more often, this film could also be a contender
Let the Right One In: Just the right amounts of touching drama, horror (pool scene!), and Swedishness.
Green Porno: the whole series. Because they are all perfect.
The Dark Knight: I know, easy Hollywood pic. I was thinking the same thing as everyone else when Ledger died. I wonder how Jack felt about getting upstaged by a dead guy.
Step Brothers & Tropic Thunder: Go get some Sour Diesel and a bag of Doritos and laugh until your mom opens the basement door and tells you to quiet down.
Eliza Rosenberry → http://penelopegoestocollege.blogspot.com
Reprise: Beautiful, relevant, charming, sincere.
Jason Hutt → http://www.orthodoxstance.com
As I prepared my taxes last week and revisited old ticket stubs, I couldn’t help but feel like this was a really mediocre year for film. I’ll admit that I didn’t see that many films, but that was mostly because I wasn’t very interested in what was playing. And even the ones that I wanted to see weren’t so great: Encounters at the End of the World (phoned-in Herzog), Happy-Go-Lucky, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Synechdoche, NY, and Zidane, to name a few. And while I was blown away by Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight, I think the film’s script, pacing, and visual assault on one’s senses was incredibly sloppy.
The one film that I really enjoyed was Man on Wire.
Adam Whybray → http://www.blueseamvole.com
There Will Be Blood: Whereas in Magnolia, the stylistic ambition left some of the sub-plots high and dry, this time around the epic sweep of the narrative was lifted by the film’s stylistic majesty and Greenwood’s wonderful droning, lurching score. What might have felt ungainly and leaden was instead a searing and operatic piece of cinema.
Dear Zachary: One of the most gut wrenching documentaries I’ve ever seen
South of Heaven: A noir thriller recently premiered in the States during the Fantastic Fest last year. The set design and costumes shine throughout this indie film.
In Bruges: The most underrated film of 2008. Completely changed my opinion of Colin Farrell.
Let the Right One In: The Smiths are awesome, hilarious, and emotionally stirring. And so is this film.
Encounters at the End of the World: I have to say Man on Wire’s flimsy recreations did little for me. Herzog’s work really brought home the conflicting beauty and decay of Earth’s core. Simultaneously nerve-wracking and life-affirming.
WALL*E: I haven’t seen a romantic comedy as enchanting and lovely as this one that’s been made since Annie Hall. The subversive satirical element – Down with materialism! Up with self-control and collective responsibility! – deepened and enriched its central conceit. It’s both potentially heartening and disquieting that this film was the basis for numerous commercial tie-ins; its message may be diluted by the wave of innocuous products it has inspired, but the more people are aware of it, the more good it has an opportunity to do.
G. Hess → http://bluecollarfilmscholar.blogspot.com
WALL*E: If The Dark Knight was a blast of hot air, WALL*E was there to open up a window. No other film touched me as much, and no other was as important. Or beautiful.
The Reader: A film about the power and beauty of something most of us take for granted every day
Gran Torino: It knows exactly what it wants to be and sticks with just being that
Tell No One: No U.S. studio knows how to make this movie, it’s so free of fuss
Nick Tinsley → http://tinsleyfilm.blogspot.com
Synecdoche, NY: A mad fever-dream of a movie. Kaufman is able to simultaneously reflect and dissect life in an engaging, often funny, often heartbreaking fashion. It’s a film so dense that on a third viewing connections are still being made, one that you can soak in for days, weeks, months, years, a lifetime. Kaufman has made an absolute portrait of life, so absolute because of its incompleteness. “I know you, you’re the one I’ve waited for. Let’s have some fun.”