Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Top 10 films of 2008

The Oscars are here…on the other hand I have not posted anything in my blog for more than three months. So to mark both the occasions I have decided to put my own list of top 10 films from the last year.

Let me declare a few things before I start.
• I have not seen all the movies released last year. So don’t feel offended if I have missed something that you have loved
• I am considering Hollywood and a few foreign movies I have seen. For practical reasons there is no Bollywood in this list
• No there is no Slumdog either. It’s not only about the poverty porn, it is difficult to accept a film with so many logical loopholes and factual errors

Anyway let’s start…10 films I liked the most…not necessarily in any order of preference…

Låt den rätte komma in (Let the right one in)

If you thought vampires are passé and they can only suck filmgoers and critics’ blood then watch this Swedish neo gothic(if may say so) surprise hit. You will realize what a new bottle and a new bartender can do to old wine. A tale of friendship between a lonely boy and a girl who turns out to be a vampire, it’s not your average action/horror stuff. I don’t want to spill the beans…just watch it whenever you get a chance. The Academy might have overlooked it, you should not.

Vals Im Bashir (Waltz with Bashir)

Gutt wrenching, spine chilling and atmospheric, this Israeli film might interest you simply because it falls into the rare genre of animated semi documentary. But that is not the only thing about it. A brilliant piece of filmmaking and story telling, this film redefines the world of animation. Some people are alleging that it downplays Israeli atrocities during Lebanon war and tries to put the blame only on the other side. But I would like to believe that this is an anti-war film which is more about the trauma the soldiers have to go through in any war and it hardly takes any sides.
Coming to technicalities, it is traditional 2D animation and don’t expect the finesse of Pixar, Miyazaki or even Dreamworks. In some close up shots the movements are not perfect, but the landscapes are amazingly done. The opening sequence is one of the best in recent times in any genre. A strong Oscar contender in the Best Foreign Language Film category, it has already pocketed the Golden Globes and I wonder why it was not nominated for best animation as well!

Che Part-I: The Argentine

I’m not a commie. But one need not be a commie to admire Che Guevara. Those who have already seen Motorcycle Diaries would definitely understand that. I think this one was ignored in the US just because it talks about the posterboy of that “untouchable” ideology. This is an epic movie in all respects that traces the rise of Che from his student days to his triumph in Cuba not necessarily in that order. Soderbergh takes the story back and forth in time and also intersperses the proceedings with Che’s speech in the UN. Benicio Del Toro triumphed at Cannes for his portrayal but was ignored otherwise. This film certainly deserved much more. (For the uninitiated, Che part II deals with the remaining phase of his life & I have not seen it so far)

Gran Torino

Watch it because Clint Eastwood even at this age makes world class films with remarkable consistency and if that is not enough, he can still point a gun at you, utter dialogues like “I'll blow a hole in your face then go inside and sleep like a baby.” and make you shiver. It tells an interesting story that is relevant to present day American society and probably to any other cosmopolitan society as well.

The Dark Knight

Needless to explain! And I think most of the people have seen it already. It is a rare example of quality film that is also a commercial success. And yes I like films with strong villains. Ledger, in his last act doesn’t simply play a villain, he overtakes the hero and makes an impression that you can’t get out of your mind even if you want to.


Again, needless to explain! But I have to admit that I was not sure about a robot falling in love, just the way I wasn’t sure about the rodent chef last year. But Pixar proved me wrong again. Anyway, I think prior reading of 2001: A Space Odyssey or prior viewing of the film of same name would be helpful in appreciating some of the jokes in this film a bit more.


If you took Brokebakc Mountain or even Dostana for granted, you need to watch Milk & see how the homosexuals broke the barriers and taboos inch by inch. Gus Van Sant recreates the America of 70’s with the help of an exceptionally talented ensemble cast led by Sean Penn, James Franco, Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin.


This is another period drama from the 70’s. Ron Howard goes back to the Watergate days and recreates the series of interviews between President Nixon and British talk-show host David Frost which is no less than a real duel where one fights for his honour and for life as well. Watch it for the performance of Frank Langella as Nixon and Michel Sheen as Frost.

In Bruges

An intelligent piece of indie filmmaking, I watched it with no expectations and recommended to everyone else after watching it! Set in the gothic Belgian city of Bruges, this witty black comedy surpasses its own genre and becomes some sort of a social commentary. I also liked Colin Farrel’s performance for the first time along with the other lead Brendan Gleeson. Not to mention Ralph Fiennes towards the end.

Frozen River

An unusual drama set in a very unusual location with unusual characters, this one should be watched for its unusualness. It is set against the backdrop of illegal border crossing in the Mohawk reservation between New York State and Quebec. Good direction by first timer Courtney Hunt and some great performances by Melissa Leo and Misty Upham make it a moving drama rather than a mere study of the crime.

So these were the 10 I finally picked. But I had to leave out a few good ones after a lot of pondering. Namely Eastwood’s other release The Changeling, stoner comedy Pineapple express, another comedy Tropic Thunder, Woody Allen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona, Italina Crime flick Gomorra, Aronofsky’s The Wrestler to name a few.

You don’t have access to any of these?.....screw it... watch Dev.D!!! and wait for Gulaal next month…see the trailer below…


Satyakam said...

Good one bro! Haven't watched some of these. Will soon add to my wishlist. And.... 'Gulaal's trailer was awesome!

quetzalcoatl said...

Thanx satya...at least watch the first two in the list...must see

anubhav said...

I don't agree on the 'slumdog' part..and sadly i haven't been able to catch up on movies..apart from slumdog..which i saw on two days back..planing to see 'Milk' next..

any thoughts on this movie.."The Baader Meinhof Complex"..and i would say you seem to like animation movies a little more :D

quetzalcoatl said...


its not abt animations...but suddenly they are making good animations which are not only for kids...last year also we had french-Iranian Persepolis...

I havn't been able to get hold of Baader Meinhof Complex...& anyway Oscar went to a Japanese movie which nobody cared about...would have to check it out!...