This year's films I think were a less than stellar crop of film. But, there are some stand-outs certainly worth mentioning. Overall I believe it is Hollywood trying to take back the film from independent film-makers who tend to make better films, period. They are a bunch of feel good films who tend to complement the filmmaker rather than the story. Sometimes making up wholly implausible story lines and asking us to suspend belief, whish is not necessarily a bad thing, but when it is interspersed with real story that is where the line must be drawn. Without futher ado:
10. Slumdog Millionaire - A decent film with some startling cinematography, but an implausible story that takes us to the streets of Bombay all the way to the capatilism of Mumbai. This is the surefire Oscar Winner for Best Picture. But, if we are going to make a film about Mumbai then we must not make up out of whole cloth the Title: Slumdog which does not exist and is offensive to many in the slums of Mumbai. The one thought that I kept thinking about through this film is that capitalism overcomes. Is that the message? An an entirely unbelievable love story set at the backdrop of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" Excuse me. These are not folks who look like they come out of the slums of Mumbai. Life is not black and white. We are not good or bad. In the slums this is even truer. While some good filmmaking I sat through it wholly unconvinced that this is Mumbai.
9. I've Loved You So Long - Kristin Scott Thomas gives the second best performance of the year in a beautiful French film that then takes the easy way out at the end. If it were not for the "feel-good" ending this would have creeped up the list. Kristin Scott Thomas, however is astonishing in this film.
8. Rachel Getting Married - A flawed film with some great performances. Anne Hathaway takes your breath away in this film. Who knew? She gives a courageous and annoyingly beautiful performance. She is my pick for tonights Best Actress Oscar. 1) Because Sally Hawkins is not nominated. 2) Neither is Kristin Scott Thomas; and 3) The Reader is pile of crap. Am I supposed to care that a Nazi Killer cannot read? Rachel, however almost talked me out of getting married all by itself.
7. Man on Wire - A marvelous story of a wholly unlikeable fella. It is like a caper film, as exciting a film this year. Will most likely win Best Documentary.
6. Revolutionary Road - Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet at their best. If Kate was nominated for this film you would have no arguments from me. This is a dark film about being trapped in your fears of living the life you want instead of the life people think you should live. Needless to say I affiliated with this film. Michael Shannon, the conscience of the film gives a bravado performance of a mentally ill neighbor. Or is he? A prequel to American Beauty certainly with some flaws. But, the performances are extraordinary.
5. Milk - Sean Penn gives a great Performance as Harvey Milk, the first elected gay leader from San Francisco. It is indeed a great history lesson (as Glory to the Union said), but it is also an exciting film (a little too much campaign) though his late in the film lover seems to be wholly unneeded. James Franco, Emile Hirsch and James Brolin are wonderful. With an historical cameo from Diane Feinstein.
4. Happy Go Lucky - The best single acting performance of the year by Sally Hawkins in this wonderful film about dealing with the travails of life. You won't soon forget Poppy. It is not sappy and corny, it is real as all Mike Leigh films tend to be. I loved every minute of this film. Similar themes of this film in Revolutionary Road.
3. Wendy and Lucy - Michelle Williams shows her acting performance in Brokeback Mountain was no accident. This woman can act. It is a cerebral performance that many will take different things from depending on your views on life. But, the last scene in the film is truly heartbreaking. It is also a comment on our society and makes it ever so poignant during the new great depression. The more I think about her performance it is a tragedy that three of the best performances of the year will sit on the sidelines while Angelie Jolie and Kate Winslet, wholly undeserving will win this award.
2. The Wrestler - Mickey Rourke is so good in this film as to warrant something more than an award. These characters you could leave your home and go to the jersey shore and meet them right now, that is how authentic this film is, you could to Salisbury, Ma. too. Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood (who in three scenes is so good) who never disappoints. I loved every second of this film.
1. Tell No One - This is a fucking awesome film. They do not make films like this anymore. It was released in 2006 in France and at the beginning of the year here. I sat mesmerized through this film. A beautiful couple enjoying themselves in the South of France. A murder. Eight years later the one murdered sends an email to her still unconvinced husband and says: "Tell No One." It spirals from there in one of the most exciting films in recent memory. Kristin Scott Thomas also delivers a performance worthy of note.