Nothing like a non-self-imposed deadline to get those Top 10 lists agoing. Somehow, I never even wound-up publishing my list for 2007, and I figure, it’s a little late now, even for me. And while 2008 is not yet complete and there are a slew of films I still plan to see over the holidays (I’m currently trying to program my annual Christmas day and weekend movie marathon, but the online sites don’t yet have all the theater schedules updated), I’m fairly confident that the 10 films I’ll mention below (and more over the next several days) will remain my choices as the best of 2008.
The process of these lists and their importance is regularly discussed, debated and derided, year-in and year-out. Everyone who considers oneself a critic, reviewer, blogger, cinephile or all-of-the-above spends plenty of time dismissing the process before tossing his/her own choices into the morass of opinions. We all know that such lists are purely subjective, and we all wholeheartedly believe that our subjective ideas are objectively truer than anyone else’s. And we’re all happy that everyone else is simply wrong.
I couldn’t have been happier to be participate in this year’s indieWIRE Critics’ Poll. On the list are several opinions I wholeheartedly respect even as I may disagree with them. To me, like every year, 2008 was anything but a poor one for film. That’s not to say that there were more or less great films this year than previous ones; just that when I truly think about the year in cinema, it is still not difficult for me to identify plenty of titles that not only have stuck with me, but were also tremendous movie-watching experiences. Culling the number of exceptional titles down to a list of 10 was as difficult as ever, and there are plenty of films that didn’t make my list, yet the experiences of seeing each of them are ones I still treasure.
While I did add a comment to my indieWIRE poll ballot, every choice I made comes with a specific reason behind its inclusion, and it is in this space now that I would like to further explain. I'll write about the near misses and other categories on the ballot some other time, but for now, you can find detail on the top 10 after the jump; click below to go directly to any individual title: