Peg Offers Up 8 Films to Remember from 2008

There are a lot of "big" films I haven't seen yet and some that have been getting way too much attention, so I will focus simply on what I liked best so far.

In no particular order:

  1. Synechdoche, New York (Heartbreaking, provocative, sad, funny, horrific, inscrutable, distressingly strange and achingly authentic--if this film does not cement Charlie Kaufman's reputation as a true cinema auteur, nothing will.)
  2. Iron Man (Not an action film or comics buff by nature, I loved this, its hammy performances and stunning special effects, and it was great to see Robert Downey, Jr. in such fine form.)
  3. Doubt (John Patrick Shanley brings a theatre director's intensity and subtlety to this intense chamber piece, full of dreariness and misplaced passion; it often feels like it's not a film at all, but some sort of diorama, that makes us tilt our heads and draw up our collars and cluck our tongues in sympathy.)
  4. Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (I have been bothered by critics who have dismissed this out of hand for its admittedly heavy-handed conceit; but the film itself is beautifully-balanced and the acting is very strong, particularly David Thewlis as a reasonable man asked to do insane things, who ought to be conflicted but isn't. This film is suspenseful and unforgettable.)
  5. Happy-go-lucky (I have been a fan of "newcomer" Sally Hawkins for years now and she's a wonder in this role where a lesser actress might have seemed shallow. Mike Leigh continues to improve with age, refining his mise-en-scene and adding unexpected touches this time around: a colorful palette, conversational Altmanesque dialogue, moments of gentle inconsequentiality punctuated with sputtering rage. Eddie Marsdan has the face of a troglodyte and the soul of a poet and is easily one of the finest English actors working now.)
  6. Under the Same Moon (Charming, contagious, white-knuckle storytelling full of sentimental silliness. A boy travels from Mexico to Los Angeles to find his mother meeting every possible misfortune along the way with humor and aplomb; simply delightful.)
  7. Khadak (Minimal, mythic, desolate and depressing. The story of a young shaman forced to leave his pastoral village for a bleak urban existence, and the young rebels he encounters there. Brutal yet uplifting.)
  8. 8. Milk (Just awesome.)

That's all I got for now. Maybe more when I get caught up on some viewing.