Belatedly following on from my rather meagre list of top albums, below is my slightly more meaty run down of the twenty best (imho) movies released at the UK box office last year. Not a vintage year for cinema but still a few diamonds in the rough.
Films which I haven't got round to seeing yet which I suspect would have featured in the list if I had: The White Ribbon, An Education, The Class, The Wrestler, In The Loop.
(dir. Danny Boyle & Loveleen Tandan)
Wholly deserving of the plaudits heaped upon it, Slumdog is beautiful scripted, shot, acted and scored.
|The Hurt Locker|
(dir. Kathryn Bigelow)
Don't be put off by the opaque title (army slang for 'place of pain') or the subject matter (bomb disposal in Iraq), this will quite simply blow you away.
(dir. Andrea Arnold)
Not the bleak kitchen-sink drama the synopsis suggests, but a powerful and strangely uplifting tale of working class Britain.
(dir. Jean-François Richet)
A gritty two-part French crime biopic which makes a mockery of most British and American attempts at the genre.
(dir. Gus Van Sant)
A compelling true story and a barnstorming performance from Sean Penn.
|Anvil: The Story of Anvil|
(dir. Sacha Gervasi)
Proving that parody is no longer necessary when it comes to the world of heavy metal.
|A Serious Man|
(dir. Ethan & Joel Cohen)
A seriously well made film with strong performances from a relatively unknown cast and gorgeous cinematography from Roger Deakins.
|Let The Right One In|
(dir. Tomas Alfredson)
You don't have to like vampires or subtitles - this is a powerful human drama, not the Swedish Twilight.
(dir. Steven Soderbergh)
Steven Soderbergh and Benicio Del Toro deliver a worthy companion to The Motorcycle Diaries in the pantheon of Che portrayals.
(dir. Larry Charles)
Yes, it's unnecessarily polemical, but Bill Maher's sideways look at contemporary religion is as enjoyable as it is alarming.
(dir. Ron Howard)
Transcends the limitation of playing out known events with captivating central performances from Michael Sheen and Frank Langella.
|The September Issue|
(dir. R.J. Cutler)
If documentary subjects could win Oscars, you'd have to hand one to Vogue's editor-in-chief. A real Wintour-de-force (sorry!)
(dir. Duncan Jones)
A hugely disquieting watch with shades of Kubrick and a bravura performance from Sam Rockwell.
|35 Shots of Rum|
(dir. Claire Denis)
Slow moving and slight, this intimate French drama won't be to everyone's taste but remains a masterclass in the artistry of film-making.
(dir. James Cameron)
Not what you'd call a nuanced plot, but as a piece of pure spectacle James Cameron's magnum opus delivers in spades (or should that be shades...?)
(dir. Todd Phillips)
Not quite note-perfect (can people please stop employing Mike Tyson?) but still the best Hollywood comedy of the year.
|Vicky Christina Barcelona|
(dir. Woody Allen)
Allen's most watchable film in years with engaging performances from Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem.
|The Curious Case of Benjamin Button|
(dir. David Fincher)
An overlong but deeply affecting study of love and mortality. I challenge you not to shed a tear.
(dir. Quentin Tarantino)
Whilst overindulgent in places (e.g. machine gunning Hitler in the face), Tarantino's intuitive feel for making watchable cinema wins out.
|Synecdoche, New York|
(dir. Charlie Kaufman)
Bold, ambitious and - for much of the running time - downright incoherent, this is a must watch for any would-be (or has-been) film student.
Best Films of 2008
My Top 25 Films of 2007
My Top 30 Films of 2006
My Top 25 Films of 2005
My Top 20 Films of 2004