Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I'm not sure how many movies I saw last year. I counted them about a month ago but I can't remember the total. I know it was quite a lot, enough that I can safely say that I devoted a massive chunk of my waking hours in 2008 to staring at a screen. But I didn't see everything. Sadly, I didn't see "27 Dresses," "88 Minutes," "Punisher: War Zone," or "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." Even more sadly (and more seriously), I didn't see the seemingly great titles below, which I've ranked in order of anticipation.

I know what you're thinking: "How can a critic not see everything and still compile a Top Ten list?!?" To which I say: "The end of the year is the end of the year, deadlines are deadlines, and I'm only one man, who's relatively new to the game, no less." Frankly, I don't know how anyone can actually see EVERYTHING -- there's so much material out there. I did my best and, if I do say so myself, confidently entered 2009 with a broad and impressive cross section of the cinematic year gone by. But, yes, some movies I really wanted to see slipped through the cracks. In the coming months, I'm gonna chase down and catch each one. And here's why:

*Honorable Mention: "Silent Light"
Because I made a film in college that also featured extended shots of natural light shining through trees. Apparently this one is better.

10. "Gomorra"

Because I'd like to see a film that bluntly and energetically depicts the gritty urban landscape of a foreign country and isn't called "Slumdog Millionaire."

9. "Tell No One"
Because it stars Marie-Josee Croze and it's supposed to be genuinely, breathlessly suspenseful. We'll see about that.

8. "The House Bunny"
Because I've loved Anna Faris for years and because anything that takes a worthless E! reality show and actually makes it funny is ace in my book.

7. "Synecdoche, New York"
Because that supporting cast of actresses is to die for and because I just wanna see what all the freakin' fuss is about.

6. "Wendy and Lucy"
Because I dig simplicity -- and dogs.

5. "A Christmas Tale"
Because French films are delectable and because by God, how often are there actually decent Christmas movies? Every "Four Christmases?"

4. "Let the Right One In"
Because a movie that's shot through a smoky filter and focuses on a relationship between two young people, one vampire, one not, has to be good. Right?

3. "Elegy"
Because the cast features two of my very favorite actors (Peter Sarsgaard, Patty Clarkson), two of everyone else's (Penelope Cruz, Ben Kingsley), and because it's directed by one of the folks who made "Paris Je T'aime" so darn lovely.

2. "Waltz with Bashir"
Because this year's cornucopia of live-action, war-themed films involving Jews did not deliver, and a hugely lauded animated documentary sounds like a helluva good alternative.

1. "Frozen River"
Because I love rich, female-driven dramas more than most, especially ones directed by females and starring females who finally get their well-deserved time in the spotlight. And because I have an unquenchable desire to see a movie about human trafficking that wasn't made for television and doesn't star Mira Sorvino.

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