Continuing with our look backward this week (having taken a gander back at the Top 10 Film from 5 Years Ago (2013), today we get to my Top 10 Films of 2008.
What a time to be alive that was....the Great Recession, Obama elected President, Violent Corn rose up and conquered swaths of the southwest only to be beaten back by Centaurs...
Here are my Top 10 Movies from TEN years ago:
Futurama: Bender's Game- I love Futurama. I'd say that I probably like it more than I like The Simpsons at this point, but there was a time ten years ago where the FOX Network had cancelled the series, but before they were picked up by Comedy Central that they released a set of four feature length films. My favourite is Bender's Game, a delightfully silly romp wherein the Planet Express Crew is sucked into the Bender's hyper-imagination/Dungeons and Dragons world. It's super silly, but it was a great time, and helped to bridge the gap the series had before returning to complete it's 10 seasons.
Hunger- Those of you who read the 2013 List will note that this is me, once again, talking about the Director Steve McQueen. This was his first film about the 1981 Hunger Strike of Irish Prisoners/IRA members starring Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands. Hunger won the Camera d'or (a prestigious award for first time filmmakers) at Cannes, and is yet another one of those films that I talk about where., while it is hard to watch, it is so worth seeing once. There is, again, an absolutely brilliant scene in the middle that is perfectly staged, lit, acted, and shot which lasts the fifteen minutes plus that has stuck with me...well for ten(ish) years no. Great film.
PIXAR being PIXAR really, but WALL-E is still a very cute story about a little trash robot working on hyper-polluted, abandoned Earth (in the distant future) who ends up beginning a journey that will alter the course of human history. It's a sweet relationship film about companionship, but perhaps most importantly, consumption, environmentalism and waste. This has a not-so-unbelievable, and rather cutting commentary on humanity as a whole inside of it, without getting Lorax levels of preachy (and actually being charming and funny, if still deeply troubling). This, for me, is definitely one of PIXAR's better films.
I'm calling Persepolis a 2008 film as it had it's actual theatrical release (here) in February of that year (while it did get festival play, and that limited "awards" release back in 2007). This is an absolutely beautiful film, and an amazing animated film based on the graphic novel (and written/directed) by Marjane Satrapi about an outspoken young girl who grows up during the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The film follows her as she grows up, the turmoil of her home country, her being sent to Austria for the chance to study (and for a better life), and then returning to her much-changed homeland (and her family) in order to figure out what would be best for her and hers going for you.
Brilliant storytelling. Excellent animation, and yet another film that sticks with you for a long, long time after you have seen it.
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is a surprisingly engaging documentary about two men (Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe) and their...rather contentious competition to hold the official world record high score on the original Donkey Kong Arcade.
I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have convinced someone to watch this film, only to have them come back and tell me how much they love it. The premise is so simple, but this documentary is cut in such a way that it gives the story clear characters (and Mitchell helps that out a lot), and a heroes journey quite like many of the best stories to tell. It's an underdog story about classic video games, and it's quite a delight...even if it is a little skewed....
...and the record now being dated...
An Israeli film director (Ari Folman, who directs, wrote and stars in the film) interviews fellow veterans of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon to reconstruct his own memories of the conflict. The fourth animated film to make the list, Waltz with Bashir is a really brilliantly animated film (I seriously love the style of this movie) that deals with an absolutely fascinating subject, but also, thanks to it being something of a narrative documentary of veteran's experience, gives the film a tremendous focus and weight that is so very hard to achieve.
You know, it pains me a little bit that PIXAR dominates the animated Oscar category because there are some truly amazing films which are not getting as much attention as they deserve...although I suppose this was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (seriously, it's a great film)...but it's...seriously, if you have a chance to see Waltz with Bashir, do.
This Trailer Is NSFW
This is one of those documentaries that I think I have probably watched ten times...at least.
It is the story of the Australian film industry and the exploitation era of the 1970s and 1980s and all the absolutely insane (and occasionally brilliant) films that came out of that era. Blood, sex, violence, horror....just a whole mass of amazing genre films that were often completely insane.
And I cannot think of one that I have managed to track down that I did not love. Which is all thanks to Not Quite Hollywood.
This is a documentary for anyone who digs genre films, or frankly, having a great time, because I honestly think that this is one of the funnest documentaries to watch that I have ever seen.
An absolutely hilarious satire of filmmaking, with a heavy emphasis on action, comedy, and some incredible performances across the board. There is a gigantic part of me that is amazed that this film got made (for several reasons), or that Ben Stiller was able to get the intense number of cameos that he did...
Anyone who has seen it knows exactly what I mean.
I still enjoy how silly Tropic Thunder is, and I would be hard pressed to think of many films that are better at satirizing the insanity of big budget filmmaking...and if you have not seen this, it is so very worth it.
There Will Be Blood is a fascinating epic from Paul Thomas Anderson (another Director whose work i am quite fond of) about the early days of oil industry, all wrapped around sweeping themes of religion, family, ambition (often ruthless ambition), and occasionally even forces you to ask yourself "what is evil?". A masterclass performance by Daniel Day Lewis is the centerpiece of the film, but there are a myriad of other, equally impressive performances in this film, including Paul Dano as Paul/Eli Sunday, a Preacher occasionally in direct conflict with Lewis' Daniel Plainview.
Amazingly shot, gritty, and an experience to watch, There Will Be Blood is easily my favourite film (I have seen thus far) by Paul Thomas Anderson, and I hope that if you have not seen it, you will sit down and give it a try.
I feel like I am probably one of the biggest evangelists of getting people to watch Mongol (as anyone who has checked out The Guys From Podcast is well aware); the film is about the childhood/early life of Temudjin, the man who would eventually rise to be known throughout the world (and history) as Genghis Khan. It is a Russian/Kazakh/German production that really nails an epic scale, a sweeping tone, but (somehow) manages to remain grounded in smaller cast of characters as you really get a film experience of an era, and a story that is not...well ever told well in a Western film.
It's exciting, it's beautifully shot, it's got a great, engaging story about a legendary historical figure, and it really has every part it would need to be a big summer blockbuster, other than the fact that it is subtitled, and apparently no one has seen it unless I tell them to.
Well I'm telling you: see Mongol.
As far as I am concerned, I still think The Dark Knight is the best superhero movie ever made. The story of the rise of the Joker (portrayed by the amazing Heath Ledger) and his battle with a now established, grounded in reality Batman is amazing. I cannot get over how brilliant the opening heist is/is shot, and this is easily my favourite film Joker of all-time. There is such an uneasiness, and a chaos that he brings to this film the likes of which is going to be incredibly hard to beat....and out of all of the Batman stories, I do not know if we will see one this good again (at least in the live action space)....but I am hopeful....It's just....tough when you have Christopher Nolan crushing every part of this film to create something truly special.
Don't get me wrong, I love a lot of Marvel movies, and there are some great ones, but at the end of the day, I always come back to the thrill, the spectacle, and the filmmaking prowess on display in The Dark Knight as the gold standard.
Speaking of movies that any listener of the Podcast has heard me talk about ad nauseum...
Worry not, folks who only know me because of my horror community stuff, my number 1 film for 2008 is Let the Right One In, a Swedish neo-realist vampire film. The story revolves around Oskar, a lad who is often ignored, over-looked, and bullied finding help, companionship and love in a peculiar little girl named Eli. The film is based on the equally incredible book (of the same name) by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who just so happened to pen the screenplay as well (to great effect). Set in 1982 in Stockholm, the film has a stark, quiet atmosphere which asks questions of the audience in subtle ways, but largely comes around to "how much can you forgive for love?".
A sad, occasionally tender, yet also visceral and deeply unsettling at the same time, Let the Right One In is one of my favourite coming-of-age movies, horror movies, and films of all time, and I hope against hope that you will all start watching it so that way I can have more people to talk about it with other than....practically no one.
And yes, there is an American remake called Let Me In, which is quite good (and worth a viewing in its' own right), but it is not the same artistic achievement as the original.
Here we are again, at the end of a Top 10 list...this time of ten years past.
I will continue to keep an eye on interaction and traffic, and consider going further back, because let's be honest: I really like talking about stuff like this, and these focused lists are a lot more suited for the written content than the pod.
Let me know if I've missed your favourite movie, or how I'm crazy in the comments below, or on Twitter (linked as always below), or @the_darkhalf on Instagram!
And thank your local centaur.