Thursday, September 18, 2008

2008 -- a mid-year report

Following in Nick's footsteps (and excluding The Fall, which I listed in many categories this time last year)

Couscous – A serious and engaged ensemble drama, not one of those cute foreign foodie flicks
Hunger – Finds a radical formal framework for its political ire
Of Time and the CityIrresistibly personal docu-essay from a voice worth heeding
Summer Hours – A beautiful minuet on themes of art and possession
Unrelated – Spry, Rohmer-esque study of a holiday gone wrong

Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours) – As fluid and rigorous as ever in wistful, classical mode
Joseph Cedar (Beaufort) – You say inert and aloof; I say powerfully alert in his very detachment
Abdel Kechiche (Couscous) – Strings out a harrowing mini-epic with his roving attention
Steve McQueen (Hunger) – Impressive mastery of space, sound and perspective
Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) – Barnstorming confidence with cast and camera

Colin Farrell (In Bruges) – A major revelation, a lost boy with a vicious streak
Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) – Astutely inhabits the picture’s one rounded role
Ben Kingsley (Elegy) – Fills this defensive man with layers of self-knowledge
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) – Pushes his character’s psychosis to scary, lacerating extremes
Ryan Phillippe (Stop-Loss) – Unexpectedly thoughtful in a film that’s lying to itself

Asia Argento (The Last Mistress) – Her volcanic sexual energy has a furious point here
Sandra Corveloni (Linha de passe) – A painful study of careworn maternal love and disappointment
Penélope Cruz (Elegy) – Touching and fluent as if acting in Spanish
Keira Knightley (The Edge of Love) – Comes vibrantly alive for only the second time in her career
Kathryn Worth (Unrelated) – Up there with Marie Rivière in Rohmer’s Green Ray

Thomas Haden Church (Smart People) – No one does louche disrepute more hilariously
Barney Clark (Savage Grace) – Preening and self-assured, owns his little section
Stephen Dillane (Savage Grace) – Expert at being aloof yet self-aware as an absent parent
Michel Lonsdale (Heartbeat Detector) – A self-diagnosed corporate relic, deserving a better film
Maxwell McCabe-Lokos (Mouth to Mouth) – Physically and emotionally expressive as a wiry misfit

Farida Benkhetache (Couscous) – A dynamo of excess talk and recriminations
Patricia Clarkson (Elegy) – Both brittle and tender in her few excellent scenes
Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man) – Hardly taxed, but never more luminous or fun to be with
Mary Roscoe (Unrelated) – A manipulative friend, crabby and tactless
Edith Scob (Summer Hours) – Thinks sharp and sets the film’s whole tone

California Dreamin’ – Wittily lets the plot stagnate to fuel its satire
The Escapist – A clever, tick-tock structure that makes you think backwards
In Bruges – McDonagh at his near-best, forceful with vernacular
The Mist – Pushes itself into daring conflicts, but keeps a sense of humour
Savage Grace – Terse, evocative snapshots, directed with too-heavy winks


Original score, In Bruges (Carter Burwell)
Sound and production design, Wall·E
Makeup and production design, The Dark Knight
Score and cinematography, Linha de passe
Editing, The Escapist
Cinematography and editing, Out of the Blue
Visual effects, Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Song score, The Wackness


NicksFlickPicks said...

Now, for "You say inert and aloof" about Joseph Cedar, you mean a generalized "You," right? :)

Interesting that you like the Savage Grace script more than the direction, and I feel oppositely (though it's hard to know how to separate them out). I've finally got In Bruges atop my TV and am waiting patiently for Hunger and Summer Hours.

Cal said...

I totally agree with you about Farrell in In Bruges. His timing is spot on. Best male performance this year.

But: have you seen Sally Hawkins in Happy Go Lucky?

Michael Parsons said...

I have heard wonderful things about 'Hunger'. Must see it