The Big List o’ Lists

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To begin with some actual news, James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, announced this morning the latest 25 films to be added to the National Film Registry, bringing the total number of titles on the list to the nice round figure of 500. The NFR isn’t meant to be a “best” list, but rather a reckoning of films that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant, and more broadly symbolic of the many different kinds of American cinema that merit preservation (full disclosure: I’m a member of the committee, the National Film Preservation Board, that advises the Librarian on the selection). To that end, the annual lists have increasingly moved beyond the borders of Hollywood narrative filmmaking to include avant-garde, independent, documentary and sponsored work; this year, there’s even a student film (Mitchell Block’s 1973 “No Lies”).

The new additions, in alphabetical order:

1) The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
2) Deliverance (1972)
3) Disneyland Dream (1956)
4) A Face in the Crowd (1957)
5) Flower Drum Song (1961)
6) Foolish Wives (1922)
7) Free Radicals (1979)
8) Hallelujah (1929)
9) In Cold Blood (1967)
10) The Invisible Man (1933)
11) Johnny Guitar (1954)
12) The Killers (1946)
13) The March (1964)
14) No Lies (1973)
15) On the Bowery (1957)
16) One Week (1920)
17) The Pawnbroker (1965)
18) The Perils of Pauline (1914)
19) Sergeant York (1941)
20) The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
21) So’s Your Old Man (1926)
22) George Stevens WW2 Footage (1943-46)
23) The Terminator (1984)
24) Water and Power (1989)
25) White Fawn’s Devotion (1910)

For more information on the individual titles, go to the NFPB site, located here. The smiley in shades next to “Hallelujah” seems to represent the unsolicited opinion of WordPress, the excellent and otherwise unassuming program that underlies this blog; in any case, I can’t figure out where it came from or how to get rid of it.

In less consequential news, the DVD columnist of the New York Times has choked up a list of “ten notable DVDs” issued this year. It can be found, along with the usual vain attempts at self-justification, here.

And finally, just to prove that I still have one foot in the 21st century, here’s my alphabetical list of the best movies I saw in the last twelve months, which I hope will soon be overwhelmed by contributions from the readers of this space:

A Christmas Tale/Arnaud Desplechin
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button/David Fincher
Diary of the Dead/George A. Romero
The Fall/Tarsem
Gran Torino/Clint Eastwood
Sparrow/Johnnie To
Still Life/Jia Zhang-Ke
Tropic Thunder/Ben Stiller
Wall-E/Andrew Stanton
Wendy and Lucy/Kelly Reichardt

382 comments to The Big List o’ Lists

  • Stephen Cone

    Kent, perhaps I was misleading in my little late-night trio of analogies there. I fall somewhere between Yay! and Eh… on Spielberg and he’s probably my, oh, 57th favorite filmmaker, or something. There’s just something impossible to me about the die-hard haters and the die-hard lovers coming together on anything that I find fascinating and frustrating and ridiculous, and that seems pretty much unparalleled on this blog and in the world of cinephilia. Hence my references to the baffling FUTILITY of it all. Actually, I think we’re saying the same thing.

    The guy at the Times wrote about your cell phone smackdown. Way to go. Though I suspect that in my head it’s much more WORLD WRESTLING/COPS-like than it actually was.

  • Kent Jones

    Stephen, which guy at the Times wrote that? Someone’s cell phone went off and both of us reminded people to turn them off. That was the “smackdown.”

    There’s a lot of time spent judging Spielberg. Quite often, it seems to have nothing much to do with the films themselves and everything to do with how much money he’s made.

  • Brian Dauth

    It seems that Spielberg has inherited the place that William Wyler once held (still holds?) in cinephile discussions.

  • Stephen Cone

    Here you go, Kent. A gal, Paula Schwartz (aka, um, The Baguette).

    http://carpetbagger.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/05/of-virtual-replicants-and-sociopathic-tendencies/

    You say stern reprimand, I say smackdown. Tomato, etc.

    In any case, would like to have been there. Finally caught BENJAMIN BUTTON last week and found it to be, yes, on the level of ZODIAC. Fincher has arrived. I remember back in the 90s people starting to refer to him as the next Kubrick (?), something I never quite got. But now, at least in terms of greatness and stature if not aesthetics (though they might share a general outlook – not sure if you’d dispute that there’s something similarly clinical and cold about their films, mostly in the best sense of the words), he feels like he’s on his way to one day having that kind of name-recognition. Well-deserved, I say.

    Speaking specifically of BUTTON, I should admit to finding Blanchett’s performance and accent in the hospital questionable, as well as the device itself. Though the final moments, especially that final gasp/breath of a tracking shot out of the room and through the chaotic hospital corridor, are pretty wonderful.

  • Stephen Cone

    Just to be clear: in no way do I feel the films of Kubrick (excepting perhaps CLOCKWORK ORANGE) and Fincher lack emotion or feeling. The majority of them move me greatly. BARRY LYNDON strikes me at once as cold, clinical and heartbreaking.

  • Michael Dempsey

    Kent: I agree with your comment about the glib use of words like “hack” and hope I conveyed that Spielberg is far too significant a figure to be dismissed this way, as many have done, especially when they do so just because he’s made a lot of hits.

    Ditto on rankings — perhaps I failed to make my own disdain for them clear enough. We should concentrate on dealing with the complexities and nuances of significant filmmakers (including Spielberg) and not turn the process into what a character in “Fail-Safe” calls “some damn football game.”

  • Kent Jones

    Stephen, the terms “cold” and “clinical” have always struck me as relative when used to describe Kubrick. It always seemed like a way of saying “not Hawks…not Renoir.” Kubrick was always looking for a monumental angle, that’s for sure. So does Malick, in a completely different way. Different directors come at their material from different directions and with different ends in mind. I’ve never found BARRY LYNDON either cold or clinical, but designed to work at a very interesting remove from its characters. Fincher seems very far from that, but he also finds ways of stepping back, observing characters within the flow of time. I find his last two films extremely moving, in ways that don’t really correspond to anything I’ve seen before.

    Michael, I think that there’s a reflexive aversion to the popular in contemporary film criticism, and to big budgets as well. And the idea that anybody apart from Harvey Weinstein really cares about winning Oscars anymore is kind of absurd – they don’t even boost your box office the way they used to. Assuming that there are any actual directors left who care about it, I’d have to say that there are much easier ways to win Oscars than to make movies like GANGS OF NEW YORK, which was in the works for over 20 years, or THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON.

  • Garcia

    I wonder how the desire to win an Oscar is forced upon a filmmaker. You can bend you mind into a pretzel trying to figure out the logic of some of the movies the Academy has chosen to award, and yet there is such a big importance placed on something that is akin to voting for high school class president, which is to say that merit often has little to do with the winner. The list of great artists you haven’t one an award is almost as pretiguous as those who have. With all that goes into making a movie, especially a life long passion project like I know Gangs was, you’d have to mentally ill to approach it with the end result being that statue. Still, so much importance is place on it within the industry itself, I do wonder if a filmmaker can get crowbarred into giving a shit about something that, while not being meaningless exactly, is pretty trivial in the overall scope of a career and a body of work.

    I was working at a place that was developing Hotel Rwanda (they were not the company that eventually made it). And I remember sitting in meetings were executives kept going on and on about how this was their Oscar picture. They were more excited about that than the actual content of the story they were developing. The filmmakers were pretty much, “Well, that’s cool, but we just want to make the movie.”

  • Stephen Cone

    “Cold” and “clinical” are most certainly relative. Perhaps they’re too harsh to be used interchangeably with “removed”, which I did, yet I don’t view any of them as inherently negative or emotion-less. But yes, it’s a certain kind of remove I was referring to, which I’d argue make the above-mentioned films – from LYNDON to BUTTON – even more moving than they would have been otherwise, BECAUSE they are made from such personal, specific artistic vantage points.

  • jbryant

    Yeah, I’d be shocked if Scorsese ever decided upon a project just because of its presumed Oscar potential. I’ll bet he never dreamed he’d win for The Departed until maybe a month before the ceremony, and even then he probably didn’t lose any sleep over it, having lost so many times before for more acclaimed work. But, sure, once the hype is gearing up, why not play the game a little? Awards are nice to have, even if they mean little to nothing in the grand scheme.

    I’m always a little amused by year-end critic’s lists that are comprised solely of ten obscure, little-seen and/or unreleased films, as though even a nominally successful commercial title would taint the proceedings. Not saying they’re not voting their true preferences, but it makes you wonder. We all love underdogs and like to single out stuff that everyone else seems to be ignoring. But I always allow for the possibility that my list would be similar if I got a chance to actually see those films.

  • Garcia

    “Once the hype is gearing up, why not play the game a little?” Nicely put.

    I used to wonder the same thing about critic’s list, but always assumed that, say, those in New York are able to see things that will never play in Phoenix, not to mention films seen at festivals that never play in the US at all. When I was at the University of Arizona I would read Film Comment and get so annoyed that most of the movies written about in the magazine was stuff that I didn’t have access to. I was more upset at where I was living and not the magazine of course. Thank God for Netflix and GreenCine and some of these other places that makes these films available to someone in the cinematic wastelands.

  • Kent Jones

    Steohen – I agree.

  • c mason wells

    To me, it certainly hasn’t seemed like Scorsese’s been choosing projects based on winning an Academy Award. I mean, I suppose some of his recent fiction films are Oscar-friendly given their genres — historical epic in GANGS, biopic in THE AVIATOR — but I’ve found these movies to be far more strange, expansive, and beautiful than almost anything we ever see nominated or celebrated on that level. I’d like to think Scorsese isn’t bringing himself to the Oscars; he’s bringing the Oscars (and the mainstream) closer to him.

  • Garcia

    I really never meant to imply that Scorsese was trying to choose projects based on the possibility of winning awards. I was simply relating something that I had witnessed and lived through that happened to be a Scorsese picture. I’m sure he had little to do with anything that went on during that time.

  • Kent wrote: Michael, I’m sorry you didn’t get more of a lift from AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, but I’m happy to see VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED on your list. It’s far from my favorite Carpenter movie, but it has a brilliant opening 20 minutes. Saada was the one who insisted I watch it.

    I think Carpenter’s VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED is pretty strong up to the last 20 minutes, where the tension and dread created by Carpenter’s pace and editing goes out the window. Before that, the pace in which Carpenter goes about establishing the birth of the “other” children and the effects they have on the town is incredibly assured. Carpenter really knows how to convey a lot of information via a series of shots, and yes,
    I thought I was watching one of the few remaining directors who understood and uses the classical Hollywood style to maximum effect.

    As for AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, I found it to be a rather impersonal affair on Minnelli’s part. What drove me up the wall was the way in which many of the scenes were so self-appreciatory: how everyone stopped in their tracks in the musical numbers to smile and nod their heads in their approval of how clever and delightful Kelly, Levant and Guetary are—there is even a moment when two characters witness Kelly dancing and make gestures at how good he is–, and how everyone would applaud at the end of the number. I guess I had to be reminded of what a great film I was watching.

  • c mason wells

    Garcia, sorry, I didn’t mean to imply you were saying that. My comment was meant more generally; I’m a bit surprised by the accusations that Scorsese has somehow sold his soul to win an Oscar in recent years, when I think he’s simply bringing his dynamic approach to a wider audience.

  • Garcia

    I didn’t mean to come off a defensive there. I just wanted to be clear. I think the Speilberg quote above is apt, that people have caught up with him.

  • Kent Jones

    Michael, I remember most of VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED being very good until the ending, but aren’t the first 20 minutes spellbinding?

    I love AN AMERICAN IN PARIS very much. The stuff you’re describing doesn’t bother me. There are things in it that always take my breath away – Levant and Kelly’s scene in the apartment, or “Our Love Is Here to Stay.” Apropos of nothing much at all, Alain Resnais and Chris Marker went to see it together every day for a week when it opened in Paris. Marker said that he never recaptured the magic of those early viewings when he looked at it again on laser or tape, until he watched a DVD of the film on his laptop. I was always intrigued by this statement, because I know exactly what he means: there’s something about the distance and the sense of scale when you look at a film under those conditions that’s somewhat like watching a film on a big screen.

  • Michael Dempsey

    Strange how “Barry Lyndon” keeps having words like “cold” and “clinical” attached to it, by those to whom they represent sharp criticism and those who seek to make a virtue of them.

    Barry’s lovestruck mortification before his disdainful cousin Nora;

    the way that Ryan O’Neal renders his gaze upon her at a family dinner subtly scored by harp notes;

    a long shot of him chopping wood against a rural backdrop that, thanks to cinematographer John Alcott, has a depth of focus that seems virtually infinite;

    Godfrey Quigley warm reading of Captain Grogan’s dying exhortation to Barry: “Kiss me, for we’ll never meet again”;

    the magisterial camera movements that capture Barry’s first meeting with the Countess of Lyndon and then his wordless seduction of her;

    the dry-as-dust narration that cuts off Sir Charles Lyndon as he suffers a fatal seizure while raging at Barry in a hell-red room;

    young Brian on his deathbed trying to reconcile his estranged parents reconcile lest miss their chance at paradise;

    the pistol duel (not in William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel) during which Barry, haunted by Brian’s death, refuses to fire at his embittered stepson;

    Any one of these moments, let alone all of them and more, decisively refutes such terms.

    The film’s distanced, measured, but also passionately vibrant images and sounds make these triumphs possible.

    Among other things, they embody how so many people in all cultures throughout history, not those of just 18th Century Ireland and England, use ritual and ceremony in a vain effort to keep the disorders and errors of life at bay while they make and try to realize their worthy and unworthy plans. Only Kenji Mizoguchi’s “The 47 Ronin” rivals “Barry Lyndon” in treating this theme.

    The blending in “Barry Lyndon” of Olympian and intimate perspectives yields a transcendently emotional contemplation of “the vanity of human wishes” but also the beauty they can also achieve, as well as the enigma of their and our very existence.

  • Michael Dempsey

    I meant “terrors, not “errors,” in the second-to-last sentence of my remarks on “Barry Lyndon.”

    Typos are the cockroaches of blogposts.

  • Blake Lucas

    I just got back from being away five days to find that after I made a fecetious comment about the KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL comparison to HATARI! and DONOVAN’S REEF, some belated discussion about J J’s original comment finally got going.

    But Junko, and anyone else, I hope you didn’t misunderstand me (and seemed like maybe you did) when I wrote “I accept it. Kind of.”

    I only wrote that to indicate I accept anyone having the opinions they do about any film (this followed some dissent on my part to the lofty place MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS in its released version holds for most people). But that means I accept them even if I believe they are absurd, which to me J J’s comment about these films absolutely was. The fact that HATARI! and DONOVAN’S REEF plainly have a playful side does not change the fact that this playfulness exists in works of art but great artists, works that have much else there, and it’s especially true of REEF, one of the greatest of all late works and one that sounds deep themes of reconciliaton and renewal, has melancholy currents along with the comedy and so on.

    Everyone here knows what I think of Spielberg–at least I assumed they did. Meantime, I’m not even close to reading all these posts yet. Tony Williams spoke pretty well for me on this. I loved Brian Dauth’s post about late films and the list of titles he gave. And I agree with every word he said on the subject. To me it’s unimaginable that Spielberg could ever make a film that could be mentioned in the same breath with any of those, and I know Brian has made clear he wasn’t contending he could. The relationship of the infantile (Spielberg) to the mature, great artists that most people acknowledge Hawks and Ford to be does not seem overstressed to me by those who have made it.

    I added A PRIVATE’S AFFAIR (Raoul Walsh), a late light work by Walsh that I like better than anything Spielberg ever made, though on reflection MARINES LET’S GO would make an even better comparison with HATARI! and DONOVAN’S REEF. It too becomes quite moving, unexpectedly so.

    Still, J J had a right to make that statement and to have the opinion he does, not matter how it strikes me. It did strike me as outrageous, and I can I’m not alone. But J J plainly is not alone either here.

  • Blake Lucas

    I meant to write “I guess I’m not alone.”

    Meanwhile, quickly read through all those other posts and just have to say–

    “And now that I think of it, I know for a fact that our good friend Blake Lucas dislikes both Spielberg and Peterson…

    Jean-Pierre, you know this is not true and owe me an apology for saying that I equate the two. I admire Oscar Peterson, especially as accompanist, and recently said how much I enjoyed his work in a session with Mulligan/Getz/Edison et al. which you called my attention to. He’s a fine pianist–maybe a little slick and mechanical at times, but that’s not so much a sin in a job like jazz improvisation where no one is in top form all the time. I will acknowledge he’s not on the same plateau to me of a Monk or a Bill Evans as a pianist, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy him and often do.

    This is very different from Spielberg, who was always a flashy director and that surface of a work did impress me in his early films, but any good opinion I had of him was progressively worn down from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK onward. I feel others have all voiced what I don’t like about him well enough, especially Junko as I think the “roller coaster ride” analogy holds as true for his “serious films” like SCHINDLER’S LIST and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (I too loved THE THIN RED LINE and thought it was the “anti-SAVING PRIVATE RYAN) as much as his matinee adventures.

    But I’ll say if I had to choose his matinee adventures irritate me more, not because they are worse than say THE COLOR PURPLE or A.I. or MUNICH but because one has to hear things like “Steven Spielberg has made the ultimate Republic serial”
    about something like RAIDERS. Well, sorry, but the least Republic was directed with more flair, energy, humor, visual style–and yes artistic levels worth unlocking; those films were directed by people like William Witney and John English, who had real talent and they are the ones who deserve our attention. And don’t even get me started on the many classical directors who did absolutely enchanting features with exotic locales and adventurous subjects–THE SEA HAWK anyone?

  • JJ

    “The Sea Hawk”, anyone?”

    With what, a side order of film snob du jour and pretentiousness on ice?

    It’s Spielberg (AND LUCAS) Donovan’s Reef and Hatari. The red flags in that sentence are not Donovan’s Reef and Hatari. It’s Spielberg and Lucas.

    If I said, whatever-name-a-film is Lars Von Trier or Wong Kar Wai’s Donovan’s Reef and Hatari, none of the people getting all hot under the collar would be saying a thing.

    Man, this guy and Junko…It takes all the joy out of talking about movies. It’s not that they don’t like James Cameron or Steven Spielberg or Lucas or Frank Darabont or Joe Dante or whoever, it’s that they have to denounce you if you admit you do. I don’t like Micheal Bay and I think his movies are awful (well, The Island is watchable, but I think you can owe that too, yes, producer Steven Spielberg) but if somebody was on here going, “Pearl Harbor is Micheal Bay’s Only Angels Have Wings”, I’d consider that statement so far from reality that I would’nt even bother to refute it.

    What’s that line from “Paths Of Glory”? “I pity you as I would the village idiot?” Fine, I’m the village idiot. Proving you’re smarter then the village idiot is damning with rather faint praise, I would say.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘If I said, whatever-name-a-film is Lars Von Trier or Wong Kar Wai’s Donovan’s Reef and Hatari, none of the people getting all hot under the collar would be saying a thing.’

    ‘How can you know this? if someone made that comparison i would ask ‘how is it like that?’

    ‘Man, this guy and Junko…It takes all the joy out of talking about movies. It’s not that they don’t like James Cameron or Steven Spielberg or Lucas or Frank Darabont or Joe Dante or whoever, it’s that they have to denounce you if you admit you do.’

    I am sorry you are angry, but I have not denounced you. I did not see resemblance between CRYSTAL SKULL and HATARI! and DONOVAN’S REEF, not in theme, not in mise-en-scene. I made criticism of Spileberg movies, some people agreed, some people disagreed and argued for Spielberg movies. Many cinephiles like his movies and make the good arguement for them, but not everyone will like his movies. It can’t be helped.

    Also, I do not think Blake is snob. He likes all kinds of movies, that can be seen from his posts. This is what Blake wrote, ‘J J had a right to make that statement and to have the opinion he does, not matter how it strikes me. It did strike me as outrageous, and I can I’m not alone. But J J plainly is not alone either here.’

    Isn’t this the fair statement? Please do not be so angry at us.

  • Blake Lucas

    OK, c’mon JJ, I made a point every time of saying you have a right to this opinion. But the first time I did it I got in trouble in my absence because Junko assumed I in some way agreed with it.

    Yes, I saw “Lucas and Spielberg”–and acknowledge one can’t separate the two when they work on a film together (and it can be hard other times as well). But I tend to think of films in terms of direction/realization and do believe Spielberg does an Indiana Jones film his way, no matter the story elements that Lucas contributed.

    I’m ambivalent about Lucas–I have never made up my mind about him. The truth is that I sat through AMERICAN GRAFFITI twice in a row when it opened and that’s something I rarely do. He wound up choosing a role of producer/impressario as his preferred one and I’m uncertain how to gauge his talent.

    Spielberg prefers to be judged as director. But he has also been a producer, and with mixed results. But I should tell you that I published a long, laudatory piece on BACK TO THE FUTURE after naming it my favorite film of its year. I don’t know if I’d stand by this now, but I didn’t let any prejudice against Spielberg stand in the way of this and it would be naive to say he didn’t contribute to that film even if Zemeckis was the director.

    Eventually, these latter day lovers of high tech spectacle will sort out and some will be better regarded than others. Maybe James Cameron might be one–film snob that I guess you think I am, I wouldn’t equate TITANIC with THE SEARCHERS, RIO BRAVO or VERTIGO, but it did move me, showed me someone I don’t want to summarily dismiss, and was a rea accomplishment in this realm of filmmaking.

    I separate from those here who get down on a guy because he heads some kind of empire and is successful. Alfred Hitchcock is a good example who was at his most commercially successful and made his greatest films too when he had the most power and was his own producer. It certainly is possible to do both jobs well and he proved it.

  • Blake Lucas

    “..a real accomplishment in this realm of filmmaking…”

  • jbryant

    American Graffiti is one of my favorite films. Saw it a couple times in the theatre, many times since on TV and home video. Heck, I just saw it again a few weeks ago when Encore or somebody was running it letterboxed. I even attended one of those awkward Hollywood collectible shows a couple of years back just so I could see most of the surviving Graffiti cast (minus the “A” listers, of course). And I got quite a kick out of writing a Disney Channel show that Mackenzie Phillips appeared in, even though I didn’t get to meet her and tell her how much that movie meant to me. That credit gives me six degrees of separation to rival Kevin Bacon. :)

    Sometimes I just pretend Lucas retired after 1973. Couldn’t he have returned to that type of filmmaking at least once in the intervening years?

  • Blake Lucas

    “Sometimes I just pretend Lucas retired after 1973. Couldn’t he have returned to that type of filmmaking at least once in the intervening years?”

    Your first sentence seems like a good way to handle it. Maybe I’ll try that.

    Leaving Lucas out of it for a moment, and both the Stars Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, I just want to say one more thing to JJ about Spielberg and this is in all seriousness:

    Do you really feel he should in some way be exempt from any critical challenge? No one else is you know. And I don’t think they should be–and I’m referring even to my own favorites among all directors. The people who love them should always feel it is on them to defend them and their works. It should never just be a given–he or she is great and we shouldn’t question it.

    Somehow, in the new Hollywood, Steven Spielberg actually has this cachet, maybe not on this list but with most people who just take it as an article of faith that this is a great director.

    Yet the complaints we have are real. He never wants us to forget that he is the director, and that he possesses directorial virtuosity. The quieter scenes that good directors (and great directors especially) give so much skill and subtlety to between the set pieces of theirs that play in anthologies and tributes (Minnelli is a great example, but in fact Hitchcock is as well) are scenes that always seem to try his patience, as if somehow in the way of the game he wants always to be seen as playing and winning. Please don’t doubt the sincerity of those of us who are actively annoyed at this and the attitude and sensibility that do seem to underlie it, and the truly damaging effect some of us believe this has had on Hollywood filmmaking.

    I don’t go negative on Spielberg to rain on anyone’s parade. I do actively dislike him, and I’m someone who likes so many directors and wouldn’t for a moment claim they are all great. Most of the films I’ve enjoyed in my life are probably more easily defended as entertainment than great art, whatever artistic qualities they do have–and I’m not talking about someone like John Ford, who even when most out of fashion, was probably perceived as an artist by most people who had given any thought at all to cinema.

    Again, what’s ironic is that Spielberg fans act so wounded when he’s criticized, but has there ever been anyone less affected in the wider consciousness by the perceptions of those who don’t embrace him. He just goes on and on, seemingly immune to the deeper critical perspectives about his work which at least ought to be seriously addressed.

  • Blake Lucas

    Junko, I hadn’t seen yours of 9:55 until now or might not have felt the need to say as much as I did. But thanks for acknowledging that I’m not a film snob and like many kinds of films, as that is the most important thing to me.

  • JJ

    “Do you really feel he should in some way be exempt from any critical challenge? No one else is you know.”

    Can’t you just hear the sneering derision? I mean, imagine somebody saying it out loud, like, “Do you REALLY feel he….No one ELSE is, you know.”

  • Kifah Foutah

    1) The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin)
    2) Rachel Getting Married (Johnathan Demme)
    3) Happy Go Lucky (Mike Leigh)
    4) Shotgun Stories (Jeff Nichols)
    5) Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant)
    6) Wall-E/Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Andrew Stanton/ Steven Spielberg)
    7) Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao Hsien)
    8) My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin)
    9) Chop Shop (Ramin Bahrani)
    10) Be Kind Rewind (Michel Gondry)

    Runners Up:Pineapple Express (David Gordon Green)
    Still Life (Jia Zengke)
    My Blueberry Nights (Wong Kar Wai)
    Best Undistributed Film : Useless (Jia Zangke)
    Best re released films: Ashes of Time Redux (Wong Kar Wai), Lola Montes (Max Ophuls)

  • James L. Neibaur

    Here is where I am at for best of 2008, with the understanding that I have not yet seen Rachel Getting Married, Happy Go Lucky, Shotgun Stories, or Slumdog Millionaire:

    Chop Shop
    Dark Knight
    The Fall
    Frost/Nixon
    Gran Torino
    My Winnipeg
    Pineapple Express
    Quantum of Solace
    Wendy and Lucy
    The Wrestler

    Juno award for most overrated:
    Wall-E

    and a quick Best On DVD in 2008:

    Budd Boeticher collection
    Douglas Fairbanks collection
    The Extra Girl (Mabel Normand feature)
    George Melies collection
    How The West Was Won blu ray
    Keaton/General high-def
    Langdon double feature (3′s a Crowd/The Chaser)
    Money From Home (Martin and Lewis feature)