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Home / Articles / · Archive / Film & TV /  Cinema | You?re the Tops: City Weekly?s movie critics lavish the love on their favorites of 2008.
Film & TV

Cinema | You?re the Tops: City Weekly?s movie critics lavish the love on their favorites of 2008.

Posted // December 31,2008 -
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nScott Renshaw’s Top 10 of 2008
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  1. Rachel Getting Married: Recriminations are few in Jonathan Demme’s simple, powerful, portrait of a family trying to function for one weekend in spite of its dysfunction.
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  3. My Winnipeg: Guy Maddin delivers a quirky, hilarious salute to his hometown in which a uniquely stylized vision creates something more true than the truth.
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  5. WALL-E: While the second half isn’t as staggeringly beautiful as the first, director Andrew Stanton’s miraculous love story celebrates a humanity we seem to have lost.
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  7. The Wrestler: Mickey Rourke’s performance turned the “underdog sports movie” genre upside-down, exploring what happens to anyone who believes only one thing gives their life value.
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  9. The Dark Knight: Heath Ledger’s performance stole every headline, but it served a complex psychological drama about heroism in an age of fear and madness.
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  11. Man on Wire: James Marsh revisits aerialist Philippe Petit’s 1974 tightrope crossing between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, creating both a great heist drama and a poetic tribute.
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  13. Funny Games: Nearly identical to his own 1997 German-language original, Michael Haneke’s ferocious domestic thriller is still jarring, even if you feel the need to shower after watching.
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  15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days: Abortion may be a driving plot element, but it’s really about a time in Ceaucescu-era Romania when bureaucratic control and paranoia filled lives with an almost unbearable tension.
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  17. Waltz With Bashir: Ari Folman explores his lost memories of the first Lebanon War through animation, resulting in a haunting experiment in expressing the inexpressible.
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  19. Bigger Stronger Faster*: Christopher Bell created a surprising piece of devil’s-advocacy for the idea that steroids themselves are less dangerous than the American obsession with winning that inspires their abuse.
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4 Months
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Cloverfield
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Dark Knight
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Rachel Getting Married
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Synecdoche, New York
n Maryann Johanson’s Top 10 of 2008

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  1. WALL-E
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  3. Synecdoche, New York
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  5. In Bruges
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  7. Slumdog Millionaire
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  9. Cloverfield
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  11. Burn After Reading
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  13. Rachel Getting Married
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  15. The Visitor
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  17. Revolutionary Road
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  19. The Dark Knight
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It was a year of a lot of good movies, but few great ones. I’m not sure whether half of the films in my top 10 would have made the list in a stronger year.

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But what impressed me in 2008 was how familiar stories were told in ways that felt not just fresh, but particularly and suddenly pertinent. I’m sort of surprised, in fact, that no movie after January’s Cloverfield even attempted to pull off a beautifully executed hoax that feels totally authentic. Perhaps we won’t see it again until the next (real) unexpected disaster is captured on cell phones. The Dark Knight turned bugaboos about terrorism and security upside down, giving us a comic-book villain with real teeth and a hero turned villainous in his pursuit. In Bruges, which opened in March, has a wild meaninglessness to it that only felt more right as this distressing year unfolded. By the time Synecdoche came along in October, its nightmarish, reality-challenging reverie felt almost good: Maybe we should wish for the world to be nothing but a dream.

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But there was genuine hope to be found in the mess, too—in a Mumbai orphan who makes good, and a garbage-collecting robot with the soul to make us realize it’s time to stop losing ours.

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Eric D. Snider’s Top 10 of 2008

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  1. WALL-E: The sublime pop-culture references, sophisticated sight gags and subtle satire are almost beside the point when WALL-E and EVE hold hands.
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  3. Synecdoche, New York: Surreal, wistful, hilarious, multi-layered—and that’s just the title!
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  5. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father: Kurt Kuenne’s documentary about his slain friend is raw, personal and utterly unforgettable.
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  7. Son of Rambow: The joys and agonies of friendship are at the center of this delightfully mischievous English comedy about two lads filming their own Rambo movie.
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  9. The Wrestler: Mickey Rourke’s performance as a washed-up pro wrestler is as subtle and sweet as his character is flamboyant.
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  11. Tropic Thunder: The funniest, most pitch-perfect Hollywood satire in years.
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  13. Young@Heart: Old people sing rock & roll songs in this joyous, uplifting documentary about the power of music to heal and inspire.
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  15. The Dark Knight: Hells, yeah, it’s too long. It’s also a treasure trove of popcorn thrills, heady socio-political ideas and good old-fashioned superheroism.
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  17. Cloverfield: The handheld cameras that everyone whined about are a scarily effective technique for making the viewer feel like part of the terrifying action.
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  19. Boy A: This melancholy story about a young man released from prison after serving for a crime he committed as a child asks tough questions about forgiveness and second chances.
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