CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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The Best of the Year

The Best Films of 2009’s First Half

by Christopher Beaubien • July 19, 2009 • Start the Discussion!

best_2009_half

Moon (dir. Duncan Jones)
Goodbye Solo (dir. Ramin Bahrani)
(500) Days of Summer (dir. Marc Webb)
Nightwatching (dir. Peter Greenaway)
The Hurt Locker (dir. Kathryn Bigelow)


Coraline (dir. Henry Selick)
Gomorrah (dir. Matteo Garrone)
Polytechnique (dir. Denis Villeneuve)
Revanche (dir. Götz Spielmann)
Up (dir. Pete Docter and Bob Peterson)


Tokyo Sonata (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Knowing (dir. Alex Proyas)
O’ Horten (dir. Bent Hamer)
Lymelife (As Seen at the TIFF 2008, dir. Derick Martini)
Drag Me To Hell (dir. Sam Raimi)


The Very Best Films of 2008

by Christopher Beaubien • January 13, 2009 • 2 Comments

Taken as a whole, the best films released in 2008 tasted just as sweet as those in 2007 did. Looking at only the titles There Will Be Blood (dir. P.T. Anderson, 2007) and Synecdoche, New York (dir. Charlie Kaufman, 2008), I would be immensely cheered at the state of American cinema. However, there were a number of films scattered and tucked away in corners of the film distribution that saw almost 650 films released in 2008. My impression is that at least twenty to thirty films of a given year should be of great quality. Within those hundreds of films released, it is a pity that so few are wonderful. Still, who can quibble about a year where Charlie Kaufman, Christopher Nolan, Hsiao-hsien Hou, Mike Leigh, Kelly Reichardt, and some triumphant newcomers such as Lucí­a Puenzo and John McDonagh performed so well from either the open or the outset?

I saw a number of films that made their way to Vancouver. There are a few lingering titles that might have been included on this list if I saw them such as Steve McQueen’s Hunger, and Pere Portabella’s The Silence Before Bach. I missed those films shown at the Vancouver International Film Festival that year. My excuse was being bedridden with a cold; I missed out on so much that week. Unfortunately, Portabella refuses to release his film through circuits outside the mercy of unreliable theatrical distributions, which I am taking personally.

Making a list of the best films of the year generally affords the critic an opportunity to collect preferred films as an artist would apply to a collage. Which titles that carry particular visuals and ideas are arranged by the same intellectual deliberation crossed with the finesse of emotional intuition a painter applies a brushstroke. These recommendations could be read as a chef’s deliberate, however liberal feeling, succession of entrées like: starting with Potage à la Tortue, then Quail in Puff Pastry Shell with Foie Gras and Truffle Sauce, following by Cheese and Fresh Fruit, and finally Baba au Rhum avec les Figues — the prize to the movie I am referencing is the prize itself.

The films themselves are so different from one another — not including the given works of formulistic hacks — that measuring a film about a vampire versus a film about a hermaphrodite often appears as a defeatist’s approach. I look at this as a collection of films that made a lasting impression on me, and not as a system of rank. Just because Gus Van Sant’s Milk or Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married didn’t make the top ten does not mean I think any less of them. I love them dearly.

Without further ado, here are the movies that made me sit up a little straighter than usual this year.

1. Synecdoche, New York

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