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Monday, January 11, 2010

Top 10 Foreign Films of 2008

Since it takes a while for films from overseas to get to my particular corner of the world, I thought that this year I would do two year-end top 10s, one for films from 2009 (which I'll post later today), and one for the foreign films from 2008 that I didn't get to see until 2009. So, here they are, the ten foreign films from 2008 that I came to love the most in 2009:

#10: Tell No One (France)

I could watch this film from Guillaume Canet over and over again. In fact, I liked it so much that it inspired me to go out and read the book (which is also quite good). Tell No One is already set for an American remake, not unlike another film on my list.

#9: Lorna's Silence (Belgium)

The Dardenne brothers are two of the most interesting filmmakers working today, as this quiet and affecting drama proves. Filmed in a simple, unfussy way, its impact is nevertheless great.

#8: The Class (France)

One of the most acclaimed films of 2008, this documentary-like movie gets beneath the skin and stays with you. A year in the life of a high school class, with all its ups and downs and the sometimes complicated relationship between teacher and students - the story itself isn't new, but Laurent Cantet's take on it is.

#7: Seraphine (France)

A biopic that gets it right. This film about the life of the painter Seraphine de Senlis is brilliant and heartbreaking as it explores the agony and the ecstasy of the artist.

#6: Il Divo (Italy)

One of the most energetic films I saw all year, Paolo Sorrentino's Il Divo barely gives you time to catch your breath. I don't know how much of it is actually true, but this story about the political life of Giulio Andreotti keeps you so exhilarated that truth doesn't even matter.

#5: A Christmas Tale (France)

Douglas Coupland wrote a novel called All Families Are Psychotic. Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale proves that some are more psychotic than others. Part drama, part comedy, part character study, this film is endlessly rewarding.

#4: Let The Right One In (Sweden)

Forget the sparkly vampires of Twilight, this adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel is the great vampire movie of the 2000s. A rivetting and atmospheric film with two great performances at its centre, its American remake (due in theaters later this year) has a lot to live up to.

#3: Gomorra (Italy)

An instant classic in the crime genre. In a city ruled by crime in every area, no one is safe and no one is entirely clean. One of the saddest scenes I saw all year was that of Gomorra's two teenagers play acting at being mobsters and paying the ultimate price.

#2: Waltz With Bashir (Israel)

This beautiful and groundbreaking film blurs the lines between fiction and documentary. As war films go, it's one of the most powerful I've ever seen and also one of the most visually arresting.

#1: Hunger (Ireland)

A film of almost unbearable intensity. Exploring the hardship and degredation of Irish political prisoners under Margaret Thatcher's rule, Steve McQueen's debut film is simply amazing.


blake said...

My, you have impeccable taste. Tell No One is freaking fantastic. I've seen it three times. The Class is another one of my favorites, and A Christmas Tale and Hunger definitely make the top of the list of my favorite foreign films. I haven't seen a few of those you listed, I'll have to check them out ASAP.

Norma Desmond said...

Tell No One is so awesome I don't know how the remake could ever live up to. Same with Let The Right One In.