Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Favourite Films of 2008

Ah, here we are at the grand exit of 2008. I had fun compiling my Favourite Films list this year. I don't feel the need to whittle it down to 10. I don't call it a 'Best of' as I didn't see all of the films released. I did see a fair amount of films though, getting out to see 90 of the 340 releases which is 26.4% (up from 14.6% in 2007). Of those 90 I saw 25/44 of the Canadian release which is 56.8% (up from 30% in 2007). Yes I keep those numbers. I even have a database for easy peasy querying, fun stuff! Anyhow, 2008 has been one heck of a year.

Just to be clear, the number 340 is the total number of films released in Toronto for at least 1 week theatrically. If you are a fan of lists you can check out all the titles either alphabetically or by release date.

We saw quite the jump in total films from 2007 which had 314 films. I think the two theatres we can thank are The Royal and AMC Yonge & Dundas. How different can the two theatres be? Completely! The Royal is a one screen theatre in Little Italy and the AMC Yonge & Dundas is a 24 screen multiplex in the heart of the city, but both show an impressive amount of Canadian, foreign, acclaimed and indie films. We also continued to see limited releases at the Carlton, Varsity and Bloor theatres. I admit when I want to see something on the big screen I do trek to Scotiabank. Yep, I do. A big shout out and thank you to all of the Toronto theatres for providing us with such an excellent selection of films! Three cheers!

Ok, ok but on to the films, no? I've already discussed the trends in film in 2008 but now it's about the faves! Bring out your faves!

The Good - Solid Entertainment
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Sisterhood at the Travelling Pants 2, The
Starting Out in the Evening
Toronto Stories
Young People Fucking

The Great - Thought Provoking and/or Beautiful
All Together Now
Global Metal
How She Move
Mamma Mia!
Planet B-Boy
Then She Found Me
Visitor, The

The Exceptional - Films That Go Above and Beyond!
Ashes of Time Redux
Continental, un film sans fusil / Continental, a Film Without Guns
Let the Right One In / Låt den rätte komma in
Man on Wire
My Blueberry Nights
Rachel Getting Married
Son of Rambow
Up the Yangtze/ 沿江⽽上

There are also a few great 2008 release that I saw in 2007 and that muddles up my lists a little bit. Here are some more stellar releases: Boy A, Encounters at the End of the World, Flight of the Red Balloon / Le Voyage du ballon rouge, My Winnipeg and SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO.

Surprized I Didn't See:
Ben X, City of Ember, Elegy, London to Brighton, Speed Racer, Youth Without Youth

Weirdest Occurance:
Seeing Postal in the smallest theatre I've ever seen, literally about 60 seats. I was not the only person there though. It was the most outrageous film I've seen this year.

Films that were challenging to make it though:
Savage Grace and Blindness

Favourite Trailers (both Festival films):
MirageMan - Chilean superhero/martial arts movie. Awesome.
The Good, The Bad, The Weird - I've watched this one more times than I can remember. I have huge regret for not seeing it at TIFF. Speaking of festivals....

Festival Madness!
2008 was a fantastic year for Film Festival here in Toronto. I had the opportunity to check out 9 of the 76 festivals in town during 2008. A lot of the festivals it was my first time going, such as when I went to the Toronto Singapore Film Festival which has a fantastic selection of high quality films, and it is only in it's third year! It was easily one of my favourite festivals. The Images Festival had an eclectic line up of films and performance pieces including one of the most intriguing experiences of the year: The Conversation, a.k.a. Everything is Everything a live video creation by Tasman Richardson and Kentaro Taki. The quality and selection of films at Hot Docs is astounding, the crowds at Inside Out are lively and the sheer volume and diversity of films at the Worldwide Short Film Festival is enough to make your head spin - in a good way! It was also great to see so much CanCon represented at the Canadian Film Festival.

This leaves us to the fall festivals, which I happily revisited yet again this year. I was one amongst the masses at the Toronto International Film Festival, which is an experience in it of itself where you just lend yourself over to the madness of 10 days of back to back films. I was thrilled to enjoy the superb quality of films, many with the filmmakers in attendance, at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. That leaves us to the one festival that really hit it out of the park and that was the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, which brought us Swedish vampires, Chilean superheroes, organ repossessing undertakers, Japanese bloodbaths and boatloads of fantastic Canadians shorts including zombie curling. It also brings the funnest, frenzedest, zombiest crowd of them all.

More Highlights of 2008:
Here are a few special moments that don't quite fit into either theatrical nor festival settings.
Heroes of the East screening with Gordon Liu in attendance
Thing-Fest 2008: The Thing in 35mm, gallery & memorabilia and a Q&A with Thomas Waites
Getting scared silly at [REC]
Being a judge for the Toronto 48 Hour Film Project in November
Vlogging like mad through festivals

All That and More:
One of the greatest things about 2008 was meeting awesome film lovers, bloggers, online journalists, enthusiasts and festival guru's (you know who you are). Ok ok, stop pulling my rubber arm, I'll name drop! Here we go: Bob, James, Ryan, John, Kurt, Milton, Richard, Greg & Donna, Chris & Polly, Matt, Steven, Andrew, Trista, Sarah, Sarah's Mom, Rob and Adam. Y'all rock!

What were your favourite films and film experiences of 2008?

I will leave you with two entertaining non-film yet very entertaining moving images from 2008:
I Get On (The TTC) - I Put On (For My City) for us in the T.Dot
The Guild web series for all the gamers out there


Paul said...

What about the Wrestler? Might be one of my face films of all time :D

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

The Wrestler was very good, especially the performance by Mickey Rourke, but didn't quite make my list.

Did you list your favourite of the year Paul?

Suzie Ridler said...

I love that Twilight is on your exceptional list, I totally agree on that and My Blueberry Nights which I am still swooning over. Mirageman was definitely one of the movie-going highlights of my year too and I'm so glad I saw it with you Shannon! Amal is up there too and I saw that with you too!

You're a festivalling maniac, I love it! You definitely saw some bizarre movies. Thank you for letting us live through the festival mania vicariously through you.

Suzie Ridler said...

I just came back to re-check your list for Wall-E and don't see it. Interesting! R and I think it should be a contender for best movie but then, you know how much we love Wuahalleee...

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

I really enjoyed Wall-E but it didn't make the cut. Eep.

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