Oscar season drives me crazy. So many weeks go by during the spring and summer and fall when theaters are full of studio films of only marginal interest — and then, like magic, the final weeks are glutted with extra-long prestige pictures involving popular and high-quality talent. Couple that with the need to socialize over the holidays, the possibility of bad weather, and my general desire to enjoy some time at home during these shortest days and longest, coldest nights of the year — not to mention always-pressing professional obligations — I generally miss more interesting-looking films at year’s end than any other time during the calendar year.
Since I failed to get anywhere near as many invitations to interesting looking year-end releases in 2008 as I did in 2007, the list of prestige pictures I haven’t yet seen may actually be longer than the list of ones I have — I haven’t made it out for Milk, The Wrestler, Revolutionary Road, Gran Torino, Frost/Nixon, or The Reader. (As usual, I tend to drag my feet the longest when it comes to films that seem noteworthy primarily for purportedly excellent performances, rather than dazzling filmcraft.) I did make time for Slumdog Millionaire, Doubt, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, none of which came close to finding a spot on this list. As usual, the 10th spot could have gone to one of any number of films, and this year I just picked the sentimental favorite. So caveat lector, but I feel pretty comfortable with this group.
One more thing — claims that 2008 is an especially weak year for movies don’t really wash with me. It may be true that I have slightly peculiar tastes, so any year that peaked with a movie about a 12-year-old vampire hits my sweet spot pretty squarely. But I had a great time watching these films. Hope you like some of them, too.