The 20 Best Films of 2008: a sneak peak at Film Comment’s year-end list!

It’s an annual tradition. Every year Film Comment polls its many contributors and members of the critical community for the scoop on the twenty best films of the year, and delivers the goods in their January/February issue. We’re pleased to be able to bring you this sneak peak of the aggregated critical faves (follow links for filmlinc blog coverage). So without further ado…


1. Wendy and Lucy Kelly Reichardt, U.S. 580
2. Flight of the Red Balloon Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan/France 564
3. A Christmas Tale Arnaud Desplechin, France 557
4. Happy-Go-Lucky Mike Leigh, U.K.  538
5. WALL·E Andrew Stanton, U.S. 534
6. Still Life Jia Zhang-ke, Hong Kong/China 521
7. Paranoid Park Gus Van Sant, France/U.S. 465
8. Waltz with Bashir Ari Folman, Israel/France/Germany 424
9. My Winnipeg Guy Maddin, Canada 406
10. Milk Gus Van Sant, U.S. 356
11. Let the Right One In Tomas Alfredson, Sweden 351
12. The Duchess of Langeais Jacques Rivette, France/Italy 335
13. The Class Laurence Cantet, France 334
14. Synecdoche, New York Charlie Kaufman, U.S. 297
15. Hunger Steve McQueen, U.K. 289
16. Silent Light Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/France/Netherlands  286
17. Ballast Lance Hammer, U.S. 283
18. Man on Wire James Marsh, U.K. 282
19. The Exiles Kent Mackenzie, U.S.  257
20. Gomorrah Matteo Garrone, Italy 253


The headless woman!

1. The Headless Woman Lucrecia Martel, Argentina/Spain/France/Italy 201
2. 24 City Jia Zhang-ke, China/Hong Kong/Japan 171
3. Summer Hours Olivier Assayas, France 154
4. Still Walking Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan 102
5. Tulpan Sergey Dvortsevoy, Germany/Switzerland/Kazakhstan/Russia/Poland 84
6. RR James Benning, U.S. 83
7. 35 Shots of Rum Claire Denis, France/Germany 78
8. Of Time and the City Terence Davies, U.K. 76
9. Tony Manero Pablo Larrain, Chile/Brazil 74
10. Liverpool Lisandro Alonso, Argentina 70
11. Sugar Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, U.S.  55
12. Tokyo Sonata Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan/Netherlands/Hong Kong 51
13. Birdsong Albert Serra, Spain 48
14. The Hurt Locker Kathryn Bigelow, U.S. 47
15. United Red Army Koji Wakamatsu, Japan 40
16. Night and Day Hong Sang-soo, South Korea 36
17. Four Nights with Anna Jerzy Skolimowski, France/Poland 33
18. Me and Orson Welles Richard Linklater, U.K. 31
19. Il Divo Paolo Sorrentino, Italy/France 29
20. Chouga Darezhan Omirbaev, Kazakhstan/France 28

Best Films of 2008 Poll Participants:
Sam Adams, Thom Andersen, John Anderson, Melissa Anderson, David Ansen, Michael Atkinson, Saul Austerlitz, Miriam Bale, Margaret Barton-Fumo, Marjorie Baumgarten, Bruce Bennett, Nick Bradshaw, Richard Brody, John Caps, Michael Chaiken, Andrew Chan, Chris Chang, Tom Charity, Godfrey Cheshire, Travis Crawford, Gary Crowdus, Mike D’Angelo, Evan Davis, Sam Di Iorio, Lisa Dombrowski, Bilge Ebiri, Cheryl Eddy, David Edelstein, David Ehrenstein, David Fear, Paul Fileri, Scott Foundas, Patrick Friel, Graham Fuller, Susan Gerhard, Gary Giddins, Jason Gross, Larry Gross, Dennis Harvey, Molly Haskell, Logan Hill, J. Hoberman, Robert Horton, Johnny Ray Huston, Harlan Jacobson, J.R. Jones, Kent Jones, Kristin M. Jones, Dave Kehr, Glenn Kenny, Laura Kern, Stuart Klawans, Robert Koehler, Michael Koresky, Nathan Lee, Dennis Lim, Phillip Lopate, Cynthia Lucia, Scott Macaulay, Todd McCarthy, Maitland McDonagh, Don McMahon, Joe Milutis, Wesley Morris, Rob Nelson, Geoffrey O’Brien, Mark Olsen, Mark Peranson, Jake Perlin, Tony Pipolo, Richard Porton, John Powers, James Quandt, Jed Rapfogel, Nicolas Rapold, Megan Ratner, Bérénice Reynaud, Jim Ridley, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Joshua Rothkopf, Andrew Sarris, Richard Schickel, Lisa Schwarzbaum, Gene Seymour, Gavin Smith, Vivian Sobchack, Chuck Stephens, Bob Strauss, Jim Supanick, Amy Taubin, José Teodoro, Kenneth Turan, Brynn White, Donald Wilson, Genevieve Yue, David Zuckerman

Agree? Disagree? Please add your own reaction in the comments!

Look for the January/February issue of Film Comment, with in-depth analysis of the year’s best films, on newsstands in early January.

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10 Comments on “The 20 Best Films of 2008: a sneak peak at Film Comment’s year-end list!”

  1. […] The 20 Best Films of 2008: a sneak peak at Film Comment’s year-end list! It’s an annual tradition. Every year Film Comment polls its many contributors and members of the critical […] […]

  2. Paul Says:

    This is pretty amazing. The fact that an animated film is getting so many accolades is unprecedented and unlike other animated films, Wall-E only had about ten actors in it. Most people don’t realize that voice over acting can be a very lucrative skill to have. A good acting school is worth it’s weight in gold. The key is to find one that caters to your individual needs. Not only do you need the basic tools for auditioning, scene study and the like, but you need a curriculum that works with whatever your schedule may be. Whether you work all day, go to high school or care for your kids, not everyone can study in the traditional way. Another acting program that works this way is Film Connection. The Film Connection’s acting program is affiliated with Joe Anthony studios and fetures valuable one-on-one mentoring. They are also available to anyone living in the United States and have financial aid assistance.

  3. James van Maanen Says:

    Has anyone out there seen Salvatore Maira’s Valzer or Jaime Rosales’ La Soledad — both shown at the FSLC’s Italian and Spanish fests and both still waiting for a release here in the U.S.? I’d stick these at the top of the UNRELEASED list.

  4. nitesh Says:

    Interesting list…haven’t been able to see most of these films, but I find it amazing that even the best of Indian cinema never is part of any list.

  5. Matt Says:

    I think Flight of the Red Balloon, Paranoid Park, and Happy-go-lucky might be a case of the director’s reputation preceding them. I thought they were all so-so.

    Unreleased: Estomago, Capitain Ahab

    Edge of Heaven doesn’t even crack the top 20…?

    Che was released too late, it seems.

    I don’t have my copies next to me but I think all of these were listed/highlighted in FC as ‘movies of the moment’: Diary of the Dead, chop shop, heartbeat detector, battle for haditha, paraguayan hammock, the last mistress, encounters at the end of the world… and no love?

    I need more time to process (and try to squeeze in a few more movies) but I think I’m going to be pretty different this year, which would be unusual.

  6. […] year-end list: Film Comment chooses their top twenty released and top twenty unreleased films of […]

  7. homelessgirl Says:

    I’ve been so behind, i’ve seen none of these films but heard they were really good, I ‘m looking forward to Gomorrah and Waltz with bashir

  8. littlemissinterpreted Says:

    Interesting compilation of a list… I should look into seeing some of these films, I’m always up for broadening my cinematic taste. I can’t believe that number five is getting that much credit despite the fact that it’s animated, how neat!

  9. trout8 Says:

    I havent heard of most of these movies actually wall e was the only one and i thought that was a terrible movie… THats just my thoughts though. Still are you serious Wall E???? sheesh. Haha

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