All features great and small: an animated blockbuster with a conscience climbed to the top of the heap this year—but well-liked art-house hits overcame the usual annual vagaries of distribution. Readers boldly staked out their own territory on Let the Right One In (#6), In Bruges (#18), and The Visitor (#25), and had faith in The Wrestler (#4). Pop phenoms The Dark Knight (#2) and Slumdog Millionaire (#5) consolidated their power, but so did Eastwood sleeper (?) Gran Torino (#15).
In the March/April issue, we printed the Top 30; here are the Top 50. The numbers in parentheses indicate the films’ rankings in our Critics’ Poll. Click here for this year’s selection of readers’ comments, rants, and raves.
And congratulations to the winners selected randomly from this year’s poll participants: Glenn Heath Jr. of La Mesa, CA (First Prize recipient of DVDs from the Criterion Collection); Tatyana Teichberg of Ardsley, NY (Second Prize); Carl M. Stone of Kent, OH and Millie De Chirico of Atlanta, GA (Third and Fourth Prizes). And many thanks to Criterion for its generous donation of prizes.
1. WALL·E Andrew Stanton, U.S. (5) 2. The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan, U.S. (21) 3. Milk Gus Van Sant, U.S. (10) 4. The Wrestler Darren Aronofsky, U.S. (23) 5. Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle, U.S./U.K. (38) 6. Let the Right One In Tomas Alfredson, Sweden (11) 7. Happy-Go-Lucky Mike Leigh, U.K. (4) 8. Wendy and Lucy Kelly Reichardt, U.S. (1) 9. A Christmas Tale Arnaud Desplechin, France (3) 10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button David Fincher, U.S. (34) 11. Man on Wire James Marsh, U.K. (18) 12. Synecdoche, New York Charlie Kaufman, U.S. (14) 13. Vicky Cristina Barcelona Woody Allen, Spain/U.S. (39) 14. Rachel Getting Married Jonathan Demme, U.S. (25) 15. Gran Torino Clint Eastwood, U.S. (32) 16. Paranoid Park Gus Van Sant, France/U.S. (7) 17. Waltz with Bashir Ari Folman, Israel/France/Germany (8) 18. In Bruges Martin McDonagh, U.S./U.K. (—) 19. The Edge of Heaven Fatih Akin, Germany/Turkey/Italy (37) 20. Frost/Nixon Ron Howard, U.S. (41) 21. Flight of the Red Balloon Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan/France (2) 22. Burn After Reading Joel & Ethan Coen, U.S. (—) 23. Silent Light Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/France/Netherlands (16) 24. Revolutionary Road Sam Mendes, U.S. (—) 25. The Visitor Thomas McCarthy, U.S. (—) 26. Che Steven Soderbergh, Spain/France/U.S. (22) 27. My Winnipeg Guy Maddin, Canada (9) 28. The Class Laurence Cantet, France (13) 29. Doubt John Patrick Shanley, U.S. (—) 30. Encounters at the End of the World Werner Herzog, U.S. (31) 31. Hunger Steve McQueen, U.K. (15) 32. The Reader Stephen Daldry, U.S./Germany (—) 33. Still Life Jia Zhangke, Hong Kong/China (6) 34. Frozen River Courtney Hunt, U.S. (44) 35. Iron Man Jon Favreau, U.S. (—) 36. Ballast Lance Hammer, U.S. (17) 37. Tell No One Guillaume Canet, France (47) 38. Redbelt David Mamet, U.S. (—) 39. Ashes of Time Redux Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong/China (28) 40. The Last Mistress Catherine Breillat, France/Italy (24) 41. The Fall Tarsem, India/U.K./U.S. (—) 42. The Duchess of Langeais Jacques Rivette, France/Italy (12) 43. Changeling Clint Eastwood, U.S. (—) 44. Gomorrah Matteo Garrone, Italy (20) 45. Pineapple Express David Gordon Green, U.S. (—) 46. Tropic Thunder Ben Stiller, U.S. (—) 47. Chop Shop Ramin Bahrani, U.S. (48) 48. I’ve Loved You So Long Philippe Claudel, France/Germany (—) 49. Appaloosa Ed Harris, U.S. (—) 50. In the City of Sylvia José Luis Guerín, Spain/France (29)
This past fall, Film Comment conducted an international poll of critics, programmers, academics, filmmakers, and others to identify the top films and filmmakers of the decade. In addition, we asked participants to select the individual (or thing) that cast the…