Cranky Hanke and Justin Souther’s Best and Worst Picks for 2008

Here we are at the end of another year (which, you’ll agree, beats not getting to the end of another year). That means here I am with my seventh or eighth (I’ve lost track) Best of/Worst of lists, while my cohort in cinema Justin Souther offers up his second such list. This also means that we’ve both come down from a solid six weeks of screeners and screenings of those films the studios are most hopeful that critics—and critic groups and Academy Members etc.—will see as the ne plus ultra of filmmaking for the year. To make matters worse, we decided it would be a good idea to re-watch as many potentially worthy titles for “Best of” as possible. I don’t know about Justin, but I’m so burned out on quality pictures that I spent the entire day popping 1940s Bela Lugosi trash masterpieces into the DVD player (Return of the Ape Man coming up). It was comforting.

As usual, I reached the halfway point in the year thinking it was going to be impossible to come up with 10 best films, only to reach the end of the year wondering how to somehow wedge 12 titles into 10 spaces. With apologies to Claude Lelouch’s Roman de Gare and Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla, I couldn’t make it work. Sorry, guys, you were on my list.

— Ken Hanke

The Best:

1. Slumdog Millionaire. With Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle moves into a whole new realm as a filmmaker—and he was pretty high on my list before. We’re talking that realm where it’s hard to think of a better filmmaker working today. The blend of explosive cinematic technique and a solid, involving, beautifully crafted story is hard to beat. The question now becomes whether or not Boyle can top it.

2. Be Kind Rewind. Michel Gondry’s quirky comedy—and more—has been on my list since I first saw it last February. That it has remained on the top half of the list is perhaps surprising, but watching it again last week confirmed its quality for me. I unreservedly love this film for its invention, its humanity and its love of movies for their own sake.

3. Milk. Gus Van Sant finds himself in an unusual position here by being the only filmmaker with a title on both my Best and my Worst lists. Regardless, his Milk is a marvel—a stunningly alive biopic that completely captures a place and a time, and then makes it relevant to today in the bargain.

4. The Reader. It’s six years since Stephen Daldry brought us his amazing film The Hours, but The Reader makes that wait at least darn close to worthwhile. Though lacking the degree of heavy layering as The Hours, The Reader is very much cut from the same cloth, and the results are shattering, haunting and yet ultimately hopeful.

5. Doubt. The inclusion of John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt on my list actually surprises me a little, if only because I had very little interest in seeing it originally. Now, having seen it three times, I realize I was wrong. It offers strong—and beautifully acted—drama that’s finally about much more than its story of a nun convinced of a priest’s improper relationship with a student.

6. Australia. Magical realism usually seems a pretty clunky proposition to me, but seeing it used in a film where the realism is already stylized is another matter altogether. And that’s the case with Baz Luhrmann’s gloriously romantic, slightly preposterous homage to epic movies.

7. Let the Right One In. Years and years ago, a critic whose name I’ve long forgotten put forth the idea that the “ultimate” vampire film had yet to be made, and that when it was made, it would be hard to sit through. In some ways, I think this is the film he had in mind, even if I don’t find Tomas Alfredson’s film exactly hard to sit through. Still, its depiction of the loneliness of existence—both human and vampiric—is as chilling as the film’s wintry landscapes.

8. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Bharati Nalluri’s alluring 1930s period romantic comedy (from a script coauthored by Simon Beaufoy of Slumdog Millionaire fame) is the year’s most overlooked gem—a beautifully crafted work that’s about much more than its apparent rom-com formula. It’s turned into a thing of beauty by the performances of Frances McDormand, Amy Adams and Ciarán Hinds.

9. In Bruges. Martin McDonagh’s debut feature is as funny and clever as it is wicked. It’s perfect pitch-black black comedy that’s oddly touched with humanity where you least expect it. It’s also one of the most deliciously developed screenplays around.

10. Synecdoche, New York. OK, so no one expected Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut to be exactly normal. This is the guy who wrote Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich, after all. But did anyone expect anything quite this dense and difficult? For sheer chutzpah—and the fact that I’ll still be tussling with the movie years from now—it belongs on the list.

The Worst:

1. Meet the Spartans. It’s from the guys who made Date Movie and Epic Movie. Later in 2008, they inflicted us with Disaster Movie. Somewhere an electric chair is waiting.

2. Disaster Movie. See above—only now I’m thinking a good Old Testament public stoning is in order.

3. Witless Protection. The idol of illiteracy, Larry the Cable Guy, returned with this opus that fully earns its title, but has maximum appeal for those who find igniting their own gaseous emissions a worthy endeavor that enriches humankind.

4. 10,000 B.C. Altogether now:

When cavemen were in Egypt land
Let my mammoths go.
Oppressed so hard they could not stand.
Let my mammoths go.

Go down, D’Leh,
Way down in Egypt land,
Tell ole Pharaoh,
Let my mammoths go.

5. Smart People. I saw no evidence of intelligence of any kind in this dismal, dull, unfunny indie outcropping of “quirky comedy” that seems to conclude that all life’s problems can be solved by an unplanned pregnancy. How I originally gave this stinker two stars mystifies me.

6. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Speaking of no signs of intelligence, there was the phony Nathan Frankowski “documentary” Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a badly made piece of propaganda—cowritten by star Ben Stein—that purports to make a case for why intelligent design should be taught in the classroom. Since it’s incapable of making that case, it merely wanders around recounting dubious stories of the scientific community’s attempts at stifling anyone who supports the idea. As corrupt a piece of work as you’ll ever encounter.

7. Paranoid Park. If there was ever a more pointlessly depressing and boring movie about disaffected youth than Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, I’ve never seen it. For that matter, I have seen very few movies so completely pointless overall. Vacuous non-actors stand around and stare into space, which Van Sant wants us to take as evidence of their depth and inner turmoil. That it might simply be the result of falling on their heads one time too many seems not to occur to him.

8. Star Wars: The Clone Wars. A shameless bid by a man with more money than God to shake down his fan base for even more money. Badly written and even more badly animated, the only marginal excuse for this thing is the inclusion of the bizarre Ziro the Hutt, who appears to be the interstellar version of Blanche DuBois (“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers, Count Dooku” would not have been out of place). What in God’s name were they thinking?

9. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Actually, this moronic assemblage of teen movie clichés only seems infinite. In reality, it’s only 90 minutes—90 long minutes of fraudulent “indie” hipness and even more fraudulent characters who talk like nothing on God’s Earth. The Bill and Ted movies had more connection to reality.

10. Mamma Mia! Two hours of ABBA songs performed by people who really shouldn’t, all put over with more plastic smiles and forced gaiety than a reunion of Up With People. At the same time, it’s train-wreck mesmerizing—or at least it was while it was playing. I have not been compelled to pick up the DVD, and I’m content to leave it that way.

Justin Souther’s Lists

The Best:

1. Slumdog Millionaire. Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire is really the only film deserving of consideration for best film of the year. Striking, harrowing and ultimately human, it’s the great film to come out of 2008.

2. Be Kind Rewind. Michel Gondry’s love letter to the movies. A reminder of how far a little (or in this case, a lot of) imagination can take you, while proving that great movies can be fun—something that is all too often forgotten.

3. In Bruges. Playwright Martin McDonagh has hit the ground running with his debut film, a clever, stylish and bloody crime thriller that’s as offensive as it is bitterly funny.

4. Milk. Though not a particular fan of Gus Van Sant or Sean Penn, with Milk I was pleased to find out that expectations can sometimes be wrong. Penn finally lives up to his reputation in the most important film of the year.

5. Speed Racer. What started off as a guilty pleasure, I now completely embrace: The Wachowski Brothers’ Speed Racer. Appealing primarily to my inner 10-year-old self, the film’s ambitious, gaudy and vibrant, all the while attempting to push the movies towards something new.

6. Burn After Reading. A clever, bawdy spy yarn with little regard for expectations—especially after the success of last year’s No Country for Old Men. It’s the Coens at their most playful and, better yet, insolent.

7. Synecdoche, New York. Longtime screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut Synecdoche, New York is occasionally depressing, often times hysterically funny and always odd, remarkable and heartbreakingly astute.

8. Let the Right One In. By leaps and bounds the best horror movie to come out this year, Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish vampire flick works within the confines of the genre while being one of the more oddly touching films of the year.

9. Miracle at St. Anna. Hated by many and loved by few, Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna is an exercise in gall, artistic freedom and jumbled excess that’s maybe the most purely fascinating release of 2008.

10. Australia. Big, flashy and extravagant, Baz Luhrmann’s Australia is the kind of overstated romantic spectacle the movies were likely meant to be in the first place, but so very rarely are.

The Worst:

1. College. “So I’ve got this idea for a movie. Remember Superbad? It’s like that, but with more poop.”

2. Sex and the City. Two-and-a-half hours of chit-chatting about shoes, punctuated by the most elaborate diarrhea joke ever committed to film. Combine this movie with Cloverfield and we’re talking box office.

3. Cloverfield. So a giant monster is attacking New York City, and I’m supposed to be worried about the relationship problems of a bunch of affluent, upper-middle class 20-somethings? Right. If someone ever combines the two laziest genres, the first-person shaky-cam thriller and the mockumentary, I’ll have an aneurysm.

4. Jumper. If Samuel L. Jackson is Superman (and I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary) then Hayden Christensen is his Kryptonite. I’d say that the kid has the personality of Cream of Wheat, but I don’t want to accidentally ruin Cream of Wheat for anyone.

5. Eagle Eye. Warmed-over Tony Scott plus refried Michael Bay along with Shia LaBeouf fighting what appears to be a rogue robo-caller is not a good combination.

6. Punisher: War Zone. I have one point to make: The movie features an “Urban Free-Flow Gang.”

7. High School Musical 3. Unreasonably happy teens sing and dance a lot. There’s a circle of hell that looks a lot like this movie.

8. Never Back Down. One day, decades from now, 2008 will be remembered as The Year of Cam Gigandet. Not only did he get to squint and look surly in Twilight, but he also got to squint and look surly in Never Back Down, and deliver classic lines like, “There’s only one way for this to end: with you lookin’ like a bitch.” And like that, a star was born.

9. Made of Honor. So some gross, promiscuous sleaze ball played by Patrick Dempsey spends 90 minutes trying to ruin his best friend’s wedding and it’s supposed to be romantic? If they had called it Made of HPV, I might have bought it.

10. Nobel Son. Here’s what happens when someone who’s obviously not cool or hip tries to make a movie that’s cool and hip. It’s sort of like that time Pat Boone showed up on the American Music Awards dressed like Alice Cooper.

 

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31 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke and Justin Souther’s Best and Worst Picks for 2008

  1. T_REX

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, both of you, for putting Be Kind Rewind on your list ( how can film fans not like this movie?)

    One jem from April that is in my top ten is Leatherheads. ( how in the hell did this movie flop?)
    cant disagree much on the worst list but I would add Meet Dave, What Happens in Vegas and the #1 Worst movie…..
    Beverly Hills Chihuahua

  2. Ken Hanke

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, both of you, for putting Be Kind Rewind on your list ( how can film fans not like this movie?)

    We screened Be Kind with a small audience last week — and they all seemed to get into it. Seeing it again — I hadn’t seen it in months — I very seriously considered putting it at no. one, but Slumdog edged it out on the level of technical panache. I don’t really understand the lack of appreciation for this movie, but I know that I wasn’t the only person in SEFCA who voted for it in the top 10.

    AS for the worst list…oh, that could have gone on and on.

  3. Ken Hanke

    I’m surprised Sex and the City or College wasn’t on your worst list Ken.

    Well, I didn’t see College and Sex and the City…well, there wasn’t room for everything. Do you have any idea how much it pained me to leave off Twilight?

  4. Ken Hanke

    I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about The Wrestler. I take it you saw it?

    Yes, it was the opening night film of the Asheville Film Festival. I also have a screener. I like it okay — one scene I liked a lot — but I certainly wasn’t blown away by it.

  5. Stephanie

    Hey, Ken & Justin!

    GREAT lists. Be Kind Rewind, yes! Synecdoche, yes! And thanks for NOT selecting The Dark Knight. It was good, sure, but I prefered Iron Man.

    Ken, I was so excited to see you chose Miss Pettigrew. I love that film, and not many people talk about it.

    My top ten list would be very similar, but I’d give my number two spot to Priceless (right between Slumdog at number one — of course — and Let the Right One In at three). Priceless could have been a stereotypical romance, but the script surprised me the whole way through. And I STILL need to see In Bruges.

    But let’s hope 2009 is a better year for cinema, no?

    – Stephanie (Tai’s friend)

  6. Justin Souther

    I don’t know about Justin, but I’m so burned out on quality pictures

    Maybe, but then I watched Marley & Me.

    cant disagree much on the worst list but I would add Meet Dave, What Happens in Vegas and the #1 Worst movie…..
    Beverly Hills Chihuahua

    While I reviewed those former two and watched most of the latter, none of them had the right amount of utter obnoxiousness to make on my list, at least. Yes, they’re terrible movies, but they’re not the right kind of terrible, if that makes sense.

    Then again, if I had to sit through any of them again, I’d probably change my tune.

  7. Ken Hanke

    I take it you feel the same way with Frost/Nixon.

    Well, it’s less of a downer and Langella is terrific as Nixon. I enjoyed it enough while watching it, but it’s ultimately too much a formula work — with some rather corny dramatics — to rock my world. That pretty much describes every Ron Howard movie for me. Don’t get me wrong. I have every reason to believe that Howard’s a nice guy, and he’s a solid craftsman for a certain type of seriously mid-cult movie — and, sure, there’s room for that type of movie. But it isn’t going to blow me away.

  8. Ken Hanke

    And thanks for NOT selecting The Dark Knight. It was good, sure, but I prefered Iron Man.

    See this week’s “Screening Room” for my feelings about The Dark Knight. If I were to pick the best comic book movie of the year, it’d be Hellboy II. If I had to pick the one I most enjoyed, it’d be The Spirit — even though most of the world seems to hate it. I liked Iron Man, but that big climactic battle completely underwhelmed me.

    Ken, I was so excited to see you chose Miss Pettigrew. I love that film, and not many people talk about it.

    It was actually a fairly late addition to the list, but the realization that it I watched the last hour of it at least six times and that the whole film has stayed with me for months won out.

    I liked Priceless a lot — just not quite best of a lot.

    But let’s hope 2009 is a better year for cinema, no?

    Here we’re slated for the Friday the 13th reboot, the 3-D remake of My Bloody Valentine (“Nothing says date movie like a 3-D ride to hell”) and the remake of the already abominable Last House on the Left. Things are looking up!

  9. Ken Hanke

    I’m glad you didn’t have Wall-E on your top 10.

    I’m afraid I just didn’t find it quite the amazing experience that others did. Even granting that I am not quite as ga-ga over Pixar as I’m supposed to be, I didn’t think WALL-E was anywhere near the best thing they ever did.

  10. T_REX

    “I’m glad you didn’t have Wall-E on your top 10″

    I hate to sound like one of the converted but come on people this (WALL-E) was one of the year’s best and should be nomitated for best picture, not just best animated. Any film that can tell a great story without dialogue ( the first half anyway) has my vote. Pixar hit a home run after the ok “Ratatouie” and the dreadful “Cars”.

    On another topic… didn’t anyone else love “Leatherheads”? Am I the only dork that has this film on their top ten list?

  11. Stephanie

    “Heath Ledger’s Joker is so much more alive than the rest of the movie that the movie just kind of lies there and dies there whenever he’s offscreen.”

    Bingo.

    I liked Hellboy II as well (especially the amazing market scene), but I left the theater nervous. Guillermo del Toro is incredible — Pan’s Labyrinth! No more need be said — but his work is starting to look alike. And while I admire directors with a distinctive style (Anderson, Burton, Almodovar are all favorites of mine too), I’m afraid del Toro’s specific look will grow old if he doesn’t mix it up soon. “Oh, another skinny monster with webby hands. And look at that golden scrollwork in the background!” I’ve seen variations of the Cronos device in every film since. I don’t mean to belittle his remarkable talent, but like I said. It just makes me nervous.

    T_REX: Gahhh. I still need to see Leatherheads!

  12. Ken Hanke

    I hate to sound like one of the converted but come on people this (WALL-E) was one of the year’s best

    No, I don’t agree, so there’s really no “come on people” about it. The film simply doesn’t work that well for me. The value of the first half (overstated so far as I’m concerned) is utterly compromised by the sudden intrusion of cartoonish characters in the second half. That it purports to be making an important statement doesn’t really change that.

    On another topic… didn’t anyone else love “Leatherheads”? Am I the only dork that has this film on their top ten list?

    I enjoyed it — even while finding it fairly lightweight — but it never got within 50 miles of my best list.

  13. Ken Hanke

    but his work is starting to look alike.

    I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is simply that Hellboy II is such a huge step down from Pan that it’s impossible not to notice. It’s like watching a master painter decide to do his next work with a box of Crayolas. Actually, if it didn’t have those repetitive images, I’m not sure it’d have much personality. At the same time, those steampunkish robots at the end of the film afford it exactly the kind of truly big ending that Iron Man needed so badly and lacked so completely.

  14. Stephanie

    “It’s like watching a master painter decide to do his next work with a box of Crayolas.”

    Ha! Yes! And I agree Hellboy II needed that imagery to make it special, my only hope is that his next film does something new, builds on the promise of Pan rather than recycling it.

    And yeah — Iron Man’s finale lacks the oomph of the earlier scenes. Still, for me, it was the most FUN of the comics adaptations. Count me in on the Robert Downey, Jr. bandwagon.

    Completely unrelated question: Any word on if/when we’ll get Rudo y Cursi this year?

  15. Ken Hanke

    Completely unrelated question: Any word on if/when we’ll get Rudo y Cursi this year?

    Well, it only opened in Mexico in December, so it’s early days yet, but it does have Focus Features as a distributor in the U.S. and it does have Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna in the cast, so I’m guessing chances are good.

  16. Sean Williams

    Another film I’m grateful you two omitted: Tropic Thunder. It was one of the better comedies I’ve seen lately, but considering the competition… With the exception of a couple of scenes that overplayed the director’s iconoclast sensibility (“See how determinedly we’re avoiding cliche!”), the frame story felt almost as artificial as the meta-movie. That’s not exactly the pinnacle of parody. If there ever was a film that would have been better as a first-person shakycam, it’s Tropic Thunder.

    It’s like watching a master painter decide to do his next work with a box of Crayolas.

    Funnily enough, Hellboy author Mike Mignola used exactly the same simile to describe the film.

    As I’ve shared before, I just don’t know how to feel about del Toro’s Hellboy movies. Honestly, del Toro’s other films strike me as more similar to the original Hellboy than do his Hellboy adaptations.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Another film I’m grateful you two omitted: Tropic Thunder. It was one of the better comedies I’ve seen lately, but considering the competition…

    As much as I enjoyed Tropic Thunder, it never even briefly occurred to me that it belonged on a best of list. (Oh, I hear steam escaping from the ears of a friend of mine out in Los Angeles.)

    Funnily enough, Hellboy author Mike Mignola used exactly the same simile to describe the film.

    Indeed? I was unaware of that. Was he in reference to del Toro following up Pan with this or in reference to what del Toro did to his comic book(s)? As an aside, Hellboy II mildly annoyed me by having dialogue that indicated it was going to end up at the Giants’ Causeway on the Antrim coast in Northern Ireland (my vote for the most magical place on earth that I’ve actually seen) — and then it didn’t.

    There’s a circle of hell that looks a lot like this movie.

    You know, I actually went to HSM 3 with Justin out of morbid curiosity. What’s that phrase? Oh, yes, ignorance is bliss.

  18. Sean Williams

    Was he in reference to del Toro following up Pan with this or in reference to what del Toro did to his comic book(s)?

    It was in reference to Golden Army specifically. I don’t even think the comment was critical, — del Toro and Mignola are on very good terms — but it was something about Mignola favoring a more restrained atmosphere. I believe his exact words were along the lines of “If it had been me, I wouldn’t have used quite so many Crayons.” See, the original Hellboy wasn’t an action comic so much as an atmosphere piece; it had this balance between eerie silence and dry self-parody.

    (my vote for the most magical place on earth that I’ve actually seen)

    Isn’t that where your fantasy house is located? Funnily enough, I had exactly the same complaint. I thought a scene on the Causeway would have been breathtaking.

  19. Ken Hanke

    Isn’t that where your fantasy house is located? Funnily enough, I had exactly the same complaint. I thought a scene on the Causeway would have been breathtaking.

    Yes, to your question (though not at the Causeway proper obviously). I wonder what happened, because the dialogue clearly indicated that’s where the film was going to end up. I’m guessing the National Trust either nixed the idea, or it was deemed to costly to move to that location.

  20. I might be the lone dissenter here, but BE KIND REWIND was the year’s biggest disappointment for me. I love Gondry, but with SCIENCE OF SLEEP and this one, he is all flash with no substance. His previous two films both had great scripts.

    I’ve been trying to compile a top 10 list, but it’s been hard. Kudos to you two.

  21. T_REX

    There is a new champion for #1 worst movie….
    High School Musical 3. All of us at Ashville Pizza and Brewing have to suffer everyday with this piece of garbage. Please send help,SOS!

    Oh somewhere in this universe is a family that shows their children movies like Persopolis and Triplets of Bellville—lol sorry for the rant.

  22. Ken Hanke

    I might be the lone dissenter here, but BE KIND REWIND was the year’s biggest disappointment for me. I love Gondry, but with SCIENCE OF SLEEP and this one, he is all flash with no substance. His previous two films both had great scripts

    I’m sure you’re not the lone dissenter. I know from the vote breakdown that I’m the only SEFCA voter who voted for it at all. I completely disagree with one point, though, and would ask a question — I think there’s actually more substance to this and Science than there is to Eternal Sunshine. I have yet to catch up with Human Nature, so I can’t weigh in on it, but it leads me to my question. Are you sure you love Gondry? It sounds a lot to me like it’s Charlie Kaufman you love, not Gondry.

    My own fondness for Kaufman varies depending on director. I like him with Gondry (Spotless Mind) and George Clooney (Dangerous Mind) — and by himself (Synecdoche). I don’t care for him with Spike Jonze (John Malkovich, Adaptation).

  23. Ken Hanke

    There is a new champion for #1 worst movie….
    High School Musical 3. All of us at Ashville Pizza and Brewing have to suffer everyday with this piece of garbage.

    Take heart. I believe this is the last day you’ll be subjected to this. Of course, Angelina Jolie screaming “my son!” every few minutes may be only a slight improvement.

  24. I do like Gondry. We play his music video compilation all the time in the stores and I don’t think that there’s been a better director in that medium.

    I can’t remember your review of SCIENCE OF SLEEP, but for me it was worse than BE KIND REWIND. He can hold my attention for a few minutes, but without Kaufman’s scripts, I get bored.

    Top 10 lists for dvds are always a little trickier, because most of the films that I’ve seen in the theaters are summer blockbusters and family films. Plus there’s many more choices… the Murnau/Borzage set is my number one for example.

  25. Ken Hanke

    I can’t remember your review of SCIENCE OF SLEEP, but for me it was worse than BE KIND REWIND. He can hold my attention for a few minutes, but without Kaufman’s scripts, I get bored.

    My Science of Sleep review is less enthused (though still enthused) than the one for Be Kind Rewind — maybe simply because I find much personal resonance with the latter that’s not in the former. (Also there are a few parts of Science that just don’t work for me.) I do prefer him without Kaufman, though, because I respond to Gondry’s sense of humanity better than I do to Kaufman’s cleverness.

    Top 10 lists for dvds are always a little trickier, because most of the films that I’ve seen in the theaters are summer blockbusters and family films. Plus there’s many more choices… the Murnau/Borzage set is my number one for example.

    Perhaps a top 10 DVD list is not out of the question. A friend of mine kept trying to do a top 10 list of 2008 movies and I kept having to tell him, “No, that was 2007.” He finally decided the best he could do was the top 10 movies he’d seen in 2008. Funny you should mention the Murnau/Borzge set — which along with the Ken Russell at the BBC set would be at the top of my DVD list. Back when Sunrise came out on laserdisc, I reviewed it. The opening sentence ran something like this — “It’s sobering to realize that far and away the best film I saw all year was made in 1927.” Were I to include best films I saw for the first time in 2008, Borzage’s Seventh Heaven and Liliom (despite some sizable flaws) would be on that list.

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