I’ll always remember the 2008 film year for two things: (1) it introduced me to the work of Jia Zhang-ke, who isn’t just the most extraordinary Chinese filmmaker working today but also (if you side with Film Comment, as I do) the most talented director to emerge in the last decade. (2) 2008 also cured my 20-year aversion to Asia Argento; both Catherine Breillat and Olivier Assayas made the most of her excessive kind of presence and, as a result, made her shine in The Last Mistress and Boarding Gate, respectively — movies that both earned a spot on my list.
As always, films are listed in alphabetical order, and ‘year’ is determined over at InRO by a movie’s first US release, limited or wide (not festivals or exclusive screenings).
4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, directed by Cristian Mungiu (Romania)
Boarding Gate, directed by Olivier Assayas (France)
Flight of the Red Balloon, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan)
Hunger, directed by Steve McQueen (Ireland)
In the City of Sylvia, directed by José Luis Guerín (Spain)
The Last Mistress, directed by Catherine Breillat (France)
My Winnipeg, directed by Guy Maddin (Canada)
Let the Right One in, directed by Tomas Alfredson (Sweden)
Still Life, directed by Jia Zhang-ke (China)
Tell No One, directed by Guillaume Canet (France)
Also: Ten Favourite Films of 2000; Ten Favourite Films of 2001; Ten Favourite Films of 2002; Ten Favourite Films of 2003; Ten Favourite Films of 2004; Ten Favourite Films of 2005; Ten Favourite Films of 2006; Ten Favourite Films of 2007; Ten Favourite Films of 2009.
(List originally published on In Review Online, on March 11, 2010.)