The 19 Best Movies That You Didn't See in 2008
by Alex Billington
December 29, 2008
← Back to the first page. Here's the second half of the best movies from 2008 that we suggest watching:
Let the Right One In
Opened on October 24, 2008
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Oscar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl who turns out to be a vampire.
Why it's on here: We've already talked extensively about why Let the Right One In is such a phenomenal film. But for those that don't know about it just yet, it's one of the best horror movies in the last few years and is the very best vampire movie since Interview with the Vampire in 1994. Although it's already getting a lot of exposure from fellow critics, most of whom are calling it their favorite movie of the year, it still didn't spread wide enough to be called a hit, so I'm putting it on here to give it even more of the exposure that it deserves.
Man on Wire
Opened on July 25, 2008
Directed by James Marsh
A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."
Why it's on here: Every year there seems to be a documentary that transcends educational value and historical relevance and becomes something more, something deeply entertaining and alive with intensity. Last year it was the underdog story of The King of Kong. This year it is the daring tale of Philippe Petit. And while his accomplishment is the crown jewel of the film, it is Petit's engaging nature as a subject that makes Man on Wire one of the most exciting and riveting films of the year. It packs as much drama as you might see in a movie like The Dark Knight or Iron Man -- and it is based on something that really happened. It doesn't get more impressive than that. (Written by Neil of FSR)
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Opened on October 3, 2008
Directed by Peter Sollett
High school student Nick O'Leary, member of the Queercore band The Jerk Offs, meets college-bound Norah Silverberg and she asks him to be her boyfriend for five minutes.
Why it's on here: Before I even saw this, I was expecting it to be the next Superbad or Garden State. Then I saw it and thought it could actually achieve that level of success. Not only was it fun (and funny), but it had a sweet side to it that made it more than just the typical teenage comedy. It may have not been the best comedy of the year or even as good as Superbad or Garden State, but considering it is at least better than most other stupid teenage comedies, it deserves a bigger audience than it got in October. The charming Kat Dennings is at her best in it, as is Michael Cera.
Ping Pong Playa
Opened on September 5, 2008
Directed by Jessica Yu
A kid dreams of playing professional basketball in order to escape his dead-end job, living in the suburbs, his bossy older brother and running his Mom's ping pong classes.
Why it's on here: Easily the funniest movie of the last two years. I first saw it at the Toronto Film Festival last year and in turn called it the Best of the Fest. It eventually hit theaters earlier this year, but barely anyone knew it even existed. It was sad to see it go unnoticed because not only does its lead actor, Jimmy Tsai, and its director, Jessica Yu, deserve plenty of praise for their skills, but it is literally one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. As I said in my review, screw Balls of Fury, "Ping Pong Playa is the ping pong movie that should be in the spotlight!"
Opened on June 6, 2008
Directed by Steve Conrad
Two assistant managers of a corporate grocery store vie for a coveted promotion.
Why it's on here: Yet another hilarious comedy that I discovered at a film festival (SXSW in March). I'm not normally a fan of John C. Reilly or Seann William Scott, but both of them gave extraordinary comedic performances to make this an all-around gem of a comedy. It's unfortunate that this didn't catch on because it has so many hilarious moments that really stand out. It's one of those refreshingly different kind of independent comedies that no one knows about; but you'll be grinning when your friends come gawking to you about it years later because by then you'll have already memorized it all by heart.
Son of Rambow
Opened on May 2, 2008
Directed by Garth Jennings
During a long English summer in the early 1980s, two schoolboys from differing backgrounds set out to make a film inspired by Rambo: First Blood
Why it's on here: From the writer/director that brought us The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comes one of the most heartwarming, unique little indie films of the year. The story of two friends from different sides of town (and religions) and their desire to make their own Rambo movie in the 1980s might sound simple, but it is loaded with layers that have an undeniable heartwarming effect. A story of friendship, acceptance and religious persecution, Son of Rambow is one of the most clever stories released in theaters this year. (Written by Neil of FSR)
Follows the adventures of Speed Racer, a young race car driver who sits behind the wheel of the lightning-fast Mach 5 racecar. Aided by his family and his devoted girlfriend, Speed racks up victory after victory, but still lives in the shadow of his late older brother, Rex. When Speed garners the wrath of Royalton Industries, he must team up with the enigmatic Racer X to defeat the ruthless corporation.
Why it's on here: I don't care what all the critics said about it -- I loved this movie! And as more and more people are starting to finally watch this of their own volition, they're finding it to be way more entertaining than they were expecting. It's a kids movie at its heart but it's also infused with the Wachowski's one-of-a-kind stunning visuals and energy. It was killed by some early bad buzz but deserved much better. If you can get that bad buzz out of your head, a few of you might actually enjoy this in the end. At least give it a chance!
Not Released in Theaters Yet
Directed by Pierre Morel
A former spy relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been forced into the slave trade.
Why it's on here: I already recently wrote about my feelings on Fox screwing over Taken, so I'm adding it here to emphasize to everyone (and Fox) again that they really did make a big mistake in delaying it. We should've all seen Taken already, as it was originally scheduled to be in theaters in September, but for reasons that still baffle me, Fox pushed it all the way to January. It couldn't be more fitting to include Taken on this list, considering it really is one of the best movies of the year that no one saw thanks to idiotic studio decisions.
Opened on July 3, 2008
Directed by Jonathan Levine
Set against this backdrop of New York City in 1994, a lonely teenager named Luke Shapiro spends his last summer before university selling marijuana throughout the city, trading it with his unorthodox psychotherapist for treatment, and falling in love with his stepdaughter.
Why it's on here: In addition to American Teen, this is one film that came out of Sundance this year with a whole lot of buzz. But yet again, Sony Pictures Classics buried it with a terrible release date and a series of poorly made trailers. Even if it had trouble finding the right audience, I'm assuring everyone that this still is one of the best movies of the year. While I've thrown around that phrase a lot, I really mean it this time, especially because its been on my mind constantly as I've starting to thinking back over this year. Do yourself a huge favor and catch this as soon as you can!
Young People Fucking
Opened on August 29, 2008
Directed by Martin Gero
A smart and fast-paced comedy that intertwines the stories of 5 couples over the course of one sexual encounter. As the couples attempt to have some seemingly straight forward sex, they run into all sorts of problems.
Why it's on here: I first encountered this gem at the Toronto Film Festival last year, but it didn't hit theaters until this year. Maybe it was its uncensored title that fucked it over (pun intended), but let me tell you, Young People Fucking is one of the funniest no-holds-barred sex comedies ever made. It has a very independent and personal feel to it, but that's what makes it so damn good. Even if it's just to find out what he said, Young People Fucking is definitely worth watching, especially with a significant other.
I hope I've been able to introduce everyone to a few more great must-see movies that they've never seen. Not everyone will love all of them, but I guarantee there is something unique to discover in every last one. Support an indie filmmaker today and watch one of these 19.
Guest commentary on Choke, Hamlet 2, Man on Wire, and Son of Rambow provided graciously by our good friend Neil Miller of Film School Rejects - thanks for helping us put this together my friend!
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