Unlike previous years, where classics came crawling out of the celluloid woodwork with regular reckless abandon, 2008 was more calm… and considered. That's not to say that choosing 30 top titles was hard. The difficulty in placing them in some manner of rank order suggests the actual depth of quality involved.
Like the gladiators of old, 2008 resembles a battle of formidable acting gods, especially when looking over the 20 choices presented below. Indeed, if anything, choosing a winner requires more of a leap of faith than any amount of critical skill - they all were that good.
When the Levees Broke, elegant and anguished, encourages you to see, and more importantly, to care about and act on what you see. It is political in the most significant sense, and won't let you forget it.
Even though Sean Penn brings a phenomenally hysterical freshness to Emmett Ray (and he played a similarly mustachioed maniac in Hurly Burly, without the artistic genius), Sweet and Lowdown is familiar ground for Woody Allen, replete with his usual themes.