Thank you, Roger Ebert!

At the top of Roger Ebert’s website today, he announced the following in an article he posted,

“In these hard times, you deserve two “best films” lists for the price of one. It is therefore with joy that I list the 20 best films of 2008, in alphabetical order. I am violating the age-old custom that film critics announce the year’s 10 best films, but after years of such lists, I’ve had it. A best films list should be a celebration of wonderful films, not a chopping process. And 2008 was a great year for movies, even if many of them didn’t receive wide distribution.”

Mr. Ebert, I could hug you. I’m glad you haven’t made a conventional “Top 10” list. I guess you WILL be, but your refusal to comform simply to THAT standard. Why should we rank films in numerical order? As you so astutely observe,

“I can’t evaluate films that way. Nobody can, although we all pretend to. A “best films” list, certainly. But of exactly 10, in marching order? These 20 stood out for me, and I treasure them all.”

I’ve tried to. It’s failed. Miserably. I’ve made top 10 lists for myself before, for previous years. But I always found it, in a sense, wrong, to rank one film above another, when I liked them equally. Certainly, from time to time, the choice is clear as to what the very best film of the year is, as I believed in 2005 with Brokeback Mountain. But usually, and for the rest of those top, or best films, of the year, it’s not as simple as “Oh, this was definitely the FIFTH best film of the year! No, it wasn’t the fourth, or the sixth best. It was the fifth.” Where’s the logic? Where’s the reason?

Here are the top 20 movies (in alphabetical order):

Ballast

The Band’s Visit

Che

Chop Shop

The Dark Knight

Doubt

The Fall

Frost/Nixon

Frozen River

Happy-Go-Lucky

Iron Man

Milk

Rachel Getting Married

The Reader

Revolutionary Road

Shotgun Stories

Slumdog Millionaire

Synecdoche, New York

W.

WALL-E

Mr. Ebert also awards a “Special Jury Prize”, sort of as an alternate “First Prize”, which this year he’s given to My Winnipeg.

He also has a separate list of the Five Best Documentary films:

Encounters at the End of the World

I.O.U.S.A.

Man on Wire

Standard Operating Procedure

Trouble the Water

Alternately, you can read the whole article and little summaries of his picks right here.

Note: Some of the films do not contain links to his reviews. He has not yet published reviews for those films.

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