Made in the USA

I find it very interesting, especially after a watershed year for American film like 2007, that 7 out of the year's 10 best films so far are foreign films. Of the 10 finest films I have seen in 2008, only Then She Found Me, Taxi to the Dark Side, and Paranoid Park have been American productions.

The other 7; 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, The Band's Visit, XXY, In Bruges, Alexandra, Tuya's Marriage, and The Counterfeiters, are all foreign productions, hailing from Romania, Israel, Argentina, Ireland, Russia, China, and Austria, respectively.

The year's 5 worst films, Prom Night, 10,000 B.C., Savage Grace (which hasn't been released yet, but trust me here), First Sunday, and Vantage Point, have all been American productions (I haven't seen The Hottie and the Nottie yet...forgive me). Go figure.

If you expand that list to the year's 20 best so far, still only 6 are American films.

I bring this up because as I said before, 2007 was a landmark year for American film. Yes, the year is young and the studios have yet to unveil their "quality" releases, but as of right now we Americans are getting pummeled when it comes to great filmmaking.

I have seen 3 masterpiece level 2008 films - 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, The Band's Visit, and XXY. Not a single one is an American film. It's hard to dispute the standing of 4 Months, and Band's Visit has quite a bit of critical goodwill ranging from like to love. XXY is a different story (it is currently standing at 69% positive at Rotten Tomatoes, and 66 at Metacritic), but it has its passionate supporters, among which I proudly count myself.

Now I couldn't care less where the great films come from, as long as we have great films. And of course, this is only my opinion, others may feel quite differently about what are the best films of 2008 so far. I just thought it should be noted that so far, the Americans aren't really on our A game here. This year has yet to see a There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men or Into the Wild - at least from an American standpoint, although I think 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days could easily stand toe to toe with any one of those films.

Maybe by the time December rolls around the cinematic landscape will look different. But as of right now, the Americans have a lot of ground to make up.


Anonymous said…
I cannot wait until I get to see all those films you have listed as "greats." I really cannot.
Curiousityloko said…
I feel a bit lame having seen maybe one of those films, that being 4 Months. I actually got to see it last year in Spain along with 4:10 to Budacrest. I was not a fan of the latter film as it depended to much on translation and my Spanish wasn't great at the time so it made reading the Spanish subtitles and hearing Romanian a daunting task. Do you think I should give it another shot?

I suppose you see most of your films through DVDs sent to you by distrubutors. So I must know you seceret. How does one pocur such an amazing job? I have credientails. A degree in Film and everything. *Just me turning green with envy.*

As for North American features I am still holding out hope for the summer and awards seasons. But it would be damn near impossible to top last year. Last year, as you said, was absoulutely amazing.


In other news I fully agree with your placement of 4 Months on the list
Mattie Lucas said…
If by "4:10 to Budacrest" you mean "12:08 East of Bucharest," then yes I definitely think you should give it another chance. I love its deadpan, self-depreciating sense of humor. The running gag with the cameraman is priceless, and the interaction between the three men on the television show is pure comic gold. It was one of the funniest films I saw last year.
Curiousityloko said…
I haven't a clue were I got that title from. Now I feel a bit special. And I will most certainly add the film to my netflix list.

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