It Was a Good Year for (Some) Indie Films


Salon’s independent film expert Andrew O’Hehir has posted his year-end roundup of 2008’s ten best flicks, and while some of his choices were predictable (Flight of the Red Balloon and the newly-opened Waltz With Bashir have both garnered a ton of zealous critical praise), he surprised us by leaving off some seriously buzzed-about indies (August Evening, Ballast and Frozen River), and opting to include a few tiny movies that we saw and loved this year (Momma’s Man, Chop Shop and Reprise ).

He also mediates a battle between two competing camps in the film world — those who say this was a banner year for movies in spite of a horrible economy and those who believe there’s still too much of a glut in the industry — by playing the middle ground: “This was an exceptional year for documentaries and an unusually strong one for foreign-language releases, but in my judgment pretty tepid for American indie narrative features. I’m not as sold on the whole low-budget American realism wave as some critics and filmmakers are, and all such films have a tough time finding an audience.”

His list backs up the first part of this, and we agree with his latter sentiment as well. In fact, we’d like to add a few names that he doesn’t call out in the article — namely Rachel Getting Married and Wendy and Lucy — to the argument. While many critics (and plenty of our friends) adored these films, they didn’t do much for us. We wouldn’t recommend them to a friend and we don’t plan on renting them on DVD. If we’re going to the movies to dine on a brutal slice of life, we’ve always preferred something that played at an uncomfortable roar, like Ronald Bronstein’s Frownland . Thoughts?