SE film critics weigh in with 2008 picks

by Mark Burger

SE film critics weigh in with 2008 picks

Milk, the biographical drama tracing the political career of San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, was voted the best picture of 2008 by the members of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA), of which yours truly is a member. (I didn’t select Milk as my best picture, but it’s certainly on my 10-best list for the year.) The runners-up, in order of the number of votes they received, were Slumdog Millionaire, WALL- E, The Dark Knight, The Wrestler,

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Reader, The Visitor, Frost/Nixon and Revolutionary Road. The majority of these films have not yet been released wide but are scheduled to do so in the region over the next month — as Academy Awards season heats up. For his performance in the title role of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to political office, Sean Penn was voted best actor. The runner-up was Mickey Rourke, for his performance in the title role of Darren Aronofsky’s drama The Wrestler, which is widely being touted as Rourke’s comeback film. (He could use one, don’t you think?) Anne Hathaway was voted best actress for her performance in Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married, with Kate Winslet the runner-up for Stephen Daldry’s adaptation of The Reader. Interestingly enough, the studio is promoting Winslet’s performance in the supporting-actress category, so as not to compete with her performance in Revolutionary Road (such are the politics of Oscar …). The late Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in the Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight was voted best supporting actor, with Robert Downey Jr. the runner-up for his turn as an Australian movie star who undergoes a radical, racial surgery to portray a black Vietnam veteran in Ben Stiller’s spoof Tropic Thunder. Penelope Cruz was voted best supporting actress for her performance in Woody Allen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona, with Viola Davis the runner-up for her small but pivotal performance in John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt. Danny Boyle was voted best director for Slumdog Millionaire, with Gus Van Sant the runner-up for Milk. Dustin Lance Black’s original screenplay for Milk was voted tops by the critics, with Robert D. Siegel’s work on The Wrestler earning runner-up status. In the adaptedscreenplay category, Eric Roth and Robin Swicord’s work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was voted the best, with Simon Beaufoy the runner-up for his work on Slumdog Millionaire. Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish vampire thriller Let the Right One In was voted best foreign-language film, with writer/ director Philippe Claudel’s French drama I’ve Loved You So Long selected as runner-up. James Marsh’s Man on Wire was voted best documentary, with Stephen Walker’s Young at Heart (or Young@Heart, as it’s sometimes billed) the runner-up. Disney’s WALL-E, directed by Andrew Stanton, was voted best animated feature, with DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda the runner-up. The winner of the Wyatt Award, which is named for the late film critic Gene Wyatt and designed to recognize a film that explores Southern culture, was Shotgun Stories, the debut feature from writer/producer/director Jeff Nichols, a graduate of the UNCSA School of Filmmaking here in Winston-Salem. Writer/producer/director/editor Margaret Brown’s documentary The Order of Myths, was the runner-up. SEFCA is comprised of journalists and film critics from nine states, representing the Southeastern section of the country. This year, 38 members voted. Including me. ••• Speaking of movies — and these days, with so many good ones circling, who isn’t? — the makers of the independent feature film Bone Creek are now making the film available for purchase on DVD. Also now available is the film’s “soundtrack,” Popskull & High Art, which features many of the musicians who appear or perform in the film, including Logie Meachum, Max Drake (who produced the film’s score), Juan Fernandez, Chuck Cotton, Matt Hill, Scott Manring, Julie Bean, FJ Ventre and others. The soundtrack contains some songs that didn’t make the final cut of the film. In addition to these two products, Carolina Collaborations is also selling its previous films and soundtracks. If you’re looking for a locally-themed late Christmas present, they’ve got more than a few suggestions — and some items are being sold at a discount when purchased together. For more information, about this film or any Carolina Collaborations projects, visit To comment on this story, e-mail Mark Burger at