Knee-Deep in the Big Maudit
by Chris Dashiell

A Film Snob's
Favorites of '07

Ranking has never seemed as arbitrary, with so many good films this year, and of such various styles. If it weren’t for a critic’s vanity, they might well be listed in alphabetical or even random order, with perhaps a number one slot reserved for all the films I didn’t see. It was an especially good year for American movies, with half of my top ten from the U.S.A., including the top three. Maybe there’s some life left in Hollywood.

As always, a film had to be no more than three years old, and play on the big screen in my corner of the woods, in order to qualify. Some films are generally considered ’06, but it took a little while for them to get here.

1. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson).

An American tragedy, in which the early part of the last century casts a shadow on our predicament in this one, possesses the grandeur, solitary and steep, of a forbidding Western landscape. It’s the story of a self-made oil man with an obscure private history and an overpowering will tinged with madness. We glimpse the soul of Daniel Plainview through the gaps and silences in the narrative, and in his tentative and guarded confidences when drawn into the possibility of family and connection, only to close up again when the possibilities turn to dust. Anderson’s novel-on-screen is not the schoolbook American dream, but a strange nightmare of calculation and resentment.

The visual style (the picture was shot by Anderson regular Robert Elswit) is one of remarkable density, with the imagery of oil-drilling and its arduous labors giving the picture a sense of strong physical mass and detail, all the while hinting at the underground plans and desires which only manifest later through their results. Beside Plainview is the boy H.W. (Dillon Freasier), traveling with him to the properties he schemes to acquire, and presented as both Plainview’s son and partner. The boy’s deafness after an oil-well explosion exposes the fatal one-sidedness of the father-son bond. Another test arrives in the form of Henry (Kevin J. O’Connor), Plainview’s half-brother and weak reflection. But it’s the boy-preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) that presents the greatest challenge. The grimly humorous struggle between the businessman and the evangelical exposes the fundamental conflicts and affinities within the drive for power.

Daniel Day-Lewis plays Plainview with a quiet, dread-inducing power, and a declamatory speaking style that complements the character’s withholding manner—he’s like a coiled serpent concealing the most volatile reserves of malice and rage. I can’t imagine another actor evoking such an understanding with such revulsion. For once, the word “mesmerizing” is perfectly apt.

A key element is the score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, not the usual romantic American epic music, however dark, but a harsh modernist symphony of dissonant foreboding. Anderson uses it as an essential accompaniment to the entire action rather than as emotional ornament, and it’s fiercely effective.

The critical reaction has not been unanimous, but in truth I’m surprised that the controversy hasn’t been greater. The film, and especially its ending (a prime source of critical discomfort) thumbs its nose at the mythos of American self-reliance. Our entrepreneur is a black pit of loneliness, an empty sham, not powered by mere greed, but by the childish wish to be better than everyone else, which means trying to make everyone worse than him. His antipathy to the hollow preaching of the fundamentalist is a rebellion against an essential bond of falsehood between them. Some critics, recoiling from the final scene, have sniffed about Anderson’s “immaturity.” What I find adolescent is the belief that a story needs a “good guy” to be significant, or that an irrational eruption from below is not a valid dramatic event. In a time when the grown-ups in public life are actually discussing whether or not torture is acceptable, I’ll take Anderson’s “immaturity” any day.
2. I’m Not There (Todd Haynes).

To say that Todd Haynes’ astounding pastiche is “about” Bob Dylan, however obvious that description may seem, is to present an obstacle to understanding. I’m Not There is about the idea of Dylan and his music, manifest in the minds of those who lived through a certain extraordinary time—the 1960s and 70s: Dylan as a style of encounter with the times, as a sensibility. The film only depicts the actual life of Bob Dylan through the contradictions experienced between image and reality, with the reality inevitably a bring-down, a corrective if you will, to the myriad fantasies inspired by the songs.

Of the six Dylan avatars portrayed, the central role is that of Jude Quinn (in a Cate Blanchett tour de force), embodying the elusive moment of mid-60s consciousness transformation, followed by disillusionment. Shot in black-and-white (Edward Lachman’s photography deftly matches the movie’s multifarious styles) in a deliberate echoing of D.A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back, these sequences convey the youthful poetic heights of Dylan’s classic electric period, in which his songs projected a persona of hip, high-spirited defiance with lyrics of surreal imagery and corrosive humor. How many fans would imagine themselves as Dylan during this time of ferment, and after? Much of the wider public, as Scorsese pointed out in interviews during the release of his Dylan film last year, only became fully aware of Dylan at this time, and the music became a phenomenon of cultural identity.

But the drama was played out against the previous phase—the “protest” era of “Blowin’ in the Wind.” The controversy has attained far greater weight in retrospect than it did at the time—but Haynes, in line with his purpose, films the legend. Here, Jude Quinn rejects the attempts of folk music fans, and a hungry press (embodied in the fictional character of Mr. Jones, played by Bruce Greenwood) to justify his new direction. We witness the persona’s seductive stance, but also his petulant mean streak.

This scenario reflects outward into the film’s other five sections: the black kid hopping trains (marvelous Marcus Carl Franklin) and calling himself Woody Guthrie, the embattled poet Rimbaud (Ben Whishaw), the protest singer later turned preacher (Christian Bale), the would-be movie icon (Heath Ledger), and Billy the Kid (Richard Gere), retreating to a belated fantasy of Americana, which he is tempted to escape. In the Ledger sections, the relationship with his wife Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) highlights the romantic aspects of the music, fraught with grief and passion, and Gainsbourg’s character, as the object of so many lyrics, qualifies as yet another Dylan mask.

Haynes captures a time, not in history but in a generation’s soul, while his collage-like method exposes the rents in our imaginative fabric. I found myself inexpressibly moved by the picture. It has an exhilarating freedom of form, and a willingness to explore without restraint the too-often concealed significance of music and popular culture on our lives. It manages to convey something of that elusive power millions have found in Dylan’s songs, and a taste of the collective experience that survives.
3. Zodiac (David Fincher).

The San Francisco-area Zodiac murders, the sensational serial killer case from the late 1960s and early 70s, provides the occasion, not for a thriller, but a tightly-constructed procedural and drama of obsession that confirms Fincher as one of the best film directors working today. After a few early scenes depicting the violence with a rare sense of personal involvement, the film becomes the story of three men—a reporter (the excellent Robert Downey, Jr.), a cop (Mark Ruffalo) and a cartoonist turned amateur sleuth (Jake Gyllenhaal)—united by their absorption in the mystery and a compelling need to solve it.

The dialogue is smart and crisp, with characters talking at cross-purposes and behaving in unexpected way. The visual style (Harris Savides shot the film in high-def digital) shifts its tone along with the time periods depicted, while Fincher allows the narrative to span 22 years without sacrificing the case’s jigsaw-like detail. Everybody involved pays a heavy personal price, yet the movie’s focused attention on the process of solving this case makes us understand why these men do what they do. It’s the respect that Fincher and screenwriter James Vanderbilt pay towards this puzzle, and the characters’ obsession with solving it, that makes Zodiac such a special film. There’s no tricking out the story with sensationalism or superfluous human interest angles—the film trusts that the complex web of clues, false leads, and day-to-day detective work is an interesting subject in itself, and that whatever personal drama arises from the material will be natural to it. In the end, the most important events happen inside their heads. This is a cerebral film, and that may be part of the reason why it didn’t do the box office it deserved. But Zodiac, like all great films, should stand the test of time.

4. Offside (Jafar Panahi).

The Iranian film aesthetic, one of the few new things under the sun in recent cinematic history, has never been employed to better effect than in this excellent, socially conscious, life-affirming film.

Once again Panahi bravely critiques discrimination against women. A young woman tries to disguise herself as a man in order to get into Tehran’s Azadi Stadium to see a crucial soccer match between Iran and Bahrain. If Iran wins, they go to the World Cup, and the whole nation is experiencing soccer frenzy, but women are not allowed into sports stadiums. Our heroine, after paying an inflated price to a scalper, is stopped by security and taken to a little pen in one of the stadium’s rear sections. There we meet a half dozen other women who’ve also been caught trying to sneak in. As we hear the roar of the crowd in the background, the women argue with the bewildered soldiers, country boys who have never met such assertive women before.

The film’s bare-bones style, enploying nonprofessional actors and real-time naturalism, is a perfect fit with the material. Although the underlying issues are serious, extending well beyond sports into the heart of Iranian patriarchy, the effect is gently humorous. This is not a bitter humor, either, but a humor of compassion towards everyone involved—the women and the men who guard them. The film’s final sequence brings the laughter to a new level, where our common nature reveals itself in the midst of differences. And there is not a trace of caricature, exaggeration, or condescension. Rarely has a film of such simplicity been so revelatory.

Panahi made the movie on the sly, pretending that he was making a different one. Was it banned by the Iranian government? Of course. Can the truth be banned? Not forever.
5. The Assassination of Jesse James
by the Coward Robert Ford
(Andrew Dominik).

With Brad Pitt on the marquee, you might be expecting an action-oriented Western. Instead, Dominik delivers this weird and melancholy deflation of the outlaw myth.

Casey Affleck brings some offbeat mannerisms to the role of Robert Ford, a kid raised on dime novels and dreaming of being a part of the James gang. He gets his wish, but only at a point in Jesse’s career when the outlaw is tired of holding up trains and is thinking of retirement. Robert’s relationship to him is an older version of an obsessed fan’s with a celebrity—the possibility of disillusionment and retaliation always lurks beneath the surface. Pitt does well as Jesse James—there’s nothing admirable about this character, although the charisma is undeniable. But Ford is really the plum role, and Affleck, sullenly introverted with flashes of indignant exasperation, is excellent.

Around this central dynamic, Dominic builds a vivid and decidedly unromantic vision of the 1880s Midwest, and the ways of the various low-class James gang members. More than anything, I am impressed with the picture’s indelible look—this is the most visually beautiful film of ’07 that I saw, due in large part to Patricia Norris’s near-flawless production design, and especially the photography of Roger Deakins, who creates a dream-like soft focus texture, even using an iris effect at the beginning of scenes to accent our distance from that era.

We’ve had plenty of revisionist westerns before, but this film finds sad ironies in the actual conditions of men at the time, exploring an eccentric American psychology rather than remaking a mythic realm. The effect is unsettling, inspiring something one doesn’t associate with the outlaw genre—quiet, anguished reflection.
6. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg).

There’s not an ounce of fat on this little thriller, which doubles as a symbolic drama about the fragility of innocence in a fallen world. Naomi Watts plays a London midwife, a woman with more courage than good sense, drawn into the mystery of a baby orphaned by the death of a young Russian girl. The trail leads to an underworld of Russian exiles, a crime family patriarch (Armin Mueller-Stahl), his violently unstable son Kiril (Vincent Cassell), and the son’s enigmatic chauffeur and bodyguard Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen).

Some have classed it a notch lower than Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, but although its theme may not be as urgently relevant, I think it’s more carefully wrought, and Mortensen is sensational as the ex-convict whose hardness is tempered with off-handed sarcasm and a dash of charm. Cassell lends pathos to his vile character—Kiril’s bizarre love-hate dynamic with Nikolai is one of the picture’s most compelling aspects. The film is never bombastic; the outrageous events depicted appear almost normal. In fact, one of Cronenberg’s recurring ideas is to question the very notion of what “normal” is. The fight scene in a bath house is destined to become one of the legendary action sequences in cinema. Yet for all its darkness, the picture has a certain tenderness about it, a sense of renewal and redemption.
7. Three Times (Hou Hsiao-Hsien).

Three stories about women in love, set in three different time periods of Taiwan, and featuring the same two performers (Shu Qi and Chang Chen) as the lovers in each story. The first concerns a young woman working in a pool hall in 1966, and a soldier who tries to connect with her, and it’s about the choice between just going along in life or taking a risk for love. The second is about a wealthy landowner’s concubine in 1911, and Hou takes the remarkable step of filming it as a silent movie with piano score and intertitles. This serves to emphasize the remoteness in the emotional and sexual mores of the time. It’s about love without any choices at all. The third one takes place in the present, featuring a rock singer with a photographer boyfriend and a lesbian lover. She’s as wild and devil-may-care as the 1911 character was submissive, but still sad. It’s about love with too many choices.

Hou’s reputation as a “difficult” director is in evidence here—the viewer is required to pay attention to every subtle nuance, but the rewards are great. Three Times is a bittersweet look at love and relationships, focusing on the way women’s second-class status undermines the happiness of men and women in all three time periods.

8. Volver (Pedro Almodóvar).

A marvelous summing-up of the Spanish director’s themes and obsessions. The outlandish story (well, what did you expect?) concerns two sisters: a vivacious woman (Penélope Cruz) who conceals her daughter’s killing of the stepfather who was molesting her, and her older sister (Lola Dueñas) who discovers that their mother (Carmen Maura) has come back from the dead and wants to live with her.

Almodóvar continues his maturation as an artist by not wholly surrendering to either melodrama or farce—instead delving into the deeper aspects of the material to explore themes of memory, rebirth, sexual abuse, and the conflicting feelings of love and resentment between mothers, daughters, and sisters. Whenever the story tempts him to indulge in sensationalism, he pulls back and does the unexpected—contrasting the realities of life with romantic myths and misconceptions. It’s a beautifully realized balancing act, with stunning work from Cruz in the central role. It’s great to see everything come together for a director like this. The photography, music, and editing are seamlessly woven together into a sumptuous tapestry. Almodóvar has always been good at portraying the drama in women’s lives. Here he shows a tenderness and respect for his female characters that just glows on the screen.
9. No Country For Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen).

The year’s scariest film was not a horror flick, but a tale of violence and evil in the real world, based on a book by Cormac McCarthy, one of the few living writers with a tragic vision. The Coens restrain their trademark ironic excess, paring their style down to match McCarthy’s dark poetry in visual terms.
Tommy Lee Jones plays a Texas sheriff, a man with an old-fashioned sense of honor who feels his faith crumbling in a country that just seems to get crazier. Josh Brolin plays a resourceful type who stumbles on a bunch of drug money and decides to keep it. The killer on his trail personifies not so much malice as simply not caring—Javier Bardem’s astonishing performance as the assassin evokes a sort of heightened indifference to life and death, even his own. It goes beyond creepy into a realm you’d rather not understand.
One of the things that makes this such a shattering work is the palpable sense that life doesn’t turn out like it does in stories—Cormac McCarthy’s world is the one where death is arbitrary and no good deed goes unpunished. I actually lost sleep after seeing this.
10. Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako).

In Bamako, the capital of Mali in West Africa, in the midst of the city’s day-to-day life, an open-air trial is being conducted in a small enclosed town square. Judges sit at a table, there are lawyers and witnesses. Gradually we find out who is on trial: the World Bank. The plaintiff is the African people.
You would expect a film in which a symbolic trial of the World Bank takes place, with impassioned speeches on both sides of the issues around globalization and African impoverishment, would be contrived, didactic, or in any case difficult to sit through. But not at all. Sissako’s method of placing this highly charged rhetorical event in the middle of what amounts to a village atmosphere creates a convincing link between oratory and ordinary life.

The spectacle of the trial, and its spellbinding eloquence, alternates with brief glimpses of character and conversation, like doors opening into wider stories beyond the film. The film’s careful use of incident to establish mood, its accurate feel for the rhythms of life, and the fiercely intelligent script, ensure that Bamako doesn’t just leave you feeling angry, but wiser, more determined, and more empowered.

And now, the B-sides:

11. After the Wedding (Susanne Bier).
Long-held secrets and hidden motives are the tale of this beguiling Danish film, in which a social worker (Mads Mikkelson) at an India orphanage is sent to Copenhagen to get a big donation from a millionaire (the excellent Rolf Lassgård), who invites him to his daughter’s wedding, at which the social worker discovers that the millionaire’s wife is his ex-girlfriend, and the daughter… well, it’s all too strange to be coincidental. After the Wedding becomes a kind of cat-and-mouse game between the two men, with the mother and newlywed daughter forming a sort of chorus, but when what’s really going on starts to become clear, we end up in a deeper place than we expected. Fine performances all around.

12. Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Tim Burton).
Burton’s gothic imagination has finally found its perfect match—the 1979 Stephen Sondheim musical about a 19th century London barber seeking revenge against the man who took away his family. Todd is played by Johnny Depp, and his partner in crime Mrs. Lovett by Helena Bonham Carter. They sing their own parts, and acquit themselves well, although one might wish for professional singers to lend more power to the music. However, Burton compensates with an eye-popping production design creating a vivid, imaginary London that looks like the fine old illustrations to a horror novel. It’s the bleakest and bloodiest film of the year—and it’s brilliant. Best sequence: Bonham Carter sings “By the Sea.”

13. Away From Her (Sarah Polley).
The story concerns an Ontario couple in their 60s, and what happens when the wife (Julie Christie) is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The subject matter may prompt one to expect a different kind of film, maybe some Lifetime Channel tear-jerker or disease-of-the-week movie, but it’s based on an Alice Munro story, and the script faithfully conveys that writer’s tough, incisive, often merciless insight into character. The film is really about the difficult mysteries of love and memory. Things don’t go the way the husband (Gordon Pinsett) had planned, and the film’s frank reversal of expectations is one of its great strengths. Christie is luminous, bringing the character’s provocative, ironic personality to life.

14. Day Night Day Night (Julia Loktev).
A young woman (Luisa Williams) is prepared by masked handlers for her upcoming action as a suicide bomber in New York. One could hardly imagine a more sensitive or controversial subject, yet remarkably, we are given no political background. Just as we open with the main character—you might even say the only character—apparently talking to God, so the journey we take with her is one of almost total solitude, poised on the edge of an inexplicable death. Lotkev uses real time and an almost obsessive focus on mundane details to ratchet up the protagonist’s inner tension. This is film as existential act—a daring and forceful piece of work.

15. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck).
If you want to find out how a surveillance-obsessed society ends up, study East Germany. Set in the era before the Berlin Wall fell, this film cleverly satirizes the authoritarian mindset which sees all independent thought as a threat to security. A Stasi agent (Ulrich Mühe) is ordered to spy on a well-known playwright (Sebastian Koch). The interesting conversations and events he overhears inspires unfamiliar sensations, and gradually, a shift in consciousness. The film offers razor-sharp insight into the subtleties of oppression and resistance, but on another level it concerns wide-ranging issues of conscience, intelligence, and courage. Can people really change? The answer involves some healthy self-examination.

16. Black Book (Paul Verhoeven).
A thriller about a young Jewish woman (Carice van Houten) who becomes a member of the Dutch resistance in World War II, smuggling a surveillance device into Gestapo headquarters by getting into bed with a handsome Nazi officer. The plot twists come fast and furious, and Verhoeven has never been more adept at making your pulse race, but there’s a serious undertone here as well. The film depicts a world without moral compass, in which destructive forces play with humans like toys, and the greatest virtue is sheer endurance. Black Book conveys a sense of horror at the unimaginable traumas of war—shaking you while seducing you with its slick surface.

17. Into the Wild (Sean Penn).
This adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s book about the real-life adventures of Chris McCandless captures an unusual yet quintessentially American world view: that of the rebel against the domestication of American society who seeks the raw experience of simplicity and survival in nature. The choice of Emile Hirsch to play the lead was inspired—he projects just the right mix of heedless vigor and enthusiasm, headstrong yet more than a bit callow, making the difficulties and contradictions of the character seem very real. Penn succeeds by taking McCandless on his own terms, for good or ill, and I can’t recall another American film that so clearly articulates a disaffection with consumerist society.

18. Once (John Carney).
Glen Hansard plays a singer-songwriter who performs for change on Dublin street corners. He meets an inquisitive young Czech woman (Marketa Irglova) and they form a tentative musical partnership, eventually recording a CD together. The film is so modest and so true to the character’s feelings of connection and loss, that you can feel them falling in love without ever being told that they are. The real communication occurs through the songs—there’s a sure sense here of what the creative process feels like from the inside, and how it’s linked to the characters’ feelings. The movie is like a sweet and wistful lesson in the heart’s language, the language of music.

19. The Boss of It All (Lars von Trier).
I guess every list should have its ugly duckling, and this is mine. The owner (Peter Gantzler) of a Danish IT company, who has concealed his identity from his employees, hires an out-of-work actor (Jens Albinus) to play the “boss” so that he can sell the company to a big corporation. Unfortunately the eccentric actor starts to take his role too seriously, and the results are deliciously funny. It’s all about power and control, and the way it gets mixed up and confused with the need to be loved and accepted, and von Trier ends up turning the tables on us as well, just to show who’s boss.

20. The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson).
I’ve never been that big on Anderson, but here he just relaxes within his range, and the result is his best work. The story of three brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman) traveling across India by train provides a nice excuse for the camera to glide with an almost omniscient eye from one train compartment to another, each one with a different activity and color scheme. Most of all, the chemistry between the three leads is consistently amusing, with Wilson’s controlling eldest brother, spouting pseudo-spiritual nonsense, as the stand-out.

Other performances I admired:
Judi Dench & Cate Blanchett: Notes on a Scandal
Padraic Delaney: The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Anthony Edwards: Zodiac
Russell Crowe & Ben Foster: 3:10 to Yuma
Laura Dern: Inland Empire
Bruno Ganz: Vitus
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Tilda Swinton: Michael Clayton
Jerzy Skolimowski: Eastern Promises
Valérie Lemercier: Avenue Montaigne
Philip Seymour Hoffman:
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Kelly Macdonald: No Country For Old Men
Amy Ryan: Gone Baby Gone

Roger Deakins: The Assassination of Jesse James
(and No Country For Old Men)
Robert Elswit: There Will Be Blood
Alwin Kuchler: Sunshine

Jonny Greenwood, There Will Be Blood
Dario Marianelli, Atonement
Howard Shore, Eastern Promises

Sui generis award: Inland Empire
Impossible to dismiss, hard to recommend, David Lynch’s sprawling meta-movie is one case where the parts are greater than the whole. The parts are sometimes very beautiful and scary. The whole is a bit of an endurance test.

Interesting failure award: Southland Tales
Richard Kelly goes all out in this spoof of the wasteland that is American popular culture. Some of it is really funny. But it needs some editing, I’m afraid. For parody like this to work, you need a more crisp comic sense, more focus, better timing. Still, at least he tried—and for that I applaud.

This year’s guilty pleasure: The Host (Bong Joon-ho).
Way over the top, as befits a monster movie, but there’s genuine emotion here, too. Only stupid in a few spots. Does not suck.

Avenue of the overrated: Juno
Not bad, mind you. Just tremendously overrated. Not for a second do I believe in these preternaturally wise teens. And I can’t understand why normally sane people do back-flips over marginally clever work like this. On the other hand, it does have a heart.
Runner-up: Atonement
Adapting a book without understanding it is a recipe for emptiness. Lots of English Patient-style spectacle, but the substance is missing.

Duds: Lars and the Real Girl.
Hopelessly precious and pretentious. I hope Ryan Gosling’s career recovers.
Also: The Kingdom, Mr. Brooks, The Bucket List, Love in the Time of Cholera, Dan in Real Life, Lions for Lambs, Rendition.

Padraic Delaney

Valérie Lemercier


Inland Empire

Southland Tales


The Host

The non-fiction renaissance continues:

No End in Sight
(Charles Ferguson).
What if a documentary examined just the conduct of the Iraq War, leaving aside all questions concerning whether or not we should have invaded? You’d get this fair-minded, devastating exposé of Bush corruption and incompetence. It should be required viewing for every voter.

For the Bible Tells Me So
(Daniel G. Karslake).
Demolishes biblically-based arguments against homosexuality, while presenting moving portraits of Christian parents who have changed their attitudes when a gay child has come out.
Sicko (Michael Moore).
Shows how Americans are denied coverage by their insurance companies on whatever pretext the companies can come up with, and argues that health care should be a right and a service, like the police or fire department. Moore wouldn’t be Moore without a few stunts, but overall this is his most focused work.
What Would Jesus Buy? (Rob Van Alkemade).
Meet the Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping as he crusades across the country against consumerism. The perfect Christmas movie!


Michelangelo Antonioni

Ingmar Bergman

Ousmane Sembene

Edward Yang

Deborah Kerr


This year we lost four giants from the director’s chair: Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, Ousmane Sembene, and Edward Yang. The first three had long and very productive careers. The last, who only completed eight films, left us too soon.

And here’s a list of others who died this year, including as usual many lesser known names who made their contributions to the art of motion pictures.

Farewell to:

Betty Hutton, Ian Richardson, Yunus Parvez, Randy Stone, Ryan Larkin, Walker Edmiston, Janet Blair, Derek Waring, Fons Rademakers, Bruce Bennett, P. Bhaskaran, Otto Brandenburg, Harold Michelson, John Inman, Gareth Hunt, Herman Stein, Stuart Rosenberg, Freddie Francis, John P. Ryan, Mikhail Ulyanov, Calvin Lockhart, George Sewell, Salem Ludwig, Bob Clark, George Jenkins, Stan Daniels, Luigi Comencini, Barry Nelson, Roscoe Lee Browne, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Roy Jenson, Kirill Lavrov, Jack Valenti, Dabbs Greer, Arve Opsahl, Tom Poston, Gordon Scott, Curtis Harrington, Bernard Gordon, Art Stevens, Kei Kumai, Charles Nelson Reilly, Norman Kaye, Jean-Claude Brialy, Kasma Booty, Sotiris Moustakas, Mala Powers, Alex Thomson, Ed Friendly, Antonio Aguilar, Leo Burmester, Joel Siegel, Kerwin Mathews, Jack B. Sowards, Charles Lane, Richard Franklin, Bill Flynn, Kieron Moore, Mikhail Kononov, Golde Flami, Ulrich Muehe, Laszlo Kovacs, William Tuttle, Michel Serrault, James T. Callahan, Melville Shavelson, Franz Antel, Merv Griffin, Eduardo Noriega, Clive Exton, Robert Symonds, Aaron Russo, Emma Penella, Miyoshi Umeki, Jose Luis de Vilallonga, Marcia Mae Jones, Percy Rodriguez, Jane Wyman, Brett Somers, Alice Ghostley, Karl Hardman, Peter Kuiper, Charles B. Griffith, Lois Maxwell, George Grizzard, Tom Murphy, Carol Bruce, Rauni Mollberg, Lonny Chapman, Paulo Autran, Marion Michael, Raymond Pellegrin, Bobby Mauch, Deborah Kerr, Joey Bishop, Satyendra Kapoor, Senkichi Taniguchi, Robert Goulet, Sonny Bupp, Jean-Pierre Reguerraz, Hilda Braid, Laraine Day, Norman Mailer, Delbert Mann, Kojiro Kusanagi, Ferdinando Baldi, Peter Zinner, Pierre Granier-Deferre, Gail Sheridan, Hollis Alpert, Dick Wilson, Fernando Fernán Gómez, Mel Tolkin, Jeanne Bates, Anton Rodgers, Eleonora Rossi Drago, Ioan Fiscuteanu, Freddie Fields, Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman, Philippe Clay, Ace Vergel, James Costigan, Frank Capra Jr., Michael Kidd, Patricia Kirkwood, Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Markku Peltola, Bill Idelson, Günter Schubert, George MacDonald Fraser, Aleksandr Abdúlov, Johnny Grant, Brad Renfro, Allan Melvin, Ugo Pirro, Lois Nettleton, Igor Dmitriev, Suzanne Pleshette, and Heath Ledger.

©2008 Chris Dashiell