PRINT December 2008


John Waters

 Harmony Korine, Mister Lonely, 2008, still from a color film in 35 mm, 112 minutes. Michael Jackson (Diego Luna).


1 Sorry, it’s a tie: (A) Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen) Does anybody not think this is the best American movie of the year (even though it was made in Spain)? Come on, it’s got a great script, the actors look like real movie stars, and Woody Allen films Scarlett Johansson with the same obsession Paul Morrissey had for Joe Dallesandro. Gives heterosexuality a good name! (B) Love Songs (Christophe Honoré) I may be the only person who would pick this as the best foreign-language movie of the year, but what do I care if you don’t like this hipper-than-thou bisexual French musical? When the sexy, smart-ass characters burst into songs about brain tumors, saliva, and human sandwiches, I get all teary inside and realize that this is the only romantic comedy I’ve ever really loved.

2 Mister Lonely (Harmony Korine) A Marilyn Monroe look-alike lures a Michael Jackson impersonator to an island that is sort of like a cinematic Jonestown without the suicide, except for nuns who jump out of a plane piloted by Werner Herzog. Korine’s most fully realized movie doesn’t copy anybody.

3 Savage Grace (Tom Kalin) Julianne Moore in the best Isabelle Huppert role of the year. When a bad mother with good clothes fucks her sexy son, we feel downright criminal in our celluloid enjoyment.

4 Man on Wire (James Marsh) To see Philippe Petit lie down on the tightrope strung between the World Trade Center buildings as the police attempt to arrest him is to experience the most joyous defiance of the law ever seen on film.

5 The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat) A brilliant costume drama that gets down on its tripod to worship the amazingly pillowy lips of its male lead, Fu’ad Aït Aattou. The most seductively sexual on-screen storytelling since Salò.

6 My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin) I remain frozen in admiration of this homegrown masterpiece from the most reluctantly radical and humorously tortured maverick working in the movies today.

Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler, 2008, still from a color film in 35 mm, 109 minutes. Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke).

7 The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky) The director may be channeling the Dardenne brothers, but Mickey Rourke eerily reminds me of Jean Marais bringing beauty to the Beast in Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête. Just imagine Mickey’s Oscar speech!

8 Taxi to the Dark Side (Alex Gibney) Once you see this documentary about an Afghan cabbie who was at the wrong place at the wrong time in the US war on terror, you’ll feel like rioting in the streets. Go ahead. Turn over a car. It’s good for you.

9 Milk (Gus Van Sant) Sean Penn’s amazing performance as Harvey Milk will make everybody in America have a gay agenda. I also salute the director’s restraint in not showing Dan White eating Twinkies.

10 Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen) Colin Farrell’s best performance ever as a guilt-ridden murderer who lets his remorse eat him alive. And I’m certainly not sorry to tell you the critics were wrong on this one.

John Waters’s new show of photographs and sculpture, “Rear Projection,” opens at Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York and Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles in April 2009.