This year has been incredible. I managed to watch so many movies. In fact, there hasn't been a year when i watched more movies than in 2008: 644 movies and documentaries, and 34 TV series seasons. That's almost 2 movies a day if you count that TV series seasons take much longer to watch than movies.
I enjoy documentaries very much and try to watch as many as i can. Often, i am actually disappointed by a documentary that is nothing more than plain propaganda, or something that is so unimaginative that all it can do is preach to the choir. From time to time though, there is a documentary that can really open your eyes, or even better make you understand better a position with which you disagree. Then there are times where an incredible story, or strange character becomes the center of attention and grabs you instantly. In 2008, i watched 10 documentaries that stood out, and which i still think about from time to time.
My Kid Could Paint That (2007) is a documentary that follows a family with an incredible story. Their 5 year old daughter is a painting genius and her paintings are going like hot cakes at major modern art auctions. I wrote a review here.
Taxi To The Dark Side (2007) was another great documentary, this time about Torture during the War On Terror, and i wrote a review here. And on the subject of the war on Iraq, another fantastic documentary was No End In Sight (2007) which looks at the war from the perspective of a failed management exercise. I wrote a review here.
My Best Fiend Klaus Kinski (1999) is completely different, a fantastic look at the legendary relationship between two Cinema icons, the crazy actor Klaus Kinski and the famed director Werner Herzog. I wrote a review here.
In the "Character" department, another very cool documentary was I Like Killling Flies (2004) which follows a famous New York City diner owner through his daily life. I wrote a review here.
On the religious side, there were also several documentaries this year. Jesus Camp (2006) scared me silly. I do not understand religion, especially when an individual seems to abandon themselves to it without questioning any part of it, living seemingly entirely on faith. This documentary is enlightning in how it shows the new religious movement on America, and how particularly it is targeted at Kids. This "war" between Christianity and Secularism (note i didn't say Atheism or Agnostism) is a key political movement in the US today. This stuff scares me. In contrast, Trembling Before G-d (2001) is a sweet natured and frank look at Homosexuality in the Orthodoxe Jewish religion. It's full of interesting characters, discussions about Judaism and Homosexuality, and fun moments that dissect the issue, but without ever turning it into hate. That in itself makes the documentary worthwhle in my eyes. On yet another spectrum is Deliver Us From Evil (2006). This is an investigation of the child molestations that have occured in the Catholic Church, how victims and families have managed to continue on with their lives (csome with great difficulties), and how the Catholic establishment (i.e. the Church) has been handling things (i.e., very badly). This is a detailed documentary that is at times heart-wrenching and revolting. finally, if you have a sense of humor, you may want to give Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008) a try. I found it interesting and ridiculous at the same time. The argument in favor of Creationism is by all means laughable, and the proposition that free speech demands that it be taught along side Evolution is troubling. But there were interesting bits that showed at once the fragility of Theory of Evolution and some intriguing sides of Creationism. It's just that the basis of scientific analysis is all but absent through and through in this documentary, and some very strange arguments are being made to make a case that is completely bogus.
Finally, i watched Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner (2007) as part of the fantastic Blade Runner (1982) special edition box set DVD. If you like Films, this particular movie, or its director Ridley Scott, then this is a must see. With a comprehensive and detailed account of the making of this film, with all the key people responsible for its creation, this is the Bible on the subject.