Favorite New Films: DVD EDITION

posted by The Joe

Now that the year’s half over, I thought I’d take a look back at the best films of 2008 that bypassed theaters and went straight to DVD. Because it’s unfair to not include these films on a ‘Best Of’ list just because they didn’t hit theaters, I count them in the year that they were available to first be seen as long as there’s only a one or two year difference from when it was originally made. Okay, here we go . . .

5 Centimeters Per Second

The best film I’ve seen all year, with a style akin to the works of Haruki Murakami. Makoto Shinkai strings together three connected short films about love, loss, and nostalgia in perhaps the most beautiful animated film I’ve ever seen.

Appleseed: Ex Machina

Another gorgeous anime, this time an intense sci-fi cop thriller. Far superior to the Appleseed movies preceding this, the insane action sequences are balanced well with a surprising amount of quiet character scenes.

Nightmare Detective

Legendary director Shinya Tsukamoto‘s nihilistic horror film about a cop surrounded by brutal suicide cases who feels an outside force is at hand, and brings in a ‘nightmare detective’ who can walk in dreams to help. Tsukamoto’s most accessible film to date is also one of his best.


This is even trickier to categorize . . . it hasn’t reached the U.S. in any form, and may not ever. In this case, if the film looks to not be reaching our shores, I count them in the year that the bootleg becomes available as long as it’s only a year or two difference between its foreign release.

This new film from the director of Last Life in the Universe that takes place in the early morning at an upscale hotel as a relationship slowly falls apart. A few scenes steal heavily from Lost in Translation, but the dreamy mood of the piece is quite unique. You can watch it HERE.

Summer Palace

The film that got its director banned from making films in China for five years due to the first full-frontal nudity in (mainstream) Chinese cinema and using real footage from the Tiananmen Square incident, this follows college students around that time in history dealing with love against a backdrop of political unrest.

Monday, June 30th, 2008 at 2:37 pm