The Best of 2008 – Poll Results

5 February 2009

You, the Midnight Eye readers, have spoken... These Japanese films are your favourites of 2008.

Below are the final results, plus your personal comments and reactions. Many thanks to everyone who voted!

Find out what Midnight Eye's own favourites of the year were in our Best of 2008 feature.

Ranking Title Original title Director
1. (9.95%) TOKYO SONATA   Kiyoshi Kurosawa
2. (6.98%) Adrift in Tokyo Tenten Satoshi Miki
Still Walking Aruitemo Aruitemo Hirokazu Koreeda
United Red Army Jitsuroku Rengo Sekigun Asama-Sanso e no Michi Koji Wakamatsu
3. (4.65%) Fine, Totally Fine Zenzen Daijobu Yosuke Fujita
Memories of Matsuko Kiraware Matsuko no Issho Tetsuya Nakashima
Sukiyaki Western Django   Takashi Miike
4. (3.88%) 5 Centimeters Per Second Byosoku 5 Centimeter Makoto Shinkai
Crows Zero   Takashi Miike
Sad Vacation   Shinji Aoyama
5. (3.10%) This World of Ours Oretachi no Sekai Ryo Nakajima
Tokyo Gore Police Tokyo Zankoku Keisatsu Yoshihiro Nishimura
6. (2.33%) 20th Century Boys Niju Seiki Shonen Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Departures Okuribito Yojiro Takita
Detroit Metal City   Toshio Lee
Girl Sparks   Yuya Ishii
Kabei: Our Mother Kabee Yoji Yamada
The Machine Girl Kataude Machine Girl Nobru Iguchi
The Magic Hour   Koki Mitani
7. (1.55%) All Around Us Gururi no Koto Ryosuke Hashiguchi
Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers! Funukedomo Kanashimi no Ai o Misero Daihachi Yoshida
The Mourning Forest Mogari no Mori Naomi Kawase
Nightmare Detective 2 Akumu Tantei 2 Shinya Tsukamoto
Now I... Ima, Boku wa... Yasutomo Chikuma
8. (0.78%) A Bao A Qu   Naoki Kato
Achilles and the Tortoise Akiresu to Kame Takeshi Kitano
Cafe Isobe Junkissa Isobe Keisuke Yoshida
Dainipponjin   Hitoshi Matsumoto
Dog in a Sidecar Saidoka no Inu Kichitaro Negishi
The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker Ahiru to Kamo to Koinrokka Yoshihiro Nakamura
God's Puzzle Kamisama no Puzzle Takashi Miike
The Kiss Seppun Kunitoshi Manda
L: Change the World   Hideo Nakata
Paco and the Magic Book Paco to Maho no Ehon Tetsuya Nakashima
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Gake no Ue no Ponyo Hayao Miyazaki
Sex Is No Laughing Matter Hito no Sekkusu o Warauna Nami Iguchi
Sisterhood Chikyu de Tatta Futari Eiji Uchida
The Sky Crawlers   Mamoru Oshii
Vexille   Fumihiko Sori
Vortex & Others: 5 Short Works   Yoshihiro Ito
Yasukuni   Ying Li
9. (0.00%) After School   Kenji Uchida
Appleseed: Ex Machina   Shinji Aramaki
Asyl: Park and Love Hotel   Izuru Kumasaka
Beyond the Fence Sakugoe Ryuichi Honda
Bloody Snake Under the Sun Habu toGenkotsu Yu Nakai
Cyborg She Boku no Kanojo wa Cyborg Jae-Young Kwak
Eat and Run: 6 Beautiful Grifters Shin Onna Tachiguishi Retsuden Mamoru Oshii
Flavor of Happiness Shiawase no Kaori Mitsuhiro Mihara
Fragment   Makoto Sasaki
Gachi Boy: Wrestling with a Memory Gachi Boy Norihiro Koizumi
Genius Party   various directors
A Gentle Breeze in the Village Tennen Kokekko Nobuhiro Yamashita
Of Monster Mode   Yuya Ishii
Rebel Jiro's Love Hangyaku Jiro no Koi Yuya Ishii
Shadow of Sand Suna no Kage Yusuke Kaida
Tamami: The Baby's Curse Akanbo Shojo Yudai Yamaguchi
Tender Throbbing Twilight Tasogare Shinji Imaoka
Waltz in Starlight Hoshikage no Waltz Shingo Wakagi
What the Heart Craves Musunde Hiraite Izumi Takahashi
Wings of Defeat Tokko Risa Morimoto
Your Friends Kimi no Tomodachi Ryuichi Hiroki

Your comments and reactions

On 07-02-2009 'logboy' voted for 'This World of Ours'

Like many of the contributors, I too was very lucky to have had the opportunity to see 'This World of Ours' and 'Now, I', and whilst I won't say for certain they were the best things I saw this year - "best" has different winners for me this year - I will say that I was more than impressed with how good filmmaking seems to be in the blood, and, even if not necessarily true, we suddenly appeared to get particularly lucky with two potential heavy-hitters of the future both sharing their work early to people whom might not otherwise regularly get easy access (or any) beyond what they buy into.

after last years lists, i plumped to watch 'strawberry shortcakes' and 'tokyo towers' - both superb, both familiar and yet very refreshingly new at the same time... this year, i've still to pick what i've not seen but can get to see from the standout choices of others. surprisingly, although the exchange rate bottoming out has made it more imperative to make good choices, i feel confident enough to be certain that a great many will be affordable enough; coupled by an oddly positive sense that comes from suddenly seeing at least a small handful actually making it onto screens here : tokyo sonata, 20th century boys both getting cinema release in the UK.

i'd still like to see more, i'd still like screeners of each and every film i track and enjoy the trailers for. where do i sign up for this access? dunno.

one certain change i'd like to see though, and that's the coverage of the day-to-day business by non-specific sites being less fanservice / audience grabbing, with a shift towards personal premium selections from a field that can be followed pretty much 100% accurately / completely by less-fashionable, but infinitely more helpful sites that manage to avoid seeming elitist or inaccessible by just simply getting on with pointing it all out and leaving the audience to pick what they'll like from a translation of the basic elements they need to get a taster.

and although i don't have my lists in front of me, the one standout viewing experience of the year (for japanese cinema) was masahiro shinoda's 'petrified forest'. best non-japanese was (surprise there was no clear mention of this, or was there?) garrone's stunning italian gangster film 'gomorrah'; i thought it would be too much, but it was simply solid, uncompromising and brutally entertaining.

On 07-02-2009 'Artur' voted for 'Still Walking'

This year I had to choose between two great films, both portraying Japanese family: 'Still Waking' and 'Tokyo Sonata'. I prefer Koreeda's view, because I find it more cohesive and mature. I like everything about this movie: its pace, cinematography, acting, music... but most of all, how Koreeda by showing just one day manages to capture the whole world.

On 07-02-2009 'martin' voted for 'The United Red Army'

the film may not be an aesthetic revelation and its rhetoric may seem a little bit outmoded, but the film is nevertheless quite exciting insofar as wakamatsu has neither produced an action flick like the foolish german director, whose name i have forgotten, nor some weird horror tale (i also forgot the title of that terrible japanese movie that was shown in berlin some years ago) nor a 'meditation on fanaticism' or a reactionary condemnation, with which i could have earned a lot of cash ... respect ... and i wont forget the screening of ura at the berlin film festival ... no german director would have asked if there were any former members aka "comrades" of the red army faction present because he'd like to join them later in the evening for a beer and a talk ... respect again ... lets hope this movie will open some space for a reexamination of the politics of the new left and for a recreation of radical politics ...

On 08-02-2009 'Jasper' voted for 'The United Red Army'

United Red Army for me, for sure. Here's hoping it gets a proper Western release at some point.

On 10-02-2009 'toni' voted for 'Crows Zero'

I'm behind on last years movies, so I can only vote for the few I saw and CrowsZERO certainly is a true gem of a movie. timeless although full of pop references.

On 10-02-2009 'jeeja' voted for 'The Machine Girl'

the film PLANET TERROR desperately wanted to be. ranks alongside BRAINDEAD/DEAD ALIVE and STORY OF RICKY in terms of ridiculously over-the-top comedic gorefests. a well-written, well-produced, well-acted (deliberately hammy, obviously) & nicely paced film.

"How about an unusual conditioner...wash your hair... in your son's blood!".

On 12-02-2009 'BBG' voted for 'The Magic Hour'

My first Mitani Koki, and I loved it.

On 15-02-2009 'segala warna dunia' voted for 'L: Change the World'

this film is good story and actor

On 20-02-2009 'Rick' voted for 'Tokyo Gore Police'

Nishimura's child-like fantastical imagination makes this a special film among V-cinema fodder.

On 22-02-2009 'Sam' voted for 'This World of Ours'

I can't say enough about this film, if you haven't seen it then I suggest you do so immediately. You won't be disappointed. Oretachi no Sekai is one of the most deeply touching pieces of cinema that I've seen in years, it is a raw and beautiful attempt to convey honest meaning. I sincerely hope that Nakajima continues to write and direct his own films in addition to his studio work.

On 25-02-2009 'Ian Williams' voted for 'Tokyo Gore Police'

Hadn't really seen many on the list this year.

On 27-02-2009 'jeeja' voted for 'The Machine Girl'

machine girl. wild & wonderful.

On 05-03-2009 'Doug' voted for 'Tokyo Sonata'

great film, saw it at Cinequest