It was tough work, but we did it: we managed to drag ourselves to over 50 films, sit in the velvet-draped seats of roughly six different darkened theaters, and absorb all that celluloid. Thereafter, we discussed what we watched, ranked, sorted, argued, re-ranked, and discussed some more. Finally, we were able to come up with this list of the 10 best films from SXSW 2008. If you weren't able to come to SXSW this year, it's ok. We've got the lowdown for you. Here we go...

(For the full review of each film, click the image.)

Film #10

Natural Causes is a modern romantic comedy. While not perfect, it is composed of so many identifiably true moments that you'll fall in love with the movie ... The performances by Jerzy Gwiazdowski and Leah Goldstein help seal the deal. It wasn't until after the movie that I learned they're a real-life couple, which surprised me because most real-life couples have little chemistry on screen. Yet they convinced me they were, at various stages, a flirting couple getting to know one another, a comfortable pair of lovers playing video games naked, and a bickering twosome.


Film #9

Sometimes I feel like I've seen too many movies about the problems of contemporary twentysomethings and their relationships, but Medicine for Melancholy is deeper, more thoughtful, and more satisfying than many low-budget first features.


Film #8

Nights and Weekends is an actor's film. There's no score (except for one minute of a song over the opening credits), no real narrative and no big reveals. All we have to hold onto are these two people, Swanberg and Gerwig, their characters and their performances, which, might I add, were some of the best this festival had to offer in 2008.


Film #7

As a story about art and artists, In a Dream is soft-spoken, well-paced, and smoothly engrossing. As a portrait of a sweet but slightly fractured man, it's one of the most unexpectedly touching documentaries I've ever seen. Special kudos to son / filmmaker Jeremiah for not portraying his father as an "adorable kook" or a "mad genius" -- and also for delivering a low-budget documentary that (somehow) looks and sounds like a million bucks.


Film #6

On February 12, 2005, Sister Dorothy Stang, a Catholic nun and environmental and social activist, was gunned down in the Brazilian rainforest in which she had lived and worked for over 30 years. Filmmaker Daniel Junge followed Stang's brother David to Brazil, to make They Killed Sister Dorothy, a documentary about Stang's lifework and the effort to bring her killers to justice.



Keep reading to see the Top 5 Films of SXSW.