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THE 10 BEST MOVIES OF 2008

In the Top 10 list game, which I play in this week's Gusto, one film frequently mentioned elsewhere has been Sam Mendes' film of Richard Yates' novel "Revolutionary Road." I haven't been able to see it yet, despite its strong reputation and the much hoped-for box office resulting from re-teaming  "Titanic" bell-ringers Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, the latter quoted in the paper Friday saying that maybe she and Leo should re-team for a third time 30 years from now when they're both "has beens."

In fact, if they've both got active careers in movies (or anywhere) 30 years from now, they won''t be has-beens at all, but venerable miracles of their trade a la Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Meanwhile, for those even marginally familiar with the 1962 novel "Revolutionary Road" by "writer's writer" Richard Yates, Leonardo DiCaprio seems astoundingly bad casting for the role of Frank Wheeler, the novel's soul-crushed conformist "hero." DiCaprio, it's true, can be a lot more than the pretty-boy hearthrob they always desperately want him to be in Infotainment America (see "The Departed" and "The Aviator" for Martin Scorsese) but he's still only slightly more appropriate casting for Frank Wheeler than, say, Adam Sandler or Verne Troyer would be.

If the movie really is of Top 10 caliber (we'll know here when it opens mid-January), it will have overcome THE casting handicap of 2008, hands down. And that will really be something.

Meanwhile, a confession: there's an ancient and venerable trick critics employ when they compile their annual lists of 10 Best Films of the Year: they actually list 10 films. You'll find in this week's Gusto only nine movies are listed. Inadvertently omitted was Andrew Wagner's sublime little movie starring Frank Langella "Starting Out in the Evening." It was Langella's OTHER great performance in 2008, besides his role as Richard Nixon in Ron Howard's upcoming "Frost/Nixon." For the full entry on "Starting Out in the Evening," see the online edition of my Top 10 list. And please feel free to compile your own here.

--Jeff Simon

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