Neglected Films Of 2008 Still Well Worth Seeing

Correction Jan. 16, 2009

The interview described a scene in the film "The Visitor" involving a "Senegalese drummer." The drummer in the movie was actually Syrian.

'Under The Same Moon' i i

hide captionUnder the Same Moon is among NPR critic Bob Mondello's picks for neglected movies of 2008 that are worth seeing. After the death of his grandmother, Carlitos (Adrian Alonso) braves the U.S.-Mexico border in search of his mother, who's been working in Los Angeles.

Fox Searchlight Pictures
'Under The Same Moon'

Under the Same Moon is among NPR critic Bob Mondello's picks for neglected movies of 2008 that are worth seeing. After the death of his grandmother, Carlitos (Adrian Alonso) braves the U.S.-Mexico border in search of his mother, who's been working in Los Angeles.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Mondello's Top Movies From 2008

Foreign

Hollywood's Early 2008 Movies

Mostly forgotten by the time awards season came along.

It happens every year. Awards season rolls around, and it's as though the first half of the movie year didn't exist.

Nearly all of the pictures nominated for statuettes and globes of various sorts will have opened in the fall. And often in the verrrry late fall.

Collective memory loss? Well, not really.

The first part of the year has become a sort of Hollywood dumping ground of late. No producer peddling a serious 2009 picture wants to compete with 2008 films that can festoon ads with Oscar nominations and Top 10 citations. Better to wait a few months and open when awards fever has faded.

Still, while it's generally safe to assume that titles opening in the first months of the year will prove forgettable — Fool's Gold? Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, anyone? — the multiplex isn't a total dead zone after the holidays.

In 2008, when Hollywood producers declined to compete with the Oscar nominees, independent studios brought out some of the year's more intriguing foreign films, such as Romania's heartbreaking 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days and the Lebanese beauty shop comedy Caramel.

There also were documentaries like the animated history lesson Chicago 10 and the eye-popping concert film U2 3D.

A few decent Hollywood pictures — the sardonic teen comedy Charlie Bartlett was a personal favorite — also got lost in the box-office shuffle, probably cementing the notion that competing with award-winners is foolhardy.

But overlooked doesn't mean not worth looking at.

Here's a short list of pictures that mostly got away from the awards folks, but shouldn't get away from you.

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