A year of hits and misses
Hit: It's fairly obvious that Ang Lee's Lust, Caution is the only real choice. An excellent if not a great film, the least of its accomplishments was bringing local audiences back to the theatres in droves - no small feat for a 'literary' Putonghua-dialogue drama.
Miss: Perhaps if there weren't so much to recommend The Sun Also Rises, it wouldn't be the year's biggest miss. On an intellectual level, one can't help but admire Jiang Wen's boldness of vision and insistence on doing it his way. But these factors are overridden by self-indulgence and a story so convoluted that one has to read the production notes to understand what it's all about. Paul Fonoroff
Hit: Animated feature Persepolis charts filmmaker Marjane Satrapi's childhood in Iran before and after the revolution, her student days in Vienna, and finally touches on her painful realisation that she can't live in Iran as an independent woman and artist. The film shows us that people can be free inside as long as they try to see the humour in life.
Miss: Transformers, directed by Michael Bay, is perhaps the most spectacular movie and, sadly, also the stupidest blockbuster since Pearl Harbor, also directed by Bay. Bay's frenetic camerawork makes it impossible to follow the action, and it's crammed with expensive but hardly spectacular special effects. Lau Kit-wai
Hit: Pan's Labryinth by Guillermo del Toro. A fantasy rooted in reality, a horror with more heart than guts, and mind-bending special effects. The unsentimental del Toro is the Bizarro-world Spielberg.
Miss: Transformers by Michael Bay. Big, loud, noisy, obnoxious and not a brain cell in sight. If there's a cinema in hell, it plays Michael Bay movies day and night. Andrew Sun
Hit: Worthier Hollywood fare such as Michael Clayton or Zodiac might have come our way this year, but credit is due to Knocked Up. Its disturbingly honest exploration of the battle of the sexes defies conventional gender stereotypes and breathes fresh air into a genre long tarnished by the contrived gag-fests spawned by the likes of Porky's and American Pie.
Miss: Peter Berg's The Kingdom has the year's most deceptive opening sequence: the animation that provides a rundown on Saudi Arabia's history and the country's links with the US promises something intelligent and politically enlightening. Instead, it spirals into a Rambo-meets-Lethal Weapon shoot-'em-up action flick in which the American hero bonds with his Arabic sidekick over a shared love of The Incredible Hulk. Oh, please. Clarence Tsui