by Eugene Hernandez
Todd Solondz' critically acclaimed and controversial feature film,
"Happiness," was selected as the top film of 1998 in a survey of
indieWIRE readers. Over sixty indieWIRE readers -- a cross section of
filmmakers, executives, journalists, and other members of the indie
community -- were polled for the survey which asked participants to
select the top films of the year. Six movies received a majority of
"Happiness" is Solondz' follow-up to the Sundance Grand Jury Prize
winning feature, "Welcome to the Dollhouse." Originally slated to
release the film October Films dropped the movie after it screened at the 1998
Cannes Film Festival and it was subsequently released by Good Machine
Thomas Vinterberg's digitally-shot Danish film, "The Celebration," took
the number two spot in the indieWIRE survey, while Roberto Benigni's
Italian language film, "Life is Beautiful," was number three. Both
films debuted at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. "The Celebration,"
which is being released by October Films, was produced as a Dogma '95
movie and won the Jury Prize in Cannes, while Benigni's "Beautiful," a
Miramax release, won the Grand Prize in Cannes.
"The Cruise," Bennett Miller's black and white, digitally-shot documentary
portrait of Timothy 'Speed' Levitch was voted number four in the
reader's survey. The film debuted at the 1998 Los Angeles Independent
Film Festival and was released theatrically by Artisan Entertainment.
Only two other films received a large number of votes: Walter Salles'
"Central Station," which debuted at Sundance and is being distributed by
Sony Pictures Classics -- it took the number five spot -- and Vincent
Gallo's "Buffalo 66," which debuted in competition at Sundance, was
released by Lions Gate, and took the number six spot.
A handful of other films received numerous votes, they are: Bill
Condon's "Gods and Monsters," Lisa Cholodenko's "High Art," Terrence
Malick's "The Thin Red Line," Wong Kar Wai's "Fallen Angels," Hal
Hartley's "Henry Fool, " Don Roos' "The Opposite of Sex," Marc Levin's
"Slam," and Takeshi Kitano's "Sonatine."