I'm going to call 2008 a "down" year, but not because there were fewer masterpieces produced--only because the theme that resonated for me the most was this sense of a cycle completing. If it's true that every generation flatters itself as the last one, it's equally true that every decade of film nears its completion with its full measure of anticipation/regret (liebestraum as zeitgeist, no?) in its eighth, sometimes ninth, year. Even films that on the surface seem filled with the fruit of human ambition and desire--like James Marsh's ebullient Man on Wire, in which the World Trade Center appears as the phantom lover of highwire artist Philippe Petit--take place, after all, at the ground zero of this epoch. What's dying throughout 2006 and 2007, all this sussing through father issues and the cult of masculinity and love and the courage of children, is dead now. It's not nihilism anymore, it's pragmatism. The dream is over, the insect is awake.