Saturday, January 16, 2010

Top Ten Movies of 2009

I've put this off too long. Here are my top 10 movies for 2009:

(10) Avatar: Big budget - yep. Clichéd - perhaps. But sometimes it's not absolutely necessary to try and out-think the room. So, grab that bucket of popcorn, put on your 3D glasses and have one of the most visually stunning movie experiences you have ever had.

(9) Fantastic Mr. Fox: In the animation realm, this is about as far away from Avatar as you can get. Old-school stop-motion, great voice talent (Clooney, Bill Murray, Michael Gambon), and the twisted eye of Wes Anderson. Smart enough for adults but interesting enough for kids. One of Alex's favorite movies for the year.

(8) Drag Me To Hell: A reminder of the lower budget scary/funny movies of Sam Raimi's younger days (Evil Dead, Army of Darkness). I'll forgive Spiderman 3 if he takes the time to put out a few of these once in awhile.

(7) Up: I've probably said it too many times, but it bears repeating - the collage scene early in this movie is as good as the best 5 minutes in any movie ever. Ed Asner as the voice of the main character is very good and Pixar comes through ... again. These are great movies, not just great "animated" movies.

(6) Food Inc.: The best documentary of the year. People really need to start thinking about what they are eating. It's not just about health. It's about our environment. It's about the treatment of animals. It's about our dependence on foreign oil. I dare you to watch this film and pause the next time you bite into a burger or chicken nugget.

(5) Star Trek: Completely rescues the Star Trek franchise and introduces a great young stable of young actors (Pine, Quinto) and veterans in new roles (Urban, Pegg). J.J. Abrams of Lost fame makes an entertaining film that is both respectful of the past and hopeful for the future.

(4) Up in the Air: A very good year for Clooney with this and Fantastic Mr. Fox and the lesser Men Who Stare at Goats. Up in the Air is perfectly enjoyable as a straightforward romantic comedy (Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick are great). But, it's more than that. As a professional corporate hatchet man, Clooney's character comes the realization of the disconnectedness of his life. That freedom that he always saw as a perk is actually a yoke. How he lives, what he does, and the industry in which he works are all evocative of the 00's and his uprooted existence represents society as a whole.

(3) Where the Wild Things Are: I've already wrote a longer review of this previously. Maybe a controversial movie, but that's beauty of it. If you are not pissing someone off, are you really making art?

(2) The Road: Just saw this in the last week. Based on Cormac McCarthy's book of the same name (which I loved), the movie is very faithful. I don't think you could have picked a better actor than Viggo Mortensen to place the role of the father. He has an amazing ability to say more with just his eyes than lesser actors can with a whole monologue. This is a dark vision of a post-apocalyptic future, but not without hope. The scenes between the father and son are gut-wrenching and I can't imagine any parent watching this without feeling something. If you don't mind your movies a little on the depressing side, check this out.

(1) District 9: Very surprising, even to myself, that a movie like this would be my favorite of the year. But that's really what District 9 was ... surprising. I was hopeful that it was going to be an entertaining sci-fi movie. Peter Jackson being involved as producer gave me hope. However, this was quite a bit more. It was fantastically original with social and political overtones that you don't see in the average action movie. You can completely take the movie at face value and it's completely gripping as an action thriller, but the larger implications give District 9 that added punch.

Honorable mention: Inglourious Basterds, Harry Potter, Blind Side, The Age of Stupid

Worst movies of the year: I do a lot of reading about the movies I'm thinking about seeing before I go see them. But some real stinkers still seem to sneak past my defenses. I have a pretty good idea how the following 3 did: The Fourth Kind, Whiteout, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Let's see ... Milla Jovovich, Kate Beckinsale, and Megan Fox might have had something to do with it. Despite their, ahem, assets, these movies were still not worth seeing. Occasionaly being a male is a hindrance to good judgment.


CyberKitten said...

Avatar - Yup. Very Good.

Mr Fox - Not seen it

Drag Me To Hell - Not really my thing.

Up - Fantastic

Food Inc - Not even heard of it [grin]

Star Trek - Really don't get me started on that [rotflmao]

Up in the Air - Not seen it.

Where the Wild Things are - Interesting and strange.

The Road - Might wait for the DVD.

District 9 - *Amazinging* good film.

wunelle said...

Fun. I've not seen all of your list, but I'm inclined to agree with your take for those I have. I'm interested in The Road, but a little fearful of its apocalpyticism. Cormac McCarthy seems to have a very dark brain, but this one seems extremely dark. At least the book was.

Also want to see Food, Inc. I bought Jonathan Safran Foers' book "Eating Animals," which I think must touch on some of the same subject material.

dbackdad said...

I like these lists too. I'm not trying to say these are the best 10 movies of the year, but they are my 10 favorites. It's always interesting to see everyone's particular tastes and how they affect their list.

I haven't read the book you mention but will look for it. You might want to look for Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food also. He was featured in the film and I've read his book.

Laura said...

This just reminds me how few movies I've been seeing lately. Sigh.

I LOVED Inglorious Basterds and UP. I want to see many of the ones you listed.

District 9 was very good, but I'm not sure it'd make my top 10. Though, I admit, I probably haven't SEEN 10 movies in the theatre in the past year. So Sad.

CyberKitten said...

Just got back from 'The Book of Eli'. *Very* good.

dbackdad said...

I think I'm going to go see "Book of Eli" this weekend. Just watched a "making of" of it on HBO last night.

Sadie Lou said...

I loved, loved, loved The Book of Eli.
I like your picks. I won't see Drag Me to Hell or Food Inc. because I'm not a fan of horror movies...nuk, nuk.
I hated Where The Wild Things Are. Such a stupid movie.
I didn't see The Road but I will. I agree with you on Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox-I only wish the later would beat the former in the Oscars-but it won't.
You know how I feel about District 9. I should tell people I loved it with how much I talk up the directing and acting and all that--but it's too stomach churning to love it.
Anyhoodles, Hello!
~Sadie Lou

dbackdad said...

I'm definitely going to see Book of Eli ... just got sidetracked and didn't get around to it the last few weekends.

Drag Me to Hell is just as much funny as it is scary. I'm not a big fan of modern horror movies either. But if you like Army of Darkness and Evil Dead, you should like this one.

I definitely don't blame you for your views on Wild Things ... . It's a polarizing movie that people don't really ride the fence on.

Sadie Lou said...

Yeah, I really wanted to like it-the big, real life Muppet type costumes were awesome compared to the boring unreal quality of CGI, but still...I just couldn't.

Ah well!
What do you think of Tim Burton's Alice take? I'm annoyed with Tim Burton ever since he brutally warped and mutilated Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
It will take a lot for me to respect his work again.

download films said...

I agree with your list and I love all these movies but I don't like the movie where the wild things are much. It was a very strange movie.