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February 4th, 2010

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01:17 pm - The annual movie post. Best of 2009!
It's officially Oscar season, which means it's time to get this thing typed up and published. 2009 was a pretty good year for movies, but looking back, 2007 was the best year in recent times, in my view. 2008 was probably a bit better too. And 2005 was probably the worst, which goes a long way towards explaining how it came down to Crash vs. Brokeback Mountain for best picture. Anyway, without further ado, 2009!

Worst movie: Transformers 2: Oy. So, so many things that could have on their own made this the worst movie, all packed into one! Enough said? Completely lost me as soon as Bumblebee started acting like a whiney puppy, and that was quite early. Other dealbreakers: the Decepticon that could shapeshift into a human, the total character assassination of Skyfire, one of the most awesome characters from the original cartoon, racist Autobots...well, that's enough.

Best movie runners-up: Coraline, Up, Sunshine Cleaning, In The Loop, Where The Wild Things Are, Crazy Heart

#10: (500) Days Of Summer: What I liked most about this movie was that the guy's idealized version of Zooey Deschanel is pretty much everyone's idealized version of Zooey Deschanel. The time jumping works really well, and the greeting card is surprisingly interesting.

#9: District 9: The movie that got me thinking, "damn, that really is how we'd react in this situation, isn't it?" Depressing. Things might get a little out of control at the end of the movie, but the aliens are awesome, their culture is pretty darn well thought out, and the slums feel very real.

#8: Star Trek: This may well be a little low on the list, but it's also the only 2009 movie that I've seen three times. In fact, I think it's the only one I've seen even twice. Just plain fun sci-fi. And it warms my nerdy heart to see how many people knew nothing about Star Trek going in but nevertheless liked it. I'm very stoked that another movie is in the works and that it may well have launched a franchise with some staying power. That said, the plot isn't exactly brilliant and wears just the littlest bit thin, and I do have a few continuity-nerd issues to pick with it. (Scotty can beam people to a ship that's many light-years away and that was in warp at the time? Reaaaaaaaaaaaally?) So that explains the slightly lower ranking.

#7: An Education: Carey Mulligan carries this movie. She totally has the system's number and is actually rather persuasive about why she makes the choices she does, but of course in the end it doesn't quite work out that way. Oh yes, and it's British. Bonus points.

#6: Up In The Air: Truly a movie for our times. I especially liked how it seemed to build up towards one certain kind of ending, then veered sharply away from it. There are no easy answers and you can't expect to change who you are in a flash, if at all. Add in three very solid leading roles and you have yourself a very good movie.

#5: Moon: Now this is what I'm talking! Some super-classic sci-fi, a high brow, low profile sort of story that could easily have been straight out of the 70s. Great HAL-like robot, great plot progression where you start wondering what the heck is going on and if you can trust your/the narrator's eyes, until it all starts coming together in clear but troubling way. This is essentially a one-man show from Sam Rockwell and he knocks it out of the park.

#4: Precious: Worst subtitle ever, but we can ignore that. A very powerful story about a young woman beaten down by life that somehow never veers into feeling too preachy or saccharine, even at the height of some big speeches. Most crucially, it always felt real. Yet more good performances here as well! I'd be very pleased to see Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique win Oscars this year. Plus I was rather amazed at Mariah Carey's very low key social worker performance, I totally did not realize it was her at first, at all.

#3: The Hurt Locker: Intense. Possibly the most intense movie I've ever seen. Death awaits at every turn and there's no good reason to believe that it won't come for any of them at any time. You can feel the danger in every moment, never sure which Iraqis mean harm and which are innocent bystanders going about their lives, distracted by the spectacle. And the desperate countdown until the rotation is over, followed by the choice to re-enlist and start that countdown all over again, is a poignant conclusion.

#2: The White Ribbon: A late entry, and technically a 2010 movie as far as US release dates go, but it's up for 2009 Oscars and I don't want to wait a whole year to bring it up, so in it goes. This is a movie that demands patience and a keen eye, and gladly flouts convention in order to get that from its audience. This was clear right from the very beginning, where there were 15 or so seconds of darkness in between the title screen and the early credits. It made some people uncomfortable, to the point where they started whispering jokes about needing the change the film reel. Nope, it's just setting a high bar for you as an audience member! (This director's flouting of convention went way too far in a previous movie, Funny Games, but it works very well here.) A series of bad injuries befall some of the townspeople in this small early 20th century German village, and it's up to us and the narrator to figure out what's going on, both with the incidents and the people they befall. Left me with a LOT to think about afterward, to the point where I pieced together a lot of the puzzle but still very much want to see it again, and then maybe a third time, to fully appreciate the nuance.

#1: Inglourious Basterds: Really, no other movie had a very good shot at topping this one in 2009. I saw it right at the end of my European trip, after passing through France, Germany, and the Italian part of Switzerland, among other places. So what better way to close out this trip than with a movie where a major plot point is the interaction of the French, German, Italian and English languages and cultures? It also offers a few other major strengths. Most notably, Christoph Waltz as the brilliant, sophisticated, and entirely evil "Jew Hunter" Nazi, and the ending which was a surprising and rather thrilling rewrite of history.

My #1's from the past 5 years, in the order that I'd rank them from best to not-quite-as-best:

#1 Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
#2 No Country For Old Men (2007)
#3 Inglourious Basterds (2009)
#4 The Reader (2008)
#5 The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe (2005)

All 2009 movies I saw, in order of their US release:

Coraline 40
Two Lovers
Sunshine Cleaning
Sin Nombre
State of Play
Star Trek
Transformers 2
The Hurt Locker
Public Enemies
Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince
(500) Days of Summer
In The Loop
Funny People
Julie & Julia
District 9
The Time Traveler's Wife
Inglourious Basterds
World's Greatest Dad
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
Bright Star
A Serious Man
An Education
Where The Wild Things Are
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Broken Embraces
The Road
The Princess And The Frog
Up In The Air
A Single Man
Crazy Heart
Sherlock Holmes
The White Ribbon

2009 movies I may or may not Netflix at some point, in order of domestic release:
(This is a long list, but with a few exceptions I'm still fairly confident that the movies I saw included the best ones)

Paris 36
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
The Soloist
The Girlfriend Experience
Drag Me To Hell
The Hangover
Food, Inc.
The Beach of Agnes
The Informant!
Capitalism: A Love Story
Paranormal Activity
The Damned United
New York, I Love You
The Maid
The Men Who Stare At Goats
Pirate Radio
The Messenger
The Blind Side
Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans
The Lovely Bones
The Young Victoria
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Police, Adjective

(2 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:February 8th, 2010 10:03 am (UTC)
I like what you said about An Education. I hadn't thought of it like that. I may need to watch it again.
The annual movie post. Best of 2009! - Stream of Consciousness

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