Okay, okay, so this is like, very, very, late. But until recently I hadn’t watched all of the films that I had wanted to for the previous year, (to be honest, I still haven’t seen either “A Single Man” or “The Lovely Bones”) but I’m pretty confident that regardless, my final list would come down to these ten films with one having a special mention. And because there are ten of these suckers (eleven!) I’m gonna keep the comments short, so without further ado…
Directed by James Cameron
Was this the most important film made all year? Yes, without a doubt. It single-handedly changed the way movies are going to be made for at least the next decade, if not forever. (Whether that’s good or bad, I’ll leave it up to the reader and eventually future filmmakers to decide.) But does that make it the best film of the year? Short answer, no. It was great, it was wonderful, it was spectacular, but it was also rather bland story wise. Don’t get me wrong. Cameron took a tried and tested story formula and made the best possible movie he could out of it. But it remains what it is, and no amount of special effects can transcend the story being told. And in the end, like all good art, that’s what it’s all about.
UP IN THE AIR
Directed by Jason Reitman
This was the first Jason Reitman movie that actually delivered for me. “Thank You For Smoking” and “Juno” were all heavily overrated, especially “Juno”, but this movie had everything necessary to succeed. An amazing cast, a witty and relevant script, and some solid directing from a man who is just starting to find a voice for himself. There’s nowhere to go but up from here for Mr. Reitman. (Painfully bad pun, intended.)
Directed by Lone Scherfig
Carey Mulligan, Paris, 1960’s, New Wave, Smoking, Pretty Colours, Carey Mulligan, Nuff Said. (But if you want to read more, see my review further below.)
Directed by Scott Cooper
Again, great music, Jeff Bridges, and a sexy Maggie Gyllenhaal. Want to read more? Check out below.
Directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza
Forget “Paranormal Activity”, this is the best horror film of the year. (Though “Drag Me To Hell” would be a close second.) It’s got everything, demon/zombies, exorcisms, scary kids, bloody projectile vomiting, twists, and inventive camera techniques. It’s films like this that keep the horror genre alive and well in a market that is literally swimming with cheap and degrading product.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Best movie poster of the year, bar none. Also one of the funniest. I laughed my ass off at this movie and also wound up feeling incredibly bad for doing so. This film is a great example of a complicated character portrait, and to be completely honest, I’m amazed that it was even made at all considering how hard this movie must have been to sell. Check it out!
Directed by Woody Allen
Okay, I’ll admit it. Perhaps this movie is only this high on my list simply because I absolutely love both Woody Allen and Larry David. Hell, the thought of those two men together in the same room makes me need to change my pants every time I think about it. And when they came together to make this film, they made an absolutely hilarious movie in the vain of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” meets “Annie Hall”. But if you do not love either one of those things even half as much as I do, chances are you might not get this film. But this isn’t your list, it’s mine. And I love this movie. (And Woody Allen and Larry David… seriously am I the only person who wants to know what their love child would look like? I can’t be…)
THE HURT LOCKER
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Ahh, here it is, the “best” movie of the year according to the academy voters. Was this a political decision? Most likely. Does that make it the wrong one? In this case, not really, no. Cause make no mistake, this is a very good film. In fact, I’d have to say that it very well might be the most tense movie I have ever seen. And I watch a lot of movies. But unfortunately for it, that still doesn’t make it my favourite film. (Though what does it care? It just won a frickin’ Academy Award!) I still got three more.
This was the funniest movie of the year. It was also one of the most touching. Either one of those things on its own would earn it a top spot on this list, but both? That makes it royalty baby. Sure, many people could accuse this movie of not going anywhere and serving no ultimate purpose. My reaction to those naysayers? You missed the point of this movie. Apatow set out to create a film about not only the life of a comedian, but the life of a dying man. Nothing is clean and simple and not everything is resolved, because that’s the way life is. I truly believe that Apatow created a classic film with this piece, and one that isn’t properly appreciated as it stands right now.
The first time I saw this movie I was indifferent (and *cough* heavily intoxicated *cough*), the second time I saw it, I was blown away. Like every one of Tarantino’s films, this one is a film nerds wet dream unfolding on-screen. (Which makes for watching it with strangers and family, very uncomfortable.) The dialogue is all razor-sharp and the cinematography is simply gorgeous. As long as the film is, it never drags (though I know there are those out there who disagree with me on that fact) and carries an unstoppable amount of momentum up until its final cathartic frame. And Christoph Waltz? Pure genius. Best performance by an individual in film the entire year. Tarantino should have won best Original Screenplay and the fact that he didn’t was probably the biggest tragedy of the night. (Besides Sandra Bullock beating my precious Carey Mulligan for best actress.)
Directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
I still can’t think about this movie without tearing up. The opening montage moved me more than any other film ever has in a theatre. And a lot of that has to do with not only the beautiful story being told on-screen, but the blissful melodies that Michael Giachinno created for the film. Simply put, his Oscar win tonight was the most well deserved. He took a movie that was already good, and moved it up the ephemeral ladder to the sublime. And that is why “Up” is number one on my list. Through all of the animation, voice acting, scripting, art design, music, and more, it transcends storytelling and becomes something greater than. It changes the way we look at the world and ourselves, let alone what we imagine film to be. Plus it has talking dogs.
So that’s it, that’s my list. Hope you liked it. I’m still hoping to do one more list eventually, that being favourite comic books of 2009, but I can’t tell you when to expect it. Not that any of you are waiting with abated breath. My advice is, if you haven’t seen any movie on this list, do so now! They’re all worth it.