Sunday, March 28, 2010

Favorite Movies of 2009

I've been meaning to do this for a while but hadn't had a chance. Of course I haven't seen all the best movies of the year, but I do see a lot of movies. The movies that I haven't seen but that I think might crack the list are Precious, Zombieland, 500 Days of Summer, Christmas Carol, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Invictus and Julie & Julia.

10. The Hangover

Fun zany comedy with all sorts of chaos in Las Vegas. I might have enjoyed it even more had I not seen Dr. Ken on Raw relatively recently before seeing this. Whenever I see the key guy characters in this now I think of their characters in this movie.

9. Avatar

Yes, the story wasn't much. But man, it deserved all the credit it received for the visuals. It created the most breathtaking original universe I've ever seen in a theater.

8. Paranormal Activity

I love a good scary movie and I really liked the premise and execution of this one. People compared it to Blair Witch Project because of the low budget, guerrilla advertising and success, but I thought this was much better at creating atmosphere and terror.

7. District 9

They did a great job creating a unique and fun sci-fi movie on a relatively small budget. It had a lot of cool themes to go with the action and while I had some logic issues with the premise, I thought it succeeded really well overall.

6. Princess and the Frog

Like with horror movies, I'm a sucker for a good Disney animated film: innocent, sweet, heartwarming, musical, a little backward minded in its attitudes but very forgivable. And I thought this was the best Disney animated film in quite a while. For all the talk about the first African-American princess, the film was actually extremely conventional but I loved the characters and the music.

5. Up in the Air

This oddly reminded me a lot of A Beautiful Mind in that I absolutely loved the beginning (Beautiful Mind - question as to what's going on, what's real and what's not in this guy's mind; Up in the Air - exploration of this self-focused Clooney character and his interactions with his co-worker and new lover) but wasn't very pleased with where the story went (Beautiful Mind - feel good sentimentality; Up in the Air - sitcomy implausible wedding hijinx in Milwaukee). Still, I liked the good stuff enough that it's one of my favorites. Great character study.

4. An Education

This kind of snuck under the radar despite the Best Picture nomination. I don't know many people that have seen it but I definitely recommend it. Very touching story of an intelligent young girl torn between an older suitor and her education. That plot reads like something a lot of guys would dismiss, but it works very well.

3. Up

Pixar always delivers. Just the opening of the film was so powerful and then a fun, entertaining ride followed. Not as ambitious as many of Pixar's film, but a very rewarding film nonetheless.

2. The Hurt Locker

What a taut, exciting film. The scenes where they are trying to defuse bombs are so incredibly thrilling. This is really at its heart a summer blockbuster movie, not an arthouse movie. It's about jolting the audience with a world the audience isn't familiar with. But it was achieved without tricks and without a lot of money. This is one of those movies I'd expect just about everyone to enjoy.

1. Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino has such fantastic instincts as a filmmaker, both in terms of dialogue and in terms of visuals. This is a World War II movie that's not a World War II movie at all. It has one really memorable scene after another, mixing comedy with suspense with drama. I think this one is going to go down as a real masterpiece.