With the close out of the year 2009, what kind of movie connoisseur would I be without talking about this year's best. This year marked the last of the 2000's decade, and it was filled with quality cinema. Over the year movie goers of all different tastes could enjoy what Hollywood brought us in 2009. Whether you love action, drama, comedies, horror, or a mix of those, 2009 probably met your movie going needs.
A controversial blockbuster started off the year with a bang (Watchmen) and a technological marvel (Avatar) finished it off. The year 2009 marked the most successful in Hollywood history as the industry posted record revenue and surpassed the $10 billion dollar profit mark for the first time. With all this financial success in the industry it must translate to a great list of the year's best movies. I started out with the idea of having a top five, but had to broaden the list to ten to accommodate all my favorites. I know I am going to get a bunch of flak because Star Trek isn't on this list, but here are the year's best.
Click on the movie titles for a my full reviews of these movies.
#10 Inglorious Basterds
Tarantino's latest set in the WWII era is a dialogue feast featuring one of the greatest on screen performances I have seen in my life. This of course comes from Christoph Waltz in his portrayal of "The Jew Hunter," Colonel Hans Landa. His sinister role was one of the most intelligent and frightening performances I have seen since Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Waltz stole the show from a great supporting cast boasting prominent Hollywood names like Brad Pitt. While I didn't like Inglorious Basterds as much as some, Waltz's representation of "The Jew Hunter" alone warrants a spot on this list.
#9 State of Play
This is probably the best movie of 2009 that many of you did not get a chance to see. This drama filled thriller features a star studded cast with Russel Crowe and Rachel McAdams in the lead and Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels, Cameron Lynn, and Ben Afleck perfectly executing their supporting roles (yes, even Afleck is good in this one). The thoroughly developed script keeps the audience in suspense for what comes next, and tension is added by the soundtrack and cinematography. If you didn't get a chance to see this first rate thriller, put it towards the top of you must see list.
#8 Funny People
It was hard to choose between Judd Apatow's latest and The Hangover. I decided to go with Funny People because I connected with the characters from this project more than the Las Vegas party group. The addition of real drama into a hilarious script played out by great comedic actors puts this movie rightfully in the top ten of the year. Adam Sandler pulls off arguably the best serious role of his career as a humorous aging comedian. The supporting cast is one of the greatest ensembles of "funny people" ever assembled making Funny People a must see.
#7 Twilight: New Moon - Oh God no, kidding. Up in the Air
George Clooney and Anna Kendrick make this character driven story take off and land right at the red carpets of award ceremonies. The brilliant writing and direction of Jason Reitman propel this film just like his past projects (Juno, Thank You for Smoking). This film is not a cookie cutter Hollywood project. This originality comes a breath of fresh air to the movie circuit and solidifies Reitman as one of better filmmakers in the business.
I loved this movie more than most because I read the graphic novel years ago. As a fan who read the novel first, it was great to see how closely this film followed the original text (minus the different ending). Director Zack Snyder recreated this unusual hero epic to meet the needs of die hard Watchmen fans as well as bringing new comers to understand what this unique band of superheros is all about. Watchmen features powerful performance from the whole cast, breathtaking visual effects (Dr. Manhattan especially), and electric action sequences. If you enjoyed Watchmen I suggest you read the graphic novel. If you haven't seen Watchmen, I suggest you read the graphic novel first.
I enjoyed this film for more than just its amusing destruction of zombies. The screenplay nicely develops its four main characters while remaining comical and fast paced. The actors pull off a believable bunch of survivors that lean on each other when the times get tough. The display of Columbus's set of rules on screen adds to the value of the movie and gives viewers a sense of fun while watching the group fight off the mindless zombies. It's hard to go wrong choosing a movie that features the gorgeous Emma Stone on screen for two hours.
#4 District 9
This movie surprised me more than any other this year. Going into the screening I was not sure what to expect from Peter Jackson's protege Neil Blomkamp. After a showing I was blown away by Blomkamp's blend of a documentary and narrative type storytelling. His direction and composition of the screenplay (Terri Tatchell also co-wrote) were superb. Blomkamp will hopefully be a force in Hollywood over the coming years. Giving an alien race humanity and making the audience care for them is never an easy task to complete, and District 9 pulls it off like none before. Mix in a dynamite performance from first time actor Sharlto Copley and some of the year's best effects, you got yourself a blockbuster success.
#3 The Blind Side
This is the true story of NFL Offensive Tackle Michael Oher. Some Vikings fans may not like him so much for his foolish comments about shutting down Jared Allen in their 2009 match up. Despite his rubbish remarks, this film shows what Oher had to overcome to be where he is today. The Blind Side features Sandra Bullock in the role of her career portraying the real life hero Leigh Anne Tuohy. Even if you don't like Bullock, this performance is hard to argue with as one of the year's best. This movie is the perfect blend of sports and drama with emotional scenes that will choke up all viewers.
#2 (500) Days of Summer
Chris Hewitt of the Pioneer Press said this film was the worst of 2009; but he also said Antichrist was among the ten best. I have seen Antichrist and if you ever want to be disgusted ask for my summary of this film; you will truly discount Hewitt's opinion in every regard. This film features the blossoming relationship of an adorable couple in Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. This flick is some of the best work from these young talented stars. A huge plus for this film is how it is not the standard rom-com format. (500) Days of Summer has fantastic editing to progress the film and a dynamite soundtrack to compliment the tale. This uncommon script was drafted with comical and intelligent dialogue. If you haven't seen this unique film don't waste time and check it out.
There is no question in my mind what the best film of 2009 was. Avatar flew me all the way to Pandora and I still have not returned. This movie came in the last leg of 2009 (the award season), but in my opinion was this year's best. James Cameron once again pushed what movie goers thought possible for cinema. The computer generated world is something to be marveled and the narrative isn't so bad either. The original score composed by James Horner is one of the best I have heard in years and elevated this project to epic status. The love story is so good it rivals the relationship of Jack and Rose in Titanic, another one of Cameron's masterpieces. Rising stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Salanda round out this project with two captivating performances in the film's lead roles. I have seen this movie twice already and a third time is in the planning stages. Avatar is a must see.
Honorable mentions: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Star Trek, Adventureland, and The Hangover.
Good movie none of you have heard in 2009: In the Loop
What do you guys think are the best of 2009? Am I an idiot or is this list spot on?