A record breaking box office. Countless blockbusters. Mediocre movies. 2009 was not a strong year for film. Although, I think I’m being unfair considering it had to follow 2008, one of the best years of movies in my lifetime. But there were certainly some gems to be sure, and here they are….My top 10 movies of 2009.
10) The Hurt Locker
-A little repetitive, but the tension is directed so well by Kathryn Bigelow, I’ll forgive it. But the real star of the movie is Jeremy Renner as the lead William James. His character was really interesting, especially towards the end. In fact, this movie was just okay, but it’s the last third that really elevates it. A great ending. The Hurt Locker: A good movie, but a little overhyped.
-Liam Neeson. You know the movie. Guy’s daughter gets kidnapped. Guy was former government bad ass. Guy goes after kidnappers. Kidnappers are in big trouble. Even though the heroes in these types of films are guys you don’t want to mess with, they still have their difficult moments and some grind it out fights. What makes Taken so strange is that Liam Neeson just wrecks everyone. He’s never really challenged. It’s like the equivalent of the Yankees playing the Nationals…just devastating.
8 – Up in the Air
-Great beginning. Great ending. Okay middle. Unfortunately, this one goes through some major lulls in the middle, but the performances really carry it. And it’s not just George Clooney. Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick and even some solid cameos from Jason Bateman and Danny McBride are all on the same playing field as Clooney. But make no mistake, this is his opus. Despite a slight twist at the end, it’s a very predictable movie, which hinders it from being higher on the list, but a nice little film to be sure.
7) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
-Certainly the surprise of the year. Not only did this one have a great story, but it was hysterical. And it wasn’t just funny for kids; it’s a legitimately funny film. I love the animation in this. Staring at the giant food was mesmerizing. Let’s not forget about the fantastic voice acting. Go see this one. It will put a smile on your face.
6) District 9
-A well crafted piece of sci-fi entertainment. I went in to this with so much negativity thinking it was going to be nothing but a gimmick. But what I got instead was a gripping story and two characters that drew me in emotionally ten times over. And this is how you do special effects; not drawing attention to them every two seconds, in the background as an afterthought. Despite the third act dragging and being plagued with too many character twists, there is no denying this film’s greatness. Also, Sharlto Copley as Wikus, the main character: one of the best performances of the year.
5) Inglorious Bastards
-Every time I’m about to see a Quentin Tarantino movie, I think I’m going to hate it, but in the end, I love every minute. The trailer for this movie was obnoxious. Brad Pitt seemed annoying, and it just looked really unappealing. Although Tarantino’s big important scenes go on way too long, he always keeps you glued to the screen. The climax is extremely satisfying and in perfect parallel to how it begins. And I couldn’t have been more wrong about Brad Pitt’s character. He was great. Christoph Waltz is a brilliant villain who will probably get nominated for an Oscar. This movie has so many great moments that only Tarantino can deliver.
4) The Fantastic Mr. Fox
-This is a near perfect comedy. For me, this is one of George Clooney’s best performances ever, and it’s a voice over. The story is ‘meh,’ but the characters are not. The relationships and conflicts are hilarious and sad at the same time, which is what Wes Anderson does best. The stop motion is fun to watch, but the voice talents are even better to listen to. Jason Schwartzman rules.
-Talk about being alone on an island. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one to have Watchmen on a top ten list, let alone number three. Yes, the movie has its supporters, but many hate it. I don’t get it. Oh wait, yes I do. It didn’t live up to its unrealistic hype, therefore it sucked in the minds of many. If this wasn’t based on the greatest graphic novel ever written and was just some random movie that came out, people would have loved it. Aside from Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II and Matthew Goode as Ozymandias, the acting was out of the park. Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach…brilliant. Every moment spent with Rorschach is memorable. It’s a cool film to look at. Dr. Manhattan was an extremely tragic figure. The Comedian was downright scary. Is this as good as the novel? No. Is it a great film? Yes it is.
2) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
-I love this movie. It’s the best Harry Potter movie by far, and it’s probably got my favorite scene from any movie this year – The Cave. Wow. What an incredible sequence. Michael Gambon delivered big time. Damn. The acting is superb all around. Yeah, they should have cut down the CW romance a bit and fit in more Voldemort back story, but I’ll let it slide. (Spoilers Next) Also, I’m sick of hearing the complaints that they left out the funeral from the book. I thought the choice to just have everyone raise their wands towards the sky was so much more powerful. It works for the movie, the funeral works for the book. Get over it. I don’t know what it is about this movie, it just draws me in more every time. I think a lot of it is Daniel Radcliffe’s performance as Harry Potter. He really went above and beyond, which only gets me that much more excited for the two part finale.
1) Star Trek
-Honestly, it wasn’t even close. This movie kicks ass. Whenever you bring in time travel to a movie or television show, there is potential for disaster, but Star Trek nails it! J.J. Abrams is a genius. He rebooted a franchise and still kept it in the continuity of the original series at the same time. That is outstanding. There are only two words to describe Zachary Quinto’s performance as Spock: Bad Ass. But let’s not forget about Chris Pine as Kirk, the lovable jackass you still root for. This has sword fights. Planets imploding. People teleporting. Phaser battles. But what it also has is perfect character development beginning to end. Once again, the special effects are great, but they are background material. We are focused on the characters, not the explosions around them. I really don’t have any complaints about this movie. I guess the music could have been a little better, but it’s fine. Star Trek is why I go to the movies. An amazing achievement that only gets better with each viewing. Star Trek 2 can’t come fast enough.