I love lists. Well, let me clarity. I love movie lists. Top 10’s, top 5’s. I love it. The only problem is I’m really indecisive. So it takes me a while to finally decide. I’m still working on my top 25 of the decade list (I feel like I need to re-watch a couple movies before posting the list). I still haven’t seen all the movies I wanted to before posting my top 10 of 2009 but it’s ok. If I really feel like I need to change it I will. I also decided to go a little nuts and give you my five favorite acting performances (just like the Oscars) as well as directing, both writing categories, cinematography and score. Like I said… I went a little crazy. The categories at the end do say “best” but keep in mind they are just my personal favorites. Anyway, here we go:
Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2009
Avatar wasn’t originally on my top 10 list but upon seeing it a second time I couldn’t deny that it deserved a spot for visual effects alone. It really is one of the most gorgeous movies I’ve ever seen. I just wish that I could be so complimentary of the story/characters. I’ve actually become more forgiving of it’s story. I don’t mind that it’s not completely “original” because the visuals make up for it. I just wish the script had gotten a few more re-writes and polishes before going in to production.
Unlike Avatar, Up’s story is what makes this movie so great. The first act is undeniably moving and heartbreaking. Well done Pixar.
It’s a shame Sam Rockwell might be overlooked for his performance in Moon. This movie is essentially a one man show (Kevin Spacey voices a robot named GERTY) and Rockwell carries it beautifully. The movie never has a dull moment and I was enthralled the entire time. Also has one of my favorite scores from the year.
I had seen only mediocre reviews of this movie before checking it out and so my expectations weren’t that high. Fortunately for me, Clint Eastwood gave me an inspiring sports movie as well as an excellent Nelson Mandela biopic. The movie has a few flaws here and there but I can overlook them because the rest of the movie is so strong. Morgan Freeman gives a very strong performance but in my opinion his thunder is stolen from the incredible performance from Matt Damon.
I didn’t know what to expect from Duplicity. The main reason I went to see it was because I loved Michael Clayton and I was willing to see the next movie Tony Gilroy put out even if it didn’t look all that interesting to me. I liked the trailer but wasn’t totally wowed by it. This is one of the few movies this year that I walked out of immediately wanting to watch again. It has a non-linear story and some people feel like it hurt the movie. They felt like the audience had been cheated. I disagree. The two main characters in this film are ex-spies. Their whole lives are centered around secrecy and deceit. So, to me, it’s no surprise that the story is told in the same fashion. Clive Owen and Julia Roberts have good chemistry, Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson are perfect as corporate rivals and the script is one of the smartest I’ve ever seen put up on the big screen. Do yourself a favor and buy it.
5. Up in the Air
After only three films, Jason Reitman is quickly making a name for himself as one of today’s smartest and best directors. Up In The Air has smart writing and wonderful performances from its entire cast. I saw it twice within a few days and loved every second of it. It’s a wonderful story about a man who loves to be alone and what happens when that love is challenged. I’m also looking forward to seeing Anna Kendrick in future films. Not only is she a wonderful actress but she’s also really hot. Haha.
4. (500) Days of Summer
I’ve always been a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I don’t think I have to tell you how much I love Zooey Deschanel. I was lucky enough to see this movie back in April during the Atlanta Film Festival and one of the things I absolutely adore about this film is how easily everyone can connect with it. It’s the only film I can think of where I felt like someone had been taking notes on my past relationships. There wasn’t an identical incident but the emotions, the ups and downs and the back and forths that Joseph and Zooey go through in this movie ring so true. With a wonderful script and soundtrack and beautiful direction, (500) Days of Summer easily makes its way to the top of my list for this year.
3. Inglourious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino made a smart, funny and brutal film with Inglourious Basterds. He has claimed that this is his masterpiece. I’m hesitant to agree with him. Don’t get me wrong, I loved this movie. I think the first words out of my mouth as the credits started to roll were “Holy crap, that was good!” However, I feel Tarantino’s true masterpiece is Pulp Fiction. This movie is easily his best film since Fiction and he does an incredible job of blending spaghetti western with a classic war film while giving us a revenge story with a touch of (for lack of a better word) “Grindhouse” action. Not to mention how funny it is at times! Normally I’d say that would be a mess. Those elements all combined in to one movie would be disastrous but with Tarantino at the helm it works beautifully.
2. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
How bittersweet this movie is. The story is fantastic and the performances magical. Seeing Heath Ledger on the big screen again so close to the two year anniversary of his death is heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. I’m so glad I get to see his final film on the big screen (and I’ll see it again) but it also kills me to know that it truly is the last time. I’m reminded that we lost one of the strongest, bravest young actors of our time. As much as I love Heath Ledger’s final performance, it’s not the only reason I love this movie. Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown’s script is crazy and original and full of imagination. The Imaginarium worlds are visually spectacular and are a great contrast to the dark, gritty real world scenes that still have that wonderful Gilliam feel. Out of Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell’s performances I was most impressed with Colin Farrell’s (who also had the most screen time). I would recommend this film to anyone who appreciated Heath Ledger’s acting and wants to see his final performance but I would also recommend this film to anyone wanting to see a truly original, fantastic and fun film. It was a treat. A real delight.
1. Star Trek
Wow. That’s all I could get out of my mouth after this movie finished. Wow. I went back to the theater to see this movie 5 more times. J.J. Abrams brought us a new Star Trek for a new generation while retaining what made the original series so succesful. Including bringing back Leonard Nimoy to play the character that he’s most famous for. When I heard the casting news I was a bit skeptical at first. I hadn’t seen Chris Pine in anything other than Smokin’ Aces and was willing to give him a chance but I wasn’t sold on Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, or Simon Pegg as Bones, Chekov, Sulu and Scotty respectively. I thought he should have cast unknowns in these roles and was worried that the film was going to be about the “stars” more than the characters. I’m so happy to say I was totally proven wrong. Each actor did an astounding job becoming these characters. I forgot I was watching Simon Pegg and believed he was Scotty. Karl Urban was Bones. And that Chris Pine guy? Yeah he did a pretty good job too. He was everything you’d want from a Captain Kirk and even channeled Shatner once or twice. That’s not to say Pine’s Kirk was not his own. It was. But from time to time I think Kirk’s cockiness came out the same way Shatner played it. But the performances weren’t the only amazing thing about this movie. The story had everything I wanted from a new Star Trek film. The visuals were fantastic and beautiful and the movie had a non stop fast pace. It never let up. I was on the edge of my seat the entire movie. I think my one and only complaint about this movie is that it came out in early May setting the bar at such a height that the rest of the summer movies weren’t able to reach it let alone surpass it.
Honorable Mentions: These movies almost made the list. The first list I created was too long by about 7 or 8 and I had to start scratching movies off the list. I was sad to see a line being drawn through these and feel like they deserve to be mentioned.
1. Away We Go
2. The Hurt Locker
3. The Informant!
4. The Messenger
5. Public Enemies
1. George Clooney – Up In The Air
2. Matt Damon – The Informant!
3. Ben Foster – The Messenger
4. Hal Holbrook – That Evening Sun
5. Sam Rockwell – Moon
1. Zooey Deschanel – (500) Days of Summer
2. Carey Mulligan – An Education
3. Maya Rudolph – Away We Go
4. Gabourey Sidibe – Precious
5. Hilary Swank – Amelia
Best Supporting Actor
1. Matt Damon – Invictus
2. Colin Farrell – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
3. Woody Harrelson – The Messenger
4. Heath Ledger – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
5. Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress
1. Emily Blunt – Sunshine Cleaning
2. Marion Cotillard – Public Enemies
3. Anna Kendrick – Up In The Air
4. Mo’Nique – Precious
5. Samantha Morton – The Messenger
1. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna
2. The Informant! – Marvin Hamlisch
3. Invictus – Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens
4. Sherlock Holmes – Hans Zimmer
5. Star Trek – Michael Giacchino
Best Original Screenplay
1. (500) Days of Summer – Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
2. Away We Go – Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida
3. Duplicity – Tony Gilroy
4. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown
5. Inglourious Basterds – Quentin Tarantino
Best Adapted Screenplay
1. That Evening Sun – Scott Teems
2. The Informant! – Scott Z. Burns
3. Invictus – Anthony Peckham
4. Star Trek – Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci
5. Up In The Air – Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner
1. An Education – John de Borman
2. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Nicola Pecorini
3. Star Trek – Daniel Mindel
4. Up In The Air – Eric Steelberg
5. Where The Wild Things Are – Lance Ecord
1. J.J. Abrams – Star Trek
2. Terry Gilliam – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
3. Jason Reitman – Up In The Air
4. Steven Soderbergh – The Informant!
5. Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds