Monday, February 01, 2010

The Film Babble Blog Top Ten Movies Of 2009

All this last month readers have been asking me for my top 10 movies of 2009. I've mentioned before that some major prestige films don't get to my area until late January or early February or later, and that's not considering many Foreign films that aren't released in these parts until months after the Oscars so it's usually a month or so into the year before I post my picks.

So since there's no way I'm going to catch up anytime soon and because tomorrow the Academy Award nominations are going to be announced, now is as good a time as any for my list for what I think was a great and diverse year for film: 

1. A SERIOUS MAN (Dirs. Joen & Ethan Coen)

"The greatest films are the ones that leave you not able to explain, but you know that you have experienced something special. I've always had this feeling that the perfect response to a film or a piece of work of mine would be if someone got up and said, 'I don't know what it is, but it's right.'

That's the feeling you want - 'That's right' - and it comes from four or five layers down, it comes from the inside rather than from the outside." - Robert Altman

I've been plowing through the new book: "Robert Altman: The Oral Biography" since I got it for Christmas and I was struck by the quote above. It made me think of A SERIOUS MAN, though the latest Coen Brothers cinematic conundrum is anything but Altman-esque. With Michael Stuhlburg leading an equally unknown cast into the academic abyss of late 60's suburban Minneapolis, it's the Brothers' most personal work to date. Whether it's a post modern riff on the story of Job or a series of nonsensical jabs at everybody's existential expense, it's a perplexingly pleasing parable. Read my original review here.

2. UP (Dir. Pete Docter)

Last year the same #2 position on this list was held by a Pixar film (WALL-E) so I was tempted to go in another direction here. But, that would've been wrong because UP honestly deserves this space. The first 10 minutes alone deserve this space. This wonderful tale of Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) - a crotchety old widower who attaches thousands of balloons to his house in order to fly it to Paradise Falls in South Africa is a rambunctiously inventive and funny flight. And if you don't cry at that sweeping opening montage, either you have a heart of stone or you're Armond White. Read my original review here.

3. THE HURT LOCKER (Dir. Kathryn Bigelow)

Every explosion has an emotional impact in this gripping war drama featuring Jeremy Renner as a bomb defusing expert who'd rather risk his life in Iraq than be home with his wife. Read my original review here.

4. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (Dir. Quentin Tarantino)

This indulgent alternate history World War II film is possibly over-stuffed with story strands but as I said in my original review: "the pulse and tone of Tarantino's best work is intact." Read the rest of that review here.

5. BLACK DYNAMITE (Dir. Scott Sanders)

Though it was little seen, this is hands down the funniest film of 2009. Forget THE HANGOVER, this blaxploitation homage/satire/greatest hits has more laughs per minute and is sure to be one Helluva a future cult classic. Read more here

6. THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX (Dir. Wes Anderson)


Wes Anderson's stylistic whimsy works wonders in this friendly, fuzzy, and ferociously witty film adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved children's book. So does George Clooney's charm which I enjoyed more here than in a certain air-born live action film that is sure to get more acclaim awards wise.

7. BRIGHT STAR (Dir. Jane Campion) An unfortunately overlooked period piece centering on poet John Keats' (Ben Whishaw) doomed courtship of Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). A beautifully moving work with first rate performances including a scene stealing Paul Schneider as Keats' writing partner Charles Armitage Brown. With hope the Academy will take notice. Read my original review here

8. DISTRICT 9 (Dir. Neill Blomkamp) Without a doubt the most frighteningly original (and strikingly satirical) work of science fiction of the year. A misadventure in alien apartheid leaves a wet behind the ears field operative (Sharlto Copley) with his arm mutated to that of a "prawn" and he...oh, just go watch it. Read my original ravings here

9. ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL! (Dir. Sacha Gervasi)

This documentary about a Spinal Tap-ish band of aging Canadian heavy metal rockers may have you snickering at first but before you know it they win your heart over with their "never say die" determination. As I said in my original review: "Metal heads and casual movie-goers alike (which means just about everybody) ought to dig it."

10. BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL - NEW ORLEANS (Dir. Werner Herzog) Speaking of "never say die", Nicholas Cage re-ignites the crazy edge of his persona in this twisted and surrealistic corrupt cop crime caper while he re-ignites his "lucky crack pipe" yelling "I'll kill all of the break of dawn! To the break of dawn baby!" Read about more craziness and how this does and doesn't relate to Abel Ferrara's 1992 BAD LIEUTENANT here.


The ones that didn't quite make the Top Ten grade but were still good, sometimes great flicks - click on the title for my original review.

STAR TREK (Dir. J.J. Abrams)

THE INFORMANT! (Dir. Steven Soderbergh)

ZOMBIELAND (Dir. Ruben Fleisher) 

THE ROAD (Dir. John Hillcoat)

IN THE LOOP (Dir. Armando Iannucci)

A SINGLE MAN (Dir. Tom Ford)


AN EDUCATION (Dir. Lone Scherfig)

AWAY WE GO (Dir. Sam Mendes)


BIG FAN (Dir. Robert Siegel)

(500) DAYS OF SUMMER (Dir. Marc Webb)

MOON (Dir. Duncan Jones)

ABEL RAISES CAIN (Dirs. Jenny Abel & Jeff Hocket)

TWO LOVERS (Dir. James Gray)

I didn't write reviews of these but they are also strongly recommended:

SUMMER HOURS (Dir. Olivier Assayas)

GOODBYE SOLO (Dir. Ramin Bahrani)

WORLD'S GREATEST DAD (Dir. Bobcat Goldthwait)

More later...


Anonymous said...

Hey. I don't normally leave comments, but I just wanted to say thanks for the great information. I have a blog too, though
I don't write as good as you do, but if you want to check it out here it is. Thanks again and have a great day!

Earth Friendly Gardening

Reel Whore said...

I totally agree with 8 of your 10. I never saw Anvil so I can't comment and while I enjoyed Up it'd probably be just out of range of my top 10.

You're excerpt from Robert Altman is exactly how I felt coming out of A Serious Man.

Black Dynamite was so awesome and deserves more recognition.

Just saw Bright Star this week. Schneider gave a great performance. I got a kick out of his plaid plants ensemble.

He said, she said said...

District 9 was probably the highlight of the year for us simply because of its breathtaking originality. We have recommended to basically everyone we know who hasn't seen it.

Reel Whore said...

I'm the same way. I've told all my friends that District 9, Moon, Black Dynamite, and Basterds are all must-see films.

DanKahn said...

I pretty much agree with this list. As overhyped as it was, Avatar was still a great film. (500) Days may be my favorite of the year though. There's just a lot to it. 2009 was a great year for film in general. I still have a couple of the Best Picture noms to watch, but they're at the top of my Netflix queue.

Buy Backlinks said...

Thank you for this post. I have not seen most of them so I guess I'll be off to buy DVD's. Cheers!