Without giving too much thought to picking and choosing, here’s a quick rundown of movies I most enjoyed from 2009. Probably many of these would get replaced by other names if I gave it much more thought, or if I made the list on another day.
(edited to add:) Antichrist
I forgot about this one. How could I forget about this one? The first scene is, perhaps, the most poetically beautiful and heartbreaking thing I’ve ever seen. And it goes on from there. Wow, what a visual, shocking, tormenting, agitating movie. Be careful if you watch this one. It will affect you deeply. If ever “Yikes” could be used as a positive adjective to describe something, it would be used for this movie. Lars Von Trier, what have you done to me?
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
With so many awful and/or boring recent performances Nicolas Cage had lost me as an actor, after being one of my favourite actors during his early career. But in this movie, he resurrects the brashness and go-for-broke acting choices that I used to love him for. A pretty great movie from Wernor Herzog with some nice moodiness, a great look, and enough twists and turns to keep it all interesting.
Simply, a good sci-fi. A strong, appealing lead performance, and special effects that (just barely) don’t get in the way of story-telling.
Drag Me To Hell
Director Sam Raimi returns to the genre that made him what he is. This is a fun, over-the-top horror thrill ride. Doesn’t take itself seriously, in the best way possible.
Suffers from the Film-Making Disease of the last decade – that being: too freakin’ long! Otherwise, a pretty sincere look at the life and impending death of a famous comedian. Sandler shows himself to be a very competent actor (much like he did in Punch Drunk Love, and a couple others). Good movie, good supporting cast. Just too freakin’ long!
I hated the first 15 minutes or so (mysoginistic, homophobic comedy), until the boys got on the road to Las Vegas, and was bored by the last 20 minutes or so, but the stuff in the middle was very very funny.
The Hurt Locker
Maybe my favourite movie of the year. Tons of suspense, and a Iraq war story that doesn’t preach to you. Had me from beginning to end.
Maybe my favourite movie of the year, for totally different reasons. So much fun. So many great scenes.
In The Loop
If you don’t know this movie, seek it out. A very sharp, very funny political satire. If the phrase “political satire” scares you, overcome your fear and treat yourself to this smart British comedy. I wasn’t expecting much from this when I started watching it, but I laughed quite a bit. Well done.
Norwegian (I think) movie about a train conductor who retires because and doesn’t know what to do with himself. Might not sound very interesting, but you will enjoy it. Give it a try, if you ever come across it.
A terrific rebirth of the franchise. My only criticism of the movie was that it forego with some of the meat that made the previous Star Treks so popular: This movie was pretty much all action. What I enjoyed about previous Star Treks (and missed in this one) was that time spent between action scenes, when the crew was soaring towards whatever destination – those moments they’d devote to character and relationship building. A small criticism. I very much liked this, and look forward to where the series goes from here.
Korean movie about a priest who becomes a vampire, and the woman who falls in love with him. A very good movie. From my favourite Korean director Chan-wook Park.
If you’ve seen it, you know why it’s on everyone’s list. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat.
Where The Wild Things Are
Fantastic interpretation of the Maurice Sendak children’s book. One of the things I loved about the movie was attention to little things about being a kid, like when the kid is under the desk watching his mother working on the computer, and we see him watching her from his weird angle. Or the sense of time-wasting when he’s in his snow fort, or the importance of the snow fight. Little things like that totally took me back to when I was a kid. Other than that, it was simply a magical movie.