Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Best Movies of 2009

Every year it seems like I intend to get out and see more movies, and every year I fail once again. I only visited the theater nine times, and only managed to at least catch one new movie at home before writing this. Quite shameful. It didn't exactly strike me as the best year, with only one film I'd call outstanding in addition to a handful of solid genre stuff. I should have at least seen the new Coen movie, though.

Best of 2009

7. The Men Who Stare at Goats

I'm not sure what's holding me back from really embracing this movie, but I did enjoy it quite a bit. Any time a comedy takes a few steps away from the traditional beats of the genre, it's usually worth at least a try, and this film makes for a nice mix of relevance and sci-fi absurdity. Plus it's hard to go wrong with that cast.

6. The Hangover

There really isn't that much that separates this movie from the pack of mainstream comedy, but the likability of the whole cast and especially Zach Galifianakis' breakout role just make it work. It was a bit of a risk letting him do his own thing in what is otherwise fairly standard stuff, but thankfully it seems to have been a good idea. Definitely hits the ceiling for this sort of movie.

5. Avatar

Flawed yes, but ultimately I find Avatar much easier to like than hate. It's already the second highest grossing movie worldwide ever, after of course Cameron's last movie, but I actually enjoyed this one for the most part, and it didn't do the disservice of putting me off one of the best actors currently in his 30s for about a decade.

4. Zombieland

Just a straight-up fun movie and one of the best surprises of the year. I don't know how much the writers being handed Deadpool affects the possibility of sequels going forward, but I'm not sure they're necessary. Just showing a snippet of life in the zombie apocalypse was all they had to do, and it worked out pretty well in pretty much any way you could hope. Good times.

3. District 9

I didn't love it like it seemed most of the online community did, but it was still a well done, passionate film that had something to say. It's striking how similar it is to Avatar in some ways, but District 9 isn't weighed down by a budget in the hundreds of millions and a need to make that all back, allowing it to take chances and present a more interesting, darker vision. And I won't get tired of watching people explode into splashes of red goo for a long time.

2. Star Trek

I've seen 79 episodes and seven films in this series, and I enjoyed this the most pretty easily. We'll see how much longer its success can carry my interest in exploring the decades-old franchise, but in case I'll always enjoy it for being a relatively intelligent space travel movie with a very likable cast and wonderfully paced adventure. You know, I didn't even realize Eric Bana was the villain while I was watching it? That was odd. I need to see it again now that I know Bones is awesome.

1. Inglourious Basterds

Basterds wasn't really what anyone who didn't read the script expected. And for some people that was a very bad thing. They wanted a couple hours of Brad Pitt and some Jews kicking Nazi ass, and instead they got a lot of long scenes mostly depicting extended conversations between some Europeans. And they were disappointed. For those people, I am very sorry that they didn't get it. I could have enjoyed what the trailers seemed to promise, but what I actually got was so much smarter, and better, and well, more Quentin Tarantino. He had the audacity to end the movie by having Brad Pitt look at the audience and essentially call the film his masterpiece, and you know what, I think it was. Fantastic movie.

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