11 March 2010

The Best Films of 2009

Honorable mentions:
Julie & Julia, Bronson, Il Divo, Away We Go, The Road, State of Play, Brothers, The Baader Meinhof Complex, Adventureland, Watchmen

25. Entre les murs (The Class) - An 2008 Oscar nominated foreign language film that is filled with personality and beautifully written characters.

24. The Blind Side - While lacking in much artistry, this film has a lot of heart and is anchored by Sandra Bullock at her best.

23. Bright Star - Not exactly fast-paced... but extremely lush. The cast is excellent, but the true stars are the beautiful costumes, cinematography and music.

22. Duplicity - A very smart screenplay is made a lot more accessible by the fun cast.

21. The Boys are Back - Don't let the lame name keep you from seeing this. A beautiful color palette and a great performance from Clive Owen make this worth a watch. I'm a sucker for melancholy bereavement movies.

20. The Informant! - Absolutely one of the best screenplays of the year. Matt Damon is the best he's ever been. Hilarious.

19. Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire - Very hard to watch, but this movie is layered with a ton of emotional depth. A great lead performance by Gabourey Sidibe and a super-strong supporting cast.

18. Up - While I prefer Ratatouille and even Wall-e, this movie is beautiful. Perhaps the most emotionally weighty animated film ever made.

17. Public Enemies - Michael Mann is an excellent filmmaker.

16. Where the Wild Things Are - I love when films have their own sense of style, and this one certainly does. A rich adaptation.

15. District 9 - Sharlto Copley completely owns this film. A surprising summer hit with a lot of technical merit.

14. Up in the Air - Not as deep as I wanted, but there is no denying the achievement of both the cast and the filmmakers. Really well put together and very relevant.

13. In the Loop - Probably the funniest movie of the year. The screenplay is so crude, but it is undeniably clever.

12. Avatar - The most successful movie ever, the most ambitious movie ever, an undeniable technical marvel. I loved it... but lets not make it more than it is.

11. That Evening Sun - I saw this at the Atlanta Film Festival last April and was hooked immediately. Hal Holbrook was robbed of his second Oscar nomination and the supporting cast should have scored some nods too. A truly gritty Southern film with a lot of soul.

10. Moon

In a strong year for sci-fi film, Moon stands out, thanks to an incredible performance from Sam Rockwell and a haunting visual vibe reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

09. Gomorra

Not much is explained to you, but you are taught a lot about the modern Italian mafia in this razor-sharp film. It is unnerving how real Gomorra feels.

08. Crazy Heart

Not an overly complex film, but Crazy Heart is full of charm. Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal are wonderful and the music is fantastic. This was one of the best times I've had in the theater lately.

07. Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino put his eccentric, gory sensibility aside... well, partially... and made Inglourious Basterds a classy film that is supremely entertaining. A score full of old Ennio Morricone standards doesn't hurt matters.

06. Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson's aesthetic transfers just as easily to animated film. A superb screenplay, voice-cast and art direction make Fantastic Mr. Fox easily the best animated film of the year.

05. Star Trek

Leave it to J.J. Abrams to not only reboot a tired, old franchise... but to make it into one of the best popcorn movies ever and one of the absolute best films of the year. Star Trek got everything right.

04. The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker is both visually and emotionally engrossing. Kathryn Bigelow's hand is all over this sharp war film. Great cinematography is highlighted by great editing.

03. (500) Days of Summer

As if seeing this at the Atlanta Film Festival and having my one true love in it weren't enough to make me crazy over this film, (500) Days of Summer is also really fresh, funny, innovative and... well... great. This film will follow around my generation much like Annie Hall did to its.

02. A Serious Man

The Coen Brothers once again prove themselves to be masters of dark comedy. A Serious Man is layered and almost poetic in how well it flows. This film has one of the best ensembles of the year to execute one of the best original screenplays of the year.

01. An Education

While the complexities of An Education might not be as obvious as those in other films this year, they are definitely present in Carey Mulligan's stunning performance, as well as in the performances of Peter Saarsgard, Alfred Molina, Cara Seymour, Rosamund Pike, Dominic Cooper, Olivia Williams and Emma Thompson. This film boasts one of the best ensemble casts in recent memory. Nick Hornby's screenplay is really great and Lone Scherfig and her crew really created a lavish look at early 1960s London. The soundtrack, costumes, set design and cinematography are all top notch.

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