Monday, April 25, 2011

Top Ten Films of 2009

I would have posted my top ten for 2010 but I have yet to see Blue Valentine, which would most likely alter my list.

1. A Single Man
It had everything I look for in a film: beautiful cinematography, powerful performances, and a thought-provoking script. Colin Firth may have won an Academy Award for The King's Speech, but he's even better in this film. I hadn't really seen him in anything before, but I instantly became a fan after watching this. Tom Ford made one hell of a debut film - the beauty of the script was matched perfectly with the beauty of the style and cinematography. As soon as the credits rolled, I was speechless and I hadn't had a reaction like that since seeing Synecdoche, New York...which is a very positive thing.

2. Inglourious Basterds
There are certain days when I convince myself that this is my favorite Tarantino film. The ensemble cast is remarkable. Christoph Waltz was fully deserving of every reward he received for this film. Michael Fassbender, Melanie Laurent, Daniel Bruhl, Til Schweiger, Diane Kruger, and Brad Pitt are equally brilliant in it. I love the fact that everyone in the film didn't just speak English the entire time. The tension was so palpable in many of the scenes. I especially love the opening scene, the scene where Shosanna has tea with Col. Landa, and the bar scene where the Basterds meet with Bridget von Hammersmark. Great stuff. Great movie.

3. Das Weisse Band
This was my first Michael Heneke film. I enjoyed this film because it's hard to put a genre on it. It's beautifully shot in black and white and it features very real performances. It's a mystery like Moon, but the difference here is that there is no clear-cut resolution...which I can dig when it's done the right way. I really loved the narration by Ernst Jacobi as well. The script is brilliant and the undertones of fascism are nicely layered.

4. Moon
It must be difficult to carry a film by yourself - James Franco pulls it off in 127 Hours and Sam Rockwell pulls it off here. Duncan Jones' sci-fi mystery is definitely intriguing and worth seeing more than once. I love the concept and the mystery behind it. It's definitely a film that requires your full attention and thought, which I love.

5. A Serious Man

Not one of the Cohen Brothers' best films, but still very well done. I really love Michael Stuhlbarg in this one (he's followed this up with some brilliant performances on Broadwalk Empire). I was also a big fan of the theme/concept. The idea of bad things happening to good people is a theme that should hit home to most of us. It speaks to the randomness of the world and that's what I love about the film - it feels real.

6. Up
I'm not really a big Pixar fan...mainly because they seem to recycle a lot of the same characters and plot. I will say that I am a bigger fan of the films like Up, WALL-E, and Ratatouille than I am of Cars, Finding Nemo, or the Incredibles. I know that when this film came out, critics worried whether or not children could identify with a character who's collecting social security, but I suppose that's why they threw in characters like Russell and Dug. Not that Russell is without his charms. I did enjoy the dynamic between he and Carl. Also, I think it's impossible to talk about this movie without mentioning the opening sequence. Pretty heavy stuff for a Disney film, but it was very beautifully done.

7. Bronson
Tom Hardy is extremely badass and I can't wait to see him as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. I would also say that you can probably get a sense of how Hardy is going to play Batman's nemesis from Bronson. The story of Charlie Bronson is a fairly interesting one, but Hardy just embodies the role. He's completely psychotic and the movie is very entertaining in a twisted kind of way.

8. Sugar
This film feels like a documentary. It's flawlessly executed. Those who know me, know that I hate baseball. The great thing about this movie is that it isn't really about baseball. It portrays a realistic account of how difficult it is to achieve a dream and the performances are very real.

9. Whatever Works
Larry David and Woody Allen?! Need I say more? Yes? Okay, I love this film not only because of the aforementioned New York comedians, but because I find it to be Woody's funniest movie in about twenty years or so. It's also an optimistic film with a theme I agree with. I like the NYC/Mississippi dynamic between LD and Evan Rachel Wood; very amusing and enjoyable. Much of the dialogue is hilarious and witty - mostly due to the fact that a majority of the script was written in the 70s. I don't know, I've always wanted Larry and Woody to work together, and I wasn't disappointed at all with the result.

10. An Education
I missed the first five minutes of this film, and honestly, I have yet to see it. Despite that, this movie still cracks my top ten. I love the performances by Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan. They have great on-screen chemistry; the interesting script and story compliments them well. I enjoy the doomed romance and the theme of education vs. life experience.

Honorable Mention: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Away We Go, The Brothers Bloom, (500) Days of Summer

Shite Films: Angels & Demons, Year One, The Hangover, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Land of the Lost, Slammin' Salmon (do not see'll want beat yourself to death with a brick).

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