And we have reached the end of our journey. After contentious elections, natural disasters a plenty, too many wars on terror, and global financial collapse the end of the decade still managed to offer up some funny fair. Movies like “I Love You Man,” “Bruno,” and “Zombieland” managed to sneak in a couple laughs, and “Up In the Air,” and “Duplicity,” managed to turn that laughter back around on the world’s woes. As the decade came to a close, even after all the trials and tribulations, the movies had come back from the brink of the void, showing some light, some hope that our Globalized world could turn it around and humanity could find an equilibrium between catastrophe and tranquility in the years to come. That is unless Roland Emmerich is right and we’re all dead in two years.
10 BEST FILMS OF 2009
1. DISTRICT 9 – DIR: Neil Blomkamp This movie blows “Transformers” to pieces, not only visually but in every other aspect as well. If something can be this good, look this great, and be smart while only costing $30 million that could spark a revolution. With this and “Paranormal Activity” making big waves this year maybe Hollywood will take a new look at the blockbuster formula. And then unicorns will get right to marry each other.
2. THE HANGOVER – DIR: Todd Phillips This movie could be better than the seminal “Old School.” Zack Galifinakis made himself ubiquitous after his performance, but is still hindered by the fact that no one can pronounce his name. Sorry Zack.
3. THE INFORMANT!- DIR: Steven Soderberg “The Informant!” is one of the most mind-blowing, stylishly original movies ever made. Soderberg out does himself, and continues to fight it out with Michael Winterbottom for the most prolific living film maker.
4. INGLORIOUS BASTERDS – DIR: Quentin Tarantino “This is Jewish revenge!” will live on as one of the best lines of all time. For the last ten years Tarantino has put out four great movies. I hope in the next ten he’ll keep up the pace.
5. IT MIGHT GET LOUD – DIR: Davis Guggenheim Boy, Jack White comes off as a douche. It is still a great movie solidifying Guggenhiem as one of the world’s best documentarians.
6. PUBLIC ENEMIES – DIR: Michael Mann Mann, I love this movie. This could have been the smartest script of the year, and with Michael Mann’s visual style it propelled it to one of the most interesting movies out in 2009, though I would wager a lot of people didn’t agree… but then if that’s the case they they should just watch “Mama Mia” for the tenth time and shut up.
7. A SERIOUS MAN – DIR: The Coen Brothers My favorite movie of the year. If the Coen Brothers quit right now it would be on a high note. It took a lot of chutzpah to make this movie with no stars that has such a limited potential to gain an American audience (not a huge amount of Jews in the Heartland). This seems like their most intimate movie, and for that their most challenging. Most people don’t want to be intimate with the minds that can think up “Blood Simple,” it is just too creepy.
8. UP – DIR: Pete Doctor & Bob Peterson Once again Pixar swings for the fences and scores. The film is good for both kids and adults. Kids get talking dogs, adults get the fear of mortality, seems like a good trade off.
9. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE – DIR: Spike Jonze What a whimsically wonderful film this is. Spike Jonze really comes into his own as a filmmaker fleshing out the world Maurice _Sendak created. It seems like the book was written specifically for Jonze to direct because I can’t think of anyone that could have made a movie filled with such knowing innocence as this.
10. LEAVING OPEN JUST IN CASE “THE HURT LOCKER” IS AS AMAZING AS EVERYONE SAYS, OR “THE WHITE RIBBON” LIVES UP TO THE HANEKE BRAND.
10 WORST FILMS OF 2009
1. ANGELS AND DEMONS – DIR: Ron Howard Even though Ron Howard pulled a decent, if not extremely safe, movie out of his ass in “Frost/Nixon” his follow up falls right back into the old pattern of placating the great unwashed. “Angels and Demons” is better than the abysmal “The Da Vinci Code,” but not by much. I want the old Tom Hanks back. The “Money Pit,” “Bachelor Party” Tom Hanks. At least his hair was cool.
2. THE IMAGNIARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS – DIR: Terry Gilliam Don’t see this movie. I know it is a curiosity. It is Heath Ledger’s last movie, and it is Terry Gilliam, and Mini Me is in it, but believe me you will be disappointed. I have thrown myself on that grenade for you, sacrificed my two hours and parts of my brain so that you won’t have to. Don’t let it go to waste.
3. THE INTERNATIONAL – DIR: Tom Tykwer On the surface this movie is fine – nothing more, nothing less. Underneath the action exterior it is a pretentious gas bag. Its supposed commentary on politics, finance, and art are so annoying it takes all that mediocrity and dumps it in the toilet.
4. JENNIFER’S BODY – DIR: Karyn Kusama The convergence of Diablo Cody and Megan Fox is a bomb of faux-feminine empowerment waiting to detonate the minds of young women everywhere. If this is really the new definition of “Girl-Power” I weep for the future of young women everywhere. And the movie is annoying and dumb.
5. S. DARKO – DIR: Chris Fisher If you watch the EPK on the DVD for this movie everyone on the crew says the same thing, “When I heard they were going to make a sequel to ‘Donnie Darko’ I was like, ‘huh?'” Then they go on to explain why it was such a good idea. It wasn’t. You can see every one of their noses growing. I don’t believe anyone involved with this ludicrous, choppy, clumsy movie thought it was going to work.
6. TERMINATOR SALVATION – DIR: McG This movie shies away from anything interesting settling for bland and typical. I am impressed, however, by Sam Worthington’s agent. Worthington is everywhere, he came out of nowhere. He’s okay, but he’s no Schwarzenegger, but who is? Don’t say Guy Bustamonte.
7. TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN- DIR: Michael Bay Another terrible, confusing, boring, movie from the director of “Armageddon.” Though I do love “Armageddon.” And “The Rock.” Which is strange because I can’t put my finger on where Bay has gone awry, but his newer films have all been missing something. It isn’t believability, none of them had that. It isn’t heart, all of them are manipulative and silly. But there was something amazing and absurd about those early pictures that has been lost. I often cry about it at night.
8. THE UGLY TRUTH – DIR: Robert Luketic I’m not a Katherine Heigel fan. She says bone headed things about the people who made her famous. That being said she is also terrible in this picture. She can’t pull off cute or funny. Strident and piercing maybe. She needs to play the villain in a movie, something where she can really flex her talents.
9. X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE – DIR: Gavin Hood No matter what your opinion of the “X-Men” franchise I defy you to deny that this is the worst of the bunch. And it is a shame because in the other films Wolverine is the most interesting character. The love triangle with Cyclops, Jane Grey, and he from “X-Men 2” is pretty good. This movie made me want to watch “Heros” just to see how to do mutants right… which is sad because “Heros” has sucked since Season 2.
10. YEAR ONE – DIR: Harold Ramis There isn’t anything funny about this movie. If you set a comedy during the Bible you better follow through with some jokes about Christians and Jews and God and Jesus… you know, take some chances. Don’t just make fart jokes. Save yourself and just watch “Life of Brian.”
MOST OVER RATED FILM OF 2009
AVATAR – DIR: James Cameron A friend of mine said that it wasn’t fair to call this movie Avatarded. While watching it the visuals almost melted my eyes they were so good, but the story was just “Dances with Jakesully.” This could have been a victim of its own hype for me because I just wanted the story to be of the quality of “The Terminator” or “The Abyss,” and I got something somewhere between “T2” and “Titanic.” The massive cries of “Game Changer” are correct because technically this is the movie of the year, but as for story and character it went the way of “Gangs of New York” for me.
MOST UNDER RATED FILM OF 2009
G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA – DIR: Steven Sommers I am aware that I am nay-saying “Avatar” yet championing “G.I. Joe,” but this movie is pretty damned fun. The catch is you can’t think about it before, during, or after you watch it. Just sit down and enjoy the ride because the moment you start analysing this movie it falls apart. Call it movie going for the mentally handicapped.
SPECIAL MENTION – MOST INDEFINABLE FILM OF THE DECADE
ANTI-CHRIST- DIR: Lars Von Trier This is actually one movie I can neither say is good or bad, that I can recommend or not. It exists and there is little more to say about it other than it is truly a powerful work of art. Whether that translates to something everyone should see I leave that up to their tolerance for brutality both on screen and directed toward the audience. “Anti-Christ” is of questionable taste, of brilliant intellect, and of utter disregard for the well being of those watching it.
That was the first decade of this new century… in my opinion.
By Paul S. Myers