Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Listology # 24: Top 10 Films of 2009

Oh, my. I haven't done one of these in a while. I've been trying to catch up on films in order to finish off their respective years so I'll get a more "finalized" list.

10. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
The Academy Award winner for Best Picture is a thrilling, intense piece of work from director Kathryn Bigelow. The vignette-esque structure of the film is actually a character study of a man who works in the bomb disposal unit during the Iraq War and how his psyche is shaped by the horrors of war. It features a star-making performance by lead actor Jeremy Renner who takes through the pulse-pounding masterfully directed sequences with the bombs.
09. The Road (John Hillcoat)
 I actually debated with myself whether or not to place this film in my list because I'm such a HUGE fan of the Cormac McCarthy novel. I will say off the bat, this is not a perfect adaptation but the novel is so poetic and so literary that its translation into celluloid is going to be very tricky. It is far from perfect but I do think it MOSTLY pulled it off thanks to the excellent performances of the two leads, Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the nameless father-son duo trying to survive a harsh, bleak, post-apocalyptic world. The strength of the material shines through and therefore earns a place in my list.
08. A Prophet (Jacques Audiard)
This is quite possibly the best prison film of this century so far. It is an intense, brutal and violent film about a 19 year old French Algerian who gets himself caught in the battle between two major groups of inmates, the Corsicans and the Muslims. It features one of the most unforgettable and shocking murder scenes of recent memory and fantastic performances.
07. Up (Pete Docter)
After three dark, adult and violent films, here comes Up, the wonderful PIXAR movie about an old man who decides to fulfill his and his late beloved wife's dream of travelling to a place called Paradise Falls He does this by having his house lifted by numerous balloons. The first 15 minutes of this film, that sets up the lead character, is such a beautiful, heartbreaking piece of storytelling and ranks as one of the most beautiful love stories of recent memory.

06. District 9 (Neil Blomkamp)
The allegory may have been a bit too obvious: Racism and apartheid in South Africa as told through the tale of aliens stranded in Johannesburg trying to live alongside humans. The film was amazingly only made for $30 million but features very impressive visual effects but that takes a backseat to the compelling story of a midlevel beaureaucrat who is forced to see things from the perspective of the aliens.

05. In The Loop (Armando Ianucci)
This is a spin-off of sorts of the BBC comedy television series The Thick of It. But you need not be a fan of that show to love and appreciate this biting and hilarious satire on the politics concerning the war on Iraq. F-bombs and cracking insults fly almost as soon as it starts and it almost never stops and the outstanding ensemble lead by Peter Capaldi all make it a joy to watch.
04. Up in the Air (Jason Reitman)
Writer-director Jason Reitman continues his ascent as one of his generation's best filmmakers with this smart, wonderfully acted comedy-drama about a man who simply travels the country firing people and suddenly is forced to deal with his own humanity. George Clooney gives probably one of his career-best performances and he is supported by the wonderful Anna Kendrick and the luminescent Vera Farmiga.
03. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)
I once remarked that The White Ribbon feels like Village of the Damned had been directed by Ingmar Bergman but that's being way too glib and simplistic. Writer-director Michael Haneke is indeed one of my favorites, if you noticed, since his films seem to be popping up a lot on my lists. This chronicles strange, disturbing events that seem to involve a group of children in a pre-World War II village in Germany. Like with many of Haneke's films, the film does not offer easy answers or resolutions. It is a film that stays with you and gets you thinking about its implications for days on end.

02. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson)
It may be animated. It may star animals. But make no mistake, Fantastic Mr. Fox is still a Wes Anderson film through and through. Anderson's quirky sensibilities is a pitch perfect match for this adaptation of Roald Dahl book about chicken thievery. The old-fashioned stop-motion animation may seem crude when compared to today's slick CGI animation but that just adds to the charm of the entire thing. It's one of the best.

01. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
I actually have mixed feelings putting this as number one of 2009. It's not because I didn't like it. Quite the opposite. I loved it. But personally, it's not my favorite of Tarantino's films (this is, at best, a third or fourth). I've read quite a few valid criticisms levelled against it which I think is totally justified but goshdarnit, it is a movie that is just oodles of fun for a movie lover and a Tarantino fan. It features an outstanding performance by Christoph Waltz as the Jew hunter Hans Landa, one of the most beautifully written villains of cinema. There's way too much good stuff here for me NOT to put it as #1.

Runners-Up: Where The Wild Things Are  (Spike Jonze), (500) Days of Summer (Marc Webb), A Serious Man (Joel Coen/Ethan Coen), Moon (Duncan Jones), An Education (Lone Scherfig).







YeamieWaffles said...

Asides from Rango Up is probably my favourite ever animated film and definitely my favourite Pixar animated film for sure. I'd love to check out Hurt Locker from this list although they all sound awesome!

Francis Lee said...

Christopher Waltz makes it No.1....

MWfishe said...

Basterds was incredible. I also really loved the effects in District 9. The movie was good, not great, but the effects really showed that you can make believable looking cgi that blends with the real world if you actually work at it.

A said...

I just got around to seeing the Hurt Locker a few weeks ago. I had been meaning to see it since its release, and I'm glad I finally did, it was incredibly well done.