Monday, January 4, 2010

My Own Subjective Top 10 Movies of 2009

Yes, I know, there are a TON of these types of lists out there, but this list has something that the other lists don't - my opinion.

Disclaimer #1 - The list below isn't strictly a list of movies that were released in 2009, this is a list of movies that I saw for the first time in 2009. You can click on any of the names of the movies to see a trailer if you'd like.

Disclaimer #2
- I own a Clearplay DVD Player (which, with Netflix, is the best combination in the world next to chocolate and mint), so some of the movies below were edited when I saw them and that is what my review/rating reflects (Alliteration! Woo!).

Disclaimer #3
- Since we have two kids and a small budget, I don't get out to the movie theater a lot, so I haven't seen many movies that actually did come out this year yet. I have to wait for them on DVD.

Disclaimer #4 - This list is meant for educational purposes only. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental or intentional - you decide. Apply only to affected area. May be too intense for some viewers. For recreational use only. If condition persists, consult your physician. Freshest if eaten before date on posting. Subject to change without notice. No postage necessary if mailed in the United States. Void where prohibited. Some assembly required. Batteries not included. Contents may settle during shipment. Use only as directed. No other warranty expressed or implied. Do not read while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. Please remain seated until the ride has come to a complete stop. Breaking seal constitutes acceptance of agreement. As seen on TV. The Former 786 and Slice of Fried Gold cannot be held liable for any discomfort, disagreement or rage while reading this list. One size fits all.

So here goes. . .

My List of Favorite Movies of 2009:

10. Pan's Labyrinth

Guillermo Del Toro creates a darkly mythical and magical world in this visually stunning film. Aside from the special effects, sets and costumes, I loved how the whole movie mixes reality with fantasy and you're never quite sure whether it is all real, or if it's all in our young protagonist's mind.


If you're not a fan of documentaries, this may be the one that turns you. Man on Wire is a true story that plays out like a heist film. Sure Phillipe Petit, the man who decided to do a tightrope walk across the Twin Towers, is completely insane (as is the team who helped him), but you can't help but get caught up in his insanity.


8. Up

Yes I did see Wall-E for the first time this year, and I did see Kung Fu Panda this year as well, but Up was the animated feature that I felt deserved to be on this list. The whole balloon house adventure is unrealistic, yes, but the relationships between the characters (especially the married couple) felt more real than many live action movies. It's a touching story that doesn't feel heavy-handed.


7 . Let the Right One In

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Take note, Stephenie Meyer, THIS is what a story about teenage vampires SHOULD be! This is a dark and horrifying movie that manages to hit some sympathetic notes as well. I've heard rumors that they're going to make an American version, but, based on my experience with most American remakes, I'd recommend seeing the original first.

6. Grizzly Man

One word can describe this film: Haunting. This is a documentary about a man who lived among the grizzly bears in Alaska for a number of seasons, with an obvious and heartbreaking outcome. This movie does a good job of not mocking Timothy Treadwell, but not condoning his actions, either. It simply presents what Timothy did and leaves it up to the viewer to make their own judgments. Grizzly Man stayed with me long after I returned the DVD.


5. I Love You, Man

This is actually a clever and original comedy - although it was quite choppy on the old Clearplay. Paul Rudd is an awesomely awkward groom-to-be looking for a best man and Jason Segel plays a uniquely energetic friend who helps Paul's character come out of his shell. The well-written story balances ridiculous situations with realistic interactions and presents a new kind of "romantic comedy." My brothers and I still laugh about some of the lines in this one.

4. Drag Me to Hell

Fun, fun, fun. Drag Me To Hell should not be taken seriously - just hold on tight and enjoy the ride. Sam Raimi does an excellent job of mixing humor and horror and deals with the demonic without ever becoming satanic. This movie plays out like an an old episode of The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt. I'm excited to watch this film again.


3. Watchmen

Having never read the graphic novel, I didn't know what to expect when sitting down to watch the Watchmen. This is a high-quality film that used its budget wisely. Watchmen is a dark and brooding look at an alternate world filled with Batman-like superheroes and it's surprisingly deep. It's a pessimistic and corrupt reality with imperfect heroes and moral villains, yet it manages to instill a feeling of hope, as well.

2. The Fall

If your eyes are feeling bored, WATCH THIS MOVIE! The makers of this film traveled to 20 different countries to find the most exotic and beautiful locations for the various scenes and storylines. What I thought were elaborate sets are actual landmarks around the world. The scenery, colors and movements in The Fall are breathtaking! However, this movie is not just eye candy, it also tells a moving story with powerful performances by a 6-year-old girl and Lee Pace (the Piemaker from the television show Pushing Daisies). I disagree with the rating, though. This movie should only be PG-13. I highly recommend this film.

And my #1 movie that I watched in 2009 is. . .

Yes, the Academy actually got this one right by awarding it the Oscar for Best Picture. Slumdog Millionaire is a stunning and uplifting film. From the performances, to the story, to even the soundtrack - this film is amazing! I've seen this movie more than any other on this list (plus, it's the only one on this list that I actually own) and it still evokes the same emotions it did the first time I saw it. Even the story behind this film is inspiring. It's a very intense film, but, once again, I don't feel that this movie deserved an R rating. I don't want to talk Slumdog Millionaire up too much, but I feel like everyone in the world should see it at least once.

So there you go, it wasn't easy to limit myself to ten, so I'd like to give honorable mention to Kung Fu Panda, Thank You For Smoking, Shaolin Soccer, Spanglish, In Bruges, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Joyeux Noel and Wall-E.

In case you're in the mood for more countdown lists (that have nothing to do with my opinion), click here for some more random ones from TV Guide.

Here's to a 2010 full of good movies!


--jeff * said...

i like your idea of doing movies that you saw in 2009. i might do something like this. or i might not.

a few thoughts, abbreviated from the discussion we would have if you were still 786:

i also saw "pan" for the first time this year. sadly, it was one of those that was so built up for me that i wasn't notably impressed. it was fine and good, but didn't blow me away, in part because i was expecting it to, and if it had, it would have only met my expectations.
maybe i'll give it another go sometime.

"man on wire" was up at sundance when i was working there, but it didn't seem that interesting. as it's fame has continued to grow, i've regretted not seeing it then (or since).

"up" is solidly holding the title of "best movie of 2009" for me, meaning that pixar has legitimately won that for three years in a row.

i've wanted to see "grizzly man" for a while. still haven't yet.

"watchmen" was really good. my brother had read the graphic novel and i was happy to have someone to talk with who could answer a lot of my questions and thoughts. i've heard that the extended cut is even better (and available on clearplay, too).

"the fall." apart from thinking you may have told me about this, i haven't heard a thing about it. i'll look into it (but please remind me to).

"slumdog" was purely awesome the first time i saw it. the second time lost some of the awesomeness, though i still think it's seriously dang. i would have given the year's oscar to "wall-e" or "the wrestler."

keep up the good work.

The Former 786 said...

Thanks for your input, Jeff. It's always appreciated.

Joyeux Noel and Pan's Labyrinth were battling it out for the 10th spot on this list. Pan's Labyrinth ended up winning because of the visuals and special effects.

Man on Wire is available for instant online viewing anytime you want to see it. . .

While "Up" is on my list for favorite films this year, it's still not my favorite Pixar movie - that belongs to The Incredibles. . .probably.

Grizzly Man was well worth the watch, even if it is kind of disturbing.

I'll have to try the extended version of Watchmen. . .on a night when I have 3 and a half hours to kill. :)

I think, as a cinematographer, Jeff, you really will enjoy The Fall. The visuals are what got me. Watch it now!

And I liked Wall-E alright, but I felt it was a bit too preachy. And The Wrestler was very realistic, but a little too grim and hopeless for me.

Can't wait to see your list, Jeff!