Archive for December, 2009

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Top 10 Films of 2009

December 30, 2009

Well folks, the year has come to an end, and considering I’m only going to go see Avatar over and over again (current viewing count: 4!) I’ve seen all the movies in 2009 that I’m going to see, which means it’s time for my top 10 of the year!  This year, which contained a lot of great movies, ended with a bang, and then another bang, and frankly this was the toughest top choice I’ve had in a while!  But with the good must come some bad, so there’s also a list of those ones to avoid.  And finally rounding out with some random awards that should totally start being award by the Academy, because these are what really matter in a film!  So here they are, those films from 2009 that you just gotta see (well, at least in my oh so humble opinion):

The Good:
10. Black Dynamite
9. The Princess and the Frog
8. Paper Heart
7. Precious
6. Fantastic Mr. Fox
5. The Hurt Locker
4. (500) Days of Summer
3. Inglourious Basterds
2. Up in the Air
1. Avatar

The Bad
10. New Moon
9. Nine
8. The last 10 minutes of Old Dogs
7. The Ugly Truth
6. Hannah Montana: The Movie
5. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
4. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
3. 2012
2. The Lovely Bones
1. The Time Traveler’s Wife

The One(s) That Got Away: The Brothers (A Serious Man and A Single Man) and The Young Victoria shared Broken Embraces under a Bright Star at The Last Station in Zombieland.

The Honorable Mentions: District 9, Star Trek, Sunshine Cleaning, The Hangover, Watchmen, Up, He’s Just Not That Into YouCoraline, Sherlock Holmes

Best Opening Credits Sequence: Watchmen

Best Closing Credits Sequence: Tie – Pirate Radio and The Hangover

Best Mutilation of Historical Fact: Inglourious Basterds

Best Pairing to Spawn a Demon Child: Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) of Inglourious Basterds and Mary Lee Johnston (Mo’Nique) of Precious

Best Pairing to Spawn a Smurf: Netyri (Zoe Saldana) of Avatar and Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) of Watchmen

Best Online Marketing Campaign: Paranormal Activity

Best In Theater Marketing Campaign: District 9

Best Movie to Scare the Shit Out of Your Kids While Simultaneously Entertaining Them: Coraline

Best Lack of Dialogue: The first 15 minutes of Up

Best Use of Dialogue: The first 15 minutes of Inglourious Basterds

Best Alternate Name for Unobtanium: Black Dynamite

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#72: The Hurt Locker

December 30, 2009

The one that got away this summer couldn’t evade my viewing all year long!  Thankfully I managed to catch this one before 2010 rolled around.

So what’s it about?: A group of explosives disposal experts run around Iraq diffusing bombs, inter-team tension, and the ensuing chaos.

The Good: Not only is it one of the best movies of the year, but this is one of my favorite war movies of all time.  Granted, this is a genre I have very little experience with, but damn was The Hurt Locker great!  The whole movie was crazy intense.  And refreshingly this was not a war movie that preached for peace nor did it glorify war.  In fact it almost watched like a documentary on action movie steroids without the bias that comes from a documentary.  And Jeremy Renner is an official member of the badass club.  Extra props for this being directed by a woman.

The Bad: Do not watch this movie if you aren’t feeling 100%.  Like I said, it’s really intense, and I had to watch it in two sittings from feeling nauseated.

The Verdict: One of the best movies of the year, this is definitely something you gotta see!

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#71: Nine

December 28, 2009

Yep, time for the token movie-turned-musical-turned-movie-musical complete with original “Best Song” contenders and all.

So what’s it about?: An Italian filmmaker has a lack of film ideas and an overabundance of women.  Musical chaos ensues!

The Good: The acting is outstanding.  Even Daniel Day Lewis, who is horribly miscast, is still great as always, and the star studded ensemble of women do wonderful jobs in their not-so-wonderful roles.  And “Cinema Italiano” is a freaking catchy song (and a surefire nominee for Best Song).

The Bad: This movie is a mess.  The story is, well, non-existent.  It’s a diluted version of a musical that is a diluted version of a film, and what’s left is nonsensical dribble.  The insertion of musical numbers seems almost forced at times, and the directing is just atrocious, as if Rob Marshall was sitting in the theater next to you screaming “It’s ARTISTIC!”  And frankly the ending was probably the worst, cheesiest, gag-me-with-a-spoon ending in the history of all endings.  And if I ever hear “Be Italian” again, I’m going to admit myself to a mental institution.

The Verdict: Pick up a copy of Fellini’s 8 1/2 and an original cast recording of Nine and play them simultaneously while running around in skimpy lingerie and smacking a tambourine and it’s just like seeing this movie.  Musical fans can just be grateful they didn’t put in “The Bells of St. Sebastian” and thoroughly butcher it.

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#70: Psycho

December 22, 2009

It turns out with all this movie theater going I’ve been doing recently (and who can blame me, it’s Awards Season!) I have neglected the fact that there is still a plethora of classic movies out there that I have never even watched.  And upon a recent realization that I’ve never seen an entire Alfred Hitchcock film, I figured that fact needed to change immediately!

So what’s it about?: A woman on the run after stealing $40,000 decides to check into The Bates Motel where some chaos ensues.

The Good: This movie is suspenseful as soon as the credits start and the creepy score is cued.  The shots were beautifully done, the story well formulated, and the acting was spot on.  Plus, any movie that can be suspenseful even when I know how it ends is good in my book.  Bonus points for Norman Bates being the cutest, most unassuming psycho killer of all time.  No one would have suspected him of anything, and that made it all the more scary.  And may I add that after watching this and The Haunting I’ve come to the conclusion that all horror movies should be filmed in black and white.  The shadows and lighting add a whole new level of scary and preys on a universal fear of the dark, when our eyes only see black and white.

The Bad: Frankly, despite the fact that it is wonderfully shot, the famous shower scene is, well, kind of laughable.  I mean, they did well with their limitations, but the should have done less.  Frankly, if a woman is stabbed multiple times in the back and slides down the shower wall, the wall is not going to remain white!  And I’m not saying it needed more gore (the cleanliness of the scene was almost refreshing in a sense) but the shots just needed to be retooled so there was no need for gore.

The Verdict: If you haven’t seen this, don’t put it off like I did and go watch it (it’s streaming on Netflix)!  This is a classic for a reason, and it’s a classic that stands the test of time (unlike the now laughable Exorcist).

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#69: Avatar

December 21, 2009

A movie with this much hype usually becomes a royal let down.  And back during ComicCon when we first saw clips of this, I thought it looked like an overrated mess.  But I have to say this has been the first movie whose trailer got better and better with each viewing of the trailer, and come opening day I was so freaking excited to see this movie!

So what’s it about?: In the midst of Pandora, a planet covered is lush forests, ginormous blue aliens and a mineral to solve the energy crisis on earth, an ex-marine finds himself thrust into the middle of the native Na’vi via his avatar to find out about the people, get involved in a little romance, and ensue some chaos in MIND BLOWING 3D!

The Good: James Cameron said this movie would change the way we watch movies, and let me tell you, he is 100% right.  I mean WOW!!!  Sure, some of the effects weren’t 100% perfect, but the strides this film made in technological advancement is definitely noticeable.  The fact that a staggering 60% of this movie is computer generated is truly amazing.  And the 3D adds so much depth to the film, it’s almost as if you’re there.  Naturally, with Cameron at the helm, the detail of this movie is spot on, all the way down to a brand new language (calling all nerds, now you can be fluent in Klingon, Elvish and Na’vi).  And I’m sad to admit that “I See You”, just like the film did, is actually growing on me, despite it’s sappy over-the-top-ness.

The Bad: You all know it by now, but the story is cliche.  They might as well have called this Pocahontas Dances With Ferngully Aliens.  But it’s definitely not boring and though recycled it still is a well woven story.  I only wish it had a little bit more humor to it, not to say there isn’t any, but it could have used a little more.  Sadly, this film lacked an awesome villain.

The Verdict: Stop reading this blog, turn off your computer, and run to the nearest theater showing this in 3D.  And witness the future of films!

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#68: Crazy Heart

December 20, 2009

So what’s it about?: A post-famous alcoholic country singer struggles to travel from crappy gig to bar to crappy gig when he meets a journalist and her son and ensues some chaos.

The Good: Naturally a movie about country has an awesome soundtrack.  But this also has a touching story and SUPERB acting.

The Bad: This is basically The Wrestler.  And I don’t mean they’re similar, I mean they are the exact same movie, only Crazy Heart has music and a tangible ending.

The Verdict: Yeah, it’s worth seeing, though yet another film you don’t need to see in theaters.  But sure to get some noms for acting and a guaranteed Best Original Song win.

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#67: Invictus

December 20, 2009

So what’s it about?: Nelson Mandela has become president and attempts to use rugby to unite the post-apartheid South Africa.  I guess some chaos ensues.

The Good: Well, um, it’s about rugby which is pretty unique.  So yeah.  And overall it’s a decent film with decent acting and a decent script.

The Bad: A decent film… but with a lot of problems.  Frankly, it tries way too hard to be an inspirational movie that it forgets that it “ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb!”  Yeah, that’s right, I just quoted that horribly sappy song, and speaking of horribly sappy songs, this movie is chock full of them.  Songs stuck in randomly for no apparent reason other than to have a shot at Best Original Song come Oscar time.  Too bad they are all laughably cheesy.  But there is no conflict in this film and no struggle.  And there should be!  And frankly I don’t know anything about rugby, and now I know even less.

The Verdict: If you’re ever in desperate need of a movie to watch come 2010, sure, pick this up at your local $1 rental kiosk.  But with all the other amazing films this holiday season, it’s not worth rushing out to see.