We’re still in that annoying time of year when everyone is putting together their best/worst lists for 2009. Never one to miss an opportunity for additional bloggage, I’m going to follow the herd and lay out my top 8 favorite films for 2009. Yes, you read right … Top 8. There just weren’t enough good films to motivate me to want to fight off all the rabid Twilight fans at the box office for the movie theater experience this year.
So here you have it:
This super-smart send-up of the zombie genre was my favorite film of the year, and a complete laugh riot. A great cast including Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and (a very badass) Abigail Breslin all kicking zombie butt while trying to hold on to their brains. Bill Murray appears as himself in a short, but extremely memorable role.
Director Drew Barrymore really stepped out of the box with this Roller Derby/coming of age story starring Juno’s Ellen Page. Smart and funny.
J.J. Abrams brilliant re-boot of the Classic Trek that both preserves the integrity of the original series and opens up possibilities for a whole new world of Star Trek storylines. Awesome writing, directing, acting and VFX.
I loved Guy Ritchie’s re-imagining of the Sherlock Holmes-verse. Well written, visually stunning, with great direction and performances, I felt this film was the total experience that “Avatar” was not. While Downey’s Holmes seems more like a Victorian Tony Stark than Conan-Doyle’s character, it brings some comedy to a character who has had a tendency to come across a bit stiff in previous incarnations. I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Rarely does a big-budget, all-VFX-all-the-time, Hollywood tent pole live up to all the hype. Cameron takes immersive storytelling to a new place in creating this world and the creatures living in it. Better not to look at it as a VFX film, but an animated feature with occasional humans. As a film it is revolutionary.
So why is it so far down on my list? Story. While understanding JC keeps his stories simple and focuses on the visual telling of it, that didn’t put it in the same league as some of the other films on my list. Also, while the VFX were stunning, the humanoids just didn’t work for me. They were flawed just enough, relative to the photorealism of the environments in the film, to pull me out of the story time and again.
This film raised a lot of buzz for being a low-budget, high-quality, VFX flick featuring a cast of unknowns (well, unless you’re South African.) The real story though was the story. Original, different, not an “American” film, but a great story told well.
This is a straight-up revenge flick that makes Walking Tall (the original Walking Tall, not that bullshit remake with The Rock) look like Little Red Riding Hood. Gerard Butler’s a former government agency “brain” who’s family is killed in front of him by a bunch of, well, murderous thugs. Things go from bad to badass when the prosecutor, played by Jamie Fox cuts a plea deal with one of the murderers in exchange for his testimony against the other guys. This drive’s Butler’s character over the top, and a rain of terror commences against the system. This film is a wild roller-coaster ride.
Not a lot to say here … A bunch of Albanian’s kidnapping young women tourists in Paris for trafficking as sex slaves make the mistake of pissing-off ex-CIA agent Liam Neeson by grabbing his kid. He proceeds to tear Paris apart following a trail of crime and corruption, and leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake. Very violent, very bloody, and a helluva good potboiler. If nothing else 2009 was a great year for revenge flicks.
If you were expecting to find Lesbian Vampire Killers on the list, sorry … I didn’t see it. But the poster looked like it would grab some attention, and I’m actually looking forward to seeing it on Blu-Ray. If it ever comes out on Blu-Ray. 🙂