Favorite Movies of ’09
Okay. Here we go…my favorite movies of this year. It’s not exactly complete, as I’m interested in seeing such films as Hurt Locker, The Lovely Bones, Nine, Up, but haven’t been able to. It’ll have to do though. And rather than tear my hair out about if movie A is slightly better than movie B to earn the 5th slot but not quite as good as movie C, so maybe it should be 6th…I’m just going to have a honorable mentions list in no particular order…then my two favorite movies of the year. Also, aside from my top two, this year didn’t seem super strong to me.
Honorable Mentions –
* The Fantastic Mr. Fox – This was the first Wes Anderson movie since The Royal Tenenbaums that I thoroughly enjoyed. I may say it’s my second favorite Anderson movie, next to Rushmore, though I’ll probably need to view it once or twice more to make such a bold statement. It was actually a combination of style and substance, which “The Life Aquatic” and “Darjeeling Express” seemed strictly style and very little substance.
*Visioneers – This was a film that imdb lists as a 2008 release, but I think lacks a distributor and has been doing the festival circuit for the last year and a half. Anyway, it’s a dark satire about modern life, sort of similar to “Brazil.” It’s got Zach Galifianakis in it and he has several good scenes where he goes ballistic. Probably the most underrated film on this list. You can stream it on Netflix, so go do it.
* Anvil! The Story of Anvil – This documentary is the story of two Canadian dudes who have been the band Anvil for about 30 years and are still doing it. Despite being named repeatedly as a hugely influential metal band, they somehow missed their chance back in the 80’s. However, they still continue on and this film documents this, which I found both inspiring and unsettling. Perhaps it’s the fact that I fear I could wind up in a similar position, being 50 and playing for 10 people.
*Tyson – Another documentary for you. This one is pretty straight forward as it’s essentially all interviews with former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson intersperse with news footage and old interviews. I really liked it because, despite Tyson being a sociopath, listening to him give his side, I honestly believe that Tyson wants to be a good person and believes in himself. He just had a fucked up childhood and was then thrown into the spotlight before he was even 20. Also, his vocabulary is a little surprising as he peppers his speech with rather large words, albeit sometimes incorrectly.
*Inglourious Basterds – Kind of like Wes Anderson, this is Quentin Tarantino’s best film in a while. Found it thoroughly entertaining and thought there were some really good performances by Brad Pitt, Til Schweiger, and most of all Christoph Waltz as the bad guy. Though I could have done without Eli Roth.
*Observe and Report – Honestly, I don’t remember a whole lot about this movie, but I remember thinking it was both funny and depressing. So it works for me. Plus I always enjoy Seth Rogen. And after thinking Aziz Ansari wasn’t funny for the longest time, I’ve just recently converted. I give in. I like him.
*District 9 – Ugh. More films on this list? Jesus… Another solid movie. It’s a thinly veiled movie about apartheid. But it’s got some action. Anyway, anytime you have a fairly large budget movie that WASN’T made in Hollywood and DOESN’T have any bankable stars in it but still gets a wide release, it gets my vote.
Now for my top two favorite movies of the year.
* Michael Jackon’s This Is It – While I’m not the biggest Michael Jackson fan I know (that would be my bro, Tony, who I did see the movie with), I still enjoy his work and still feel the need to defend him whenever people start to bash on him. Yes, he was a weirdo and yes, there were some allegations made about him. But he was first a musician/dancer/entertainer and This Is It reminds the viewer that. Essentially the film is pieced together from several days of rehearsal to make a complete live performance. Some might complain it’s not even a dress rehearsal, but whatever, I’m fine with it. If anything, it makes it more real and interesting as several times you get to see Michael’s mind in action as he stops singing to hash out some dance moves. Honestly, I was surprised at how well he voice seemed to hold up as well as his dance moves. It’s just too bad we’ll never get to see Light Man.
* A Serious Man – Okay, I’ll say it. This is my favorite movie of the year. After the Coen’s two films, the decent Intolerable Cruelty and the disappointing The Ladykillers, I thought their best work was behind them. However, with their last few films, I think it’s some of their best stuff. While Burn After Reading isn’t as strong as No Country and Serious Man, I kind of see the films as a trilogy. The Coen’s have definitely approached the issues of morality in everyday life before (Fargo, The Man Who Wasn’t There, The Hudsucker Proxy…umm..I guess most of their stuff), these three really seem to nail it, with A Serious Man being the most interesting to me (not quite ready to say it’s better than No Country as I haven’t seen it since the theater). Their use of no-name actors (aside from that one guy from Spin City and that guy from Chicago Hope) really seems to heighten their examination of everyday life and especially in this third film bringing in religion. It all just worked for me.