167. That is the total number of flicks I saw during the year. That's only counting new films though. I'm not even taking into consideration the ones that I watched as repeat viewings ("The Temptations" a few other times comes to mind). Having seen that many, it only stands to reason that there were going to be some winners. There actually turned out to be quite a few.
2009 was a VERY good year for cinema. I could already tell it was heading that way when I happened on contenders very early in the year. I was even able to factor in some honorable mentions again this year. You can click on each one to go to the original review then commence to the rest of the list to see the top 15 that 2009 had to offer.
15. World's Greatest Dad
Robin William's latest masterpiece made it in just under the wire. Is it one of those cases where a movie benefits from being fresher on the mind because it was the most recently seen? Maybe. That doesn't change the fact that this one of the better dark comedies I've seen. I was trying to think of what movie it reminded me of and it finally came to me. It's a little like "Election". Only more vulgar and twisted.
14. Black Dynamite
I blame "Black Dynamite" for faking me out ino thinking Josh would be a good source for movie referrals. However, this was about the only flick he and I agreed on this year. Although I will give him props for hippin' me to it. We all knew there was NO way this was coming to Des Moines. It's blaxpoitation at its best with Michael Jai White in top form.
This film is proof that a good film holds up no matter how long it's been since you've seen it. I watched "Taken" clear back in January and it stayed on my mind since then. The concept was something we have seen before with a hero going on a one-man mission to rescue someone close to him. But Liam Neeson doesn't fit the prototype action hero mode. Anyone with a daughter will easily have this on their "must-see" list.
12. The Wrestler
This one made quite a few lists in 2008 for one of the year's best movie. I didn't get around to it until this year in early January. My rule is a film is eligible for my list the year I see it "The Wrestler". Not to mention that I saw Marisa Tomei in a...um..different light. But seriously, I wasn't the only one who recognized Rourke's renewed skills. Now he's starring as the lead villain in the upcoming "Iron Man" sequel due in large part to his performance in this joint.
It doesn't get much more fun than this. Zombie films have enjoyed a revival of sorts ever since the 90s and all types of variations on them have been tried. "Zombieland" is almost like a "Shaun of the Dead" on crack. Or perhaps even on crank. And released just in time to coincide with the mysterious H1N1 outbreak. Of course I'm not saying that this movie is a preview of what's to come...but I'm just sayin'...
10. Man on Wire
A good documentary can captivate you just as much as the latest big budget major studio release. A great documentary makes this list. This was one of those documentaries that HAD to be made because there was no way you would have believed it if you they didn't have documented proof. There's no way this Phillipe Petit cat tight-roped walked between the Twin Towers, did he? Yep. Eight times to be exact. And you really have to watch this to believe it.
9. American Violet
The entire time I'm watching this 'based on a true story' film, I was getting irritated on a couple of different fronts: first and foremost at the unfair treatment the protagonist, Dee (Nicole Beharie) had to endure. The second, and equally as important, was the fact that Des Moines didn't bother to get this amazing movie. Instead, we get crap like the Jonas Brothers in 3-D. Do yourself a favor and don't sleep on this one like Hollywood did. It's a shining example of the type of product studios should be producing on the regular. And talents like Beharie deserve broader exposure.
8. Precious : Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire
Speaking of movies that never see the light of the day in the Capitol City. I heard that it did eventually make an appearance but if that is the case, I must have blinked and missed it. After seeing newcomer Gabourey Sidibe in a couple of different interviews, I had an even greater appreciation for her role as Precious. Although I'm still mad that the commercials they show for this film depict it as a carefree feel-good movie when it is the total opposite.
7. District 9
E definitely won't agree with this placement since he didn't care for this film too much. However, as I pointed to him, his ringing endorsement of "Couple's Retreat" has officially made his current critiquing skills VERY suspect. "District 9" makes it up this high because they took a sci-fi format and seamlessly made it a very credible mockumentary. All while not so slyly integrating a little social commentary. Once again, a newcomer, Sharlto Copley as Wikus, provides an extremely memorable performance.
6. Avatar (3-D)
I would assume that the regular version of this one would hold up very well too. However, it would pale tremendously in comparison to the vivid detail and imagery that the 3-D provides. For this film to take 10 years and $300 million to make, they certainly made sure to get it right. I like a conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but I don't buy into the racist overtone that I've heard some people express. And even if James Cameron is an ass in real life, he knows how to make a great flick.
5. Michael Jackson's This Is It
I can't even lie...the primary reason this is even on the list is because it's a posthumous acknowledgment to Mike's greatness. If he were still alive, this would just be a standard documentary that gives a behind the scenes look at how an MJ concert comes together. Since he's no longer with us, it becomes a painful reminder of how a once-in-a-generation talent is no longer with us. RIP, MIke.
4. Paranormal Activity
There can be such a thing as a one hit wonder as it relates to a movie and that's where this movie would fall. Much like "The Blair Witch Project" only more intense. To experience the what "Paranormal Activity" truly had to offer, it had to be seen in a theater full of people who are all seeing it for the first time. The atmosphere that creates as you are all shocked simultaneously is unparalleled. Even though this flick can really only be fully enjoyed one time, that one time produced a phenomenon that rarely comes around. Kudos to the director Oren Peli for fostering the perfect storm on a budget of less than $15,000
You have to be a "Star Wars" fan to truly grasp the awesomeness of this film. And I'm not talking about the last three "Star Wars" movies that came out. I'm talking about the one and only Holy Trilogy. "Fanboys" was tapping into that inner geek in all of us that hold near and dear Episodes 4 - 6. I'm not surprised that I haven't seen this one on any other top 10 list for best films of the 2009. It was a very niche film that had a very finite audience. I happened to be a part of that group and it struck a chord with me.
2. The Hangover
I just finished watching this again the other day when I received my dvd copy in the mail. I was extremely surprised with how well it held up on a second viewing. In fact, I think I even laughed harder the second time around. Okay..so maybe you could go to Vegas 100 times and NEVER have that type of experience. So what? It doesn't change the fact that the series of events they fabricated for this flick were HILARIOUS!
1. Star Trek
This wasn't on a single list even in the top 10 for best movie of the year. I just don't get it. We have gone thru a dozen different "Star Trek" films in the franchise and this is the ONLY one to get it right. That's hard for me to say because "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" always holds a place near and dear in my heart. However, J.J. Abrams updated a franchise with a reboot that blew away all of the competition. I would like to say you don't have to be a "Star Trek" fan to enjoy the brilliance, but that probably isn't true. The average laymen would look at this flick as pretty good sci-fi film. The "Star Trek" aficionado sees that THIS "Star Trek" was by far and away the highlight of the 2009 box office.