I present my list for the best films of 2009 according to me. These are strictly my opinion and do not reflect on other people's opinions. You may notice there are only nine titles listed. Well, there is a very good chance this list will change slightly. I did miss so many movies this year and there are a few that have the potential to be on this list. So in the meantime a place will be left empty for whichever film that may be.
In the meantime here are my picks for the best films of 2009 out of the ones I've seen.
10. COMING SOON
9. MY BLOODY VALENTINE - I love me my horror. And I love me my "fun" horror and this film is just that - fun. It's sort of a remake, sort of sequel, to the original classic. The 3-D in this film only enhances the fun factor. And I must say that the 3-D even at home is pretty effective. Especially on Blu-ray where the extra resolution makes the image a little more stable with the red/blue glasses. While it didn't reinvent the genre it did give it a fun 90 minutes which is not a bad thing.
8. UP - Can Pixar do no wrong? While not quite on par with some of their other titles 'Up' is still a very rewarding and emotional tale. Even early on as we have a sequence where we see the main character's life through a flashback it gets hard to hold back the tears. Especially if you've lived life a little. There is something true to Pixar's films which gives them such an emotional base. I think this is why they are so great. And 'Up' is no exception. Thank God!
7. WATCHMEN - While I didn't go gaga as much as some fan boys (or as angry since it's not 100% faithful to the source) I was heavily impressed by this film about an alternate version of our history if super heroes were part of our culture. Director Zack Snyder, after the 'Dawn of the Dead' remake and '300', knows how to speak the visual style of film. Visually the film is incredible. And while I think the message at times gets a bit awkward the film as a whole is an experience. And the character of Rorschach (played by future Freddy Krueger Jackie Earle Haley) is really incredible. If the whole film was about him it might have been higher on the list. The great thing though is this is one of those films that gets better every time you see it. It is one that'll be around for a long time. And deservedly so.
6. THIRST - Much like last year's outstanding 'Let The Right One In' this film offers a different take on vampires but much like that film looks at it from a more character driven perspective. A priest has an operation which creates the side effect of turning him into a vampire. His life starts to change and he lusts after a young girl who wants to become like him. A morality tale plus a little Lady Macbeth thrown in for good measure makes this another home run for director Chan-wook Park who also made the amazing 'Oldboy'.
5. DRAG ME TO HELL - It has been so long since Sam Raimi stepped back into his horror roots as a director. Some people were upset because the film wasn't disturbing. Well, Raimi likes fun horror. He delivers that here in spades. The beautiful Alison Lohman (what? She is!) plays Christine who denies an old Gypsy woman an extension on her mortgage which causes the old Gypsy to attack her and pay a curse on her which leads to demons harassing her and will eventually ... drag her to hell. Unless she can lift the curse. Many of Raimi's trademark styles are at play here and the film is just a lot of fun. You know you're in the hands of a master who is himself having a good time. So I sat back and joined in.
4. STAR TREK - I love Star Trek. I don't dress up in the uniforms and show up to jury duty but I do love the shows and the movies. I was a bit cautious with this reboot. The teaser trailer was cool but still I just wasn't sure. Well, I should have put my worries aside because this is one great movie. J.J. Abrams knew how to meld (pardon the Trek pun) the aspects of the original show and bring it to a new generation without alienating the original fans. While I feel the Kobayashi Maru sequence was not quite what I imagined when I first heard William Shatner talk about it in 'Star Trek II' the film as a whole is one giant entertainment. The kind we don't get enough of. The worlds of mindless entertainment and good storytelling can go hand in hand. Here is a prime example.
3. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY - The hatred I've seen from people over this movie. Why? Some people didn't find it scary. Ok fine. Why the anger though? I don't understand that. I for one found the film completely effective. Maybe I scare easily I don't know but I have seen the film (as of this writing) three times and each time I was freaked out. Sometimes all I need is a creaking door to get under my skin. Told in the first camera perspective (like 'The Blair Witch Project' and 'Cloverfield') of a couple who are being terrorized by a demon spirit so they decide to try and record the happenings. Made for around $12,000 and sold to Dreamworks this film also represents one of my dreams as a filmmaker. I'm sorry if you didn't find this film effective because it is for me and I am grateful for it. Well, I am when I'm not staring at a darkened corner of the room wondering if something is there.
2. TAKEN - I love me a revenge story. This one delivers. It doesn't try to be anything more than it is which is why I love it so. Liam Neeson plays a former government agent who is trying to reconnect with his daughter. She goes off to Paris with a friend but is kidnapped. Neeson goes off to find her and shows no mercy for the people that did it. The best scene in the film is when the girl is kidnapped as Neeson is on the phone helpless. One of the kidnappers picks up the phone and Neeson tells him they should let her go or else he's coming after them. The scene is both terrifying and exciting as we fear for the girl as she is taken and cheer for Neeson as he's promising to kick some butt. Now that is a father I like to see on screen.
1. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS - I have been hearing about this film for years. Quentin Tarantino talked about this film when he was promoting 'Pulp Fiction' back in 1994. As many people who know him they say he talks a lot about different ideas for movies with very few of them ever leaving his brain. I feared this was one of them but not so. The story of a group of elite soldiers out to do nothing but kill Nazi's during World War II and of a Jewish girl who got away as her family was slaughtered only to have the chance at revenge. I am glad the film wasn't made when Tarantino was younger. I think the more mature Tarantino brings more to the film that his younger self couldn't. The film is a work of historical fiction but one where we almost wish the real war happened this way. It is an amazing film with fantastic performances and some more subdued conversation pieces which while are Tarantino are not like they are in his other films. The opening scene alone is absolutely amazing. Probably the best scene of any film I saw all year. And the film as a whole proves Quentin Tarantino is one of our best filmmakers today. This is easily my favorite film of the year. Thank you Quentin for not letting me down.