Some years it is harder for me than others to choose my favorite ten movies– I’m not even arguing that these are the “best” movies of 2009 because there are so many different ways to think about films and what they mean. These are movies that particularly moved me in one way or another. Except for the first two, they are not rank-ordered.
My two favorite movies of 2009 are Kathryn Bigelow’s intense and revealing look at what war can do to a man, The Hurt Locker, and Jane Campion’s intense and revealing look at what love can do to a woman, Bright Star (see previous post). Okay those are reductive descriptions, but did you notice that for the first time ever my top two movies of the year are directed by women! This is exciting, and the two films are so different yet both so very fine. See these two films.
I was also deeply moved by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s film Sugar, which is about a Dominican baseball star who tries to adapt to life in the United States when he is signed by a Major League Baseball team.
In the classic Hollywood storytelling mode I have to choose Invictus. Clint Eastwood knows how to tell a story with mainstream appeal, and this one also carries an important message (see previous post).
In the compelling and independent category, I choose Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire. This is a long title but a must-see movie (see previous post).
I also include An Education as one of the better and more complicated coming of age stories I’ve seen recently (see previous post).
My favorite science fiction movie of the year is also dark but interesting, Moon. I thought about District 9, actually, but ultimately had to go with Moon.
My favorite animated film of the year is The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Finally, a Wes Anderson movie that doesn’t annoy me at least a little (see previous post). I have to note that I loved the opening sequence of Up! and adore Ed Asner, but the movie didn’t keep my interest throughout while Mr. Fox did.
My favorite documentary seen in local in local cinemas is the funny and poignant Anvil: The Story of Anvil! I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.
My favorite big-budget blockbuster is Avatar. Normally, I claim that form and content are inextricably linked, but this time I have to argue that the dialogue is so-so, the plot is pedestrian, but the visuals are spectacular, and the 3D effect really complements the themes of the film and enhances the experience (see previous post).
So, that’s ten. Where’s Up In the Air? I liked it but didn’t love it – for my money Thank You For Smoking is Jason Reitman’s better film (see previous post). I kept trying to find a place for Stephen Frears’ film Cherie on my list because I loved it, but it kept getting nosed out. I have to tell you that I do reserve the right to add either A Single Man or Crazy Heart when I see them – I’ve been waiting impatiently for both of those films to open in the Triad.