Top Tens of the Decade: 2009

For being a year where it seemed like nothing outstanding hit theatres, I really had a hard time narrowing down the list of the most memorable films.  In some of the lists before, I hated films so badly, they were listed because of the visceral reaction I have every time I pass them in Blockbuster.  Fortunately, this year, it’s hard to remember a film that I just hated (besides you 2012).  Standouts include Zombieland, Moon, The Hangover, (500) Days of Summer, An Education. There are a few that I haven’t managed to see (and probably won’t until they show up on DVD), like Up in the Air, and A Single Man, that I feel would probably make this list.  However, I’m pretty satisfied with the way it is now.  I’ve reviewed almost all of these, so I’m just putting in ecxerpts of my reviews.  Click on the movie poster for the full review.  And check out the lists from 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.

– The film is seriously stylish.  Camera angles, fantastic shooting locales, perfectly paired background music give the story a feel that’s just right.  The dialogue isn’t particularly witty, but leaves plenty of room for realism that will haunt you in every relationship you have now, or ever.

– I had the opportunity to read the original version of the shooting script long before the film was released.  And if (and I’m not sure who to blame here), they had just stuck to that script, the film would have been much better off.  It was a much closer adaptation of book.  The book worked so well because of its singular focus of a simple relationship between a father and son, in a very complicated world.

Fantastic Mr. Fox takes a whole lot of genius, mixes it up, and turns it in to cinematic gold.  Take one great story by Roald Dahl, combine it with the unique vision of Wes Anderson, mix in a little of the frighteningly pessimistic and hilarious Noah Baumbach, along with the voices of some of the best actors around, and you’ve got a film that promises to knock the socks off all those aged five to ninety nine.

– The cinematography was magnificent, filmed in almost all blues and greens with the rare scene showing blood, a bright red that jars the audience.  Cinematographer Hideoho Urata is to thank for the beautifully shot scenes that were all filmed within an hour of Tokyo. Yûta Yamashita created one of the most powerful and moving original scores that I’ve heard in a long time.

– With the help of one of his producers, Krasinski took the linear structure of the novel, ripped it apart, and threw it back together, in a completely non-linear way.  This was risky, for sure.  But paid off one hundred fold.  The acting was terrific on all counts, especially Krasinski who finally proved he shouldn’t be typecast and now avoid things like License to Wed.

– Each of the three pieces provides something for the viewer.  Some are easier to swallow than the others.  Str angely enough, this doesn’t seem to shed any positive light on the city of Tokyo itself.  It’s more veiled criticism than it is anything else.  If nothing else (and I think it’s much more than this), Tokyo! is thought-provoking and an interesting cinematic experience.

– The point of the film should be clear, some will say.  But Bigelow’s film has managed to transcend any sort of classifiable definition.  If it feels real to life, it seems to have served its purpose.  At the same time, it doesn’t leave the viewer feeling like he was just preached to for two hours, they’ve experienced something real, and authentic, and, perhaps, something a little uncomfortable.

– This is one brutal, daring film.  Going into the theater, I worried I wouldn’t quite ‘get’ everything since I don’t know much about the stife in Ireland.  But you don’t need a backstory in order to ‘get’ this film.  After 15 minutes, you’ll be as involved with the story as the characters are.  The tension felt can be cut with a knife.  Never has a ninety minute film gone by so quickly.  Despite the harshness of the reality Hunger is able to create, the film never falters from being perfectly balanced.

– At first I was underwhelmed, but as my buddy pointed out, Tarantino likes to make you think you’re getting one thing, and then give you another.  And it takes at least two viewings to get to his point.  The dialogue was witty (except the self-righteous moments, ‘In France, we respect directors…’ yawn), the acting was great (I’m looking at you Michael Fassbender and Christoph Waltz).  The biggest misstep was casting BJ Novak.

– The feel of the film is so perfectly and beautifully lachrymose, it’s impossible not to get sucked into Max’s imagination.  The script (which Eggers had a monumental task of taking the short children’s story to a feature-length film) wasn’t pretentious or obtrusive, it was charmingly hilarious and, when it needed to be, poignant and touching.  Records is a fantastic actor.  I can’t imagine any other child actor working today that could have outdone him in this performance.  While all the wild things were great, Lauren Ambrose really managed to steal the show with her voice acting.

– This is the only film I didn’t review that made this year’s list.  And while it’s not the scariest movie ever made like some touted it to be, it does make this list for being the only movie I can remember that really got into my head.  It really did just freak the shit out of me.

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6 Responses to “Top Tens of the Decade: 2009”
  1. Mad Hatter says:

    Nifty list – some not-so-usual suspects here! Added it to my wrap-up of everyone’s year-end list…
    .-= Mad Hatter´s last blog ..Decade pt. xi ( Top Five 00’s Movies – Best of The Decade ) =-.

  2. Blake says:

    @ Mad Hatter – Thanks! I was really disillusioned by the state of cinema right now, so I had to dig deep to find the underdogs.

  3. I really can’t jump on the Basterds train, but Mad Hatter is right. A different and original list of choices.

  4. Jen says:

    Just saw Inglorius Basterds last night and LOVED it!! Amazing movie! (Although I had to cover my eyes at many parts) I agree about BJ Novak–weird casting.

  5. “Two Lovers” keeps popping up on a lot of “best of” lists in the blog world, and with good reason. It may be Joaquin Phoenix’s best-ever performance (that’s saying something, isn’t it?), but more than that it is one of the best romantic dramas made in recent years. Isabella Rossellini deserves much praise for her performance as his genuinely worried, genuinely caring mother.

    And though I’ve avoided it until now, you may have given me the push to see “Paranormal Activity.” Then I’ll just sleep with all the lights for, I dunno, the next three years.
    .-= M. Carter @ the Movies´s last blog ..Clooney, Reitman hit new heights in “Up in the Air” =-.

  6. Blake says:

    @ M. Carter – I’m a huge Isabella Rossellini fan, and I totally agree that she’s the unsung hero of Two Lovers. So fantastic.

    I’d recommend seeing Paranormal Activity, although I fear something may be lost between the big and little screen. The worst thing you could do is go in with great expectations though. It really isn’t the scariest movie ever made, but it’s a solid horror.

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