Friday, February 05, 2010

Genres & Judgments: Best Films of 2009 Addendum

In my Best of 2009 article from last month, I listed nine movies I had wanted to see, but for whatever reason, did not before 2009 wrapped up. Aside from Sherlock Holmes, which I probably won't see for a while, I have watched all the items on that list. Here are my thoughts on each.

Every bit as good as you've heard. I won't bother placing the rest of these movies in my Top 10, but Moon would fit comfortably at #3. Duncan Jones gave us a Twilight Zone-flavored tale mixed with the stylings of Stanley Kubrick. I guessed a big plot twist early, but instead of it being the big M. Night secret saved for last, there was still another 45 minutes of film left to watch after it was revealed. Superb.

The Road
I was so friggin' mad at myself that I missed this one on its first pass through theaters, especially after I'd talked about it ad nauseum on the site since the summer. Fortunately, one brought it back locally this week, otherwise I'd still be waiting for the bluray release. It is a mesmerizing film. I cannot separate it in my mind from the book, so I apologize to those of you who have not read it as I continue on. Out of all the horrific occurrences in the novel, John Hillcoat only failed to include one of them. It is hinted at, so maybe it'll surface as a deleted scene, but it would probably be too extreme a notion for the common patron. I can only imagine how I might have been freaking out during a few of the sequences if I didn't know how they were supposed to turn out. Even knowing the plot points wasn't much comfort at times. Considering the amount of material that wasn't used and that quite a bit was added (primarily the Charleze Theron stuff), the spirit of the Cormac McCarthy's book is amazingly 100 percent there. What was added gave needed depth to Viggo's character, which was necessary for the film.
Just like the novel, The Road is not easy to watch. You'll definitely have to be in the mood for it, because it is an incredibly bleak peak at a post-apocalyptic world.

A phenomenal baseball movie, easily catapulted into my favorites (and I really like baseball movies). That said, this shouldn't be written off as a mere sports movie and, really, it isn't a sports movie at all. Miguel "Sugar" Santos is young pitcher from the Dominican Republic trying to make his way through the rigorous levels of the minor league baseball system. We see the difficulties of American life for a non-English speaker who ultimately has no one but himself to get through the rollercoaster of successes and failures in his path. This movie does not go where you think it will. It may start out as a baseball movie, but his ambitions aren't limited to the old ball game. A fascinating drama.

(500) Days of Summer
This movie is just plain good. But I warn you, although Summer seems like a romantic comedy, it's not. At all. This would be an awful date movie. Awkward doesn't accurately encompass the inevitable looks the two of you would share afterward.
I'm happy Zooey Deschanel reminded me what I'd forgotten after trudging through The Happening and Yes Man -- she's spectacularly adorable. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for Joseph Gordon-Levitt to be in something that sucks, and maybe he has, but I haven't seen it yet. The next Spider-Man looks to be in excellent hands with Marc Webb, at least with the Peter/Mary Jane stuff. Oh, and I'm pretty sure this movie has the best Star Wars gag ever (in the middle of a montage, no less!).

The Hurt Locker
Like The Road, this is another bleak masterpiece from 2009. Perhaps why this film has garnered so much widespread acclaim in comparison to the former might be the high intensity displayed in it's bomb squad scenarios and bursts of paranoia and violence. Those elements tend to grab moviegoers a little bit easier. That said, it has a deeply buried hopelessness and delivers a clarity of war via these three very different squad members, none of which are particularly heroic. After watching it, it's hard to argue with the title card at the film's forefront that reads, "war is a drug."

Public Enemies
A typical Michael Mann movie, meaning there's a strong script, good performances and excellent direction adding up to very good film that only severe nit-picking could diminish. Nothing really award worthy overall, but Depp is particularly good as John Dillinger. The thing that stood out the most was the sound -- I have never heard gunfire that loud before in a movie. But that's what you get when crooks and G-men duke it out with Tommy guns, and some of those scenes are gloriously brutal. If you like gun battles, car chases, bank robberies and prison breaks, this is a movie for you.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
From my review earlier in the month:
Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delight of a film. Completely satisfying in every way... A must-see at the earliest opportunity.

State of Play
This was a really excellent political thriller from the perspective of reporters working the story. Some very nicely veiled twists are mixed in with both the politics in the newspaper room as well as on Capitol Hill. It also contains some of the best examples of actual reporting I think I've ever seen filmed. While it doesn't ignore technology as it pertains to journalism, it may be the the last film set in modern times to forgo the utilization of the internet because I can't see how you could make a movie featuring a reporter and not have them use Google in the years to come. State is a love letter of sorts to the "golden age" of reporting, if such a concept is truly dead or ever even existed.


Adolfo @ The Essential Films said...

Good list. Moon is the most underrated film of the year. No District 9, though? For shame.

Unknown said...

Actually, my initial "District 9" review from the summer was re-linked in the original Best of 2009 post. This was just an addendum of stuff I didn't get around to seeing before the end of the year. It clocked in at #3 on that list.