For no reason at all, I made a top 10 list of my favorite movies of 2009, and why I liked them. Now, I can't honestly say these lists are what I truly consider to be the best of 2009, because I didn't get around to seeing a lot of movies I wanted to see and I'm sure many of them would be on this list in place of others.
10 Where the Wild Things Are
From the moment I saw the trailer I was anticipating this movie so hard. I know a lot of people were, and I also think a lot of people were disappointed. I went with my 21yr old brother to see it, and halfway through it he turns to me and says "Jeff, what the fuck are we watching?" haha. He wasn't impressed, he fiddled with his phone through most of it. I loved it though. I know to a lot of people it seemed pointless, because it didn't have a clearly defined narrative, but I was captivated by every second. Spike Jonze took a family movie premise with fantasy and special effects and made sort of a slice of life indie film with it. Those creatures were so complex and soulful and nuanced totally unlike what any other director would've probably done. And it looked fucking great of course. I really enjoyed it. I will buy the dvd, and look forward to listening to the director's commentary and all the special features and all that. Good stuff. Oh, almost forgot, the boy who played the boy... totally awesome.
09 Funny People
I kinda feel like maybe this film didn't get a fair shake. I think that's because people were like "Seth Rogen? Ugh, I've had enough of that guy." I don't really get that feeling about actors, I'm happy to watch them in movies all year long doing their same shtick if I really like them, and I really like Rogen. The movie was hilarious, and like most Apatow connected films it had the right amount of drama, with a nice but not preachy or heavy handed message. Also the "Yo! Teach!" stuff was great, haha.
08 Away We Go
John Krasinski with an awesome beard and Maya Rudolph were in this lil film about a couple with a baby on the way. They hang out with some other couples with kids and learn some stuff about what kind of parents they do and don't want to be. Easily the best part is when they go visit their new-agey/hippie/flower child friends who are against strollers but are totally cool with making love with their kids in the room. Maya Rudolph was really good for her first time doing some serious acting, and John Krasinski... Mr. Jim Halpert... well, I love that fucking guy, unequivocally. He's so charming, *sigh*. He has plenty of good lines. My favorite was him trying and failing to yell at his wife. His brand of sarcasm is great, and I really hope to see him in more movies (that are good).
I think 2009 was a pretty good year for sci-fi. This movie joins my favorite sci-fi movies list. I feel like there aren't enough sci-fi films that AREN'T about aliens or time travel or robots. There are so many other sciency ideas to explore. And sci-films don't necessarily have to be epic. I liked this because it's just one dude (sorta), and what makes it even better is that one guy is Sam Rockwell, one of my favorite actors, always brilliant and charming and enigmatic. I don't think there are a lot of people who can carry a whole movie themselves, and this is the best example of that since Tom Hanks in Castaway. In the movie Sam Rockwell has been living on the Moon for three years to collect lunar soil because it can be used as clean energy on earth. His only company is a robot voiced by Kevin Spacey (awesome), and recorded videos of his wife (he has no live contact with earth because of a damaged satellite). His stay is coming to an end, and then he find someone that looks exactly like him on the moon. Things get complicated, and the way the two characters who are the same person interact, and how they differ from each other, is really interesting.
Sascha Baron Cohen is a crazy genius. I don't think this was as good as Borat, or even as good as the Bruno skits he did on Da Ali G Show, but it was still hilarious nonetheless. It's pretty much the same shtick as Borat. Weird socially retarded foreigner comes to America and offends a lot of people and exposes our latent bigotry, this time he's a gay German fashionista. He definitely pushes the limits in this one. Be careful though, there's a big twirling penis that takes up the whole screen at one point. Only Sascha could make something that would normally just be gross and unwatchable to a straight male like me be totally funny. Funniest penis of 2009. Still gross though. I laughed hard at all the shenanigans in this movie. Now that Sascha has exhausted all his Da Ali G Show characters in feature films it will be interesting to see what he does next.
05 The Hangover
My boy Zack Galifianakis! By far with out a doubt the funniest part of this movie. I love that guy, big fan of his stand-up and his brand of weirdness is so hilariously genius. I loved the character he played in this movie. They should do an Alan sequel, haha. Besides Zack the rest was good too. Plenty of great "Wtf!" moments. One of the other things I really liked about it is that they let the characters, mainly Bradley Cooper, acknowledge some funny moments and actually laugh or grin at the weird shit Alan would say. They never do that in comedies. It made it seem more natural. I like Bradley Cooper too, I hope he leads more films. He's going to be in the A-Team movie, I hope that's not a turd.
A lot of people might disagree with me on this one, but whatever, I enjoyed it. Watchmen, the graphic novel, I love it to death, it's one of the most mind-blowing things I've ever read, so when I heard they were making a movie I was both excited and apprehensive that they'd ruin it. I hear a lot of directors wanted to take it in a totally different direction. Have take place in present day, make it PG-13, drastically change the story. Then Zack Snyder was attached and he was like "Fuck that shit!" and that's when I started havign some faith that it could be a good flick. I loved 300, and that movie kinda proved that he respected source material. He stayed very faithful to the books, yeah he changed some things, especially one major thing in the end, but for the most part it was closer than I think anybody else would've made it. I think the biggest criticism was of the sex scene, people say it was too gratuitous. You know what? Personally, you're never going to hear me complain about too much boobs. It was an adult movie, and I think the graphicness of that scene leant itself to what the movie was trying to be. Some people even complained that they added some awesome fight scenes, hey, it's a movie, they need to entertain people, why not throw in some action? I didn't think it took anything away from the movie. Why was it bad to show that these people could actually kick ass? To each their own I guess. I even like how they changed the ending, preferred it actually. The only thing I didn't like about this movie was the terrible Richard Nixon, how creepy and obvious they made the villain, and how they changed Rorshach's first kill. But then again, I can see why they changed it... the cleaver thing was more visceral and extreme, so... nevermind, I guess I don't mind that part at all. Anyway, the movie was fun to watch, looked amazing, and the Dr. Manhattan origin aaaallllmost made me cry. Maybe I would've if I didn't already know the whole thing.
I have to put this movie in my top 5 zombie films of all time. I think it was just as funny as Shaun of the Dead. Lots of laughs and lots of zombie killin. I liked the rules and narration, reminded me of the Zombie Survival Guide. And the cameo was one of the best cameos of all time. Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson were both great. A lot of people said Jesse Eisenberg was just like Michael Cera, and besides the fact that he was an awkward young man I don't see that at all, I don't think the way he plays awkward is anything like Michael Cera. I hear they're making a sequel, I'll look forward to that, we'll get to learn some more of Eisenberg's character's rules. Zombies are great for comedy. ONLY gripe about the movie was how the characters just wasted ammo all the time. So stupid. Wasting bullets you'll need in the future AND making uneccesary noise. Real nice.
02 District 9
Another of the reasons 2009 was a great year for sci-fi. I enjoyed this movie so much. Easily the most interesting movie about aliens I've ever seen. I expected to like it and was still surprised at how much I liked it. It was made on a relatively shoestring budget and still looked really great, more real then the majority of big budget CGI-heavy movies. I really liked the main character Wikus. He was very unlike most leading men in sci-fi/action movies. He wasn't a hunk, he wasn't noble and altruistic. He was a funny character, but ultimately sort of a douche, and not a very smart one either. He was also a passive racist. He of course comes around, but it didn't seem forced or corny the way he does. They marketed the film very well too, they didn't reveal too much of what the story was about, so a lot of things really took me by surprise, especially one very important turning point in the story (if you've seen it you know what I mean). I was also surprised at how much of an action film it was, and how funny it was. Really one of my favorite sci-fi films of all time.
Pixar, what can I say about them? They inspire me. The only hiccup they've ever had in my opinion was Cars, that movie was boring as shit to me. Everything else has been golden. They consistently put out quality movies that are instant classics and favorites of mine. After I come out of the theater watching one of their movies I can't wait for the dvd so I can geek out on all the special features. What I like most about Pixar is they CARE about what they're doing, and it shows. They want to tell great stories, and they succeed. They believe in what they're doing, they're willing to go out on a limb and tell a story about a dirty little rat cooking or a robot that says only 2 words the whole film. I have so much respect for what they do. Up was their latest masterpeace and such a well-crafted movie. I cried like a baby watching this movie, and it wasn't the part that most people say they cried at in the first 20 minutes It was towards the end, when he's sitting in that chair looking at his book. HOLY SHIT! So much emotion welled up in me! What a fucking moment. It's easy to make someone cry at a death or something else tragic, but an old man, sitting in a chair, looking at pictures of the life he shared with his wife... I think it takes some skill as a storyteller to get your audience to the point where that makes them want to cry. It was perfect, the back story, the music, the direction, the facial expression, etc, it was a perfect storm of elements to touch my fucking heart and make cry like a fucking baby.
It was a hilarious film too. I loved the kid, I loved Kevin, and I of course especially loved Dug. I loved Dug so hard, I demand a sequel or a spin-off so I can get more Dug. Oh and the action sequences? Badass. It was like something out of Indiana Jones, fun shit.