OK – lousy year – agreed. I decided I would keep my top ten list to nine in protest. As usual, at least one of these is a little too old to be in a top ten of 2009 category but it takes me a while to get to see movies.
Not only was it a bad year, but – same as for you, Vic – it was a year when a lot of movies I thought would be good disappointed me. One of the main traits that qualified a movie to be in my top five was that they didn’t leave me with that sense of disappointment. Not really a high standard, I know. In any case, here they are:
9. Up – Surprisingly poignant beginning which actually made me sad. I can’t say Pixar movies often do this to me. Some clever bits; some funny bits. Nothing particularly great.
8. Shrink – This was one of a few that was actually better than I’d expected (since most reviews weren't great), but that’s partly because I hadn’t been expecting much. I’m a fan of Kevin Spacey, so I wanted to like this. Interesting enough to impress me a little.
7. Empties – Slow, quiet Czech movie. The central character is both likable and frustrating. I liked the plot of someone managing to turn a potentially “empty” time of his life into one where he somewhat turns this around by filling up those around him.
6. (500) Days of Summer – I was really looking forward to this one. It didn’t really disappoint me, but almost. It was an interesting well-made comedy. It made me think, but I didn’t necessary like the direction in which it was pointed as I have elaborated earlier. Interesting that we put it at the same place in the list in spite of your liking it more than I did??
5. State of Play – This was the first movie of the year that I really liked. Watching it after several duds in a row, I was so surprised, I kept telling others in the room what a great movie it was. I thought Russell Crowe was perfect. It was just a really well made thriller. Yes, the ending wasn’t perfect, but it was tolerable and unexpected.
4. Pray the Devil Back to Hell – I had to add one documentary to the list. (I wonder if I would have added Capitalism if I’d seen it?) This one tells the story of the Liberian women – Christian and Muslim – who prayed and protested their way into bringing some relative peace to the craziness brought about by Charles Taylor. It was well put together, making a fairly smooth narrative that is both horrifying and hopeful.
3. Avatar – Both for the wonder of the experience and for the moments of real potential in the story, I’m willing to put this at three. Somehow I’d missed pretty much all of the hype for this movie so I wasn’t really expecting much. While the ending (in particular) was less than it should have been, I wasn’t feeling at all disappointed when I watched this movie.
2. Up in the Air – George Clooney was great in this. Even though part of you sees it coming, the movie draws you in to the mobile world then hits you with the truth you really should know. Believable, thoughtful and entertaining – a great example of what a comedy/drama can be
1. Away We Go – I can’t really think of a good reason why this is better than Up in the Air other than that it’s an indie film instead of Hollywood smooth. I thought the lead couple had an interesting chemistry. I didn’t really know where the film would go, and I thought it was an interesting ride getting there. There were lots of very funny moments, though a few were that awkward kind of funny that is almost too painful. Probably not the kind of movie that is worthy of being a year’s best, but it seemed the best of an unfortunately bad lot.