Friday, January 8, 2010

Films I Enjoyed from 2009

In follow up to my “Best Films of the Decade” post, I thought I’d give a little review of some of my favorite films of 2009. The first caveat I want to put out there is there are A LOT of films from 2009 I want to see and have not yet. These include:

Away We Go, The Blind Side, Coco Before Chanel, Crazy Heart, District 9, Earth, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Funny People, Inglorious Bastards, The Invention of Lying, Nine, Paper Heart, Pirate Radio, Precious, The September Issue, Taking Woodstock, Where the Wild Things Are, Whip It, Women in Trouble.

Wow. So, that’s a lot of movies. So many, in fact that I changed the title of this post from “Best of” to “Films I Enjoyed.” If any of you have thumbs up type feelings toward films in the list above, I’d like to know which ones so I can order my Netflix list appropriately. That said, here are some good movies I saw this year, which has largely been a crap one as far as movies are concerned.

(500) Days of Summer – I loved this movie. Loved it. And I am not just saying that because I drove over an hour across LA to see it when it came out absolutely nowhere near Riverside. I’m saying it because it was funny, smart, bittersweet, and starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who—take my word for it – is one of the best young actors in Hollywood today.

Julie & Julia – This is a sweet little film where, once again, Meryl Streep proves that she is probably one of the most talented women in American film today. Amy Adams is good, sure, and the story is an inspiring story about finding your way by pursuing what you really love, even if you have to do it in your spare time after your boring and difficult job, but Streep is the reason to see this one.

Let the Right One In – What a fantastic film! I don’t know a lot about Scandinavian film, admittedly, but this seemed to have all the hallmarks – namely sparse landscapes and slow pacing – and yet, because of the romantic and mysterious story, it works.

The Men Who Stare at Goats – This was a hilarious little film that will shock you by the fact that it is based on a true story. A great comedy from Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, and – of course – George Clooney.

Push – Chris Evans finally gets a good role here alongside Dakota Fanning in possibly the best sci-fi story of the year. I know, I know, Star Trek was great – but this was an original story with original characters and it was *NOT* predictable. Let me say that again – I did not see the ending coming, and that is getting rarer and rarer in films. Rent it. It’s good.

Sherlock Holmes – Just saw it last weekend. Probably the best “BIG FILM” of 2009. It’s everything it promises to be – fancy acting, period clothing, awesome fighting, big explosions. Also, the trailers did not, in fact, give that much about the plot away, nor did it show me all the best scenes, which impressed me.

Star Trek – You know what? It was good. Much like Casino Royale made Bond good again, this Star Trek rebooted the system. Was there overacting? Yes, but it was done in an homage-y way that worked. Was it Star Trek-tastic? Yes, so I hope you enjoy Star Trek, or the general space exploration and adventure genre. But as they go – this was a good one. Certainly worth renting.

Sunshine Cleaning – This was not a comedy. No. Seriously. Do not believe the trailers. It’s a drama with a few laughs, but mostly it’s a drama. Very well acted, it’s got a Little Miss Sunshine/Smart People feel to it. I really enjoyed it.

Up – Possibly the best film of the year. Pixar takes on loneliness, divorce, and ageism and creates a funny and sweet film that somehow comes out for the best in the end. The fact that they manage it is an incredible accomplishment in storytelling. If you see one film this year, this should probably be the one.

So let's call this Part I of the "Best of 2009" to be revisited in three or four months when I finally get through the rest of my list!

Tomorrow, back to perfume. I promise!


Ines said...

I don't think this list would be right without Sherlock Holmes. :)
Actually, from your list, I only saw Star Trek, and that was really good, but Sherlock was brilliant in my opinion (I loved the little boy banter between Sherlock and Watson). :)
As you can see, I'm not much a movie watcher (more a book reader).

Diana said...

Ines, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter if you don't see many if you see the good ones! :)

I'm a reader, too. During law school I was always so mentally burnt out from school reading that my mind couldn't handle more than random movie watching. I decided I'd make a goal of it, though, so I watched the AFI top 100 film s of the 20th century, and then I moved on to other classics/film noirs. I've found I get a lot more out of film watching now having seen so many classics.

I love to read, though. Now that I'm out of school I read a whole lot more than I could in school. I love your book reviews because I'm always looking for new material!