2009's Top Ten Films:
The Wrestler (18/1/09):
Mickey Rourke triumphantly thunders back onto the centre stage after success, obscurity, and a series of memorable supporting roles, in an affecting turn as the fading wrestler who missed his big shot. Moving, emotionally complex, and beautifully directed.
Crank 2: High Voltage (19/4/09):
An insanely over-the-top nitrous injection of chest-thumping manliness. As if Nuts magazine was made into a movie, it's the ideal watch for a group of lads. Constantly surprising in it's never-ending flood of adrenaline and preposterousness.
Drag Me To Hell (31/5/09):
The best cinema going experience of 2009, and one of the all-time best cinema trips I've ever had. Despite the PG-13 rating, it managed to scare the bejesus out of the entire audience (a matinee performance, yet bustling) - myself included. The return of Sam Raimi's mad streak should bode well for Spider-Man 4.
Inglourious Basterds (16/8/09):
Tarantino's bonkers, long-in-waiting WW2 epic. Despite some script flab, lengthy cat & mouse dialogue battles have rarely been this tense. Interspersed with moments of vibrant, none-more-confident violence, how could you resist Pitt's jaw-jutting Aldo Raine's attempt at an Italian accent?
District 9 (6/9/09):
Smart science fiction returns after numerous entries into the annals of vaguely sci-fi pish (Transformers 2, Terminator 4). Politically restrained, yet conscious sci-fi action from the men who almost got to give the world the Halo movie (which was promising from YouTube'd test footage).
Dead Snow (DVD):
Tag-lined brilliantly with "Ein, Zwei, Die!", it's got zombie Nazis in it. What's not to love? Gleefully OTT gore with a silly streak a mile wide.
Thoughtful and enthralling coming-of-age comedy drama. 'From the director of Superbad' was the wrong way to sell it, but nevertheless Kristen Stewart manages to make the entire audience fall in love with her, as 80s nostalgia reigns supreme, and everyone reminisces about their own youth - whether it was like Adventureland or not.
Wonderfully entertaining zombie comedy (despite the runners) with Woody Harrelson's glorious Tallahasse pulling us all along for the ride. A brilliant cameo from a comedy legend, and some truly stunning emotional moments really adds depth to what could have otherwise been Dead & Breakfast (which was a pish 'zomedy').
More smart science fiction, this time from the talented duo of Duncan Jones and Sam Rockwell. It wrong-foots you with a smart, slow burn script that plays with convention and reverence for such sci-fi greats as 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Silent Running.
My movie of 2009 is the triumphant return of an older, wiser, mellower James Cameron. Despite the predictable, under-cooked story arc, the real reason to love Avatar is for the chance to visit the lush, fully realised world of Pandora, and to fall in love with a 10ft blue CGI alien called Neytiri. Employing subtle and involving 3D, we're all along for the ride. Undeserving of some (note "some") of the harsh criticism levelled at it (anything with a large, loving following and buckets of hype is subjected to scattergun bitterness from a vocal gang), this film allows you to visit another world entirely. An inconsistently developed, but wondrous nonetheless, show from one of the greatest showmen in cinema history.
Gran Torino (8/3/09):
Clint Eastwood manages to make every man in the audience develop a lump in their throats as the screen icon confronts his mortality through a comically racist, cantankerous old-school grump of a character. While not his greatest film, it's far from his worst, and certainly one of his most thoughtful entries in a long and illustrious career.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (8/11/09):
A wonderfully weird march of Gilliam craziness that famously features the final screen appearance of Heath Ledger. It boggles the mind, but you still come out sure enough that you've seen something of quality.
I'm not known for Zack Snyder fandom (the Dawn of the Dead remake was a load of bullshit, and I explained why via 110 reasons in 110 minutes ... and the style-over-substance 300 was the gayest film loved by homophobes, and one that was just daft and tub-thumping to everyone else - for better or worse), however Watchmen is his best film to date. That said it's not saying much on his past performance, and while the movie could have been directed by anyone if you didn't know otherwise (aside from the overuse of slow-mo), he at least delivered a faithful (sometimes slavishly) adaptation of a property that was long-considered unfilmable. Some might say it should have remained that way, but it is an (occasionally flawed) interestingly dark version of superhero lore. Complex, political, ponderous, morally ambiguous, violent and even a bit sleazy, it is a memorable flick (and not just because of Dr Manhattan's gigantic blue wang).
His Name Was Jason (DVD):
Out of all the major slasher icons, Jason is my favourite, and this year I picked up this excellent 2-disc DVD documentary all about the franchise. While the main feature is flawed, the wealth of revealing extras more than make up for it. Indispensible for all Jason fans.
My Name Is Bruce (DVD):
As a big Bruce Campbell fan, this fun little romp was great fun to watch. Plus the DVD is packed with revealing and hilarious extra features.
A haunting, disturbing and even artistic French horror that takes the (sigh) "torture porn" sub-genre by the scruff of the neck and turns it into something better.
And so there we have it, my run down of the best movies I've seen in 2009. To everyone reading, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2010!