The Movie Board: My favorite movies of 2009
Okay, everyone. We are finally here. We are at the point where I glance up at my 2009 Movie Board and try to figure out what were my favorite movies of 2009. For those scoring at home, here’s the Movie Board for this year:
As you can see, I saw 53 movies that were released in 2009 (and therefore are eligible for the Oscars). Some of those movies were in the theater (the majority of them, actually) and some were at home on Blu-Ray. That’s 4.42 movies per month. Up from last year. Also, I was able to top 50 movies for the first time since 2007. So, I’m excited about that. Last year my total was 49, so I was a bit irked I didn’t make it. This year, I’m back, baby!
For those just joining us this year, or for those that like reliving the past, check out my favorite movie picks in my Movie Board articles for 2007 and 2008. I myself like to look back every year before I write this article, just to get in the movie pickin’ mood.
This was a really good year for movies. I saw a metric TON of good flicks in 2009. I really had a hard time getting this list down to my favorite movies of the year. As usual, I’m just picking my favorite five. My own personal “best” list. You may agree, you may disagree. Regardless, I’m right, so pipe down and prepare to be told what 5 movies rocked my world this year.
Okay, 2009 movies, let’s do this.
Star Trek – Blew my ass away. I’d take a picture of my ass to prove it to you, but you wouldn’t see anything but a blank space, because it was BLOWN AWAY. I saw this movie twice in theaters because I had my ass kicked so incredibly hard the first time, I had to go back to be sure it wasn’t an illusion. And it wasn’t. I laughed and cried (yes, I f’n cried) at all the exact same spots on both viewings. Then, my dad gave me the movie for Xmas and I watched it again on Blu-Ray and was reduced to a blubbering, laughing mess for a THIRD TIME. THIS MOVIE IS FANTASTIC. I can’t place this movie high enough on the list to get across how much I love this movie. JJ Abrams gets it. Orci and Kurtzman get it. The actors get it. This movie was Star Trek, warts and all. I know some people were bitching about the plot holes and time travel, but I invite those haters to SHUT THEIR CHEETOS HOLES. If you have watched any of the original series episodes from the ’60s (which I’ve been doing) then this movie fits right in. I put this movie up there with Wrath of Khan and Undiscovered Country as my favorite Star Trek movie. I balled when George Kirk died. I laughed and pumped my fist when Kirk beats the Kobayashi-Maru. I marveled at the final battle with Nero. I couldn’t have asked for a better Star Trek movie. PERIOD. Best. Movie. This. Year. Take that to the bank, haters.
District 9 – I read a lot of the press for this movie before it opened. A small sci-fi film from South Africa produced by Peter Jackson and written/directed by a little known but talented guy named Neill Blomkamp. I knew most of the movie is done in a mock documentary style about aliens that have come to Earth. That’s about all I knew, but it looked like a really clever idea and I was excited to see it. I had no idea what I was in for. Fantastic. This movie blends CGI, practical effects and live action in an unbelievably seamless way. The aliens are all CGI, but they are REAL. This is no Jar Jar Binks, my friends. Also, even though it’s only used for the first 2/3 of the movie, the mockumentary structure really works. This is just a wonderful sci-fi movie. Some of the movie review guys on the Internets that I respect even put this in their best of the year. Devin over at CHUD put it #4 in his top 15 of the year and both Massawyrm and Harry Knowles over at Aint It Cool News put it #1 on their lists. I absolutely agree. This movie deserves to be seen. It’s awesome. I can’t recommend it enough. Hopefully we’ll see a nomination for Special Effects as well as Best Screenplay (fingers crossed).
Taken – Liam Neeson is a bad ass. I never really saw him like that. Sure, he was Qui-Gon Jinn in Episode I, but Qui-Gon was tagged by the MUCH badder ass Darth Maul (who was then, sadly, tagged by Obi-Wan). In this movie, BAM!, holy crap, here’s Liam becoming not just awesome bad ass, but SCARY bad ass. Like, you don’t actually want to mess with this dude. A far cry from his weepy turn in Love, Actually. And coming up this year we see Liam as Hannibal in The A-Team as well as friggin’ ZEUS in Clash of the Titans. Hello, Mr Neeson, welcome to the party. This movie is awesome and action packed. A race from start to finish. I thought it was going to be good when I saw it, but I didn’t realize how good. Fantastic, fantastic movie.
Inglorious Basterds – Where the hell did this movie come from? For me, Quentin had pretty much peaked in the late ’90s. Kill Bill was good, but not great. Death Proof (Grindhouse) was pretty much ass from start to finish. And not just ass, but boring as ass. It was a horrible, horrible movie. So I went into this movie mainly because I was intrigued by the premise and interested to see what Quentin had been working on the last 8 years (he’d been writing this movie FOREVER). This movie was nothing like what I was expecting. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but this movie wasn’t it (I mean that in a good way). There is a bunch of action, but there is also a bunch of the “talky” scenes Quentin is famous for. I really enjoyed this movie. The two people to watch in this are Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine and Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa. Brad Pitt is awesomely funny as the leader of the Basterds. He owns every moment he’s on screen. Christoph Waltz plays Landa as the Nazi version of Sherlock Holmes. He makes this incredible leaps of logic and loves to keep the people he’s interrogating in suspense, drawing out the reveal as long as possible to make his victim squirm. Unbelievable work. Hopefully there’s an Oscar nom for Mr Waltz in the near future. This movie was picked by Devin from CHUD as his #1 of the year. Harry Knowles put it #4 on his list this year. I may not rewatch this as many times as the other movies on this list, but it’s definitely one of my favorites of the year.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Yes, I am a Harry Potter dork. I’ve read all the books multiple times (except Book 7) and I’ve seen all the movies (so far) in the theater. Half-Blood Prince is my favorite Potter book, so I was naturally anxious to see the movie afraid of what they may cut out of the story. I was a bit disappointed with Goblet of Fire’s movie, but I REALLY enjoyed the Order of the Phoenix movie. So, even with being anxious to see this movie, it still BLEW MY MIND. Fantastic movie. I CAN NOT WAIT to see the final two movies. CAN’T WAIT. It is against the laws of nature that these movies are getting better and better. Sequels just don’t do that. But these are, in fact, getting better and better. Right before writing this article I re-watched Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince on Blu-Ray back-to-back. I’m now torn which one I liked best. Order of the Phoenix is fantastic with the huge battle at the end between Voldemort and Dumbledore. The movie is just AWESOME (check out my original movie review here). Half-Blood Prince’s movie is awesome, but is really a setup for Deathly Hallows. You see a lot of Tom Riddle backstory as well as some awesome Pensieve scenes. I tell you two things, well three. First, Alan Rickman owns the character Professor Severus Snape. PWNS IT. I can’t think of one without the other. Really, really fantastic work by Rickman. Second, Michael Gambon, in a bad situation had to take over the Dumbledore role after Richard Harris passed away in 2002. I honestly was upset they picked Gambon to replace him because they had Harris’ stunt double ready to go. I was wrong. Mr Gambon is now Albus Dumbledore, greatest wizard in the world of Harry Potter. He makes Dumbledore feel more like the book than Harris did. I actually get the sense that Dumbledore is much more than he lets on. Especially in this movie. Wonderful work by Gambon. I admit I was wrong about him. Finally, the kids. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. It has been a joy to watch these kids grow up in these roles and they fill them wonderfully. The final two movies will be a bittersweet end to a wonderful run of movies.
Well, those are my top five movies of the year. I really had a hard time nailing down that last spot. There really were a bunch of great movies I could have included. How about some Honorable Mentions? You got it. Here are some other fantastic movies I highly recommend watching.
Watchmen – I was a comic book fan that hated the graphic novel. It was over long, super indulgent and really hard to read. I liked the idea of the graphic novel, but the execution was complete ass (I realize that I am in the minority on this). However, the movie was awesome. Jackie Earl Haley ruled as Rorschach. The action and atmosphere was fantastic. I really enjoyed how this movie was put together. The action scenes were awesome and the story moved at a quick pace. And I just can’t get over how bad ass Jackie Earl Haley was. I’d watch a Rorschach solo movie. Truly fantastic.
Fanboys – It took me a while to watch this movie. Being a huge Star Wars fan I was concerned that it may hit too close to home. My friend Dr Mike recommended it and he loaned me the DVD to watch. Come to find out, I was wrong. This movie was laugh out loud funny. I loved every second of it. It made fun of fanboy nerds, but it did it lovingly. And there were a ton of geek cameos. I really, really loved this movie.
Zombieland – A funny, clever, ridiculously awesome zombie movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Thank you. I love this movie. Woody Harrelson is hilarious in this. See it.
State of Play – Russell Crowe is awesome. I love almost everything he’s in. I’m totally looking forward to Crowe’s Robin Hood movie this year. But, he’s great in this. Ben Affleck is fantastic too. Look for a great scene with Jason Bateman also. Fantastic murder/mystery/political thriller. I was not expecting to like it as much as I did.
So, that’s the year in movies, 2009, according to the Cavalcade of Awesome. Were there movies I wish I’d seen? Sure, but I saw all of the big ones, including Avatar 3-D. The above movies were the best for me. Like I said, it was a pretty good year for movies. I could have listed five more honorable mentions; Wolverine, The Hangover, Gran Torino, Sherlock Holmes, Law Abiding Citizen. Very good year, indeed.
Okay, you’ve seen the best. On next, I’ll give you the worst. Gird your loins, people. The five worst movies of 2009 is coming.