When I sat down to write the summary of what Zohar Lazar called the top 10 films of 2009, I had no idea the reaction that it was going to get from my readers. I knew as soon as I saw the headline of “Top 10 Films of 2009” that I was going to personally disagree with that list, but I had no idea that my audience would agree as much as you all did. You seemed to drool over such films as District 9 and Up in the Air. You also seemed to think that the Coen brothers had talent and that movies like Inglorious Basterds deserved an A+ rating. You couldn’t have been further from the truth.
So I have set out to dispel some of those rumors. I am going to show you now what I feel the best ten movies of 2009 were. There were some epic films last year but some of those did not even make the list. I judge more from a movie than the actors and the script. I look for things such as character development, highs and lows in the script as well as how realistic the story line is and if these characters could really suffer these types of things. If it cannot happen, I tend to not like it. So, what follows is my attempt at the top 10 films of 2009. I don’t expect you to agree, but to do me the simple favor of watching these films. Do so with an open mind and a closed conscience. You will see that films that I have listed have a little more staying power than the trash that something like District 9 dishes out.
This film scores on multiple levels. First this film is relatable. Any teenager who has held a summer job and has had a summer lust can relate to this film. Granted, the characters playing these teenagers on a mission are a little older than we like to believe in this film, but it does justice to what we experienced in our years growing up. Love might not even truly exist when we are that young, but lust sure as hell does. These characters know how to show that. The pain, the suffering, and the utter confusion that is suffered by these individuals throughout a single summer puts this movie in my top 10. Granted, it falls at the bottom of the barrel, but the way this film forced you to fall in love with the characters forced it into the list. (Does anyone else find it ironic that Jesse Eisenberg, who plays the same role in every film anyway, was in two films last year taking part in an amusement park? He was in Adventureland and Zombieland.)
I will agree with the previous list, and while I will not place this as close to the top as he did, this film was incredible. Outside of the spectacular graphics that we have come to expect from the guys over at Pixar, this movie has more of a message than anything. An old man left to fend for himself and his home after losing his wife goes on a journey when his house is picked up by a slew of balloons. Granted, I told you before that I enjoy films that are realistic and while this one might be a little far fetched, the relationship he builds with the budding Boy Scout is enough to make your heart break. Note that this film is not meant for the children in the audience. This animation is for the parents.
8. I Love You, Man
I had to throw one slap stick comedy on the list. The film has a ton of good one liners, sure, but there is more to it than that. I too find myself in search of a best friend. I have a lot of friends, sure, but not a single one that stands out above all the rest. I will, until I find him, look for that one true man that I can look in the eyes and say, “I love you.” While these characters make their time pass by slapping the bass and planning weddings left and right, the true meaning lies in the sheer love that these characters build on a deeper level. This is a film with great intentions and it hits the ball out of the park with making me feel for these characters.
7. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
This film is just darn right cute. The concept is great with a boy who is obsessed with inventing things that never work. On his last try, he decides to try his hand at a machine that makes the sky rain with food. It is a great concept for those who are suffering from starvation and and even more of a relief when the machine actually works! There is a lot of drama thrown into the mix and, as with every story that comes out of Hollywood, a love story between the two main characters. It has a lot of wit, humor, and a monkey wearing a headband. How can you not love a film with a monkey in a headband? Outside of all that, you have a father who is doing his best to keep his family-owned business afloat. The drama that he and his boy go through is enough to make you want to pick up the phone and call your dad as soon as the film is over.
6. The Soloist
This film not only has two of the biggest actors in Hollywood in it, but also is based on a true story. A man who is down on his luck yet has some of the most incredible talent in the world is stuck playing music for strangers. A journalist on the look out for a news story finds him, but becomes immediately immersed in his life and can think of only ways to help. By the time the characters are halfway through the film, you not only want to reach out and help him too, but you cannot help but cry when things do not go as planned. The film has a strong sense of accomplishment on one side of the fence and a side of depression and betrayal for every time you looked down upon a homeless individual. These people know no other way and are happy with what they have. That is not something that you can replace, even with the financial stability to do so. This film takes you into the heart of the L.A. homeless.
5. Star Trek
This film was set up to fail. Having a cast of no name actors with a script that has been told time and time again, there was no way this flick would survive a week in the box office. The critics were wrong. This film was incredible. The acting was not only some of the best in any film I had seen all year, but the story line was not as boring as the previews had made it seem. Sure, there were some parts that you know could not happen in real life (pretty much all of them actually), but you see a man go from being down on his luck to being the success of his crew. A true story of valor as a boy lives in his father’s footsteps trying to make a name for himself and carry on his father’s legacy.
4. My Sister’s Keeper
OK, so I am not one to talk about my habits when watching a sad movie, but the first time I saw this film I cried for hours. The story features a few key name actors that you would not expect to see in a film like this, and they pull it off without too much distraction. This story has been told time and time again but it begins with a daughter who was diagnosed with cancer. Outside of showing her struggles with trying to live yet another day, it shows the story of her sister who was theoretically born to help save her sister’s life. The second daughter does not want to have anything to do with it, hires a pro bono lawyer to try her case, and ends up upsetting her parents more and more as the story goes along. Keep an extra box of Kleenex, as this film will bring you to your knees in tears.
3. Last Chance Harvey
I might only be twenty-six years old but I am having a hard time dealing with the process of getting older. I do not want to get older, even though I have no control over that. I try to protect my body and my relationships as much as I can as I know they could all be gone in the blink of an eye. Enter Last Chance Harvey. This is the story of an older man who has lost his way with love. He meets a woman, similar in age, and begins to spark what promises to be a dead end relationship. They have their struggles and while the entire film is mostly dialog, you literally cannot help but feel for these characters. You want them to kiss. You want them to stop fighting. You want them to be happy yet together. The story shows that there is truly no age to loving someone, and that you can fall in love at the drop of a hat. This film was epic in the eyes of someone who wants a story filled with honest and believable dialog.
I rarely see the same movie twice, let alone in the theater. I did this film, as it was truly an epic showcase of incredible acting and a truly original script. The story had been told before only in graphic novel form. But it has now been transformed into a three hour major motion picture. If you can see past the male full frontal nudity and begin to understand the lives that these super heroes lived, you can then begin to appreciate the lives of the super heroes we all have come to know and love. They are people too, but they have a responsibility. They are put on this earth to do well while trying to fit in outside their costumes. The film has some incredible graphics as well and will take you on a ride like you have never been. Be careful the first time you watch it as you might want to run out and get the book as soon as you are finished. I know I did.
Allow me to be the first to say that this film was not that great. The storyline was one of the most racist and over told stories that I have ever seen in a major motion picture. The acting was just OK considering almost all of it was shot on a green screen. Even the choice in actors, in my opinion, could have been a little bit better. But what makes this film deserve the top spot (it came in late as this film was released late December) is for the sheer genius in James Cameron’s mind when he came up with this world. You literally get lost in the creativity that spills onto the screen as the film progresses and instead of hating these creatures as the humans in the film tell you to, you begin to not only feel sorry for them, but wish for their utter survival. You see these creatures killed at various parts of the script and you literally hold onto the edge of your seat in hopes that they are OK. This film was graphically perfect. You have never seen graphics like this and the story behind Cameron’s thought process for this film is worth listening to. (You can find it on an NPR interview done just after the film’s release.) Avatar will go down as one of the most well-crafted and graphic films of your and my generations. This film was not as good as some I have seen based on storyline alone, but the graphic power in this film makes up for it.
So, as you read through this list, look at some of my key points. Look at why I chose the films that I did and note that I did not chose the films like Terminator: Salvation or Transformers 2. Those were decent movies, sure, but they did not make me fall in love. They were forgettable. These films listed above you are not. I know that not all of you have seen these films, not all will agree with me on this list, but I just had to get it out. I watch too many movies not to write about them. So, to you people out there who are looking for something to do this weekend, head to the local video store and grab a couple of these. I promise that even if you don’t like them, you will respect what these films were meant to do. These, ladies and gentlemen, are the top 10 films of 2009.