First, I have to follow up on my statement on the Avatar review that I wasn't sure it would even recover production costs. Yeah, my bad...but really, who knew? I thought all the nerds (I'm including myself in that group) would rush out to see it the first week or two and then it would quickly fizzle out, unable to attract the mass moviegoer. I guess the buzz, the allure of the special effects and the premium 3D pricing ($12 at my local theatre, I can only imagine the price in major cities) helped it rake in some money.
So, onward with my first top 10 list for 2009. As always, the usual caveat...not all films were necessarily released in '09. A couple '08 films I didn't catch until last year are also on the list.
10. Inglourious Basterds
Not the best Tarantino flick, but this WWII fantasy (trust me, the last half hour is pure revisionist history, but fun) features his trademark brilliant, tense dialogue punctuated by moments of bloody violence.
A fairly predictable story takes a backseat to some state of the art special effects. Worth seeing in a theatre.
Ah, Pixar...spectacular animation, soulful storytelling. I've yet to see one of their films I didn't enjoy...I hope I never do.
7. Slumdog Millionaire
The Best Picture winner is a sweet, coming of age, boy-gets-girl concoction wrapped up in some very modern and stylish film-making.
The slavish interpretation of the acclaimed graphic novel may be too faithful at times, but it's still a fascinating story of "heroism" in a darker world.
5. The Hangover
Easily the funniest movie in years, a very adult comedy for a modern audience.
4. Where the Wild Things Are
Ah, Spike Jonze...will you please make such wonderful movies out of all of our favorite childhood stories?
I know...this one really doesn't belong on a 2009 list, but I waited to watch this film for too long and it deserves some love. Pixar's most beautifully animated flick...I highly recommend watching it on Blu ray.
2. District 9
The most surprising film of the year was this under-the-radar sci-fi gem with apartheid parallels.
1. Star Trek
Take a franchise that really hasn't been relevant for a decade, put it in the hands of a hot uber-producer/director (J.J. Abrams), go back to the basics and perfectly cast it. Accessible to almost anyone.
There you have it...look for the Music list soon...I'm still re-visiting this year's CDs to make my decisions.