Friday, January 1, 2010

My picks for best and worst films of 2009 (dreadful year for cinema overall)

This one is a straight rehash from facebook. I'm lazy like that. You'll come to find through reading my blog entries that I'm a straight up procrastinator, though as one track on the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack (which is good by the way) implies through its title, the "mind rebels at stagnation". So while I try to be creative, I'm often reek of sloth in the fields of academia...who needs it?

So yeah. I don't really need to preface this much. I've talked to death about these films already but if I'm going to put it on this list, I probably thought it was exceptional. The sad fact is, the films on this list are probably the only ones I thought were exceptional or enjoyed all year. There really wasn't much going on in 2009 for cinema. Hopefully 2010 will bring it back. I'll also include a bottom list at the end of movies that I thought sucked. Enjoy

1. Inglorious Basterds-Perfect in almost every way (I have issues of contention with the plot towards the end) but I LOVE this movie. The acting on the part of Christoph Waltz has brought to life one of the best villain characters ever in the form of Hans Landa. He's devious and charming and he steals the show in every scene. Not to say the entire cast isn't great. Brad Pitt's east to imitate Aldo is also a memorable redneck and so is Hugo Stiglitz. The more I watch the film, the more I also enjoy Shoshanna and the less I enjoy Eli Roth as the Bear Jew. I love the chapters, the music, the linear structure for once and yet the brilliant tarantino dialogue going around tables in a manner that's more informative than self indulgent like most of his films. It's a triumph.

2. Watchmen-This movie caught some heat, including by me before it came out. I kept saying "how good can it be? the book is so good nothing can touch it!" How wrong I was. While it's true, watchmen will probably be forgotten by most critics lists I can not see why for the life of me. How can you encapsulate the spirit of a book, much less a comic book so perfectly that not only does it look the same but you feel the same sagging feeling of impeding doom watching it that you do reading it? The acting is great. Rorschach and the Comedian are exactly how you'd imagine them to be and even the side characters like Manhattan's ex girlfriend and Hollis Mason are perfect. If you haven't caught the director's cut, make sure you do because some of the extended footage is brilliant. The slow mo which was distracting and gross in 300 is artistic here and I have totally renewed faith in Snyder as a director. This a beautiful film about a beautiful book and it might be my favorite straight forward adaptation film of all time. Alot of people are hating on it saying "it's not true to the book it could have done did injustice to the book" in what way? You're not all Alan Moore so take a second to rewatch this movie and realize it's artistic brilliance. I was rereading through watchmen thinking how hard it would be to tackle such a complex piece of work and have it all make sense on the screen and incorporate more of what was going on than the text suggested and they really could NOT have done a better job.

3. A Serious Man-I recommended this film to my parents and they hated it. I guess if you enjoy movies like "The Proposal" with Sandra Bulloch performing Low by Lil Jon you're not going to enjoy the C brother's latest film, which is also a masterpiece. Thanks to Sy Ableman, the life of a Jewish man whose been stepped on his whole life is getting worse and worse. To quote the great filmmaker Jake Topkis "they had you right in the place they wanted the audience the entire time" and I couldn't agree more. The directing was just superb. One of the best directed films I've ever seen. This film takes cinematography and direction to the highest form of art and guess what? It's hilarious too. I laughed throughout. Of course you have to have a dark sense of humor to appreciate it.

4. Coraline-Thanks Henry Selick, I appreciate it. I really do. Not since Nightmare have I been blow away by some wimsy 3D stop motion weirdness like this and this is really a great film. I went to the theater by myself and not only was there depth in the picture thanks to supposed 3D but it was just a great story with great visuals and I loved it. I was completely taken with the film as soon as the movie ended. Like blown away. This just further proves that Tim Burton is losing his touch or had none in the first place too because clearly Selick is more than capable of making a beautiful film without him and I now consider Nightmare to be a work more of his. So it's an adaptation of a Gaiman book as well.

5. Paranormal Activity-Never has a film gone for realism in horror and done it so well. This film is terrifying. I don't know if you can get the same thrills out of a DVD that I got sitting in a theater with my friends who were equally scared but you can laugh at this film all you want...on some level it is CHILLING. It stuck with me too and I had trouble sleeping that night. What films have accomplished that on a horror buff like me? Very very few. I haven't liked a main stream horror film this much since The Strangers, which didn't scare me so much as amuse me. I was glued to my seat like a 12 year old. I hope yearly screenings of this return to theaters so audiences can continue to get that experience.

6. UP IN THE AIR!!!!! I had originally put Harry Potter as #6, but after seeing Reitman's new film Up in the Air starring George Clooney among others (also an appearance from Zach Gally) This one easily bumps Harry Potter out of the top ten list in terms of greatness and importance. Very solid film and I liked it alot. There's a bit of romantic comedy but there's also a bit of true life crisis elements and intensive thought and reasoning involved.

Harry Potter and the Half blood Prince-Easily the best film in the Potter franchise to date. This is saying alot since I'm not particularly fond of the book and I had pretty strong feelings for the 4th movie and book. (Yeah I know what you all think and I still think the 3rd movie is crap). The Cinematography here is just BRILLIANT. I dare say it's almost more than the franchise deserves in terms of creature designs and the dark atmosphere. It's just ..magical looking. So I guess they accomplished their goal. And Alan Rickman is always great in this role too.

7. Whatever Works-Woody Allen and Larry David working together. Larry David playing Woody Allen and dating younger women as he ponders suicide and counts his neurotic tendencies. Do I have to say more?

8. The Hangover-Zach Galifinakis has made a movie. I mean that in the technical sense that if not for Zach Galifinakis this movie would suck. I'm a huge fan of his work and he carries this film from start to finish with weird one liners and the kind of humor that only he can provide. He's a great man in the comedy film industry. The other actors are ok but I wasn't really paying much attention to them.

9. Drag Me To Hell-Sam Raimi delivers with a great slapstick horror movie complete with blood and flying limbs and puss and the kind of shit you'd expect from Evil Dead. It's been a long time and it's nice to see him doing something he's great at doing. From a one on one fight to an old woman to seeing people literally pulled under the earth, this film is a lot of fun. Memorable scenes to.

10. District 9-I'm struggling to include this film in any top ten list, even in the 10th slot but I guess that just shows what's happened to cinema in 2009. But don't get me wrong, this is a good film. A grotesque documentary style look at what would happen if aliens landed on earth. Probably the truest account of alien life we've seen to date on film because god knows the government would try to micromanage everything. The film seems heavy handed though once it gets confident and finds its stride at about the half way point, but still a great work of sci fi.

and now that that's said and done (as much as I enjoyed Gi Joe for entertainment value, in good conscience I can't include a dumb film like that in any sort of top ten list) I'm going to list the worst films of 2009, at least that I saw.

1. Transformers Revenge of the Fallen-Everything about this film is shit. As I once said, it's like wet fart. Like someone jumped on the projector and spread their cheeks and let it rip after eating a 3 course meal at taco bell. I can barely impart into words how bad this film is. I'd go so far as to say if you think this is a good movie than I have no business being friends with you and you should delete me from your friends list now. I pity everyone involved in this piece of shit except Michael Bay, who should probably go to hell for this (or previous offenses). John Turturro and Hugo Weaving deserve better.

2. X Men Origins Wolverine-complete with lolz and walking away from explosions, Hugh Jackman delivers a shitty and disjointed look at the earlier life of Wolverine. It's bad and it makes little sense and while I tried to like it at first, it's just a sad excuse for a superhero film.

3. Year One-I love Jack black so what happened here? I blame Michael Cera for sucking in everything. He's the only person who can appear in a tim and eric skit and I'm not laughing at them and he's done just that too. Go play a different character Michael Cera.

4. Public Enemies-It's not that this is on the same calibur as Transformers and the others, it's just that I expected SO much more. They shoot on a handycam. It's boring. It's like a made for TV movie with the song from the trailer reused several times throughout. What went wrong here? Johnny Depp is pretty wooden in the role. The only good part actually is Christian Bale. For such a bad actor I liked him in this part, which is surprising. I totally expected something great here though.

5. The Proposal-I explained what was wrong with this shitty romantic comedy somewhere else in my little article here.

This concludes the first blog post. Celebrate.

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't consider this a "dreadful year for cinema" at all. We got enough good stuff to justify it.