30 From 9: My Favorite Films From 2009
1069 6.8 730. 9 (2009)
9 is a sci-fi movie that takes the high tech of it's visuals & combines them with the kind of original character designs that I always believed could be utilized more often with the whole CGI technology that is currently available at filmmakers' mouse-maneuvering fingertips.
However, the story, while not bad, still is not matching with the level of creativity of the look of this movie.
While I found this a great sci-fi flick to look at, at the same time, with it's lack of character developement & overblandness of it's plot premise, to some viewers, it can also come off as pretty forgettable.
It's place on this list is more of as an honorable mention & is based soley on it's style over substance.
The Mighty Celestial's rating:
1047 6.9 729. The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)
A tale of romance & time travel that was hopefully successful enough to warrent a whole series of follow-up sequels ( The Time Traveler's Kids, The Time Traveler's In-Laws, The Time Traveler's Mistress, The Time Traveler's Drunk Uncle, The Time-Traveler's Pet Retriever, The Time Traveler's Guy He Knows To Get High End Jewelry Below Manufacturer's Cost, The Time Traveler's Four People Who Lead Him To Kevin Bacon Under Six Degrees......
well....I'm sure you get the picture).
1011 6.8 728. Julie & Julia (2009)
To be honest, this movie's story wasn't really my type of thing. It was just a tad bit too fluffy & soft for me. But every time I thought I was ready to turn it off whilst viewing, a scene with Meryl Streep as Julia Child would come up, & the energy & charisma that infused into the role would keep my attention.
So that when the final credits finally came up, I realized that I had found myself actually sitting through the entire film & thoroughly entertained based on Streep's performance alone.
119 7.5 7.127. Wonder Woman (2009)
Princess Diana as a true bad-ass.
While it may seem that she should be a staple in any conversation dealing with femme fatale butt-kickers, IMO, she had never been fully depicted as the bad-ass at the level which she had the potential to be.
Then, I picked up this recent straight to DVD feature, & came to the conclusion, that even though it may not yet be at the point that I'd like to see her at, it is a huge step in the right direction.
The Double W may still be in the form of a cartoon,
but in this latest interpretation of the Amazonian wunder, she is finally approaching the bad-ass broad with balls that she should've always been.
570 7.3 7.126. Thirst (2009)
Y'know, in their earliest appearances in the cinema, vampires were made to be that dwelled within the genre of horror.
After a while, particularly through the sixties & 70's, the idea of a fanged neck-biter became aligned more on the campiness of creature features. Nowadays, we tend to divide 'em into the two categories: that of the comicbook crowd (as in Blade) or worse, in the rallying side of the romantics (you know what I'm talking about).
In this film, we get to see the concept of vampirism in manner that was probably the original intention of those whose first spawned the folklore:
As a soul-craving thirst to unleash our deepest desires & darkest urges with an immortality that flies above pitiful human morals.
I never realized that I scribe down something so.... Freudian.
1073 6.2 6.625. Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)
A tribute to all those 50's black & white sci-fi horrors flicks, but now in cool 3-D-like computer graphics. And in full color.
The graphics are absolutely top-notch, but some of the sheen has been lost due to the fact that they're also something that I'm sure viewers are pretty much starting to become accustomed to by now. And teen-agers today, let alone the more targeted little kid audience, will barely, if at all, get any of the references made to the Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman, the Creature Of The Black Lagoon & the like.
Now don't get me wrong. I think that MvA comes off with enough of the high quality that we expect from this type of picture, but to some movie-goers, it may feel like it came out a fews years too late.
483 7.2 7.324. Fish Tank (2009)
Listen, I gotta be honest with you guys (and this may be a bit of a spoiler, so you might wanna read this entry with one hand covering your eyes),
there is no fish tank in this movie.
So to any of you out there reading this that are hardcore fans of the glass encasings that act has artificial habitats for all those fishy friends of ours that enrich our lives & homes as water-logged pets, take heed.....
the term "fish tank" that is used as the title of this film is some kind of metaphor.
Exactly what it's a metaphor for, I don't know.
But what I do know for sure is throughout the entirety of this piece of highly regarded British cinema, I saw neither hide nor hare* of a fish tank.
You have been warned.
939 6.6 6.723. A Christmas Carol (2009)
I've always had a soft spot for any film adaptations of the Charles Dickens classic featuring the most famous of all Christmas curmudgeons. It's an affection that began with me as a kid with the old 1938 black & white version, which played every year on our family TV set.
So when Robert Zemeckis' 09 version on the series came along, I had my reservations about it (as I do with any modern retellings of the classics).
But after I watched it,
the energy of the cool angle- shots & sense of frenetic movements really made this quite an enjoyable ride.
And the fact that this one was more in line with the original book adaptation, made me appreciate this updated effort even more. For my money, it gave the story a more darker edge & a fear factor that may not be suitable for younger audiences, but adds an extra bit of spice for the more mature & educated viewer. Y'know....
2430 7.3 7.722. Zombieland (2009)
I've never been really big into the horror-comedy genre. It always felt to me that the comedy sorta cancels out the horror aspect of the film. Fortunately, Zombieland seems to focus more with the comedy area of it's premise, & the story centered more on the main characters dealing in world with few human survivors than it does on these characters battling their way thru flanks upon flanks of zombies (though, there are enough of those scenes to warrant the name of this movie). So, even though I'm not a big fan of zombie apocalypses, I found that I was able to sit thru this one with a bit more of an appreciation not only for the sub-genre itself, but more importantly, with an appreciation for a certain actor* with the initials BM. And yet, even more importantly, with an appreciation for the fact that I live in a time when I don't have to worry about life's little Twinkie gauge going on empty.
*Kind of a spoiler if I mention the actor's name.
1857 7.5 7.721. Coraline (2009)
As a comicbook nerd, I first became aware of Coraline as a graphic novel written by comicbook writer Neil Gaiman (though, it's original format of release is as a novella).
It's horror fantasy for young readers and as a film, it's a fine modern update of the Alice In Wonderland theme, with it's mixed ingredients of creative psychodelica, slightly edged childlike wonder, along with a nice dash of horror, but just enough to gurgitate a lump of fear in the throat of the kiddie audience within its targeted age. But not so much that it would scare any of it's viewers to the point of absolving their parents of any responsibility for any trauma that might lead 'em up to the top of a building with a sniper gun, later on in life.
195 6.4 6.620. The Loved Ones (2009)
Remember back in high school, there was always one girl in the class who was so infatuated with a guy that she was constantly trying to drill how much she loved him in his head?
the story of The Loved Ones is a story that takes that idea to heart. Or to head, I guess.
Ah those crazy Aussies....
always taking things so literally.
1250 7.6 7.819. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Of the all the animated films that were released this year, the Fantastic Mr. Fox is definitely one of my favorites. This is based much more on the fact that they were able to create such a good story, one that doesn't talk down to it's audience, young or old. And in this age of high level tech animation (whether it be 2D or 3D), the quality and style of Mr. Fox's storytelling seems to help the "rough" stop-motion technique of this movie to come off more effectively as a distinctive style than it does a hindrance of any kind.
2664 7.3 7.618. Watchmen (2009)
Now, even though I'm a comicbook nerd & I own the graphic novel, I haven't read it in years & it was only about twice that I picked up the book,
so I don't remember it clearly.
Which I think was an advantage, because since I can't really recall what would be the parts that didn't make it into the film, for me, the story felt incredibly full & tight. Since the concept of the Watchmen was alot more intelligent than the time-constraints of the film allowed it to be, for me personally, the movie felt alot like the kind that Marvel were putting out when they first started to "grow up" with runs like the Claremont/Byrne era of X-Men or Frank Miller's Daredevil (before the company sold out & reverted drastically to the immature stories of the 90's).
I really enjoyed the way this movie panned out, & from what I remember in the graphic novel, I definitely think that the film's version of the ending fit in perfectly within the context of the media in which it was told.
Really good stuff that I really found myself enjoying alot more than I expected when I first walked in.
145 5.4 5.817. The Horde (2009)
A band of police detectives decide to go rogue & take vengeance on a gangleading drug-dealer for their fallen comrade-in-arms.
However, they soon find out that even the most well-planned revenge raid can go wrong. And just when they think that it can't get any worse than finding themselves at the mercy of their enemy.
188 6.6 6.816. The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)
1387 7.5 7.815. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
Actually, this is really an entry for the entire Millennium Trilogy (Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire &The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest).
A trio of tales that follows the tale of a social misfit with an exceptional talent as a computer hacker and the relationship that she forms with an investigative journalist.
Each chapter in this trilogy is a quality, provocative story & IMO, each one stands well out on it's own as a feature film.
1528 5.8 6.414. Paranormal Activity (2007)
Even though I find myself surprised at how much I've been consistantly entertained by the majority of those movies that have been made with the handheld-cam method of filmmaking, I thought for sure that by this point in time, we've pretty much reached the point of exhausting the genre.
Then comes along this movie & shows that in a style of cinema that should've been drained of life by now, when entering the realm of the paranormal, there can still be some signs of activity.
4107 7.2 813. Avatar (2009)
We Earthlings did it to the American Natives, we did it to the Australian Aborigines & in the not-so-distant future, we tried to do it to the alien populace of Pandora.
Only to find out that, despite not having any weapons, what these blue-skinned giants do have on their side is Mother Nature.
And as dictated by that one universal law that applies everywhere,
no matter what planet you're on,
you do not mess with Mother Nature.
3351 8.1 8.312. Up (2009)
A cranky old man & an annoying little kid team up with a talking dog & a flightless giant mother bird named "Kevin",
to embark on an semi-Indiana Jones type of adventure.
Colorful, but not overwhelming (like Cars or Speed Racer),
touching, but not over-sentimental,
exciting, but not at the cost of the story.
Another score for the people over at Pixar.
2393 7.5 811. District 9 (2009)
I gotta be honest, after disappointments like Transformers 2 & Terminator: Salvation,
I'm tired of leaving my brain at the door during the summer season.
My brain enjoys watching action summer movies just as much as the rest of my senses,
& it deserves to have fun at the theatres too.
Now don't get me wrong, it doesn't mind suspending it's belief (as it is usually required in most action-orientated films), but dammit, it seems like nowadays, it's just being completely neglected.
District 9 was a reminder that there was once a time when summer blockbusters, while a certain level of suspension of belief was expected, they did not completely require that one revert themselves to the level of a six-year old in order to have a good time when going to the movies.
861 8.2 8.110. Mary and Max (2009)
A story of friendship via the long distance post.
Pen pals Mary and Max share each other interests & severe shortcomings despite being on opposite sides of the world. And learn that the distance between personal warts (along with facial birthmarks) is not as far the distance between two hemispheres.
1305 7.1 7.39. The Road (2009)
While I know the book by reputation, I've never actually read it.
So luckily, I get to judge this film as a film & not a film adaptation of a book.
And as a film, I think it's a pretty powerful depiction of the love & connection that bonds a father & son during what could possibly be the most extreme situation that one could imagine for the human race.
A simple story that doesn't look down on it's audience & allows plenty of room for a couple of quality actors to turn in a quality performance.
A gritty, no holds barred look at post-apocalyptic future in which mankind's only hope is the kind of survival instinct that results more from the bond of family than it is from the sense of animalistic self-preservation.
450 6.1 6.58. [REC]² (2009)
How do you up the ante of a zombie flick that already raised the level of real horror & therefore finally busted through the mired schlock that had infected the genre?
revealing the answer to that question would require some big-time spoiler,
so let me just say,
it's about time the films about the living dead starting showing some new signs of life.
193 7.6 7.67. Cell 211 (2009)
1517 7.9 86. Moon (2009)
A cool independent sci-fi film with the kind of story that we see alot in the older sci-fi stories. A single performance by Sam Rockwell has a lone "moon worker" whose solitary lunar life has him feeling out of place with his job, his life, and even his "planet". A feeling that he soon suspects his employers share when he begins to realize, that despite what he thought for years, he is not alone.
A simple yet sophisticated tale that reflects upon the subject of advanced technology & it's integrated effect with a "human" life.
2249 7.7 85. Star Trek (2009)
After watching this movie, it becomes obvious that space it not the final frontier,
While the story was simply okay & the villian pretty forgettable, the use of time-travel as a way of rebooting the series with the original crew & yet, still keeping in with the continuity that has been built up til now, was ingenius.
Now, the potential has been opened up to relaunch the entire franchise using brand new stories but still with the old gang of Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Uhrura, Bones, Chekov & Scotty.
The sets & technological designs of this installement, IMO, were bright, stylishly updated & detailed, but still kept with that particular flair that made the early series uniquely it's own.
I think that while fans of Star Wars are going to continue to grumble all over the internet & at sci-fi cons of how low their beloved franchise has fallen,
with this latest movie, Trek fans, old & new, have been given A New Hope for a future filled with the possibilty that, as Trekkies, they will now truly be able to....well, y'know.....
live long & prosper.
I had to fit that in somehow.
186 7.9 7.64. Sin Nombre (2009)
Take West Side Story, update it, take the outdateness & the musical numbers out,
take Midnight Run, take out the humor & the police,
add in some Colors (the movie), but from the other side of the border,
add in some really good acting with a strong script,
sprinkle on some subtitles,
what you end up with is film that is Nameless
(or in Spanish, Sin Nombre).
4175 8.1 8.33. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
What is it about the Basterds that makes 'em so Inglourious? Well, for starters, they are a band of Jewish brothers who take no prisoners
because they are not in the prisoner taking bidness.
They're in the killing Natzi bidness.
And cousin, bidness is abooming.
On a scale of 1 to 10,
I give this movie a "9! 9! 9! 9! 9! 9! 9!"
1038 7 7.32. Precious (2009)
Lemme tell you something,
no matter how sane of a role you cast Mariah Carey, in a movie about dysfunctionality,
you still gotta make the other main characters in the film as effed up as possible just to make the viewers buy into her the credibilty of her role.
Something that the movie "based on the Novel 'Push' does with more gritty precision that one may feel comfortable with.
And that's a good thing.
1761 7.2 7.51. Up in the Air (2009)
Ryan Bingham's makes a living out of telling people that they're fired.
Natalie Keener is a young upstart who's new ideas threaten to outmode Ryan's role in the profession.
But as they both take flight to learn from each other's paradigms of the business, they both begin to learn that each of their lives isn't as grounded as either of 'em might have thought.
A smart indepth story the delves into the various aspects of life such as jobs, life purposes, marriages & family. And why in this current state of social flux, the success of any of those aspects constantly seems to be up in the air.