The year has gone by awfully quick, and I'm glad to announce that I've finally worked my way through the bulk of the films from 2009. I haven't seen a lot of titles that sticklers might cry foul over, like "Adventureland," and "The Last Station," but I tracked down pretty much everything that I had even a passing interest in, and I'm finally at a point where I'm comfortable putting out a final, comprehensive Top Ten list
Why did it take me until October to do this? Because many of the 2009 films that were up for awards back in February simply weren't available to me until now. Titles like "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done," and "The Secret in Their Eyes," which picked up the Best Foreign Language Oscar, only hit DVD a few weeks ago. As I'm not a professional and can only see so many theatrical screenings of some of these more obscure films, this was the first access I had to them.
A quick methodology note first. When considering how I should determine which films should count as 2009 films, I looked at Academy Award eligibility rules, at Wikipedia and IMDB measures, and at the way the professional critics did it. Finally, I settled on using the release date of a film within its home country. This means that "Micmacs" and "Agora," which had domestic releases in the US this summer, but came out in France and Spain respectively last year should be 2009 films. By contrast, "I Love You Philip Morris" has played a few foreign countries but won't hit US theaters until December, so it's a 2010 film. Wikipedia lists "Food Inc" as a 2008 film because that's when it had its film festival premiere, but the documentary's general release wasn't until 2009, so it's a 2009 film.
So without any further ado, my Top Ten of 2009, in alphabetical order:
A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Bright Star (Jane Campion)
District 9 (Neil Blomkamp)
In the Loop (Armando Iannucci)
Mother (Bong Joon-Ho)
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (Lee Daniels)
The Messenger (Oren Moverman)
Up in the Air (Jason Reitman)
Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze)
Whip It (Drew Barrymore)
I'll have additional write-ups to go into more detail for each film over the next few posts, but I wanted to use this one for some quick initial thoughts and statistics. Though 2009 was a very strong year for genre films and animated films in particular, no animated film made my list of favorites, and only two genre films did, "District 9" and "Where the Wild Things Are." Four out of the Top Ten are Academy Award Best Picture nominees, and there's only one foreign language film, the Korean thriller "Mother." Several others made my shortlist, like "The White Ribbon," "A Prophet," and "Flame and Citron," but not the final cut. The film that I debated over the longest and wound up not including was "An Education," which was edged out by "Bright Star" and "Whip It."
For context, here are all the 2009 films I've watched so far, totaling 85 films, (give or take a direct-to-video feature):
Action/Adventure: 2012, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Crank 2: High Voltage, Death Race, GI Joe, Inglorious Basterds, Mother, Sherlock Holmes, Solomon Kane, Terminator: Salvation, The Bank Job, The Brothers Bloom, The International
Animated: 9, Astro Boy, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Mary and Max, Monsters vs. Aliens, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, Up, Wonder Woman
Comedies: 500 Days of Summer, A Serious Man, A Single Man, Bruno, Cold Souls, Duplicity, It's Complicated, In the Loop, Julie and Julia, Nine, Sunshine Cleaning, The Maiden Heist, The Hangover, The Informant, The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Proposal, Up in the Air, Whip It, Zombieland
Dramas: Agora, An Education, Bright Star, Crazy Heart, Invictus, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, Public Enemies, Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974, The Blind Side, The Damned United, The Hurt Locker, The Messenger
Documentaries: Food Inc, Good Hair, Objectified, Paper Heart, The Cove
Fantasy/Science Fiction: Angels and Demons, Avatar, District 9, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Moon, Night at the Museum 2: The Battle of the Smithsonian, Star Trek, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Lovely Bones, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Watchmen, The Road, Where the Wild Things Are
Foreign Language: A Prophet, A Town Called Panic, Ajami, Antichrist, Flame and Citron, Micmacs, Red Cliff, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Secret in Their Eyes, The White Ribbon
More to come soon.