Sunday, February 21, 2010

Best Movies of 2009

Here is my list of my favorite 2009 movies- granted, I haven't seen MOON yet- but here is my favorite movies of 2009 that I've compiled. And I would have included THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS but it just missed the list.

I feel like I am the one person who enjoyed that movie but it felt like classic Gilliam to me.

Beware, SPOILERS below for certain movies:

10. 9- It took me a while to see it but when I did, I was just drawn in by the amazing visuals of this movie. It's a very dark movie thematically- and in a way a very simple story. But the way it was done was so refreshing and rewarding to the audience. And for an animated film, there were plenty of deaths that would cause viewers to jolt- but the optimism of our protagonist, 9, never stops. He keeps trying because he represents the bravery and courage of a man's soul (through the scientist who created these 9 lifeforms). And at the end, you feel that things are going to change for the better. They have to. My only quibble with the movie is that I wanted more- the film is a little over an hour long. I was dying for more story but leaving the audience wanting more is usually a good thing.


Why BLACK DYNAMITE, you may ask? Why the fuck not? This movie is just hilarious. I've seen the trailer online for so long, I never thought the movie would ever be released (I would say, this film has the best trailer ever next to ROBOGEISHA). Not only does that movie actually deliver on the genius of the trailer (unlike BLACK DEVIL DOLL which fell apart completely after the first five minutes)- but it is one of the best spoof movies I've ever seen (probably the best since "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka"). It's full of gags- but there is an actual story there. Well, as much as you can get when you have a bad-ass renegade ex CIA agent banging broads and trying to get revenge on the Mafia who killed his brother, fills orphanages with heroin...and oh yeah, sells tainted malt liquor to shrink black men's dicks.

If you aren't sold on the movie by now, you have to be insane.

Michael Jai White is perfect as Black Dynamite (which apparently is his legal name)- and they capture the feel and wonderful cheesiness of blaxploitation films. Did I forget to mention that Black Dynamite knows kung-fu? The supporting cast is full of colorful characters that are just so well-placed. This movie is the best spoof movie I've seen in a long, long time.

I think the part that made me crack up the most was the scene where the boom mike was clearly in the shot, and Black Dynamite kept looking at it. Why is that funny? Watch "Dolemite" and do a shot of every time you see a boom mike. You may die of alcohol poisoning.

8. THE HANGOVER- I know some people may question why such a well-received comedy isn't ranked higher- but I think there's a funnier movie this year. But, THE HANGOVER brings some much needed R-rated comedy back to movies. The plot sounds and plays like a classic 80s comedy with a bunch of buddies going to Vegas for the weekend- before their friend is getting married. Voila, you have an instant recipe for debauchery and fun vulgar comedy. I think Zach Galifianakis truly steals this movie though. Everything that comes out of his mouth is just golden. You know the guy isn't right- but you can't help but marvel at how he can walk upright for being such an idiot. Let's not even forget the classic Mike Tyson cameo, along with the funniest gangster I've seen in movies- Leslie Chow. THE HANGOVER brought some balls back to comedies and was one of the best raunchy comedies I've seen since ANIMAL HOUSE.

7. AVATAR- Again, you may wonder why I ranked this so low? It's not that I didn't enjoy and love the film. Visually, it is a cinematic tour de force- even though the movie is basically FERNGULLY or Pocahontas in space/with CGI. I still think James Cameron's best work is behind him (ALIENS being the best)- but I'm thrilled he jumped back into the sci-fi/fantasy realm that made him the juggernaut he is today. There are many great moments in this film (I think the first half is stronger than the second). James can write for women amazingly well- thanks to him, Sigourney Weaver gets her best role in over a decade. And Michelle Rodriguez was able to rock with her character- who goes out in a blaze of heroic glory. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Jake runs in his Avatar body. It was such an exciting moment because for a man who has no use of his legs- this has to be such a wonderful opportunity. It's a visual orgasm for the senses- and you fall in love with Pandora. It's such a rich, vast land with such fascinating creatures. Book me a flight to Pandora stat!

- When I saw this early with Chris at the Grove- I was excited. I'm a big fan of the zombie genre and I was worried this movie would either be awesome (like SHAUN OF THE DEAD or Romero's zombie flicks) or one of the trillion horrible imitations that Romero indirectly spawned. Well, this movie was awesome- but it it is definitely its own beast. I love how this movie doesn't take itself seriously one second- and you get to bond with the four characters. Each one is very unique, and yet despite their differences- they become a family. And my God, Woody Harrelson was made for this role. He is the ultimate bad-ass, yet, there is this childish side to him as well. And this movie is worth the price of admission just for the Bill Murray cameo. It's so inspired and so hysterical. To see him in the Ghostbusters gear one more time is so priceless. This is definitely a fun flick- and you may want a Twinkie afterwards. You'll understand why when you see the film.

5. STAR TREK- I am going to preface this by stating, I have always HATED Star Trek. I never understood the obsession to such a boring franchise that I considered so glacial and uninteresting. I was friends with the writer who created the Ferengi and I always told him I liked his other work cause I never got TREK. I just never got the fandom- Star Wars? Yes. I get it. Star Trek? Ugh. Never could stand.

Leave it to fucking J.J. Abrams (the genius behind LOST and FRINGE) to make me interested in this franchise. Not only is this the best TREK film, but I think this movie may hopefully restart this whole film series with a new sense of purpose (and new blood). Not one of the characters was useless- and all had their moment in the sun. Zachary Quinto was perfect as Spock and to see him and Leonard Nimoy in the same shot was perfect. It was a nice touch to show Spock getting with Uhura (I figured it would be Kirk). And Kirk was exactly the same flawed hero that I always thought he should be. He's a prick, but he's a likable one who you cannot help but warm up to. I may be a Star Trek convert now....

As long as J.J. is involved that is.

4. OBSERVE AND REPORT- This is the comedy that I think that outclassed "The Hangover". This film is one that people either love or strongly object to. It's a very dark comedy- just imagine a comedic Travis Bickle in the guise of Seth Rogen. The complaints I've heard all center around the Anna Faris sex scene. Most critics claim it supports date rape. I don't see that at all. If anything, Anna's character was still lucid enough (in her drunken state) to demand that Ronnie (Seth's character), continue to fuck her. And, really, the Ronnie character has no moral center/compass guiding him given his bipolar disorder. He has no idea of what is right and wrong- and to state that the movie supports date rape is idiotic. Get over it.

I haven't laughed harder at a movie all year. Let's see, the best line in the movie to me is:

"Why the fuck would I blow up Chick-fil-a? It's fucking delicious!"

This movie is so twisted and insanely funny. You wonder sometimes why you laugh at the dark and fucked up things that happen in this movie- but you still have to cheer for Ronnie as he kicks the shit out of a swarm of cops with his trusty flashlight.

And that climax is so insane. To watch Ronnie just shoot the flasher out of nowhere is a definite, "What the fuck?!!" moment. When you step back and look at it, this film is a wonderful character study of someone who is completely not in control of the fucked up shit they say and do. But you have to love poor Ronnie- especially when he gets the right girl in the end.

And, can I say how much I love Dennis (Ronnie's right hand man and second in command of mall security)? The line, "I'm gonna put you in my pocket" line sticks with me (well, that and the drug use as well).

This isn't PAUL BLART: MALL COP. This is a hilarious yet fucked up masterpiece. And it honestly should have been more noticed- because it's a gem.

3. PRECIOUS- This is not an easy movie to watch. This movie is profoundly sad. Just so damn moving. But, I have to applaud the courage of the producers/filmmaker in tackling this type of subject matter and create such a gripping drama. Mo'Nique needs to get serious Oscar consideration as Precious' mother. She's channeling from a very dark place as the mother because throughout the movie, she abuses Precious. We're talking the worst physical and verbal abuse that would break even the strongest human spirit. She uses Precious to collect welfare (which she is content to live off of forever) and resents her because she feels that Precious stole her boyfriend from her. In actuality, Precious' father was raping her since the age of 3 and got her pregnant twice.

Throughout the darkness that fills this film- you have hope. And I cannot help but be amazed at how Precious continues to go forward after enduring all the hell of her mother and late father (and another revelation that will feel like a punch in the gut). When she cries in class after the latest tragedy, you want to break down too. It seems so real. She has to go through so much- it just doesn't seem fair. Why should such an inherently good person who is trying to better themselves and their children- have to suffer so much?

Mariah Carey also was outstanding as Mrs. Weiss, the social worker who deals with this case. The climatic scene at the end with Precious/Precious' mom/ and Mrs. Weiss is tough to watch. Very very tough. It's so raw and it will rip your heart out, but is the very definition of great filmmaking. You will leave this movie, in tears. But you will be in awe of the soul of Precious- she came from hell and keeps going forward. And she has emerged as a sterling example of a human being.

If this movie doesn't get Oscar consideration- MAJOR Oscar consideration at that...then, consider that shit a joke. Because, this movie is a revelation. It's good for the soul. You will be heartbroken but appreciate your friends/families more. There are those, that have had nothing.

2. DISTRICT 9- When I read the premise of this film, I was dismissing it as a cheap clone of ALIEN NATION. I was so wrong. What District 9 has done has raised the bar for science-fiction films. I would say, this movie is not just one of the best films of the year but one of the best in the last decade. What could have been a piece of fluff- turned out to be a sociological study through the lens of sci-fi with South Africa as the perfect backdrop. I absolutely love the "Prawns"- and their little mannerisms. In many ways, I almost wanted the human race to get eradicated because of the way they mistreat the Prawns as if they are animals. But, the aliens are not likely to do that. I definitely don't see Christopher being the type to start warmongering. But I do believe he will free his people so they can return home.

I cannot wait for District 10. What I love about this movie is how you get solidly behind the characters and when they fuck up, you want to kill them. And when they do the right thing, you cheer loudly in the theater.

This movie is a landmark of greatness.

And the best movie of the year?

1. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS- As if you could imagine me choosing anything else? When I read the script well over a year ago, I knew it would be epic. And Quentin not only shot it in the grandiose way I imagined- but only he could make a movie with so many sparse scenes, so tension-filled. For instance, the whole tavern Mexican stand-off scene. You have 30 minutes building the tension to an explosive point- to that moment where the gunfire is over in a fiery 10 seconds. But, it's the build-up that makes it so important. And, you root for all of the protagonists- like Aldo, like the Bear Jew, like Shoshanna, etc.

You even have to love (while hating) Hans Landa. Christoph Waltz fit that part like a glove- and you had to love this guy. He was 12 steps ahead of everyone in the film as the ultimate opportunist- but his ultimate comeuppance was so worth it.

You have a film that has everything- romance, violence, war, etc. It's one of Quentin's masterpieces. And yet, Quentin seemed intent on making the WWII movie to end all cliche WWII movies. And he did- beautifully.

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