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Paul’s Top Ten Films of 2009

January 29, 2010

On Tuesday, February 2, comes the announcement of the Academy Award nominations, and so starts the ticking clock to the end of the 2010 (for 2009) awards season.  After seeing many films throughout 2009 as well as many of the awards “contenders”, we thought it would be a fun exercise to proudly display our takes on the best films of 2009.  Each of us were given 10 ranked slots, as well as 5 honorable mentions for the year (David’s is coming in the very near future).  Love them picks or hate them, let us know what you think!  What are your top films of 2009?

Take a look at the list after the jump (click “read more”)…

10.  The Road – Even having not read the book, I really enjoyed taking in the world that director John Hillcoat created in “The Road”.  I didn’t find this film to be as bleak as most, but found a great deal of hope buried deep beneath the gray.  The way we perceive the world can take us a long way.

9. Star Trek – Since most year-end lists seem to be loaded with movies from the end of the year, I thought I’d bring a little summer blockbuster flavor into the mix.  I’m a huge J.J. Abrams fan, but I was skeptical upon first viewing of the teaser trailer over a year before the release date.  I was pleasantly surprised, however, at the outcome.  Abrams is a next-generation Spielberg in the sense that he knows how to appeal to all different types of audiences and he understands why people still go to the movies.  There’s a little bit for everyone in Abrams “Star Trek”.

8. An Education — …and unto us a star was born.  Carey Mulligan shines as a legit leading lady alongside Peter Sarsgaard in this film about a taboo relationship.  I’ve never been so creeped out and simultaneously enchanted by an on-screen relationship as I was watching “An Education”.  I look forward to seeing more from Carey Mulligan in the very near future.

7. District 9 – Sure, “Avatar” looked cool.  But so did “District 9”, and for 6% of the budget!  Neill Blomkamp’s film rides the line between deep storyline and crazy summer action movie perfectly.  Outstanding performance from Sharlto Copley as well.  Look for him in “The A-Team” this summer!

6. The Hangover – I haven’t laughed this hard in quite a while.  I have always had faith in Zach Galifianakis (I got the spelling right the first try!) and his talents, but he completely stole every scene for me in “The Hangover”.  Just when you think the story has reached its peek of absurdity, it keeps getting better and better.

5. The House of the Devil – Director Ti West comes through with an amazing throwback 80s horror film here.  If I sandwiched this film in between “Carrie” and John Carpenter’s “Halloween”, you wouldn’t be able to tell “The House of the Devil” was shot in 2008.  I watched this film twice in a week, and recommended it to almost everyone I talked to around Halloween.  I also couldn’t be more excited about the fact that a special edition VHS tape is being released alongside the Bluray!

4. Up – Holy cow.  How far the “Pixar film” has come as a genre.  Ever since “Toy Story”, I’ve always thought very highly of the Pixar production experience, even in the writing elements of the films.  “Up” took it way over the top for me.  I’ve never been so invested in an animated character, and especially not after only 10 minutes into the film.  I know there’s a “Best Animated Film” category for the Oscars, but I’d like to see “Up” in the big leagues this year.

3. A Serious Man – I’ve always been a huge Coen Brothers fan, so naturally I rushed out to the theater for the release of “A Serious Man”.  There’s so much to bite into after one viewing of this film, I had to see it again.  The 5 seconds turns the entire story completely on its head.  For those of you interested in a modern-day telling of how God intervenes in our everyday lives, take a look at this film.

2. The Hurt Locker – After a bit of a hiatus, Kathryn Bigelow comes back packing a punch.  “The Hurt Locker” gave me the feeling of looking through the eyes of an embedded journalist of a documentarian.  The way Bigelow pushes us into the lives of these soldiers gives us view unlike many war films do.  We get to see how these guys interact with each other during off-hours, what really keeps them up at night, what their family lives are like, and how easy it is to fall out of touch with home and society during a tour of duty overseas.  Cheers to Bigelow for making a better film than her ex-husband this year (James Cameron – “Avatar”).

1. Inglourious Basterds – That’s a bingo, people!  “Inglourious Basterds” gave me my once-in-a-blue-moon fill of Tarantino-style intensity in a way I have never seen from Tarantino.  His writing and dialogue is always spot-on, but never have I seen 25-minute straight dialogue scenes of such high suspense.  Tarantino always seems to find the right actors for his parts, and through “Inglourious Basterds” he introduced Christoph Waltz into the world, and in his performance we got to see one of the more memorable villains of the decade, in my opinion.  This ensemble cast hits on all cylinders and never disappoints.  Another thing I love about “Inglourious Basterds” is the way Tarantino turns the burden back on the viewer during the scene in the movie theatre as the Nazis watch “Nation’s Pride”.  Everyone laughs when the Americans get shot to death in the screening of this film, and they lust for blood.  As the viewer, however, if we find ourselves lusting for the blood of the Nazis in this alternate-history film, are we really any different than the Nazis?  Think about it next time you watch this one.  Even though I know it won’t, I wish QT got a little attention from the Oscar voters this year.

Honorable Mention:

The Messenger – The techniques used by first-time director Oren Moverman in this film are so effective and make for some very memorable scenes between the messengers and the “NOKs”.

(500) Days of Summer – Even though the audience essentially knows the outcome, director Mark Webb makes the ride to get there so much fun.

Waltz with Bashir – I know nobody really knows if this is a 2008 or a 2009 film, but I’m throwing it up here.  The animation is this film is mesmerizing, and the final scene is an absolutely punch in the stomach.  Put this on your queue.

Food, Inc. / The Cove – 2009 was a big year for food documentary films.  These films will change your perspective on what you’re putting in your mouth everyday.

Brothers – I punched about a thousand holes in the script after seeing this film, but the acting performances were so notable that I had to include it on this honorable mention list.


Well, that’s it for me.  Please let Keeping It Reel know what YOU think?  Do you love or hate the list?  What are YOUR top films of the year?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. windi permalink
    January 29, 2010 8:51 am

    you’ve given me a couple of movies go check out: An Education and A Serious Man for starters. I hadn’t heard of either one of these, but they both sound interesting.

    Star Trek, District 9, UP and Inglourious Basterds would definitely be in my top ten as well…

    thanks for your list. I look forward to seeing David’s and seeing how they compare! 🙂

  2. rick permalink
    February 1, 2010 10:22 am

    nice list paul! one of my fav’s of the year was In a Dream. Keep up the great work!

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