>A new year is upon us, so I decided to take a look back at 2009 and at all the flicks I saw over the year. Every year has it’s share of disappointments for me, but there are often little gems I discover, even in the worst of movie years. I’m happy to say that 2009 didn’t suck do badly in terms of movies, and I actually had a hard time coming up with five favorites. That why I decided that I would simply name five movies (in no particular order) that I thought were great movies, and not necessarily “The Best”. Since I’m an entertainer and not a movie critic, I managed to miss what many would call “The Best” anyway, so I have these five movies that entertained me, no matter if they were tops on any other lists.
5. The Hangover. It’s rare that a comedy movie makes me laugh out loud as much as this one did. Not that I don’t like comedies (duh) or anything. But, lately, so many comedy movies start strong and then fizzle out at the half-way point. The Hangover, on the other hand, managed to make me laugh from beginning to end, and even during the closing credits. A throwback to wacky adult comedies of the 80s, this movie about a group of guys on a Bachelor Party Gone Wrong managed to be gross, slapsticky, and even smart along the way. In this absurd age of trying to water everything down for children, I love the fact that it’s unabashedly adult in humor and rating. The fact that it made a gazillion dollars will hopefully make Hollywood realize that grown adults like funny movies, too, and not everything has to be made for teenagers.
4. The Road. Weird fact about me? I tend to dislike depressing movies, yet love post-apocalyptic ones. It’s a strange contradiction, but it’s true. The Road is both, and yet one of my favorite movies of 2009. The story of a man and his son walking across a dying Earth in order to hopefully find greener pastures and thriving civilization, this movies achieves more impact with no special effects than any CGI-fest has ever delivered. Viggo Mortensen continues his trek at becoming one of my all-time favorite actors, and I find this story so much more engaging than the also-great No Country For Old Men, which was written by the same author.
3. 500 Days of Summer. The biggest surprise of 2009 as far as I’m concerned. What could’ve been either a schmaltzy rom-com or insufferable “indie comedy” managed to be the smartest dramady of the year. Truly the first real Chick Flick for guys, this movie shows that it’s not always the man in the relationship who has fear of commitment, and that it’s not always the woman who comes out looking like the hero when things go awry. It’s truly one of the most honest looks at whirlwind relationships ever put on film. A scene depicting simultaneous shots of “Expectations vs. Reality” is one of the most inspiring moments in movies I’ve seen in a long time, and the out-of-nowhere dance sequence (!) had me grinning like an idiot.
2. Inglorious Basterds. Was cautious about this film in the months leading up to its release for several reasons. First of all, it had been hyped for years, which always bugs me about movies. I hate being told I have to love a movie before it has even been made. Secondly, director Tarantino pissed me off with his vanity project Deathproof, a movie that was a direct contradiction of what he claimed it would be. All is forgiven, however, with this absolutely entertaining yarn about WWII. Sure, he totally screws around with history for the sake of giving the audience a great show, but that’s not the point. More than any other movie in 2009, Basterds features some scenes with real edge-of-your-seat tension. Combine that with some intense action scenes and great performances by every single cast member, and we’re left with one of the best movies of the decade, not just the year.
1. Up in the Air. It’s hard for me to describe why this is possibly my favorite movie of the year. Having spent more than a year with no apartment, merely living on the road and going from gig to gig and one hotel to another, I relate to the main character in this film so much more than I thought I would. Anyone who has travelled for a living will likely see parts of himself in this film, and George Clooney manages to make an unlikeable lifestyle (and person) somehow charming. It carefully observes the life of those who spend more time travelling than they do at home, and what it feels like when one realizes that such a lifestyle is becoming stale. Besides that, it’s often very funny and very sincere. Don’t let the quirky soundtrack fool you (it was directed by Jason Reitman, who directed Juno and apparently loves quirky songs played on acoustic guitar), the movie is a very grown-up look at how life can pass you by without you even having the time to realize it. Deserves all the praise it gets.
I’m sure that, if I sit down and think about it, I’ll come up with five more films I think are truly amazing, as well. 12 months is a lot of movie-watching, and I sometimes have to do some serious Google searching to remember some gems that have since slipped my mind. As long as the movies don’t make my “Worst” list, I’m pleased.
You know five of my favorites of 2009. What are some of yours?