10. Gamer – I thought the trailers for this movie looked terrible, and I was always the first to bash it… Until I found out it was a Neveldine/Taylor project. You know Nevildine/Taylor? The camp geniuses responsible for Crank? You should, and you will. These guys make movies that get me excited about movies. Gamer is a total ride with a healthy seasoning of satire sprinkled in. It’s not for everyone, but fans of Army of Darkness, Machine Girl and Dead-Alive will love it. Grandma should stay home.
9. Up in the Air – Like a punch to the belly, this movie left me rattled and unsteady. At first, I chuckled my way along, enjoying Ryan Bingham’s airport-centric lifestyle (relating way too much to it) and his adventures and misadventures. I got caught up in his romance with Alex, and I almost believed that things might somehow work out between them. I even grew to like the overly serious and earnest Natalie Keener. But then… Well, you know. I walked out of the theatre lost in thought and reassessing my life. Up in the Air is a powerful piece of cinema, and it deserves the hype.
8. District 9 – I have some stylistic issues with this movie, as it shifts back and forth between being a fake documentary and a regular narrative. But that’s fine. I can forgive it. I have never seen anything like it.
7. I Love You, Man – Paul Rudd rules!
6. (500) Days of Summer – Every now and then, a movie comes along that speaks your language so perfectly that it’s a bit unsettling. Packed with Pixies, Smiths and Star Wars references, (500) Days of Summer hit pretty close to home for me. Zooey Deschanel’s Summer did nice work challenging Kate Winslet’s Clementine (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) as my all-time movie crush. What does that say about me?
5. Zombieland – Pure campy fun! So much fun! I cannot wait to buy this movie and watch it over and over again. Smart writing meets hilarious performances multiplied by a truly warped sense of humor makes Zombieland something special.
4. Watchmen – The anti-comic book graphic novel becomes the anti-comic book movie. I have never seen more people get up and walk out of a theatre than when I saw this. Those who came expecting Spider-Man, got a bucket of ice water dumped in their laps. Zack Snyder again defies expectations and delivers another challenging and memorable experience. I love this movie.
3. Avatar – Haters can suck it! While there might not be an original idea in this movie, the execution is tough to beat. I’ve seen it twice in the theatre so far, and I can’t wait to see it again. The immersive 3-D experience blew me away, and I really got caught up in the adventure of it all. Nothing this year rivaled the moment when Jake first rode his Banshee, and the end battle… Wow. Hats off to Cameron for making the most expensive movie ever made have such a flagrant pro-environmental message.
2. The Hangover – Probably the funniest movie since Office Space.
1. Star Trek – I never would have seen this one coming. As a lifelong Star Wars devotee, I can’t believe Star Trek is my favorite film of the year. I’ve seen it a number of times now, and I might love it more each time. I get excited just thinking about it. Like Iron Man last year, Star Trek does a deft job of combining sharp comedy, solid storytelling, memorable performances, interesting themes, high adventure, stunning action and everything else into a nearly perfect package of awesomeness.
- Funny People – Fans of stand-up must see this. It’s flawed but great.
- Up – Cranky and wonderful.
- Drag Me to Hell – Sam Raimi returns to his roots.
- Away We Go – The five people who saw this know how good it is.
- The Hurt Locker – Boom!
- Ninja Assassin – More ninjas than you can shake a nunchuck at.
2009 was a great year for movies, maybe the best since 1999.