I know what you are thinking… February? For the record, it is up before the Oscars, so I’m feeling okay about it. I had hoped to watch the last few 2009 films before posting, but there were a couple I just couldn’t squeeze in. If I catch Crazy Heart or The Last Station and they are good enough to make the list, then I guess I’ll just have to edit. I have yet to see A Prophet but that one will be legit if it shows up on next year’s list.
I really struggled with putting these into some kind of order, so I just decided to forget it. The posters above are a sampling of some of the alternate and international flavors. You gotta love the UK landscape format. Click the image above (or here) to see them all and a few others really, really big. Now on to my top 10 list in alphabetical order.
An Education – Carey Mulligan’s performance as the young girl coming of age before her due in 1960s London is certainly good enough to overlook a few story conveniences taken by Hornby towards the film’s conclusion. I was completely along for the ride and loved where it took me.
Avatar – Not much can be said about this one that hasn’t been pretty well covered. Expectations were so high that people would have been disappointed if it didn’t cure cancer. Last I checked, there weren’t too many disappointed.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans – Cage’s gung-ho performance and Herzog’s whacked out film making nab this riot of a movie an easy top 10 spot. mini-review
Broken Embraces – Oh darling Penelope. How you shine in front of Almodovar’s glass gaze. This was like the best parts of Bad Education and Volver combined into one. mini-review
Burma VJ – This exciting documentary takes you onto the streets of the 2007 monk uprising. It is emotional, informative, and motivational.
The Cove – Another docu that fits those three qualities, this film about Japanese dolphin slaughter is already having positive effects around the world. To those too afraid of the emotions the film may raise, it is really more about the ability to make a difference. It leaves you feeling far more empowered than depressed.
The Girlfriend Experience – While it would have been the biggest surprise of the year if Sasha Grey had shown up in any awards contention, her more than adequate portrayal of an upscale call girl helped this film really succeed. But without a doubt, the real credit goes to Soderbergh who hit it out of the park with his ultra-real film making and stylized narrative devices. This one is worth checking out. mini-review
Inglourious Basterds – How can you not watch Tarantino’s latest without a huge grin across your face? From the outrageous script to Waltz’s please-be-winning performance, this is one of the best of the decade.
Sherlock Holmes – Yeah it’s popcorn, but the Downey-Law duo couldn’t be better and Guy Ritchie’s clever stylizations made this one too much fun not to rave about.
Sin Nombre – I lament that I never got to see this beautiful Mexican love story on the big screen. Unfortunately, very few did. Still it is well worth tracking down for a great take on some classic themes. mini-review
What didn’t quite make the cut… I liked A Single Man quite a bit. I need to rewatch Where the Wild Things Are, but suspect it might have crept up into into the list with a second viewing. Any year with a Miyazaki film finds it in contention, but Ponyo was just a little too weird. The Hangover was certainly a lot of fun – but just not quite enough to crack the top 10. What do you think?