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The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours? 
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
JamesKunz wrote:
Wasn't anybody else bothered by the third act of District 9? The fact that allegory was thrown out the window in favor of non-stop action with 2nd rate CGI? The ridiculous Nigerian characters? The unnecessary Jesus references? I liked the film quite a bit, but 4 stars?


This guy sure was. A solid three star film all the way, but nothing particularly special as far as I'm concerned.

On topic, it's probably a little immature of me to make this list now, being one of the forum's resident (Am I considered a regular if I spontaneously leave for week-long periods at random?) art-house geeks and having only seen 27 films made this year, almost all of them blockbusters. Oh, and I haven't seen Inglorious Basterds yet. Sorry fellas. Anyway, in super-reverse order, all 27 films I saw in 2009 from 2009. Here goes...

The Ugly:
27. Terminator Salvation (3/10) - Okay, yeah, Transformers is technically a worse movie, but I saw that coming. Salvation's horribly stagnant mediocrity didn't, and it was like a slap to the face. I don't think I felt more betrayed walking out of a movie theater than I did after this stinker.
26. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (3/10) - So damn boring it hurt a little.
25. Public Enemies (4/10) - I believe I made a post in Last Movie about why I disliked this. Short version: Every formal element was at battle with each other for what kind of movie this should be, and it showed. Except during the woods shootout and Dillinger's death, both of which were the only things keeping this from being the worst of 09 for this guy.

The Bad:
24. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (5/10) - The very definition of average. I never really disliked it, but I wasn't really interested either. Until putting this list together I'd completely forgot about it, whatever that tells you.
23. Where the Wild Things Are (5/10) - Hey Jonze and Eggers, whine some more why don't you!
22. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (5/10) - Removed all I liked from the book and replaced it with tepid romance. Note to the film crew: Washed out cinematography does not equal pathos.
21. Humpday (5/10) - Some excellent painfully-awkward-in-a-funny-way sequences doesn't change the fact that most of the time Humpday takes its great premise into the wrong direction; pretentious mumble-core dialogue instead of actually interesting cinema. And pretentious it most definitely was; anyone who couldn't plainly see how stupid the leads were being from the second the plot got into motion is a goddamn idiot, and that goes for everyone involved with this one. Talk about giving the art house a bad name.

The Good (Runner's up Edition):
20. District 9 (6/10) - The finale took it down a notch; the first half is nice though.
19. Paranormal Activity (6/10) - A genuinely creepy finale can't make me forgive the utterly insignificant first hour.
18. The Men Who Stare at Goats (6/10) - I had the constant feeling that this could be funnier, but it never went for broke. It still was pretty funny, and a good time waster, but I can't help but fee likel it could've been great but played it safe. Oh well.
17. Duplicity (7/10) - Enjoyable but slight; once it shows its hands there's not much left to it. But that first viewing is a great time.
16. 2012 (7/10) - A Big, stupid action epic like only Emmerich could manage. I had a great time with this one, and was probably the only serious film person alive to not find the characters or dialogue insipid.
15. Star Trek (7/10) - Hell of a fun time, but lay off the lens flares next time JJ.
14. The Princess and the Frog (7/10) - Even if most of the running length could've been better used, it was still fun to watch and listen to. Still, the animation sure was purty, Facilier was the best villain of the year, and his death was the best single sequence. There's definitely something to that.
13. Knowing (7/10) - The doom is palpable, even during the silly ending.
12. Zombieland (7/10) - A great time with nothing holding it back. Bring on the sequel!
11. Bruno (7/10) - I never saw Borat, so this schtick is still new (and hilarious) to me.

The Good (Top 10 Edition):
10. Drag Me to Hell (7/10) - One of the only horror comedies to be a horror movie with comedic elements in it and not the other way around. Raimi's images are appropriately freaky in a way that makes squirm, laugh and go "ewwww!" instead of shriek. The 3rd best theater experience I had this year. (No. 2 would be 6, No. 1 is 5)
9. Sherlock Holmes (8/10) - Ritchie finally found the sweet spot for making his ADD directing effective, Downey made a great Holmes, the dialogue pops and the over-exaggerated grimy period detail is just perfect. Script problems? Bah, who needs a script anyway.
8. Watchmen (8/10) - Yeah, it's not perfect, but no other blockbuster this year aimed for such dazzling heights and occasionally managed to reach them.
7. Up (8/10) - Holy hell what an opening. The rest made mostly good on it, and was fun to boot.
6. Crank: High Voltage (8/10) - Compared to the first a worse thriller but a better comedy. It all evens out in the end; shocking and way over the top funny at the same time.
5. Avatar (As an Event: 10/10 / As a Movie: 6/10 / Average: 8/10) - I think my ratings sum it up. I dread seeing this on a small screen, without the benefit of booming speakers, a giant screen, and great 3D to suck you into Cameron's universe.
4. Thirst (8/10) - The beginning is a great romantic vampire awakening, and the end the best horror movie cum black comedy in years. The middle had problems switching between the two, but it all worked out in the end. This is the one movie from '09 that I think could end up looking better with a second watch, when I know what's coming.
3. The Informant! (8/10) - Maybe not the funniest comedy of the year, but certainly the most intelligent. Damon gives the best performance of the year, and Soderbergh is clearly having a good time putting this thing together. The voice-over was just genius.
2. Coraline (9/10) - Screw Avatar, this was 3D's coming out party. The most atmospheric movie of the year, combined with great animation and the before-mentioned use of 3D as a way to expand worlds, not just as a gimmick. Selick's masterpiece.
1. The Girlfriend Experience (9/10) - This was truly Soderbergh's year; TGE was by far the most thematically dense movie of the year, if not the decade, and one of the only 00 movies to make good on finding a purely cinematic way to tell its story; no other medium could've produced this crazy ball of experimentation and post-modernism. Not to mention the fact that the ending is actually kind of touching on the ol' emotions, something Soderbergh has never been good at, and you have one of the year's only two straight up masterpieces that I've seen.

That took a lot longer than I thought it would... I'm definitely skipping comments next year. Props to anyone who reads this entire post. That thing's a beast.


Wed Dec 30, 2009 3:09 am
Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
Zeppelin wrote:
JamesKunz wrote:
Wasn't anybody else bothered by the third act of District 9? The fact that allegory was thrown out the window in favor of non-stop action with 2nd rate CGI? The ridiculous Nigerian characters? The unnecessary Jesus references? I liked the film quite a bit, but 4 stars?


This guy sure was. A solid three star film all the way, but nothing particularly special as far as I'm concerned.

I didn't realize it until I started reading reactions to the film online, but there is apparently a consensus that the 3rd act of District 9 is crap compared to the rest of the film.

Funny, I had no idea while watching it.

I like the setup, but what really happens before the action-packed 3rd act?
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Wikus gets infected and starts to turn. That's all.
I actually find the 1st part to be the weakest. The documentary style gets rather exhausting--it isn't quite believable as real documentary footage, especially in the way it is edited together, and there isn't a moment to breath.

The middle is great as Wikus starts to turn.

But it's during the third act that the film really starts going places. Wikus actually teams up with one of the aliens, although he is still driven by selfish aims at that point. He embraces the fact that he can use alien weaponry, leading him one step closer to accepting his transformation. He helps the aliens have a chance to leave Earth. His character is conflicted at this point, because he really just wants to be cured, but slowly he realizes where his allegiances lie and he helps out Christopher Johnson. His character overcomes his selfishness and only good aspects of his humanity remain. His love for his wife especially, which leads to a fantastic final image.

The actions scenes are great fun, well-shot and well-choreographed. The special effects are awesome (2nd-rate CGI? That is a joke. I consider myself a CGI-snob. I am easily turned off by mediocre CGI, and this is not mediocre. Unless you mean that after Avatar all other CGI is 2nd-rate). Controlling a mech is a good metaphor for inhabiting another being, which Avatar uses as well. The Nigerians aren't great villains, but they illustrate another aspect of humanity's greed, along with MNU.

I just don't see the final section as a weakness at all.


Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:04 am
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
I still have quite a lot to see (500 Days of Summer, Moon, A Serious Man, A Single Man, Away We Go, Two Lovers, Adventureland) so bare in mind that this list could easily change and hopefully will.

But for now my top 10 of 2009:


1. Up
2. It's Complicated
3. Nine
4. My Sister's Keeper
5. The Box
6. Julie & Julia
7. The Road
8. Crossing Over
9. The Burning Plain
10. District 9

Runner-ups: Terminator Salvation, Prison Break: The Final Break.


Last edited by ilovemovies on Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:45 am
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
Evenflow8112 wrote:
Is it just me or were the years 2007, 2008, and 2009 the coups of the decade?


It's definitely just you. Most of the consensus was that 2008 was a very weak year (I agree--I had a damn hard time finding ten films worthy of a Top 10 at this time last year) and 2009 was better but not great. I haven't come out of theaters saying "wow that was a **** film" since Pan's Labyrinth, which is incredible depressing. 2007 was very good, 2008 was piss-poor (Even if you think The Dark Knight was great there was nothing else) and 2009 was okay.

Zeppelin: I read your entire list. It was fun, though The Girlfriend Experience seemed more like an experiment than a film to me.

Trevor and others: I'm starting a District 9/3rd Act Issues thread so as not to hijack this post. By all means join if you wish

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Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:10 am
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
JamesKunz wrote:
Trevor wrote:
Pretty similar lists so far. I guess that reflects how our tastes correspond with James' (and that's likely why most of us read his reviews).


Except Adventureland, which goes on JB's alltime overrated list. I mean, sure it was pleasant enough, but wow was that not a great film.


Ditto. Adventureland is my #1 "Meh" picture of the year. I also fell in love with Antichrist and Drag Me to Hell, neither of which were theatrical recommendations by James. Still, the number of times I do agree with him is higher than that of other critics.

JamesKunz wrote:
Wasn't anybody else bothered by the third act of District 9? The fact that allegory was thrown out the window in favor of non-stop action with 2nd rate CGI? The ridiculous Nigerian characters? The unnecessary Jesus references? I liked the film quite a bit, but 4 stars?


I was too, except that it wasn't enough to derail what came before. Despite that ending I still really liked the movie.

Evenflow8112 wrote:
'Is it just me or were the years 2007, 2008, and 2009 the coups of the decade? These were solid, solid years with major hits and unexpected successes, 2009 perhaps the most solid of the trio top-to-bottom. This decade ended powerfully.


I'm with you on 07 and 09, but 2008 was a pretty poor year for movies. At least for me. I only ended up giving a single 9/10 (to The Dark Knight).


Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:02 pm
Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
Zeppelin wrote:
That took a lot longer than I thought it would... I'm definitely skipping comments next year. Props to anyone who reads this entire post. That thing's a beast.


As strange as this may sound, your post was a lot of fun to read through. I may not always have agreed (I'm not as enamored with Soderbergh as you), but you sure can write.


Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:11 pm
Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
I don't see enough films theatrically and many don't come to my area so I cannot compose a worthwhile Top 10 list. But I can say that based upon what I've seen this year Inglorious Basterds was my favorite.


Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:30 pm
Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
There are so many films that I have yet to see (The Hurt Locker, Adventureland, 500 Days of Summer, Up in the Air, The Lovely Bones, The Road, and A Serious Man) that I can't really make a true top ten yet which is disheartening; however of the films I have seen I will give a top 5.

5. State of Play
4. District 9- Completely disagree with the 3rd act fall apart theory
3. The Hangover
2. Inglourious Basterds
1. Avatar

Honorable Mention to Star Trek and Watchmen.

Biggest Disappointments go to Terminator Salvation what a terrible piece of crap with a terrible story and it didn't even have good action. I wasn't expecting The Godfather but at least a good action movie i.e. Star Trek
Watchmen yes its in the Honorable Mention category, but my expectations were so extremely high before the reviews came out that there was no way it could have matched my inflated hopes. But it did meet my smaller expectations and was pretty good I thought contrary to popular opinion.

I will report back after seeing the aforementioned movies.


Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:47 pm
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
Meatloaf wrote:
Biggest Disappointments go to Terminator Salvation what a terrible piece of crap with a terrible story and it didn't even have good action.


Surely the fact that it was being directed by the same guy who gave us the "Charlie's Angels" movies should've turned you off from the project immediately. :?


Thu Dec 31, 2009 9:44 am
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
H.I. McDonough wrote:
Surely the fact that it was being directed by the same guy who gave us the "Charlie's Angels" movies should've turned you off from the project immediately.


That's definitely a point, but McG was working overtime to convince us all that he wasn't a hack and I was partially taken in by it.

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Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:33 am
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
H.I. McDonough wrote:
Meatloaf wrote:
Biggest Disappointments go to Terminator Salvation what a terrible piece of crap with a terrible story and it didn't even have good action.


Surely the fact that it was being directed by the same guy who gave us the "Charlie's Angels" movies should've turned you off from the project immediately. :?


The first trailer had me fooled. I was in so bad that I was more excited about Terminator than Basterds. Oh how foolish I was. But then, Christian Bale was in Terminator and he had never really led me astray.


Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:35 pm
Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
I have not seen 10 films yet from 2009 that are worthy of a "favorites" list ... to-date:

1 Taken
2 Moon
3 Avatar
4 Duplicity
5 Up
6 District 9
7 The International
8 Watchmen

Movies I plan to see that [based on reviews and pedigree] should impact this list:

Adventureland, Inglourious Basterds, The Road, The Hurt Locker, (500) Days of Summer, Public Enemies, Julia, Zombieland, Antichrist, The Box, Up in the Air, Invictus and Sherlock Holmes.


Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:59 pm
Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
Having now read through this thread, I should probably add The Hangover, Men Who Stare at Goats and A Serious Man [Coens ... DUH] to the potentials list ... interesting to only me [I guess], no films on my favs from the last decade are from 2009 [yet].


Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:09 pm
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
...Taken? As your number 1 film? Really? I'm trying very hard not to always disagree with people/respect opinions/so on, but come on.

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Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:12 pm
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
As much as I liked Taken as escapist entertainment, is it really top 10 best film material? Surely you jest. It does top my guilty pleasure list of the year, though.


Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:20 pm
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
JamesKunz wrote:
...Taken? As your number 1 film? Really? I'm trying very hard not to always disagree with people/respect opinions/so on, but come on.


2 caveats ... 1) I do not think Taken was the "best" film I saw in 2009; it appears to have been my "favorite" film [see the qualification in my post - I watched it again with my wife the other day - her 1st time - then felt compelled to watch it again by myself the next day ... pretty compelling to me since I cannot say I would do the same thing with any other film I saw this year]; 2) I have not seen a number of other films that could change the ranking of "Taken".


Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:24 pm
Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
Tronam wrote:
As much as I liked Taken as escapist entertainment, is it really top 10 best film material? Surely you jest. It does top my guilty pleasure list of the year, though.


With time, I am sure that Taken will trundle down the list ... but it has been a long time since I saw a film for a 2nd time and wanted to watch it a 3rd time the next day [and that was within the last 2 weeks].


Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:27 pm
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
First of all I think that's really weird that you actively wanted to watch it for a second (let alone third) time. It's not like the movie has hidden depths. It's just...face punching. And mind you I enjoyed it and found it very fast moving. Hell I even gave it three stars. But no matter how much you wanted to watch it again, that's a weeeeeird number 1 favorite film of the year man.

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Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:00 pm
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
enigma3535 wrote:
Tronam wrote:
As much as I liked Taken as escapist entertainment, is it really top 10 best film material? Surely you jest. It does top my guilty pleasure list of the year, though.


With time, I am sure that Taken will trundle down the list ... but it has been a long time since I saw a film for a 2nd time and wanted to watch it a 3rd time the next day [and that was within the last 2 weeks].


Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed Taken too; more than expected actually. I liked its lean, mean, take no prisoners simplicity. There were no moral quandaries to ponder. It's simply how far a father will go to save their child, killing some seriously despicable people along the way. Liam brought some respectability to the film that it probably wouldn't have had with a less capable actor.

But... number 1??? :)


Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:02 pm
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Post Re: The year is ending and JB put up his Top 10: what's yours?
Weird? Probably at the moment ... with some space and time to reflect [and time to see the other films I missed ... a list that is extensive] I seriously doubt Taken will be on my best films list [certainly on my guilty pleasures list] ... IMHO, it is a time and place thing [when I put together the films I liked this year on a spreadsheet earlier today and started assigning them rankings, Taken was tops - at that moment - I posted with one caveat owing to the film at the top of the list; I added "favorites" as a qualification] ... the films I have seen this year have not been very great in general; hopefully the ones I have yet to see will change that.


Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:50 pm
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