A Slice of Fried Gold

Top 5 Films of 2009 (So far...)

Monday, September 7, 2009

With nearly three quarters of the year completed, most mediums of pop culture will have developed a pretty solid list of what exactly is going to be on end-of-the-year lists (if you're the type of person who is into that sort of thing...which I am). Yet movies are one medium in which typically you'll have almost no idea what are the "best" movies of the year until the very end of the year, or for Alaskans three months into the next year when those end of the year movies are released in the good ol' AK.

With awards season upon us, I figured I'd address the year so far. The year can still be split into two halves: before awards season and after awards season. I reserve the right to completely and utterly alter that once we move into the latter half, but I feel pretty strongly about my top five so far. Expect to see them again when we get to the end of the year.

#1 - (500) Days of Summer (Directed by Marc Webb, written by Scott Neustadter Michael H. Weber)

Every lover of movies has a niche that they like a little bit more than the rest. You have your action heads, your musical aficionados, your drama enthusiasts, and many others. Then you have myself, who is a dual sided connoisseur - kids/family films and quirky romantic comedies. While the former is something I enjoy always, rarely does it transcend into my all-time favorite movies range, while quirky romantic comedies always seem to creep in there. Whether you're referring to Rushmore, the Hudsucker Proxy, Garden State, or whatever, they always tickle my fancy.

Given that, it should be wholly unsurprising that (500) Days of Summer is my favorite movie of the year so far, as this fills the quirky, romantic and comedy aspects about as well as any movie I've ever seen. Throw in the fact that it is bolstered by two exceptional lead performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (an actor I love and my personal choice to play Yorick Brown in Y the Last Man) and the love of my life Zooey Deschanel, that it is told in an idiosyncratic and engaging structure, and that it has one of the best score/soundtrack combinations in recent memory, well...this is a film that hit me hard.

If you're a hopeless romantic such as myself, mired in a world where everyone around him is getting married and I'm left to my own devices, this will really speak to you. It's about fate, it's about love, it's about finding the one and figuring out if she's the right one. It's about life and being young and discovering what it is that you really want, no matter how hard it hurts. Through it all, it's a movie that speaks directly to me as a viewer and allows you to project yourself as the lead, not unlike the scene where the main character Tom imagines himself as the protagonist to various depressing French films.

A truly wonderful and unique film filled with innovative flair, I really never thought something could top Up, but this did.

Plus, any movie that demonstrates what a young man feels like after the first time he sleeps with the girl of his dreams with what goes on in the scene depicted below is assuredly going to be a winner in my book.

#2 - Up (Co-directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, written by Bob Peterson)

Arguably Pixar's finest film yet, this movie is at times touching, hilarious, action packed and about as close to perfection as you can get for a family film. Basically, if you don't like it you are a heartless monster.

Check out my full review here.

#3 - District 9 (Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp)

This movie never would have happened if the Halo movie wasn't scrapped because of Peter Jackson's insistence that unknown Blomkamp directed it. In that case, I'm very happy it was scrapped as Blomkamp shows the world what you can do with a lot of creativity and $30 million - make one of the best sci-fi flicks in recent memory.

Check out my full review here.

#4 - Inglourious Basterds (Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino)

Inglourious Basterds has been a film that has long been rumored to be in varying levels of production, as QT had the script developed for quite some time. After rumors aplenty about it starring anyone from Adam Sandler to Arnold to Sly Stallone to "unknown mega star x", the fact that it ended up pretty much starring Brad Pitt and an assortment of random, smaller level actors (including Hostel director Eli Roth and Ryan from the Office) is actually quite refreshing.

So is the fact that this is arguably QT's most assured directing job ever. While the film is two and a half hours long, its pace is always brisk and every scene is layered with import. Leading the film off with an introduction to the villain in a fifteen minute scene of slow burn intensity and tragic reality was jarring, but a brilliant decision that proved to be a very good barometer of everything to come after it.

Of course, given that it's QT, it's still filled with massively entertaining stylistic choices (such as the hysterical introduction to Basterd Hugo Stiglitz), a bizarre and fitting score, intense violence (most of which as carried by Roth, whose Basterd is known as the Bear Jew), and almost incomparable character work.

Speaking of incomparable character work, Christoph Waltz' performance as Col. Hans Landa has to be considered the frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor at this point, because his work as the intelligent, cunning, dastardly and vile "Jew Hunter" is completely engrossing. His work provides the film a villain that is on par with almost every one I can ever think of, giving us the slow build intensity of Darth Vader matched with the simmering brilliance of Hannibal Lecter. Every time he is on the screen, the movie steps up to an entirely different level.

While this is still not on the Pulp Fiction level, I could easily see myself eventually settling on this as my second favorite QT flick. That's really saying something right there. I also reserve rights to move this up my rankings upon a second viewing. At the very least, you need to see this film to hear Brad Pitt's Italian accentm, which is Venezia by way of Nashville.

"Uh-Ree-Vuh-Dare-Chee" indeed.

#5 - The Hurt Locker (Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, written by Mark Boal)

This intense study of what it takes to survive in war features assured direction by Bigelow, sharp character work in the script by Boal and incredible performances by Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie.

Check my full review for this here.

Honorable Mentions: Coraline, Star Trek, I Love You, Man, Star Trek, Moon.


Patty said...

I very much enjoyed the dance scene.

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