Best Films of 2009
Life and laziness sort of got in the way, but I’ve finally made my Top Ten of 2009 list and SPOILER alert—Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will not be making the list.
I should mention the five Oscar-nominated films that I haven’t seen yet. These are my unseen also-rans (“never-rans?”)—condolences to Il Divo (1), The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2), The Last Station (2), The Secret of Kells (1) & The White Ribbon (1) as they won’t be making my list but possibly could have if I lived in a larger market.
Here’s a complete list of the 205 movies from 2009 that I’ve seen and are up for my prestigious list.
And without further ado…
My Top 10 Films of 2009
Actually, there’s just a little more ado…
I want to give an honorable mention to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It probably deserves to be on this list as it was one of the eight star films I saw in 2009, however as I was making this list, there was a movie that was just a little bit more memorable, so Cloudy fell down to the #11 spot.
And NOW, without further ado…
10. Everlasting Moments
This film deserves to be a bit higher, but as it’s just a tiny Swedish film no one has probably heard of, I figured I’d use it to fill my #10 slot. It’s an elegant period drama that deals with class struggles, alcoholism, sexism, feminism, WWI, labor unions and so much more. IMDb sums up the plot simply and beautifully: “[A] young working class woman, Maria [Maria Heiskanen], wins a camera in a lottery. The decision to keep it alters her whole life.” That may not sound too exciting, but as long as you don’t have an aversion to reading subtitles, I highly recommend you rent this as it truly was one of the best films I saw last year.
9. Every Little Step
It just wouldn’t feel like one of my “Best of the Year” lists without some fantastic documentary, and 2009 had several great docs trying to make the list. Food, Inc. or Capitalism: A Love Story could easily have filled this spot, but Every Little Step just barely beats them out because its subject matter is so fascinating to me. Every Little Step follows a handful of actors and dancers who audition for Broadway’s revival of “A Chorus Line.” Since I had recognized some of the faces as cast members, a little of the drama about who will make the cut was lost, but it was still fascinating getting a glimpse behind the curtain at the lengthy Broadway audition process & hearing the original tapes Michael Bennett recorded when researching for his new musical.
8. Me and Orson Welles
Here’s another film that features a lot of acting, auditions, rehearsals and theatre—and that may be part of the reason I enjoyed it so much. The story alone would probably be worthy of my Top 25, but what bumps it up to #8 is the phenomenal performance of Christian McKay as Orson Welles. He completely embodies the legendary actor/director and deserved an Oscar nomination (although I believe in either category he’d lose to Bridges or Waltz, so maybe the point is moot). Zac Efron is the titular Me—a young wanna-be actor desperate to work with Welles in his famous 1937 Mercury Theatre production of Julius Caesar. The supporting cast (including a beautiful Claire Daines as Orson’s assistant) is an ensemble of great performers playing great performers (e.g. Norman Lloyd, Joseph Cotton & George Coulouris). However, the greatest performer here is definitely Mr. Welles—I mean McKay—himself. I kept hoping there would be a scene featuring some frozen peas.
7. In the Loop
Based on a UK television series “The Thick of It,” In the Loop is a political mock-vérité comedy where one unfortunate verbal slip-up puts US and UK politicians in a tizzy. A UK politician (Tom Hollander) states that “war is unforeseeable” and that while peace is desirable, occasionally one must “climb the mountain of conflict.” All of this seems harmless in his eyes, but the press believes his is the view of the Prime Minister and that the UK and US are planning to invade some unnamed Middle Eastern country. Soon, several British ministers are flown to DC to meet with other heads of state so they can try to formulate a actual stance on war, with these two phrases already out there in the ephemera. This may sound really dry, but the writing is extremely funny—especially the one press official Michael Tucker (Peter Capaldi) who curses more than that bartender with Tourette’s in Boondock Saints.
6. An Education
Nothing like a little pedophilia to gain some Oscar buzz. An Education is the coming-of-age story of 16-year-old Jenny (Oscar nominee, Carey Mulligan) whose father (Alfred Molina) relentlessly pushes her in an attempt to get into Oxford; however, Jenny has other aspirations—to live in France, for instance. Jenny meets David (Peter Sarsgaard) one afternoon, when he spots her lugging her cello home in the rain and offers her a lift—and this girl is half his age (really surprised The Police didn’t make the soundtrack)! At first, David begins introducing Jenny to cultural events she’s only read about or listened to on her hi-fi. As she continues to ditch schoolwork with her classmates for nights out at ballets and bars with David and his friends, the relationship grows into something more. Mulligan does well here, but I never once believed she was only 16—she played Jenny as an intelligent, beautiful 20-something which is why I feel her nomination is a little unfounded. That may be the reason why the relationship here didn’t really bother me—Jenny seemed 18-22 while David seemed 25-30 and it was just the telling of a sheltered girl falling for a slightly older, more sophisticated man. There were, of course, a few moments that reminded you how taboo this relationship was supposed to be, but the film deals with it deftly and this joins Hard Candy, Little Children and The Woodsman as another excellent film featuring a pedophile.
As I said in my blog about the Best Acting of 2009, Sam Rockwell gives two of the best performances of last year (another Oscar snub). Moon is a claustrophobic mystery-thriller featuring Rockwell as Sam Bell, an astronaut in the final three weeks of his three-year solo mission on a lunar mining station. His only company is a HAL-like computer system named GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) due to a communication malfunction with Earth. After an accident on one of the moon harvesters, Rockwell discovers someone else on the station claiming to be Sam Bell. He starts to wonder if his long time solitude is affecting his mind as paranoia starts to set in. The film does feature some classic space-movie clichés, but somehow none of them are too contrived, leaving a simple character study, in which Rockwell is out of this world.
4. Up in the Air
Jason Reitman has a pretty damn good track record as director, following up Thank You For Smoking & Juno with this little look at the recession and big corporate downsizing. Oscar-nominee, George Clooney’s Ryan Bingham lives life with an empty backpack, with little holding him down anywhere. He’s on the road 300 days each year firing employees for companies who have enough money to pay for his services but not enough to keep their workers. He’s good at his job and enjoys banking thousands of frequent flier miles every week. Oscar-nominee, Vera Farmiga plays love interest Alex, who describes herself as “[Ryan] with a vagina,” and Oscar-nominee, Anna Kendrick plays Natalie, a young up-and-comer with radical new ideas that would put the professional firer out of a job. The dialogue is witty, the plot has a third act that I didn’t fully expect, and the film is filled with fantastic characters. The only complaint I have with the film is some of the featured extras who play the people getting fired—given only a small amount of screen time they might not need to be the best actors ever, but some of these line readings were just horrible. Thankfully, these most painful scenes are near the very beginning and were forgotten about quickly once the main actors got started.
3. Inglourious Basterds
Tarantino has written a fantastic pseudo-historical piece of WWII drama here, featuring a Bear Jew, a Jew Hunter, an Apache, a Little Man and a lot of other interesting (but not as interestingly-named) Basterds. I am simply amazed by the ingenuity of Tarantino to come up with a story like this—a band of Jewish behind-enemy-lines Nazi killers?! How has this not already been done?! (cue a comment pointing to a film where it has already been done.) There are at least three fantastic setpieces (the opening scene pictured above, the basement bar & the final “Revenge of the Giant Face”) along with some brilliant cinematography and scoring. And, how it’s taken me six whole sentences to mention the acting, I’ll never know. First, you have Best Supporting Actor Christopher Waltz (notice I’m not saying “nominee” because this award is his, and if he loses I’ll eat Werner Herzog’s shoe!) as the menacing Col. Hans Landa. Next you have Brad Pitt, Eli Roth and Michael Fassbender each doing some of their best work ever (although Fassbender was also excellent in last year’s Hunger). Finally, Mélanie Laurent and Diane Kruger are as beautiful as they are talented and Laurent’s warpaint scene while Bowie sings “Cat People” is another unforgettable scene. One of a few 2009 films I actually went to see twice because it’s a bingo!
2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Another film I saw twice in theaters is Wes Anderson’s kooky animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox. Based on a Roald Dahl novel (which I’ve never read), here is a story of some woodland creatures defending themselves from Boggis, Bunce and Bean—three farmers who, themselves, were terrorized by Mr. Fox. I’m a fan of Anderson’s work (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou) but here, his style takes a leap I never imagined possible. Anderson is known for working with many of the same actors, often portraying quirky characters who live in a bright, primary-colored world. And while I’ve mostly always enjoyed these traits in his live action films, stop-motion animation allows everything to climb to a whole new level. The voice acting here (Clooney, Streep, Murray, Schwartzman, Wilson, Gambon, Dafoe & even Anderson himself) is cussing brilliant as is the writing (“cuss” really needs to catch on because it’s hilarious) and scoring (I’m hopeful this will be the Oscar winning score).
And my favorite film of 2009 is……
1. Star Trek
My most watched 2009 film (twice in theaters and once on Blu-Ray) deserves to be #1, doesn’t it? I still remember going to see this at midnight on opening night and being blown away by the sheer awesomeness of it. You see, I expected great things from Tarantino and Anderson, but Abrams hadn’t yet proven that his skills as producer (“Lost”, “Fringe”, Cloverfield) would make him a good director (M:i:III was decent but not great). Plus, while I absolutely loved ST:TNG, I was never a huge fan of TOS or many of the other incarnations, so this reboot of the original wasn’t too high on my radar—at first. Some decent trailers got me to the midnight showing, however, and from the very first scene I was on the edge of my seat like some uber-Trekker-fanboy. The writing was clever—a lot of hardcore Trekkers may be lamenting the time travel subplot and how it changed “history,” but I thought it was a brilliant way to wipe the canon slate clean so that Abrams and the screenwriters could tell the story they wanted to without contradicting Season 2 Episode 4 of TOS. Abrams also did a great job casting the film—each character is perfect, most notably Chris Pine as Kirk, Anton Yelchin as Chekov and Karl Urban as Bones (although I didn’t quite buy Nimoy as Spock[/sarcasm]). They also made sure to include some throwbacks to the series (e.g. Red Shirt), which made it all the more enjoyable for a semi-fan of the show. The only thing keeping this from being perfect is that clunky pit stop on the ice planet featuring a large vagisaurus chasing Kirk. What the heck was up with that?!
So… What was your favorite movie of 2009? Think any of my choices above have a chance at winning an Oscar next weekend? Leave your thoughts and comments below!
Biggest Surprises of 2009
Man—life really got in the way… It’s already February and I still haven’t finished my Top Disappointments & Surprises or Top 10 Films of 2009… Better bang this post out tonight (without pics) so that I can focus on that Top 10 list….
Michael Mann directing Depp, Bale, Cotillard, Crudup, Ribisi, et al should have been a tour de force of movie making, but instead we get a bloated, high definition, great looking piece of crap. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m not a fan of the digital revolution. High definition takes away the real look of film. The cigarette burns, scratches, dirt and dust that show up on film make the experience much more tangible than digital projection. Here, the film looked too perfect, and what could have been a compelling story about America’s Public Enemy #1 was turned into an over-long piece of drivel that featured Bale doing his Batman voice way too often.
I was really looking forward to this (but knew it would probably disappoint). Vince Vaughn and Jason Bateman are two very funny actors, plus the film featured a scene with Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman & Kristen Bell stripping down to their skivvies. Unfortunately, the film was edited down from its original R-rating, and it really suffered for it (Davis and Jon Favreau were shown cheating on each other in the trailer, but these scenes are completely cut out of the film and they only imply infidelity for the first half of the film). Plus, the writing (Favreau, Vaughn and What Happens In Vegas scribe Dana Fox) and direction (Peter Billingsley of A Christmas Story fame) were pretty weak (serious marital problems are “solved” in minutes). And is there anyone who would believe that Favreau would even be able to cheat on Davis with these hot young women?
I had mixed feelings about Mike Judge’s sophomore effort, Idiocracy—it had a decent premise that seemed to just miss its mark. Office Space is near perfect, however the first time I saw it was in college with a lot of friends during its hype. I wasn’t sure where Extract would land, but I was hoping that the combination of Judge, Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, JK Simmons, a seemingly funny Affleck, Clifton Collins Jr. (who needs more features!) & David Koechner would equal hilarity. I want to revisit this on DVD to see if it could improve on a second viewing, but my first and only viewing was definitely a huge disappoint
The Men Who Stare At Goats
Clooney, McGregor, Bridges, Spacey—this should have been great. Instead it put me to sleep—literally—twice. My first viewing was a late night showing, so I watched it again a week later after a good night’s rest, and I still dozed off in the middle. It was trying really hard to be quirky and funny, but this is one instance where real life is just too unbelievable to be compelling.
The only bigger disappointment was…..
Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles had previously worked together on Borat: CLoAfMBGNoK which was a pretty funny movie. However, stories about Pamela Anderson’s knowledge of what was happening in Borat made me more skeptical of Brüno. Most of the “comedy” presented here, however, was too narrow to be really clever. Cohen simply goes into Redneck America to find some homophobes to make fun of… Am I supposed to be impressed or shocked?
The Blind Side
After watching All About Steve, I wasn’t expecting much from Sandra Bullock’s “Based on a true story” schlock, but it really delivered. Do I think it deserves the #10 spot in the Best Picture race? Not really. The film has too many faults—young SJ is super irritating, the back-story given to Michael is pointless (to me), the film relies too much on manipulation—to be a real contender, but the manipulation it uses is pretty effective, as the theater did get a little dusty for me.
The Invention of Lying
Ricky Gervais really has a tendency to surprise me with his films. I expected 2008′s Ghost Town to be a mediocre comedy, but it was really funny and sweet. In Lying, I expected all the laughs to be in the trailers, but there’s an entire plot that was a complete surprise to me (I won’t ruin it here). The film could have gotten old really quickly (“I know I’m fat and have no chance with you, but we have to have sex otherwise the world will end!”), but instead it takes this secret(?) plot point and actually turns it into an interesting talking point. It made me think as well as laugh, which is more than I expected from this little comedy.
One of about a dozen films I saw more than once in theaters last year. The film does suffer some of the Blair Witch problems—when presented as real footage, you get a lot of long, boring scenes because life is boring. However, these drawn out bits of “reality” counter the middle of the night scares really well. It’s not the kind of film that will make you lose sleep for days, but it does have a lot of great scares in the theater (especially night #13).
This movie stars Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) as a character named Sa5m, where the “5″ is silent. And that’s about all I knew as I went into this film, but the story about a bunch of misfits entering a Battle of the Bands is actually quite charming. The film featured some pretty decent music but the story is what really surprised me. The trailer made me think this was just going to be an HSM-knock-off, but it really was much more than that and featured a pretty unexpected ending. The acting wasn’t great, but I forgave it simply because the rest surprised me so much.
And the biggest surprise of 2009 (although why I doubted it, I’ll never know) was….
Drag Me To Hell
I’m not a huge fan of horror films, but I was curious what Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead trilogy) would do after his Spider-Man success. He does not disappoint. There is a great mix of humor (both intentional, and un-), scares (helped by an amazing score—at times dark and menacing and at others light and lilting) and blood (one of the worst nosebleeds EVER). The ending is a bit telegraphed, and I’m sure the film couldn’t have been worse had it gone for the R-rating, but Raimi proves he still has what it takes to do horror well.
So, did any 2009 films catch you off guard? Whether it was something you were really looking forward that turned out to be crap or something you were dragged to by friends that actually turned out to be good or great? Let me know what I forgot as I spend the next month writing my Top 10 of 2009 list!
Worst of 2009
When you see practically every movie that comes out in theaters like I do (for the complete list see my previous blog), you end up seeing a lot of crap. Some people ask me why I subject myself to pieces of crap like Knowing, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Land of the Lost, 12 Rounds, Bride Wars or The Pink Panther 2 (none of which even make my list!). I answer them simply, “Seeing bad movies helps me appreciate the good ones all the more.”
Plus, if I didn’t see everything, what would I have to snark on?
So, I present for your disapproval, the 10 12 Worst Films of 2009:
These posters should have been warning enough...
10. (tie) The Bracelet of Bordeaux, Gooby & When I Find the Ocean
These three films were all distributed by Monterey Media, each with a one week run. In a foolish attempt to see more than 200 films in 2009, I was seeing everything I could which led me to these three wastes of celluloid. They probably deserve to be higher up (further down?) the list, but because of their minimal distribution, I thought I’d keep them lumped together here at #10, reserving nos. 9-1 for stuff you’ve probably actually heard of. Bracelet is a story that mixes the mafia, dognapping, magical jewelry and the Nazis into one cluster*$@# of a kids’ film; Gooby features Robbie Coltrane & Eugene Levy (cashing their paychecks no doubt) in a film about a young boy whose only friend is a teddy bear who comes to life only to sound like a mildly retarded Shrek; and Ocean follows a young girl as she takes her dog and her pet rabbit on a trip through the 1960s South (ooh! Civil Rights!) to deal with the death of her father (or something). Bracelet was the only film I saw in 2009 to get(all other films on this list got a ) but Gooby was most offensive because it was so polished. How films like this get financing for good cameras and editing while others sit in limbo waiting to be made amazes me.
Skoog and Irena A Hoffman in Transylmania
Ever wonder what would happen if Twilight was Nationally Lampooned? Well, here’s your answer, and it ain’t pretty. A bunch of college kids decide to spend a semester abroad in a Transylvanian castle, because given the choice of Paris, London, Prague or Romania, who wouldn’t choose Romania?! The group of co-eds have every stereotype you’d expect: stoners, nymphos, twin sisters (one naughty, the other nice), jocks and dweebs. Oren Skoog’s Rusty had been chatting it up with a seemingly hott Romanian student, but surprise! she’s actually a hunchback (“Always ask for a full body shot!,” he laments). The castle they are studying at was once home to the evil vampire Count Radu (also played by Skoog) who is determined to reawaken his bride with a magical music box. The school’s dean is a pint-sized man who claims he doesn’t believe in vampires, yet has hired a Van Helsing-like descendant to teach the kids about fencing and stake-wielding. One of the jocks figures he can score by claiming to be a vampire hunter, and gets deputized by this Van Helsing-like teacher to hunt down the returning fiends. The dean is also father to the hunchback and tries to steal a pretty co-ed’s body to transplant his daughter’s head onto. With real twins playing the sisters, one actor playing two roles and that pesky music box possessing another girl whenever it is open, there are enough mistaken identities to make me wonder if the screenwriters were trying to channel Shakespeare. However, I doubt the 21st Century National Lampoon’s writers even know how to spell Shakespeare.
Keaton, Burnett, Coleman, Lynch, Bledel and Zach Gilford in Post Grad
8. Post Grad
Post Grad could have been an interesting look at what faces college students in today’s economy. No longer does a degree and excellent interview skills guarantee anyone a job. Actually, I think it was Alexis Bledel’s Rory on Gilmore Girls who had the interview skills; I think her Ryden here, while intelligent had no common sense actually interviewing without knowing where she was. Ryden’s family, the Malbys, is Quirk with a capital “Q.” Dad (Michael Keaton) is a luggage salesman determined DIY is the only way to get anything done; Mom (Jane Lynch) is the most normal, but still a bit unbelievable; Grandma (Carol Burnett) is obsessed with death, convinced she’s going to kick it any moment; and Brother (Bobby Coleman) wears a sock puppet to his sister’s graduation. We’re supposed to believe Ryden is intelligent, but when she doesn’t get her dream job the week after graduation and she can’t afford that apartment in the city, her life is ruined! The script is horrible, the characters were totally unbelievable, the acting was mediocre (at best). While I loved Bledel’s work on Gilmore Girls, this film did not make me hope for more films in her future…
Stewart and Robert Pattinson in New Moon
7. New Moon
Up until this point, you might be saying to yourself “I’ve never even heard of these movies!,” and you should consider yourself lucky. A lot of them are in and out of theaters before you can bat an eye. However, I’m sure you’ve all heard of my #7, and maybe even a few of you are Team this guy or Team the other one. As for me, I’ll take Harry Potter (hell, I’ll even take Lemony Snicket) over this ridiculous tripe. The teen angst Kristen Stewart emotes here is a bit disturbing when you realize she is a high schooler who is so in love with a several-hundred year old man (sure, sure, in a high schooler’s body) that she can’t even breathe without him. Even more disturbing are the actual middle-aged women in the audience hooting and hollering every time these actual high school boys take their shirts off. Apparently, if your abs are well-defined enough, there’s no need to know how to act–just take off your shirt!
Larter and Elba in Obsessed
To be fair, however, this acting rule doesn’t apply to just underage boys. Ali Larter proves that flashing the goods can help distract from bad acting. In this Fatal Attraction knock-off, Idris Elba plays some successful suit (how do we know he’s successful? He has a huge office and is married to Beyoncé!) who gets Larter as a temp secretary. She quickly becomes [ahem] obsessed with him and misinterprets a bunch of innocent comments to think the two should run off together. Craziness ensues and it all culminates in a house-destroying catfight, which isn’t nearly as exciting as it may sound because it comes at the end of a ridiculous story that is filled with absurd characters who never do anything that makes a bit of sense!
Odette Yustman in The Unborn
5. The Unborn
There’s nothing like a PG-13 horror movie about a high school girl haunted by the spirit of the twin brother she killed in the womb (seen one, seen ‘em all!). Throw in a cheesy opening dream sequence, some Holocaust mythology and a completely pointless exorcism led by Gary Oldman (poor Gary Oldman) and you have the worst horror film of the year. The trailer has every single “scare” that the film tries to pass off (and with the PG-13 rating, these scares suck). I recall sitting in a nearly sold-out showing of this film back in January and the entire theater laughing throughout. It’s pretty bad when your target audience (opening weekend teens ready to be scared) find more Ha’s than Aaah’s!
Nighy in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
4. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
I’ll admit, I haven’t seen either of the previous Underworld films, nor did I even realize this was a prequel to the series, but this Romeo & Juliet story with vampires and werewolves seemed pretty pointless. Are the vampires in the other Underworld films as pathetic as they are here? And I assume that the only reason Bill Nighy and the (usually) excellent Michael Sheen are in this was due to contractual obligations involved from their work on the first one (which might not have been so bad). Basically, you have a bunch of pathetic vampires locked up in their castle with Sheen as this werewolf who protects them during the day from a bunch of other more-evil werewolves during the day. The two (three?) groups have an epic battle that felt a bit reminiscent of some of the Lord of the Ring battles, and in the end some people die. Luckily, it’s the type of movie that is very ephemeral. I can’t recall much of the plot. I do remember wondering when my 92 minutes would be over and I could move on to something better….
Perry in Madea Goes to Jail
3. Madea Goes to Jail
I feel like it just wouldn’t be a “Worst of” list without Tyler Perry. I actually had avoided all of his movies up until Madea Goes to Jail, but I was faithfully trying to see every movie released in theaters, and every hobby has some downsides, right? I really don’t understand the appeal of these characters. I was always under the impression that African-Americans and Christians were the main components of his target audience. While I get the Christian message about redemption, it’s in a story filled with cursing, sexual jokes and pot smoking. Somehow, I found it difficult to imagine Christians finding this (or his second movie of 2009, I Can Do Bad All By Myself which also features child abuse as comedy) humorous, but a few months ago my parents actually got a free pass for a PPV film from DirecTV. They chose Jail and loved it. I wanted to ask why they enjoyed this “comedy,” but decided to sidestep that conversation where I envisioned eventually mocking their movie choices. But still, it pains me that a movie like this can outperform something like Zombieland in total domestic box office. What is wrong with our country?
Bart the Bear and Grant in Did You Hear About the Morgans?
2. Did You Hear About the Morgans?
I don’t understand how this movie was cast. Did someone actually think that horse face and charming Brit would make for a believable, likable couple? In this film, two New Yorkers are thrown into middle America in some ridiculous Witness Protection plot. Halfway through, I was hoping the killer would find them and kill them just so I could get to my next screening. There’s absolutely no chemistry between these two actors, even during the rekindling of their cold marriage. Hugh Grant seems to phone it in the entire film, making eye contact with Sarah Jessica Parker for approximately 60 seconds total. Mary Steenburgen (looking fantastic) and Sam Elliott (whose mustache looks fantastic) play the couple housing them while deeper covers are developed elsewhere. “Jokes” about guns, Republicans, bear-repellent and serving meat to vegetarians abound. The only tiny bright spot in this film are the scenes involving the couple’s assistants (Elisabeth Moss and Jesse Liebman)—I enjoyed their awkward chemistry, but sadly, their screen time is limited. The coda of the film is one of the most ridiculous endings I can recall in recent cinema.
And the worst film of 2009 is….
Williams and Travolta in Old Dogs
1. Old Dogs
It’s odd how Robin Williams seems to see-saw back and forth between quality and crap. Earlier this year, he was fantastic in World’s Greatest Dad, an odd but touching comedy directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. Then, he stars in this absolute POS that actually features a series of “jokes” revolving around a self-tanning accident that makes Williams look black. John Travolta comes along for the ride, where these 50-something heterolifemates and business partners (and yes the movie stoops to making a “partner” joke) have to babysit 7-year-old twins despite having no parenting experience or knowledge. It’s like two times The Game Plan which ends up being half as funny. This wins the title of Worst Movie of 2009 simply because it is so trite and ridiculous and yet features so many actors who I know can do better. Besides Williams and Travolta, you have Kelly Preston, Lori Loughlin, Seth Green, Bernie Mac (how sad is it that this was his final film?), Matt Dillon, Rita Wilson, Amy Sedaris & Luis Guzmán in this dreck. Can no one in Hollywood read a script and make recommendations to fix it?
Think you saw something worse? Tell me about it…
Best of 2009 – Film Preparation and Acting
Another year has come and gone and I haven’t posted a single sodblog… Luckily, the people who run this site didn’t destroy my username and password, so I’m back to write about the best (and worst) of 2009.
However, I don’t keep a top ten list as I watch everything throughout the year… so I’m stuck looking back on all the films I have seen to try to come up with a top ten. I figured I’d post the list I’m working off of so you can see how hard it is to come up with a top ten:
Here are the 202 films from 2009 that are vying for a coveted position in my Top Ten:
(500) Days of Summer
Aliens in the Attic
All About Steve
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Angels & Demons
Art & Copy
Away We Go
Beaches of Agnes, The
Blind Side, The
Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, The
Bracelet of Bordeaux, The
Brothers Bloom, The
Capitalism: A Love Story
Che: Part One
Che: Part Two
Christmas Carol, A
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D
Coco Before Chanel
Confessions of a Shopaholic
Crank: High Voltage
Did You Hear About the Morgans?
Drag Me To Hell
End of the Line, The
Every Little Step
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Fast & Furious
Final Destination, The
Fourth Kind, The
Friday the 13th
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Girlfriend Experience, The
Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, The
Hannah Montana: The Movie
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Haunting in Connecticut, The
He’s Just Not That Into You
Hotel for Dogs
Hurt Locker, The
I Can Do Bad All By Myself
I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell
I Love You, Beth Cooper
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
In the Loop
Invention of Lying, The
Is Anybody There
It Might Get Loud
Julie & Julia
Land of the Lost
Last House on the Left, The
Law Abiding Citizen
Lovely Bones, The
Madea Goes to Jail
Me and Orson Welles
Men Who Stare at Goats, The
Monsters vs Aliens 3D
My Bloody Valentine 3D
My Life in Ruins
My One and Only
My Sister’s Keeper
New in Town
New Moon, The Twilight Saga
Next Day Air
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Not Easily Broken
Observe and Report
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Perfect Getaway, A
Pink Panther 2, The
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Princess and the Frog, The
Race to Witch Mountain
Rudo y Cursi
Serious Man, A
Single Man, A
State of Play
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, The
This Is It
Time Traveler’s Wife, The
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Ugly Truth, The
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Up in the Air
When I Find the Ocean
Where the Wild Things Are
World’s Greatest Dad
X Games 3D: The Movie
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg
There are two films on this list that I haven’t actually seen yet–It’s Complicated (released last week) and The Lovely Bones (releasing wide two weeks from yesterday). As I stall waiting for The Lovely Bones to come out near me, I figured I’d give my thoughts about the acting I’ve seen this year. With the official Oscar nominations less than a month away, I figured I’d let you know who I think was best in each category (with apologies to Ms. Streep, Ms. Ronan, Mr. Tucci et al for being skipped over), along with their odds of being nominated.
Best Supporting Actress
Mo'Nique as Mary
As I watched Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, I had trouble remembering this horrible excuse for a mother was once upon a time Jamique from Soul Plane. Mo’Nique really disappeared into her role (and anyone who has seen it knows how difficult that would be). During the final scene where she tries to explain the hows and whys of it all, I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for her despite the horrors she was admitting to. I think she’s a lock for her nomination and a strong contender for the actual Oscar.
Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa
This was a tough one for me, but I’m guessing my second choice (Christian McKay’s excellent portrayal of Orson Welles in Me and Orson Welles) may be tainted since I just saw the film last week. I remember loving Waltz’s work this summer in Inglourious Basterds so I’m sure my love for Waltz has simply waned over time so McKay gets silver. Waltz is both menacing and mesmerizing as the Nazi colonel, from his opening scene where he describes why he deserves the nickname “Jew Hunter”, to one of his final scenes where he learns the phrase isn’t “That’s a bingo!” This is another lock for nomination and a probable win as well (sorry McKay).
Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther
This was another tough category, but unlike the Supporting Actor it wasn’t because I had another close call, but I struggled to think of ANYone. I’d wager Streep’s performance in Julie & Julia will get a nod, but I personally wasn’t a fan. I almost went with Bullock’s accent in The Blind Side, but in the end remembered the best part of a mediocre movie, Orphan. I won’t spoil the ending, but anyone who’s seen this film knows that this 11-year-old has some great talent—she plays scary and sweet to perfection. However, this is one pick I doubt the Academy will notice.
Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell
Rockwell gives not one, but two fantastic performances in Moon, a little film released back in June. Sadly, there is a lot of talk about how the studios aren’t sending Moon screeners to Academy voters due to the high costs of watermarking them (the DVD isn’t released in the US yet). Most likely Rockwell’s performance will be overlooked when the nominations are announced (even if this petition reaches 1,000,000), and that’s a true shame because, other than a HAL-like computer voiced by Kevin Spacey, this film is all Rockwell. He plays an astronaut working alone for three years on a moon base. Two weeks before he goes home he finds… himself. Is he going crazy or is something else happening? You’ll have to rent it to find out, but trust me when I say Rockwell gives the best performance(s) of the year.
So, what were some of the best performances you’ve seen this year?