Digital Polyphony

film, games, memories & random thoughts


The Films of 2009 (Pt 2 - Best and Worst)

Posted on December 30, 2009 at 1:50 AM

Lists are often inherently meaningless on these things, I usually justthrow out things I like and kind of put them in a order I find appealing (see my Top 25 Series, for example). 2009, as noted in part one, was a fairly average year for movies with a lot of bad ones, a decent amount of good ones and handful of great ones (as in, maybe,four or five). So let's get the awful ones out of the way first.

Worst of 2009

I'll start by saying that I honestly don't seek out bad movies. It's not my point to. Movies like New Moon or Transformers 2, Old Dogs or All About Steve, are all universally panned and I have to assume for good reason. I have no interest in wasting my time, a luxury I have that a lot of critics do not (and I do feel sorry for them). I can only give a few that I saw, perhaps thinking they were going to be at least good, and end up utterly horrible.

One such movie was The Informers, an utterly awful, pretentious piece of junk that took me, literally, three days to finally finish. I absolutely did not care about a damn character in the film, yet it kept telling me that I should. In similar fashion, I think of Friday the 13th. For a film that was to reinvent, or re-imagine, or reboot, or re-whatever the franchise, it was as conventional and dull as any generic B-Movie slasher movie in history. Sure, Jason was more menacing and apparently super-powered, but that doesn't excuse awful, awful characters, none of which were remotely appealing, and failing at one thing that slasher movies are supposed to do well: kill hot teens in inventive ways. We got hot teens, but I don't recall how any of them actually died. Even failing on that basic level shows how pitiful the film really was.

Two other horror movies, The Uninvited and The Unborn, were equally as awful. The Unborn at least had some decent elements to it, and Gary Oldman is always great, but they're as forgettable as a direct to DVD Ghost House flick (at least those are original, see The Children for an example).

One I have yet to do a review on is Year One. Actually, now that I think about it I haven't reviewed Land of the Lost yet either for similar reasons, so let me start by saying that writing bad reviews are fun. They are, critics love to do it as noted by Anton Ego in Ratatouille. Yet, I have yet to force myself to really sit and write a review for either one of these films. Perhaps it was the utter disappointment I felt personally considering I liked certain actors or directors. Maybe I just felt insulted, I don't know. I guess I'm just pissed off at them.

By far, though, the worst film I saw in all of 2009 was Horsemen. Good lord, what an abysmal piece of shit this was. I mean, how could this film even get made? I wanted to take the DVD and just shatter it and take the jagged edges, find the people involved, and make them swallow them. Seeing as how it isn't on any other Worst Of lists tells me I was the one dumbass that actually went to see it all because I enjoy serial killer movies, even mediocre ones. This was insultingly bad beyond compare.

Those are some that automatically come to mind. There were a lot of mediocre movies, such as Terminator Salvation or Wolverine, but even those aren't at the awful level as the films listed above.

Enough of this, though, lets get to some good notes...


Top Ten Films of 2009

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus - As a Terry Gilliam fan, I've come to never know what to expect. At least in terms of a film's quality, because we can damn sure expect something original and imaginative with him. Dr. Parnassus is Gilliam at his very best, and to think it was a salvage operation. I remember going to the Premiere, Gilliam introduced the film along with the cast and said "it happened to me again" (his reference to having troubles getting a film done) and that he nearly called it off. Thankfull he didn't and we got something magical. Not perfect by any means, but it's certainly something you haven't seen before...and that goes a long way these days.

Up - An elderly man isn't normally a centeral character for an animated film, but Pixar, again, pushes the limits and delivers one of its most mature, emotional and all-around wonderful films. Saying that every year is getting old. It's an adventure, it's memorable, it's moving... it's hard to not absolutely love it.

A Single Man - A beautifully shot, richly told movie that shows the heartache of losing someone. Sure, lots of films do that. But A Single Man does it in muted tones. To contemplate death, and your own, plays out as the film shows. It's nagging. It's always on your mind. The rest of the world slows and you can't help but think about the emptiness that will never be filled again. Colin Firth is fantastic, I'd have no problem in him winning Best Actor that's for damn sure, and he shows how heartache stays with you. You look fine. You act fine. But inside you're dying.

(500) Days of Summer - This could, ok is, be one of my all-time favorite romance movies. Right up there with Amelie and Before Sunrise. Gordon-Levitt has made a solid name for himself, and he shines thanks to a great script that is as unconventional as it is relatable to anyone who has loved...or at least thought they loved.

An Education - A wonderful period piece about the nievity, and at the same time hope, of youth. Carey Mulligan is so unbelievably charming, sweet and beautiful you can't help but be drawn to her and appreciate the events that unfold during her life. While it might wrap itself up a tad too neatly, it's so well acted, shot and just told that I absolutely loved it.

Inglorious Basterds - I feel like Tarantino just reached a new level with Inglorious Basterds. It still has his same shtick and affection towards dialogue and characters, but constructs such a compelling, overarching story in the process shows a filmmaker that is an absolute master of the craft. The dark humor, and maybe the revisionist history, somehow fits perfectly with the World War II setting. It's his best film since Pulp Fiction, not that those since have been bad, but they don't stand out nearly as much as this great piece of....well, of pulp fiction.

Avatar - I've written so much on Avatar, do I really need to go into detail here? It's pure cinematic entertainment from beginning end and I left feeling like I had just seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix or Star Wars all over again. Movies like this are rare, it's too bad some are too blindly dumb (yes dumb) to really appreciate it.

Fantastic Mr. Fox - Fresh, fun, witty. Everything I love about Wes Anderson all in one with the parts I don't like about Wes Anderson falling to the side (hey, sometimes his characters bug me, but not here).  The voice cast is utterly perfect and Mr. Fox himself a classic character.  An interesting fact, the film was recorded with all players in the room, acting out the scenes (much of the sound effects are them, such as footsteps, doors etc...).

The Hurt Locker - Great films will hold you at every whim. The Hurt Locker does it, yet it does it so nonchalantly it's almost a crime. War is a drug, and this film gets into the mind of what that means better than a lot of movies could dream of, or forcefully dream of. The story is incredibly simple, putting focus on the depth of the characters and the gravity of the situation.

Up in the Air - What is this film about? Some are still trying to figure that out...yet they don't realize that's sort of the point. It's about the confusing and non-absolute nature of life: here through the eyes of a man who is still trying to find a purpose to one. He sees many paths others take, some for job, some for family, yet realizes he has no direction himself. He flies to and from places because that's safe, he doesn't have to make that decision. Yet, when he finally turns to make one, he realizes that maybe it's just too late. Life isn't what we hope it will be. Up in the Air is more powerful than it's light tone lets on and is my favorite film of the year. Not by a mile, or ten million, but at least a quietly profound step or two.


A Few Films that Were On and Off the List: The White Ribbon, Zombieland, The Road, Drag Me to Hell, A Serious Man, In the Loop, Waltz With Bashir, Crazy Heart, Watchmen, Precious.

I think that's all I have to say about this year in film, I'll get into games and such later. Still some backlog reviews to get to, so keep reading, thanks for reading, and I'll try and stay on this little website thing I got going.

Signing Off




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