Ok, I suppose I’ll finally do a top 10 of 2009

Keep in mind I haven’t seen the following films, but it’s getting a bit late in the year for anybody to care anymore, right? Perhaps I can figure out how to get studios to send me screeners! Any tips?

Have not seen: Precious, Invictus, Ponyo, Princess and the Frog, Broken Embraces, A Simple Man, An Education, 35 Shots of Rum (still not even a limited release in the US), 9, Tulpan, The Informant!, The September Issue, La Danse, Bad Lieutenant, Import Export (ditto 35 shots), Me and Orson Welles

1.The Hurt Locker

On my third viewing I think I realized that what I loved most about this film was it’s unusual ability to convey some of the less depicted relationships that exist between soldiers. The scene in the desert with the sniper, wherein Sgt. James prepares and feeds Sgt. Sanborn a pouch of juice as Sanborn keeps his scope on the target was a moment in war that I’d never seen before. It had the intimacy and loving touch of a parent feeding a child.

2.In the Loop

Funniest film I’ve seen in years and slowly creeping up my list of favorite comedies ever. I spent a couple of weeks being tormented and amused by some of the lines of this film in the same way a commercial jingle will refuse to leave your consciousness.

3.Inglorious Basterds

Tarantino made a film that nobody else could pull off. For a filmmaker so self-conscious and referential it’s impressive how much he just doesn’t care about other people’s notions of good taste. He just wants to entertain and continues to see film as a medium that could even go so far as to single-handedly end the Thrid Reich.

4.Children of Invention

This did not get picked up by a studio this year, which is a shame. It’s a wonderful understated tale about an immigrant experience and the wonderful naievete of children running right up against the dangers of a contemporary American city.

5.Goodbye Solo

The best tear-jerker of the year. Ramin Bahrani has made three incredible films in a row. I hope he continues working outside of the Hollywood mainstream because, with his non-professional leads and unglamorous examinations of the lives of outsiders in America (especially that of immigrants) he has made three of the greatest films of the last decade. Red West pulls off such a wonderful, cantankerous and tragic character.

6.We Live in Public

Another film that hasn’t been picked up and released yet (though you may see it in the running for awards once it inevitably does.) Ondi Timoner, of Dig! “fame,” creates a film about a visonary and repulsive genius, a trend of American’s elimination of the private sphere, and a man who pulls off a wonderful sociological/psychological experiment that doubles as the greatest, longest, dirtiest, most claustrophobic party in New York.


A slight film examining the transition of a friendship come adulthood (similar to Old Joy even down to the hippie dude with a long beard!) Quite a slight film but there are some touches that made me laugh with recognition. One of those films that I definitely appreciate more because of my personal cultural circumstances.

8. Sugar

Another quite small film less about baseball than about almost acheiving the dreams of youth but then having to make your own way as a non-english speaking immigrant in the US. A wonderful performance by another non-professional actor Algenis Perez Soto.

9. Hunger

Quite self-consciously arty and exacting in it’s aesthetic. I appreciated it less at the outset due to it’s overt political agenda and manipulative scnees (see the hallway beating scene with the crying guard) but I am haunted by absolutely stunning images of a naked man standing in front of prison bars as snow comes through and peppers his chest or a close-up of a man’s hand as he plays with a fly. Looking back at Michael Fassbender’s performance (as well as experiencing his very nuanced turn in this year’s Fish Tank) has made him one of my current acting favs – he’s goanna blow up into a big leading man in the next year or so – just you wait!

10. A Serious Man

I had a hard time picking a 10th for this year so I just did a snap judgement and chose the Coen Brothers – always a good choice. By far my favorite scenes are those of the protagonist professor with the maderately-English-speaking Korean student and his father. The Coens do comedy of manners like no others!

Honorable Mentions: The White Ribbon, (500) Days of Summer, Star Trek

Guilty pleasure of the year: Terminator: Salvation

I’m a sucker for the whole future robot war concept, even though Christian Bale played John Connor essentially just like his one-note Batman without the cape. Ugh!

Acting Performance of the Year (Male/Female is bullshit): Christopher Waltz

That’s a bingo!

Prettiest movie of the year (cause I don’t feel qualified to judge cinematography): Hunger, though The Limits of Control is a close second.

I’m very much looking forward to Steve McQueen making more feature films. I’d also love to see one of his installations sometime if he ever tours them…which he probably has – I don’t have my ear to the ground on these things.

Best screenplay: In the Loop

Example of the amazing dialogue: “Within your ‘purview’? Where do you think you are, some fucking regency costume drama? This is a government department, not some fucking Jane fucking Austen novel! Allow me to pop a jaunty little bonnet on your purview and ram it up your shitter with a lubricated horse cock!”

Biggest disappointment: The Road

How could a film version of my favorite novel of all time not disappoint. Though I must give big respect to Robert Duall and Michael K Williams for their small but quite effective roles.

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