Best Feature Films of 2009

Jonathan Valin -- Fri, 01/15/2010 - 03:10

 Well, it's that time of year again. 
I almost decided against posting a list this year because the pickings were so slim. Of course, I haven't seen everything out there, so I may be overlooking serious contenders (and would be glad to hear if that's the case). However...for what it's worth here are the best films I saw in 2009, listed in the order they were released (and in the order I saw them).
1) The Class, dir. Laurent Cantet.
2) The International, dir. Tom Tykwer
3) The Hurt Locker, dir. Kathryn Bigelow
4) Public Enemies, dir. Michael Mann
5) The Informant, dir. Stephen Soderbergh
6) Zombieland, dir. Ruben Fleischer
7) A Serious Man, dir. Joel and Ethan Coen
8) Antichrist, dir. Lars von Trier
9) The Road, dir. John Hillcoat
10) North Face, dir. Philipp Stolzl

Go ahead and throw stones.

llad -- Sat, 01/30/2010 - 19:35

 Jon,  I'm glad you didn't list AVATAR.  As a colleague of mine put it, "That movie had everything except a story."

mecolwell -- Sun, 01/31/2010 - 15:22

Awww, I really liked the story!
It was an adventure, love story, ecological statement (tree huggers..what a tree!). The only thing I thought really lame was "unobtanium" Jeesh, couldn't they have thought of something a bit more cool than that??
A bit of moral/ethical issues, like "Surrogates", in the question "is it ethical or moral for humans to control other forms for the purpose of war, etc"?


Jonathan Valin -- Sun, 01/31/2010 - 19:36

I haven't seen Avatar (yeah, I'm the one). I'm just not a Cameron fan. You guys in the Academy are gonna have a helluva time picking a Best Picture this year, IMO. It'll probably end up being The Hurt Locker, which is half a great movie (but only half).
I'm planning to go see the Jeff Bridges' flick Crazy Heart next (it finally opened in this backwater).

llad -- Tue, 02/02/2010 - 15:45

 Cameron has always had trouble directing actors.  He's great with new filmmaking technology.  What really disappoints though is the originality of the story.  It's DANCES WITH WOLVES (some folks have referred to it as "Dances With Smurfs"), or Disney's POCAHONTAS (there's a synopsis circulating on line with the key elements of the Disney cartoon crossed out and the elements of AVATAR written in by hand).  The plots are the same.

Jim Hannon -- Tue, 02/02/2010 - 18:29

Thanks for the putting forth this list!
I'll add these to my "must see" flicks. Admittedly, I'll see most of these via On-Demand at home on my 50" plasma.
I hope they don't lose too much of their impact on the smaller screen.
What puts The Class at the head of the class? (Sorry)

Jonathan Valin -- Tue, 02/02/2010 - 19:47

 The Class is listed first solely because it was the first good film that I saw in 2009, Jim. It was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Feature last year (it was made in 2008 and most people saw it well before I did).
If I were to try to put this list in relative order of merit, it would look different than it does, although The Class would still end up near the top. I don't feel like attempting this exercise, however, since 2009 was an almost historically awful year for the movies and EVERY film on my list is a mixed bag. Let's face it: When deftly written and extraordinarily well-made fluff like The International, living-dead yuck-fests like Zombieland, yet another heartless (but witty and stinging) Coen Bros. foray into nihilstic allegory, and totatlly unrealistic but exciting, oddly moving, and well-acted gangster romances like Public Enemy make my's not been a great year for the movies. What every one of these films has going for it is a very high level of craft put to use on a relatively low order of content. Of course, that could be a definition of the movies. It's just that this year, the "content" was particularly weak.
If I were to pick my single favorite moment in this year's films (or the ones I've seen), it would be, oddly enough, the final scenes of Public Enemy, which is one of those rare movies that gets better at the finish (the trouble is you have to wait so long to get there). This mostly inaccurate (Mann starts the film with Pretty Boy Floyd getting gunned down by Melvin Purvis, when in fact "Little Mel" was a desk-jockey like Hoover who seldom, if ever, shot at anyone and Floyd was killed three months after Dillinger was gunned down outside the Biograph), wholly stylized, deeply romantic gangster movie rises to something very like greatness in its last moments--starting with the eerie, dreamlike scene in which Dillinger daringly sneaks into the "Dillinger Squad Room" of the Chicago PD at City Hall and strolls brazenly among all those  canceled-out wanted posters of his dead friends--his comrades--pinned to bulletin boards, like a man stealing silently through a graveyard he himself will soon lie in--a soon-to-be ghost among ghosts. And then, in what is perhaps the most inspired moment in a movie that is rather short on inspiration (but long on style and mood), we get the remarkable (and, for once, historically accurate) scene in the Biograph, where Dillinger watches Clark Gable playing a character based on Dillinger freely and fearlessly embracing his doom. It's a veritable hall of mirrors, and since we know Dillinger is, in fact, about to meet his doom it casts a genuine spell of wonder and tragic sadness. Depp has never been better in any scene he's acted, and he doesn't say a word. Mann has never been better, either. (The very last scene is also deeply touching.)

Cemil Gandur -- Mon, 03/15/2010 - 10:58

Good stuff JV,
Any chance you could restart your regular movie reviews here ? Your presence is sorely missed.

Jonathan Valin -- Mon, 03/15/2010 - 19:19

 Thank you, Cemil.
I would love to write movie reviews again. The problem is finding enough time.  At the moment I'm awfully busy with TAS stuff. But I'll try to post a review or two every now and then.

sinema seyret (not verified) -- Mon, 03/29/2010 - 01:25

thank you admin

All content, design, and layout are Copyright © 1999 - 2011 NextScreen. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction in whole or part in any form or medium without specific written permission is prohibited.