Compiling a list of my favorite movies of 2009 was easy compared to having to go back for ten years of movies I’ve seen. Which is why this is being posted in 2010 and not on one of the final days of 2009.
I kept this to nine movies. I could have added more, but I wanted to go into some detail of why I picked each movie.
Here is my list, in no particular order.
- Mulholland Dr. 
David Lynch is one of those filmmakers that is hard to wrap your hands around. His works are so diverse, that you can’t really tell if he has a style or not. I saw this film in the theater and it was so bizarre… so odd… so fucking out there, that I expected to hate it and never want to see it again. Instead, I wanted to watch it again. Maybe I missed something that I need to see if I can figure it out. And sure enough, after the 5th viewing of this movie, I started to connect the dots. Mind you, the lines between the dots are very wavy and squiggly, but they are connected at both ends. This story of an aspiring actress [Naomi Watts] and a confused and delusional woman [Laura Elena Harring] who intertwine their lives in finding answers to a curious situation should have been something of a pass. Instead, the way the movie is put together [the DVD has no chapters stops – it’s intended to be watched from start to finish] has made it one of my favorites of the last ten years. Only Lynch’s Lost Highway tops this as my favorite from this quirky director.
- Sideways 
Ever since I sam him in “Private Parts”, I’ve been a fan of Paul Giamatti. He’s a great character actor and has done some incredible work over the year. His work in this movie proves that. This is the story of a wine connoisseur who, along with a friend [played very well by Thomas Haden Church], take a week long trip to vineyard country in California. Along the way, they meet a couple of women [Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen] who turn their world a bit sideways. There’s some very clever over the top scenes in the film, but the performances of the entire cast, both leading and supporting, is nothing short of stellar. You will laugh, cry and bust a gut with each and every viewing.
- Adaptation 
This is a movie that tells the story about making a movie while another movie is being made. The pure brilliance of this film is evident when you have two characters that are essentially the same. Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman [who is to date, the only fictional character nominated for an Oscar] are brothers. One is a screenwriter and the other is one that eventually becomes a screenwriter, both played by Nicolas Cage. Meryl Streep gives one of her best on-screen performances, as the two brothers lives mingle and unravel in their quest to get their works on the big screen. Spike Jonze made it on my list of creative directors to watch.
- Inglourious Basterds 
The most recent of Quentin Tarentino’s films, it’s the most different of his films. This was the top film on my Best of 2009 list of films. It’s a story about war. It’s a story about control. It’s a story that rewrote history in the most brutal, entertaining and hilarious way that only Tarantino could have. Add to this list the lead role by Brad Pitt and you have a movie that pleases every step of the way.
- Iron Man 
There were two films that competed for the top spot on my list in 2008 [which I never dedicated a blog post to]. One was The Dark Knight and the other was Iron Man. Both were adapted from the comic book characters, but it was Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of Tony Stark that felt more real to me. His position in life that was made into a superhero was very well directed by Jon Favreau. His sputters and faults as a crime fighter while being a rich entrepreneur showed up well on the big screen. I am anticipating Iron Man 2, which comes out in May, to match or exceed my expectations.
- Ratatouille 
My reason for picking Ratatouille over the other Disney/Pixar films is how the story is told. [I’ve liked almost all of them, with the exception of Cars, which I own, but have yet to watch more than a few five minute segments of] There is something that touches me different than any other Disney/Pixar film that was released during the decade. It was the mix of real vs. underground worlds that made this film tops. The many moments of on screen character building, leading up to the food critic reflecting back in time, was the key element to this movie. The action and animation just cemented an already deep-seated love of this film.
- Almost Famous 
I saw this film in the theater on opening weekend. Three weeks previous, I had just been to New York City for the first time in my life. I started dating someone new after a serious breakup. I was in a good place, but still had some fragile sides to mend. Add to all that the fact that Cameron Crowe was not only one of favorite directors, but that I knew this story having researched his life. William Miller [played by Salt Lake City native Patrick Fugit], was the on-screen version of Cameron Crowe, who was one of the youngest writers for Rolling Stone. And even though my date may not have liked the movie, I did. It gave this budding writer something to shoot for in my love of writing and music [I’m still shooting]. The story that unfolded on the screen was to be viewed over and over in multiple theater showings, as well as on the smaller screen when the DVD was finally released. This film was in my Top Nine List of favorite movies.
- The Departed 
Since Raging Bull and Good Fellas, Martin Scorsese has made films I like. True, they are violent, but they are well directed. The Departed is no different, even though it’s a remake of a Hong Kong film. It brings the magic of Good Fellas and tells a very good mob story, with a cast that rivals other gangster films. Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson star in this twist and turns tale of revenge and deceit. It may not have Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta, but that doesn’t matter. It stands on it’s own quite well.
- Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 [2003/2004]
Another Quentin Taratino movie on my best of decade list? Sure, I’m a bit biased, but when it comes to his films, they are unmatched in how they appeal to me. This is the true story of revenge, broken up into two films [it would be hard to have people sit through a single four-hour film] and flows ever so nicely though the characters like The Bride [Uma Thurman] and Bill [the late David Carradine], lovers and former assassins that are estranged. Since the events that took place at her wedding to another man, she has vowed to kill Bill. What follows are fights, more fights and lots and lots of blood, mostly distributed with a large dose of humor. This is an epic film and one that even critics have to admit will stand the test of time.
What movie would have been my 10th favorite film of the decade?
- The Bourne Series [2002/2004/2007]
Matt Damon as an action hero? Really? Are you serious?. Well, someone was willing to take a chance on him and it proved to be successful. In the starring role as Jason Bourne, a rogue CIA operative, Matt Damon is amazing as he carries out the title role of the Robert Ludlum series of best selling books. The three movies tell an entertaining and believable story that left me entertained after each viewing in the theater. They equally stand up on Blu-ray/DVD where the action scenes jump out at you every step of the way.