January 1, 2010, - 4:30 pm
This was going to be my list of the Best AND the Worst Movies of 2009. But I literally wrote down the names of about 50 movies I absolutely hated, this year, and didn’t feel like using my self-imposed semi-day off trying to whittle the list down to 10 or 20–there were simply so many that were, indeed, that bad. I may do so on Sunday or Monday. But for now, here is my list of the Fifteen Best Movies of 2009 (each movie is linked to my complete review):
1) “Inglourious Basterds“: Quentin Tarantino’s comedy-thriller about a special unit of Jewish American soldiers during World War II sent to Europe to kill Nazis, while a French Jewish woman has her own plans for Hitler and his gang. Worth every minute of the nearly three hours.
2) “Departures“: This was released around the world in 2008, but wasn’t released in most of the U.S. until 2009, when I was sent a screener. A Japanese cello player and his wife sell his cello and return to his small hometown, when his orchestra goes bankrupt. Thinking he’s applying for a job as a travel agent, he accepts a job performing Japanese funeral rituals and uplifts mourners, while at the same time mourning the father who left when he was young and undergoing ridicule at his new profession. Ultimately, he learns his father was a different person than the propaganda. In Japanese with English subtitles. Absolutely one of the most moving films I’ve ever seen. Also worth every minute of the three hours.
3) “The Hurt Locker“: A U.S. soldier in Iraq is an expert at defusing bombs. Every second is life or death, and it’s an excellent look at the hard work our soldiers do and the risks they take every single second, in service of our country.
4) Taken: The new Dirty Harry, only better. Liam Neeson stars as a former CIA agent, who goes to France to rescue his daughter from a Muslim sex-slave ring who has sold her to a Gulf state Arab sheikh. Definitely the best action film of 2009 and an added bonus is that it isn’t politically correct.
5) Drag Me to Hell: The best horror-thriller (and it’s also a comedy), this year, this Sam Raimi flick follows an ambitious bank teller who is befallen by a curse from a Gypsy woman to whom she refuses to give an extension on her overdue loan.
6) Up: A terrific, charming 3D, animated movie about a boy who dreams of meeting his explorer hero, Charles Muntz, and grows up to dream with his wife of visiting a South American paradise. Ultimately, she dies, and he finds himself surrounded by developers who want him out of his house. But he and a boy get caught flying into space with helium balloons attached to their house and ultimately land in South America where they meet Muntz, but things are not as they dreamed. Only drawback to this movie: far-left, self-hating, anti-Israel Jew, Ed Asner, is the voice of the main character.
7) The Informant!: In this hilarious comedy, Matt Damon stars as a top executive at Archer Daniels Midland Corporation, who is an informant to the FBI, reporting on price-fixing. But all is not as it seems, as the slightly nutty, know-it-all informant narrates with his “thoughts” throughout the movie.
8) Moon: Sam Rockwell plays an astronaut at the end of his tour of duty on the moon. But, just as he is about to return home to Earth, he discovers something is terribly wrong. Best sci-fi flick of the year (even liked it better than “Star Trek”).
9) Defiance: I screened this in 2008, but it was not released widely in the U.S. until 2009. Daniel Craig and Liev Schrieber play two of the real-life Bielski Brothers, Jewish partisans who fought back against the Nazis, lived in the forest, and saved many Jewish lives during the Holocaust. Terrific movie, even if its Jewish director, Ed Zwick, is not quite so defiant (at least, publicly) against Islamic terrorists.
10) Zombieland: Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson play two of the few survivors in an America infested by flesh-eating zombies in this apocalyptic comedy-thriller adventure. Funny and enjoyable, with a great cameo by a hilarious real-life celebrity.
11) Coraline: This fabulously creepy eye candy is an animated 3D thriller about a young girl whose parents are too busy to pay her much attention. She soon learns that through the walls and tunnels of her new home, there’s an alternate universe of her parents and life that seems fabulous. But things are not as they seem, as she soon learns.
12) Duplicity: This was the best caper movie of the year. Fun, light, and entertaining, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts set out to bilk their employers out of billions and a formula for a new chemical that will change lives. (Also co-stars my friend from high school, Rick Worthy). Can you figure out the twist?
13) The Stoning of Soraya M: Shohreh Agdashloo plays the aunt of Soraya M, a woman who is stoned to death after her Islamic sharia-dominated Iranian town declares her an adulterer in trumped up, phony charges meant to appease her cheating, lying husband who wants to dump her without paying alimony or child support. A great view of the reality of what Islam is really like, how it is anything but a “religion of peace,” and why we need to fight it at all cost.
14) The Uninvited: Second best horror-thriller of the year. You can hardly tell this terrific nail-biter is a low-budget flick. A young girl is released from a mental hospital, where she’s been held after being accused of accidentally killing her mother in a fire. She and her sister believe the real killer is actually their father’s gorgeous new wife, Elizabeth Banks. Can you guess what’s really going on here? Well done in its eeriness and creepitude.
15) Paul Blart: Mall Cop: Best non-animated family movie of the year. Kevin James plays Paul Blart, a mall cop who lives at home with his mother and daughter (whom he fathered with an illegal alien who dumped him). He gets no respect at the mall, but ultimately becomes the hero in this light, funny, relaxing, and entertaining flick.
Best U.S. History Lesson: “Spirit of ’76“: Sirius Patriot Channel 144 host Mike Church produced, directed, and even voices several characters in this animated, thoughtful movie. It’s a great history lesson in the drafting of the Constitution, and how our Founding Fathers tried their best to draft a document that would reserve rights for the states and keep the federal government from the ultimate power and size it now has. It’s long, but I learned a lot, and so will you.
Tags: best movies, best movies of 2009, Movie Reviews, top 10 top 15, top fifteen, top movies, top ten