Since it seems everyone and their Aunt Sally is making end of the year lists, I figured I'd throw one up here (see, we're not dead, we're just on breaks of varying lengths). By April my list might look very different. Inevitably I don't get around to seeing a lot of the best films of a year until the following year. And of course being a moody fellow my list might look somewhat different next week. But as of the end of 2009, I'd rank the top 10 of 2009 this way:
10. Julia. Tilda Swinton gives the best performance of any actor this year in this tense, disturbing thriller.
9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The ending is disappointing, but the first two-thirds of it are excellent. It looked beautiful, and it was one of my two favorite blockbusters.
8. Il Divo. This is the only foreign-language film on the list as I haven't seen many of the better ones of '09 yet.
7. The Brothers Bloom. Charming. Zany. Fun. Both sweet and dark. Naturally I liked it, and it's one of the films I'm most looking forward to revisiting.
6. The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Everything I said about The Brothers Bloom applies here too (though it's obviously not as dark).
5. Avatar. The blockbuster of the year. Are there other blockbusters I liked more? Sure. But there's no denying just how impressive this film is.
4. The Hurt Locker. So good. Mackie is great. Renner gives the best lead actor performance I've seen this year. The direction is great. Loved the supermarket scene. Loved the sniper scene. A fine film.
3. Up in the Air. Honestly, I'm still thinking about this one. Well written. Much better directed than some are giving it credit for. A movie for our times? Sure. But it's a movie for a lot of times. And Vera Farmiga will deserve the Best Supporting Actress nomination I assume (or at least hope) she is going to get.
2. (500) Days of Summer. Honestly, when I started writing this I really didn't think this film would rank this highly. But the more I thought about it I think it's the film that's improved the most with some distance from it. What seemed to be its flaws seem awfully minor with some distance, and there's so much to love about it, starting with the script and the performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
1. Coraline. Nearly perfect as far as I'm concerned. On its own terms I think it's flawless.
There are things you know, and then there are columns that actually put those thoughts into words. And a nice example, too. I quite like Balthazar (no doubt not a surprise if you know me). And hey it's conveniently located if you are on your way to or from the Fluevog store.
For those of you keeping your eye on the Oscar season, and considering what movies to take in over the holidays or put in your queue, this is the big week of critics awards. Yesterday we saw the American Film Institute's Top 10 (and check out their tv top 10 - Big Bang! Glee!), the Los Angeles Film Critics' picks, the New York Film Critics Online (not the big New York critics group), and the Boston film critics favorites announced. The New York Film Critics Circle will announce its award winners today, and the Golden Globe nominees will be announced tomorrow. I'm happy to see so much love for Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker and the occasional love for The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline, and (500) Days of Summer, but I'm also reminded that there quite a lot of things I still need to see.
UPDATE: And the New York Film Critics Circle speaks - Picture & Director for The Hurt Locker and Kathryn Bigelow, Actress going to Meryl Streep, Actor to George Clooney, the Supporting Awards go to Mo'Nique and Waltz (who seem to be winning those prizes everywhere), Screenplay goes to In The Loop, and Animated Film goes to The Fantastic Mr. Fox.
News that Judiciary Chair Carrie Webster would be nominated to a judgeship shook progressives in West Virginia who feared that her successor atop the influential panel might be open to moving West Virginia farther to the right. This news will not lessen those fears. I'm not surprised that the lawmaker the story quotes as being thrilled with the decision, and calling Miley more in touch with "regular folks" than Webster, is a Republican. Last year Miley was one of the Democrats who cosponsored adding an anti-gay marriage amendment to our constitution, he's more supportive of the pro-forced pregnancy agenda, etc. Throw in his ads for his law firm (would you want to trust your case to a man who thinks an animated tiger is how to best represent his firm?) and some would say he's embarrassing on top of being a right-winger on key issues.
WWJD? Really? Jesus would give a flying fuck about assholes with too much money telling everyone which sweatshop-produced t-shirt to buy for Christmas, er, celebration of solstice or Mithras or some pagan hippie asshole?
Rather than go all Tim Tebow on your ass, or rant about graven images, I'll just suggest that if a person were truly dedicated to the "reason for the season" one might think about heading over to this little site to make a donation rather than buy a bunch of capitalist crap. If not, you can use their list to know which stores to avoid and follow Ben Franklin's wisdom.
* A phrase I learned from my best friend, a church going patriot member of the armed forces who served in three wars.
I recommend it. Quite a bit, actually. It's a smart, pretty, and enjoyable film. Definitely superior to Darjeeling in my view. The voice work is strong. The costumes and art direction are first-rate and imaginative. It's funny. There are some great characters, from the opossum, to the interior decorator, to all the young foxes. Ash is so good. And in both writing, style, and direction, it's just got a great sense of both fun and wonder.