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Berardinelli's top 10

12.29.2009

We normally like bringing you our own thoughts on the best and worst goings on in the world of film, but every so often, we want to give you an outside voice for a bit of a change of pace.

Reelviews’ James Berardinelli is one of our favorite critics here at JoBlo, outside of Ebert and our own talented staff, and he’s come out with his top 10 of the year in a list that I have to say, looks awfully similar to my own. Check it out below:

10. A Serious Man: There may be no 2009 title that has caused more consternation and puzzlement than the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man. I have given a talk about the film and I still don't claim to have a handle on everything. Still, full comprehension doesn't matter; as long as there's recognition that the movie is following a template based on "The Book of Job," it's clear enough. The movie isn't just quirky and thought-provoking , it's humorous in a way that only a Coen Brothers film can be humorous.

9. An Education: The great strength of An Education is Carey Mulligan's performance, but this movie has a lot more going for it than just the ability of the lead actress. It's a well-developed character drama that generates strong viewer sympathy for Jenny. We relate to her in ways we often don't relate to screen personalities. The supporting cast, which includes the likes of Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molia, Emma Thompson, and Sally Hawkins - is top-flight and the Nick Hornby screenplay is as smart as one would expect from a writer of his pedigree. A real treat.

8. Precious: Ultimately, Precious wants to be uplifting, but I'm not sure the "hopeful" note it employs at the end overcomes the two hours of misery to precede it. In part because of its bleakness, however, this is a powerful film. It sugar-coats nothing. One of my problems with too many inspirational films, like The Blind Side and Invictus, is the inherent blandness. They gloss over the ugliness to amplify the crowd-pleasing elements. Precious does the opposite. It provides two strong performances that generate memorable characters and leaves a forceful imprint. One doesn't have to enjoy a movie to be moved by it, and that summarizes my reaction to Precious.

7. District 9: One of the best science fiction films of 2009, District 9 is as allegorical as a movie can get, and all the more effective because of it. The premise is unique - the aliens come to Earth, but things don't go as one expects when a spaceship enters geo-synchronous orbit. The final third, as has been pointed out, is the film's Achilles heel, but it nevertheless offers some effective action sequences. The worstmoments of District 9 are better than the best moments of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

6. (500) Days of Summer: (500) Days of Summer has been referred to as the "romantic comedy for those who don't like romantic comedies," and I understand why. The movie contains many of the familiar rom-com beats, but they are jumbled out-of-order and the Happily Ever After ending never happens, at least not until Autumn. The lead performances (Joseph Gordon Levitt, Zooey Deschanel) are wonderful and the actors connect in precisely the manner the director needs them to. The screenplay is witty and emotionally honest. A great double feature with Adventureland.

To see 5-1, head over to Reelviews, as we're out of space here. I agree with most of those, except his #4, which for the life of me I can’t understand why it’s showing up in so many of these lists.

Extra Tidbit: My number one is waffling between STAR TREK, 500 DAYS and AVATAR.
Source: Reelviews

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