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Best Films of 2009!

12.23.2009

So the year is almost up! I feel like just the other day I was writing my list of Most Anticipated for 2009 and here I am already wrapping it up (BTW, our Most Anticipated of 2010 will be live next week). This year, since we have more than one person reviewing movies for us these days, I thought it'd be fun to have all our critics (plus me) submit their best of for this list. To keep it orderly, I posted full descriptions for their Top 5 and then a "honorable mention" for the rest of their list. You'll notice some obvious similarities (BASTERDS) and some individual thoughts as well (MICMACS).

Make sure to post your Bests of 2009 in the Strike Backs below and you can also visit our "For Your Consideration" page where you can lobby for your favorite films in the upcoming Golden Schmoes awards. Check out our thoughts for the Best Movies of 2009 below and stay tuned next week for our list of the Best Movies of the 2000s!

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CHRIS BUMBRAY

Honorable mention: BRONSON, SHERLOCK HOLMES, DISTRICT 9, FANTASTIC MR. FOX, ADVENTURELAND

5. AN EDUCATION

A great piece of work not enough people have seen. This truly is a star-making film for Carey Mulligan, who gives one of the performances of the year, and deserves an Oscar.

4. MICMACS

The new movie by Jean Pierre Jeunet, this still hasn't opened in North America, and I was lucky enough to catch it at TIFF. It's a fantastically quirky, fantasy adventure featuring an almost Chaplinesque performance from star Dany Boon. Also has a great soundtrack full of old Warner Bros., film cues by master composer Max Steiner.

3. STAR TREK

The best blockbuster of the year, it made STAR TREK cool again, and certified J.J Abrams as a master of the popcorn flick. Now bring on STAR TREK 2 already!

2. UP IN THE AIR

A film that will always remind me of my first trip to TIFF, it's a bittersweet, comedy/ drama/ romance, that certifies director Jason Reitman as the heir apparent to Cameron Crowe. With this, FOX, and the solid THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, George Clooney's on a roll.

1. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

What more can be said about this that hasn't already been said. Tarantino's a genius- hopefully the Academy will see fit to send him home with a statue.

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MIKE SAMPSON

Honorable mention: DISTRICT 9, ZOMBIELAND, DRAG ME TO HELL, STAR TREK, SHERLOCK HOLMES

5. ADVENTURELAND

Perhaps it's because I spent one college summer working at Great Adventure here in New Jersey that I loved ADVENTURELAND so much. While my experiences at the park were nothing quite like the adventures of Jessie Eisenberg (I got vomited on and had my foot run over by a bumper car), there's still a lot to relate to. I was beginning to think that Hollywood had forgotten how to make an honest teen movie but ADVENTURELAND (and writer/director Greg Mottola) have restored my hope.

4. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

Unlike UP, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (perhaps the somber distant cousin of that Pixar film) seems to have divided it's audience into two camps: those who were bored to tears and those who were moved to tears. While I didn't experience quite the display of emotions as I did during UP, I was definitely moved. UP picked me up and made me feel a little bit better about life. WTWTA left me down and depressed, sad and forlorn.

3. THE HURT LOCKER

It's almost ridiculous to compare THE HURT LOCKER to TRANSFORMERS 2 but if the latter had 1/8 of the tension, pacing and suspense of the former, I'd have been a happy fanboy. But while audiences were flocking to TF2, they were sadly ignoring one of the best action films of the summer. Perhaps this isn't the "action" movie we're all used to but if there's any justice, it's the kind of action movie we should all expect.

2. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

I went into BASTERDS with my expectations lowered. There were rumblings of disappointment from Cannes and I didn't want to get my hopes up if this film turned out to be another DEATH PROOF (which I could barely sit through). I was pleasantly surprised to see that despite a run time of over two-and-a-half hours, I not only sat through it but was ready to turn around and sit right through it again. As Lt. Aldo Raine says at the end of the film, "I think this might just be my masterpiece."

1. UP

I'll admit it: I cried during UP. I saw it twice in theaters and again on Blu-ray and it gets a little misty every time. This hasn't happened during a kids movie since I saw "Muppets Take Manhattan" in 1984. Any movie that can so beautifully toe the line between the melancholy, the thrilling and the laughs deserves a spot on any list I create. This year UP floats all the way to the top.

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JENNA BUSCH

Honorable mention: DRAG ME TO HELL, ANVIL, MOON, STAR TREK, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS

5. THE HURT LOCKER

After so many years of the war, it's horrifyingly easy to forget what our soldiers are going through over in the Middle East. But this film really brings it home. The adrenaline addiction that can occur, the price that the soldiers and their families have to pay, the bonding that takes place between combatants and how easy all this stuff can make you crack. It's a tragically beautiful portrait of what war can do to you. And to a country.

4. SHERLOCK HOLMES

It was really hard to go wrong here. Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr., Guy Richie...and somehow, they managed to resist adding lines like, 'No shit.' (I just made myself giggle.) The film is non-stop action, the chemistry between Law and Downey is perfection...and that's all I'm allowed to say, as the film doesn't come out until Christmas day.

3. THE ROAD

Not for the suicidal. THE ROAD is based on the book by Cormac McCarthy about a post-apocalyptic world in which murder and cannibalism have become the norm. Desperate to survive, The Man and his son (no one is named in the film) travel to the coast where they've heard it's warmer and good people still exist. Though the sci-fi/fantasy geek in my was desperate to know what happened to cause such devastation, it really isn't the point. The story is about the deep love between father and son, and what makes you human. This is a changing film. You are not the same after seeing it. Stunning performances from Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee, who is a freakishly good actor for someone so young.

2. UP

Squirrel! It seems like Pixar can do no wrong these days. They certainly served up a masterpiece with UP. They also ripped my heart out, stomped on it and did a little jig on top of it in the first ten minutes. I do NOT cry during movies. (Trust me, it's better that way. I'm not a pretty crier.) But this one made me hunt through my bag for some snot rags. Please don't let that stop you from seeing it. The sadness of the beginning is a perfect foil for the rest of the film. UP had me laughing so hard my stomach hurt. The animation is glorious, the 3D is breathtaking during the vista shots, the story is beautiful and I now want a giant bird named Kevin. An absolute must-see.

1. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

I said it in my review, but this film was as satisfying as a bowl of cheese and noodles. I have never been at a screening (a press screening full of jaded reporters, no less) where people whooped and hollered as much as they did for this film. Humor, violence, Quentin...this is the best film of his career, hands down. I mean, a large chunk of the film is subtitled and it still keeps you completely riveted. Brad Pitt is clearly having the time of his life, the visuals are stunning (Especially the face in the fire...if you've seen it, you know what I mean. If you haven't, pre-order the hell out that shit on Blu-ray! What are you waiting for?) And Christoph Waltz is pure genius. I have the biggest actor-crush on that man. I've seen it twice already. I'm watching it again on Christmas with my family. What? It's festive...

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JIMMYO

Honorable mention: INK and PONTYPOOL (Tie), STAR TREK, FANTASTIC MR. FOX, THE ESCAPIST, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

5. THE HURT LOCKER

Kathryn Bigelow is back! The first sequence in THE HURT LOCKER is a stunner. As is Jeremy Renner’s solid performance. This story of a Army bomb squad unit facing death and paranoia in a land far from the safety of home is just plain thrilling. It is also the story of how one may find that the danger presented is much more than just a job. Brilliantly crafted, this is easily one of the best war films to come out in recent years, and it will hopefully earn Bigelow a Best Director nomination.

4. THE ROAD

Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, this fantastic film adaptation is just heartbreaking. A story of humanity lost, and the struggle for a father and his son to hold on to what little of it remains in a post apocalyptic world. Both “man and boy“, Viggo Mortensen and Kody Fitt-McPhee, give inspired performances. But it is more than that, as this certainly proves that even with a tired sub-genre, you can still inject originality and heart.

3. UP

Who would’ve thought that Christopher Plummer and Edward Asner would be in one of the most successful films of the year? But Pixar once again offers up a fantastic film that will be remembered for years to come. While the first ten minutes or so are so rich is story and character, people sometimes forget how good the rest of following sequences are. Dug the dog certainly gives Dory the fish (FINDING NEMO) some competition as one of the most lovable Pixar characters. And any film that features an old man with a cane as a leading man earns my respect.

2. (500) DAYS OF SUMMER

This little story of love charmed the hell out of me. Both Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are perfectly cast, and their chemistry is infectious. But on top of that, the script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber is hilarious and touching, making it easy for the actors to look as good as they do. Director Marc Webb keeps things fresh and wonderfully alive. Hell, it even includes a smashing musical number courtesy of Hall and Oates.

1. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

For me, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE was an emotional rollercoaster and a firm reminder of the fears and happiness of childhood. As Max (a brilliant performance by newcomer, Max Records) finds himself running away to a strange and wonderful world, he also realizes how there is truly no place like home. A stunning feature from Spike Jonze that utilizes the most captivating soundtrack of the year, thanks to the lovely Karen O of The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. While not all critics embraced WTWTA, I feel that it may very well be ahead of its time.

Source: JoBlo.com

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