So….WOOO 2009 (drunk college girl voice)! I was undecided on wether to be thankful or disappointed to be providing a Top 5 list for that year, seeing as how it was such an epic year in film making.
It wasn’t until viewing the film list as a whole that it became so difficult to comprehend the fact that some of these (could be considered) all time classics actually debuted in the same year.
For example: “The Soloist” and “Law Abiding Citizen” which both featured Jaime Foxx, and highlighted a markee year for the actor, both could have easily been on any/most reviewers Top 5 lists (I hesitantly only included one).
Also take into account “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “Watchmen”, two of the most ground-breaking super hero movies to date, hit the silver screen in 09′. I think I had an erection just viewing the trailers for those movies (we won’t talk bout what happened when I actually saw them), needless to say they impacted myself, movie goers and the comic book world in a way that I can only think to compare to “The Avengers” (I thought “Watchmen” was a better film personally).
And lastly, America was so painfully shown, with the releases of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and “Observe and Report”, that any movie based on the life and times of a security guard would not only bring a black cloud over the studio producing it, it would be a black sheep of all movies made that year, as well as, be black balled from any references that were synonymous with “good”, “entertaining”, “funny”, or even “decent”.
Moving on, my soul wouldn’t let me start this list without listing a few honorable mentions (my soul is a crybaby):
“Law Abiding Citizen” (told you both Jamie’s movies didn’t make it) , perfected a plot containing the total lack of anything predictable woven into a vengeful but unique story line. It needed recognition.
And “District 9” completely changed the idea of how to do a sci-fi alien movie. Stepping away from the general outline of its predecessors and adding a D.I.Y feel to the genre (no class to be found at Home Depot for D.I.Y alien flicks however). If it wasn’t for another sci-fi alien movie showing every film of 09′ (probably 00′ through 09′ in reality) how to do it, “District 9” would’ve made it (they’re production staff is like “F@#k James Cameron man”).
So without further ado I present to you the “Top 5 Movies of 2009”:
5. “It’s Complicated”
It’s always a joy when the better actors of a past generation get together to make a film that can not only be enjoyed by members of they’re generation, but by members of a newer generation (that calls them the past generation).
Screenwriter/director Jane Myers, queen of the feel good movie, mostly known for “The Holiday” and “The Parent Trap”, truly out did herself in the writing and production of this film.
When Jane Adler (Meryl Streep), successful mother and long time divorcee of Jake Adler (Alec Baldwin) starts to find love with her ex-husband at they’re sons college graduation. What should be a joyous event in they’re family’s lives, the reuniting of Jake and Jane, shows exactly how complicated life is because Jake has been remarried for years to a twenty something year old bombshell with narcasistic tendencies. Add in a ensuing love interest between Jane and Adam Schaffer (Steve Martin), who is the charming architect working on her home. And all the available plot twists of: jealousy, confusion, secrecy, etc…. come into play splendidly.
The icing on top of this cake was the performance of Steve Martin. We know Alec Baldwin is gonna be Alec Baldwin in the context of a movie, and we know Meryl Streep will offer a performance that will be considered in any and all Oscar nomination talks for that year. But Steve Martin, not notably known for above average acting, showed what has been known for a while by true cinema buffs: most actors get better with age.
As a young man sitting amongst mostly 50 year old (or 50+) viewers in the theatre, I, for the first time felt saddened by my youth. Watching the problems of the old, compared to the hectic problems of my life as a young man, made me appreciative of the clarity, joy and wisdom that comes with aging. Only screenwriting of that quality, and an A list of actors intertwined into a star-studded cast (young and old), could give me that feeling as a 24 year old man. Fascinating “feel good” film.
#4 “The Soloist”
As mentioned earlier Jamie “f’n” Foxx, monster year in 09′, the highlight of which is “The Soloist”. Combining the acting promise of Robert Downey Jr. and Mr. Foxx, with a emotionally stimulating story line centered around an under appreciated (by the masses) art form (symphony orchestra), and who can honestly say they would expect a bad movie. The nominations and accolades achieved by this movie speak volumes, as well as, pay much do respect to the production staff of “The Soloist”. And as great of work as director Joe Wright did, the quality and physical commitment of Jamie Foxx complimented every aspect of the film as if he himself was the producer.
In this film, Robert Downey Jr. plays writer Steve Lopez, a man with all the qualities of all the best characters Downey has played. He’s slightly depressed, divorced, struggling in work, and drinks too much. He meets Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless man playing beautiful music in the street. Nathaniel follows Lopez after noticing that he was intrigued with his public music display. Ayers finally speaks to Lopez and claims that he once attended Julliard (famous music school if your not that bright or had a brain fart). Steve is clearly mentally stimulated and confused by the statement, but knows if this is true he has no choice but to write a story in his paper about Nathaniel. Steve grows obsessed with Ayers as a person and spends more time befriending and helping him than working. As a complete schizophrenic who’s been homeless for twenty years (which amplifies his condition) , Nathan is more comfortable homeless and delirious, than in shelters and on medications. Needless to say the conflict in the movie is the struggles of Lopez trying to gain enough trust from Nathaniel to allow him to help improve his situation. The extremes he goes to are stressful, and disappointing sometimes, but rewarding and encouraging at others.
Jamie Foxx set his self apart from most actors, going as far as having his teeth filed down to master this role. The fact that this movie is based on a true story, and written by the actual writer Steve Lopez who experienced these events, shows how amazing some men are, and how far one should go for a worthy cause. GREAT FILM!
#3 “INGLORIOUS BASTERDS
How is this for a plot? A group of Jewish-American soldiers plan to assassinate Nazi leaders in German occupied France…..Ok, now add in a Jewish woman, posing as a German, who’s whole family was killed years ago in front of her by Nazi exterminators…… Oh, and she has the same goals as the Jewish-American soldiers……Now, let Brad Pitt (using a highly efficient southern draw and metaphorically based arsenal of words) guide the Nazi killing squad…….Oh, and then let Quentin Tarantino write and direct this film. That instant classic thought in your head right now is exactly what the result is.
So initially one would think Brad Pitt probably provides the bulk of the exceptional acting in “Inglorious Basterds”. However, while his role was hilarious and original, Christoph Waltz, who plays Col. Hans Landa stole the show. Waltz’s intensity, tone, spot on body language, and camera command forced viewers to fear and respect him, just as the characters he was reciting his brilliant monologues to did.
Tarantino has an inept ability to take a delicate situation such as the holocaust or slavery, dream up a “it’d be cool if this would’ve happened” scenario, infuse it with clever comedy, script it and bring his vision to life. It’s gonna be bloody, it’s gonna have explicit language, it’s gonna be blocked well, and you won’t/can’t stop watching. Visually this film is intensely accurate and appropriate. It’s apexed by the most murderous, violent, mass killing I’ve probably ever seen. I’m sure if the context of that scene wasn’t Jews killing Nazi’s (in bulk), it would’ve been considered inappropriate. Edgy enough to be a thriller, funny enough to be a comedy, and enough pressure in the script to be a top shelf drama, makes it good enough to be #3.
When we think of superhero movies we expect the heroes to be confident, competent, fearless, and to have more concern for others than for themselves. “Watchmen” provides us with a superhero personality trait we’ve never seen: insecurity. And while all types of insecurities plague these forgotten and rejected super heroes (unhealthy mental attachments, alcoholism, fear of rejection, fear of love, worthlessness), we as the viewers are finally able to relate to the emotions of these profound saviors.
The film is set in the early to mid-80’s. Where up until this point masked superheroes have been a revered and respected part of society. But a recent turn in public opinion, due to a well planned conspiracy, has made these masked men hunted, unwanted, and considered dangerous to the public.
The way the writers and director Zack Snyder slightly alter and tweak Americas timeline as we know it, is clever to say the least. And the emphasis of the timeline is the “Dooms-Day-Clock”, a clock that marks the tension of Americas feuding with the Soviet Union. The clock is stuck at 5 minutes till midnight, but when it reaches midnight…..nuclear war is upon us.
The Watchmen, a group of retired superheroes (only one of which has actual super powers), while trying to discover who is behind the killing of one of they’re own, realize there is a relation between the murder of they’re companion and the unavoidable threat of nuclear war.
During these events the director (Big Zack) allows us deep intricate looks into the watchmen’s individual natures. It’s here that we are completely aware of each and every personality flaw, which makes it a emotional ride as the heroes re-discover who they were when the Watchmen were prevalent, loved, and needed.
An ending you don’t expect, and STUNNING visual/audio work simply fit like a puzzle together. The completion of this puzzle produces the most ground breaking and original superhero movie ever. Furthermore, because of the human aspect shown by the characters, “Watchmen” can be enjoyed by not only hard-core comic fans, and sci-fi heads, but also lovers of dramas, action films, and just good cinema.
Something has to be said for a producer, a creator, that takes ten years to make a movie (twice). James Cameron can’t even be described as ground breaking, the accreditation is to light. In “Avatar”, Cameron literally creates his own world and invites us to live in it in such convincing fashion, that when the film ends viewers are hurt that the technology doesn’t exists to duplicate the movie. The CGI and 3D technology used reinvented the techniques and standards of animated movies, and to date, I haven’t seen more intricate 3D detail in any film (maybe Alice in Wonderland….but I was on mushrooms).
The story in itself is mind boggling, and can be taken in so many ways. There is relation to conservation and how we preserve/destroy our planet. Or the ever increasing possibilities of organic technology. Even the ideals and similarities of different cultures, and mans shallow thinking in regards to exploration.
With bad actors “Avatar” would have been a top 5 film, but with the superb effort put forth by Sam Worthington (Jake Sully) and Zoe Saldana (Neytiri) the element of love shown here I’m not sure will ever be able to be duplicated (especially in a animated movie). They’re acting is so potent that the other amazing roles played by Sigourney Weaver (Grace) and Stephen Lang (Col. Miles Quaritch) are dwarfed and probably under appreciated by the general viewer.
I’m not going to describe the plot on this one for one reason……I don’t think there is anyone that hasn’t seen it. And if you actually haven’t…..shame shame on you.
Without being to extreme this movie changed my life, my values, and my way of thinking. It’s epic and should be regarded as one of the Top 5 movies of the decade.
So there you have it, and there it is. Trust when I say that it was very difficult to structure this list. If you disagree, look at the movies that premiered in 2009 and construct you own list. If that is easy for you…..watch movies harder.
Contributor: Martell Golliday
For Rebel Conciousness