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Best movies of 2009

As with the books list, these are of course the best films I saw in 2009, not ones made in 2009, necessarily. There are 13, because I couldn't narrow it down to 10. If I cut one, why leave another that's basically just as good? And so on. Thus, the list...

In the "catching up with Pixar" category: Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up. All brought the exuberant humor and quirkiness I've come to love from Pixar, with enough gentleness and heart to keep the 3-year-old entertained as well. Thanks to Up he's been saying "Squirrel!" all the time lately.

In the "cool animation but not Pixar" category: Coraline. Even people who have never heard of Neil Gaiman (how can this be?) have seen and recommended this to us, so we finally got around to it. Very dark and imaginative--surely I'd have recognized Gaiman's stamp on it even if I didn't know.

In the "fun comedy" category: Ghost Town and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. The former, which has the plotline, "I see dead people, and they're annoying and hilarious," is full of acerbic, rude humor (well, it's Ricky Gervais, what do you expect?), but brings a surprising amount of tenderness by the end. Co-stars Greg Kinnear, who somehow can never fail to be awesome. Miss Pettigrew, on the other hand, is a frothy little caper, very much with the feel of a stage comedy, with highly fun-to-watch performances by an all-star cast. (Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Lee Pace, Shirley Henderson, and Ciaran Hinds, to name a few.)

In the "lovely romance" category: Penelope, I Know Where I'm Going!, and Moliére. The first is the story of a girl (Christini Ricci) born with a pig's nose because of a family curse, and finding love anyway. It's not only a charming fairy tale, but full of actors I happen to adore--James McAvoy, Richard E. Grant, Catherine O'Hara, Peter Dinklage, and some chick named Reese Witherspoon who was pretty good, too. ;) I Know Where I'm Going!, meanwhile, is from waaay back--1945, specifically. It's filmed in the tip-top of the Scottish Highlands, and is simple and honest and, well, I'm soft on Scotland, so naturally I enjoyed it. As for Moliére, it's a fictionalized account of the famous playwright getting into romantic comedy-of-errors tangles in his patron's household--fashioned after the style of Moliére's own plays. Fun stuff, and Romain Duris (as Moliére) was very attractive in a dirty French long-haired kind of way.

In the "random great find from ten or so years ago" category: Zero Effect. In a modern and slightly parodic twist on Holmes and Watson, Bill Pullman and Ben Stiller play a brilliant oddball private detective and his long-suffering sidekick, on the trail of a blackmail case. I've never seen Pullman play anything other than a basically normal guy, so this was a delightful change. Turns out he can be a charming weirdo quite well.

In the "historical classic" category: Doctor Zhivago. Somehow we'd never seen this till now. (In our defense, it's like four hours long.) Found it beautiful and compelling, if ultimately depressing. Yeah, Soviet Russia--not the happiest place; who knew? But ah, those daffodils...that house swathed in ice, inside and out...that "Lara's Theme" swelling through the score!

In the "blockbusters that were actually good" category: Star Trek and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Both better than I hoped! HP #5 left me tepid, but #6 roared back in force--though with some rather, uh, surprising edits to the original text. And though never a full Trekkie, I still got a kick out of the well-written and almost tongue-in-cheek reboot (as everyone's calling it) of the Star Trek franchise. Also, apparently I'm a geek, because: to heck with Kirk, I'll date Spock! Well done, Zachary Quinto.



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 17th, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC)
Re: HP + HBP -- just literally!) finished watching it. Yes, it was certainly an improvement over the last installment, but those "edits" would have made it confusing if one hadn't read the book. Also, when did Lavender, or for that matter, Dean, get white? (The Patil twins were notably missing, though there were some unnamed female twins, also white.)

And, again, as I had with the book, I wondered why they simply didn't use the freakin' shell to *bail* the poison out of the bowl. Or, you know, just reach into it, since they clearly could breach the surface.

Ratatouille was fun, and a lot better than I expected it to be.

I also enjoyed Star Trek, even if there were plotholes you could fly a Bird-of-Prey through :-)

The rest, I did not see. I don't get out much.
Jan. 18th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
I don't get out much either--these were all Netflixed. :)

I actually don't remember the HBP book quite well enough to be too distracted by the changes ("I don't *think* they burned down the Burrow in the book...did they?"), but remembered just enough to know what was happening. Probably a good level to be at.
Feb. 6th, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
Yes, I could check my own summary of the book, I suppose. But while actually watching the movie, I didn't remember some details, of course.
Jan. 18th, 2010 03:13 am (UTC)
I loved Miss Pettigrew, especially because Lee Pace is in it as the piano player boyfriend.
Jan. 18th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
Yes--and with a British accent! *happy sigh*
"Magnificent," as Miss Pettigrew says. :)
Feb. 6th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
Wow - I don't get out much! On that list I've seen Ratatouille, Wall-E, Star Trek, and (of course) HBP. I've had parodies of the last two rattling around in my head ever since, waiting to be committed to text - after I get done writing all the stuff that I should be writing for my actual job, that is. I enjoyed all four - Wall-E, in particular... but yes, they're probably just baiting us with things like OMG WTF the Burrow! so that we can irritate the non-readers in the audience by complaining about deviations from canon... politely, after the movie, of course.

Speaking of which, I seem to hear a lot of complaining about chatty teenagers in movie theaters, but I think they're unfairly maligned. I've seen two movies in the theater this year (Avatar and Sherlock Holmes) and in each there were rude, disruptive patrons, all of who were older than me. In Avatar two couples in their seventies kept up a running, not-at-all-quiet conversation through the first half-hour or so of the movie, while people around them shushed them with increasing stridency, until finally one of them huffed "these people are so rude!" and they were quiet. In Sherlock Holmes (which, I'm sorry to say, was a let-down) some guy in the row in front of me spent the entire movie texting and checking e-mail, or something, on his cell phone - that little glowing light is quite bright in the theater, and really distracting. He was there by himself - he was bored, I guess.
Feb. 6th, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
I bet most of the loud teen behavior happens during the first week of films in the Twilight series. Otherwise they're good at immersing themselves in the movie. And yeah, the older folks can be the most obnoxious. That was certainly the most horrifying demographic of American tourists I saw in the UK.

I'll see both those films even though for Avatar I haven't yet seen the original series. (Doesn't seem to be stopping most of the audience.) And for Sherlock Holmes I fancy the two leads too much to resist. Plus I hear they make a really cute couple.
Feb. 26th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
This is a also hot movie:

Hot Spot 1990 with Don Johnson(multiple dangers in the middle of nowhere):


from The Illusionist

Mar. 29th, 2010 02:05 pm (UTC)
Poetry in motion
I'll try Dr Zhivago.

Here is another film tip for those who like "poetry in motion" so to speak....



The Illusionist
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )