The Best Films of 2009

Written by Mike Lyon on January 22nd, 2010

It’s that time of year again, when I join my cineaste brethren for some list-making goodness! As always, my ground rule: I only listed films that received a theatrical release in their country of origin during 2009. While there are still a few films that I haven’t seen, I’m confident that this list is more representative than my average year-end list. So, without further ado:

1. Two Lovers (James Gray, United States)

2. Summer Wars (Mamoru Hosoda, Japan)

3. Vengeance (Johnnie To, Hong Kong)

4. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, United States)

5. Antichrist (Lars von Trier, Denmark)

6. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, United States)

7. Love Exposure (Sion Sono, Japan)

8. Mother (Bong Joon-ho, South Korea)

9. The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, United States)

10. Like You Know It All (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)

For the second year in a row my results have been tabulated along with a panel of my contemporaries courtesy of Michael Anderson at Ten Best Films; please check it out!

4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Mackey says:

    Up, The Hangover,and Extract were all 100x’s better than Funny People.

    I think your abreaction to UP is that it is minimalized, Americanized, computerized Miyazaki.

    I’m guessing you haven’t see A Serious Man.

    Is it wrong that I am entirely indifferent to Avatar? The last good movie that man made was Aliens. Why did he use Gatorade’s Cool Blue for his color pallet?

  2. Mike Lyon says:

    I did see THE HANGOVER and EXTRACT as well and thought they were adequate, but I’m not sure it’s fair to lump FUNNY PEOPLE in with them since I have a hard time calling it a comedy. As far as American dramas went this year I thought it was a great show…

    I’m just gonna cut and paste my feelings about UP from another post I did today: The first 20 minutes of UP is amazing, the first 45 minutes is pretty great, and then I just think it nosedives into talking dog jokes and an inexplicable 200-year old Republic serial villain. I think all the great things it could have said about agism and racism and life after the death of a loved one are just completely jettisoned for sub-Roadrunner slapstick, with the occasional Big Idea moment tacked in and suddenly out of place.

    And it’s true, I haven’t seen A SERIOUS MAN! Or POLICE, ADJECTIVE or BAD LIEUTENANT or THE WHITE RIBBON or WILD GRASS, but I’m happy to say that’s the sum total of ’09 releases that I missed and still want to see… Although I’m holding out high hopes for HALLOWEEN II and PANDORUM (no jokes).

    As for me, I think I prefer TRUE LIES to ALIENS, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen either… Double-header?

  3. Mackey says:

    Did you catch The Baader-Meinhoff Complex? I can’t decide if it’s just totally ridiculous or excellent. Maybe both.

    My point about Funny People wasn’t that those other movies are great- they’re just better than Funny People, which was fairly abysmal. Apatow has burned out all of his conventions and needs to refresh– the problem is he has nothing without his crew. In that way a parallel could be made between Wes Anderson and Apatow.

    District 9 is another one worth talking about– especially in contrast to Avatar. How should sci-fi handle racism? The gritty realism of the shanty-towns still provides a truly alien landscape to most American movie goers. Is this the film equivalent of an MIA song? Is this the last stop for Finian’s Rainbow? It wasn’t the best best movie of ’09, but definitely the most interesting. Part of what turns me off about Avatar is it looks way to slick to actually present anything challenging.

    Bad Lieutenant is definitely on my to see list. Is Anti Christ worth it? I gave up on Von Trier and the abominable esteem he holds for his audience after he killed Bjork.

    I forgot about True Lies– definitely worth the double header– though Tom Arnold is no Bill Paxton.

  4. Matt Singer says:

    I’m in the bag for UP, but I don’t feel like throwing down with you here about that; I’d rather do it in person next time you’re in town. I only like to yell at people online when those people are Mike Anderson.

    As for TRUE LIES and ALIENS, having just rewatched a bunch of Cameron’s for a piece I wrote, I’d put ALIENS ahead of TRUE LIES. I like them both a lot (AHNOLD!), but ALIENS is just a cut above. TRUE LIES holds up well; ALIENS holds up better. And having finally seen THE ABYSS that one is pretty damn good as well.

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