At the end of every year, I go all Andy Rooney and bitch and moan about how self-indulgent, arbitrary, repetitive, and bullshitty most top 10 lists are. But regardless of said bitching and moaning, apparently everyone still loves the shit out of top 10 lists—and since I’ve had a few people ask me what my favorite 10 films of 2009 were, well, here they are.
Keep in mind that I didn’t see everything this year (amongst others, I still haven’t seen The Road, Precious, or Anvil! The Story of Anvil, and only fancy-pants critics were invited to see an early screening of The Lovely Bones, which won’t open in Portland until January). Also, my (half-assed) criteria for picking these wasn’t solely based on the quote-unquote "quality" of the films, but also just on how much I enjoyed myself while watching 'em.
One last thing: Clicking on the images will take you to the Mercury's review of the film pictured.
1. The Hurt Locker
The best movie of the year. Terrifying and exhilarating and astonishingly well-made.
2. Star Trek
The most fun anybody had in theaters all year.
3. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Nothing would make me happier than if Nicolas Cage became Werner Herzog’s new Klaus Kinski. Every single scene in Port of Call New Orleans is bugshit insane and hilarious and amazing. If Herzog and Cage would team up once a year to make a movie, I would never ask for anything ever again, because I would have all that I would ever need for the rest of my life.
4. Where the Wild Things Are
Gorgeous and heartfelt and smart and melancholy.
Yeah, it's cheesy as hell, and somebody probably should’ve told James Cameron that he’d sound like an idiot if he made his characters fight over something called “unobtanium.” (I don't care if it's tongue-in-cheek or not, it's still stupid.) But Cameron did create a truly captivating world to get lost in for three hours, and his film is a quantum leap for what movies can look like and how they can be made.
6. A Serious Man
In which the Coen Brothers once again prove to be utterly unfuckwithable.
7. District 9
2009 was a really good year for sci-fi, and District 9 was the film that caught the most people off-guard. Grumpy killjoys who hate to have fun really like to complain that District 9 turns into a dumb action flick for its last third, which not only isn't true (it's still crazy clever and inventive, even after the pyrotechnics start) but is also the sort of thing that only grumpy killjoys who hate to have fun would bother to say.
This movie was 20 different kinds of badass, from Tom Hardy's balls-out performance to Nicolas Winding Refn's daring, inventive, giddy direction. Also: Bonus points for excellent usage of the Pet Shop Boys' "It's a Sin."
9. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
It's a really fantastic animated film, and it didn't come from either Pixar or Miyazaki—and in this day and age, that's a pretty rare thing. Meatballs isn't just one of the funniest movies I saw this year—its humor reminded me of Arrested Development's, relentlessly fast and sharp and goofy—it's also, hopefully, a sign that we'll get more CG films like this one and fewer CG films like Ice Age and Shrek.
10. Observe and Report
Observe and Report's brilliant writer/director, Jody Hill, is also behind The Foot Fist Way and Eastbound and Down. If you have not seen these things, you should. Like, tonight. Get on it.