Wednesday, December 30, 2009

At the cinema in 2009

I have never been much of a movie critic. The art of good critique is beyond me, and I'm fine with that. I watch a lot of movies and I know a good one from a bad one (or maybe I don't), but I can't often describe the particular elements that led me to my decision.

I also hate being judged, which is funny because I'm constantly judging others and they never measure up (I keed, I keed). So when I tell someone I liked a movie, or didn't like a movie, it inevitably becomes a situation where I have to defend my position. And I take it personally when someone hates a movie I liked.

So naturally I decided a perfect blog post for me would be to rank the movies I saw in 2009. Makes sense, right? I'm not going to include all the movies I saw (27 -- I've watched more, but those are just ones released in 2009), but I am going to include some I wish I'd seen, and some I wish I'd never seen.

By the way, if you want to read a real movie critic, check out my friend Josh's excellent site. He knows a thing or two about actual critiques.

Enough of the buildup. Here are my lists:

My Top Five (in no particular order)
  • "Up in the Air" -- Maybe it's because I'm out of work, but this movie really struck a chord with me. Well-written and acted, I was pleased at how the filmmakers avoided the cliches I figured were going to be inevitable.
  • "Crazy Heart" -- Just saw this today, so it's probably getting on the list because it's fresh in my mind. Jeff Bridges is deserving of the Oscar buzz he's receiving for playing Bad Blake, a down-and-out country-western singer. How could I not love a movie with great acting and great music?
  • "Adventureland" and/or "Zombieland" -- This is clearly cheating, but I enjoyed both of these movies a whole lot and that's because of the eminently likable Jesse Eisenberg.
  • "Funny People" -- A lot of people hated this movie because they mistakenly thought it was going to be a comedy. While it had its funny moments, the poignant scenes between Adam Sandler and Seth Rogan are why it's on my list. When Zevon's "Keep Me in Your Heart" came on I had to choke back tears. Sandler and Rogan don't say anything for quite a while while the song plays, but their expressions say everything. I just really liked that scene and the movie, though I wish they had trimmed it down by about 30 minutes.
  • "Away We Go" -- I've noticed that I seem to like movies with likable male leads. This one's got Jon Krasinski in what I think is his best role. I love him as Jim on "The Office," but he's even better in this one. Maya Rudolph really surprised me, too
My Bottom Five
  • "Paul Blart, Mall Cop": This is one of those, "What the hell was I thinking when I actually put this into my DVD player?" Awful. Just awful. But kind of awesome in its awfulness.
  • "Year One" -- What a waste of talent. It had a few moments of actual comedy, but they were few and far between.
  • "Land of the Lost" -- Will Ferrell is quickly falling off my list of must-see actors. Although I'd wait in line outside overnight for an "Anchorman" sequel.
  • "The Goods" -- The only time anything resembling a laugh escaped me was during scenes with Craig Robinson. "Alligators? Who brought alligators?"
  • "Drag Me to Hell" -- It felt like that's exactly what happened for the 99 minutes I spent watching this garbage.

Three related to an apocalypse

  • "2012" -- This wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. You can't go wrong when you take every means of natural disaster ever filmed and throw them into one movie starring John Cusack, right?
  • "The Road" -- A faithful adaptation of a remarkable novel, it lacks Cormac McCarthy's beautiful prose. Thus the emotion is drained from the story and I felt nothing at the end. I did enjoy seeing McCarthy's postapocalyptic world brought to the screen, though.
  • "Watchmen" -- I read the graphic novel a few months later and realized how badly the movie missed the mark. I found this too violent, and that's saying something.
Three I should have seen
  • "Where the Wild Things Are" -- I already regret not seeing this in a movie theater.
  • "The Hurt Locker"
  • "A Serious Man"
Three I missed that are now waiting in my Netflix queue
  • "(500) Days of Summer"
  • "Up"
  • "Extract"

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