Thursday, March 4, 2010

Top 13 Films of 2009

With the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, scheduled to air this coming Sunday night, March 7 on ABC.  I thought this might be a good time to share with you my favorite films of 2009.  Not the top 10, mind you, more like 13.  I just couldn't seem to stop at 10.  I needed at least 13, if not more.  And besides, for me anyway, 13 has always been kind of a lucky number.

You know, just because Moses sat down and wrote  "The Ten Commandments".  And then claimed to receive them from some "Guy in the Sky"  (that only he could eye)  doesn't mean that we always have to list things in groups of 10.

So anyway, here's my 13 Favorites.  And in a day or so,  I hope to post my "Oscar" picks and predictions for Sunday night.

# 1. AVATAR - Nominated for nine Oscars, James Cameron's extraordinary, groundbreaking epic film is truly a unique and visually spectacular movie-going experience. 

Rated PG -  This should definitely be on everybody's Must-See list. 

Preferably see the 3-D version.  While it's still in theaters.

# 2.  A SERIOUS MAN - Unquestionably one of the best films I've seen in years.  This is the Coen Brothers at their Brilliant Best.  A deliciously dark comedy that I've already seen three times, once in the theaters and twice on DVD. 

For those of you who still believe in the aforementioned  "Guy in the Sky" - You know, that "Guy" you can call on in times of need.  Let me ask you something?  How does it make you feel, when every time you call - you get a busy signal?  Such is the Jewish Angst in this movie.  But don't misunderstand, much like the Rye Bread.  You don't have to be Jewish to love it!

# 3. THE HURT LOCKER - There's something about war movies that usually turns me off.  But this is not your typical war film.  Yes it is a first-rate action-adventure drama,  filled with suspense and surprise.  But it's so much more than that.  It's actually an in-depth study of the complex personalities it takes to successfully succeed at warfare.  It's riveting and insightful, and perhaps one of the best films of this or any other year.  And like Avatar, also received 9 nominations.

# 4. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS - Perhaps one of Quentin Tarantino's Best - if not most enjoyable films ever.  A word of caution here though.  Remember, this is Quentin Tarantino after-all, and this movie is rated  "R"  with good reason.  Lots of his trademark graphic violence here.  But at the same time, with his rewrite of history and the way he kills Nazis.  It almost makes it seem like good clean fun.  If only it could've or would've happened that way.


# 5. A SINGLE MAN - This is not to be confused with my # 2 pick, the dark comedy "A Serious Man".

This movie  "A Single Man"  is a serious Dark Drama.  It's an existential look at a day in the life of a seriously brooding college professor named George.  He is mourning the Untimely Death of his Gay Lover.  The year is 1964, so Gay is still  The Sin That Dare Not Speak Its Name.  Unable to cope any longer with the devastating loss, George spends the day, planning his own demise.  But as so often happens, things don't always work out as we plan.

# 6. AN EDUCATION - If you watch the trailers, you might get the impression, as I did, that this is just another silly Romantic Comedy.  Well, it's not.  It's actually a beautifully constructed and expertly written, Coming-of-Age Drama.
Once again,  it's the early '60s and the women's liberation movement has yet to flourish.  This time we're in Suburban London.  A bright and talented 16 year old girl is facing a Dilemma.  To go to Oxford as she and her family had always planned,  or become a "Student of Life" with an older man.  The choices she makes, and that her family seems to encourage, are reflective of a bygone era, hopefully never to be revisited again.

# 7. "UP" - Disney/Pixar does it again!  Who would've thought a story about a grumpy old man tying balloons to his house and flying away could be so engaging? 
Well, it is. In fact, it's a flawlessly told, heartbreakingly sad, meltingly tender love story.  Be prepared for a wondrous journey and an irrepressible sense of fun.  3-D and Pixar Imagination/Animation make for a truly unique and unforgettable movie-going experience.

# 8. UP IN THE AIR - Perfectly timed with our failing economy in mind.  This is an entertaining Dramedy, about a high-flying corporate "Hatchet-Man".  A man who finds himself on a flight of self-discovery and serious introspection.

This is another film that potentially could have been nothing more than a silly Rom-Com with a sweet and predictable ending.  They Opted for Reality Instead.  Good Choice! 

# 9. NINE - Number 9 is "Nine",  I bet you think I planned that.  Strangely enough, I honestly didn't. 

Being a hard-core Federico Fellini fan from back in the day, how could I possibly resist a Musical Version of his Autobiographical Masterpiece "8 1/2".  And That Cast!  what else can I say. 

Thank You, Rob Marshall for a Rare and Exceptional Treat.

# 10. PRECIOUS - This is not a tearjerker as Oprah implied, when she advised "Bring a Tissue".  It is however, a beautifully written, powerful and heart-rendering story.  In fact, "Too Powerful for Tears"  is what the Time Magazine critic wrote. 

The realities portrayed here are indeed sad and depressing but I think the film is ultimately uplifting and inspiring.  Definitely a Must See!

# 11. STAR TREK - As a huge fan of the original 1964 television series.  I may be just a bit biased here, but I just couldn't resist a movie that would bring back those original characters.  And who would've guessed they'd do it so well.  This movie was excellent, had a real Gene Roddenberry feel to it.  In fact, I'm sure he would have been proud.

I honestly believe my dad would've loved it too.  Politics and Star Trek are just about the only real bonding experiences I ever had with my late father.

# 12. Julie & Julia - I seriously debated whether to include this film in my list or not.  There were times I found it sadly lacking and dare I say, even disappointing.  I'm convinced the film would've benefited from a little more Julia (Meryl Streep) and a little less Julie (Amy Adams). 

But in the end,  I just couldn't ignore the Sheer Brilliance of Meryl Streep's Astonishing Performance.

# 13. HANGOVER - Definitely not a Chick Flick.  This is one for the Guys. Although, I did hear Essie Mae laughing at times.  How could you not?  This Film Is Hysterical!  A Sheer Lowbrow Delight - No Golden Statuettes Being Given Here. 

Just good clean R-rated fun. 

It's  "Boys Gone Wild"  at a bachelor party in Vegas.  It's twisted, shallow and perverse, yet never sacrifices heart.

Well, there they are.  My 13 best films for 2009.  Conspicuous by their absence, you may have noticed there are two films that were actually nominated for best picture this year. "The Blind Side"  and  "District 9" which are not included on my list.  Well, the truth is, I wasn't all that fond of either.  They were okay, I suppose, but in my opinion neither belongs in the best picture category.
Oh I know THE BLIND SIDE was supposed to be the feel-good movie of the year and I too honestly did enjoy it.  It's just that there was something about it that struck me as being a bit disingenuous. 

Don't get me wrong.  I think Sandra Bullock was brilliant  (Academy Award Worthy, Maybe)  and everyone who should know, agrees her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy was spot on.  But remember, this was based on a true story, and I found myself being very skeptical of how that story was being told.  As it turns out, subsequent interviews with the real-life Michael Oher have shown my skepticism to be justified.

As far as DISTRICT 9 is concerned.  I was disappointed.  I genuinely love a well written, theoretically feasible, piece of science fiction.  I also enjoy a really good action adventure plot.  Unfortunately, "District 9" was none of those things.  The movie shifts from speculative science fiction to zombie bio-horror and then, less subtly, turns into an escape-action-chase movie full of explosions, gun-play and vehicular mayhem.  I'm sorry but I just wasn't impressed.  And to think, they left the door open for a sequel.
Just Thinking

Did I miss something ?  Did I fail to mention one of your favorites? Please let me know as you comment below, ( just click on the word comment if the panel is not open).  Or you can e-mail me direct at and your comment will be posted.


  1. I have to admit I didn't see most of these movies but, I was so glad to see that you included The Hangover. It was my number one film of the year, but got little or no recognition from anyone. At least no awards or nominations that I know of. But isn't that always the way mate, no matter how well-crafted or hysterically funny, shallow guy films get completely ignored.

    Of course, if I had my way the entire top 10 list would be filled with Guy flicks and of that group - no doubt about it Hangover was the best.

  2. I loved Sandra Bullock and hope she wins. I don't care what you say that movie was Awesome!

  3. I'm surprised you didn't like District 9.
    I thought it was fun.

  4. I am so glad you did this list. Having known you for almost two decades (and I knew OF your Miami/Florida notoriety even before this), I know YOU are the person that is closest to me that KNOWS about MOVIES! I have always trusted your opinions in many things...politics, love, life, business--list goes on--and MOVIES--Eddie, you are such a great movie critic! I'm so glad you described these movies and especially A Single Man. I want to see it when it comes to ON DEMAND. You know--I have so many channels at home I just wait for them to come to HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, etc...and I NEVER get to go to the movies anymore! Be sure I'm waiting to see these listed above...especially A Single Man. Thanks so much for your insight on these movies, Eddie...And DO IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR! Thanks beautiful man!

  5. Hey Marty,

    Thank you for your comments.

    I really appreciate that you have taken the time and interest to both read and comment on my blog posts.