Films Retrospect 2009

Posted By yonghow on January 2nd, 2010



In its fifth year and something of a tradition by now, this is a post I always look forward to writing because it presents the unique opportunity to re-examine all the films I’ve seen over the course of the year, and thus revel in their collective brilliance and greatness. ( in between the occasional cinematic dud )

Total tally for films watched in 2009 stands at 45 in theatres and 78 on dvds/blu-ray, making that a total of 123. (You can see the entire list here.) That averages out to at least 2 films per week, often more. Ever since 2006 I’ve been watching fewer films with each passing year, but this year I’ve actually seen more. ( 109 films in 2008 ) Hooray !

Listed below are my 10 favourite films of 2009,  in no particular order of merit. ( actual release date of said films may not be 2009 )

Fantastic Mr Fox ( Wes Anderson )

My favourite Wes Anderson film since “The Royal Tenenbaums”, Fantastic Mr.Fox utilizes lively, quaint old stop motion animation to wondrous effect in telling the director’s favorite subject of the dysfunctional family, replacing human thespians with a menagerie of wild creatures that are never too far from their intrinsic animal instincts.

District 9 ( Neill Blomkamp )

Certainly the dark horse release of the year, District 9 crept silently into cinemas with little or no associated hype, expectations or fanfare but exploded rapidly into a cult hit by word of mouth from audiences and critics alike, myself one of them. While lacking in grandeur and scale as compared to films like Star Trek and Avatar, District 9’s fresh take on the sci-fi genre is still a welcoming treat.

All The President’s Men ( 1976, Alan J. Pakula )

Shot in 1976, this film is older than I am, but in the 30 or so years since its release had lost none of its appeal and suspense as one of the most engaging and enthralling drama/history thrillers. I’m just really happy that I finally got around to watching it.

The International ( Tom Tykwer )

I’ve been a fan of Tom Tykwer since “Run Lola Run” and he has gone on to direct some of my favourite films in these recent years, including “Heaven” and “Perfume : The Story of a Murderer”.  In “The International” Tykwer once again displays his trademark style of balletic mise en scene, punctuated by terse, adrenaline pumping action; the gun fight sequence in the Guggenheim is both exhilarating and at the same time, elegantly shot.

The Reader ( Stephen Daldry )

To indulge in the beautiful score or powerful performances by both Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes are good enough reasons for watching “The Reader”, but I was also deeply moved by Roger Deakins’s sublime photography for the film, just as he did for Sam Mendes “Revolutionary Road”.

Changeling ( Clint Eastwood )

Avatar ( James Cameron )

Hats off to the folks at Weta and ILM for such a sumptuous visual feast. This one will be talked about for many years to come. ( well, until Battle Angel arrives, at least. )

Evangelion : 2.0 ( Anno Hideaki )

To quote myself from a previous article I wrote regarding this film – “while American animation studios like Pixar, Blue Sky and Dreamworks dominate the 3D animation market, marrying high production values with technical achievement and superb artistry, no one in the world can even touch the Japanese when it comes to traditional 2D animation films.” Evangelion : 2.0 is the latest reaffirmation of this, and I hope the Japanese animation industry will continue to bless us with works that are as uniquely different and distinct from American studios as they are visually astounding.

500 Days of Summer ( Marc Webb )

A love story story about love of the highest creative calibre. Amazing script, great performances by the leads, beautiful photography, art direction and production design, fantastic soundtrack, all this coalesce into a very fine 2 hours of novel and delightful cinema. When was the last time you watched a romantic comedy not knowing how it will end ?

Coraline ( Henry Selick )

How wonderful to end the year with a cinematic bang ! The last movie I watched in 2009, Coraline is the most astonishing stop motion film I’ve ever seen, period. The amount of painful detail required to create a single frame of animation is well beyond my imagination, and I have absolutely no idea how they lit the film to give it such an amazing sense of scale – some quality time with the extras on the blu-ray might provide a clue.

All in all, the year was also graced with numerous other films that I enjoyed, like Moon, Benjamin Button, Star Trek, Be Kind Rewind, The Bank Job, Serpico, Doubt, just to name a few. Some rather unsavory movies I’ve had the misfortune of sitting through this year were Twins Effect II, Good Luck Chuck and Ninja Assassin.

And now I’ll love to hear about your favourite films this year. :]

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3 Responses to “Films Retrospect 2009”

Daniel

Really great list! I thoroughly enjoyed all of those movies and I’ll be posting my own list on my page within the next few days hopefully.

yonghow

Hey Daniel, I’ll love to see your list of movies ! :]

GGear

i just watched Caroline … oops, i mean Coraline, myself like a week ago and i loved it. great movie. and a cool featurette here:

http://tinyurl.com/ycwqkvs