My Top 10 Favorite Films of 2009

I’ve been keeping track of all the films I watch annually since 2005 and this year was one of the most prolific. I was able to see 200 new films and picking a top 10 was an incredibly hard task. That said, here are my top 10 favorites with some comments, followed by the long list of my viewing for 2009.

10) Where The Wild Things Are (2009, dir. Spike Jonze)

I love that Jonze and, co-writer, Dave Eggers managed to maintain the honest, darker tone of Maurice Sendak’s children’s book. Max acts like a real kid, not a movie script child. I especially appreciated the skillful mix of traditional puppetry and CG effects that made the Wild Things solid and real beings.

9) Inglourious Basterds (2009, dir. Quentin Tarantino)

From the trailers, I was led to believe this was an action shoot-em up and that turned me off immediately. I love Tarantino but had no interesting in a WWII action pic. However, a series of interviews turned me around and I found it to be yet another incredibly original film from a master. In essence, its a WWII fairy tale.

8) Bronson (2009, dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)

This one came out of nowhere but grabbed my attention due to its blatantly Kubrickian influence. Sort A Clockwork Orange about a real person. The film is less concerned with plot than it is establishing a dynamically visual character sketch.

7) Ballast (2008, dir.Lance Hammer)

A film whose merits lie strongly in its tone. The landscape is a familiar one to those of us who grew up in the rural South. The film also presents a look at contemporary rural Southern African-Americans in a very real and honest manner.

6) Antichrist (2009, dir. Lars von Trier)

Despite the hubbub over the graphic violence in, von Trier is able to evoke a strong sense of horror that so many mainstream horror movies never attempt. It’s typical von Trier in its attempts to upset the audience, not just through the brutality, but also through the incoherence of many story elements. And in the end, that’s why I love this director!

5) Precious (2009, dir. Lee Daniels)

Gabby Sidibe’s performance as the title character is so impressive, especially after seeing her interviews and realizing how drastically different she and her life are from this character. In this film, I saw the lives of a good number of children I’ve worked with. The dark nature of living below the poverty is broken though by a strong sense of hope in the film’s ending, that never comes off as maudlin.

4) Harlan County, USA (1976, dir. Barbara Kopple)

Though made thirty four years ago, this film is just as relevant, given the climate of economic disparity and anti-unionist rhetoric being spouted. Kopple chronicles the struggle between a group of poor Kentuckian miners and the Duke Power Company, in a strike the ended in blood being spilt. You may go into the film thinking it can’t engage you, but it will captivate you.

3) Synecdoche, New York (2008, dir. Charlie Kaufman)

Kaufman produced some of the best written films of the 2000s and this directorial debut is the culmination of all his themes and concepts. The film works as a matryoshka, a Russian nesting doll, and seems to have a kinship with much of Michel Gondry’s work.

2) Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006, dir. Tom Tykwer)

One of the most overlooked films of the 2000s by one of the most over looked directors. Tykwer follows a very literary structure and presents a character who lacks the ability to be sympathetic but somehow makes us sympathize with him by the end of the film.

1) Waltz With Bashir (2008, dir. Ari Folman)

Check out my full review for my thoughts on this amazing film!

And here is the full list of the 200 films I saw in 2009

1. Near Dark (1987, dir. Kathryn Bigelow)
2. Taxi to the Dark Side (2008, dir. Alex Gibney)
3. Revolutionary Road (2008, dir. Sam Mendes)
4. Scrooged (1988, dir. Richard Donner)
5. Renaissance (2006, dir. Christian Volckman)
6. The Magic Christian (1969, dir. Joseph McGrath)
7. Rock School (2005, dir. Don Argott)
8. The Spirit (2008, dir. Frank Miller)
9. Mirrors (2008, dir. Alexandre Aja)
10. Synecdoche, New York (2008, dir. Charlie Kaufman)
11. Cinemania (2002, dir. Angela Christlieb, Stephan Kijak)
12. Henry Fool (1997, dir. Hal Hartley)
13. Moonshine (2006, dir. Roger Ingram)
14. Crazy Love (2007, dir. Dan Klores)
15. Doubt (2008, dir. John Patrick Shanley)
16. Slumdog Millionaire (2008, dir. Danny Boyle)
17. The Reader (2008, dir. Stephen Daldry)
18. Fay Grim (2006, dir. Hal Hartley)
19. Sleeping Dogs Lie (2006, dir. Bobcat Goldthwait)
20. Waltz With Bashir (2008, dir. Ari Folman)
21. Fears of the Dark (2008, dir. Blutch, Charles Burns, Marie Caillou, Pierre Di Sciullo, Lorenzo Mattotti, Richard McGuire)
22. Gran Torino (2008, dir. Clint Eastwood)
23. In Bruges (2008, dir. Martin McDonagh)
24. Foot Fist Way (2008, dir. Jody Hill)
25. Che, Part One (2008, dir. Steven Soderbergh)
26. Coraline (2009, dir. Henry Selick)
27. The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005, dir. Jeff Feuerzeig)
28. Hard Eight (1996, dir. PT Anderson)
29. Friday the 13th (2009, dir. Dean Haspiel)
30. Pola X (1999, dir. Leos Carax)
31. Paris, Je T’aime (2006, dir. various)
32. The Ring 2 (2005, dir. Hideo Nakata)
33. Watchmen (2009, dir. Zach Snyder)
34. Sex Drive (2008, dir. Sean Anders)
35. Rachel Getting Married (2008, dir. Jonathan Demme)
36. Cabin Boy (1994, dir. Adam Resnick)
37. Puffball (2007, dir. Nicolas Roeg)
38. Semi-Pro (2008, dir. Kent Alterman)
39. Freddy Got Fingered (2001, dir. Tom Green)
40. Wild Tigers I Have Known (2006, dir. Cam Archer)
41. Confederate States of America (2004, dir. Kevin Wilmott)
42. Fuck (2005, dir. Steve Anderson)
43. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006, dir. Scott Glosserman)
44. Standard Operating Procedure (2008, dir. Erroll Morris)
45. Perdita Durango (1997, dir. Alex de la Igelsia)
46. Glass: A Portrait of Philip in 12 Pieces (2007, dir. Scott Hicks)
47. W. (2008, dir. Oliver Stone)
48. The Sinful Dwarf (1973, dir. Vidal Raski)
49. Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (1973, dir. Richard Blackburn)
50. Angel-A (2005, dir. Luc Besson)
51. The Room (2003, dir. Tommy Wiseau)
52. I Love You Man (2009, dir. John Hamburg)
53. Cthulhu (2007, dir. Dan Gildark)
54. Chop Shop (2007, dir. Rahmin Bahrani)
55. Monsters Vs. Aliens (2009, dir. Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon)
56. Dig! (2005, dir. Ondi Timoner)
57. Zoo (2007, dir. Robinson Devor)
58. Observe & Report (2009, dir. Jody Hill)
59. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009, dir. Gavin Hood)
60. Safe Men (1998, dir. John Hamburg)
61. Chuck & Buck (2000, dir. Miguel Arteta)
62. Zach Galifinakis: Live at the Purple Onion (2007, dir. Michael Blieden)
63. The Wicker Man (2006, dir. Neil LaBute)
64. Grey Gardens (2009, dir. Michael Sucsy)
65. Mad Dog and Glory (1993, dir. David McNaughton)
66. Midnight Run (1988, dir. Martin Brest)
67. Bonnie and Clyde (1967, dir. Arthur Penn)
68. Crash (1996, dir. David Cronenberg)
69. Prime Cut (1972, dir. Michael Ritchie)
70. Special (2006, dir. Hal Haberman, Jeremy Passamore)
71. Papillon (1973, dir. Franklin J. Schaffner)
72. The Five Obstructions (2003, dir. Jorgen Leth, Lars Von Trier)
73. Haxan (1922, dir. Benjamin Christensen)
74. Shampoo (1975, dir. Hal Ashby)
75. S. Darko (2009, Chris Fisher)
76. Star Trek (2009, dir. JJ Abrams)
77. The Ninth Configuration (1980, dir. William Peter Blatty)
78. The Pledge (2001, dir. Sean Penn)
79. Heckler (2007, dir. Michael Addis)
80. Abel Raises Cain (2005, dir. Jenny Abel, Jeff Hockett)
81. Parents (1988, dir. Bob Balaban)
82. Harlan County, USA (1976, dir. Barbara Kopple)
83. Rubin and Ed (1991, dir. Trent Harris)
84. Eyes Wide Shut (1999, dir. Stanley Kubrick)
85. Bedtime Stories (2008, dir. Adam Shankman)
86. Fanboys (2008, dir. Kyle Newman)
87. The Unborn (2009, dir. David S. Goyer)
88. Terminator Salvation (2009, dir. McG)
89. Drag Me To Hell (2009, dir. Sam Raimi)
90. Trembling Before G-d (2001, dir. Sandi Simcha Dubowski)
91. Land of the Lost (2009, dir. Brad Silberling)
92. The Hangover (2009, dir. Todd Phillips)
93. Up (2009, dir. Pete Docter, Brad Anderson)
94. Deadgirl (2008, dir. Marcel Sarmiento, Gadi Harel)
95. Phoebe in Wonderland (2008, dir. Daniel Barnz)
96. Collateral (2004, dir. Michael Mann)
97. Sid and Nancy (1986, dir. Alex Cox)
98. Tell No One (2006, dir. Guilliame Canet)
99. Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell (2006, dir. Johnny Gillette, Kevin Wheatley)
100. The Cable Guy (1996, dir. Ben Stiller)
101. Sita Sings the Blues (2008, dir. Nina Paley)
102. Bruno (2009, dir. Larry Charles)
103. IOUSA (2008, dir. Patrick Creadon)
104. Moon (2009, dir. Duncan Jones)
105. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009, dir. Michael Bay)
106. Scream 3 (2000, dir. Wes Craven)
107. Adventureland (2009, dir. Greg Mottola)
108. In the Loop (2009, dir. Armando Iannucci)
109. Zazie dan le Metro (1960, dir. Louis Malle)
110. Plague Town (2008, dir. David Gregory)
111. Pontypool (2008, dir. Bruce McDonald)
112. Splinter (2008, dir. Toby Wilkins)
113. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008, dir. Woody Allen)
114. Bart Got A Room (2009, dir. Brian Hecker)
115. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009, dir. David Yates)
116. Green Lantern: First Flight (2009, dir. Lauren Montgomery)
117. The Strangers (2008, dir. Bryan Bertino)
118. Bamboozled (2000, dir. Spike Lee)
119. Funny People (2009, dir. Judd Apatow)
120. Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006, Steven Shainberg)
121. Tetro (2009, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
122. Gigantic (2008, dir. Brian Aselton)
123. Orphan (2009, dir. Jaume Collet-Serra)
124. Visioneers (2008, dir. Jared Drake)
125. Home Movie (2008, dir. Christopher Denham)
126. Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story (2008, dir. Stefan Forbes)
127. G.I. Joe (2009, dir. Stephen Sommers)
128. Big Man Japan (2007, dir. Hitoshi Matsumoto)
129. Second Skin (2008, dir. Juan Carlos Pineiro-Escoriaza)
130. Used Cars (1980, dir. Robert Zemeckis)
131. Knowing (2009, dir. Alex Proyas)
132. The Informers (2009, dir. Gregor Jordan)
133. Domino (2005, dir. Tony Scott)
134. Push (2009, dir. Paul McGuigan)
135. District 9 (2009, dir. Neil Blomkamp)
136. World’s Greatest Dad (2009, dir. Bobcat Goldthwait)
137. The Corporation (2003, dir. Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott)
138. Bronson (2009, dir.Nicolas Winding Refn)
139. Edmond (2005, dir. Stuart Gordon)
140. The Brothers Bloom (2009, dir. Rian Johnson)
141. Antichrist (2009, dir. Lars von Trier)
142. Empire of the Sun (1987, dir. Steven Spielberg)
143. Wall Street (1987, dir. Oliver Stone)
144. Grace (2009, dir. Paul Solet)
145. Year One (2009, dir. Harold Ramis)
146. Lymelife (2008, dir. Derek Martini)
147. 500 Days of Summer (2009, dir. Marc Webb)
148. Christmas on Mars (2008, dir. Wayne Coyne)
149. Manderlay (2005, dir. Lars von Trier)
150. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009, dir. Sam Liu)
151. Trick R’ Treat (2008, dir. Michael Doughtry)
152. Inglourious Basterds (2009, dir. Quentin Tarantino)
153. Life is Sweet (1991, dir. Mike Leigh)
154. Owning Mahowny (2003, dir. Richard Kwietniowski)
155. Adam Resurrected (2008, dir. Paul Schrader)
156. Tideland (2005, dir. Terry Gilliam)
157. Jennifer’s Body (2009, dir. Karyn Kusama)
156. Sick Girl (2007, dir. Eben McGarr)
157. Pandorum (2009, dir. Christian Alvart)
158. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009, dir. Garreth Carravick)
159. Zombieland (2009, dir. Ruben Fleischer)
160. Big Fan (2009, dir. Robert D. Siegel)
161. Where the Truth Lies (2005, dir. Atom Egoyan)
162. Paranormal Activity (2009, dir Oren Peli)
163. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006, dir. Tom Tykwer)
164. The Informant! (2009, dir. Steven Soderbergh)
165. You’re Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush (2009, dir. Marty Callner)
166. Frontrunners (2008, dir. Caroline Suh)
167. Humpday (2009, dir.Lynn Shelton)
168. Adoration (2009, dir. Atom Egoyan)
169. I Sell The Dead (2008, dir. Glenn McQuaid)
170. Roman Polanski: Wanted & Desired (2008, dir. Marina Zenovich)
171. Paper Heart (2009, Nicholas Jasenovec)
172. American Ruling Class (2005, dir. John Kirby)
173. Homicide (1992, dir. David Mamet)
174. Franklyn (2009, dir. Gerald McMorrow)
175. The Transporter (2002, dir. Corey Yuen)
176. The Magdalene Sisters (2002, dir. Peter Mullan)
177. The House of the Devil (2009, dir. Ti West)
178. The Triplets of Belleville (2003, dir. Sylvain Chomet)
179. BSG: The Plan (2009, dir. Edward James Olmos)
180. Spider (2002, dir. David Cronenberg)
181. Ballast (2008, dir. Lance Hammer)
182. Radiant City (2006, dir. Jim Brown, Gary Burns)
183. Medicine for Melancholy (2008, dir. Barry Jenkins)
184. Extract (2009, dir. Mike Judge)
185. The Box (2009, dir. Richard Kelly)
186. The Cove (2009, dir. Louis Psihoyos)
187. Diagnosis Death (2009, dir. Jason Stutter)
188. Sauna (2008, dir. Antti-Jussi Annila)
189. Tokyo (2008, dir. Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, Joon-ho Bong)
190. The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009, dir. Wes Anderson)
191. Trumbo (2007, dir. Peter Askin)
192. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (2009, dir. Phil Lord, Chris Miller)
193. Stay (2005, dir. Marc Forster)
194. Herb & Dorothy (2009, dir. Megumi Sasaki)
195. Where The Wild Things Are (2009, dir. Spike Jonze)
196. Avatar (2009, dir. James Cameron)
197. The Invention of Lying (2009, dir.Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson)
198. An Education (2009, dir. Lone Sherfig)
199. Precious (2009, dir. Lee Daniels)
200. Ravenous (1999, dir. Antonia Bird)


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