Thursday, February 25, 2010

the Valeries

With the Oscars rapidly approaching, here is my list of movies of 2009 that I loved. I'm not a movie critic nor do I claim that this list is comprehensive or definitive, just a list of movies that touched me in some way. I'm extremely cynical about Hollywood and am always going off about how 42 horrible movies are made for every good one and what a waste of money and time and effort, etc, blah blah blah but for once I need to eat my words. I was in love with so many movies I've watched over the past few months and decided to make a brief list of my favorites here. I think they're in chronological order? But I'm certainly not going to double-check.*

Coraline- just enchanting. Stunning visuals and a cute but spooky story with quirky and original characters.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li- just kidding.

Obsessed- this movie blew chunks but it's on here because it was hilarious to mock with my friends and almost worth sitting through to see Beyonce beat a white chick.

Up- It was well-made but I'll never watch it again because I cried four (4) separate times while watching it in the theater with my parents, one of which occurred within the first ten minutes. Not ok, disney.

Inglourious Basterds!!!- possible my favorite movie of the year. There are no words. Just see it if you haven't. I'm always opposed to gratuitous violence but Tarantino somehow always makes it palatable. I am also in love with Eli Roth, not that this is relevant to my love of this movie (except it is). And can we talk about Christoph Waltz?! If he doesn't win an Oscar then I will, um...kick a baby. Ok I would've done that anyway.

Extract- worth it if only for the David Koechner plotline. But all the other parts were good too, like Ben Affleck as the drug-addled, hippie bartender, the best braindead 17 year old poolboy ever, and Jason Bateman's general existence...I like Kristen Wiig too but there just wasn't much humor to her role in this movie.

The Invention of Lying- so funny. so so funny. Louis CK was heavily under-utilized though. If you remain skeptical, just look at the billing on that poster and tell me you're not curious. Plus for It's Always Sunny fans, there's a brief cameo from one of the Mcpoyle (sp?) brothers that helped me reach Jungian self-actualization.

Zombieland- I hate horror and violence and gore movies but this was funny and well-written and acted and all that. Best cameo EVER. You know what I'm talking about if you've seen it.

An Education- This movie inhabited my soul. I don't know how else to explain my love for it. Peter Saarsgaard is always just delightful, even when he's not supposed to be.

Men Who Stare at Goats- weird but funny and interesting.

Fantastic Mr. Fox- Wes Anderson ftw. Maybe my 2nd fave movie this year? Every scene with Jason Schwartzman made my life complete.

Up in the Air- I didn't actually agree with the final message that George Clooney's character learns but I did agree with everything else about this movie (not just talking about plot here).

Avatar- the plot, characters, and dialogue were stock, but still compelling and entertaining and I don't think I need to go into the visual effects. Yes, James Cameron is an unoriginal hack, that fact has already been well-established by his previous work, but the man knows how to spend money on special effects. You can't understand what they mean when they say this movie is a game-changer until you see it. (Note that I am not including posters for movies that were widely enough advertised that I'm guessing everyone already knows what the movie poster looks like. Or that I simply am too lazy to get a poster for.)

The Secret of Kells- precious little Irish animated movie. The style is whimsical, original and beautiful, wrapped up in a magical and moving story. I cannot overemphasize how stunning the visual experience alone of this movie is, all without motion capture and CGI. Just wait until you get to the forest sequence. James Cameron could learn a few things from these animators. Namely that it's possible to make a visually stunning movie without spending $500 million on motion capture and CGI.

The Young Victoria- this movie stayed way more under the radar than it should have. Great acting, great writing, great story, unbelievable costumes and set. I watched it twice in two days, that's how much I loved it. This is tied with Fantastic Mr. Fox for my 2nd fave movie of the year. To be fair, its biggest strength is probably the crazy-elaborate costumes, so here's a peek at one of Emily Blunt's many dresses.

The Hangover (I've officially stopped any attempt at chronology or order in my life.)- Keep walking grandpa.

Role Models- LAWL. Just lawl.

Julie and Julia- cuuuuuuuute. Proof that chick flicks can be great cinema. Although I just watched The Lovely Bones the other day and the fact that Stanley Tucci can be so creepy in that and so charming and likeable in this makes me simultaneously more creeped out and impressed with his acting skills. There are a lot of actors out there who only seem to play one role in any movie- Will Smith, Michael Cera, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise (don't argue with me, when was the last time besides Tropic Thunder that he played a role with any character depth or variation? And even in that one he was hiding behind a fat suit, prosthetics and a lot of accessories/makeup) come to mind, but Stanley Tucci is NOT one of those actors. Good for him.

Away We Go- also cute. and funny. and moving. lots of great performances. I cannot recommend this movie enough because so few people seem to have seen it. And yet Transformers 2 was the 4th top grossing film of the year? Excuse me for a minute, I need to go rail at God.

Funny People- just watched this last week and it made me fall even more in love with Aubrey Plaza and Jason Schwartzman.

Movies that are very deliberately missing from this list: 500 Days of Summer, Transformers 2, Harry Potter 6, Taken, He's Just Not That Into You, Watchmen, Star Trek, The Hurt Locker, District 9. I have subjective reasons for disliking only two of these, the rest I can come up with solid, objective criticism of, which I may do at a later point. If I feel like it. So there.

*they're not.

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