Monday, January 4, 2010

The Last Look Back...

Ok, I know everyone has their favorite films of 2009 and lots of websites/blogs put up their "Best Of" lists last week or so. I didn't want to get caught in all the clutter, so I waited till the first week of the new year. Those that were wondering what were my faves, runner ups and honorable mentions? Here you have it...

Honor's Top Ten Films of 2009:

Number 10 - Sherlock Holmes

Surprised? Not near as much as I was. I had zero interest in seeing this film. Absolutely none. The trailer looked like such a desecration of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic character. But the reviews kept coming up glowing. My friend that saw the film and felt protective about these historic characters of literature flipped for it, so I gave it a chance and went and seen it. And I loved it. It's an entirely different take, but it does feel the spirit and essence of Holme lies there. The casting of Downey Jr. and Law is brilliant and inspired. I had two problems with the story/script as the film was going along and by the end the major one was absolved and the minor point I had was abated. I can't wait for the sequel, but please don't let Brad Pitt turn out to be Moriarty... that would be a crime. One Sherlock Holmes couldn't solve.

Number 9 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I've loved the Harry Potter franchise since the Willie Wonka type fun of the original all the way through the darkening turns of poor Harry's life. I've gotten older and watched these three young actors grow up with their roles. With each film delving deeper into the dark secrets of Voldermort and his link to Harry. It's truly been a grand adventure and this film leading into the final book was a wonderful exploration of the pain of growing up; with or without a wand. Looking forward to the final battle.

Number 8 - Star Trek

I've never been a Trekkie or Trekker or whatever the latest interation is. I grew up a child of Star Wars, raised by George Lucas before he betrayed me, before he went to the Dark Side. That's why when I saw this film I was amazed at how fun it was... how much more like Star Wars than Trek it was. I know that'll offend some diehard fans, but it's how it felt and it a good way. The story of how Kirk and Spock met was a grand adventure and a great way to reboot a franchise. Now, if Disney or someone can pry the work of the Skywalkers away from Lucas, I'd suggest doing the same. But clearly, this is a new series of Star Trek films that will live long and prosper.

Number 7 - Avatar

The story of this film has been done a dozen times before. You're not going to see a revolutionary story with "Avatar," but you are going to see it told revolutionary. Not that the story isn't good, it is. But the way Cameron shows it has to be seen. It's essentially a Western told from the point of view of the Indians, set in space. Only in this case, the fantasy of a primitive civilization winning happens. It's a grand adventure and one I highly recommend you going on. Those that were expecting Jim to drop the ball will have to keep waiting.

Number 6 - The Hangover

I laughed, I cried. I laughed while crying. Without a doubt, the funniest thing I saw all year. My friends and I were just rolling in our seats watching this bachelor party gone awry turn into such an engrossing comedy. This film was so good that the studio asked for a sequel before the first one was out. And if you have seen it and left when the credits started; shame on you. Sit through them and watch the night before unfold for you. A great comedy, a great film.

Number 5 - The Hurt Locker

A gripping thriller/drama that has you from the get go. Kathyrn Bigelow, long known as someone that can hang with the boys, pulls out her best film. Ever. The story of a bomb disposal unit in Iraq from the viewpoint of their new, brash and risky new member is a fresh wonderful take on war films. Unlike recent films, it doesn't try to demean the military or preach politics. The film is decidedly apolitical and focuses on the human cost of war. To you and all those around you. And if you're a casting agent for the adaption of "Unchated" then take a good look at Jeremy Renner for the part of Nathan Drake. He's spot on and so is this movie.

Number 4 - District 9

The second biggest surprise I had at a screening this year. Neill Blomkamp's fictional sci-fi documentary is a riveting portrayal of life after dying aliens make contact with humanity. Filmed for a tenth of what "Avatar" cost, this story displays a heart that most big budget features forget to include or simply leave behind. Sharlto Copley Sharlto Copley delivers a vulnerable portrait of a flawed man who is stripped quite literally of his humanity after becoming contaminated by a foreign substance. This is intelligent geekiness at its best.

Number 3 - 500 Days of Summer

A bittersweet, urban fairytale about love and loss. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a hopeless romantic that finds himself going back into his life trying to figure out why his girlfriend dumped him. This little fable is a great way to reacquaint yourself with why you fall in love and what happens when it all falls apart. I felt all bubbly after the credits started to roll on this little film. If you're a fan of the romantic comedy, this ain't it. If you're a fan of love and falling in it then put it in and push play. A fine, enchanting greeting card to your heart.

Number 2 - Up in the Air

Jason Reitman has a knack for the type of source material that I love. George Clooney hasn't been this fun to watch since "Out of Sight." I had a hard time putting this at number two on the list. It could have easily been number one. Both my top choices could have switched places at a moments whim. I love them both, but the only similarity they have is their title and being great films. Clooney plays a man who has lived his life on the road. He comes to a point where he has to confront if what he's been/done is really a life at all. It's the most unconventional of road films. He takes pause on his life and what it's all about when his livelihood is threatened by a young, corporate upstart. His life as well as hers evolves in ways unexpected that never go unchallenged. An intelligent, introspective look into ones life from the outside and inside. I loved it and it loved me back.

Number 1 - Up

Yes, Carl and his crew are my favorite film of the year. Believe it or not; for a person that runs a Disney blog, a Disney film (Pixar or not) rarely winds up being my favorite film of the year. That first four minute or so montage just hooks you in and makes you love this old Curmudgeon. Russell and Dug take you on a wonderful, quirky adventure that treats you to another Pixar masterpiece. I love this film far more than Pete Docter's first effort "Monsters Inc." and it's clear that Docter has grown tremendously as a director. I saw this film three times before I moved on to other films and the memory of it still left a deep impression. If you haven't seen it in theaters, then you need to go out and have a Blockbuster night. It'll make you believe a house can fly. Really.

Almost Made It:

Princess and the Frog

Yes, I can already hear some of you screaming. Sorry, it didn't make the top ten, but it got close. It could qualify as number eleven. It almost made it as number ten, but near the end of the year I saw "Sherlock Holmes" and 221B Baker Street's most famous resident beat out the Frog Princess. But make no mistake about my love for this film. It's a lovely, warm and wet kiss to hand-drawn animation. A very good story with amazingly beautiful 2D animation. And not the last one made with pencils as some of you have been worrying about. Go see it if you haven't yet. If you have seen it, go again. It won't disappoint you.

Where the Wild Things Are

Spike Jonze' take on the classic children's book is a dark, visually haunting stir of imagery and emerging adolescence. Many people were unhappy with the unresolved ending, but that's life and that's childhood. It doesn't end at a clear point just like this film.

Runner Ups:

The Lovely Bones

Peter Jackson's lovely adaption of the best selling novel about a girl's murder told from her viewpoint in heaven. Beautiful and hard to watch all at once.

Public Enemies

Johnny Depp was great as John Dillinger and Michael Mann had a great script. Now if he would have made it in film or at least something that looked like film. His HD is too unforgiving.


A young man robs a post office and gets sentenced to seven year in jail only to spend thirty-four years in prison, thirty of it in solitary confinement. A brutal look at what keeps a man sane or insane, depending on your perspective. A crushing observation of the cult of celebrity culture.

Black Dynamite

I love old, classic Blaxploitation like "Coffey," "Black Caesar" and "Super Fly." I happen to also be a big fan the "Austin Powers" films. And where "Undercover Brother" fails, this film soars at. It's a great film to watch and enjoy, even if you've never seen "Shaft." Shut yer mouth.

And so Blue Sky Disney say goodbye to 2009 and look forward to the new year, the coming movies and all the other surprises that await...


Matt said...

For the longest time I had tried to come up with a top ten... and I couldn't think past 8 or 9...

I TOTALLY forgot about Harry Potter...

Jack Carter said...

Forget Harry Potter and get Harry Brown! That and Bronson are in my top 10 and District 9 is my number 1.

Carlo said...

Did you not see Inglourious Basterds? One of the top 10 films of the decade.

Honor Hunter said...

Yes, I did see it. Loved the first two acts or the first three parts.

HATED the ending. It wasn't the "Dirty Dozen" mission that Quentin promised us years ago when he first talked of this project. I disagree will all those that feel it's his best work. Not even close. And one of the best of decade? Not on my list. "Pulp Fiction" is his opus, with "Jackie Brown" a distant second. I'll take either "Kill Bill" over Basterds anyday.

Sorry, but that's my thoughts on it. It was one I was looking forward to, but after seeing it, not so much...

Vincent Vega said...

Tarantino is so done. His Grindhouse feature sucked so bad. He will never reclaim the Pulp Fiction/Reservoir Dogs days again. He couldn't even get a job at Blockbuster Video cuz they are all going out of business.

t said...

For myself, I would have to include "Precious" in my top ten films, if not my number 1. Probably not a film that young male readers of this blog would probably go see, but you all
Monique certainly is much more than a 'Queen of Comedy'...

I would also include "Princess and The Frog" in my top ten list. Haven't had an experience like that in a long time.

David E said...

About Star Trek, If you get the Blu-Ray version and watch the extras on Disc 2, one of things that is talk about that most of the crew did not follow star trek but followed star wars. They wanted a Star Wars feel to the movie without losing what the Star trek is to the loyal fans. Which is something I think they did very well and also made a Star Trek fan believe in the series again.

Kevin Bruehl said...

I still say the best movies of the year include (no particular order, just best cinema wise)
Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
The Princess and the Frog
The Lovely Bones
The Hurt Locker
District 9
A Serious Man
The Soloist
Star Trek
Crazy Heart
these are just a few of the best of the year
Avatar was one of the worst movies of the year, it was not an original story, Cameron didn't focus on story at all, it's ripped off of Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves, and Last of the Mohicans. The actors and characters were all very bland, no spark, terrible dialouge, no connection with the audience, the only good actors in it were Sigourney Weaver and the person who play the Colonol, they kept the movie going, Sm Worthington can't act in this movie. Avatar didn't blow me away, when I saw the trailer, I was just like, "oh, that's what it's like (yawn)." He dropped the ball big time. They say it'd as revolutionary as Star Wars, how? Do you see anybody dressed as Navvi? No, really? I wonder why. He ripped the story off from a sci-fi writer. Hangover is such an overrated film, why is everybody so obsessed with it, one of the best films of 2009? In your dreams, it's a teen flick, and frankly their never any good. Up in the Air is also overrated, everybody thinks he should be nominated, why? Clooney's just playing himself, that's not acting, he's now in a bad habit of playing himself in movies, wnhat's so great about that acting wise? I saw best film of 2009 was Up.

Anonymous said...

Sherlock Holmes was nothing special. Robert was good, but the central mystery was ho-hum. Inglorious Basterds was far superior. So what if it wasn't another "The Dirty Dozen". The opening in the French farmhouse was better than anything in Holmes.

Do you see anybody dressed as Na'vi? Go to the next Comic Con and make the same ridiculous statement afterwards.

Jack Dawson said...

I hated Inglorious Basterds as well. Sucked major with Brad Pitt's reduculously corny and fake accent. I loved the beginning in the Farm house and then it all fell flat. I'd say judging this film by the farm house scene is like judging Up based on that opening montage.

And if I see anyone dressed like a Na'vi then he's an idiot just like all the other losers at Comic-Con or Nerdvana as Honor calls it. But then again, seeing someone at the convention dressed as a Nazi from Basterds could be just as absurd.. and pathetically scary too.

Honor Hunter said...

To each, his own...

You liked "Basterds" and I was disappointed with it. You think it's one of your best films of 2009, I don't. You think it's a masterpiece, I think it's a mess.

Potatoe, po-tat-oe...

PirateGuy 815 said...

I thought Princess and the Frog was the best movie of the year, actually. Maybe it was the hand-drawn animation that made me like it more then Up. Up was still fantastic though!

I was also surprised by me liking Star Trek. I thought it was just for nerds and those obessive fans. JJ Abrams directing it and the really good reviews convinced me to go see the film, and I loved every minute of it.

I thought Sherlock Holmes looked cool, but I was impressed by how well the film was when I was watching it. I expected it to be a popcorn movie, but I consider it to be just as good as Pirates or The Dark Night.

Trent Lewis said...

great minds think alike... same top 3!

perfectly flawed said...

Glad to see (500) Days of Summer on your list. That was an awesome movie.

Tom said...

Have you tried Fantastic Mr. Fox? It's wonderfully quaint and George Clooney does a fantastic job, the art direction is also quite exceptional. As big of a departure from the commonplace CG animation of today as P and F was this really takes the cake. And of course it's hard to go wrong with the charming storytelling of Roald Dahl

Mike Folf said...


I was waiting for someone to mention that film! I'd actually place that film next to up IMO in terms of animation and story.

Anonymous said...

Sherlock Holmes was quirky, intelligent, action packed, and fun all at the same time!

The Rush Blog said...

"STAR TREK" and "DISTRICT 9" made this list???

Honor Hunter said...

Yeah, they did...

Two of my favorite films of the year. As stated in the post.

We have different taste, I guess...