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Movies of the Year

Movies, Year-End, Reader Lists | January 27, 2010

Top 13 Movies of the Year

Check out our list to see how it compares with our readers' list.

A few weeks ago, we published The Top 13's best movies of 2009 and asked you all to vote on your favorites. So with Oscar nominations to be announced next week, today we present our readers' Top 13 Movies of 2009, which looks quite a bit different than our list. While you agreed with us that Inglourious Basterds was 2009's best movie and we both ranked The Hurt Locker highly, your list includes six films that did not make our Top 13: Star Trek, (500) Days of Summer, Adventureland, The Brothers Bloom, In the Loop, and Fantastic Mr. Fox. To make room for those movies, you cut the following films that made our list: Drag Me to Hell, A Serious Man, The Road, An Education, Where the Wild Things Are, and Precious.

We already told you why we like many of the movies on this list, so we'll let the reviewers elaborate on those. But for your new picks, we'll let you know why we think you made good choices.

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Inglourious Basterds

1

Inglourious Basterds

Minneapolis Star Tribune I'm tempted to say Tarantino has done it again, but I doubt anyone has ever done anything like his dazzlingly original World War II movie, Inglourious Basterds. . . . It's a war movie without battlefields, a postmodern period picture, a disco and funk soundtrack, an egregiously gory movie that lampoons screen violence. It's classic, quirky, quintessential Quentin. Rolling Stone Tarantino rewrites history with the only authority he has: his sovereignty as a filmmaker. Will Basterds polarize audiences? That's a given. But for anyone professing true movie love, there's no resisting it.

The Hurt Locker

2

The Hurt Locker

The Philadelphia Inquirer Kathryn Bigelow's riveting and profoundly tense war movie, set in Baghdad in 2004, follows the members of a bomb squad as they go looking for IEDs, looking to stay alive. Far and away one of the strongest of the films to come out of the Iraq conflict - a white-knuckle war movie. Chicago Sun-Times The Hurt Locker is a great film, an intelligent film, a film shot clearly so that we know exactly who everybody is and where they are and what they're doing and why. . . . A leading contender for Academy Awards. Toronto Star Just when you thought the battle of Iraq war dramas had been fought and lost, along comes one that demands to be seen – if you can handle the raging adrenaline.

District 9

3

District 9

USA Today . . . proves that sci-fi thrillers don't have to be star-studded or mega-budgeted to be visually compelling and thoroughly entertaining. Los Angeles Times Though the themes are universal, the director's childhood in South Africa clearly informs the film's sensibility, in this case greatly adding to its distinctive look and feel. It's an impressive first feature for the 29-year-old Blomkamp. In a good summer, there's usually a movie that will come out of nowhere and completely wow us. This is a good summer, and that movie is District 9. The New Yorker You don’t feel bamboozled, fooled, or patronized by District 9, as you did by most of the summer blockbusters. You feel winded, shaken, and shamed.

Up

4

Up

The Detroit News This film is full reminder of why we applaud. Some things just transcend verbal explanation. All you can honestly do is cheer. So let the cheering begin. Pixar has outdone itself again, and considering the animation studio's last two films were the splendid Ratatouille and WALL-E, that's some serious outdoing. The Washington Post Gentle humor abounds in Up, which takes plenty of cues from classic action-adventure movies, sure, but also great book illustrators like Mary Blair and even those tacky dogs-playing-poker wall hangings. . . . Best of all, this stunning, meticulously composed visual world is set to one of the most gorgeous musical scores in recent memory.

Star Trek

5

Star Trek

Director J.J. Abrams' reboot of the Star Trek franchise boldly went where few Trek films had gone before - courting the crucial teen moviegoer demographic with young, fresh casting. The result is a Trek that buzzes with youthful energy and action and - based on the box office numbers - will likely spawn many sequels. By cleverly using the plot to establish that this is a parallel Trek universe, Abrams has given himself a clean slate for future films that still affords cameo opportunities to fixtures like Leonard Nimoy.

Up in the Air

6

Up in the Air

The Denver Post From taxi to touchdown, Reitman knows how to get us to the next destination. Even the credit sequence impresses, with crystalline images of U.S. cities shot from a near perfect-height — the one where the plane hasn't yet reached cruising altitude, in which the towns below looks like a circuit board or a mosaic or a jigsaw puzzle. Los Angeles Times Up in the Air makes it look easy. Not just in its casual and apparently effortless excellence, but in its ability to blend entertainment and insight, comedy and poignancy, even drama and reality, things that are difficult by themselves but a whole lot harder in combination. This film does all that and never seems to break a sweat.

The Hangover

7

The Hangover

The Newark Star-Ledger The physical comedy is furious, and the pace dizzying. And the surreal is never far off, like the wonderful sight of that trashed hotel room, a panorama inventive enough to include a singed armchair, a blow-up doll floating in the Jacuzzi and a live chicken. Phillips is smart enough not to explain any of it. Chicago Sun-Times Now this is what I'm talkin' about. The Hangover is a funny movie, flat out, all the way through. Its setup is funny. Every situation is funny. Most of the dialogue is funny almost line by line. At some point we actually find ourselves caring a little about what happened to the missing bridegroom - and the fact that we almost care is funny, too.

(500) Days of Summer

8

(500) Days of Summer

Marc Webb, recently confirmed to direct the next Spider-Man installment, made his feature debut with this anti-romantic comedy for a generation desperately in need of their own Annie Hall. Through a brilliant non-linear structure, (500) Days of Summer tells a charming and witty story about a boy who doesn't get the girl, played by a hilarious Joseph Gordon-Levitt and an adorable Zooey Deschanel, respectively.

Avatar

9

Avatar

New York Magazine The narrative would be ho-hum without the spectacle. But what spectacle! Avatar is dizzying, enveloping, vertiginous . . . I ran out of adjectives an hour into its 161 minutes. The New York Times Created to conquer hearts, minds, history books and box-office records, the movie — one of the most expensive in history, the jungle drums thump — is glorious and goofy and blissfully deranged. The Wall Street Journal What couldn't be clearer, though, is that Mr. Cameron's singular vision has upped the ante for filmed entertainment, and given us a travelogue unlike any other. I wouldn't want to live on Pandora, mainly because of the bad air, but I'm glad to have paid it a visit.

Adventureland

10

Adventureland

In lesser hands, Adventureland could have become the sort of reflexively nostalgic dreck that keeps Urban Outfitters afloat. Thankfully, a surprisingly assured performance by Jesse Eisenberg and subtle direction by Greg Mottola (who also penned the remarkably personal script) elevate the eighties-drenched film to something more universal - something about young love and coming-of-age where the perfectly executed "period" aspects are only incidental.

The Brothers Bloom

11

The Brothers Bloom

Lush, and super-saturated with every color imaginable, The Brothers Bloom is a gorgeously shot caper film with a remarkably mature obsession with the nature of narrative played out perfectly by an all-star cast including Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz, and Robbie Coltrane. This sophomore effort from Brick director Rian Johnson confirmed his status as the young director to watch this decade.

In the Loop

12

In the Loop

Similarly to how Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove managed to get laughs out of the Cold War, Armando Iannucci's feature debut does the same with the war in Iraq. Based on Ianucci's satirical BBC sitcom The Thick of It, In the Loop comically portrays how easy it is for people in power to stir up an international crisis in just a day or two. It warrants a viewing if only for Peter Capaldi's brilliant, partially-improvised performance as a foulmouthed employee to the British prime minister.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

13

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Too much has been made of the fact that Wes Anderson directed this film in absentia - his hands are all over this project. And, in many ways, Anderson has been directing cartoons his entire career; his films are filled with outlandish characters spouting dialogue that's completely removed from the grammar of everyday speech. As such, it should come as no surprise that this 1970s toned, stop-motion adaptation of a Roald Dahl novel stands up perfectly well next to the live-action selections in his oeuvre.

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Comments Leave a comment

tloveisready ★★

Wow, I'm very impressed with the additions. Good job readers, but I'm still surprised that Watchmen didn't make the final list.

8:09 AM   Jan 27, 2010

stillathreat ★★

Agree that these additions are all very good. I'm surprised though that we got rid of The Road. Also, I didn't love Watchmen.

8:35 AM   Jan 27, 2010

BelgianManders 

I HAVE to see Adventureland. I'm gonna see (500)days of summer tonight!

8:38 AM   Jan 27, 2010

jason ★★

Adventureland was pretty good. I don't know why it was classified as a comedy, but it's one of two solid Jesse Eisenberg vehicles from 2009 (Zombieland being the other).

8:41 AM   Jan 27, 2010

ajay ★★

The studio had to market Adventureland as a comedic follow-up to Superbad because that was the only major draw the movie had. This kind of thing happens a lot - a movie is marketed as something it is not in order to make more money. The marketing team doesn't care if people are disappointed, as long as people go to see it. The same thing happened to The Spirit, which was purely camp, not the dark, serious movie that was advertised.

9:47 AM   Jan 27, 2010

jason ★★

I had no idea In the Loop was a movie adaptation of The Thick of It. Loved the BBC show. Gotta see that. District 9 that high is a joke.

8:42 AM   Jan 27, 2010

tloveisready ★★

I just saw In the Loop actually, and I loved it. Great dialogue in that one. And I think I rated District 9 #4, so you're a joke, Jason.

9:11 AM   Jan 27, 2010

jason ★★

You might be right about that. I liked District 9 but didn't love it (and thought Avatar was better - they both have warts though). I just don't get the Watchmen love. I read the book and liked it. Saw the movie and was bored to tears (and they changed the most interesting part of the book - the ending). To each his/her own.

6:18 PM   Jan 28, 2010

tloveisready ★★

Just saw Avatar yesterday. It was visually stunning for sure, but was it a good movie??? It was ok, but definitely didn't belong on this list and DEFINITELY not close to The Watchmen or District 9. You guys are nutso.

2:16 PM   Jan 28, 2010

KingKrentist 

Thank god avatar wasn't #1

1:39 PM   Apr 15, 2010

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