So how are we doing in the great land of movies in this year now half gone? We have a couple of great movies, quite a few good ones, and even an instant classic on our hands. The summer season is turning out a fairly positive product so far this year with only a couple of duds in the mix. Animation is having a strong year with a couple of end of the year best of contenders and another comic book adaptation will be vying for that top 10 crowd again as well.
While there are only a couple top 5 contenders to come out this year, the level of quality in film is at a higher level than 08 at this point and I think we are on track for a better year in film that last year and maybe even pass the excellent 07 as well. So let’s look at a month by month breakdown and try and figure out the best of the year so far…
Here I go talking about how great the year is and January has absolutely nothing to really speak of for itself. Taken came out this month, and was phenomenal and a ton of fun, but it was for all intensive purposes a 08 release as we were the last territory to practically get the film. For that reason I included it in my 08 list for the best of and we are left with nothing else to really talk about in the month.
Coraline was the crown jewel of February and was not only an excellent little story, but a showcase of excellent stop motion animation and awesome use of 3-D technology. Henry Selick returned with probably his best work to date and one I can’t wait to revisit on Blu-Ray later this year.
Push was a fun sci-fi flick with a couple of solid action scenes. The film had a lot going for it and will probably gain a good cult following once it hits cable and the home video market.
The International was a decent thriller as well from the month and included a contender for best scene of the year with an amazing shoot out at the Guggenheim, you can check this one out now on home video.
Who Watches The Watchmen? That was the question we were all asking ourselves as this hotly anticipated flick rolled out into theaters and the results were fantastic. Polarizing film goers and critics alike there wasn’t really a middle ground with this flick. I happened to love it and Zack Snyder did a fantastic job of realizing this amazing universe to the big screen.
We also got a solid comedy in I Love You, Man, with both Jason Segel and Paul Rudd in top form leading a very funny, though a bit conventional, comedy that kept the laughs coming from start to finish.
Duplicity was also ignored for such a high profile lead couple in Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. Smart and full of twists, this one had you guessing till the end and was a rewarding movie for those that actually went and saw it.
April saw the brilliantly dark Observe and Report that was fucked up and full of laughs. Seth Rogen and Jody Hill put together a hell of a movie that wasn’t afraid to take risks and subvert itself for laughs, can’t wait to see this one again.
The Soloist also was an extremely well made movie that was executed to perfection. The lack of conclusion of the film will hold some back from praising it, but the performances are top notch and the story is inspiring.
State of Play also went relatively unnoticed and it was a rather compelling and current newspaper drama. Russell Crowe was great as always and with a solid supporting cast of Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, and Helen Mirren, people need to find this one on video.
Star Trek was the first great film of summer 2009 and the audiences and critics agreed. I thought it was a fun and exciting film, but I am not anointing it as the best film of 2009 as some fans were but it is definitely one of the better ones.
The Brothers Bloom also finally got its wide release, and while I saw it last year, and it almost made my top 10, there are few better movies you could have seen this calendar year. Rachel Weisz, Adrian Brody, and Mark Ruffalo are all having a blast in this heist caper and it is all directed superbly by sophomore slump avoiding director Rian Johnson.
Up is the one that takes the cake for the month, and is the front-runner for best film of the year so far. Pixar continues their brilliant run and have made one their top three films yet potentially. Do not miss this movie, it is a must see.
June started off on the right foot with the crazy and quite funny Hangover that is destroying the box office along with Up. With a group of solid actors at its core and a fantastic concept the laughs keep coming and while not the funniest movie ever, but pound for pound not few films keep the solid laughs coming like this.
Away We Go is end of year list type stuff with an amazing script, acting, and direction that keeps you feeling elated from start to finish. One of the best on screen couples in years, John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph shine under Sam Mendes and the film is accessible without being conventional and is a resounding breath of fresh air for romance in film.
Add to these two quality films comes Moon, the second best film of the year so far and a beautiful piece of sci-fi cinema. Throw in an amazing score and the best performance of the year to date from Sam Rockwell and you have a film that should not be missed, and it’s a directorial debut to boot from Duncan Jones.
Woody Allen also shines again this month with the hilarious and skewering Whatever Works. Attacking society and romance from all angles, Allen calls for everyone to just relax a bit and not do everything everyone says you should do and the results is a film that could have been a bit better assembled but is full of too many great performances and laughs to ignore. Patricia Clarkson and Larry David are both worth the price of admission here as well.
I would say we are off to a pretty good start this year. A couple of big summer blockbusters could have been better than they were, Transformers and Wolverine, but they also could have been far worse. Sam Rockwell is an Oscar contender, as is Up and Moon and Away We Go will both probably join Up in my Top 10 at the end of the year. We should have a pretty great year in the movies if the second of 09 is as good as the first and it could potentially be even better.
Avatar, Inglorious Basterds, Nine, Public Enemies, Shutter Island, Harry Potter, 500 Days of Summer, Funny People, Invention of Lying, Where the Wild Things Are, Thirst, Funny People, Amelia, Ponyo, District 9, 9, A Serious Man, An Education, The Informant, Zombieland, The Road, New York I Love You, Bruno, Anti-Christ, The Box, Wolfman, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ninja Assassin, Brooklyn’s Finest, Invictus, Lovely Bones, Sherlock Homes…There is still a lot left to go in 09!