Thursday 31 December 2009


It was a shit year for movies...

I heard this ever so much. It was a phase that rang through my ears constantly. However, my fellow readers, you will not hear it from me. In fact I don’t fully believe in “bad years” for movies. My reasoning isn’t great but hear me out:

This year I watched over 80 movies at the cinema, and had more than enough movies to make a shortlist for my top ten. Of course there were the other movies that I found not so hot but as always the Bad didn’t outweigh the good, and until the day I struggle to create a top ten list of favourites (which I doubt considering how many films I watch) then I can’t see there ever being a “bad year”.
Of course not everyone has the time or wish to watch as many movies as myself and may only get to watch what really interests them. The problem I find however seems to be that so many people don’t truly search out films that could interest them, or films that could SURPRISE them. I mean what’s so wrong with watching something a little different?
So to those who were “disappointed” with the year I say this: It’s not always the filmmakers fault that you picked more movies that you disliked than liked. These days over 40 films are released during a month and yes, it is difficult for people to pick out some of the most independent titles, but the internet has opened up so many more outlets for people to watch, download (not illegally), stream and rent movies that it’s coming more and more impossible for a cinephile NOT have a bad year.
We as consumers have the choice to seek out a range of films that we can enjoy as opposed to being spoon fed with say another Hollywood remake or Comic Book sequel. For me, I had a blast. I haven’t seen so many movies in years and if I can equal or beat that amount next year that will be grand. If by some unfortunate circumstances I see more bad films than good I still won’t care. Why?
The Good movies will be brought, re-watched and live within my memory forever. The bad will be forgotten as soon as I leave the cinema (after the review). So without further ado shall we get on to the list?

My Ten Favourite Films of the year (No Order):

Note that I use the term favourite as these films are personal to me and not the “best” of the year. To claim that the movies that affected me the most, when discussing something as subjective as film is extremely pompous.
Horror comedy is difficult to do well and easy to fail at. Rami is of course an old hand at this and his rollercoaster ride of tension and laughs beat out any horror entry that poke it’s head out during 2009. Hated by many expecting a different beast entirely...Those who remember and loved the lighter side of Ash Williams and Co were completely down with this horror with humor combo. Also Possessed Goats are made of win.

Cynicism is rife with me when it comes to the Romantic Comedy. Quite simply, the genre doesn’t try hard enough and insults the intelligence of its fans constantly. Here however, was a quick shot in the arm of the bride wars, bridget jones and the sex in the citys that we constantly witness. Humor that stems from the characters, feelings that come from a truth place and characters that I can root for. The date movie never had it so good.

Quite simply the gutsiest movie of the year. Cameron’s Avatar may have the visuals but his ex-wife Bigalow has the tension and the drama. A sublimely crafted action feature.

Many have bemoaned that the motormouth “can’t write” any more. I don’t think it’s that, I think his writing is evolving and just not appealing to the people who are looking for pulp fiction 2. Tarantino’s film is in love with language, movies and storytelling. He also adds to this some of his best scenes this side of Pulp fiction and one of the writer directors best characters (handsomely played by Christopher Waltz) to date. Not only War as fiction but war as fun, something that shouldn’t be able to be done considering the connotations...and yet he surprised me again.

The pulsing soundtrack, the claustrophobic visuals, its grand themes and a lead performance from Sam Rockwell that would get awards if I could rig the ceremonies. Duncan Jones brings us Sci-fi that the 70’s used to make. An arresting film that well and truly knocked me for six. Somewhere Stanley Kubrick is Smiling.

With scenes that carry more pathos than many of the movies I watched this year. Pixar once again bring us a family film with thought. Ratatouille, Wall-e and now UP have made sure that Pixar make the leap from best animated film best picture contenders.

The Coens are having yet another fabulous run of movies, playing with the ideals of fate. This movie decides that even God great plan should be knocked about for a laugh. Full of Coen’s black humour, great performances from a relatively unknown cast and a plot that plays with fatalism in a way that only these two bothers can.

Due to Hollywood’s dominance in the U.K we often forget that we Brits even make movies let alone good ones, Andrea Arnold (and Moon’s Duncan Jones) wishes to change all that. With her kinetic kitchen sink-esque Drama that many have felt evoked the spirit of Loach (not that he’s dead). Arnold’s film is culturally astute, beautifully realised and features the combustible chemistry of Newcomer Katie Jarvis and Irish chameleon Michael Fassbender (also great in Basterds). A mesmerising second feature.

Problems overcome and emotions found in Spike Jonez once troubled feature. A film with not only a wonderful looks but a true nostalgic feel of childhood. Max Record’s difficult character is easy to love while the fantastically created wild things reminded me of those conflicting issues that I had as a child. The film brings a nostalgic feeling given without the need for branded toys or well known television characters, but with the fact that everyone is bigger than you and can change their emotions in a blink of an eye from fun to dangerous without you knowing why. To capture this mixture of fear, joy and amazement is a difficult one but it's one that Jonez handles with aplomb.

Likened to Spinal Tap but could really be a companion piece to Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Anvil is a loving tribute to following your dreams no matter what. Many have watch these two aging rockers playing young ‘uns and considered them sad. But if other Musicians still had has much hunger and passion as these guys at the age they are there’s be even more great music going. The film also has one of the most loving relationships I saw captured this year. How the wives cope with these two is beyond me.


The Wrestler, Frost/Nixon, Observe and Report, District 9, Me and Orson Welles

Sherlock Holmes, Fantastic Mr Fox