Laremy Legel May 31, 2009
As of this week, you could have seen five of my top 10 movies in theaters. An additional four films you could have caught sitting beside me at The Seattle International or Sundance Film Festivals. Finally, one of the films listed comes out in a solid four theaters this weekend. Whether you’re looking for more obscure titles for your NetFlix or have your eye on the summer releases, here are the 10 best films I’ve seen this year.
src=”http://i.rollingstone.com/assets/rs/5/2044600/images/00304612.gif” alt=”Number 10″ width=”96″ height=”50″ align=”left” hspace=”6″/> src=”http://i.realone.com/assets/rn/img/8/2/6/5/26425628.jpg” alt=”Knowing” width=”180″ height=”96″ align=”right” hspace=”6″/>Knowing
I’d never claim Knowing was a good movie. Our own Cole Haddon destroyed it on the official Film.com review. However, I will say Knowing is an intensely interesting film. The acting is terrible, the lead-up to the end is typical, and yet I was discussing this film with people weeks after I saw it. If one of the goals of film is to provoke discussion, then Knowing achieves in a big way. Give it a shot on DVD when July comes around. Heck, I’d even pay to see a sequel.
src=”http://i.rollingstone.com/assets/rs/5/2044600/images/00304611.gif” alt=”Number 9″ width=”96″ height=”50″ align=”left” hspace=”6″/> src=”http://i.realone.com/assets/rn/img/5/6/3/1/25441365.jpg” alt=”Passing Strange” width=”180″ height=”96″ align=”right” hspace=”6″/>Passing Strange
One of the three winners I caught at Sundance, I’m told that this will eventually air on TV, once its festival run is complete. It’s legitimately great. Put it on whatever list you keep. Fair warning, though: if you hate musicals I don’t see you loving this. It’s definitely for fans of singing and dancing.
src=”http://i.rollingstone.com/assets/rs/5/2044600/images/00304610.gif” alt=”Number 8″ width=”96″ height=”50″ align=”left” hspace=”6″/> src=”http://i.realone.com/assets/rn/img/3/0/3/3/26093303.jpg” alt=”Taking Chance” width=”180″ height=”96″ align=”right” hspace=”6″/>Taking Chance
One of the more infuriating titles of the year; as if somehow liking it was akin to supporting warmongering. However, for my part, I found it to be a compelling portrait of grief. We’re a culture propped up by the power of symbols and Taking Chance evokes true emotion through a dissection of these themes. Unfortunately, HBO scooped up the film early, meaning it will never get a theatrical run. I haven’t seen any DVD plans either. So it’s been buried, while lesser quality war protest films such as In the Valley of Elah received a wide run. It’s an extremely frustrating phenomenon.
src=”http://i.rollingstone.com/assets/rs/5/2044600/images/00304609.gif” alt=”Number 7″ width=”96″ height=”50″ align=”left” hspace=”6″/> src=”http://i.realone.com/assets/rn/img/9/1/2/0/26840219.jpg” alt=”Monsters vs. Aliens” width=”180″ height=”96″ align=”right” hspace=”6″/>Monsters vs. Aliens
Dreamworks is still hot: Monsters vs. Aliens outearned Wolverine and out female protaganized Pixar Animation. And while there was a lesson to the film, it was never slowed down by it, plus the laughs were there for kids and adults alike. No, it didn’t have the emotional reach of Up — but most films don’t. A worthy rental whenever it hits DVD.
src=”http://i.rollingstone.com/assets/rs/5/2044600/images/00304608.gif” alt=”Number 6″ width=”96″ height=”50″ align=”left” hspace=”6″/> src=”http://i.realone.com/assets/rn/img/1/4/1/2/28462141.jpg” alt=”Up” width=”180″ height=”96″ align=”right” hspace=”6″/>Up
I didn’t like it as much as WALL-E, a concept film that shot for the stars. Still, Pixar is doing things that the non-animation studios should be doing. They consistently put out a superior product, and even a guy like me (who occasionally knocks them) can see that we need them around. Call it a grudging respect for a team that can make an older gentleman dealing with loss into an entertaining and compelling film, full of great concepts and life lessons.
src=”http://i.rollingstone.com/assets/rs/5/2044600/images/00304607.gif” alt=”Number 5″ width=”96″ height=”50″ align=”left” hspace=”6″/> src=”http://i.realone.com/assets/rn/img/0/3/3/9/25519330.jpg” alt=”500 Days of Summer” width=”180″ height=”96″ align=”right” hspace=”6″/>500 Days of Summer
Most people enjoy a good romantic comedy; safe laughs abound in a comfortable plot structure. But 500 Days of Summer isn’t really that, because it bounces around in time to take advantage of the pacing of relationships. Instead of the tired “Meet – Fight – Get back together” (with a few wacky friends thrown in) method, 500 Days turns it all upside down and shakes out copious laughs. A very light, fun, and unpredictable film, well worth your dollar when it hits theaters on July 17.Away We Go
src=”http://i.rollingstone.com/assets/rs/5/2044600/images/00304605.gif” alt=”Number 4″ width=”96″ height=”50″ align=”left” hspace=”6″/> src=”http://i.realone.com/assets/rn/img/5/6/6/1/28461665.jpg” alt=”Away We Go” width=”180″ height=”96″ align=”right” hspace=”6″/>
If I told you that the guy behind Jarhead, American Beauty, Road to Perdition, and Revolutionary Road was tackling a romantic dramedy … would that be something that piqued your interest? It should. Because Sam Mendes nails this one, too. It feels much more like a Cameron Crowe film in terms of style, but John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph both prove their acting chops here. It doesn’t have the bleakness of his (Mendes) previous projects, but it does deal with tough issues effectively. Plus, as an added bonus, it’s extremely funny throughout.
src=”http://i.rollingstone.com/assets/rs/5/2044600/images/00304604.gif” alt=”Number 3″ width=”96″ height=”50″ align=”left” hspace=”6″/> src=”http://i.realone.com/assets/rn/img/0/4/1/1/26311140.jpg” alt=”The Brothers Bloom” width=”180″ height=”96″ align=”right” hspace=”6″/>The Brothers Bloom
First off, if you’ve seen Brick then you’ve got to see this. No, the films have nothing to do with each other, but it’s the same director (Rian Johnson) and we’ve got to do something to make this guy economically viable, and soon. The Brothers Bloom is a madcap hybrid of a film — partly funny with a chance of innovation. The films zigs when you’re expecting zag, and the whole project is really an extended metaphor … for what, I will not spoil. But it’s clever work, and Brody, Ruffalo, Kikuchi, and Weisz all do championship work. Silly, hilarious, sad, meaningful, this one has huge arcs and great payoffs. Please see it, starting right now, in theaters.
src=”http://i.rollingstone.com/assets/rs/5/2044600/images/00304603.gif” alt=”Number 2″ width=”96″ height=”50″ align=”left” hspace=”6″/> src=”http://i.realone.com/assets/rn/img/4/8/3/7/23817384.jpg” alt=”Star Trek” width=”180″ height=”96″ align=”right” hspace=”6″/>Star Trek
Chances are, you’ve seen this movie, so I don’t really need to pontificate. But c’mon, this is just a fun summer film. No, the plot doesn’t make a ton of sense, but the whole film is so charming that it doesn’t even matter. J.J. Abrams builds characters throughout, and I feel as good about it today as I did back when I reviewed it. I haven’t met a person yet who didn’t dig this movie. Get on board.
src=”http://i.rollingstone.com/assets/rs/5/2044600/images/00304513.gif” alt=”Number 1″ width=”96″ height=”50″ align=”left” hspace=”6″/> src=”http://progressive.totaleclips.com.edgesuite.net/530/e53039_t01.jpg?eclipid=e53039&bitrateid=267&vendorid=115&sp_ubid=746-5916787-1173752″ alt=”In The Loop” width=”200″ height=”160″ align=”right” hspace=”6″/>In The Loop
It doesn’t come out until July, but it is a filthy fun time at the theater. It’s as if Sorkin met South Park, it’s akin to Mark Wahlberg’s character from The Departed meeting the BBC version of The Office. It’s scathing political satire, but infused with prodigious doses of British cursing. James Gandolfini and Steve Coogan star, but really, everyone is excellent throughout. I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes comedy, politics, or tremendous dialogue. I’m sorry you can’t see it now — heck, I’m sorry I can’t watch it again now.
So that’s it. That’s the list. If you feel like I missed something feel free to comment.
Categories: No CategoriesTags: 500 days of summer, Away we go, In the loop, Rian johnson, The brothers bloom, Top ten movies of 2009