Adios, 2009! You were a pretty rough year for car companies, job seekers, celebrity deaths and Tiger Woods. You were, however, a great year for going to the movies. Overall, I would rate 2009 as above average, film-wise, with quite a few terrific movies being released. To close out the year on the right cinematic note, Inside Redbox is presenting you with our favorite films of the year.
Similar to the disclaimers on my best-of-the-decade list, these are not necessarily the most popular or highly rated films of 2009—they’re just my favorites. Once you’ve read through them, hit the comments and let us know what you think.
Here they are, in no particular order:
This one hit all the right notes, in typical Pixar fashion. I laughed my head off at the hilarious “It’s before…” joke and got teary eyed during the wordless, moving montage of Carl and Ellie’s life. Don’t even get me started on the gorgeous animation…
The Hurt Locker
Gritty, engrossing, excellent. A nearly flawless look at the psychology and the harsh realities of modern warfare. Suspenseful and taut are understatements when describing this excellent “war” movie.
Sci-fi is not my usual cup of tea, but this one makes a compelling case. District 9‘s quasi-apartheid tale sucked me in during its first hour and never let go. The latter half veered a little too close to generic action movie territory for my comfort, but thankfully never crossed the line. Let’s have a look at that sequel…
Another sci-fi flick on my list—what’s happened to me? J.J. Abrams’ glossy reboot of this creaky, wheezing franchise was just too much fun to not love. The relentless pace, stunning special effects and great characters made this film a blast as the Enterprise dodged wormholes and (for the most part) plot holes with style.
Drag Me to Hell
The first of TWO horror films on this list, which is also not my usual thing. Sam Raimi somehow manages to pull hold this funny, frightening film together without descending into parody. He is able to wink at the audience while simultaneously scaring them—not an easy feat for a director.
The moment Christoph Waltz’s deadly SS officer interrupted a sweatily tense interrogation scene early in the movie to puff on a cartoonishly oversized pipe, I knew Tarantino had me with this one. Ridiculous, historically irreverent, verbose and just plain fun, this is QT firing on all cylinders. Extra points to Brad Pitt for making me chuckle every time he says “Nazi”.
(500) Days of Summer
Usually the term “romantic comedy” has me running for the door, but this fabulous little movie turned the usual rom-com formula on its head. Hilarious, well-written and acted and featuring enormously likable leads, this was the best date movie of the year. Also the winner of the best closing line of dialogue for the year.
Up in the Air
Jason Reitman is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors, and this movie demonstrates why. George Clooney gives one of the best performances of his career as a likable/unlikable corporate hatchet man. This movie owns you during its running time: you will laugh when it wants you to, feel sad when it wants you to. Don’t bother trying to resist.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little creeped out walking up the dark stairs to my bedroom the night after I saw this. Demonstrating that you don’t need money or big names to make a fun movie, Paranormal is definitely the low-budget winner of the year. The only off-note for me in the entire film was in the last two seconds. You know what I’m talking about…
Technically a 2008 film but not in wide release until ’09, Clint Eastwood waited his entire career to make this movie. Eastwood’s minimal, restrained direction and growly performance anchor this sweetly sad film. Like the previous film but for a completely different reason, this one stays with you for a while after you see it.
Honorable Mention: The Hangover, Zombieland, The Road
“Giant robots fight. Gratuitous shot of Megan Fox. Explosion. Repeat for 150 minutes or until audience bleeds from ears and eyes.”
Dishonorable Mention: Terminator: Salvation, Watchmen, Public Enemies, The Informant!
Best Movie I Didn’t See:
A Serious Man