I’ve always seen a lot of movies, but thanks to my ever-increasing workload at CinemaBlend.com and a few other film-related websites, I’ve spent a significant amount of 2009 in the theater. While it wasn’t always pleasant, the discovery of a handful of gems made every minute worth it.
Rather than go directly to the movies that achieved near-filmmaking perfection, my mind gravitates towards the ones that I walked out of with the biggest grin on my face. I have an easy time seeing why particular films are award-worthy, but that doesn’t mean they’re entertaining. While every film on this list isn’t without flaws, the immense amount of fun I had watching them makes those faults completely irrelevant.
I’ve made great memories with friends and family throughout the year, but a significant part of my life is movies, and these are the ones that made 2009 such a blast.
Having spent much of my childhood at the amusement park Adventureland is based on, I had very high expectations for the film. When it soared above and beyond my hopes, Adventureland became an instant favorite. Greg Mottola puts together a perfect combination of humor, romance and drama to create a film that strikes a chord on many levels. This is also where my infatuation with Jesse Eisenberg begins. He’s nerdy and awkward yet strangely appealing. He’s got an unusual charm that’s sure to make you sympathetic towards his character.
Awesome Quote: “If someone wins a giant assed panda on your watch you should just go home cause you’re fired, OK?”
This is the travesty of the year. How did this film not have a better showing at the box office? It’s novel, fun and features a stellar cast. Similarly to Adventureland, Whip It combines a wide range of emotions that successfully makes it a drama, comedy and action film neatly wrapped up into one. Drew Barrymore does an excellent job her first go-around in the director’s chair while simultaneously providing a chunk of the film’s comic relief. Ellen Paige carries the film with ease and is surrounded by a number of minor yet profound characters.
Awesome Quote: “I like smart girls. That’s why I married your mama. Well, that and I knocked her up.”
And so my Jesse Eisenberg obsession continues. I’ll always remember Zombieland as the film that turned around one of my worst days of the year. I walked into the theater in an intensely sour mood and walked out a different person. When you think about it, the plot (beyond the whole zombie thing) may be a little thin, but that flaw is completely washed over by the sharp dialogue and on point cinematography. Zombieland is Tallahassee’s (Woody Harrelson) zombie stomping ground and I had a blast being a part of it the entire time.
Awesome Quote: “Sno-Balls? Sno-Balls? Where the fuck are the God damn Twinkies?”
Moon is beautiful in its simplicity. With just one primary actor and one primary location, director and co-writer Duncan Jones is able to create an elaborate situation with an eerie undertone guaranteed to make your heart ache. Sam Rockwell’s work is remarkably powerful. The concept may have come from the mind of Jones, but it’s Rockwell’s performance that generates the raw emotion. Moon is completely character driven and Rockwell does exactly what’s necessary to make you frustrated yet enthralled by Sam Bell’s situation.
Awesome Quote: “I hope life on Earth is everything you remember it to be.”
When you can watch an entire movie from the theater floor and still not want it to end, it’s a damn good movie. Once The Hurt Locker began I completely forgot about the consequence I was suffering after arriving at the theater far too late. This movie is explosive in every sense of the word. Even when the film’s pace slows – deactivating a bomb is quite the tedious process – my heart is racing. The suspense is so intense it makes me sweat just as much, if not more, than Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) himself.
Awesome Quote: “If I’m gonna die, I want to die comfortable.”
This is the alien invasion movie we’ve all been waiting for. The premise is ingenious, the story extremely well told and, best of all, the film isn’t tarnished after getting a look at the ETs. Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) and Christopher Johnson are the ultimate tag team. The transformation of the two characters is immense and I am fully engaged every step of the way. The fact that they’ve got some pretty cool toys to play with only enhances the action. The movie leaves the door wide open for a sequel, and in this case, I really hope someone takes advantage of it.
Awesome Quote: “When dealing with aliens, try to be polite, but firm. And always remember that a smile is cheaper than a bullet.”
Paranormal Activity scared the absolute shit out of me. I let myself become fully engrossed in the situation and my openness paid off big time. It breaks my heart to see such a fantastic film tarnished by its own success. Of course if you walk in all macho with the attitude that this little film can’t scare you, you’ll ruin the effect. Well, that’s nobody’s fault but your own and you’re really missing out. Who needs blood and guts when just $11,000, some simple ingenuity and crafty camera work can give an audience nightmares? This really is the little film that could.
Awesome Quote: “How about we just get a Ouija Board, find out what it wants, and just give it what it wants, and then, you know, it’s gone?” “Because what it probably wants is Katie.”
It’s awkward to go from a movie with an ultra-low budget to one of the priciest, but every penny James Cameron spent making Avatar is justified. This is the most unlikely four-quadrant film. Between the stellar animation, the action, the romance and the fascinating characters, there’s something for everyone here, but what makes Avatar truly special is the quality of all of those elements. Between the complexity of the situation on Pandora and the planet’s vast amount of environmental details, you’ll forget Avatar clocks in at over two and a half hours. In fact, you’ll wish it were longer.
Awesome Quote: “Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world and in here is the dream.”
Up In The Air made me feel funny. It took quite a while after I walked out of the theater to sort through a barrage of thoughts and realize I was emotionally overwhelmed by it. Director/co-writer Jason Reitman takes just what he needs from Walter Kirn’s book and adds wonderfully appropriate details to make the concepts just as effective on screen. As luck would have it (for Reitman at least), Up In The Air landed at the perfect time to hit home for anyone suffering from unemployment. It doesn’t put a fairytale spin on a brutal situation, yet doesn’t leave you hopeless and dejected. It just gives you the sense that things happen for a reason and change will come in due time.
Awesome Quote: “I’m like my mother, I stereotype. It’s faster.”
While putting this list together, nine of the movies were shuffled around until they fell into the appropriate spot, but not for a moment did I rethink awarding Inglourious Basterds the number one position. The more I watch it, the more I’m convinced that it’s absolutely perfect. It’s impossible to pick a favorite scene because there isn’t one second of this film I don’t thoroughly look forward to seeing. Every line of dialogue is quotable, every performance commendable and every moment well thought out by Quentin Tarantino. Inglourious Basterds is a technical, narrative and entertainment masterpiece and I look forward to making it part of my life for many years to come.
Awesome Quote: “That’s a bingo!”
Thanks for reading and have a happy and healthy New Year!