I love lists. With this being the end of the year and of the decade, there are a lot of lists out there, and I love them all. I normally don't create any myself because I don't know enough about a field to make judgments, but I certainly have my own favorites, which is what lists are all about. I'm not interested in influencing other people's opinions of things, but I like thinking of things that have brought me pleasure, which is what got me to thinking about movies.
This past year, I've seen forty-eight movies in theaters. That might seem like a lot to some people, but I'm also aware of the number of movies I haven't seen in theaters, like The Hurt Locker. But I saw a lot, and I liked a lot of what I saw. Here are my top ten movies of 2009 (and it includes movies released in 2008, but I saw them in 2009, which is why they are on this list).
1. Where the Wild Things Are: It was actually seeing this on a lot of top ten lists that got me thinking about making my own. I loved this movie, just absolutely adored it. As many of these lists say about the movie, it's not for kids. Instead, it's a movie that captures all the simplicity and intensity of childhood at once. A lot of us have complex relationships with our childhoods. Mine wasn't bad, but spent the first fourteen years of it alone, pretty much. I did a lot of watching (of television and other people) and thinking. I was in my own head most of the time, and this movie has come the closest to capturing that experience. I guess I'm not the only one who lived that way as a kid.
2. Slumdog Millionaire: I'm a sucker for movies about destiny, fate, and love. I got sucked into it right away and was afraid to blink until it was over. I knew how it would end, of course. Things were destined, after all! But I had no idea how they'd get there, and that's what made it so compelling.
3. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire: I have loved the book since I first read it in the last century. I've taught it several times. All that made me fear the film because I wasn't sure how an adaptation could align with a book I so loved, but the adaptation does fit the novel while still doing what films do. Amazing acting for a gripping story, too.
4. Milk: I've been waiting for years to see the story of Harvey Milk on screen, and this did not disappoint. It's a finely-crafted story made amazing by its actors, which did not just include Sean Penn. Whoever would have thought Josh Brolin would be considered a great actor? But he is, as are so many in this movie.
5. Gran Torino: This was just a great, simple story with amazing acting. This is probably the film on this list for which I had the smallest emotional response, but it's an amazing piece of storytelling.
6. Away: Kind of like Where The Wild Things Are does with childhood, this is a movie that paints a pretty realistic portrait of what actual relationships are like. These are two people who come from flawed but not bad families, and their friends are in flawed but not bad relationships. Well, some are bad. But what they realize is that they just have to figure out what they want for themselves and their child, and they'll be fine. The rules of other couples do not necessarily apply to them, and once they figure that out, they realize how good they have it overall. And that was a real joy to watch.
7. Revolutionary Road: Yeah, this is the anti-Away, but that's also what makes it good. This is a relationship that is being ripped apart from the inside. Kate Winslet deserved the Oscar for The Reader, but she made this movie, too.
8. Zombieland: Yep, we love our zombie movies in this house. We watch them all, and this is a pretty amazing addition to the genre. It was funny without losing the elements of horror that a zombie movie needs before it becomes a parody of itself.
9. Brüno: I know this is going to be on a lost of worst lists, but I just had a blast at this movie, as I wrote about already. I just laughed and laughed. We had fun with this one.
10. Paranormal Activity: It's no Blair Witch, which I loved, but it's good. It starts out slow, but once the horror starts, it starts. It's another movie that I was afraid to miss a second of. And, yes, I did think of it over the next few nights after I turned out the lights and walked through a dark house to get to bed. Once in bed, I was afraid to open my eyes, too. It takes a pretty good movie to make that happen!
As for the worst film of the year, you know I have to give it to Inglourious Basterds. I said before that I clearly do not understand this movie. I do not understand why it's getting so much acclaim. I watched it. I thought about it. I tried to appreciate it, but I can't. I just don't get it.