The films that rocked 2009: John Lekich
It was a year of outer-space spectacles and inner-city dramas, animated delights and sombre period pieces. Critical acclaim may yet swirl around flicks like Crazy Heart and The Messenger, but they won’t hit local screens until 2010. Thus, the following is how the best of this year’s celluloid lot stacked up for our movie reviewers. The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, and Up in the Air scored the most accolades with our critics, with An Education and District 9 coming in a close second.
Looking back over this past year in films has been a pleasant experience, thanks mostly to a few movies that have worked hard to put a sense of intelligence and emotional substance ahead of the usual box-office concerns. In its own way, each movie on this list is a timely reminder of what it means to be human.
Watch the trailer for The Hurt Locker.
The Hurt Locker
Kathryn Bigelow’s gritty take on an army bomb squad in Iraq shows you don’t need a big-name cast and an over-the-top budget to tell a powerful, affecting story. Jeremy Renner is riveting as a hotshot bomb-disposal expert hooked on the adrenaline rush.
Based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel, The Road tells the story of a loving father and son (Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee) as they make their way across a post-apocalyptic American landscape. Despite the dark story line, you’ll come away inspired by the sense of enduring humanity.
The story of prawnlike aliens who are condemned to live in squalid isolation after their mother ship breaks down over Johannesburg may be the most novel movie of the year. Writer-director Neill Blomkamp endows his science-fiction tale with a documentary feel while making us root for the aliens.
Up In The Air
Is Jason Reitman on a one-man mission to bring back smart, funny movies? His follow-up to Juno may fall just short of utter perfection, but a sophisticated cast—led by George Clooney as a corporate hatchet man with hidden depth—is so completely irresistible that you’ll barely notice.
Me and Orson Welles
Drawing inspiration from the young Orson Welles and his landmark 1937 production of Julius Caesar, director Richard Linklater conjures up a truly memorable coming-of-age story. Zac Efron sheds his teenybopper image while a magnetic Christian McKay makes an impressive big-screen debut as Welles.
I would have bet money that my interest in the tired Star Trek franchise could never be revived. Now I’m a believer. Director J. J. Abrams and a fresh-faced cast of unknowns make going back to the future with a younger version of the Enterprise crew an exhilarating experience. May they live long and prosper.
Set in the early ’60s, this wise little movie centres around a bright young woman (Carey Mulligan) who seems to be bound for Oxford and better things. When her academic ambitions get sidetracked by a slick playboy twice her age (Peter Sarsgaard), she learns the kinds of lessons they don’t teach in school.
In this animated gem, a cranky widower (voiced to crusty perfection by Ed Asner) decides he’s going to travel to South America. His mode of transport? Ten thousand balloons that transform his house into the most unlikely airborne vehicle imaginable. This is what family entertainment is all about.
Julie and Julia
Nora Ephron’s joyful amalgamation of two food-savvy biographies by Julia Child and latter-day blogger Julie Powell left me craving a bigger slice of Meryl Streep as the irrepressible Julia. That said, this is a lovely reminder of how important it is to cultivate a genuine appetite for life.
It’s not easy to make a genuinely amusing comedy that also happens to be unashamedly stupid, but director Todd Phillips manages to do just that while earning extra bonus points for freshening up the stale premise of a bachelor party gone off the rails. Who knew Mike Tyson could be funny?
View all critic's picks on a single page.