Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ryan's Top Ten Films of 2009

I think I've really only seen ten films from '09, but here's a list of what I can remember. A lot of my picks have been talked about already, so I'll try to keep those pretty brief. Also I am lazy. :D

Inglourious Basterds

Not what I expected and I'm grateful. I've never been fond of war films, and with lots of people excited for what was advertised as a nazi shoot 'em up, I was worried that I'd come out of the theatre feeling betrayed by one of my favourite directors. That Tarantino had finally gone into territory I couldn't follow him to, and that I'd be sick with spectacle. This was of course stupid. Tarantino's never let me down, and he didn't with the Basterds. Quite possibly his best work.


Made me tear up within the first 15 minutes. Pixar seldom lets me down either. It's animated well, told well, and makes you feel well. Just what a family adventure story should be.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

This was a bizarre treat of a film. Half the fun came from watching the delighted and bewildered faces in the theatre around me, and comparing them to the rigid, motionless older folks who were expecting something more middle-brow. I can appreciate any film that uses reptile-cam more than twice.


A film that disturbed me so profoundly I couldn't keep it off the list. I can't really recommend this film to anyone, since it would be difficult to find a healthy mood one could watch it in. But I don't think there's any question that Lars Von Trier is a great filmmaker, and I should have expected that his entry into the horror genre would be more than just an exploratory experiment, and a truly horrifying experience. This is his bleakest film; bleaker I think than Dancer in the Dark, which was my record holder for 'most depressing film ever.' I differed from a lot of people who thought the film was unforgivably misogynist - I think misogyny is the focus of the film, absolutely, but I think it works to align misogyny with the horrific. With a sense of enemy. With the Antichrist. What a holiday season film that was.

Dead Snow

There are a lot of us who really like zombie movies, and rage time and time again when the latest addition to the genre falls dead off the screen and doesn't reanimate. Dead Snow clearly possesses some satire and self-reflexivity, which in a low-budge horror flick is usually a necessity, but it doesn't undermine the film's unsettling creepiness. It pulls some grimoire pages from Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series, and manages to approach its inspiration's level of fun-factor.

Let The Right One In

Probably the best vampire movie I've seen, and I've seen Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter. Fantastic wintery cinematography, a quiet mood, intriguing characters, and a striking, well-thought-out presentation that takes a traditional concept and shows it in compelling ways.

Severed Ways

Aguirre The Wrath of God but with Vikings. More a visceral mood piece of isolation and cultural upheaval than an engaging story. It certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea, thanks to its partially black metal soundtrack and cerebral, minimalist approach, but it's definitely a flavour I can appreciate. If you undertake it, however, a warning: the camera doesn't turn away when farm chickens are killed and plucked, or when a Viking has to shit in the woods. Not for the faint of heart.

Star Trek

There are two science fiction blockbusters on my top ten list, which probably demarcates myself as a huge dork. One of those is Star Trek, which was what it was - often silly, 2-dimensional characters duking it out through space in wicked-awesome ships. That last part was its saving grace, though. Unless I missed something, which is likely, there hasn't been a good space battle on the big screen since Serenity. Star Trek reminded me that while I tend to frown on spectacle, I am also a nerd, and I seem to be ok with it if it involves space ships shooting shit-loads of laser bolts and photon torpedoes at each other.


Yep. An event movie that seemed to deliver just what I needed at the time: a lush alternate world and a hokey romance. Oh, and space dragons attacking gunships. The story's a basic one, and though I've seen it before, I was satisfied. It's pretty much Fern Gully meets Pocahontas. Runtime clocks in at two hours and forty minutes however, so it's an investment you might have trouble getting around to. Or justifying, if space dragons aren't your thing. With the money it's making, Cameron could probably get away with mass murder. He's that untouchable.


A wonderful fairytale with classically dark undertones told through stop-motion animation, which to me is still much more enthralling than even the best CGI effects. And as Colin mentioned, Keith gawddamned David as the film's equivalent to the chesire cat. Win.

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