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Top 10 Movies of 2009 (Josh's List)

Wanted to wait until the year was over. These are in no particular order.

Where The Wild Things Are
After years of anticipation, Spike Jonze's vision absolutely lived to my expectations. It is a beautiful film about childhood. Jim Henson's costumes, Karen O's music, Max Record's lead performance, the surprisingly dark script, and Jonze's loose direction all come together to form a pitch-perfect portrait of the isolation and imagination of a kid. It is a film that I will continue to revisit for years to come.

Henry Selick's stop-motion film is certainly a visual treat, but its Selick's treatment of Neil Gaiman's book that really makes it work so wonderfully. It is a sublime grass-is-greener tale filled with awe, terror, and sadness. The characters are all memorable and inhabit a world of such rich texture that you will be overcome with places to look. The voice work is also top-notch, led by the versatile Dakota Fanning.

The Brothers Bloom
This underrated gem is con man classic that needs to find an audience on DVD. Rian Johnson's follow up to Brick is so funny and sweet it will absolutely win you over. Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo have great chemistry as the titular siblings and Rachel Weisz is absolutely adorable as the sheltered, naive Penelope. The catchy score by Nathan Johnson is also a highlight.


Zack Snyder's unflinching adaptation of Alan Moore's groundbreaking 80s graphic novel is an incredible piece of filmmaking. It doesn't compromise or censor the themes of the book and faithfully depicts its brutal deconstruction of the superhero genre. The opening title sequence is one of the best ever made, distilling the history of the Watchmen universe into a well-crafted visual poem. As a comic book fan and film buff it was heaven.

An incredible love story, a funny adventure, and an overwhelming drama, Pete Docter's animated fable is a remarkable film. The nearly wordless first act is a masterpiece of visual storytelling. Carl and Russell's subsequent journey is completely and utterly heartwarming. It absolutely destroyed me.

Inglourious Basterds
Tarantino's minor masterpiece isn't so much a war movie as it is a tribute to war movies. The trailers marketed it as an English-language exploitation movie with Brad Pitt, when that is actually only 1/3 of the story. The rest of the movie filters the best of German drama and French romance through Tarantino's blood-soaked style. It is pure cinematic bliss from beginning to end. It's also got one of the best movie villains of the decade. Can we just give Christoph Waltz the Oscar now?

It's smart sci-fi that's also heartbreaking drama. Sam Rockwell gives an amazing Oscar-worthy performance and the score by Clint Mansell is emotionally devastating. The subtle visual effects are superb and never get in the way of the storytelling. The less you know about the plot the better.

Funny People
Judd Apatow's most personal film is also his best in my opinion. It opens with an actual home movie, then proceeds to tell a story of how you define success as told through the eyes of comedians. As such the movie is still very funny despite its dramatic core, due to the way the characters use humor to deal with situations. Adam Sandler gives a career best performance that runs the gamut of his talents. Seth Rogen's awkward Ira Wright is a great character that I could really relate to. The supporting players are all fantastic and Eric Bana finally gets to show some of his comedic roots. Also like Apatow's other films, the celebrity cameos are hilarious.

Up In The Air
Jason Reitman has crafted a modern masterpiece with his third film. He is able to combine sharp funny writing with emotionally rich characters in a stunning way. There are big laugh out loud moments followed by moving drama that will have you tearing up. The performances are astonishing in their honesty, the editing is remarkable, and Reitman's musical choices are flawless.

Crazy Heart
It's a lot like The Wrestler, but with country music. Very simple and very effective. Jeff Bridges' performance as washed out country singer Bad Blake is magnificent. He completely inhabits the role and does all his own singing and playing. Maggie Gyllenhaal is just as great, playing opposite him as struggling single mother Jean. The music is of course amazing and the final song (which we see Blake writing throughout the film) will break you.


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