Movies 2009

Recommendations in red.

Comments in brackets.

  1. The Reader
  2. Marley and Me
  3. Seven Pounds
  4. Valkyrie
  5. Bride Wars
  6. Notorious
  7. Defiance
  8. Gran Torino
  9. Frost/Nixon
  10. The Wrestler
  11. Revolutionary Road
  12. Taken
  13. New In Town
  14. Inkheart
  15. He's Just Not That Into You [a real stinker!]
  16. Coraline [animated 3D-but definitely not a kids' movie]
  17. The International [convoluted plot, but I like Clive Owen]
  18. Slumdog Millionaire[saw this late last year, but wanted to see again]
  19. Confessions of a Shopaholic [not good]
  20. Paul Blart Mall Cop [really really bad, but March and April are horrible movie months, so I'm prepared for dreck!]
  21. The Echelon Conspiracy [better than the previous two, but that's not saying much. The fact that it premiered in Kazakhstan on the same day it premiered in the U.S. should tell you something.]
  22. Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Jail [absolute rubbish - must have checked my watch a hundred times!]
  23. The Uninvited [really enjoyed this - no Oscar movie, but a cracking good thriller with twists]
  24. Pink Panther 2 [back to bad ones - dozed off more than once during this - thank goodness the first matinee is really inexpensive!]
  25. Push [OMG, they can't get much worse - this was a totally incomprehensible mess.]
  26. Race To Witch Mountain [a bit hokey, and obviously made for a slightly younger crowd, but it wasn't bad to watch - I've seen much, much worse]
  27. I Love You, Man [the first third contained a lot of raunchy language, but it seemed to abate and I actually kind of enjoyed the rest]
  28. Watchmen [this was an interesting movie, made from a graphic novel, i.e. a series of comic books. Very violent, but I'm glad I saw it]
  29. Duplicity [Julia Roberts and Clive Owen - sort of enjoyed this, but it could have been better]
  30. Knowing [an end of the world movie with Nicholas Cage - contains religious undertones, and the ending is stupid]
  31. Sunshine Cleaning [a small "indie" movie with Amy Adams - acting was good, and we enjoyed it]
  32. Monsters vs Aliens[saw it in 3D, the only way to go, and that made it just O.K. Expected more from Dreamworks, and was a bit disappointed]
  33. 12 Rounds [totally far-fetched and unbelievable, and many motor vehicles were harmed during the filming of this movie - need I say more?]
  34. State of Play [a really good one with twists and turns, and I just love Ben Affleck! But because there are almost no explosions, car chases or heads being blown off, this being America, it probably won't be too successful]
  35. Adventureland [a bittersweet coming of age film which really held my interest - enjoyed it a lot]
  36. The Haunting in Connecticut [formulaic haunted house story, a bit gross-out towards the end - not much there]
  37. 17 Again [harmless teen comedy/fantasy, been done before, almost certainly better, but it wasn't offensive]
  38. Crank:High Voltage [can't believe we actually went to see this- since I'm not a depraved 14-year-old boy, I absolutely hated it - so over the top, with scene cuts about 3 a second - very gross and unwatchable - turned away or had my eyes closed throughout most of the movie - lots of it seemingly played for laughs, but there were no laughs from me. A complete waste of time and money]
  39. Fast and Furious [if I hadn't seen this after Crank, I would have said this was not particularly good, lots of car chases, etc. But Crank made this look like high-class cinema!]
  40. The Soloist [not a bad movie, with Robert Downey and Jamie Foxx. Foxx plays a musically gifted schizophrenic homeless man and Downey plays a reporter who befriends him. Based on a true story]
  41. Obsessed [this has been done before as Fatal Attraction, but it held our interest]
  42. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past [harmless rom-com, I like Jennifer Garner, but Matthew McConaughey can't act!]
  43. X-Men Origins: Wolverine [a big summer comic book superhero popcorn movie- great! I've seen all three previous X-Men movies, so really enjoyed this. But someone who is not familiar might not feel quite the same way]
  44. Star Trek [being a huge Trekkie since the original TV series back in the late 60's, I loved this movie. Even non-Trekkies will be able to follow as this is an origin story. It's really good!]
  45. American Violet [based upon a true story, a civil rights court case resulting from a drug raid here in Texas in 1999, this small independent movie has great acting. The names and places were changed but it was based upon a case in Tulia Texas which became famous. Really enjoyed it.]
  46. Angels and Demons [it was just O.K. A bit boring in the middle, with a chase from one location to another. And totally unbelieveable - a jar of anti-matter? Anyway, only O.K.]
  47. Next Day Air [we went to this thinking it was going to be a comedy, and how wrong we were! It was about an incorrect delivery of a shipment of cocaine. It was ultra violent, and frankly, all the drug dealers started to look the same, and the climactic scene left a massacre of bloody bodies. It was really awful.]
  48. Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian [this was a silly comedy which gave us some good laughs. It doesn't pretend to be an Oscar movie, but it was very enjoyable. I think if you had not seen the first one, it might be a real problem]
  49. Up [An absolutely delightful animated movie, the first part of which conveys so much emotion with not a word spoken. It was really great, perhaps the best animated movie I've seen. Liked it better than last year's Wall-E. Definitely recommended!]
  50. Drag Me To Hell [Love the title! This was an old-fashioned type of horror film, not the slasher type. It was directed by major director Sam Raimi of Spiderman fame, and he did a pretty good job. About a bank loan officer who is cursed by an old gypsy woman after she refuses a loan extension. I was rooting for the heroine until she killed her cat (!) to placate the spirit (demon?) that was after her. Needless to say, it didn't work!]
  51. Well,it's now 50 movies and counting, and it's only June 9th. So I'm running at a better than 100 pace for the year. Can't say that I've seen a real Oscar contender yet this year. Most of them will be released October or later. Sadly, I just read an article which stated that producers of grown-up dramas are finding it harder to get them made because the public just wants explosions, superheros, raunchy comedies and other mindless fare. The smart adult drama is my favorite genre, so I despair over having to watch a lot of garbage before I encounter one jewel.

  52. My Life In Ruins [A harmless rom-com, which I sort of enjoyed even if it did not garner particularly good reviews. Nia Vardalos(My Big Fat Greek Wedding) plays an American teaching at a university in Athens who is laid off. She takes a job at a down-market tour company, which she doesn't like. The movie shows her loosening up, finding romance, etc. In a fairly full theater, there was not a single man in the audience! A real chick flick indeed.]
  53. The Hangover[About 5 friends who go to Vegas for the bachelor party of one of them, and they wake up the next AM with a rooster in the hotel suite, a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in the closet and the groom missing. I chuckled about three times, which is generally good for me at an American comedy, since I usually don't find them particularly funny. The people in front of us were guffawing like crazy - go figure. It was pretty raunchy, but somehow not offensively so, except for a few places.]
  54. Land Of The Lost [A supposed comedy about Will Ferrell as a washed-up scientist who finds a parallel universe. This was probably one of the worst movies I've seen this year. Will Ferrell needs to find better material. He was pretty good on Saturday Night Live, but his movies have been less than stellar. This was so dumb I dozed off for about 10-15 minutes, and I didn't miss a thing!]
  55. Easy Virtue [based on a Noel Coward play, the story of an Englishman from a good family who marries a feisty racecar-driving American of whom his whole family (save his WWI affected father) disapproves. The film takes place in 1929 and is set in a lavish country estate. I quite enjoyed it, but my movie friend thought it slow.]
  56. Cheri [based on two novels by Collette, this takes place in 'La Belle Epoque' France (begins around 1908) and features Michelle Pfeiffer as an about-to-be-retired courtesan who takes on the dissolute son of a fellow retired courtesan to set him straight, and they wind up falling in love. It is ultimately a doomed romance, as he is 19 and she almost 50 when it begins. I enjoyed the film, and especially the lavish visuals, but I thought it ended abruptly with a voiceover. Still enjoyed it, though.]
  57. Imagine That [Family film with Eddie Murphy playing a dad who gets business info through his young daughter's imaginary friends. Sounds weird, but it is relatively harmless, and we've seen much worse!]
  58. The Taking Of Pelham 123 [Denzel Washington plays a NYC subway dispatcher, an ordinary guy who gets drawn in to an extraordinary situation - the hijacking of a subway train (the Pelham 123) by a brutal group of thugs. It certainly held my interest. I would have enjoyed it more if the characters were a bit more developed, especially the bad guys (John Travolta being the lead baddie), but all in all it was quite O.K.]
  59. The Proposal [A rom-com with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. She plays a book editor who is a horrible boss. He plays her put-upon assistant. When she is about to be deported back to Canada she claims they are engaged, and under pain of being fired, he must go along. They go to his family in Alaska to keep up the pretense for Immigration, and during the ensuing weekend, you can imagine what happens. But I did chuckle several times, very unusual for an American comedy, and I absolutely love Betty White who plays the grandmother. So not at all bad for a summer rom-com.]
  60. Away We Go [A sweet comedy about a couple who are about to have a baby and who go on a road trip to see where they would like to live and raise their family. This is a small indie movie, but I laughed more for this than some of the big blockbuster things that I don't find funny at all. Along the way they see friends and family whose quirks and problems make them realize they are more normal than they thought. I really enjoyed this, and Maya Rudolph of 'Saturday Night Live', who plays the pregnant half of the couple (they're not married), was a revelation. Her acting was great, as was that of John Krasinski from the TV show 'The Office.' Really enjoyed this and would recommend it.]
  61. Transformers:Revenge of the Fallen [A San Francisco Examiner critic said it better than I could: "long, loud and utterly incomprehensible." Too long by half, and a muddled plot made this an excruciating experience. I kind of enjoyed the first one, but this was over the top. It got so that during the big fights (and there were many!), you really couldn't tell who were the good Transformers and who were the bad. It received scathing reviews, but it's made a ton of money already, so no doubt we shall be treated to a Transformers III in the future - I think I'll pass.]
  62. Public Enemies [I was so looking forward to this, but I found it kind of flat. It didn't have much excitement and I actually dozed off. You would think Johnny Depp playing Dillinger and Christian Bale playing the FBI agent would be thrilling, but it wasn't].
  63. My Sister's Keeper [Based on a best-selling book, this was about a girl who was conceived to be a donor for her older sister who has cancer. She's now 11 and sues her parents for medical emancipation. It was an interesting movie, but I understand that they completely changed the ending and, knowing the original ending of the book, I can't understand why they would have changed that. Even so, it wasn't bad.]
  64. Moon
  65. [This was an interesting character study, a movie with really only one person. It takes place in the near future in an outpost on the moon, which is being mined for its minerals. The astronaut is nearing the end of his three year tour of duty, and things start to happen. It was pretty enjoyable.]
  66. I Love You, Beth Cooper [A rather ridiculous teen comedy - don't waste your time.]
  67. The Ugly Truth [Misogynistic rom-com starring Katherine Heigl as a prim TV station manager. She gets dating advice from Gerard Butler, who plays the Neanderthal new hire. Hilarity does not ensue, it's really pretty lame.]
  68. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince [One of the best Potters- there is plenty of magic, but it's also about the kids growing up and facing all the adolescent problems teens face, even when they're wizards.]
  69. A Perfect Getaway [This almost got a red listing, because it's a thriller with lots of twists, turns and red herrings. A couple is honeymooning in Hawaii at the same time newlyweds are being murdered. They are hiking a remote area and encounter two other couples. I won't say what happens next. We enjoyed it. It's no Oscar movie, but a good escape.]
  70. The Hurt Locker [This was probably the first Oscar-caliber movie I've seen this year. The story of a bomb demolition squad in Iraq, it is very tough to watch, but the movie blows all other movies about Iraq to date completely out of the water (no pun intended). No big stars, and directed by a woman (!), it was a great movie.]
  71. 500 Days of Summer [This was a quirky sort of rom-com which generally got really good reviews, but I didn't like it because I hated the female lead character. Also, the time line jumped around so much it made your head spin. For instance we might start out at day 400, then jump to day 28, then to 254, etc. Just didn't care for it.]
  72. Julie & Julia [This is a movie with two stories: the story of Julia Child, played by the incomparable Meryl Streep, and the story of a food blogger who gets the idea to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child's masterwork "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". I, like most of the reviewers, much preferred the Julia Child story and would have liked it if the entire movie were just about that. I would still recommend it because of Meryl Streep.]
  73. The Time Traveler's Wife [This romantic drama is based upon the best-selling novel of the same name, and though I think the potential may have been there, ultimately the movie fails. The time traveler jumps around in time and there's no real connection between the two. It's supposed to be this grand love that survives time, but it was just blah.]
  74. Inglourious Basterds [I went to this movie prepared to hate it, because I loathed the only other Tarantino movie I've seen, "Pulp Fiction". But Surprise! I really liked it. It is the story of a band of Jewish American soldiers who are sent into occupied France to murder Nazis. Tarantino is too graphically violent for me (there's a scene of a scalping, if you don't mind that sort of thing), but I don't think it was a violent as Pulp Fiction. And the story really held my interest. Brad Pitt was very good as the unit's commander, but Christoph Waltz, who plays the Nazi commander, is simply superb and the talk is he will probably get an Oscar nomination. Violence aside, we really enjoyed this movie]
  75. District 9
  76. getElementsByClass(
  77. Taking Woodstock
  78. Extract
  79. Post Grad
  80. All About Steve
  81. Whiteout
  82. 9
  83. My One and Only
  84. Love Happens
  85. The Informant
  86. Surrogates
  87. Whip It
  88. Fame
  89. The Invention of Lying
  90. Law Abiding Citizen+ [A typical revenge film, with Gerard Butler playing a husband whose wife and child are murdered, and the murderer gets off very lightly due to a plea bargain. He plots his revenge for the next ten years, against both the murderer and the justice system, and executes it stunningly and violently, only of course at the end, his plan is flawed. Jamie Foxx is the District Attorney who ultimately brings him down. Very violent, but very watchable.]
  91. Bright Star [I really really enjoyed this, but my movie friend thought it a bit slow. It tells the story of the poet John Keats and his romance (unconsummated, of course, given the times) with his neighbor Fanny Brawne. His early death was the only thing that could stop their romance. This film was directed by Jane Campion in a very measured way, but I felt it was very realistic to the time.]
  92. Amelia [We were really looking forward to this movie, and it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. A major studio release starring Hillary Swank and Richard Gere, it tells the story of the life and loss of Amelia Earhart. It turned out to be kind of flat, but it is watchable.]
  93. Where The Wild Things Are [This movie is the subject of much debate. There are those who vehemently dislike it, and then those like me who enjoyed it a lot. It's not really for children, although it's based upon a children's book. I found it melancholy and touching.]
  94. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant [Based upon a series of books,it's about a teen who is drawn into a war between two factions of vampires. Played with a comic smirk, it was watchable, though decidedly not a high quality movie.]
  95. The Box [This was a convoluted mess. It was based upon a short story that aired on Twilight Zone. I can see where it would have been great as a half-hour thriller. But it devolves into a sci fi muddle. Skip it.]
  96. Paranormal Activity [This film is this year's version of The Blair Witch Project. Made for $11,000, it has grossed over $100 million. But that doesn't mean I liked it. I didn't think it was scary at all. If you really believe there are demons and ghosts, maybe it will scare you.]
  97. A Christmas Carol [I almost made this a red highlight, but it just missed, although I did enjoy the film. It was done in the "motion capture" animation which is rather strange. It followed Dickens quite well, but there were a few Disney-type flights of fancy which were not at all necessary.]
  98. 2012 [Another end-of-the-world film, but the special effects in the this one are really eye-popping. However, it's about 45 minutes too long and I found it repetitive in places.]
  99. Precious [This was a very powerful film, about a 16 year old girl in 1987 Harlem who is abused in every way possible. It is hard to watch in places, but the acting performances are superb. This is only the second film this year that I feel should be represented at the Oscars.]
  100. Twilight:New Moon
  101. The Blind Side
  102. Old Dogs
  103. Fantastic Mr. Fox
  104. Everybody's Fine
  105. Brothers
  106. The Princess and the Frog
  107. Invictus
  108. Up in the Air