I didn’t realize until I started working on this list how many excellent movies there were in 2009. Overall, there were probably less movies that I wanted to see than in many years, but most of the movies I did end up seeing were really good. Here are my favorites:
The Hurt Locker
This is the movie I consider the “best” of the year. It’s an important, gripping look at life in a military bomb disposal unit, and the toll the job takes on the soldiers. It made me so tense that I felt I had been kicked in the stomach after watching it. But, you know, in a good way.
While I thought The Hurt Locker was the best movie of the year, Inglourious Basterds was my favorite. I’m a big Tarantino fan, and loved the Kill Bill movies, but this is definitely his strongest work since Pulp Fiction. The cast was also fantastic, especially Brad Pitt.
A Serious Man
This may not be the most accessible of the Cohens’ movies, but I really liked it. It’s a dark comedy that depicts a slice of Jewish American life in the 70s. To me, the whole thing played out like an extended joke in the style of the great Jewish humorists, while tackling the recurring Judaic literary themes of faith, family, and fate.
As I said in my Funniest People post, I love standup comedy, and enjoy getting a glimpse into the lives of standup comedians. I think it disappointed many reviewers by not exactly being a comedy, but that has more to do with the marketing of the film than anything else.
I can’t imagine one way this reboot of Star Trek could have been better. It was perfect. If you’re also a fan of the movie, make sure to check out my interview with co-writers/executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.
I consider this one of the best movies Pixar has made. It had just the right mix of sentimentality and humor. Definitely a cut above most animated features in terms of story.
Julie & Julia
I haven’t seen this on many year-end lists, but I consider it worthy of a mention. Although I do agree with many of the reviews — I think it might have been better being just Julia rather than Julie & Julia.
Honorable Mention: Dead Snow (you had me at Nazi zombies)
Up In The Air
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Where the Wild Things Are
A Single Man
500 Days of Summer