Once again its time for me to rebel against the arbitrary nature of picking just ten films to single out for excellence in any one year. This was a year when animated films became more than a genre, and the list reflects that. It was also an excellent year for documentaries, and the ones Ive chosen from a veritable cornucopia of thought provoking candidates are the ones that shifted paradigms in meaningful and often completely unexpected ways. And so, in alphabetical order, I bring you the top 10 and then some of 2009.
THE BROTHERS BLOOM for its originality and wit
CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY — for a civics lesson that no one has taught before
CORALINE for its soaring imagination
THE COVE for being an eco-thriller that breaks our hearts
CRUDE for embracing the complexity of its issue while never losing sight of its goal
FANTASTIC MR FOX for its audacious piquance
THE HURT LOCKER for taking its audience inside the head of a man undone
THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS — for its audacity and its vision
THE MESSENGER for telling a war story that transcends its particulars
MOON for rethinking what a good sci-fi film should be
NO IMPACT MAN for discovering the unexpected joys of living lightly on the land, even in New York City
PRECIOUS for being fearlessly uncompromising and never resorting to cheap tricks
THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG for rediscovering that the story is the point
UP for letting people be grumpy and nerdy and still warm our hearts
UP IN THE AIR for capturing the zeitgeist while still being universal
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE — for unabashedly telling the story from a kids point of view, with all the messiness intact
And a bonus!
SHERLOCK HOLMES — for revisiting the Holmes mythos and coming up with a new interpretation that remains true to the spirit, if not the letter, of the canon.