1. Where the wild things are
People have long used movies to look to the future and escape their present, and the desire to be surrounded by giant machines, handsome vampires, or beautiful blue people made Hollywood billions of dollars in 2009. This 2009 review doesn’t cover movies outside Hollywood. If time allows I will do a Nigerian (Nollywood), Tanzanian (Tollywood) and Rwandan (Hillywood) movie review of 2010 next year. Happy New Year!
There’s something so thrilling about seeing a filmmaker take a gigantic risk that completely pays off. So much great art of any medium has come from people unwilling to deliver what’s expected and willing to swing for the fences instead of just getting on base.
Where the Wild Things Are, no matter what you think of the final product, is an undeniable home run swing. It is a daring adaptation that wouldn’t have been the same if it was made by anyone else.
And features universal themes told in a unique way. This is not just a “kid’s film.” It is about a boy dealing with his parent’s divorce and the fact that his big sister doesn’t want to play with him any more.
Where the Wild Things Are is the best film ever made about the way we use fantasy to deal with a changing reality. It didn’t just tug at my heart but worked on my memory banks while providing me with new ones. It’s the best film of the year.
2. The Hurt Locker
Few films of the decade were more viscerally thrilling than Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, a white-knuckle action film that has become the critical darling of the year.
The first great film about the conflict in the Middle East, The Hurt Locker is an unapologetic powerhouse that was unlike any other film experience in 2009.
It is a masterpiece of the art of building and releasing tension in a filmgoer, a visceral, shocking, riveting experience that takes a profession that is nearly impossible to identify with and makes it feel completely genuine.
3. Up in the Air
Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air is a marvelously old-fashioned film about modern era fears that will stand the test of time; let the backlash work itself out.
4. The White Ribbon
Michael Haneke does it again with arguably his most thematically dense and emotionally devastating film to date.
The White Ribbon isn’t just a slow burn of a film while it unfolds, but Haneke’s dark vision of what is arguably the rise of fascism burrows its way into your brain and lingers there for days and weeks after the score-less credits roll.