Tuesday, January 12, 2010

top 10 films of 2009

For film lovers, this will likely be remembered as the year of Avatar. James Cameron's sci-fi action romance is already a towering global phenomenon. But that film does not make my Top 10. There was a lot of unusual works that relied less on CGI and more on authenticity, good writing and good acting. Those were the films that moved me the most.

Here's my top 10. What are some of your favorites?

Martin Provost's sublime, loving film shows the relationship between an artist who literally lives on and through her work and the man, Wilhelm Udhe, who by happenstance discovers and nurtures her talent. It's an illuminating picture and never condescending.

Jane Campion's dramatization of the romance between Fanny Brawne and John Keats is a lush, sweet and ultimately tragic affair.

Not Almodovar's best by any means but still a masterly depiction of lost, unfinished art, a doomed affair and a film within a film within a film.

Funny use of the Book of Job in the life of Jewish professor in Minnesota suburb. One of the more personal Coen Brothers films with wonderful cinematography by Roger Deakins.

Familiar but surprisingly lithe country singer redemption tale with a career best performance from Jeff Bridges and a rousing T Bone Burnett score.

Tarantino's cinematic revenge on the Nazis recalls screwballs like To Be or Not to Be and spaghetti westerns.

Pertinent to our era, George Clooney is perfectly cast as slick corporate assassin who begins to realize his alienation.

Powerful, unsentimental drama of abused teen who is awakened through reading and writing. Mo'Nique gives an unforgettable performance as abusive mother.

Unsettling look at the roots of evil as mysterious events unfold in a German village on the eve of WWI.

The skill Kathryn Bigelow displays as a director in the film's bomb dismantling sequences are at times breathtaking. But this is also a careful and unusual character study that refreshingly offers no answers or simplistic depictions.

There were a lot of perfectly good films in '09 that didn't make this list. All of them are unique visions and worthy of some kind of praise.

They include


  1. i can't believe i've only seen three on your list. hellooooo netflix! (totes agree with bright star though!)

  2. I haven't seen any of these! Shame, shame. I better get started! Kori xoxo

  3. I'm so behind on my movie viewing, but I'm going to use this list as a jumping off point. Many of these I was interested in but never saw; others I've never heard of. Fabulous recommendations, Mr. Jeffrey!


  4. I haven't seen a single movie on your list...in fact I can't remember the last move I saw. I am making it a goal for 2010: SEE MORE MOVIES!!

  5. Great list. A lot of them I haven't seen, so need to get to work. Heading to my netflix account now, lol.


  6. thanks for the list, I needed to add more to my netflix queue!

  7. from your top ten i've watched only Broken Embraces(Penelope is such a beautiful woman)...I couldn't do a top but I def include An education on it ^.^

  8. Fabulous post!
    Will have to see Broken Embraces ~ love Almodovar!


  9. I watched Precious and Up in the Air - two lovely films.

    Interesting list.

  10. You're a true film lover, and I loved reading your picks.

  11. I've seen a few of these, all good suggestions. I also really want to see 'An Education'.

  12. Nice list! Up In The Air made my list too.

    My favorite film of 2009 was Sin Nombre. The rest of my top 10 is here: http://movieworship.blogspot.jp/2013/01/top-10-films-of-2009.html