The 10 best films of 2009!

The Best Films of 2009. By Simon Miraudo

We made it everyone! 2009 (in fact, the entire decade) is coming to a close – and right on schedule! We’ve shared some wonderful moments together this year: we couldn’t move for quality Australian films, long-anticipated book adaptations finally reached the big screen, and one micro-budget horror film took over the box office.

Although many of the biggest box office hits were underwhelming disasters, 2009 saw a slate of smaller films emerge from seemingly thin air to shake audiences to their core. It was a year full of sweet-natured comedies, powerful animated features as well as the introduction (and return) of several imaginative and ingenious filmmakers.

Putting together an end-of-year Top 10 is no easy feat. After all, how can you exactly judge how much better one masterpiece is over another. However, I have compiled below my 10 favourite films of 2009. Beyond the top 10, I have provided a whole bunch of honourable mentions. Each of them are great films that deserve recognition. Consider them all tied at 11th place.

Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to Synecdoche New York and Let The Right One In, two films that did not receive an Australian cinematic release until 2009. Sadly, since they are technically 2008 films, I have left them off the list. If I had included them, they would both be in the top 10.

So, first of all:

Honourable Mentions:Adventureland, An Education, Anvil: The Story of Anvil, Coraline, The Damned United, District 9, I Love You Man, Knowing, Mary and Max, Moon, Observe and Report, Paranormal Activity, Paper Heart, Samson and Delilah, Thirst, Zombieland.

And without much further ado:

Armando Iannucci‘s acid-tongued political satire In the Loop was the funniest film of the year (perhaps with the exception of my number seven). Peter Capaldi‘s performance as spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker is a foul-mouthed tour de force. It arrives in Australian cinemas on the 21st January, 2010.

The popcorn-blockbuster of the year, Star Trek (re)introduced us to a rich and fascinating mythology. It also heralded director J.J. Abrams as a legitimate force in the film industry. The only film I saw in ’09 that left me craving a sequel.

Kathryn Bigelow‘s Iraqi war movie The Hurt Locker was almost sent direct-to-DVD in Australia following a disastrous run in American cinemas. Thankfully, the power of this overwhelmingly intense action film (anchored by a breakthrough lead performance by Jeremy Renner) could not be ignored. It hits Australian cinemas on the 18th March, 2010, no doubt glowing from the numerous Oscar victories it enjoyed the previous month.

Sam Raimi returned to his horror roots with Drag Me To Hell, a gleefully silly and equally terrifying jaunt into the scary world of loan applications. Was any 2009 film as unequivocally fun as this?

Perhaps the most divisive movie among my selections, I couldn’t deny the visceral joy of seeing Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic graphic novel on the big screen. Director Zack Snyder faithfully captured every moment in all its glory and proved that it was possible to adapt the seemingly “unadaptable” Watchmen.

The Coen Brothers‘ unleashed another existential attack on audiences with A Serious Man. There was no film I enjoyed debating and attempting to decode more than this tale of a frustrated (and perhaps cursed) Jewish man. And that ending. Oi vay that ending!

Spike Jonze‘s overwhelmingly melancholic adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic picture book stirred up a lot of long-dormant emotions. Although it may have been a bit too scary for the kiddies, WTWTA was a stunningly filmed and surprisingly adult take on the tragedy of childhood.

3. UP

Pixar came close to snatching the first place trophy two years in a row with their profoundly moving adventure film Up. A spectacular achievement in animation and storytelling. It also turned me into a weeping sack of mush for nearly the film’s entire duration. Sigh.

It could have been so superficial; so unbearably hip and self-aware. Instead, Marc Webb‘s (500) Days of Summer bravely strode towards the painful, unwavering truth. Accentuated with beautiful visual flourishes and a cheeky sense of humour, (500) Days of Summer proves that yes, movies can capture that seemingly indescribable sensation of love.

There couldn’t have been any other film in this position. Quentin Tarantino‘s achievement with Inglourious Basterds was so grand, there’s nowhere near enough room to discuss it in this measly article. You can check out my full evaluation of this masterpiece here.

In the meantime, you can check out my reviews for all these films at my review archive.

You can also find my 10 worst films of 2009 here!

Discuss: OK, let’s hear it! Do you agree or disagree with my choices? More importantly, what were your favourite films of 2009?

12 Responses to “The 10 best films of 2009!”

  1. Nice work Simon…all my faves (all 4 of them, ha haha) were in your Top 10.

  2. Damn you! Really want to see Hurt Locker and In The Loop! Aside from those though, almost every film on this list will be making an appearance on my own list. The only big disagreement I have is Where The Wild Things Are, which I thought was beautiful but kind of…empty? I dunno, I think I need to watch it again…Still, great list!

  3. I absolutely adore (500) Days of Summer – my film of the year (Inglourious Basterds is second). It also has my favourite scene of the year – does cinema get any more heartbreaking than the Expectation vs Reality scene? I think not.

  4. Great list!! Many of these may end up in my Top 10 as well…And I'm still FUMING about missing DRAG ME TO HELL. 😦

  5. No Harry Potter? :(Otherwise, great list.

  6. Aside from those films not yet released I think the list is interesting BUT 2 great Aussie films should have made got a mention .."Beautiful Kate" and "Balibo" were both magnificent and what about my best film of the year ..the overlooked "Away We Go". A gem.

  7. Love the list, agree with all those I have seen and will definately check out the others 🙂

  8. Drag Me To Hell has to be one of the worst films I have ever seen. It may be silly and uncharacteristically funny for a horror flick but come on, the story-line is lame and the acting was as poor as a 16 year old on New Years Day! Sampson & Delilah definitely should have been in its place.Critical comments aside, Inglorious Basterds definitely deserves it's number 1 crown. In all the chaos that the story brings, it was a beautiful masterpiece that only Tarrentino can create.

  9. I have to agree with Riksta that Drag me to Hell wasn't so good, though I wouldn't say it was one of the worst movies ever made. Rest of the list was spot on, though

  10. Where is the Hangover? I love that film I cried during it, it was hilarious!I didn't get to see drag me to hell but the trailer was enough to scare me from being a loan clerk 🙂

  11. I enjoyed 'UP' more than my 2 kids did. Have heard that "Where the Wild Things are" is not really a kid's film, so might have to see it without them.

  12. Good list, but no space for District 9?

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