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2009: The Best 20 Films of the Year

What an interesting year (...for the Academy to decide to nominate 10 movies for Best Picture). I can think of 1o potential nominees for last year (The Dark Knight, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Milk, Wall-E, Slumdog Millionaire, Gran Torino, Doubt, The Reader, Frost/Nixon, The Visitor), but this year?... 5 is more than enough. A fact further proven by the titles that made it into my top 20 films of the year.

20. Wow. 2012 made the top 20. I told you it wasn't a great movie year. 2012 falls into the category of movies that are so bad they're good. While all of the movie's flaws prove how little the film makers cared about story, continuity and common sense, they really did deliver on the promise of epic eye-candy. If your looking for the disaster flick of all disaster flicks, 2012 is for you.

19. Precious was a horrible movie to watch, but in this case, that only proves how good a movie it is. 98% of the credit goes to the performances of Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique who deserve all of the acclaim and awards they are getting for their performances.

18. The Blind Side is a well constructed, mildly heartwarming biopic, but ultimately it's just another sports movie. The acting and production values are all top notch making The Blind Side an enjoyable and entertaining film.

17. Adam could very well have been a made for TV movie, but there's something about it that elevates it to quirky, indie film. Rose Byrne's performance was nothing to write home about, but Hugh Dancy's portrayal of a man with Assburgers (I know that's not how you spell it, I'm being funny) Syndrome on his own for the first time in his life, was heartwarming to say the least. Adam is, truly, a feel-good movie.

16. I have a man-crush on Paul Rudd. I like just about everything he's ever been in and he does a great job in every role he takes on. That aside, I Love You Man was a fine example of what a good comedy should be: charismatic actors playing realistic characters in silly situations.

15. The penultimate (sort of) installment of the Harry Potter saga is the darkest and most foreboding so far, which is good because things always get worse before they get better. With it's Empire Strikes Back ending, you can't help but be excited to see how the series ends... if you haven't read the books... if you have, you already know how it all ends...

14. Taken is just a very entertaining action movie. Rent it and make yourself some popcorn, sit back and enjoy.

13. Paranormal Activity has a significant amount of flaws and if you're looking for a quality film, this is not it. It scared the shit out of me, though. The acting was passable at times, and then at other times was absolutely atrocious. There were irrelevant plot points that could have been left out entirely, and the actual actions of the movie could have been consolidated into a shorter time period. Overall, it was highly effective, though. Like with The Blair Witch Project, there will probably be a bunch of people who won't admit to having been scared. They're lying... Paranormal Activity is a scary mother fucker.

12. This movie is wrong on so many levels and falls in with Very Bad Things as a member of the "So Dark it shouldn't really be called a Comedy Comedy" genre. So if that's your thing, rent World's Greatest Dad.

11. Drag Me to Hell was a little slow going at first but ended up being so funny it's scary. This is horror the way it should be done... tongue-in-cheek. It's laugh-out-loud scary. If you dig campy, funny, ridiculous, horror movies see Drag Me to Hell.

10. Zombieland is the Nascar of ZomComs. It's rednecky, obnoxious and in your face. Sounds terrible, right? Wrong. It's a tremendous amount of fun. It takes its place as the best so far in a recent series movies with running times less than 90 minutes long; short and sweet. It's bloody, gory, and funny, with a smattering of heartwarming moments that help to ground the movie in reality without being too heavy handed.

9. I think I might throw up if I ever watch In the Loop immediately followed by The Hurt Locker. This movie may be slightly over-hyped, but there's no question that The Hurt Locker is one of the best movies of the year. Great performances, directing, writing and effects with a story about the uniqueness of the kind of war we are fighting today from that of WWII all elevate this film from typical war movie and is more convincing than any documentary. The film makers are able to make you care without force feeding you their own opinions; you have to think for yourself.

8. Away We Go is a heartwarming road-trip movie about two thirty-somethings trying to find their place in the world before the birth of their daughter. The two main characters are so endearing and have such chemistry that you can't help but fall in love with them.

7. In the Loop is the funniest political satire that I've seen in a long time. You can't stop laughing, while all the while thinking, "Oh my god, is this how decisions get made?"

6. Consistently funny from beginning to end but never particularly heartwarming, The Hangover is a raucous, raunchy, adventure-mystery-comedy that, as wacky and wild as the plot gets, never goes too far. The action sequences are realistic and are funny because of the the story preceding them, not as a result of quirky dialogue or over-the-top, unrealistic stunts.

5. 500 Days of Summer is the anti-romantic comedy. A quirky indie flick that's as fun as it is sad, without all of the sappy bullshit that people in 90% of all relationships never experience. One of the few films that should consider it an insult that it wasn't nominated for Best Picture.

4. Classic Tarantino. Not exactly suitable for a history lesson, but if you're looking for bloody, vulgar fun at the expense of some very bad people.

3. If you skipped this just because it's Star Trek, you're missing out. They did an exceptional job making this entry accessible to the uninitiated. I have no intention of rewatching any of the original 6 movies in the franchise as a result of this success, but I am eager to see what will come of the series with it's new cast and Abrams in the captains chair.

2. Up in the Air is charming and depressing. Quirky and dramatic. It's artsy, but not too artsy. There's a message about the value of human connection, but I'm not sure what it is and when the credits begin to roll, the story has been satisfyingly unresolved. It will make you laugh, cry, and think. It's well written, directed and acted and in a time when there are more than 200 movies released each year, that's really all one can ask for.

1. Up is absolutely beautiful. Two poignant tales and a great intercontinental adventure are the ingredients for a heartwarming journey of friendship and self discovery that only Pixar could have brought to life so magnificently.

You've probably noticed one GLARING omission from my top 20 and a few other less obvious ones... I just don't think Avatar is worthy of the acclaim it's receiving and District 9 is one of the worst movies of the year despite it's Oscar nomination. I still haven't had the opportunity to see An Education, A Serious Man, A Single Man, and Crazy Heart.

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