Top 10 Films of 2009

Okay, so we’re into March already and this list of the Top 10 Films of 2009 should have been up in January but, as they say, better late than never.

avatar james cameron best film 2009

10. Avatar
Why James Cameron made us wait 12 years for “Avatar” only he knows. Perhaps its taken him that long to spend the money he made on “Titanic”. Anyway, thankfully he’s produced a fine adventure film that further proves he is the finest exponent of the science-fiction action genre. “Avatar” isn’t original, it’s only thought-provoking for teenagers, and its dialogue can be cringe-worthy at times. However, it’s a visual feast that will leave you in awe and Cameron’s an eye for dramatic set-pieces will thrust you into this make-believe world with gusto. Not worthy of Best Picture at the Oscars, but still worth the price of a cinema ticket.

let the right one in best film 2009

9. Let The Right One In
Some will say our choice at number 9 shouldn’t actually be here. Not because it doesn’t deserve to be recognised as one of the top films of 2009 but because it’s actually a 2008 film. It was released in Europe at the beginning of 2008 and had a limited US release later in the year. But, here in the UK, it was released in April 2009, so because of that fact, we’re putting it right here at number 9 in our Top 10 films of 2009.

“Let The Right One In” is a brilliant modern vampire film about a troubled young boy who befriends a vampire in 1980s Stockholm.

the wrestler mickey rourke best film 2009

8. The Wrestler
I was blown away by the ending of “The Wrestler” – poignant and perfect, heart-warming and heart-wrenching. Mickey Rourke gives probably his finest performance in a film that seems to echo his own life and troubles in the Hollywood spotlight. “The Wrestler” is technically a 2008 film but it was released in the UK in 2009.

inglorious basterds quentin tarantino best film 2009

7. Inglorious Basterds
Infuriating and languidly paced but also beautifully composed and an ode to the medium Tarantino lives for. “Inglorious Basterds” isn’t his best work but it’s still leaps ahead of most Hollywood product from 2009.

up in the air top film 2009

6. Up In the Air
Jason Reitman again proves that nepotism, though helpful, does not guarantee success. The talented filmmaker follows up “Thank You For Smoking” and “Juno” with “Up In The Air”, another quality character-driven film that is racking up the awards.

500 days of summer  best film 2009

5. (500) Days of Summer
A fine romantic film that tells its story in a unique way and breathes new life on a tired genre.

hurt locker best film 2009

4. The Hurt Locker
Kathryn Bigelow has been deserving of greater recognition for what seems like years. Perhaps “The Hurt Locker” is the moment she finally relieves herself of cult classic director-for-hire status. After all, she has won more Oscars than any other female director living or dead! That might have something to do with the fact she is the first woman to ever win Best Director at the Oscars, but take nothing away from her talent as a filmmaker, or the sheer quality of her Iraq-based bomb-disposal movie “The Hurt Locker”.

top best film 2009 pixar up

3. Up
Can Pixar do wrong? Answer: No. Beautifully realised, brilliantly plotted, wonderful characters – “Up” is the best animated film of 2009.

district 9 best film 2009

2. District 9
Original, funny, frightening, and infinitely rewatchable. It also features South African actor Shalto Copley firing out the word ‘fuck’ a thousand times with the strange undertones of a disgruntled Liverpool football fan. Peter Jackson may be caught up in his overlong fantasy movies but at least his eye for new material and new filmmaking talent is still keen and alert. “District 9” came about after Jackson’s failed attempt to bring video game “Halo” to the big screen left collaborator Neill Blomkamp to search for alternative ideas. The two decided extending Blomkamp’s successful short film “Alive in Joburg” which formed the basis for the “District 9” film we see today.

ken loach looking for eric best film 2009

1. Looking For Eric
Uplifting and heart-warming with the character-driven social realism (albeit with an added fantasy element) that Ken Loach does so well. It might switch tones too easily but this is Loach at his most accessible and his most fun.

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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    Aimz Reply

    “Looking For Eric”…interesting!

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    AvatarFan Reply

    As you can gather from my name I’m an Avatar fan. If watched in a cinema with 3D and DTS sound the film is out of this world. Otherwise, perhaps it’s not as good as some of the others on here but for me – in 3D – it’s the greatest film ever made.

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    Ross McG Reply

    interesting top choice

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    TerryN Reply

    Great list…Looking For Eric is an exceptional film – really uplifting and heatwarming but also dramatic and affecting. Nice to see such a considered list.

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    Castor Reply

    I enjoyed reading your top 10 although I haven’t see your #1 yet. That only makes me interested in seeing it 🙂

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    M. Carter @ the Movies Reply

    I have never heard of your top choice — I’ll have to look into this one.

    I’m happy to see “Avatar” didn’t top your list. Unlike 99.9% of viewers (bloggers included) out there, I didn’t flip for “Avatar.” Sure, the visuals were astounding, but the story wasn’t nearly as original as my top choice, “Inglourious Basterds.”

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    Top10Films Reply

    Yes, definitely check out Looking For Eric – a subtle and touching little Brit film that is the ultimate alternative to Hollywood big-budget actioners like Avatar.

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    Greg South Reply

    Looking For Eric was great fun. A classic sleeper hit if you ask me.

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    Lisa-Ann Reply

    (500) Days of Summer was the first Hollywood romance that could be considered alongside the classics of old. Romance in Hollywood has degenerated into immature, teen-queen crap with little or no depth (as shallow as the characters) and 500 Days was finally a film I could enjoy that didn’t pander to the Now! crowd.

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    Dan Reply

    Too right Lisa-Ann. And look what Hollywood has bestowed on the world this month: Sex and the City 2: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1261945/ (although not this time, ironically, set in The City of Manhattan, which was, as far as I knew, the fifth character). Oh dear!

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    David Lloyd-Smart Reply

    only a man united fan would put that film at the top of the list.

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    Dan Reply

    …and only an Arsenal fan would criticise it, Dave! 🙂

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    CMrok93 Reply

    I have been wanting to see Looking for Eric, for a long time now. Its just that the US never really can handle those UK films as long in the theaters.

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    Dan Reply

    It’s a shame that Looking For Eric hasn’t played for long in the US. But I can understand the reasons – it is very British (obviously with a French twist) and in that it has the mannerisms, sensibility and dialect of northern Britain (Manchester) which has always been a tough sell to an American audience that find the dialogue difficult to understand. I’m not painting everyone with the same brush of course but regional American films have few problems translating to international audiences. When it occurs in the other direction films become a tough sell and distributors lose interest.

    But if you have a multiregion DVD player I’d recommend picking it up on UK DVD.

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    Peter E. Reply

    I will certainly check out Looking for Eric…hard to find in the States. I did feel Avatar and Hurt Locker were both HIGHLY overrated. Lov ed District 9 and put that as my #1 film of the year. Basterds and Summer were also in my Top 10. Up was cute, but they’ve done better than that. Nice list, man! Love the site…

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      Dan Reply

      Give Looking For Eric a chance Peter…it has a British kitchen sink drama feel about it but its story of personal struggle and fantasy escapism is universal. A true indie gem.

      I’d agree with you about Avatar – overrated but I still found it hugely enjoyable. Cameron’s richly detailed world went nicely with a solid, easily digestable story.

      I felt The Hurt Locker, on the other hand, deserved the plaudits it got. Kathryn Bigelow has finally received the recognition she should have got years ago.

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    Great list! I feel bad for you that you had to (officially) wait for The Wrestler till 2009. I never heard of Looking for Eric, I’ll definitely check it out.

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      Dan Reply

      …yeah, having to wait for The Wrestler was annoying but us Brits are used to it! 😉

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    rtm Reply

    I agree with a lot of your picks Dan, in fact Inglourious Basterds was my pick for this year’s Best Picture winner. I’m not a fan of Hurt Locker though, I wrote an entire post inspired by how much I was actually uninspired by it and wondered if there were other critically-acclaimed flicks we can’t sing our praises of. I’m curious about Looking for Eric now that you’ve mentioned it.

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    Encore Entertainment Reply

    Interesting picks, Avatar is the only one of my top 5 here, but that’s actually good because it’s become hated by “serious” movie lovers.

    The rest of my top 5: An Education, Bright Star, Coraline, The Messenger….though I’m thinking now that The Fantastic Mr Fox could easily knock Avatar out now…

    PS. Of your top ten, I have to say I loathe Up in the Air.

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