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Thursday, December 03, 2009
I believe it's been a couple years since I did a "Best Of" list, so no time like the present to remedy that. What follows will be a list of the movies I most enjoyed in 2009 (primarily movies newly out this year or that came out in 2008 but I didn't see until this year).

In no particular order...
  • Star Trek - Solid restart for the classic space series. This was a very likeable, enjoyable film. The new actors accurately captured the old characters. I can't wait for the upcoming sequels.

  • State of Play - A well-done, smart thriller which hides its cards better than most thrillers these days while avoiding cliche plotlines. Plus, it has Jason Bateman, who is awesome even in small roles.

  • Duplicity - Another smart thriller, the team of Julia Roberts and Clive Owen as con artists keeps you guessing, but the payoff is worth the wait if you can keep track of the plot, which at times is a bit hard to follow.

  • Gran Torino - Quite possibly the best movie I saw this year. See here for my review. It's difficult to praise this movie too much.

  • Valkyrie - In this historical WWII film, Tom Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a leader in the Nazi Party who attempts the nearly successful assassination bombing of Hitler. I'm a sucker for a well-done, historical movie, and this one didn't disappoint.

  • Defiance - While we're on the subject of historical WWII films, check out this little gem. Starring Daniel Craig, it tells the riveting story of a group of Jews that survived for a time in a Polish forest. It's not as historically accurate as Valkyrie, but it does get the main points right. Worth a rental.

  • New in Town - I figured I would put one chick flick-ish movie on here, and since few such films are worth much more than target practice, it didn't take long to decide on the one to make this list. New in Town takes place in Minnesota, starring Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. It's a very funny film ("Whatever you do to my daughter I will do to you") that at first pokes a little fun at Minnesotans and their quirks (real or Hollywood imaginary) but in the end is respectful to those Scandinavian Midwesterners and just plain ol' clean fun.

  • Taking Chance - Fantastic movie that depicts a Marine (played well by Kevin Bacon) escorting the body of a dead Marine home to his family. Emotional, apolitical, and very heart-warming, this film is one of the few great war-related movies from the past decade.

  • Seven Pounds - A tear jerker, this drama starring Will Smith is a great movie, even though Christians have to reject the apparent moral of the story.

  • Slumdog Millionaire - The hype may be a bit much, but it is quite good.

  • Changeling - This film is in the odd position of being one of the best movies I've seen in the past couple years while also being one that I am least likely to ever watch again. The subject material (a kidnapping of a child) is not one easy to stomach, particularly as a parent, and the intensity to this Clint Eastwood-directed movie left me feeling emotionally and psychologically drained. It is REALLY good, but be prepared.

  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - Another difficult-to-watch movie, the ending can be seen coming from a mile away, but it still catches your breath all the same. A solid Nazi concentration camp piece.

  • The Counterfeiters - Speaking of the Nazi concentration camp genre, this little relatively unknown foreign flick won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film last year. It tells the very interesting story of the Jews who were enlisted by the Nazis to counterfeit the British pound and the American dollar.

  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop - Okay, I'm sure someone reading this thinks I've moved on to a worst movies list, but this comedy was actually pretty good. In an era that seems to only produce vile stupidity when it comes to comedy, this clean and funny film is worth a Redbox dollar rental.

  • District 9 - This unique sci-fi film is well-done and well-worth checking out on Netflix. Be aware that it is quite gory in spots.

  • (500) Days of Summer - This charming and original romantic comedy is the best of its genre that I've seen since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or 10 Things I Hate About You. Like those other two, it's really funny, relatively clean, and quirky in all the right spots.

  • A Serious Man - The Coen brothers' most recent work, this modern retelling of the Book of Job (with some modifications to the plot) is brilliantly funny in spots (as most Coen movies are) while moving and thoughtful in others. Side note: it was filmed here in Minnesota (the Coens grew up here) and the school scenes were actually shot just a couple miles north of my house.

  • Tell No One - This French film is a very good thriller that begins to make more sense near the end. Like several on this list, not one you will likely find at a Redbox.

  • Appaloosa - Great Western with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen.

  • The Proposition - This film is actually a couple years old, but I just saw it for the first time last night and it's really good. An Aussie Western, it follows the story of three outlaw brothers and the lawman (and his wife) sworn to take them down.

Well, I probably missed a couple other good ones, but that should about cover the movies I found worth my time and/or money in the past year. If you have any others to add or have thoughts regarding the ones on this list, add them in the comment section below.


Chris A said...

There you go with that Gran Torino again. 8)

Darius said...

Yep. :) Changeling was definitely a better movie, but Gran Torino is much more enjoyable, if you know what I mean.

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The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

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