Top Ten Movies Midway Through 2009


Top Ten Movies Midway Through 2009

Last year I did a mid-way top ten and only two of the films on that list (WALL•E and In Bruges) made my year end top ten. How many of this year’s mid-way ten will make it? Judging by tomorrow’s list of the 20 films I am anticipating over the next six months I wouldn’t be surprised if the list changes drastically, but that is then… this is now.

Photo: 20th Century Fox / Focus Features / Sony Classics / Summit Entertainment / Miramax

Before we get to the list of ten I have a few that just missed the cut starting with Adventureland, which is actually my #11 selection and the first one to miss the top ten. As a matter of fact it is almost interchangeable with my #10 selection. But over the years I have grown to hate the idea of a tie in these kind of lists so Greg Mottola’s fantastic little rom-com gets the shaft in this case, but nonetheless is a film I will fondly remember from the first half of 2009.

Next up is Knowing, a film that would have probably made it into the top ten but I was disappointed in what I got out of it the second time around — as I detailed in my Blu-ray review. I expected it to have a longer staying power, but it appears what I saw the first time just didn’t move me as much as I thought it would the second time. I still think it’s a solid film, but just not good enough.

I felt the same way about Taken when I recently revisited that one. However, I think Taken is a perfect example of a film meant to be seen in the theater. The sound of the gunfire and the kinetic energy behind it makes for a solid theatrical experience that just couldn’t be matched at home. There is also a certain measure of surprise from some of the situations that just can’t be duplicated the second time around.

Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom is a film I expect many will find on DVD and will become one of 2009’s welcome memories. While I didn’t necessarily think it was a perfect film it is a film I am anxious to revisit in hopes my issues with it will subside over time and additional viewings.

Finally, Woody Allen’s Whatever Works misses the cut just by a hair. It’s a solid Allen effort that just never seemed to entirely click. It’s quite funny and a great watch, but the funny wasn’t enough as it became a little redundant and oftentimes felt a little too scripted. Oh well, perfection is hard to attain and I would never say these next ten are perfect by any means, but the two that top the list are definitely competing for placement on the year end top ten.

Away We Go
Photo: Focus Features

I was actually surprised to see the Rotten Tomatoes ranking for Sam Mendes’s little film has hit “fresh” territory at 66% considering I only seem to hear people bad-mouthing this film across the Internet. Obviously I enjoyed it and said it was my favorite of Mendes’s oeuvre when I recently ranked his first five films and then it spurred additional conversation when I asked “Do Sam Mendes’s Films Attack the State of American Marriage?“. There has to be some kind of value here… right?

Public Enemies
Photo: Universal Pictures

Here is a film I have yet to return to even though I thought I may try and hit it up over the July 4th weekend, but ultimately decided against it as I felt it was still too soon. Public Enemies is a film I can already tell is either going to slowly become a personal favorite for all-time or will wither away into obscurity. I still plan on catching it one more time in the theater before DVD becomes the measuring stick and am hoping for the best.

There is no doubt this film, at the very least, raised some interesting conversation as well as some curious scorn from Entertainment Weekly critics Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum in this little video feature. Gleiberman even attacks the argument many have made saying it is an art film. He calls such an approach just an excuse and says, “I think this movie really does lack juice and I don’t think anyone should make excuses for that.” I have never been a fan of the approach both Gleiberman and Schwarzbaum take to movies, but it is nice to see them trying a little harder now as it appears EW realizes shilling for studios with first look pictures just isn’t going to make the grade any longer.

Photo: Disney / Pixar

I know everyone is falling head over heels for Pixar’s Up, but one thing about Pixar films and me is I don’t necessarily seem to take to them until after watching them a few times. I was really down on Ratatouille after seeing it in theaters and now it has slowly become one of my all-time favorite animated films. Then there is last year’s WALL•E, which was definitely an exception to my little rule as I was convinced it would be nominated for Best Picture as I walked out of the theater. That prediction obviously went awry, but I have since said I think Up is now a lock for one of those Best Picture slots as the Academy has gone to ten nominees. I just hope I get a chance to warm up to this one a little more once we get deep into Oscar season. It’s always nice to have something to cheer for.

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