My favorite movies of 2009

I’m a bit late to the game, but just having refreshed my blog layout, I’m posting this now rather than never. I’ve also been updating my movie records, so here’s my recap of 2009.

The formula:

I watched just 8 movies in theaters in 2009, down from 18 the year before (a 55% dip). In previous years, when preparing my “best of” list, I’ve limited the list to only movies I saw in theaters during that calendar year. This time around, I’m amending that formula to include any movie I’ve watched in theaters or at home, as long as it was released in 2009. For comparison, I’ve starred (*) the 8 movies in the list that I saw in theaters during the calendar year 2009.

The downside to this new formula is that I’m essentially picking an arbitrary date (April 17, 2010) to declare my 2009 list closed; in the past I marked it closed on Dec. 31st of that year. While the old formula makes it easy understand, I simply saw both too few movies in 2009, and too many from that year in early 2010, to not expand the criteria. While purists might complain, I would rather my list be comprehensive rather than drastically incomplete.

The results:

Overall, I felt the quality of movies released in 2009 was up significantly over those released in 2008; this year I found it noticeably more difficult to order the list. Some other notes:

  • While I consider comedy my favorite genre, this is the 2nd year in a row that an action movie has made the top of the list.
  • Last year, my top drama came in at #12 (and it wasn’t even a clear drama); this year my 10 includes 4 dramas; my top 3 includes 2.
  • My favorite actors of the past two years would appear to be Paul Rudd, Robert Downey Jr., and Jason Segel. They are the three actors who have appeared in a top 10 pick in both ’08 and ’09.

The list:

Here’s my list for 2009:

Didn’t like:
19. GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra


18. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
17. The Invention of Lying
16. Avatar
15. Angels & Demons
14. Funny People*
13. Up
12. Monsters vs. Aliens*
11. Extract*


10. I Love You Man*
9. Adventureland
8. Observe and Report*
7. The Hangover
6. Star Trek*
5. Inglourious Basterds
4. An Education
3. Up in the Air*
2. (500) Days of Summer*

My favorite of 2009:

1. Sherlock Holmes (Top action)

2008 movies of the year

During the course of the year, I watched 18 movies released in 2008. Here’s my list, ranked least to most favorite. Here’s my 2006 recap; I did not make a list in 2007.

I came up with this list in a hindsight view looking back on the year. To see how this list compares to my immediate post-viewing thoughts, you can compare this list to my IMDB ‘Recently Seen’ movies list, where I kept a log of movies as I watched them and ranked them within a day or so of the first viewing.


18. Cloverfield
17. Definitely Maybe
16. Semi-Pro
15. Space Chimps
14. Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay


13. Zach and Miri Make a Porno
12. Be Kind Rewind (Top Drama)
11. Step Brothers
10. Horton Hears a Who
9. Baby Mama
8. Indiana Jones 4
7. Tropic Thunder


6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
5. Role Models
4. Iron Man
3. Pineapple Express (Top Comedy)
2. Quantum of Solace

1. The Dark Knight (Top Action)

Quick thought on IMDB

Something just hit me…IMDB is the best and biggest movie & TV info website on earth. So whhhhhyyyy aren’t they leveraging their incredible content, community, and traffic by integrating at least *some* amount of social networking features? Seems like a huge lost opportunity here.

Movies we’ve seen recently

Some movies we’ve seen recently, with links, ratings, and brief comments.

The Illusionist4 out of 5 stars An excellent, thoroughly riveting (if predictable) movie about a misunderstood magician that proved to be genuinely satisfying in its conclusion without being trite or needlessly confounding. And of course, Ed Norton and Paul Giamatti were both great.

Beerfest2.5 out of 5 stars We keep waiting for comedy troupe Broken Lizard to rival the classic Super Troopers, but unfortunately we found Beerfest, while much funnier than their Club Dredd, to be nonetheless a let down compared to Troopers. While this movie had some laugh-out-loud moments, it felt endless and lacked some of the same genuine camradarie that made Super Troopers more accessible.

Stranger than Fiction4 out of 5 stars I expected to dislike this one. I truly enjoyed it. It captured the right mixture of whimsy, fun, and seriousness. Kudos to Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson, and the Queen (among many others) for worthy performances and thanks to all involved for a fine ending.

The Prestige3 out of 5 stars Wow, two really excellent films about magicians were released in 2006. This one earned more acclaim, but I didn’t quite like it as much as The Illusionist. Although I think it’s still quite excellent. I especially enjoyed the mixture of historical drama with fantasy, the twists and turns in unexpected ways, and the endlessly untidy ending.

Casino Royale4.5 out of 5 stars We watched this again after I called it my favorite movie of 2006. And I still feel that way after a second viewing of this outstanding film. Watch for the amazing action sequences, classic Bond homages, new twists, clever touches, smart writing, and one of the best endings ever for an action movie. I can’t wait for the next one.

2006 Movies of the Year

I watched 17 19 20 21 movies that were released in 2006. Here’s the list of films I saw, ranked in order from least to most favorite:

UPDATE: I’ve seen 2 4 more films released in 2006 since I first wrote this post. I’ve integrated them into the list.

21. You Me and Dupree
20. Pirates Of the Carribean 2: Dead Man’s Chest
19. The DaVinci Code
18. The Departed
17. Accepted
16. Grandma’s Boy
15. The Lake House
14. Little Miss Sunshine
13. Mission Impossible III
12. The Break-Up
11. Scoop
10. Miami Vice
9. Cars
8. Click
7. Nacho Libre
6. Clerks III
5. Looking for Kitty
4. Inside Man
3. Thank You For Smoking
2. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

1. Casino Royale

Some movies we’ve enjoyed lately

We gave up on the summer of junky movies and turned to Blockbuster’s cheapest DVD rental plan instead. For just $8/month, we get two movies delivered and 2 more in-store rentals for free. Thankfully, we’ve uncovered some real gems using the service lately. Here’s a rundown:

Brick3 1/2 out of 5 – Joseph Gordon-Leavitt carries this bizarre, amazing, dark, comic, and inventive modern noir tale set against the backdrop of high school.

Lonesome Jim4 1/2 out of 5 – My pick for the most criminally under-rated film of 2005. Casey Affleck gives another great performance in this hilariously bittersweet tale of a small-town family. Liv Tyler is as good as always and some excellent supporting performances, crack writing, and wise pacing make this movie a rare, totally enjoyable and redeeming night in a pretend-land that is cringe-inducingly close to reality.

Pride & Prejudice4 out of 5 – The millionth re-telling of one of my favorite books, I hesitated to watch this really beautifully-shot period piece, thinking that the classic BBC mini-series was the final say on the material. I was really wrong, as this version stands on its own as a well-written interpretation. Possibly- possibly– better than the BBC mini-series.

Inside Man3 1/2 out of 5 – Denzel Washington and Chiwetel Ejiofor crackle in this engrossing, truly original caper. Forget the mediocre or pandering reviews and make this a double feature with my next recommendation.

Confidence3 1/2 out of 5 – A slick, intelligent thriller that will keep you guessing from the first scene to the very end. Plus some great performances from stellar actors like Dustin Hoffman, Paul Giammatti, Ed Burns, and Rachel Weisz.

Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic 3 1/2 out of 5 One of the filthiest comedy concert movies ever made, but one of the funniest in recent memory as well. Don’t watch this before familiarizing yourself with Siliverman first- then, watch it soon after.