But before we get to the real list I'd like to make a few shoutouts to movies that just missed my top ten (ish) list or I still found to be quite good.
Up was arguably a weaker Pixar effort for me. Although a B+ from me is still more than a solid grade, other films from the studio did way more for me. I'm not sure exactly what went "wrong" here, but I feel the movie as a whole wasn't as meaty or adult as their previous works. Maybe it was too subtle? Or maybe they just wanted to go lighter this time around. I don't blame them. Wall-E transcends as a lovestory and Ratatouille is quite the hearty dish. Everyone wants to kick back and relax every so often.
The Hangover and Star Trek were bothwild summer popcorn flicks that I dug. They were just good, clean (Err you know what I mean) healthy fun films too watch, and were surprisingly well crafted on many levels. Harry Potter 6 hit home as many different films at once. A horny teen comedy, a mesmerizing art piece, a fantastical journey and an emotional twister, easily becoming the most eclectic and best Potter yet.
And we have one VERY unfortunate just miss, a JUST miss on this list...
Where the Wild Things Are.
Ahh man. Such an incredible movie. Takes a 20 page thesis and makes a brilliant, deliciously dark kids fantasy out of it. Everything the book should have been on the screen. God bless you Spike Jonze. You really did Sendak right. Whenever I go on a wild rumpus (I have those often believe me) I'll think of you. AROOOOO!!!
Now onto the list, the real contendehs.
A haunted thing. A sad creature roaming around space, and its Jones job to keep it afloat, what really sends it zooming is Sam Rockwells empathetic performance as the lonely spaceman, giving us broad insight into the life of the man on the moon, also a thoughtful underlying anti-government message. Do they control us? Freaky.
9. District 9
Rarely do recent sci fis effortlessly mix style and substance as seen here. Sharlto Copley anchors this frenzied anti-alien virtuoso pic, and at the centre of all the machinery, lasers and mild racism (meh), that insues is human drama, blended together fluidly with ease by newcomer Blokamp. Not a superb sci-fi film, but rare in that it elevates its ideals to hit emotional peaks in its viewer, and that is why it succeeds. For me anyway.
8. The Hurt Locker-Up In The Air
These two films are both critically lauded and acclaimed, having been showered with awards. I'm not sure I quite see the reasoning for the frenzy. Both films have very strong aspects, however something seems to be lacking in the overall product to make the movies things that I'd go completely gaga over.
The Hurt Locker is the rare war film that propels the relatively overdone battle in Iraq, past that and into a highly intense action thriller with sweat drenching drama at its core. However, for every moment of effortless, subtle high energy action, for every fantastic performance, there is lag. Loads of lag, that eats away at the general greatness of the movie.
Up in the Air, on the other hand is a fine, sleek, suave and highly sophisticated existential dramedy. Its thesis on isolation and anti-love are very well explained throughout the film, the growth of the characters in these terrains can be felt. And past that; the film is quite funny in its maturity and wise approach toward Reitmans quirkiness. In this case what is lacking for me is a human touch. The entire affair seems oddly distant, one can argue that that is probably the essence of the film itself, but this feeling I have goes past that. It's oddly stiff and unengaging and regardless of these intention, there has to be more than a mild connection for something like this to be pulled off right.
7. (500) Days of Summer
A creative, oddball indie rom-com, that takes a number of spins on the genre to create this highly affecting yet highly hilarious film. Human questioning of love. What is it really? An aspect most other rom-coms try desperately hard to find the answer too, and many wind up (although many are just as virtuoso in vision) using the same text book thought process. Boy meets girl. Boy marries/shags/partnersupwith/whatevers girl. Boy a) keeps her b) loses her. But I love how (500) tells you flat out what the deal is. It's a story of boy meets girl, but it is not a love story. At least not a standard one. In doing so, it successfully observes its idea from an ambiguous standpoint, and by the time the movies' said and done, it'll have given us all the tools we need to figure out love and companionship on our own, for better or worse.
Also, oddly enough, is Up in the Air's antithesis, well depending on which side you take in (500) since it's kind of two films.