Top Five Best & Worst Films of 2009 (That I Saw)

By my best calculations, I saw 18 new movies this year.

Especially with ticket prices being what they are, my defunct student ID no longer fooling anyone at the box office, and my chronic unemployment, I’m astounded that I got to enjoy (and suffer) so many of this past year’s motion pictures.
Despite being a fairly opinionated filmophile, I generally cannot afford to see a broad enough horizon of films to justify giving my two cents. This year, however, Joey Z is weighing in.

I have divided the 18 movies of 2009 I saw into two very generic categories, “Good” and “Bad”. Incredibly, the categories ended up with 9 films each. But this is Baseball For Dinner after all, and that means it’s time for 2010’s first Top Five list. So without further ado, I present to you Joey Z’s Top Five Best & Worst Movies of 2009!

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TOP FIVE BEST FILMS OF 2009 (That I Saw)

5. STAR TREK

Star Trek was a big surprise to me, coming from J.J. Abrams, the dope who cursed the Earth with Mission: Impossible III and, perhaps the greatest comedic travesty of the 1990s, Gone Fishin’. Maybe he’s one of those rare filmmakers who started out as a crap ass writer but really is better off as a director. Or maybe an avocado sandwich could direct a good movie with $150 million, I don’t know. Regardless, Star Trek did a great job of creating a new universe and original plot without disenfranchising die hard Trekkies, or so I am told. Personally I couldn’t care less if they fuck up the continuity of the Star Trek universe. I just thought this movie was kick ass. Even Eric Bana performed well, which after his last 1000 movies is a fact that borders on the absurd. Anyway, I left the theatre elated. If I never see it again, I won’t lose sleep at night. Nuff said.

4. DRAG ME TO HELL

In what was, bar none, the most enjoyable theatrical experience this year, Drag Me To Hell was a welcome dose of campy carnage from fellow Michigander Sam Raimi. I didn’t see Spider-Man 3 because I was really fucking bored with that franchise by the time it came out, but it seems to me that Raimi has just been itching to get back to his roots. Drag Me To Hell was, above all, hi-larious. Never before have I seen a movie so effectively entertain and startle the crap out of an audience while also managing to continuously poke fun at itself. While I’m hesitant to call Drag Me To Hell a “horror movie” through and through, I will say that it’s the first movie in the genre that I’ve enjoyed this much in years. A critical success. Joey Z stamps it “APPROVED”! You’re welcome.

3. FANTASTIC MR. FOX

What can I say? Did you see this movie? The only problem is, I don’t know who to give credit to, since the production design and animation was all done by probably no less than fifty unknowns. Story-wise, it’s Wes Anderson’s weakest film since Bottle Rocket. It pales in comparison to The Darjeeling Limited, it lacks the hilarity of Life Aquatic, is unmatched by the awkward beauty of Royal Tenenbaums, and doesn’t even compare to the ingenious irony of Rushmore. OK, I didn’t love it. The voice acting was good, for the most part. I thought kids might think it was boring, which is worrisome for a PG rated film. It dragged a little in parts, and the ending lasted for about 45 minutes. Still, did you see this movie? It’s absolutely unbelievable. Unprecedented. Period. If I have to hear one more dip shit tell me how incredible Avatar in 3D is, I’m going to stick a sharpened rod deep into my brain. Fuck James Cameron and his shitty movie. Fantastic Mr. Fox reigns king for visual prowess.

2. THE HURT LOCKER

Wow, Kathryn Bigelow! After Strange Days, Point Break, and K-19: The Widowmaker, I thought you had well established your career as a professional clown. Truth be told, I have no idea how you made this film. The rest of your movies have been so shitty I thought James Cameron divorced you out of shame. Guess you can rub it in his face this year when his movie only makes a hundred billion dollars and yours gets nominated for an Oscar!
Which it will. No doubt. I will bet 51% of my farm, $10,000, and my 8th born child that The Hurt Locker will be nominated for Best Picture this year. It had a very limited release, but I managed to catch it at the Oxford International Film Festival in Cincinnati. It’s the best war movie since Saving Private Ryan (or since Platoon, if you think like that), and the best bomb diffusing movie since Blown Away. Just kidding, Blown Away was worse than K-19: The Widowmaker. Seriously. Anyway, you probably didn’t see Hurt Locker, so see it. Seriously.

1. A SERIOUS MAN

Speaking of serious, I could take some serious time to reflect on and ponder just how to describe the magic of the Coen’s most recent cinematic achievement, but I’m not even halfway through this post. Frankly, I don’t know what to say, except that it might be my new favorite Coen Bros film. At the very least, it’s got a solid seat in my top 3. In what at first seems to be a pretty modest achievement considering their last film was about the most visually-stunning and star-studded Hollywood comedy in years if not decades (and disregarding entirely No Country For Old Men), A Serious Man is both hilarious and profound. Like almost always, it’s the things that the Coens don’t say that really make the film speak mounds. I just can’t put my finger on it. But I want, nay, need to see it again.
I had completely forgotten this movie was coming out this past year. I worked with a guy in February who had been on the crew of it, and I never even looked up the release date. When fellow BFD contributors Roscoe, Scotty, Elegant E, and I realized it was playing and decided to see it in the matter of an hour, I wasn’t expecting a movie to beat out The Hurt Locker for my personal favorite. The Coen Bros prove me wrong. Though I’m sure it’ll never take home Oscar gold, at least not for Best Picture, I think it deserves it. Hell, call me a fan boy. Give Joel and Ethan an Oscar every year and I’ll be right there on the sidelines cheering. Now if only they’d remake Commando.

(The Other “Good” Movies I Saw)

*FOOD, INC.
While not a stunning cinematic achievement, it hopped on the “Supersize Me” bandwagon and took it by storm. Again, not a brilliant movie, just incredibly informative. Should have made me not want to eat brand name anything ever again. But, ya know.

*JULIE & JULIA
Nora Ephron’s most recent film starred Meryl Streep in a performance that will no doubt earn her an Oscar nomination. Funny movie, snappy and witty dialogue like usual from Ephron, and good date movie. Afterwards Alice and I tried to look at the stars through my telescope in an empty high school parking lot when a fire engine went well out of its way to come sailing through with its lights and siren flashing. It was odd.

*MOON
I liked it. It was like a psychological mind fuck movie or something. Not what I was expecting. Not all that original, but somehow deeply original in some obscure way. Sam Rockwell plays himself a lot. Kevin Spacey phones it in. I actually paid to see this movie, but it was worth it.

*BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS
No, not GREAT, but I didn’t say this was the “GREAT” category. I generally detest Nick Cage in everything, and he actually did a surprisingly great job in this movie. Maybe he played himself and he’s a huge drug-addicted asshole in real life. Xzibit is a sucky actor. So is Val Kilmer. By the way, Val Kilmer’s been washed up for years, and he sucks, so why is he being 2nd billed in movies that he’s hardly in? Werner Herzog’s best movie since Encounters At The End Of The World, which means absolutely nothing since Encounters was leagues better.

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TOP FIVE WORST FILMS OF 2009 (That I Saw)

5. X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

I saw this movie on accident. We had free run-of-engagement tickets to see Fast & Furious (which I’ll get to), and we were running late. Not wanting to miss a moment of the excitement of cars flipping out of control and Vin Diesel and Paul Walker struggling to under act one another, we bolted straight into Theatre #1, thinking we’d just hand our free ticket vouchers to the ticket taker. Instead, we found ourselves in the wrong theatre just as Wolverine was starting.
At first, I was pissed. I had no desire to see this movie, and I knew it would be a catastrophe. I was fuming in my seat when Alice leaned over and reminded me that we had nothing better to do than see a free movie, and so I sat back and relaxed. And, in the end, enjoyed the hell out of Wolverine. It was hilarious. I laughed way more than I did at The Hangover. Ryan Reynolds as a formidable adversary basically says it all. Pure bunk. Pure, wonderful bunk.

4. ZOMBIELAND

I’m going to ruin this for everyone right now: Bill Murray is in this movie. As himself. And he dies. It’s by far the most hilarious part. Here again, I actually enjoyed watching this movie. It was pretty entertaining. And the effects stood up pretty well too. That being said, anyone who paid $12 to see this movie was pissed. It’s not even 80 minutes long! And, most astoundingly, it has no plot. No, literally! It has a bit of back story, and it has a succinct ending, but it has no plot points. Even for a zombie comedy, a hardly feature-length no-plot theatrical release can’t be considered a good thing. So there.

3. THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS

I want so badly for this to be my #1, because it is by far the movie that disappointed me the most. Woefully, it can only be #3 because far inferior movies earned the gold and silver this year. Still and all, seeing this movie for $12 ruined my day.
It wasn’t funny. Was it supposed to be? I believe so. I think it was billed as a comedy. It sure should have performed well, with its all-star cast. Maybe it has something to do with director Grant Heslov, nobody actor turned director. He might have sold his soul to the devil to direct a movie with all his favorite stars, but he forgot to include a clause that would make the movie good. DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. Don’t even download it. Download a computer virus if you want something better to do.

2. FAST & FURIOUS

I don’t need to tell anyone that this movie is awful. But let me share with you a bit of dialogue shared between Paul Walker and one of the females (I don’t remember who):
Female: “Do you ever stop and think that, all this time you’ve been a good guy pretending to be a bad guy, maybe you’re really a bad guy pretending to be a good guy?”
Paul Walker: *Beat* “…Every day.”
Who thought Justin Lin, the visionary director of Annapolis could fuck up so bad? This movie has made over $359 million worldwide.

1. THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT

I’m tired. I don’t have it in me to describe how bad this movie was. OK, I’ll try.

A teenager is dying of a brain tumor and his mom has to drive him three hours several times a week to get treatment so they decide to rent a house near the hospital. The kid starts seeing freaky shit like dead peepz and whatnot, but he figures it’s a result of the experimental treatments he’s been receiving and if he tells anyone about it they’ll stop giving it to him and he’ll die. Eventually he finds out that it’s not just him and the house is haunted because it used to be a funeral home operated by a psychopath who tried to create necromancers out of corpses and there are tons of dead bodies in the walls of the house. The kid’s dad is an alcoholic and starts drinking again because of all the stress. A minister tries to help the kid but ghosts kill his holy ass. The kid finally cracks the case by burning the house down and cremating all the mummified corpses, which is all they wanted in the first place. Miraculously, the kid’s brain tumor goes away after that. THIS MOVIE IS “BASED ON A TRUE STORY”. FUCK YOU HOLLYWOOD!!!!!! HOW STUPID DO YOU THINK I AM?????!?!?!?!!
After seeing this movie, some friendly guy outside of the theatre asked us if we wanted to hang out and be friends. I did not feel like being friends after seeing this movie. It literally prevented me from making a friend. It made my life potentially worse. It is the worst new movie I saw this year. And the worst part is, I don’t think, deep down, I expected it to be any better than it was. It was three dollars and we were feeling uninspired.

(The Other “Bad” Movies I Saw)

*HARRY POTTER & THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE
I even read the book and I don’t remember a goddamn thing about this movie.

*THE HANGOVER
Am I insane? Why does everyone think this is the most hilarious comedy of the decade? It wasn’t awful, but I didn’t laugh too much. And I love to laugh.

*WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
I can appreciate the amount of work that went into the practical effects (or maybe I can’t even begin to appreciate it). But it’s that pesky “no plot” thing again that gets me. I liked Being John Malkovich better. And all of Spike Jonze’s music videos.

*OBSERVE AND REPORT
This was probably the worst movie of the year, but I don’t even want to talk about it. It doesn’t deserve a spot on my list. Worse than The Foot Fist Way. Fuck you, Jody Hill.

Thus concludes my comprehensive 2009 Movie rundown. If you managed to read this entire post, you’ve earned an autographed picture of me. Please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

BASEBALL FOR DINNER
RE: “JOEY Z AUTOGRAPH”
264 HIMROD 3R
BROOKLYN, NY  11237

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