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Top Ten Movies for 2009

Here they are!

My favorite movies of the past year. I still have a few I want to watch, so (thorughout January) I reserve the right to juggle.

  1. Star TrekWonderful adaption. The best adaptatiotns remain just faithful enough to the source material, but still manage to offer up a few surprises. By far the best Star Trek movie of the bunch, but a potent adaptation in its own right.
  2. Inglorious BasterdsFun to watch, fun to mull over. Once you see it, it’s hard to understand why all WW2 pictures don’t end this way. Now one of my favorite Tarantino pictures.
  3. District 9 – I loved the inventive transformation of the main character. An ugly little man becomes a humane alien.
  4. Sherlock Holmes – Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law have a lot of chemistry as Holmes and Watson.
  5. Fantastic Mr. Fox – Subversive little movie with a lot of heart. I liked the father son relationship. I liked how the boy struggled to be seen by his Dad. I liked how Dad was blinded by his own needs. But most of all I liked watching these characters make the best of their own limitations. “Cluster-cuss!”
  6. Hurt Locker – The most powerful scene shows Sgt James (Jeremy Renner), who has just returned from a horrifying tour in Iraq, wandering through the supermarket with his wife, staring at a wall of cereal, just before he reenlists. Fascinating portrayal of a smart guy who really has no clue what’s motivating him.
  7. AvatarBeautiful movie, engaging if familiar story.
  8. WatchmanBold and original.
  9. Julie & Julia – Meryl Streep is so much fun to watch. Stanley Tucci is a joy.
  10. Taken An episode of 24 but with Liam Neeson.

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I liked Avatar, and I am not even sure why (despite my having a few weeks to think about it). It charmed me. I liked Jake, (Sam Worthington) the broken main character. He’s physically broken (his disability), emotionally weak (easily manipulated by Stephen Lang, the bad marine), and not much of a marine himself (he almost gets himself and his party killed on his first patrol).

Sure, the movie moves forward in a predictable fashion, borrowing from many other movies, and doesn’t even offer us a single good line of dialog for posterity (“I see you.” Gah, how awful). But none of that matters.

The point is watching a mope like Jake turn his circumstances around. This movie reminds me of Rocky. It’s not like Rocky is good because it was the first sports movie to feature an unlikely underdog who came from behind–it’s interesting because Stallone plays such an utterly luckless, shambling clod who must rise above his circumstances.

And none of this takes away from the criticisms people are making about Avatar’s plot, the slim characters, etc. Much of that is true. I wish it would have explored identity with a little more depth and meaning. But it had enough good to win me over.

I found it interesting that Jake had to abandon his body to become more human. I hope they do a little more with the plot in future installments.

It was also very beautiful.

A friend of mine said it’s just a shame he couldn’t have seen this when he was twelve. I completely agree. Aaron and I saw it opening day. Halfway through, he turned to me and whispered, “Thanks for bringing me to see this, Dad.”

My pleasure., son. My pleasure.

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