Sunday, January 31, 2010

Five of the Best

These are five of the best movies that I saw in 2009:

  1. Up
    Pixar Animations Studios' The Incredibles is one of my all-time favourite movies (I even keep a small Mr. Incredible figurine on my desk). It's my favourite Pixar movie by quite some distance. I had concluded, with regret, that Pixar would never be able to equal, never mind exceed, what they had achieved in The Incredibles. Until Up came along. Up tops The Incredibles in all departments, but most notably in the emotional intensity and authenticity of the characters and the story. The Oscar for Best Animated Feature is in the bag. Again.
  2. Disney's A Christmas Carol
    Jim Carrey can act. That's not something that comes out too strongly from his previous work. Oh, he can play the fool all right. He can face-pull, slap-stick and wise-crack with the best of 'em. But act, really act? No evidence of that whatsoever. But here, in Robert Zemeckis' version of Dicken's classic 1843 novel, Jim Carrey demonstrates that he is more than just a jester. The use of 3D in this movie is judicious, not gratuitous as in so many movies that have jumped on the 3D bandwagon.
  3. The Hangover
    Sometimes a movie sneaks up on you and surprises you. The Hangover is one of those. I wasn't expecting it be as funny and as well made as it turned out to be. The script is an absolute zinger: witty, twisty (in a nice way) AND it has Mike Tyson in it (No, I'm not telling). It was a huge box office hit (much to the surprise of the people who made and funded it I'm sure). So that probably means a not-so-good sequel is about to go into production. A pity really because I think this film deserves to stand on its own as a modern comedy classic.
  4. White Wedding
    The eyes of the world will be on South Africa this year because, as anyone who hasn't been comatose over the last 12 months knows, the world's biggest sporting event, the World Cup, will be hosted here. But what sort of a country is South Africa anyway--I mean beyond the usual, lazy headlines and cliches? This beautiful and funny little film provides as good a starting point as any for anyone who's interested in finding out. And that includes both those that are familiar with this unique country (or think they are) and those that aren't. Somewhere in the starting credits I saw the name Ken Follett and thought "Wait a minute, is this that Ken Follett?" And so it was. Turns out our Ken is the director's step-father. But anyway, this movie is definitely worth a watch and if there's any justice in this world it should get nominated for a Best Foreign Language Oscar this year.
  5. The Great Debaters
    An odd choice because The Great Debaters came out in 2007, not last year. So what is it doing here? Well, since I'm discussing the best movies I saw in 2009 and I only saw this movie in late 2009 (thanks MS), it stays. Denzel Washington stars (in a supporting role) but the real stars of this movie are the scripting, the casting and Washington's own tender directing. A great film.

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