Everyone always complains that there are not enough good movies out there. I always hear, “This year has been especially bad.” If you’re saying that, you’re not opening your eyes, from big blockbusters, to horror films, animations, and independent films, there have been plenty of quality films released this year. Yes there were also the Wolverine‘s and All About Steve‘s trying to to pull you down, but don’t say you weren’t warned!
As I was creating my list, there were so many great films this year that I had to expand my Top 10 to a Top 15 with 15 more honorable mentions. Without further ago here they are…
15. District 9
The cheapest and best blockbuster made this year, with the help of Peter Jackson, Neill Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley surprised everyone with this creative, action packed film that was the perfect mix of brains and brons, and special effects and story.
14. The Hurt Locker
Kathryn Bigelow proves that women can do an action/war film better than any man. Jeremy Renner excels as the lead character in the film and from the locations to the script it succeeds in every way. Definitely one of the most powerful and bad-ass films of the year.
- Director: Kathryn Bigelow
- Starring: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty, with special appearances by Guy Pearce, Ralph Feinnes, David Morse, and Evangeline Lilly
- Writer: Mark Boal
Aside from the fact that this is probably the most perfect role for George Clooney, Wes Anderson (and others) took an old school style and revived it in this amazing film. Not only is it fun to watch, but it’s also fun to look at from the rich texture to the amazing costumes. It’s clever without being condescending and a great film from start to finish.
- Director: Wes Anderson
- Actors: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman,
- Writers: Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach (screenplay), based on a novel by Roald Dahl
12. In the Loop
Probably one of the smartest, funniest, most underrated films of the year. It’s very much a comedy of errors dealing with the US and the UK governments trying to “deal” with war. Somehow it managed to slide under the radar, but I assure you, buy it on DVD and you will not be disappointed.
- Director: Armando Iannucci
- Actors: Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison, Anna Chlumsky, Enzo Cilenti, Paul Higgins, Mimi Kennedy
- Writers: Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Tony Roche
11. An Education
A simple story, told extremely well. It’s smart, intriguing, and extremely well acted and directed. It’s hard to believe, but for all the buzz this film is getting, it lives up to expectations.
- Director: Lone Scherfig
- Actors: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams and Emma Thompson
- Writers: Lynn Barber (memoir) and Nick Hornby (screenplay)
10. The Messenger
Stunningly well acted, one of the best scripts I’ve seen all year, and overall one of the most important and relevant films you can watch. Sadly, it hasn’t received much attention but not because it doesn’t deserve it.
- Director: Oren Moverman
- Actors: Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton
- Writers: Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman
This was the only vampire film that you really needed to see this year. It’s absolutely beautiful and has a story for more than just 13 year-old girls. Ok-bin Kim gives one of my favorite female performances of the year.
Interview: Chan-Wook Park
- Director: Chan-Wook Park
- Actors: Kang-ho Song and Ok-bin Kim
- Writers: Seo-Gyeong Jeong and Chan-wook Park
Finally a romantic comedy for people with brains. Fun, quirky, and will have you strutting out of the theater with Hall & Oates in your head.
- Director: Marc Webb
- Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel
- Writer: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
As if you haven’t heard enough about this film already. It lived up to the hype and if Carl didn’t make you cry and Dug didn’t make you laugh, you have no heart. It’s damn near perfect.
Interviews: Pete Docter
- Director: Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson
- Actors: Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai and Bob Peterson
- Writer: Bob Peterson and Pete Docter, story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson and Thomas McCarthy
6. The Cove
Beautiful to watch, important, and down right amazing. As I said before in my review “If you don’t see this film you’re a bad person.” Not only is it entertaining to watch but it will move you to do something better with your life. How many films can you say that about?
Interviews: 1:1 with Louie Psihoyos
- Director: Louie Psihoyos
- Appearances By: Richard O’Barry, Charles Hambleton, Joe Chisholm, Mandy-Rae Cruikshank, Louie Psihoyos
- Writer: Mark Monroe
The first 20 minutes of this movie are as close to perfection as it gets. The rest of the film is pretty fucking amazing too (you have to swear when writing anything to do with Tarantino – sorry, it’s the rules!) and Christoph Waltz gives the best performance of the year. Overall the film is a complete triumph, the script is amazing, the acting was phenomenal and they got to kill Hitler!
- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- Actors: Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Melanie Laurent, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth and B.J. Novak
- Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Finally a horror film that will make you laugh and scream simultaneously. Simple, effective and down right entertaining. This is probably the best “film experience” you could have had in a theater all year.
Interview: Sam Raimi
- Director: Sam Raimi
- Actors: Alison Lohman, Justin Long and Lorna Raver
- Writer: Sam Raimi and Ivan Raimi
Deals with an honest, realistic and depressing subject matter in an uplifting way which actually makes you feel good walking out of the theater without a cheesy “everything will be fine” message. Damn impressive!
- Director: Jason Reitman
- Actors: George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga
- Writers: Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner, Walter Kirn (novel)
Definitely could be my #1 pick. Director Duncan Jones is a genius and despite it’s minuscule budget, he created one of the best sci-fi films seen since 2001. Sam Rockwell was the perfect man for the job, he’s one of the only actors who you can watch for 90 minutes straight and still find interesting and intriguing.
- Director: Duncan Jones
- Actors: Sam Rockwell and Sam Rockwell, with Kevin Spacey
- Writer: Duncan Jones (original story), Nathan Parker (screenplay)
1. Mary and Max
The one none of you have heard of but should have. Sadly it never made it to theaters but you can find it on some movie channels on your TV, on DVD, or maybe (if all goes well) in theaters at some point. It opened the Sundance Film Festival and for good reason, it’s dark, funny, and the most oddly inspiring, intelligent and beautiful film of the year.
Interviews: 1:1 with Adam Elliot
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
- Pirate Radio | Movie Review | Nick Frost Video Interview | Talulah Riley Interview | Tom Sturridge Interview
- Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus | Movie Review | Terry Gilliam Interview
- Zombieland | Movie Review | Zombieland Press Conference | Zombieland at Comic-Con
- The Informant! | Movie Review
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs | Movie Review | Anna Faris Interview | Bill Hader Interview
- Taking Woodstock | Movie Review
- Branson | Movie Review | Interview with Brent Meeske and Jackson Cash
- Julie and Julia | Movie Review
- Away We Go | Movie Review | 1:1 with Sam Mendes | John Krasinki | Maya Rudolph
- The Hangover | Movie Review
- Star Trek | Movie Review | Press Conference 1: Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Leonard Nimoy and Zachery Quinto | Press Conference 2: JJ Abrams | Press Conference 3: Chris Pine, Eric Bana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Clifton Collins
- Is Anybody There? | Movie Review
- Adventureland | Movie Review | Greg Mottola Interview
- The Damned United | Movie Review
- Where the Wild Things Are | Movie Review | Spike Jonze and Max Records | Creative Team Video Interview
Disagree with me? Have another film you think should have been on the list? Leave a comment and let me know!