Film 2009: the Top 10

Twelve months of film condensed into one list of ten films. Please note that (for the very first time) the top five exists of three Swedish movies and two Dutch movies. Odder than ever before, here’s my Best of 2009.

1. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

People who didn’t like horror already had their vampire film to cherish (Twilight, starring the allegedly yummy Robert Pattinson), but now there’s a horror film horror fans can show to horror haters: the name is Let The Right One In and it’s my n°1 of 2009. (full review here)

2. MILLENNIUM: MEN WHO HATE WOMEN

The first film in the trilogy based on Stieg Larsson‘s books does what a film adaptation should do: have good performances, re-invent the book to make a better film out of it (without betraying the book, director Niels Arden Oplev made hacker Lisbeth Salander’s character more prominent) and having two releases: the original tv version (2 episodes of 90 minutes) and a cinema version (which cuts out the  less essential storyline but keep the story complete). Films two and three will hit the European continent in 2010, an American remake is already scheduled and at this moment the least anticipated film of 2011. (full review in January)

3. HET ECHTE LEVEN

I gave it my best shot and awarded this movie 8.5/10. I’m not sure if the movie would’ve received an 8 or a 9 if it had been directed by another director. Het Echte Leven isn’t perfect, but it’s quirky and has the ability to bring a smile to your face when you’re walking past your movies and get to the letter E (provided you archive your movies in alphabetical order). (full review here)

4. INVOLUNTARY (HAPPY SWEDEN)

An older man who’s hit in the eye by fireworks, a singer on a coach trip that’s halted because of vandalism, two young girls into booze and webcam dances, male bonding that crosses the lines, a teacher whose righteous remarks turn her into an outcast… De Ofrivilliga is a film about peer pressure, or as we said it earlier this year: “Involuntary (Happy Sweden) shows its nature in the title. Part of it shows the shortcomings of the human race, the bracketed part is highly ironic. De Ofrivilliga is a social drama but there’s plenty to laugh at, even if it’s not always out loud.” (full review here)

5. DE LAATSTE DAGEN VAN EMMA BLANK

Plot synopsis: This jet-black comedy from Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam concerns a nasty woman named Emma Blank (Marlies Heuer). A crabby geriatric who lives in a seaside villa and is gradually withering away from cancer, she treats her servants like dogs. Her constant browbeating pushes them beyond the point of indignation and ultimately threatens to incite a small-scale rebellion. (full review pending)

6. ORPHAN

The story of a nice couple (with a somewhat dark history) adopting a sweet, clever girl from an orphanage. Isn’t she sweet? No, she isn’t. Had director Collet-Serra not gone for the easy “I’m gonna scare you” tricks (e.g. the closing of a medicine cabinet with mirrors on it… ooh, you never know if something’s there behind the actress… or the camera pretending someone’s following someone but there isn’t), this would’ve been a contender for Best Film of 2009. All hail to Isabelle Fuhrman‘s portrayal of the not so innocent orphan.

7. THE WRESTLER

The Wrestler, the latest Darren Aronofsky offering, surely doesn’t pose as a feelgood movie (…) The film ends in a way not unsimilar to Aranofsky’s earlier film Requiem for a Dream. The man sure likes his climaxes. (Full review here)

8. EDEN LAKE

Some of my friends also watched the movie and while our rating of the movie differs (between 3 to 4.5 stars out of 5), there are a couple of things we could all agree on: the film is thought-provoking and quite disturbing. So let’s skip the score and rate the movie with words… Eden Lake is “disturbing and thought-provoking”/10. (Full review here)

9. TWO LOVERS

Given that 2009 was the year a lot of films were hard to rate, there was no doubt Eden Lake and Antichrist had to be in the top ten, which made it a tough cookie to crack for the eighth spot: I could go all the way and give it to Moon or make an effort to show you normal films were also made this year. In the end, I didn’t pick Moon because, as interesting as it was, it left me unfulfilled and because I was annoyed at the lousy spelling of the word ‘satellite’ (it’s always written as ‘sattelite’ at the top of the video messages). So let’s give this spot n°8 to Two Lovers (or Two Lovvers as Moon would put it), which was reviewed here.

10. ANTICHRIST

Arguably the best review of Lars von Trier’s latest film (by critic Kurt Vandemaele) included this sentence: “When fans claim only von Trier could make this movie, they’re forgetting only von Trier would want to make this movie.” Truer words still need to be discovered. Antichrist, the latest movie by von Trier, is one hell of a bad trip. (Full review here)

Bubbling under…
11. LONDON RIVER
12. MOON
13. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
14. FISH TANK
15. THE HURT LOCKER
16. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
17. TOWELHEAD
18. ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL
19. DER BAADER/MEINHOF KOMPLEX
20. PANIQUE AU VILLAGE

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4 thoughts on “Film 2009: the Top 10

  1. deeopey January 4, 2010 / 16:14

    A worthy number 1. As usual you seem to have come across many interesting films that never appeared on my radar.

    I managed to catch the Hurt Locker over the holidays (after I did my list) but don’t think it would’ve appeared. Maybe this is my problem rather than the film’s but I’m not quite ready for an apolitical portrait of the war yet. It still made for an interesting portrait.

  2. Kurtodrome January 4, 2010 / 18:33

    I have to say that it wasn’t until later that I started to appreciate the film. I was the only one of my company who initially couldn’t see what was so good about it.

    Still flabbergasted at the top 5: three Swedes and two Dutch. Either my taste has drastically changed or it was a good year for both countries.

  3. deeopey January 5, 2010 / 11:22

    Indeed, it’s always a pleasure to get alerted to these films from the mainland that often won’t even appear in the art house cinemas here.

  4. Kurtodrome January 7, 2010 / 23:30

    Well, “Involuntary (Happy Sweden)” also went straight to dvd here. Even then not all the magazines and papers took notice of it.

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