Dec 29, 2009

Top ten best movies of 2009: part one of three

These are my final top ten favourite films of 2009. It's a re-edited and expanded version of my provisional list posted in November.

This is part one. Check the rest of my blog for parts two and three, as and when I write 'em.

10 - Drag Me To Hell

"You'd be surprised what you'll do when the Lamia comes for you."

This is a silly horror film in which a loans manager irks an elderly client, who then unleashes the curse of the Lamia upon her unsuspecting ass.

Amid a raging torrent of modern horror franchises, this film trumped on two significant counts. Firstly, it is quite scary. From the most terrifying handkerchief in the world, to the inevitable but still shocking conclusion, Sam Raimi ramps up the tension from start to finish.

And it would be too much tension but for the second significant factor: the humour. The comedy can be quite base (sucking someone to death having lost your false teeth, the staple in the woman's forehead) but it's done with a light touch and keeps the respect for the basic horror of the plot.

I feel awful including this in the top ten at the cost of In The Loop and Milk - but this is Raimi on top form. Watch the trailer.

9 - District 9

"What is 'eviction'?"

The politics are obvious. The style is inconsistent. But otherwise, this story of a tragic mis-management of an alien colony is compelling viewing.

And that's the point. District 9 really shouldn't work. Avatar has a much better final battle scene, while the aliens really do look like overgrown prawns. And the whole film's rip-off of The Fly should render it null and void for any discerning movie-goer.

But it's the sheer emotional pull that works here, on the side of Sharlto Copley's helpless cog in the human system as well as the prawns panicking for their lives. It's one of those few films where you are thrown into a complete world right from the start, with its slumdog sci-fi grubbiness, and you never question it once.

District 9 is *almost* the best sci fi film of the year (keep reading!). Watch the trailer.

8 - Slumdog Millionaire

"Maybe its written, no?"

The rags-to-riches story of a poor-to-do boy is told through the strange construct of a television contest. So what makes this better than X Factor's Sigur Ros-soundtracked vignettes, then?

For a start, this snapshot of India (past and present) looks and sounds beautiful, from the sun shining off the tin slum houses to the girl in the gold dress promising so much for Jamal. It is brilliantly scripted, the TV host character is a revelation, and it pulls off the clever trick of feeling like a novel on screen.

More importantly, it has that crazy, overpacked feel of a debut feature. And yet, this is Danny 'Trainspotting' Boyle. Is this his best movie since the story of those Scottish junkies? No, because I think Sunshine is fabulous.

But it still rocks - Bollywood style. Watch the trailer.

7 - Frost/Nixon

I'm in this for all I've got.
David Frost

David Frost, desperate to save his floundering career, sets up an interview with Richard Nixon, the law-dodging president of the United States. What could possibly go wrong?

Frost/Nixon is set up like a boxing match, with the aides of each side constantly giving their prize fighters advice. And what brilliant aides: there isn't a bad actor here, with Frost's sidekicks providing more than a little light relief to counterbalance what is essentially a dry remake of a television interview.

You could be fooled into thinking this is a two header. It is not. With the likes of Kevin Bacon and Sam Rockwell in the wings, it can only be an ensemble piece. But it is ultimately about one man's battle against another. The stakes are high, and the added fiction of a dramatic late night phone call from Nixon to the gregarious TV presenter only serves to stoke the tension to the point of exploding.

Nixon famously lost the battle... but the outcome in this film is a lot less clear. Watch the trailer.

This is part one. Check the rest of my blog for parts two and three, as and when I write 'em.


film script said...

I've seen slumdog millionaire and I really like that movie I enjoy watching it.

Fat Roland said...

Quite right too.

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