Top 10 films of 2009 to look forward to.

16 January, 2009

I was a little disappointed by 2008 as a year for film. Very few pictures stick out for me, and unlike the glorious 2007, I haven’t seen a single masterpiece from last year (Which is not to say there isn’t one. I still have to see Let the Right One In and Synecdoche, New York amongst others.) But as you will see from the list I’ve compiled, 2009 will feature films from some of the finest directors in the business, as well as a couple of promising newcomers.

The last time I made a list like this, I received a few comments from whiners because their list didn’t exactly match up from mine. Well, if that’s how you feel, make your own damn list. So without further ado:

10. Whatever Works, dir. Woody Allen: Admittedly there isn’t much reason to get excited about a new Woody Allen film, but a) it’s a new comedy, b) it has gotten the Woodman out of Europe and back to New York, c) Scarlett Johansson isn’t in it, and d) Larry David is the star, which brings two of the great neurotic NYC-based comedians together at last. Plus, it is rumored that the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is going to revolve around the making of this very film, which means that Woody Allen and Larry David will hopefully be acting together. If that doesn’t excite you then I don’t know what will. Oh please, PLEASE be the best Woody Allen picture since Deconstructing Harry.

9. Public Enemies, dir. Michael Mann: Mann is a mixed bag for me but if there’s anyone I trust to pull together a tight and suspenseful crime film, it is this man. It also excites me because it’s the first film in many years in which Johnny Depp actually gets to play a person and not a caricature of himself. Fingers crossed for a return to the truly great Johnny Depp of the 1990s. Christian Bale as his co-star doesn’t hurt either.

8. Inglorious Basterds, dir. Quentin Tarantino: I thought I had gone off Tarantino after Kill Bill and Death Proof but something tells me he is going to hold back on using his bag-of-tricks with this picture. He claims it’s the best thing he’s ever written so I suppose that counts for something. Jackie Brown is the film that proved he could become a truly great filmmaker so here’s to hoping that Inglorious Basterds fulfills the promise of his early work. My only worry right now is the casting. I mean, Mike Meyers? Really? But Brad Pitt has more than proven himself as a fine leading man so I’m sure he’ll make up for the rest.

7. Shutter Island, dir. Martin Scorsese: After Scorsese finally won his Oscar, I got the sense that the director had peaked once and for all; The Departed wasn’t his best work and film fans across the globe had been waiting for him to collect the award for quite some time. Now he has the chance to prove he can still make a great film. I’m glad to see Leonardo DiCaprio is working with him again; he’s no De Niro but I think they make a terrific team nonetheless. Based on Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, I’m not mad about Lehane’s stories, but I’ll keep an open mind on this one. At least it isn’t yet another crime film about Bostonians.

6. Where the Wild Things Are, dir. Spike Jonze: I was enraged when I found out that Jonze had lost the final cut on his third film and was henceforth elated when he got it back. It’s his third feature film, his first without screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, and his first for kids. Apparently this scared a number of the children who saw his cut at test screenings, and that’s reason enough for me to go see it. First of all, I hate kids so good riddance. Second of all, anyone will tell you that kids need to be scared every once in a while in order for a healthy-mind in the future. So bring it on, Spike.

5. A Serious Man, dir. Joel & Ethan Coen: I would see anything the Coen Brothers released in cinemas, and have done so since O Brother, Where Art Thou? What excites me about this film is how small it is compared to their last few. There are no big names in it whatsoever; in fact, their biggest name is character-actor Richard Kind. Even regulars like John Turturro and Steve Buscemi are absent. Having gone to one extreme with the big-budget star-studded Burn After Reading, let’s see how well they fare in circumstances of the opposite extreme.

4. The Limits of Control, dir. Jim Jarmusch: Nobody really knows what an independent filmmaker is anymore, and for those who need schooling in the term, Jim Jarmusch is your man. As usual, little is known about his latest project, but the cast includes Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton, and his cinematographer is the extraordinary Christopher Doyle, who shoots all of Wong Kar-Wai’s films. Jarmusch is one of the few true artists still working in film, and like the Coens, I will support any and all of his endeavours. And you should, too.

3. In the Loop, dir. Armando Iannucci: One of the finest sitcoms of the last 10 years was The Thick of It, Iannucci’s scathing satire about British politics. This film — which will premiere at Sundance next week — is a continuation of the show but with an American bureaucratic outfit as well (including James Gandolfini.) Iannucci isn’t well-known but he is one of the funniest and sharpest comedy writers working today. He has written with Chris Morris and Steve Coogan (also in the film), and it doesn’t get much funnier than those two gentlemen. Can the format work as a feature film? I can’t wait to find out.

2. The Road, dir. John Hillcoat: This film was supposed to come out in time for the Oscars this year but apparently it’s not finished yet. If it’s as powerful as Cormac McCarthy’s book or Hillcoat’s first film (The Proposition), it’ll be well worth the wait. I never envisioned Viggo Mortensen for the main character but he’s a fantastic actor so I’m sure his interpretation will be marvelous. Plus, it means that Nick Cave and Warren Ellis are doing another score. That’s about all I need to know.

1. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, dir. Terry Gilliam: I was looking forward to this film before Heath Ledger’s untimely death, and in a way, my anticipation has doubled because I can’t wait to see how their solution to cast Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell as Heath’s replacement is going to turn out. In addition, it reunites Gilliam with screenwriter Charles McKeown, whom together wrote Gilliam’s masterpiece, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. As if all that weren’t enough, Tom Waits is playing the Devil. TOM WAITS IS PLAYING THE DEVIL. Only fans of his will know just how spectacular that piece of casting is, and I’ll bet he steals the show from everyone: Ledger, Depp, Law, Farrell, and even Christopher Plummer. Either way, it promises to be one of the most unique moviegoing experiences of the year, and I hope it puts an end to the Gilliam curse once and for all.

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One Response to “Top 10 films of 2009 to look forward to.”

  1. Noah said

    I just realized I forgot about the new Terrence Malick picture, The Tree of Life. That’s definitely on my radar for 2009…if it’s even finished by then.

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