Senior Editor
12.29.09 64 Comments

I’m not going to pretend I’m qualified to name this year’s best movies (more qualified than most who make these lists, but still) or that I saw every movie, but people on the internet love lists, and I love money.  I find that the strippers object when you try to stuff post-it notes in their vaginas.  On that note, here are the 10 movies of 2009 that I would stuff in my vagina like a $1,000 dollar bill.  KNIVES OUT!

1. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
I need to see this again to truly understand what I experienced, but if I’m honest, it was probably the most fun I had in a theater this year. (I should’ve gone with Alanis Morissette *frownie*) Was it fun because it was really good, or just really crazy and weird?  I don’t really know.  But isn’t it a little unfair to make that distinction?

2.  The Hurt Locker
Definitely the most well-made movie this year.  It was a simple, straightforward plot, but it was well-acted, perfectly shot, and as tense as waiting for your STD-test results.  It really took you to another place, and that’s what it’s all about, right?  (other than being able to sit on your ass and eat nachos).  Every director should study the way this was storyboarded and edited. Especially Brett Ratner, that guy sucks.

3. Anvil! The Story of Anvil
What can I say, there’s just something about middle-aged men trying to live out their childhood dreams while repeatedly getting kicked in the face that does it for me.  It kept making me teary-eyed without feeling like it was trying really hard to do so (like Up). Damn you, you lovable Canadians.

4. Star Trek
See, now this is how you make a crass, big-budget spectacle.  Whenever I bash Michael Bay movies, people inevitably get all uptight like, “Dude, what did you expect!”  To them I offer this analogy.  Whenever you go to a greasy burger joint, they give you those napkins that are essentially two Kleenexes folded together that barely soak up anything and you have to use like 50 of them just to get a drop of mustard off your hand.  The other day I went to In n Out Burger, and when I opened my napkin expecting that one-ply, twice folded garbage, I instead got a spongy, reasonably-sized real napkin that I only needed one of.  My point is, you can be like Michael Bay and give people almost-worthless crap and then yell at them that they should’ve expected it, or you can be like JJ Abrams in Star Trek, put two more seconds of thought into it, and make people smile.  Yeah, they’re both greasy burger joints, and that’s what’s I expected, but guess which one I’d rather go to.

5. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Much as I like to give Wes Anderson crap for dressing like a Victorian-era boarding school student, he’s a solid director and a brilliant production designer.  He still needs a good script to really shine, and whereas he had one in this and in Rushmore, he didn’t so much in Darjeeling Limited or Life Aquatic.  Long story short, it was really the foxes eating that did it for me.

6. Up
Just because I complain about it trying really hard to make me cry doesn’t mean it wasn’t still an awesome Pixar movie.  The short at the beginning was also incredible.  I guess I’m just a sucker for talking dogs.  “I was hiding under the house because I love you.”

7. District 9
Finally saw this a couple days ago.  Besides the awesome gut splatter everywhere, I was surprised by how funny it was.  Aliens who go nuts for cat food?  Amazing.  A main character who blubbers pathetically while eating cat food?  Jeeves, fetch my jizz rag.

8. Inglourious Basterds
The only thing that keeps from being higher on the list is that it was about 20 minutes too long.  Why can’t more period pieces be this fun?  Quentin Tarantino’s success teaches our children a valuable lesson:  Do lots of coke and don’t learn to spell.

9. Adventureland
What’s that?  This was sucky and boring and I’m an idiot for putting it on the list?  Blow me.  This is what good comedies used to be like: funny and honest with three-dimensional characters and an actual story arc.  Plus good music, and no stupid, hijinxy set pieces.  Maybe it would’ve played more theaters if they’d written it as a more mainstream comedy — perhaps a scene where Sandra Bullock gets her Blackberry stolen by an eagle?  Hilarious!

10. (tie) Funny People
Like Inglourious Basterds, it should’ve been 20 minutes shorter.  At least.  And could’ve cut a couple of the cute celebrity cameos.  But I love it for what it almost was.

Up in the Air
I don’t think it’s quite as good as it’s getting credit for, but it’s still pretty good.  Clooney is always easy to watch (except when he’s cloggin’ up a truck stop toilet) and Jason Reitman is the real deal.  Anna Kendrick got better as the movie went on, but I didn’t buy her little crying scene.

Honorable Mentions:
UPDATE: Where the Wild Things Are
Yep, this was a straight oversight.  I’d put it higher if it dragged a little less in the middle and was a little less emo, but Spike Jonze is the man.

The Informant!
It’s not what I thought it would be, and it was underrated.  Matt Damon was almost enjoyable enough to make up for how boring he was in Invictus.

Again, underrated.  Yeah the ending sucked, but in my book Jackie Early Haley being an awesome psychopath and the slow-motion Kennedy assassination scene set to Bob Dylan more than made up for it.  Now that I think about it, maybe it should’ve been on the main list.  And no, I never read the book.

I get why people don’t like it — being uncomfortable has to make you laugh for you to enjoy this movie.  If it doesn’t, you’ll just want to run away.  But I appreciated that whereas in Borat (which was much better) most of the people being pranked were nice folks who just wanted to be helpful, Brüno‘s targets were mostly people who’d make their 3-year-olds lose 20 pounds, and generally people who should be in jail.

No movie’s visuals were ever good enough to make up for a story that was recycled trash.  But Avatar comes pretty close, and that’s impressive in and of itself.

Movies I never got to see:
In the Loop
Big Fan
A Serious Man —
The Coen Brothers are basically the hottest, most-acclaimed living directors living right now.  How is it I have to be in effing New York City if I want to see their movie?
Drag Me to Hell
Precious — I’ll see this at some point, but hearing about the scene where the main chick steals a bucket of chicken and then eats it as fast as she can and then shows up to class with grease and pieces of fried chicken all over her morbidly obese face doesn’t exactly make me want to rush out and buy a ticket.
The Road
Mystery Team
Plus a lot of foreign films I just didn’t have room for.

Movies I did see that made other peoples’ lists that I specifically left off:
World’s Greatest Dad
It was a great, ballsy idea and a pretty good movie — Daryl Sabara as Robin Williams’ A-hole kid is classic — but I hated the ending.  It was a downer and a cop out.

Anyone who puts this on their list is looking at Eastwood’s past achievements without seeing the actual movie.  It wasn’t a bad movie, but the way the rugby players were written was waaaay too boring to make it worthwhile.

500 Days of Summer
Marc Webb is an amazing director and that Hall & Oates dance scene was fantastic.  The script just wasn’t that good.  And the last 15 minutes were a total train wreck.

Again, good direction, plus an amazing Bill Murray cameo.  But it was stock characters in a stock premise.  And the amusement park scene was stupid.  It was good for what it was, but it shouldn’t have been made.

Public Enemies
I love Michael Mann and Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, but this was a crummy movie.  Kind of the opposite of The Hurt Locker — instead of tension or suspense, we got closeups of muzzle flashes and couldn’t tell who the hell was even shooting at each other.  No one goes to an orgy in the dark.

The Hangover
Tough choice.  It was very funny and something I’ll probably watch over and over again, but it didn’t feel like a complete movie.  I probably would’ve said the same thing about Tommy Boy and I’ve since watched that roughly 1500 times, so what the hell do I know.  Consider it the Jury Prize, maybe.

I Love You, Man
Jason Segel is great, but the plot was way too formulaic for me.  And stop explaining every GD joke, we’re not infants.

There you have it, folks, DON’T DISPUTE ME!  Just kidding, feel free to explain what an idiot I am in the comments section.

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