2009 was a good year for smaller films (by that I mean the really big blockbusters went over like a fart in church for me) resulting in what is an eclectic list by my standards.
10. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
A bit over-hyped but this neat little chiller makes it just by sheer virtue of how well made it is.One of the few found footage films I like, it has some nicely creepy moments like the female lead just standing over her bed, watching her boyfriend sleep for several hours.To be fair though, watching anyone you didn't give birth to sleep for more than a few minutes is a little creepy, demonic possession or not so it does lose a point there.Still, a very well made horror movie.
9. SHERLOCK HOLMES
I'm a sucker for mysteries and Robert Downey Jr. so this one ended up being right up my alley.Good direction by Guy Ritchie, a nice pair of performances from Downey and Jude Law and one or two nice action set-pieces make this one a pleasant surprise.
8. MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D
Speaking of nice surprises, I found this cheesy remake of a quite good 80's slasher to be a hell of a good time.It really says something that this was able to be a much better Friday the 13th film tone-wise than the actual reboot that was put out about a month after this one was released.This has some great gore, a nice Tom Atkins role and a refreshing sense of humor.It's not the second coming of cinema or anything, but I had fun with it.
7. THE HURT LOCKER
Not sure it was really Best Picture material but overall, Kathryn Bigelow's action drama is a nicely tense, engaging thriller with some decent acting.Plus, I just love the fact that the director of frigging Point Break has an Oscar!
Sam Rockwell is the reason to see this moody, fascinating bit of science fiction that has a lone man on a moon base slowly coming to terms with his reality.It's a really, really good little movie.
5. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
Nor my favorite Tarantino film (the fact that it was marketed as an action film is really stupid) but nevertheless it is a wonderfully written and acted film that uses the simple notion of language as a means of creating suspense.Christophe Waltz is mesmerizing as the bad guy and the ending is maybe one of the great cathartic moments in recent film history.
4. DISTRICT 9
This is just a fun, though slightly heavy-handed throwback to those great mid-80's science fiction films that gave you not only some great visuals but also a thing or two to think about.Well acted and directed with some great creature designs, this is one of my favorites.
3. BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS
Once again, Nicolas Cage proves that two hours of an actor being told to do whatever the hell he likes can sometimes pay off.Having nothing at all to do with the 1992 Harvey Keitel film, this is a great, long Cage freakout from Werner Herzog that manages to be both a funny dark comedy and an interesting police procedural.
2. CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE
Jason Statham no-sells death in this berserk movie that equals and in some ways surpasses the original film in terms of sheer nutty, politically incorrect madness.With something to offend everybody, this is cinematic insanity at its most unique.
1. BLACK DYNAMITE
This fun, affectionate parody of 70's action movies outdoes 1988's I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka! by simply playing as a goofy but straightforward movie from the time period.Michael Jai White is great as the title hero, the film has some amazingly funny moments and any film that ends with a kung fu battle between the hero and Richard Nixon is a winner in my book.
Not exactly great, but this admittedly dumb movie is an acceptable enough bit of entertainment.It's not that much better than some of the lesser films that came before, really.
This is an entertaining zombie flick with some good acting, including a hilarious turn from Bill Murray.Good stuff.
Up until the last fifteen minutes, this is one of Sam Raimi's best movies.Good gross-out gags, a great seance sequence and a nice 80's style make it worth watching, just be prepared to be annoyed by the way the ending comes about.I don't have an issue with the outcome, just the road taken to get there.
James Cameron's first film since Titanic is pretty good entertainment with great f/x bolstering a rather weak, predictable plot.
Ti West's low key chiller is a nice throwback to 70's horror movies but it's probably a little too slow for its own good.Still, the violent climax more than makes up for it.Solid little horror flick.
I like this agreeably daffy comedy with a fun cast, a biting sense of humor and a clever script.It's not great, but acceptable.
The ninja film made a comeback with this enthusiastically violent revenge flick.Good action throughout as well as a nice role for legend Sho Kosugi.
A pretty damn good adaptation of the graphic novel (the only time I will ever use that rather pretentious term since it does fit), this has style to spare and in general is a entertaining watch.No pun intended.
The two films in this section I was fully expecting to not like but they ended up being fun in spite of themselves.
Stephen Sommers' big screen version of the toy franchise is better than it has any right to be.Chock full of cheesy action and hammy acting, it's actually a fairly nice throwback to 80's action films.It's not good, but it's entertaining enough for me.Hell, if nothing else, it's better than the Transformers films.
This one falls into the category of "Sometimes you just want to watch a stupid action movie with lots of action and special effects".I really have no other excuse for it.
2009 was sort of an underrated year in my opinion with some really, really good films coming out of nowhere to make for a varied, eclectic year.