Sunday, January 3, 2010

Movies: 2009

I am still working on year end lists of music and games but here is the movie list. I see very little in the cinema these days so last year I began listing Blu-rays instead of theatrical releases.

2009's Best Blu-rays


Star Trek - Having been a Star Trek fan from birth, I was four months old when the series debuted and use to watch it in my diapers; I was looking forward to a reboot of a series that had gotten pretty stale. J.J. Abrams did the impossible, re-started the franchise while keeping a lot of what makes Trek Trek in the movie. Fast, fun, emotional, powerful...this was the best summer movie of the lot and a film I will re-visit often.

Inglorious Basterds - Quentin Tarantino returns with his best movie since Pulp Fiction. Absurd and over the top but a work of art nonetheless, get ready to have your mind blown.

District 9 - Coming out of nowhere, with a little help from Peter Jackson, this intelligent sci-fi movie can be viewed on many levels...including comedy. The biggest and most pleasant surprise of the year!

Up - Every time I see a Pixar movie, I always comment that they will not be able to top it. And then they do. I still prefer Wall-E but there is no denying UP is a great film for all ages and again pushes forward the medium of animation.

Drag Me To Hell - Sam Raimi returns to his horror roots and gave up the second most fun ride in theaters this year. (And I agree with Quentin Tarantino that is has one of the best endings of all time!)

Let The Right One In - Hollywood will probably destroy everything the book and original Swedish film did for the vampire genre but here's hoping they can re-capture the magic in some form. Read the book and see the original now!

Watchmen - Like Lord Of The Rings, Watchmen was always considered unfilmable. Zack Snyder, hot off the Dawn Of The Dead remake and 300, stepped in and gave us one of the most faithful adaptations of any graphic novel or book ever. It is not everything the diehard fans hoped, but it was close enough for me.

The Wrestler - Darren Aronofski is one of my favorite directors of all time. Each of his films hit me in the gut and makes me ponder deep issues of the human psyche (Pi, Requiem For A Dream, The Fountain). Never a fan of wrestling myself, I found this powerful film full amazing performances and riveting direction.

Coraline - Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and of all the adaptations of his work, this was the best. Teaming with director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas), they created a film that thrilled kids and scared adults...not an easy task, indeed!

Tell No One - This French whodunit blew me away of first viewing. Based on Harlan Coben's best seller and released overseas in 2006, it was one of the biggest surprises of 2009!

Food, Inc - A documentary that every human being should see. More positive than you think, you will learn more than you want to know about the food we eat and who makes it. Rent or buy NOW!

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince - Probably my favorite of the Potter films because the storyline is maturing. Basically a set up for the last book (being made into two movies); it adds much to the magical mythology.

9 - Based on an Oscar nominated short, this adult CGI tale is produced by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch, Wanted) is simple, beautiful and entertaining.

Midnight Meat Train - Someone finally made a great Clive Barker movie and his name is Ryƻhei Kitamura! Not for everyone but if you like your horror hard-hitting, you will enjoy this dark and disturbing film.

Trick 'r Treat - Michael Dougherty's horror anthology movie sat on the shelf for a while before getting a very nice Blu-ray release. Funny and scary, it is definitely a treat!

The Hangover - Classic adult comedies return. After years of PG-13, barely chuckle worthy flicks, The Hangover took a simple formula and made it very funny. Let us hope they can top themselves in the upcoming sequel.

I Love You, Man - Maybe it was the guys bonded as RUSH fans but I really enjoyed this comedy about a friendless guy trying to find a best friend to be his best man. Funny and Sweet without giving you a cavity!

Julie & Julia - Another movie for adults, thank you Hollywood. If you are not hungry anything made with butter after viewing this treat of a movie, check your pulse!

Splinter - A simple little monster movie told with great care and a sense of humor; made for horror fans by big horror fans!

TV on Blu-ray

Battlestar Galactica Season 4.5 - One of the best TV shows ever, wrapped up its journey with grace and surprises galore.

True Blood Season 1 - Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) took Charlaine Harris' novels and turned them into an amazing show that changes and expands the literary mythology of Sookie Stackhouse and her crazy life.

Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... Season 1 - The best music TV show ever created, period! Elvis Costello is not only a great musician but also a huge music fan, asking all the questions you never hear any interviewer ask. If you want to know how great music is made and enjoyed, get this show!

Life On Mars (BBC) Season 1 & 2 - I had to import this BBC series that is so much better than what the US version tried to be. John Simm & Philip Glenister are two of the best actors anywhere, doing what they do best in this show that is one of the best ever on TV!

Dexter Season 2 & 3 - Like True Blood, the creators took Jeff Lindsay's books and made them their own. How can a show get better and better, watch Dexter and find out!

Fringe Season 1 - J.J. Abrams is batting nearly 1000 these days! Slow to start but allowing the characters grow, Season one is a nice start to what is becoming a terrific show!

Supernatural Season 4 - What started as a guilty pleasure has become the most fun horror series since the Night Stalker! I still find it hard to believe some of these episodes get aired on the CW, as they are better than most of the horror movies released this year. Unfortunately, Season five will be its last...but how do you top actually showing Armageddon?

Torchwood: Children Of Earth - It started as a spin-off from the BBC recent re-boot of Dr. Who and became a very powerful drama. After two seasons that took lots of chances, this mini-series is one amazing bit of touching drama with sci-fi/horror touches.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season 2 - I love Joss Whedon but FOX choosing Dollhouse over Sarah Conner was just plain stupid. Moving the show to Fridays effectively killed it's momentum but it is still a nice expansion on the franchise. (And I thought Terminator Salvation was not bad, either!)

Star Trek The Original Series Season 1, 2 & 3 - This classic show is now remastered and ready to last another 40 years. Watch it in its original form or with new (yet cheesily classic) special effects and re-live the series that will always be ahead of it's time.

Music on Blu-ray

Iron Maiden Flight 666 - A really great documentary even if you are not a fan! And to give us a full HD concert with a perfect/classic setlist as a bonus? Priceless!

The Cure Trilogy - This show was great on DVD but really shines on Blu-ray. The Cure performs three classic albums in their entirety and proves why they have lasted so long!

Rush R30 - Their HiDef debut was the Snakes & Arrows tour in 2008, but this document of their 30th anniversary tour features one of their best set lists ever!

Blu-ray Re-releases

Shaun Of The Dead - One of the funniest movies ever made looks fabulous on Blu-ray. (Hot Fuzz is also very worthy!)

Fight Club - Still a very potent film, punched up in HD!

Stop Making Sense - Arguably the best concert film of all-time, it shows it's low budget/grainy roots on this Blu-ray but the audio options are truly amazing!

Braveheart - Mel Gibson's finest hour took some liberties with history but it still is a rousing movie that looks amazing on Blu-ray!

The Machinist - Christian Bale is one of the best actors of our time and puts his real-life health on the line to create a deep character in a very disturbing movie.

The Bourne Trilogy - Three perfect action thrillers that get better as you go!

Zodiac - On first viewing, I did not see the "big deal". On my second, wow! David Fincher (Fight Club, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button) is one of the best directors working today!

Monster's Inc - A Pixar Classic that shines on Blu-ray!

The Nightmare Before Christmas - Tim Burton's musical fable finally gets a great home video release loaded with extras!

The Wizard Of Oz - The restoration assures us that this classic with be around for another 70 years!

Silverado - One of the best westerns ever got cleaned up for Blu-ray. Lawrence Kasdan began by writing the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders Of The Lost Ark, then directing Body Heat, The Big Chill and any more, he really hit his stride with this very fun film!

The Princess Bride - One of my favorite movies ever looks great on Blu-ray, short of a full restoration this is as good as this classic will ever look!

Movies I have not seen that could possibly make the list in 2010:

The Hurt Locker
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Road
Up In The Air
Where The Wild Things Are
(500) Days Of Summer
The Informant!
A Serious Man
Battlestar Galactica - The Plan

Honorable Mention:

Creed Live - Should be on Blu-ray since it set the Guinness Book of World Records for most HiDef cameras (237) used in a concert shoot. Why the record label has not released this show in HD is beyond me.