Can you believe 2009 is almost half over? It’s been an up-and-down year at the movies, but here’s a short list of ten films which represent the best I have seen so far this year. I wouldn’t take bets on more than a couple having a real shot at this list come December, but, for now, this is the best of the bunch. Note: There are a couple of flicks, most notably The Hangover and The Girlfriend Experience which I haven’t been able to get to yet. Whether they would wind up on this list will just have to remain a mystery.
We begin with…
Yeah. The first couple on this list are real tweeners, but as 2009 hasn’t provided us with a ton of great flicks we’ll take what we can get. Tony Scott’s remake does what it sets out to do. Itâ€™s not going to set the world on fire or revamp the genre for years to come, but this new The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is a fun, exciting, little action-thriller with a strong lead performance by Denzel Washington that may provide a couple hours respite from the summer heat. Currently in theaters. Read the full review.
Another fine performance by Russell Crowe and a thriller that works at least until the final twist. Read the full review. State of Play isnâ€™t a great film, though it does have some very strong moments and is definitely worth checking out.
Woody Allen’s latest romantic comedy may not be one of his best, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t better than most movies out there. Larry David is cast in the Allen role as an intellectual whose life is turned upside-down by a young impressionable runaway. It’s a tale about relationships and understanding that proposes the idea that love doesn’t fit into neat categories or always meet your expectations, so you should be happy and take love where you can find it. You know, whatever works. Currently playing in limited release in select cities.
Geared more towards kids than adults, this film delivered what it’s title promised. If all you’re looking for is some is monster-on-alien action, hereâ€™s the film for you. I didn’t get to see the film in 3-D, but it worked fine on it’s own and should have a long life on DVD. Read the full review.
Amy Adams and Emily Blunt star in this cute little film about sisters who clean up crime scenes. The film has that independent quirkiness you would expect (at times a tad too much), and at times is too cute for its own good, but the acting is strong enough to help smooth over most of the rough patches. It’s scheduled to be released on DVD on August 25th. Read the full review.
5. Sin Nombre
This tale about a Mexican gang and a family’s struggle to make it into the U.S. isn’t a fun ride by any stretch of the imagination. It is, however, a quality film filled with good performances, sad moments, and some beautiful cinematography. There’s a chance you might still be able to find this one in an art house somewhere. Read Eric’s full review.
4. Star Trek
I really liked the new reboot of Star Trek, even if it made a few too many changes for my tastes and has some plot issues. Although itâ€™s does a good job of relaunching the franchise and infusing some energy and excitement to the proceedings, it still has enough problems which prevent me from categorizing it as great. That said, itâ€™s still really good and certainly the best damn Trek film in years. The movie is still raking in the box office dollars. Read the full review.
3. Los Cronocrimenes (or Timecrimes)
Paradox, time travel, murder, and consequences: These are but a few of the themes of the surprisingly good Timecrimes. When an ordinary man finds himself trapped in a series of events and each choice seems to make his fate that much unbearable, how far will he go to try and put things right? It’s currently available on DVD. Read the full review.
This spot was almost as easy to fill as the #1. This tale of young love and hijinks in a crappy amusement park has a whole lot of heart. Although thereâ€™s plenty of humor and zaniness here, director Greg Mottola takes his time to make sure each character, no matter how odd, still comes off as a real person you might very well meet while waiting in line for the roller coaster. Adventureland is a damn good movie with a little something for everyone. It’s a must-have when it comes out on DVD on August 25th. Read the full review.
What? Like you weren’t expecting this to be #1? What could easily have been a paint-by-numbers grumpy-old-man tale is given the Pixar treatment. This isnâ€™t Gran Torino; itâ€™s so much more. In fact, itâ€™s arguably the most grown-up story the company has done and quite possibly the best flick Pixar has ever made. After a second viewing, the jokes still work but aren’t quite as funny. However, the emotional scenes are even more heart-wrenching the second time around. Currently playing in theaters. Read the full review.