2009: The Year in (Motion) Pictures

December 31, 2009

I watched a lot of movies in 2009. I don’t know if it’s a record number for me, but it feels like it. For one thing, I had the chance to hit the theaters quite a bit this year, and got to see more new release movies in the proper setting than I have in a while. Netflix and a couple of HD movie channels offered by my cable company helped pad the list as well.

Below, for posterity’s sake, is a list of every movie I watched this year. Following the list is my own personal Top Ten. I should mention that, unlike most yearly Top Ten lists, I don’t restrict mine to movies released in the corresponding year. If it was new to me this year, it was eligible for the list.

So, without further ado….my 2009 in moving pictures:

What I Watched (In the order I watched them…)
Wall*E
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Friday the 13th Part VII: New Blood
Ocean’s 11
Ocean’s 12
Ocean’s 13
The Fall
Friday the 13th (Uncut)
Burn After Reading
His Name Was Jason
Friday the 13th 3-D Deluxe Edition
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
The Dark Knight
Friday the 13th (2009)
Pineapple Express
RoboCop
The Midnight Meat Train
Black Sunday
The Green Mile
Salvador
The Human Tornado
Isle of the Dead
Groundhog Day
Two Minute Warning
Diary of the Dead
Saw IV
The Mist (B&W)
Watchmen
Let The Right One In
Reservoir Dogs
Blow Out
Ghost World
The Incredible Hulk
The X-Files: I Want To Believe
Synecdoche, New York
Return of the Living Dead
The Wrestler
Pineapple Express
The Strangers
Unforgiven
In Bruges
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Ronin
Hancock
A Nightmare On Elm Street
12 Monkeys
Star Trek (2009)
The Illusionist
Flesh & Blood: The Hammer Heritage of Horror
True Romance
Silence of the Lambs
Born on the Fourth of July
Back to the Future
Black Sabbath
Terminator: Salvation
Raging Bull
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Friday the 13th Part 2
Drag Me To Hell
Friday the 13th (2009)
The Driller Killer
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Sideways
Role Models
Ghostbusters
Mystery of the Nile
Friday the 13th Part 3-D
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Runaway Jury
Big Fish
Five Across the Eyes
The Shawshank Redemption
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Sin City (Recut & Extended)
Gran Torino
The 40 Year Old Virgin (Unrated)
Bay of Blood
Uncle Buck
House By the Cemetery
The Conquerer Worm
The Aviator (Blu-Ray)
Blood on Satan’s Claw
Rob Zombie’s Halloween
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Grindhouse: Planet Terror
Grindhouse: Death Proof
Inglourious Basterds
Halloween II (2009)
Dracula (1979)
Audrey Rose
Coraline
From A Whisper To A Scream
The Dunwich Horror
Trick r’ Treat
Shaun of the Dead
Evil Dead II
The Cooler
Friday the 13th (2009)
Lost in La Mancha
The Raven
Fight Club
Adventureland
I Love You, Man
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Up
The Blind Side

My Top Ten

10. The Blind Side: I’ve had a movie-crush on Sandra Bullock ever since Speed, so it’s great to see her having such a good year. This is a feel-good movie that manages to push all the right buttons without feeling manipulative.
9. Adventureland: It’s not just that they got the ’80s right – they did – but they got everything  right. If this doesn’t take you back to the time in your life when you began to realize that you could be your own person, instead of the person your parents and family thought you should be, then you haven’t reached that time in your life yet. Funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking all at the same time.
8. I Love You, Man: Romantic comedy? Bromance? Buddy movie? I don’t know what you call it, but I call it fun. This movie made me want to gather all my guy friends for a weekend of male bonding – I mean, it really, really made me miss the times when I saw those guys practically every day. As they say, it’s funny because it’s true.
7. In Bruges: Speaking of buddy movies, this is one of the best. Two mismatched hitmen hiding out in a small town. Hilarity and a little tragedy ensue. Colin Farrell, if only you could be this good more often.
6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: A beautiful meditation on time and the toll it takes on us.
5. Star Trek (2009): I don’t like Star Trek. Klingons and phasers and the Federation, oh please. So what’s this doing on my Top Ten? Well, it took a series I don’t like, and showed it to me in an all-new way. A really cool, fun way, one that kept all the stuff that was good about the original and brought it up to speed with what’s good today. The most successful re-imagining in film history. Can’t wait for II.
4. Trick r’ Treat: This little anthology film captures the look, feel and spirit of Halloween like no film since, well, Halloween. I’m a guy that loves me some horror movies, and yet only one cracked my Top Ten this year. See it and see why.
3. Gran Torino: Clint Eastwood is in his 70s, and yet he can still convincingly play the toughest SOB on the block. The great thing about this is we get to see what a softy his character really is without losing the fear that he’ll kick our arse if we drop a candy wrapper on his lawn. A movie with a message that doesn’t beat you over the head with it, plus some of the most jaw-droppingly racist language I’ve ever heard in a film.
2. The Wrestler: I’m an old-school wrestling fan from way back, and over the years I’ve watched the guys I grew up cheering for burn out and fade away. This movie tells so much truth: about guys who can’t give up the glory, and about the fans who want to relive that glory through their heroes just one more time. It’s all about taking us to a place when things were better and brighter. Welcome back, Mickey Rourke.
1. Inglourious Basterds: And welcome back, Quentin Tarantino. You haven’t let me down yet, but this one is special, combining everything you already knew about dialogue with everything you learned on Kill Bill and Death Proof about action. I can’t wait to see what you do next…and I can’t wait to see this again.

Finally, while I watched a lot of good stuff this year, I sat through some real stinkers, too. Here are the worst offenders of the bunch:

Four Films I Wish I’d Never Met
The Driller Killer
Five Across the Eyes
The Raven
From A Whisper To A Scream

These aren’t even worth a couple of lines explaining why they are so bad…just trust me on this. I’ve saved you hours that you’d otherwise never get back.

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Now, where were we…?

December 6, 2009

“The best laid plans….” You know the rest. As is obvious by comparing the date of this post to the date of my last post, all of my plans to blog throughout October, Halloween and beyond sort of went by the wayside. What can I say…life happens, as it will continue to do from time to time. So, no more grand declarations of my intentions here. I hope to be around a lot more, as I have lots to say. Hopefully, time will be on my side.

Now, to fill in the gaps since I last posted:

First, there’s a new review of mine over at Dark Scribe, where I take a look at Tom Piccirilli’s upcoming heavyweight of a collection, Futile Efforts. Great book, adequate review. 

Next, I got the chance to do something amazing since I last wrote here – I got to stand face-to-face with Stephen King. Yes, I was one of approximately 500 to do so on this particular night, and yes, our encounter lasted roughly 7.5 seconds, but it was 7.5 seconds of pure awesome. I attended a booksigning for King’s new novel, Under the Dome, over in Atlanta back in November (on a Friday the 13th, no less), got to speak briefly with The Man, and had him scribble his name in my Collector’s Edition copy of the brick….er, book. (It’s 1,000+ pages!) Basically, this is the guy who cemented my interest in reading, and who kick-started my interest in writing, so yeah…those 7.5 seconds were a pretty big deal.

Finally, I entered a contest over at the Cafe Doom message board in October – a short story contest. The top ten finalists were chosen anonymously by posters on the board, and from those ten the editor of Dark Discoveries, James Beach, chose one tale to be published in his magazine. For some reason, he chose my story “Pun’kin,” which is now slated to appear in DD next summer or fall. I’ve published some non-fiction there before, but this is my first time cracking the fiction section, and I’m pleased and honored.

I think that’s enough for now. Time to toddle off into the night, warm up  by the fire, and read some good books. See ya’ soon.