2009 began with an avalanche of comedies including Paul Blart: Mall Cop, I Love You, Man, and Bride Wars. Then things got serious as familiar star Liam Neeson took over with the action thriller Taken. A tepid winter box office started to spark with Watchmen, but quickly flamed out until Monsters Vs. Aliens and Fast and Furious revved audiences into springtime. Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian, Up, and Terminator Salvation lead the traditional Memorial Day weekend charge while The Hurt Locker quietly made a name for itself among the summer blockbusters.
The Hangover surprised in the summer while the July Fourth weekend offered Public Enemies then scare-filled action with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Zombieland. Michael Jackson's This Is It thrilled audiences again with a nostalgic concert rehearsal compilation while The Blind Side, a football drama about Baltimore Ravens tackle Michael Oher, had some of the best legs by drawing consistent audiences week after week. Sandra Bullock also made strides with the romantic comedy The Proposal as Ryan Reynolds’ starring roles (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Adventureland) increased.
Even charming acting could not save Ghosts of Girlfriends Past while A Christmas Carol, Coraline, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, G-Force, and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs produced an unprecedented push towards animated 3-D technology. Special effects were the stars in Avatar, 2012, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen as more than 28 movies crossed the $100 million dollar mark, with Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, It’s Complicated, and Sherlock Holmes likely to join the ranks as the year closes.
Book adaptations like Inkheart and The Lovely Bones didn’t meet high hopes while early releases like State of Play and Duplicity got new life on home video. Home video views also seem likely for many people for year-end Oscar qualifiers in limited release like The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and Crazy Heart.
This year the summer films stuck with me and George Clooney amazed yet again.
The Best of 2009
Up – Carl Fredricksen, voiced by Ed Asner, took everyone on a memorable ride in his house for an animated South American adventure.
Julie & Julia – The food becomes a character in this great culinary comedy/drama with excellent acting from Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, and filmmaking, especially art direction and set design.
Star Trek – The film series reboot puts J.J. Abrams in the forefront while launching Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine, and Zachary Quinto into stardom.
Up in the Air – Clooney does it again with great actresses, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, in director Jason Reitman’s latest great film.
District 9 – Amazing filmmaking on a low budget as director Sharlto Copely becomes an acting star in director Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi, alien refugee masterpiece.
Springtime was the worst with these forgettable flics and two late summer duds:
The Worst of 2009
Bruno – Filmmakers turned up the vulgarity instead of the comedy in Sacha Baron Cohen’s fashion model misfire.
Miss March – Deplorably raunchy comedy mixed with a road trip to the Playboy mansion based on a high school sweetheart’s objectifying transformation.
Fired Up – Mixed genres (gender switching, high school teen angst, etc.) couldn’t save this cheerleading comedy.
Jennifer’s Body – More high school hijinks mixed with vampires, namely Megan Fox, as screenwriter Diablo Cody misfires.
Fighting – Didn’t live up to the title with surprisingly low action and tepid drama.
Happy new year and have a great 2010!