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indieWIRE & Industry Top Tens for 2009

indieWIRE & Industry Top Tens for 2009

A final look back at 2000… this time featuring top ten lists from the editors of indieWIRE and industry insiders. Participants were invited to include films released theatrically this year, but each person devised his or her own criteria.

Will you please share your Top 10 list for 2009 in the comments section at the end of this article (and please include your name)?

indieWIRE Editors and Contributors

Eugene Hernandez
Editor-in-Chief, indieWIRE

The best film of 2009:
“La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet”

To me, the best movies aren’t just movies, they are experiences. In the case of my own top ten, these are the films that really mattered to me, the ones that I watched and pondered, discussed and shared with others and then often re-watched. This year, these ten stuck with me.

My defining cinematic experience of 2009 was re-discovering Frederick Wiseman at New York’s Film Forum and then at IDFA in Amsterdam. Watching and contemplating his latest film, “La Danse,” I became fascinated by the idea that Wiseman’s films grow so organically. A day spent in a place that intrigues him eventually leads to 100+ hours of observational 16mm footage that Wiseman then assembles over the course of a year. “La Danse” is an exceptional observational window into a fascinating world of creativity, endurance and beauty. More on the Wiseman and his movies in a column I wrote last month.

Nine other films have an extra special place in my cinematic heart this year and round out my top ten of 2009 (followed by 15 more special mentions). Each film on my top 10 list is particularly important to me for reasons that are too lengthy to detail in the limited space here. New Years resolutions: 1) Write more about the other nine films on my list. 2) See as many Wiseman films as possible on a big screen at MoMA during their year-long retrospective of his work this year.

Happy New Year!

The 10 best films of 2009:
“The Beaches of Agnes”
“Broken Embraces”
“Frontier of Dawn”
“I’m Gonna Explode”
“La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet”
“A Single Man”
“Still Walking”
“Summer Hours”
“Throw Down Your Heart”

15 special mentions:
“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”
“In a Dream”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The Limits of Control”
“Medicine For Melancholy”
“Police, Adjective”
“Precious: Based On the Novel Push By Sapphire”
“Rembrandt’s J’Accuse”
“A Serious Man”
“Sin Nombre”
“Sleep Dealer”

Brian Brooks
Managing Editor, indieWIRE

(In rough order):

1. “The Hurt Locker” – It played fests and I hadn’t seen it – then, honestly, I grudgingly went to see it at MoMA – with a hangover. And I LOVED it! Bigelow and this fantastic crew took on probably the second most poisonous subject of the decade – Iraq – and it was hypnotic.
2. “A Serious Man” – I laughed – a lot without always getting it. But, I especially L-O-V-E-d the line, “Do you take part in the new freedoms?” — Truly, being a Gentile who grew up in Gentileland, I didn’t get it all…. But as Suburbanite at heart, it was one love.
3. “The Beaches of Agnes” – Love this movie. Agnes is all over this movie, and yet – how is it that it’s not all about her? Pop, New Wave, Revolution, Hollywood, Feminism, Materialism – the cover of the first issue of Interview magazine? What a beautiful movie. Please people – if this isn’t deserving then I don’t know what.
4. “Precious” – Enough said.
5. “Antichrist” – No holiday in the woods, yet captivating.
6. “A Single Man” – As a gay – for what it’s worth – Stylish, cerebral, ’60s, LA, impeccable minimalism, philosophy, pool, bar, cocktail, tail, clothes off, scotch, Pacific – cold – drowning, beer, hot, eyes, hot, couch, hot…
7. “Burma VJ” – This is required viewing! Down with the junta!
8. “The Cove” – And this is too! I didn’t know how to describe this film to people without realizing it automatically set up red flags for ‘depressing.’
9. “Broken Embraces” – Take another look at this movie, bitches, this is a great film! OK, not “All About Your Mother” but…
10. “Avatar” – My friend said, “Let’s go see ‘Avatar,'” a recent Friday night after work and I thought, “oh god.” Well, 5 hours later – and it did kind of feel like that – I will have to say it was a visual orgasm – and the plot was – well – it moved the movie along fine. But never mind me, I keep hearing from the nerds in the know it’s a game changer, so there we go. And I have recommended it to skeptics because I honestly was awwed. And obiou$$$$ly, it’s working. (I had a conversation yesterday about whether it is really “possible” for an ‘Avatar 2.’ Thoughts?)
11. “Inglourious Basterds” – Christoph Waltz! – OSCAR!

And also can’t help but think of:
– “Capitalism, A Love Story”: Admittedly already on the left, but moved a bit more during the screening at NYFF this Fall. And where the hell was that footage of FDR for all these years about health care in this country?! For shame this – still rich – USA! 45 million. Shame.
– “Food, Inc.” – My Lord!
– “Throw Down Your Heart”
– “500 Days of Summer”
– “Medicine for Melancholy”
– “Sugar”
– “Bright Star”
– “Gomorrah”

– God, sorry, but haven’t yet seen: “Summer Hours,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Police, Adjective,” “The White Ribbon,” “An Education, Humpday,” “Bruno” (um, like, Really?!!), “The Young Victoria,” “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” “We Live in Public,” “La Danse,” “Convention”

– My SHOUT OUT!!! to a great film that has yet to get traditional distribution: “October Country.”

Peter Knegt
Associate Editor, indieWIRE

1. “Bright Star”
2. “Summer Hours”
3. “Up”
4. “A Serious Man”
5. “35 Shots of Rum”
6. “Inglourious Basterds”
7. “The Hurt Locker”
8. “Julia”
9. “A Single Man”
10. “In The Loop”

Honorable Mentions: “District 9,” “Humpday,” “The Headless Woman,” “The White Ribbon,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” “Where The Wild Things Are,” “Precious,” “Broken Embraces,” and “Fired Up.”

I decided on “Bright Star” for the top slot because it’s essentially this gorgeous, confident cinematic poetry that made me melt in my seat. Though “Summer Hours” (endlessly meaningful), “Up” (heartbreaking Pixarian genius.. and their third consecutive film to make my top 3), “A Serious Man” (which on a second viewing reveals even more hilarity and depth), “35 Shots of Rum” (a perfect companion piece to “Hours” and just as delicate and rich), “Inglourious Basterds” (a deeply ambitious, nearly – but not completely – flawless effort from Mr. Tarantino) and “The Hurt Locker” (action as as an art form) all could easily be sitting in that spot at one point or another.

Also of note – on the flip side – are the three most overrated films of the year: “Avatar” (technical marvel to be sure.. but still pure, unaffecting cheese), “Up In The Air” (fantastic performances & isolated scenes, but fucks it all up with a contrived and oversentimental third act) and “500 Days of Summer” (over-gimmicky, horribly irritating hipster porn). And there was the overdirected, inane mess that is “The Lovely Bones” is hands down the worst film I saw this year. And, yes, I’ve seen “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.”

Andy Lauer
Editorial Asst, indieWIRE

1. “Fantastic Mr. Fox”
2. “The Sun”
3. “Tokyo Sonata”
4. “Humpday”
5. “Lorna’s Silence”
6. “Inglourious Basterds”
7. “Summer Hours”
8. “The Girlfriend Experience”
9. “Bronson”
10. “Frontier of Dawn”

Bryce Renninger

10. “Julia”
9. “An Education”
8. “The Maid”
7. “Avatar”
6. “(500) Days of Summer”
5. “The Messenger”
4. “Up in the Air”
3. “District 9”
2. “Inglourious Basterds”
1. “Tokyo Sonata”

Erica Abeel
Huffington Post/Freelance
indieWIRE contributor

1. “The White Ribbon”
2. “A Serious Man”
3. “A Single Man”
4. “The Messenger”
5. “The Beaches of Agnes”
6. “35 Shots of Rum”
7. “Bright Star”
8. “A Prophet”
9. “The Hurt Locker”
10. “Capitalism: A Love Story”

Kim Adelman
Short Film Columnist, indieWIRE

Top 10 for 2009, celebrating the amazing achievements by female filmmakers in 2009 – and this list doesn’t even include the box office champs! In alphabetical order:

“The Beaches of Agnes”
“Bright Star”
“Coco Before Chanel”
“Cold Souls”
“An Education”
“Herb & Dorothy”
“Hump Day”
“The Hurt Locker”
“We Live in Public”
“Whip It”

And 5 honorable mentions for male directors’ contributions in 2009:

“Inglourious Basterds”
“The September Issue”
“A Single Man”
“Up in the Air”

Howard Feinstein
Programmer, Sarajevo Film Festival; Journalist extaordinaire, Grand Pu-bawwww
indieWIRE contributor

1. “Silent Light”
2. “Taxidermia”
3. “24 City”
4. “The White Ribbon”
5. “The Hurt Locker”
6. “Invictus”
7. “A Serious Man”
8. “Import Export”
9. “Gomorrah”
10. “The Sun”

Eric Kohn
Renaissance man
indieWIRE contributor

1. “Sita Sings the Blues”
2. “Two Lovers”
3. “The Girlfriend Experience”
4. “The Hurt Locker”
5. “Humpday”
6. “Medicine for Melancholy”
7. “Adventureland”
8. “A Serious Man”
9. “Tony Manero”
10. “In the Loop”

Rania Richardson
indieWIRE contributor and blogger (http://blogs.indiewire.com/rania/)

1. “Bright Star” by Jane Campion
2. “Cherry Blossoms” by Doris Doerrie
Echoing Ozu’s “Tokyo Story” – This surprisingly overlooked film is the transcendent tale of a German widower who travels to Japan to fulfill his wife’s lifelong dream. Aya Irizuki is spectacular as his chimera-like young friend.
3. “The Beaches of Agnes” by Agnes Varda
4. “The Hurt Locker” by Kathryn Bigelow
5. “35 Shots of Rum” by Claire Denis
6. “Rage” by Sally Potter
7. “Coco Before Chanel” by Anne Fontaine
8. “The Headless Woman” by Lucrecia Martel
9. “Julie & Julia” by Nora Ephron (For the Julie Powell portion. Sorry, haters.)
10. “Afghan Star” by Havana Marking

Yeah, the guys made some good films, too, but not better than these.

Efe Cakarel
Founder & CEO, The Auteurs

Top 10 for 2009:

The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke
A Prophet, Jacques Audiard
The Headless Woman, Lucresia Martel
Love Exposure, Sion Sono
Phantoms of Nabua, Weerasethakul
Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson, Wes Anderson
A Serious Man, Coen Brothers
Drag Me to Hell, Sam Raimi
Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino
Avatar, James Cameron

Howard Cohen
Co-President, Roadside Attractions

2009 Ranked:

1. An Education
2. The Hangover
3. Precious
4. The Hurt Locker
5. The Cove
6. District 9
7. A Prophet
8. A Single Man
9. The Road
10. Up In the Air

Matt Dentler
Cinetic Rights Management

The Best Films Distributed in 2009

1. “Inglourious Basterds”
2. “Fantastic Mr. Fox”
3. “Up In The Air”
4. “Sin Nombre”
5. “Anvil! The Story of Anvil”
6. “The Hurt Locker”
7. “In The Loop”
8. “Bronson”
9. “We Live In Public”
10. “Summer Hours”

The Best Episodic TV Shows in 2009

1. True Blood (HBO)
2. The Office and Parks and Recreation (NBC)
3. Nip/Tuck (FX)
4. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) and How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
5. 30 Rock (NBC)
6. Modern Family (ABC)
7. Mad Men (AMC)
8. The League (FX)
9. Friday Night Lights (NBC/Direct TV)
10. The Soup (E!)

Jeff Deutchman
Acquisitions, IFC Films

I include IFC films because there’s a significant overlap between my my personal taste and the company’s. Perceive as you will.

1. “Summer Hours”
2. “Antichrist”
3. “Up”
4. “Afterschool”
5. “Tokyo Sonata”
6. “Sugar”
7. “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”
8. “Police, Adjective”
9. “Thirst”
10. “A Serious Man”

“Adventureland,” “Avatar,” “Beeswax,” “Bruno,” “The Carter,” “Collapse,” “District 9,” “Duplicity,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Goodbye Solo,” “Home,” “The House of the Devil,” “Humpday,” “The Hurt Locker,” “In the Loop,” “The Informant!,” “Left Bank,” “Medicine for Melancholy,” “The Messenger,” “The White Ribbon,” “The Windmill Movie”

“Brock Enright”
“Children of Invention”
“Enter the Void”
“The Firm”
“Go Get Some Rosemary” (aka “Daddy Longlegs”)
“Guy & Madeline on a Park Bench”
“She, a Chinese”
“St. Nick”
“Trash Humpers”
“Villa Amalia”
“White Material”
“Winnebago Man”

— continued on page two —

Jon Fougner

“Up in Disney Digital 3D”
“Sin Nombre”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The Hurt Locker”
“(500) Days of Summer”
“District 9”
“A Serious Man”
“A Prophet”

I am also deeply grateful to have seen “The Cove”, “An Education”, “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”, “Funny People”, “Stingray Sam”, “Crude”, “Anvil!: The Story of Anvil”, “Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience”, “Thirst”, “Nine”, “Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi”, “The Maid”, “The September Issue”, “In the Loop”, and “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.”

“Wall-E” did not make my ’08 list but “Up” tops this one in a year where Pixar and James Cameron himself lend credence to his prediction that 3D would prove key to keeping theatrical differentiated and viable.

Maybe it was the thin Utah air, the second-week-of-Sundance flu, or cabin fever from spending six straight hours in Park City Raquet Club qua cinema, but “Adam” literally choked me up. The short nicely paired with it, “Small Collection”, portends promising things for helmer Jeremiah Crowell.
We’ll never again hear Geoffrey Gilmore bubble over at a premiere at Eccles, but “Sin Nombre” was a deserving film for him to bow on; with the gravitas to justify its over-exposed coloration, Cary Fukunaga’s freshman effort left moviegoers shell-shocked and champing to see what he might serve up next.

“Inglourious Basterds” proves that Quentin Tarantino can do ‘straight’ studio narratives with as much punch and panache as his indie gore-fests.

Kathryn Bigelow’s machismo overdose “The Hurt Locker” is her best since “Strange Days”, the latter perhaps the finest American film since “North by Northwest”. She is hopefully coming due for recognition at an edgier fest such as Cinevegas (may it return stronger than ever!).

Kudos to Searchlight for releasing “Adam” and “(500) Days of Summer”, the best date movie of the year with its winningly fresh-faced cast, mellifluous palette (so to speak), and not-painfully-pretentious hipster sensibility to match. Its Reality vs. Expectations split-screen scene deserves a permanent home in film schools. Like “Garden State”, “(500) Days” is a film you can relive with the soundtrack.
Neil Blomkamp’s RED-shot nightmare “District 9” stands as a testament to man’s ability to hear opportunity knocking when backed into the most cramped and curious of corners and a post-apartheid parable on the price of prostration to Profit worthy of the Kafka whence it is liberally adapted. As Colin Darretta wrote me, “This is one of those films where everything really came together – a studio took a risk, a producer took a risk on an unproven director, an unproven director took a risk on an unproven actor – and against all odds everything clicked.” (Another narrowly framed project this year, “Fish Tank”, also uses this format successfully to further the function of telling a tale of escape.)

The “Bruno” midnight screening was the hardest I’ve ever laughed in a theater. If you’ve seen it, I hope these reminders tickle your funny bone: fashion show, focus group, baby actors, baggage claim, camping, wrestling.

The Coen brothers open “A Serious Man” with a quotation that stands as a salvo to their emperor’s-new-clothes detractors: “Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you.” And what they have wraught may indeed be the tautest feature of 2009. “Serious Man” exemplifies their mastery of spareness to imbue luxuriance, reminiscent of Hitchcock or even Lynch.

One of John Cooper and Trevor Groth’s new-sheriff-in-town signatures is their out-of-competition category of films that have already screened at Cannes and elsewhere. I can’t think of a better way to debut this dose of humility than “A Prophet”, the best crime drama of the year.

These are my favorite movies, not those of employer, Facebook. In fact, my employer doesn’t really have favorite movies. Except perhaps “Top Gun.”

Marie Therese Guirgis

No ranking. I haven’t seen a few movies yet that I might really like – “Avatar,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Broken Embraces,” “The White Ribbon”

1 .”Goodbye Solo”
2. “Sugar”
3. “Il Divo”
4. “Seraphine”
5. “Unmade Beds”
6. “Valentino”
7. “The Sun”
8. “Two Lovers”
9. “The Hurt Locker”
10. “Lorna’s Silence”

Chris Hyams
Founder, B-Side Entertainment

1. “District 9”
2. “Un prophete”
3. “A Serious Man”
4. “Up”
5. “Moon”
6. “The Hangover”
7. “Where the Wild Things Are”
8. “Bronson”
9. “The Road”
10. “A Town Called Panic”

Honorable mention:

11. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” – definitely among the year’s best, but with #10 above, I had to admit it was only my 2nd favorite stop motion animated feature of 2009.
12. “In the Loop” – the phrase “lemon difficult” has entered our family’s day-to-day nomenclature, so that’s definitely worth something.

Doug Jones
Associate Director of Programming, Los Angeles Film Festival

“The Children”
“Extraordinary Stories”
“October Country”
“Of Time and the City”
“To The Sea”
“Where the Wild Things Are”

Keaton Kail
IFC Films


“The White Ribbon” – The filmmaker of the decade in near perfect command of his terribly austere vision. An evocation of the most malign components of human nature peppered with tenderness and bleary aesthetic yearning.

“Still Walking” – How can one respond with anything but joy and affection for a film that celebrates life with such delicate grace?

“A Prophet” – A virtuoso novella from a filmmaker who is clearly thrilled by his craft and capable of moderating genius with the best of best. I have no doubt Audiard will manage to improve on even this superb movie in the coming decade.

“The Chaser” – With obsessive intensity and pragmatic style, Na spins out one of the best horror/thrillers in recent memory. Gives terrific new life to the chase, a kinetic trope of film that others have long since quit reveling at.

“The Sun” – Utterly strange, a transfixing Petri dish study of the perfect character for Sokurov’s cockeyed, breathy lens. The sequence with the koi fish bombers is mindblowing!

“The Hurt Locker” – Probably the nearest to perfect a film with a Hollywood head on its shoulders will come to capturing the trap that is the Iraq War. Terrence Malick can’t visit all the wars. Impeccable title. Should win Best Picture.

“Police, Adjective” – Something like holding in a quick burst of laughter for two hours, finally letting it go, and then turning your head sideways and giving a faint sigh of epiphany.

“Antichrist” – Von Trier’s chief concern has always been to fuck with you. This time with Charlotte Gainsbourg.

“Drag Me to Hell”
Of special note: “Avatar”

Laurence Kardish
Senior Curator, MoMA

2009 (not ranked) Films actually released and reviewed in NYC in calendar 2009:
1. “The Beaches of Agnes” (Varda)
2. “Hunger” (McQueen)
3. “Summer Hours” (Assayas)
4. “The Maid” (Silva)
5. “Treeless Mountain” (Young-Kim)
6 “The Hurt Locker” (Bigelow)
7. “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” (Anderson)
8. “After the Storm” (Medalia)
9. “The Sun” (Sokurov)
10. “A Serious Man” (Coen Bros.)

Adam Kersh
Publicist, 42 West

1. “Avatar”
2. “Humpday”
3. “In the Loop”
4. “Still Walking”
5. “Summer Hours”
6. “Up In the Air”
7. “Two Lovers”
8. “The Messenger”
9. “Duplicity”
10. “Spike Lee’s Passing Strange: The Movie”

Michael Lerman
Director of Acquisitions, The Film Sales Company; Director of Programming, The Philadelphia Film Society

1. “Antichrist”
2. “A Serious Man”
3. “Tie: The Messenger/The Hurt Locker”
4. “Taxidermia”
5. “Police, Adjective”
6. “Downloading Nancy”
7. “Drag Me To Hell”
8. “Tie: Goodbye Solo/Humpday”
9. “Tie: Collapse/In the Loop”
10. “Two Lovers”

Jared Moshe
Producer, “Beautiful Losers”

In a general order with selected commentary.

1. “Up” – The first 10 minutes of the film deserve their own place on this list.
2. “The Hurt Locker” – So intense it literally made the person I saw it with collapse.
3. “Avatar” – Flawed, yes, yet wonderful in all senses of the word. It created a world I want to go back to.
4. “Summer Hours”
5. “Inglorious Basterds” – I’m a sucker for anything spaghetti western influenced.
6. “Where the Wild Things Are” – Also the best trailer of 2009.
7. “Star Trek”
8. “Beaches of Agnes”
9. “A Serious Man”
10. “In the Loop” – If you’re a political junkie and you haven’t seen this film, shame on you.

David Nugent
Director of Programming, Hamptons International Film Festival

1. “Inglourious Basterds”- I can’t say that any film really entertained and kept my rapt interest as much as this film did. It was a nearly 3 hour, very talky film that just breezed by for me. Christoph Waltz was a revelation.

2. “Precious” – In the same way that “Basterds” entertained me from start to finish, there was no other film in 09 that kept me as emotionally involved or on edge as “Precious.”

3. “Up in the Air” – Very timely, and exactly what I hope for in a classic Hollywood mode. Well acted, emotionally precise, and funny all the way through.

4. “Summer Hours” – Nuanced and honest, this film continued to avoid the traps that I thought it might catch itself up in.

5. “Taken”- “District 13” had immensely entertaining action sequences, but acting and a plot that kept me from really loving it. With Luc Besson’s production, and Liam Neeson’s quietly intense acting, Pierre Morel has really come into his own.

6. “Broken Embraces” – While not my favorite Almodovar film, feeling myself wrapped up in and brought along for a ride inside his brain was one of the most comforting feelings I felt all year in the cinema. There are few masters of the form on his level right now that I feel this from.

7. “Bronson” – I walked into this film knowing nothing about it, or who made it, and found myself completely transfixed. Its certainly not for everyone, but Winding Refn’s command of camera work, editing and directing actors is a sight (and sound) to behold.

8. “2 Lovers” – I know that this film polarizes people, and I supposed that I can understand this fact, but I think that Gray is an incredibly talented filmmaker. What makes this film not easy and appealing to all is what I think makes it great: We don’t always make the decisions that we ought to and that seem to make the most sense, and this is what can make life compelling and unpredictable.

9. “Public Enemies”: Michael Mann’s somewhat toned down vision here is a great fit for the subject matter. It lacks the bombast of “Miami Vice,” but it’s subtlety was a great choice.

10. “Unmade Beds: Dos Santos continues to successfully tap into the way that young people can experience the world, in all its pain, confusion and ecstasy.

Other films I loved this year: The White Ribbon, The Cove, We Live in Public, Fighting, Brothers, Bright Star, Paranormal Activity, District 9, Lunch Break, 5 Minutes in Heaven, Big River Man, The Messenger, Here & There, Young Victoria, Star Trek

Dana O’Keefe
Cinetic Media

(In alphabetical order):
“A Prophet”
“The Carter”
“District 9”
“How to Fold a Flag”
“Voy A Explotar” (I’m Gonna Explode)

Charlie Olsky
Susan Norget Film Promotion

Coming up with a Top Ten list for 2009 is difficult for me; as a rule, I try not to rank those films that I’ve worked on for Susan Norget PR, but as luck would have it, a huge number of those films are way up on my list. That said, I was shaking for hours after seeing The Hurt Locker, and to me it’s an obvious choice for best film of the year. I was also blown away by The White Ribbon, the first fully-realized film from Michael Haneke, so often an ascetic scold whose films feel like masterfully made but thin single-idea treatises. For the first time, I felt like I was watching a thoughtful reflection on the dark evil of humanity, rather than a shallow indictment of it. Roy Anderson’s absurd, luminous You, The Living was one of several fine films lost in the shuffle after the collapse of Tartan Films, and I’m thankful Film Forum has been rescuing many of them for theatrical release.

1. The Hurt Locker
2. The White Ribbon
3. You, The Living
4. Inglourious Basterds
5. The Cove
6. Drag Me To Hell
7. In The Loop
8. The Sun
9. Anvil! The Story of Anvil!
10. Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” By Sapphire

I wish I liked, but I did not: A Serious Man, The Hangover

Kevin Polowy
Senior Editor, Moviefone.com

1. “Up in the Air”
2. “An Education”
3. “Fantastic Mr. Fox”
4. “Up”
5. “The Cove”
6. “Coraline”
7. “Inglourious Basterds”
8. “I Love You, Man”
9. “Precious”
10. “World’s Greatest Dad”

— continued on page three —

Tom Quinn
Senior Vice President / Magnolia, Magnet Releasing

1. “Precious”
2. “The Prophet”
3. “Mother”
4. “Up”
5. “Soul Power”
6. “Seraphine”
7. “Star Trek”
8. “Bad Lieutenant”
9. “Wake in Fright” (Just as riveting today as it was in 1971).
10. “House of the Devil”

Mark Rabinowitz
The Rabbi Report

The thing is, this was an odd year for me and I didn’t see as many films that maybe I normally would. In the Spring we finally sold my family’s apartment in New York and I kind of went on walkabout. I spent 9 weeks on the road, driving 7,200 miles around the South and in June I moved out to East Hampton. The past year has been a trying and emotional one on a personal level and a good one overall, but I was a little removed from the film world. so please indulge me. While the following are my “best” films of the year, they’re really just a selection of films that had an effect on me and that I thought deserved recognition. As for the large number of films I didn’t see, I’ll catch up and do my best to spread the good word about them when I do.

“Adventureland” – My summer camp experiences transferred to the world of seasonal carny workers. Far more honest than most films (see: “Before Sunset” below) and not even remotely manipulative.

“Humpday” – A sweet and honest film. How often can we say that, these days? Funny and emotionally open. Again, a true film if there ever were one. Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard are pitch perfect as old friends who are both certain and completely unsure if they want to go through with…. it.

“In the Loop” – Finally, a film about politics for intelligent people with a sense of humor. It doesn’t dumb down or simplify, but it does take the piss at every opportunity and let’s face it, nothing’s more deserving than a good piss take than modern politics!

“Inglorious Basterds” – Jewish revenge porn? maybe. But Tarantino’s not Jewish, so for him it’s pretty much “everyone that isn’t a Nazi” revenge porn and that’s ok with me. Hating Nazis isn’t the sole domain of Jews, nor should it be. This is one of this year’s films that I wish I’d seen twice, but I appreciated it enough to know that it’s a pretty great movie and easily QT’s strongest since 1994’s “Pulp Fiction.” And seriously, why isn’t “Ooooohhh! That’s a bingo!” this year’s “I Drink your milkshake?” I understand that the scenes have completely different emotional impacts, but both are arguably the most quotable moments of their year. See? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzgVY7lxSlA

“Medicine For Melancholy” – Would someone with money please watch this film and realize that smart, entertaining and well made films can be made both by and about people of color and set outside of the ghetto, and at the same time not involve drugs, rape, gangs or anyone yelling “Holla!”

“Moon” – Flat out the most original AND the most derivative film of the year. A mixed blessing, you say? Nope. If what you’re pulling from are “2001,” “Outland” and “High Noon” and then making it your own, then you’re ok. Sam Rockwell is exceptional and despite the spare setting and occasionally obvious influences, director Duncan Jones and screenwriter Nathan Parker have crafted an engrossing and emotional film that deserves to be recognized.

“Of Time and the City” – Could have easily been called “My Liverpool.” While not even remotely in the style of Madden’s love letter to his Canadian birthplace of Winnipeg, Davies’ doc is equally a lovely and elegiac paean to a city oft painted only as the home of football (soccer) hooligans and hubcap thieves. Clearly it’s not.

“Star Trek” – The best of the blockbusters (I haven’t seen “Avatar,” yet). I’m not sure I can really explain how I feel about this one. I am a Trekker (Trekkie?) from way back, so while I think this is maybe the best science fiction film of the past 4 or 5 years, I can’t get past the fact that they really fucked with Star Trek canon and that I DO NOT LIKE! Honestly, with a few tweaks (if the characters’ names were changed and it was called something else, for example) I might think it genius.

“Summer Hours” – Having gone through something quite similar this past year, Assayas’ film had an emotional impact that I think I’ll be feeling for quite some time. Honestly, I wish I hadn’t seen it only this afternoon and actually had some time to digest it, but as it is, this is one of those beautiful films that sticks with you. It’s a story that most, if not all, of us can relate to….or will be able to, sadly.

“World’s Greatest Dad” – Hands down contains the best line of dialog this year. Beyond that, it’s a clever and well acted film that deals with families and tragedies in a brutally honest manner that sometimes we don’t employ in real life. I don’t know if Robin Williams has publicly justified films like “Old Dogs” and “RV” so that he can afford to make films like this, but if that’s why he does it, I say bring on “RV 2: Electric Boogaloo.”

Elizabeth Sheldon
Vice President, Kino Lorber

1. “Home”
2. “The Sun”
3. “Tony Manero”
4. “Ajami”
5. “Theater of War”
6. “Intangible Asset”
8. “Fierce Light”
9. “La danse”
10. “Bela Flek”

Dustin Smith
Roadside Attractions

Like high school, a Monet or Cameron Diaz’s face, some things just look better the further away you get from them. Such is the case here apparently, where I had a hell of a time coming up with 10 films to fill out my 2009 list but could have easily had 30 for the best of the decade. So check back with me in a couple years and I’ll probably say that ‘In the Loop’ was the best film of the decade. Who knows? As always, I didn’t include any films I worked on because that’s fucking lame.

1. “Up in the Air”
2. “An Education”
3. “In the Loop”
4. “A Serious Man”
5. “Up”
6. “45365”
7. “Fantastic Mr. Fox”
8. “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”
9. “Sunshine Cleaning”
10. “Crank: High Voltage”

Bryan Stamp

(in alphabetical order):
“The Beaches of Agnes”
“La Danse”
“Goodbye Solo”
“The Hurt Locker”
“In the Loop”
“Old Partner”
“A Serious Man”
“Summer Hours”
“Treeless Mountain”
“The White Ribbon”

Favorite Undistributed:
“Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be the Same”
“Mississippi Damned”
“October Country”

Favorite DVDs:
Criterion’s high-def transfers of “Wings of Desire” and “For All Mankind”

Basil Tsiokos
Programming Associate, Documentary Features, Sundance Film Festival
Documentary Film & Festival Consultant

There was no way for me to limit myself to ten titles period from 2009, so I cheated and made multiple lists… and it took me most of Christmas Eve to put together. Similarly the decade list is split between documentaries and narratives, and took me a fair chunk of Christmas night to complete.

Each list is in alphabetical order, unranked.

Top Ten Documentaries Released in 2009
1. “Art & Copy”
2. “Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed Country”
3. “Collapse”
4. “The Cove”
5. “Kimjongilia”
6. “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”
7. “Outrage”
8. “Rembrandt’s J’Accuse…!”
9. “The September Issue”
10. “We Live in Public”

Top Ten Narratives released in 2009
1. “(500) Days of Summer”
2. “Antichrist”
3. “The Bad Lieutenant — Port of Call: New Orleans”
4. “In the Loop”
5. “The Maid”
6. “Police, Adjective”
7. “Precious (Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire)”
8. “A Single Man”
9. “Star Trek”
10. “Still Walking”

Top Ten Documentaries without Distibution which Premiered in a 2009 Festival
1. “45365”
2. “Best Worst Movie”
3. “Colony”
4. “Cooking History”
5. “Garapa”
6. “Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno”
7. “October Country”
8. “The Peddler”
9. “The Red Race”
10. “When We Were Boys”

Top Ten Narratives without Distibution* which Premiered in a 2009 Festival
1. “Castaway on the Moon”
2. “Daniel & Ana”
3. “Everything Strange and New”
4. “Hipsters”
5. “Life During Wartime”
6. “Ordinary People”
7. “Le Refuge”
8. “Slovenian Girl”
9. “White Lightnin'”
10. “You Won’t Miss Me”

(*at least as far as I know.)

C. Mason Wells
IFC Center

1. “Police, Adjective”
2. “Public Enemies”
3. “The Frontier of Dawn”
4. “Fantastic Mr. Fox”
5. “Night and Day”
6. “The Limits of Control”
7. “Home”
8. “Paradise”
9. “Lake Tahoe”
10. “Tony Manero”

My favorite repertory discoveries in 2009:

“Araya” (Margot Benacerraf) – IFC Center
“Busting” and “Freebie & The Bean” (Peter Hyams and Richard Rush) – Anthology
“Breathless” and “Glen and Randa” (Jim McBride) – Anthology
“La Discrete” (Christian Vincent) – FIAF
“Eadweard Mybridge,” “ZoopRaxographer” (Thom Anderson) – MoMA
“Hot Blood” (Nicholas Ray) – Film Forum
“The Little Gangster” (Jacques Doillon) – FIAF
“Moonfleet” (Fritz Lang) – Anthology
“The Patsy” (Jerry Lewis) – Anthology
“Pitfall” (Andre De Toth) – Anthology
“Red Line 7000” (Howard Hawks) – BAM
“Seventeen” (Joel DeMott & Jeff Kreines) – Walter Reade
“The T.A.M.I. Show” (Steve Binder) – Light Industry
“Touki Bouki” (Djibril Diop Mambety) – The Auteurs
“When Tomorrow Comes” (John M. Stahl) – Anthology

Ryan Werner
IFC Films

“The Hurt Locker”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“A Serious Man”
“The Informant!”
“Inglorious Basterds”
“The Beaches of Agnes”
“Public Enemies”
“Two Lovers”

Other Films I really liked (not in order): Me and Orson Welles, Tulpan, Star Trek, You, The Living, Lorna’s Silence, The Messenger, 24 City, The White Ribbon, Broken Embraces, Goodbye, Solo, Treeless Mountain, I Love You Man, Bad Lieutenant, Tokyo Sonata, The Maid, Thirst, Bruno, Il Divo, Sugar, The Headless Woman, Taking Woodstock, Thirst, Funny People, Julia, The House of the Devil

Brit Withey
Artistic Director, Denver Film Society / Starz Denver Film Festival

“Anvil! The Story of Anvil”
“Big River Man”
“Film Ist. a girl and a gun”
“Goodbye Solo”
“Harmony and Me”
“Inglorious Basterds”
“October Country”
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
“Sita Sings the Blues”

Rob Williams
VP Acquisitions & Production, Indomina Media

3. “Up”
4. “Hurt Locker”
5.”Inglorious Basterds”
7.”Where the Wild Things Are”
8.”The Informant”
9.”Two Lovers” “
10.”In the Loop” / “Bright Star”

Cameron Yates
Filmmaker and Documentary Programmer for NewFest: The NY LGBT Film Festival

Top 10 Documentaries on the Festival Circuit in 2009:

“Rough Aunties”
“The Cove”
“Best Worst Movie”
“October Country”
“The Red Race”
“Prodigal Sons”
“Burma VJ”
“Off and Running”
“Valentino: The Last Emperor”
“We Live in Public”

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