Monday, July 5, 2021

The 100 Project: The Top 25 Movies of 2009

2009 is an interesting place to reach for The 100 Project for a few different reasons. For starters, this is where I start to overlap my own work. Way back when, I made a list of top 25 movies for this very year. You can see it here. In the time that has passed, my opinions on a number of films has changed, some for the better, some for the worse. Next, 2009 is the first year after The Dark Knight. When that movie did not receive a Best Picture nomination in 2008, people cried loud, long, and hard about it. As a result, the Academy decided they would nominate up to 10 films in that category beginning in '09. That particular award also highlights a bit of an issue with the process I'm using for The 100 Project. I've decided that I'm using Letterboxd to determine what year a movie will be counted as. In most cases, this is irrelevant. Here, it matters somewhat. The Hurt Locker won Best Picture. Letterboxd, however, has it listed as a 2008 movie, so I put it on that list. Without looking forward, I'm not sure how often this is going to come up again. I will say that even though this affects the lists of the two years involved it does not alter how I feel about the movie and, therefore, doesn't change the end goal of the project. That goal, of course, is to come up with a list of my top 100 movies of all-time. But, let's just get this year out of the way.

My Top 25 Movies of 2009

  • According to my Letterboxd account I've seen 182 movies released during 2009, a personal best
  • Of the 10 movies I saw in theaters that year, 3 make my top 25. Two others are honorable mentions.
  • I've seen all 10 of the Best Picture nominees. Subtracting the winner, The Hurt Locker (see above if you skipped ahead to this part), 4 of the other 9 make my top 25. Another is an honorable mention.
  • 5 animated movies make my top 25 with 2 cracking the top 6. 3 more are honorable mentions.
  • 10 movies from my original list a decade ago, did not make my new top 25. Some of these were recategorized as 2008 films, and did make that top 25.

25. Watchmen

24. Notorious

23. Star Trek

22. The Princess and the Frog

21. Big Fan

20. Up

19. Broken Embraces

18. Good Hair

17. 9

16. Sin Nombre

15. The Cove

14. Mother

13. Moon

12. In the Loop

11. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

10. District 9

This is one of the movies I saw in theaters to make this year's list. I wasn't sure what I was getting into when it started, other than it involved aliens. When it ended, I had seen the most unique alien invasion flick I ever laid eyes on.

9. Zombieland

Here's another movie I saw in theaters. I had to work a bit of magic to do it, too. Mrs. Dell is not a horror fan. To persuade her to go I had to stress, repeatedly, that it was much more comedy than horror and that Woody Harrelson is in it. She likes Woody. I loved it. She actually liked it. And the Bill Murray cameo is pure gold.

8. Precious

There are some movies that you like even though they are tough to sit through. This is one of those. The subject matter is difficult enough by itself. However, Mo'Nique's performance as an abusive mom is all-too real - frightening and sad.

7. Drag Me to Hell

After the first Spider-Man trilogy ended, I was very excited to hear Sam Raimi was returning to horror. When I watched it, I was not disappointed. It's balls to the wall right from the start and is full of the dark humor that made Raimi famous. 

6. Coraline

Dark comedy and kids movies don't usually go together. Coraline borrows heavily from the Tim Burton aesthetic and makes it work. It's creepy and makes some slick commentary,  and is fun as hell. Honestly, I liked it after my first viewing, but didn't love it. It was on a "3D" DVD and the room wasn't dark enough. Watching it on regular blu ray greatly enhanced the experience.

5. Inglourious Basterds

This is the first Tarantino movie I experienced on the big screen. And it was well worth it. While he's never been accused of sticking too close to the facts, his style of revisionist history is wholly enjoyable. The rollercoaster started immediately with Christoph Waltz's horrifying intensity and concludes with one of the most satisfying comeuppances of all-time.

4. The Hangover

Sometimes, I'm just a teen boy who just wants to hear raunchy and immature jokes. This movie tapped into that pubescent, testosterone-fueled energy and mainlined Neanderthal humor directly into my veins. You know, the good stuff. It's a high I experience every time I press play on this one. 

3. Thirst

Like a lot of people, vampires are my favorite cinematic nocturnal creatures. What the Twilight franchise did to them nearly dried up my bloodthirst because they had no bite whatsoever. Thank Movie God for Park Chan-wook. The Korean auteur reclaimed the vampire with this stressful and gory, but ultimately beautiful, love story.

2. Mary and Max

I used to rent lots of movies from my local library. After a while I was just looking for something different that I could watch with my kids. I came across this, it looked interesting, so I took it home. Nearly every minute of it was perfect. I laughed most of the way, and it kicked me in my gut whenever it wasn't tickling my funny bone. By the time it ended, it had instantly become one of my all-time favorite animated films.

1. Black Dynamite

Blaxploitation is a genre near and dear to my heart. So are parodies, when they're done well. This one is done exceedingly well. It captures the spirit and aesthetic of the genre while being hilarious all the way through. Not a detail was missed. It did what great parodies do. It makes use of all the tropes it's skewering and very clearly loves the thing it's deconstructing. 

Honorable Mentions (alphabetical): The Boat That Rocked, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Daybreakers, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Informant!, The Invention of Lying, Law Abiding Citizen, The Lovely Bones, Monsters vs. Aliens, Next Day Air, Orphan, The Secret in Their Eyes, A Single Man, Up in the Air, The White Ribbon


  1. We share 14 films plus five more from your honorable mentions in my list as it was a damn good year and what a way to close the decade.

    1. Excellent way to close out the decade. There are quite a few movies on your list that I still need to see.

  2. I always love your lists and would love to see Black Dynamite. I love some of your choices like Inglorious Basterds, Up, Star Trek, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as well as Zombieland, District 9, and The Hangover. I would place The Lovely Bones in my list even though a lot of people don’t like this movie. I also really like ASingle Man which Colin Firth just did a great job. I would have A Dark Knight in the List because no one beats Christian Bale as Batman nor Heath Ledger as The Joker ( I despise the movie with Joaquin Phoenix). I love Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law. Guy Ritchie just created a great movie, one of 2, with Downey wonderful as Holmes. I do really enjoy Taken which made Liam Neeson an action star but an intelligent one. State of Play is a good movie that I would like to see again as well as The Imaginarium of Dr. parnassus which I thought was better than the critics gave it and it happens to be Heath Ledgerks Last role, sadly. I end with Invictus which I didn’t think I would enjoy since it involves sports but it’s bettr than I thought and Morgan Freeman does play a good Nelson Mandela. I am surprised by some movies that came out that year as I thought some came out earlier and others, later. When I see “The Blindside”, I just shake my head that Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for this role. I had not seen it when it came out but she was considered a shoo-in and she won. When I finally watched this movie a couple of years ago, I just didn’t get how she could have won. I know it’s a true story but geez.

    1. Thanks! I have The Dark Knight on my 2008 list. I do like RDJ's Sherlock Holmes movies. This one is just a shade off this list. Good fun, though. I like, not love Taken, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Taken, State of Play, and Invictus. My philosophy on sports movies is that the best ones are not about the sports they depict, but about the people who are involved. Invictus is no different. Yeah, Bullock should not have won for The Blindside. And they stretched the "true" quite a bit for that film, too. Michael Oher, the main character, was not a imbecile who had no clue about football, like they made him out to be.

  3. Good list--I think I like all of the movies on this list that I've seen, although I didn't love The Hangover and I'm not sure I want to watch Precious a second time. Good Hair is such a surprising documentary.

    A few for your consideration from this year: Dead Snow, The Secret of Kells, 3 Idiots, Ninja Assassin, Wake Wood, and Triangle. This is also the year of Nightmares in Red, White and Blue--a documentary about the American horror movie industry that is absolutely worth your time.

    It's also the year of Night of the Living Dead: Re-Animated, which does the whole original Romero movie with animators taking over the various scenes. Sounds great, right? It's embarrassingly bad. Don't waste your time.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, Precious is a tough watch, so I don't hold it against anyone who didn't want to endure that again. Glad you could appreciate Good Hair.

      Dead Snow was in and out of my honorable mentions while I was doing this and wound up just on the outside. Ninja Assassin is a bad movie, but insanely fun. I haven't seen the others, but I am definitely interested in Nightmares in Red, White and Blue.

  4. Black Dynamite is one of my husband's all time favourite movies, he would LOVE that it was your #1 pick for the whole year. Honestly, the only reason I have't seen it myself yet is I know he would quote every line as it was being spoken and he'd also never forgive me for watching it without him!

  5. Oh, geez Dell I’m doing terribly this year in terms of what I’ve seen vs. what you have!!! I think this might be the first time there’s been more I haven’t seen than what I have.

    The only one of yours that I loved-Star Trek-didn’t even make your top 20!

    There were several though that I really liked-Inglorious Basterds, In the Loop, Law Abiding Citizen, Moon, A Single Man and Up

    Then some-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Precious, The Boat That Rocked and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (I can’t honestly say I’ve sat down and watched this but my great nephew had it on a seemingly endless loop for a couple of years so I’m sure I’ve seen every part of it and that was more than enough!)-that I thought were fine for that one viewing but will not ever return to.

    There’s two-The Informant! and The Invention of Lying-I didn’t like but didn’t flat out hate however the idea of seeing them again is akin to undergoing dental surgery.

    Then there are three that I absolutely could not tolerate-The Hangover (I saw it in a packed theatre, everyone around me was laughing hysterically and I was counting the minutes until it ended), Up in the Air (words really fail me to describe how much I despised every single person in this thing!), Watchmen (outside of the surprising fact that the blue guy was completely nude throughout I was bored to pieces).

    I haven’t seen a shocking 22 out of your list and runners-up but have several-Black Dynamite, Broken Embraces, The Cove, District 9, Mary and Max, Mother and The Secret in Their Eyes-I do want to catch up with eventually.

    However, I have a much larger number that I have not and never will-Big Fan, Coraline, Daybreakers, Drag Me to Hell, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Good Hair, The Lovely Bones (I loved the book and heard so much negativity directed at the movie I just never had the urge to watch), Monsters vs. Aliens, Next Day Air, 9, Notorious, Orphan, The Princess and the Frog, Sin Nombre, Thirst and Zombieland.

    1. Glad to see some love for Star Trek. It tends to get overlooked.

      I'm impressed you saw that much of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and even more impressed you have Mary and Max on the list of those you want to see.

      Of the ones you say don't want to see, I'm most curious about Big Fan. Not a Patton Oswalt fan, or is this a football thing? I know you don't care for Chris Rock, but Good Hair is a doc that has proven to be eye-opening for some.

  6. Not the strongest year though I love my first five films absolutely, but I had to stretch to reach 25.

    1 Undertow
    2 Make the Yuletide Gay
    3 Fired Up! -It’s dumb as dirt but jolly and such a guilty pleasure. If I’m feeling down, I pop it in and it perks me right up.
    4 Star Trek
    5 My Life in Ruins
    6 Up
    7 Plan B
    8 An Education
    9 Chops
    10 The Time Traveler’s Wife
    11 The Joneses
    12 Moon
    13 A Single Man
    14 In the Loop
    15 The Proposal
    16 From Beginning to End
    17 Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!
    18 Taking Woodstock
    19 State of Play
    20 The Last Station
    21 Inglorious Basterds
    22 The String
    23 The Messenger
    24 Law Abiding Citizen
    25 The Maiden Heist

    1. Turnabout is fair play. I've only seen 12 of your 25.

      Of those, I'm most surprised to see Up on your list, and so high!

      I'm definitely a fan of Moon, A Single Man, In the Loop, Inglourious Basterds, and Law Abiding Citizen. I also like The Messenger. Taking Woodstock was fine.

      I hated An Education and The Proposal. The way you feel about the people in Up in the Air is the way I feel about everyone in An Education. The Proposal I just didn't find funny.

      I haven't seen any of the others, including the top 3. I used to see the cover for Fired Up! all the time and decided against it because it looks too terrible, even for my tastes. Maybe I'll give it a go one day. Of the others I am interested in The Time Traveler's Wife because I've heard so much about it.

  7. Okay let's try this again my last comment just vanished. With Mary & Max I've heard so many positive comments I feel secure giving it a shot.

    The answer for Big Fan is both the things you mentioned.

    I put off watching Up for years and when I finally did it really struck a chord. One of the few animated films in I can say that about.

    Fired Up! is very silly but the main characters are neither mean-spirited nor total idiots and the humor is goofy rather than vulgar for the most part. It also has two very funny supporting performances by John Henry Higgins as the ridiculously enthusiastic coach at the cheer camp and Juliette Goglia as one of the lead's no nonsense sister. Is it art? Far from it but is a painless way to pass 90 minutes.

    1. I hope you enjoy Mary and Max when you get to it.

      Fair enough. Patton Oswalt isn't everyone's cup of tea.

      I may give Fired Up! a try if I scroll past it on some streaming service.