Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tues Top Ten: Best of Year (Thus Far)

We're not technically halfway through the year (oops. missed that opportunity) but let's say January releases don't really count. That's not a stretch to say. If the year ended today here's what my top ten would like like (alpha order) with the Best Picture nominees in red. This isn't really the warm up to TFE's awards (unless the remainder of the year is hugely disappointing) it's more like lacing up your gym shoes before heading out to the warm-up. We hope.


Top Ten as of July 14th
larval stage
  • (500) Days of Summer
  • Coraline
  • Duplicity
  • Hunger
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Moon
  • Julia
  • Prodigal Sons
  • Star Trek
  • Up
I bent my usual roles (no documentaries -- since the goals are so different than regular feature films. How does one compare?) because I love Prodigal Sons so very much and want to keep reminding you about it before it premieres. This is the last "best of year (thus far)" post you'll get before the awards in January. Here's everything I've seen thus far. The three films I most regret missing and shall try to catch up with are Sin Nombre, Drag Me to Hell and Summer Hours.

And now the acting categories... my preferences NOT how Oscar might view them. That's an important distinction (Hunger for instance is not eligible at the Oscars this year due to a one week run in LA last year). Obviously the heavyweight Oscar hopefuls have not yet entered the room. Hollywood saves them for the holidays.

Best Actress
  • Amy Adams, Sunshine Cleaning
  • Emily Blunt, Sunshine Cleaning
  • Zooey Deschanel, (500) Days of Summer
  • Michelle Pfeiffer, Chéri
  • Tilda Swinton, Julia
Only one of these women (Pfeiffer) can be expected to see awards season traction. But unless Chéri gets a significant Golden Globe or DVD boost, we might not have seen any of the eventual nominees yet.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Patricia Clarkson, Whatever Works
  • Marion Cotillard, Public Enemies
  • Alicia Delmore, Humpday
  • Carrie Preston, That Evening Sun / Duplicity
  • Kristin Scott Thomas, Confessions of a Shopaholic
This category is a wasteland thus far. That's not to knock these performances but they're mostly minor pleasures: Clarkson is typically strong but the character is a caricature. Cotillard handles the big emotional scenes very well but can't make sense of the nonsensical screenplay (in regards to her character Billie) and the voice is wrong. Etcetera. Silver lining: I will be watching Carrie Preston's career closely. Those are two very different performances and both detours from her Arlene character in True Blood. Well done.

Best Actor
  • Michael Fassbender, Hunger
  • Hal Holbrook, That Evening Sun
  • Joseph Gordon Levitt, (500) Days of Summer
  • Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
  • Sam Rockwell, Moon
In case you're wondering, the only 2009 man with an actual shot at Oscar's shortlist so far (Johnny Depp, Public Enemies) would be my runner up here (give or take Ciarán Hands in The Eclipse). I liked what Depp was doing as John Dillinger but I needed him to do more of it. If someone decides to release Holbrook's vehicle, That Evening Sun, there's a chance he could be in the Oscar race, too, playing a defiant old codger who knows his time is winding down. It's not a grossly sentimental work (thank you!) but it definitely has an emotional current that the Academy could get pulled along with given the proper campaign and release.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Jim Broadbent, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • Paul Giamatti, Duplicity
  • Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker
  • Ray McKinnon, That Evening Sun
  • Tom Wilkinson, Duplicity
And just for fun a few craft categories...

Best Art Direction
Best Cinematography
  • Dairus Khondji, Chéri
  • Barry Ackroyd, The Hurt Locker
  • Sean Bobbitt, Hunger
  • Yorick Le Saux, Julia
  • Dante Spinotti, Public Enemies
Best Costume Design
  • Colleen Atwood, Public Enemies
  • Consolata Boyle, Chéri
  • Hope Hanafin, (500) Days of Summer
  • April Napier, Julia
  • Michael Kaplan, Star Trek
Best Original Score
What are your favorite filmthings of the year thus far ?
Talk me into loving something else or something more. Do you expect your favorites will be washed away by the greatness of the fall / winter movies?

55 comments:

Rebecca said...

I'm excited to see 'Hurt Locker,' and that you have Anthony Mackie on your supporting actor list. I definitely thought he was someone to watch after 'Half Nelson.'

Jose said...

My Best Picture lineup so far would be:
Coraline
Rudo y Cursi
Star Trek
Up
The Academy does 10 but I'm sticking with 4, as I've not seen any other film that even deserves to be remembered by year's end. I have Hunger in my top 10 from last year though.
Oh and my Best Actress award would go to Sasha Grey in "The Girlfriend Experience"!

JA said...

Something must be done to get Tilda Swinton awards attention for Julia! Do something, Nat! Do something!!!

Katey said...

All I know is that Star Trek keeps sneaking up on me. Other than Up and maybe Duplicity, it's the only film of the year I've just LOVED, and enjoy remembering every time. I wonder if it will linger once I've seen what the rest of the year has to offer.

18 Year Old Blogger said...

I'm surprised you don't have Potter in any of the techs...also surprising that you have Broadbent rather than Gambon.

Rick said...

I have only seen Cheri and Public Enemies and both of them fell totlly flat.

pomme said...

Public Enemies and Gran Torino!
and as french movies "OSS 117:Rio ne répond plus"(crazy funny movie)and "welcome"!
"Hunger"and "Julia" are out last year in France
"Up" will be out in 2 weeks at home and "the reader" out this week!
and i'm nice to see someone liking "duplicity" !i finally yet forgot "good morning,england" and "star trek"!(it's a fair semester for me)

Henry said...

Wow. (500) Days of Summer must have been really good! I like the trailers and I hope it will be great when I see it this weekend (if I can find it).

Josh said...

1. Public Enemies - officially my favorite movie of the year after i saw it a second time, and i liked it even more the second time. both times i saw the movie i felt like i got a different interpretation of the story. the first time it felt like the asassination of jesse james, and the second time it reminded me more of the wild bunch. i cant wait to see what the third time has in store for me. that to me is what great art can do. it keeps you talking.

2. Moon- like my number one it kept me talking, and i loved sam rockwell's performance and duncan jones directing.

3. The Hurt Locker- one of the most original war films ive seen in a long tim.

4. Star Trek- it was just extremely pleasing summer movie. it was so well written. like Moon i felt like it cared more about the character than the effects, even though it had some great effects.

5. Drag Me To Hell- Sam Raimi makes this film such a joy to watch. its great to have him back to the horror genre.

6. The Soloist- it was great to see Joe Wright bring something new to this overused genre.

7. Watchmen- i liked it, i didn't think it was a masterpiece. but it was defenitely memorable. i remember this movie more because of jackie earle haley than anything else. he's the only reason im aproving the nightmare on elm street remake. i just wish the movie focused a little more on the characters than the visuals. all the emotions i felt in the movie were because of Jackie Earle Haley, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

8. Bruno- i think sacha baron cohen is one of the greatest comedians working today.

9. The Hangover- its so good to have a few laughs

10. Whatever Works- i know a lot of people didn't like this movie, but i loved it. i think that is half because Larry David's character reminded had a trait of every single character in my family. so in the middle of the movie i could whisper to my sister thats something Grandpa would say. it also always puts a smile on my face to see a Woody Allen picture.

DJ said...

(All of these are in order)
**=winner
<<=see staying in top 10 of the year

BEST PICTURE:
Public Enemies**<<
Up<<
The Young Victoria
The Brother's Bloom
Star Trek

BEST ACTOR:
Johhny Depp, Public Enemies**<<
John Krasinski, Away We Go
Edward Asner, Up
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Russell Crowe, State of Play

BEST ACTRESS:
Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria**<<
Emily Blunt, Sunshine Cleaning
Amy Adams, Sunshine Cleaning
Maya Rudolph, Away We Go
Bryce Dallas Howard, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Jim Broadbent, The Young Victoria**
Mark Ruffalo, The Brother's Bloom
Rupert Friend, The Young Victoria
Chris Messina, Away We Go
Jordan Nagai, Up

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Rachel Weisz, The Brother's Bloom**<<
Marion Cotillard, Public Enemies<<
Amy Adams, Night at the Museum 2
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Away We Go
???

Dave said...

I was going to yell "DRAG ME TO HELL" in these comments but then you mentioned you intended to catch up with it so that's alright. I haven't seen much (11 movies I believe) but it would top them. I'd also recommend In the Loop (which according to IMDb hasn't been released in the States yet so you have an excuse) and catching up with State of Play, which was a solid piece of work, if unspectacular in retrospect.

I wish I could comment on the rest but I've hardly seen any of them for various reasons. So much to see, yet so little of it really excites me.

Amir said...

hurt locker tops my best picture list. (my second and third being moon and up)
kathryn bigelow topes my best director list.
i have sam rockwell and amy adams for best actor and and actress on the top of the list.

but i have a question. how come nobody else ever mention joaquin phoenix in two lovers?
does that count as 2008 or am i really THE ONLY person who thought he was great in that?

Howler said...

I knew Broadbent would be terrific as Slughorn. Great character in the book and wonderful casting. I can't wait to see him.
I haven' seen a lot, but I love "Julia" and respect "Hunger" - only these two would get my B+ or more so far.

Derreck said...

I just see most of these nominees being totally out of the picture during awards time...

But looking at the films listed so far, i'm just realizing how far back i really am when it comes to film watching. stupid education!

John O'Neil said...

My tops of the year would be "Star Trek" and "Duplicity." I will echo the nods for Giamatti and Wilkinson who were both fun, and deliciously greasy, in "Duplicity." I have a feeling that Broadbent will sneak in once I see HP6. What a great character for a wonderful actor.

Derek said...

Juliette Binoche would definitely be at least a halfway-through Best Actress contender if you'd seen Summer Hours!

Kevin D. said...

Best Pic:

1.Sin Nombre
2. Up
3. Julie and Julia
4.Drag Me to hell
5. Star trek

It's been a really solid year for movies so far. It practically hurts me to exclude 'Coraline" and "I love you, man" from my line up. I still haven't seen a few big films like "Cheri" or "Public Enemies", but I have seen quite a few. I got an early screening of "Julie and Julia" and let me tell you, it is far better than one could ever deduce from that ghastly trailer. It's a really soild film with gorgeous costumes and set design. I really hope it picks up some traction come awards season.

Best Actress:

1.Meryl Streep- Julie and Julia
2.Amy Adam- Julie and Julia
3.Maya Rudolph-Away we Go
4.Isla Fisher-Confessions of a shopaholic
5.Sasha Gray- The Girlfriend Experience

It's been a really solid actress year so far. I can tell you right now that Streep blows the rest of the competition, that I've seen, out of the water. I really need to see Pfeiffer though.

Best Actor:

1. Joaquin Phoenix-Two Lovers
2.RDJ-The Soloist
3.Edgar Flores-Sin Nombre
4.Paul Rudd-I love you, man
5.Chris Pine-Star Trek

I haven't been to quite that many "actor focused" films this year. I absolutely LOVED Phoenix though, and imaine he will still be in my top five come awards season. RDJ is also excellent in " The Soloist".


Supporting Actress:
1.Isabella Rosselini- Two Lovers
2.Adriana Barraza- Drag Me to Hell
3.Patty Clarkson - Whatever Works
4.Rachel Weisz- The Brothers Bloom
5.Emily Blunt- Sunshine Cleaning

Hasn't been an excellent supporting year in either category, but I really love all five of these performances. Rossellini does what I consider a career best in "Two Lovers", as the sensitive, caring mother. I also feel Weisz was unfarily maligned by some for "Bloom", she was easily the only enjoyable part of that film.

Supporting Actor:

1.Zachary Quinto- Star Trek
2.Ed Helms- THe Hangover
3.Justin Long- Drag Me to Hell
4.Stanley Tucci- Julie And Julia
5. Ed begley Jr.- Whatever Works

This was definetly the hardest category for me. I found Quinto really fun to watch, so he wins thus far. Helms also cracked me up. The others are all soild, but their respective films don't give them quite enough to do.

adelutza said...

I definitely hope there's much more to come in terms of films this year. I haven't seen The Hurt Locker yet but except for An Education there wasn't anything memorable for me thus far. I'm not so keen on rebooted franchises even though Star Trek was not bad, and even less on animation, be it as great as Pixar is.
Of course, I enjoyed a lot Easy Virtue, The Great Buck Howard , Moscow, Belgium and Julia as well as Summer Hours and Whatever Works. I even enjoyed Cheri, though I see it's not in anybody's graces.

But I am optimistic going forward as I have all the faith in Tarantino, Cohen brothers, Nicole Kidman et al. and mostly on Almodovar to bring out the magic.

Bill_the_Bear said...

Amir, I agree with you about "Two Lovers." It's my favourite Hollywood movie of the year so far. I would certainly like to see Joaquin Phoenix get a Best Actor nomination; he totally deserves it.

I'm particularly looking forward to "The Hurt Locker" and "Humpday," which don't open in Montréal until this coming Friday.

From Nathaniel's list, I've seen "Duplicity" (fun), "Moon" (really good; better than I had hoped), "Star Trek" (meh; I've never been a Trekkie) and "Up" (not bad; much better than "Wall-E" last year, but I preferred "Ratatouille" in 2007).

I missed "Coraline" and "Hunger," since they didn't sound particularly appealing.

"Julia" and "Prodigal Sons" never played Montréal...at least, not yet. "500 Days of Summer" will be here eventually; I will certainly see it then.

Other films which would make my Top List so far would be the Norwegian film "O'Horten" and three Canadian films: "Adoration," "One Week" and "Polytechnique." ("Polytechnique might possibly be the Canadian candidate for the Foreign-language Oscar; it was far better than the much-hailed "J'ai tué ma mère," which picked up three relatively minor awards at Cannes, while "Polytechnique" was pretty much ignored there.)

D.P.D said...

>>> Best Picture
Coraline
The Hurt Locker
**Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea**
Two Lovers
Up

>>> Best Director
Henry Selick_ Coraline
**Kathryn Bigelow_ The Hurt Locker**
Hayao Miyazaki_ Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea
James Gray_ Two Lovers
Pete Docter_ Up

>>> Best Actor
Russell Crowe_ State Of Play
Rupert Friend_ The Young Victoria
Clive Owen_ Duplicity
**Joaquin Phoenix_ Two Lovers**
Jeremy Renner_ The Hurt Locker

>>> Best Actress
Amy Adams_ Sunshine Cleaning
**Emily Blunt_ Sunshine Cleaning & The Young Victoria**
Sasha Grey_ The Girlfriend Experience
Jennifer Lawrence_ The Burning Plain
Charlize Theron_ The Burning Plain

>>> Best Supporting Actor
**Paul Bettany_ The Young Victoria**
Jim Broadbent_ The Young Victoria
John Goodman_ In The Electric Mist
Jackie Earle Haley_ Watchmen
Anthony Mackie_ The Hurt Locker

>>> Best Supporting Actress
Kim Basinger_ The Burning Plain
**Gwyneth Paltrow_ Two Lovers**
Mary Lynn Rajskub_ Sunshine Cleaning
Isabella Rossellini_ Two Lovers
Vinessa Shaw_ Two Lovers

>>> Best Original Screenplay
The Burning Plain
The Hurt Locker
Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea
Two Lovers
**Up**

>>> Best Adapted Screenplay
**Coraline**
In The Electric Mist
Star Trek
State Of Play
.

>>> Best Original Score
Hans Zimmer_ Angels & Demons
Bruno Coulais_ Coraline
**Joe Hisaishi_ Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea**
Michael Giacchino_ Star Trek
Michael Giacchino_ Up

>> Best Cinematography
Robert Elswit_ The Burning Plain
Steven Soderbergh_ The Girlfriend Experience
**Barry Ackroyd_ The Hurt Locker**
Frank Griebe_ The International
Daniel Mindel_ Star Trek


I count "Hunger", "Summer Hours" and "Julia" as 2008 releases.

blarsenusc said...

BEST PICTURE:

1. Up
2. The Hurt Locker
3. Sita Sings the Blues
4. Adventureland
5. Coraline
RU: Tyson


BEST ACTOR:

1. Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
2. Johnny Depp (Public Enemies)
3. Joaquin Phoenix (Two Lovers)
4. Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland)
5. Charles Berling (Summer Hours)
RU: Jamal Woolard (Notorious)- hehe


BEST ACTRESS:

1. Kristin Stewart (Adventureland)
** criminally underappreciated performance, in my opinion! :)

2. Hiam Abbass (Lemon Tree)
3. Maya Rudolph (Away We Go)
4. Amy Adams (Sunshine Cleaning)
5. Juliette Binoche (Summer Hours)
RU: Gwyneth Paltrow (Two Lovers)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

1. Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
2. Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker)
3. Chris Messina (Away We Go)
4. Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover)
5. Martin Starr (Adventureland)
RU: Ali Suliman (Lemon Tree)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

1. Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies)
2. Emily Blunt (Sunshine Cleaning)
3. Rona Lipaz-Michael (Lemon Tree)
4. Teri Hatcher (Coraline)
** outstanding voice work!
5. Isabella Rossellini (Two Lovers)
RU: Angela Bassett (Notorious)

NATHANIEL R said...

how did i miss Two Lovers again? I must catch up with that one, too.

18 no Potter in the techs was a mistake. I meant to include the art direction. oopsie.

ja if i could i would. that performance, christ! she is just an annual amazement.

josh & adelutza cheri & public enemies were just outside my top 10. I enjoyed them both no matter what their critics say.

Ty said...

What was wrong with Marion's voice in "Public Enemies"? Billie Frenchette was supposed to be half Indian/half French, and I thought that she suppressed her French accent enough to make me believe at least that she was half American and half not. She was the best thing about "Public Enemies", and if "Nine" doesn't work out for her, I wouldn't mind her being nominated for this role.

Curtis said...

Just saw "Public Enemies" and agree with your assessment about Cotillard's performance. She could be the next Penelope Cruz if she can learn to use her accent to her advantage.

Wayne B. said...

I liked Up and Star Trek but the most thrilling movie I've seen so far this year was Anvil!: The Story of Anvil. It was great to watch real people pursuing their love, even though it wasn't rewarding them financially. Lips and Robb make a great team and the movie has some hilarious moments. It also does have some moments of strong pathos, particularly when Lips and Robb go through a rough patch.

Bernardo said...

It's quite difficult for me to choose the best I've seen so far since most films haven't yet been released in Mexico.

So far I've seen three worthy films:
- Stellet Licht, Up and Star Trek
- Zero amazing performances (though I loved Anton Yelchin in Star Trek but that's probably just because I love him in general)
- Great techs in Star Trek and Up

adri said...

Best Editing: "The International"

In "The International", the shoot out scene in NYC's Guggenheim Museum is so beautifully composed, shot, and edited, that it is going to be studied in film schools for years. It deserves an editing nomination (and probably win).

(Personal opinion - so many action sequences are just disposable garbage - it's refreshing to see an action sequence that reminds you of what technical skill ALLIED to plot and character can do).

I like the love for "Two Lovers" (which I haven't seen yet) and yes, why not Phoenix and Rossellini?

UncleVanya said...

#1 In the Loop
2 Sin Nombre
3 Tokyo Sonata
4 Summer Hours
5 Julia (mostly for Swinton's remarkable performance)
6 Coraline
7 Two Lovers
8 Drag Me to Hell
9 Public Enemies
10 Up

(I also liked "Grey Gardens", but I guess that is considered a made-for-tv film).

The Dardenne brothers new film, "The Silence of Lorna", or "Lorna's Silence", was quite good (though not their best), boasting a very good lead performance.

Finally, I would recommend "Deadgirl", a twisted tale about necrophilia (and so much more).

UncleVanya said...

Hopefully I don’t ruffle any feathers, here, because there is obviously a lot of passion for "The Hurt Locker". However, I, personally, found the film redundant, cliche-ridden, and obvious. I even went to it a second time, hoping I would discover the orginality that so many others seem to have found. Alas, it was still a disappointment. I found it instantly forgetable (though there were some good performances). Bigelow, for me, has never delivered on the promise of “Near Dark”, and, yet, I believe she will, one day. Just not with “The Hurt Locker”. If you want to see a 2009 war-themed movie, you will not do any better than the film, “In the Loop”.

Of course, this is my opinion only, so sheath your knives and put away your crow-bars. The love for individual movies is, of course, subjective.

adam k. said...

I think Michael Giacchino's Star Trek score is far superior to the one for Up, and I hope it gets a nom, but I know I'm in the minority. I just thought the Up score was so one-note and repetitive... it was moving, sure, and did the job, but shouldn't there be more to an oscared score?

I loved what Giacchino did with incorporating the classic Trek themes into his new, very cool addition to the canon. I listen to that score every time I'm at the gym. It's moving, thrilling and bombastic in all the right ways. There are a few times, I guess, when it slips into standard action-y background noise - basically whenever you're on the Romulan ship - but the great sections more than make up for it.

"Enterprising Young Men", in particular, is a brilliant track. Love, love, love.

And Nat, I really hope Tilda is a medalist this year for Julia. She was fan-fucking-tastic. Is she not eligible for awards this year? Or are people assuming the film is just too small? She totally deserves it.

UncleVanya said...

Oh, and I almost forgot. Because I saw "Hunger" in 2008, it does not show on my above list (otherwise, it would be #1)

Arkaan said...

Favourite film Related items of the year (in no order).

-SUMMER HOURS
-The opening ten minutes to UP
-Noam Jenkins in ADORATION
-The editing to THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE
-Clint Mansell's score for MOON
-Sam Rockwell's performance in MOON
-THE BROTHERS BLOOM
-Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz and Rinko Kikuchi in THE BROTHERS BLOOM
-The writing and directing to THE BROTHERS BLOOM
-The art direction, costume design and score to THE BROTHERS BLOOM

NATHANIEL R said...

adam -- i just assume that if they wanted oscar consideration for Julia it's release wouldn't have been so very elongated in one year (2008) and then released the next (2009). you can't build up awards momentum if nobody knows which year you're eligible for.

but anyway even if it were a november release with a big budget i don't see it happening because the character is just too in your face upsetting and they generally only let men get away with those "irredeemable" character roles. but yeah she's just thrilling in the role.

unclevanya no knives being sharpened here. I actually saw HURT LOCKER with a friend who had already seen it and he doesnt' get the hype either. he was seeing a second time to try to understand why people were so in love with it.

i'm not sure Bigelow has ever topped NEAR DARK but i think she's delivered on the promise a number of times (strange days and the hurt locker in particular... and i love the action scenes in POINT BREAK even if the movie is otherwise ridiculous)

Nate said...

There are a lot of films I missed, so I'll do 5 in no particular order.

Drag Me To Hell
Sugar
Public Enemies
Coraline
Star Trek (I gave it a B though).


I did see Two Lovers and I just wasn't feeling it. Phoenix was great though.

Movies I missed

Julia- I don't think it ever played in my area
Sunshine Cleaning- Wait for DVD
Hurt Locker- I'll try to see this weekend
500 Days- Try to see this weekend.
Up- Not big on Pixar,Probably DVD
Bruno- Not interested
Whatever Works-DVD
Cheri-DVD

Walter L. Hollmann said...

The most under-discussed film this year is Easy Virtue. Stephan Elliott directs a Noel Coward adaptation, with Jessica Biel (who I had doubts about before but HOLY CRAP) as an American race car driver who marries into an English country family. If you liked Kristin Scott Thomas in Shopaholic, you ain't seen nothing yet: her matriarch is pitch-perfect, and Colin Firth is exquisite as her bored husband. My favorite film of the year so far, with Public Enemies and (500) Days of Summer right behind.

Also to consider: Breaking Upwards, which I believe was only released at various film fests and NYC, is great, with Julie White and Andrea Martin in supporting roles as the mothers of a couple on the rocks. And, as you say, Cheri. Which I just saw today and enjoyed.

vince said...

that picture of Pfeiffer speaks volumes of her chances at Cheri nomination ...

Angelina Jolie will have probably come closer to a nom with "A Mighty Heart."

It would be nice to be wrong, though.

vince said...

"Drag Me to Hell" was the most entertaining film this year so far.

Flosh said...

STILL WALKING - which isn't being released until next month - is a beautiful film, and probably my favorite of the year. It's a gentle, kind of heart breaking story about an elderly couple hosting their middle aged children (and their young grand children)for a family reunion of sorts. Very simple story, but the execution is incredible. I saw it at a film festival in Boston a couple months ago and haven't been able to get it out of my mind since.

Glenn Dunks said...

Most of the titles mentioned haven't been released here yet (of course). The best movies of the year have been Samson & Delilah and Three Blind Mice (which I saw last year, but is being released this year).

Best Director: Warwick Thornton, Samson & Delilah

Best Actress: Gracie Otto, Three Blind Mice

Best Actor: John Malkovich, Disgrace

Supporting Actor: Benoît Poelvoorde, Coco avant Chanel

Supporting Actress: Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Lucky Country

Screenplay (orig or adapted): Three Blind Mice

Cinematography: Samson & Delilah

Art Direction: Mary & Max

Costume Design: Coco avant Chanel

Needless the say, the Aussie films are kicking arse in 2009. Shame nobody will be able to see them outside of the odd international film fest here or there. Although Three Blind Mice did play OnDemand in America (whatever that is).

Runs Like A Gay said...

If you get a chance to see it I heartily recommend Maria Larsson's Everlasting Moments (or Eviga ögonblick), last years Oscar submission from Sweden.

It got a lot of unfair press for not being Let the Right One In, although I hear that may be in contention for this years race.

It was a beautiful film with a knock out performance by Maria Heiskanen as a woman torn between two men she loves (her abusve husband and a local photographer). She perfectly portrays the shifting of her feelings, the pull of duty and respectability and the thrill and disappointments that come with falling in love with someone you can't have.

Like Pfeiffer in Cheri, Heiskanen has a direct to camera shot right at the end which is breataking.

In my opinion at the moment the film and Heiskanen are very comfortably holding on to the best picture/actress 2009.

There's also ingenious use of music in the film, one particular waltz that gets repeated will have you scratching your head trying to work out where it comes from.

Bill_the_Bear said...

I agree with the general love for "Summer Hours" (hope to see it a second time this weekend), "The Girlfriend Experience" and with Walter's love for "Easy Virtue."

Can't say that I was overly impressed by "The Brothers Bloom," but then I generally find both Adrian Brody and Rachel Weisz at best moderately annoying on screen.

NATHANIEL R said...

so these comments have convinced me i need to see:

EASY VIRTUE
BROTHERS BLOOM (though i still can't figure out if that's a 2008 or a 2009 release. didn't it get golden satellite nominations indicating a 2008 qualifying release?)
DRAG ME TO HELL
TWO LOVERS
THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE (i'm not sure why i am always so standoffish with Sodebergh's experiments. It's not like me really. hmmm)

and some of those Australian pictures if they ever open here ;)

Runs Like A Gay said...

But not Everlasting Moments?

Were you that irritated by the Let the Right One in snub?

Nick M. said...

Well, at least you're upfront about the fact that you have not yet seen the best film of the year (that would be Summer Hours).

According to my calculations, these are my favorite films of 2009 to date:

Summer Hours
Sugar
Tokyo Sonata
$9.99
Hunger
Two Lovers


...with--in random order--Julia, Coraline, Tyson, The Guest of Cindy Sherman, Medicine for Melancholy, Lake Tahoe, and The Beaches of Agnes (which is how I celebrated Bastille Day) trailing behind.

Speaking of Fernando Eimbcke's Lake Tahoe, I'm surprised there has not been a peep out of you regarding it's way-too-short one-week run at the Anthology Film Archives. I know you're an adoring fan of Duck Season, as am I, and someone needs to shed some attention on Eimbcke's similarly intimate second feature. Of course, that's the logical fate of sensitive and observant low-key charmers. Lake Tahoe is nearly as satisfying at Duck Season, but it's even more low-key, and the wavelength is a bit more difficult to catch onto.

vince said...

Nate, you should *def* see "Drag Me to Hell." I hope you love it, but I'm going to keep the bar low and just in case say, you'll mildly enjoy it.

"Two Lovers" ... I've never been a huge fan of Paltrow, but she makes her highly unlikeable character watchable. One of my fav performances of hers. (You may be irritated with her, though, as well as Phoenix' constantly misguided choices. Perhaps you'll find the film a bit by-the-numbers, but I thought it was sweet.) And the film is lit in this odd, yet pleasing perpetual ... (excuse the following word, as it has been misappropriated due to legions of teenage and young-at-heart vampire-loving female fans, among other types) ... twilight.

brianmaru said...

Glad to see some love for Amy Adams in Sunshine Cleaning, maybe her fullest performance since Junebug.

Catherine said...

Most of the films mentioned haven't reached our shores yet. Gah. I'm with Glenn and everyone else who doesn't live in the US, it's super annoying that there's no system of simultaneous international release dates. Out of the 2009 films I've watched, the only ones I'm still harbouring fond memories for are:

Looking For Eric
Coraline
Drag Me To Hell
Cherí
Sunshine Clearing

Note I said 'fond', meaning that none of them - save maybe Coraline - I'd actually consider leaving in my top ten of the year.

Grant said...

My best picture list so far would go:

1) Moon
2) The Brothers Bloom
3) Up
4) Public Enemies
5) The Soloist
6) Hunger

As far as Best Actor:
1) Sam Rockwell for Moon
2) Michael Fassbender for Hunger
3) Adrien Brody for The Brothers Bloom
4) Jamie Foxx for The Soloist
5) Russell Crowe for State of Play

Best Actress would be:
1) Maya Rudolph for Away We Go
2) Tilda Swinton for Julia
3) Evan Rachel Wood for Whatever Works
4) Marion Cotillard for Public Enemies
5) Zooey Deschanel for Gigantic

Best Supporting Actor:
1) Mark Ruffalo for The Brothers Bloom
2) Christian Bale for Public Enemies
3) Tom Wilkinson for Duplicity
4) Jackie Earle Haley for Watchmen
5) John Goodman for Gigantic

Best Supporting Actress:
1) Patricia Clarkson for Whatever Works
2) Rachel Weisz for The Brothers Bloom
3) Lorna Raver for Drag Me To Hell
4) Catherine Keener for The Soloist

NATHANIEL R said...

runs like i have a screener of everlasting moments. just need to carve out the time.

nick m i'm always up front about what i haven't seen (which is why i always have a published list of everything i've seen)... i don't understand why more critics don't do this because it's kind of important in terms of what you're drawing from.

lake tahoe same thing as everlasting. on my tv. just have to find time.

brianmaru i realize people didn't like sunshine cleaning (and it is very very minor and unfortunately derivative) but i totally agree with you about Adams. she was really "full" in it, so to speak. you felt the character's life. WAY better than her work in DOUBT at any rate.

catherine maybe i'm ignorant about the "why" but i absolutely believe that the lack of consistency for release dates is a good deal of the problem with piracy. the internet makes everything global (somewhat) and yet entertainment is still partitioning itself off into little regions and sidebars and movies sometimes take years to open everywhere. which is silly given the speed with which you can get things online and or on dvd. super annoying indeed... they just don't make movie culture beyond the blockbusters easy for people which only contributes to the slow fade of regular movies until all that will be left in theatrical is the blockbusters... because they're the only ones that have access to affecting the larger global pop culture. [sniffle]

or something.

where am I?

UncleVanya said...

Nathanial:

I am carrying this discussion over from the blog-piece on the American version of "Brothers", because I have a feeling you did not catch my response to your question on "Tokyo Sonata":

"unclevanya i'll embarrass myself here but 'whats that?' -- it sounds like a film that has come out every other year. i'm not being facetious. that title sounds so like i've already seen it."

This movie is Kurosawa's second film that was invited to Canne (the other was "Bright Future").

I know Roger Ebert is not one of your fav critics (nor is he mine), but he hits the nail on the head with his recent review of the film:

by Roger Ebert

Just as the economic crisis has jolted everyday life, so it shakes up "Tokyo Sonata," which begins as a well-behaved story and takes detours into the comic, the macabre and the sublime. All you know about three-act structure is going to be useless in watching this film, even though, like many sonatas, it has three movements.

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090409/REVIEWS/904099997/1023

Believe me, Nat. You have not seen this before.

But you don't have to take my word (or Eberts) on "Tokyo Sonata". With about 80 reviews so far on Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 94% approval rating:

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/tokyo_sonata/

Do you think I want u to see it? (that's rhetorical)

Finally, I just wanted to add something about my favorite film this year so far, "In the Loop". I have not seen any supporting actor worthy performances, until now, that I would consider Oscar-worthy. Tom Hollander, James Gandolfini and Peter Capaldi of, "In the Loop", in my opinion give intoxicatingly nuanced and funny performances deserving of the honour. Not to mention the spot-on turn by Mimi Kennedy (I really hope that there is a push for her first nomination). "In the Loop" is what you would get if you put "Network" and "Dr. Strangelove..." in a molotov cocktail and dropped it!

And just an observation about "Two Lovers". It really reminded me of the William Wyler film, "The Heiress", with Pheonix playing the de Havilland role.

Jarvis said...

That Evening Sun was great. Saw it at the Atlanta Film Festival. You have 3 of the main characters listed among your nominees, and you should.

Best movie I've seen in a while. Check it out on the festival circuit if you can. Hopefully someone will release it. The acting and writing deserve the recognition.

UncleVanya said...

Similar to Nathanial's disdain for Zellweger and Swank, I have an equal aversion to Colin Firth (who has never played anyone but himself since "Apartment Zero"). The last straw for me determining my boycott of Firth was "Mamma Mia". However, because of some of the love for "Easy Virtue" shown here, I decided to break my rule and go and see it tonight. To make a short story shorter, I want my $12 back.

UncleVanya said...

I just saw "Lake Tahoe", and I recommend it strongly.

Anonymous said...

Kirstin Scott Thomas getting a nomination for "Shopaholic"?
As much as I think she's a great actress and was snubbed last year... you've got to be kidding!

NATHANIEL R said...

that wasn't a prediction. it was a list of favorite performances from january to july.