Thunder Matt's Saloon: Best of Movies 2009

February 05, 2010 | Comments (1) | by Chaim Witz

Hot on the heels (no) of our critically acclaimed and tepidly anticipated Best Of Music Lists comes this year's (last year's?) Best of Movies List. Since only a select few of us even get the chance to see more than a few films (non-porno) each year, these lists are sad and limp, like The Hundley that time he ran out of Cialis.

So without further ado, here's a hastily cobbled together list of movies for you to mock, ignore and bury at the bottom of your Netflix queue. Lights, camera, Jews!

Chaim Witz

Up in the Air – A pitch perfect adult dramedy that didn’t really excel in one particular area, but stuck with me for weeks after I saw it. Probably because I was worried about getting fired, but that's neither here nor there.

2. (500) Days of Summer – Always a sucker for a twee indie comedy with a hipster soundtrack, I fell head over heels and out of my skinny jeans for this rom com. The Hall and Oates montage probably bumped it up 2 or 3 spots on this list.

3. The Hangover – A Zach Galifiankis nerd from way back (“I liked him way before G-Force”), I had a feeling I’d love this movie as soon as I saw the poster. Classic instincts!

4. The Hurt Locker - Clunky title aside, this was one of the most intense experiences I’ve had at the movies in quite some time. I pooped my pants more times than Milton Bradley with men on base.

5. Away We Go - Probably hit home due to the fact that, like the pseudo hipster couple in the movie, Mrs. Witz and I just recently had our first child and, like said couple, also have no idea what we're doing. We saw this one right after we found out that our lives would be forever changed (for the better mind you)...I even got the idea for my Dad Beard from Jim from The Office. Maya Rudolph turns in one of the more underrated and affecting performances of the year.

6. Moon - I'm naturally predispositioned to like movies that take place in the jungle, space or a post-apocalyptic landscape. That said, I loved this space yarn. Sam Rockwell lends his considerable talents to this film that either steals from or pays homage to, 2001 Space Odyssey.

7. Inglorious Basterds – Allowing for a few Tarantino egotistical asides, this beautifully shot film is the Brad Pitt Nazi Movie that the world has waited for since he burst onto the scene shirtless in Thelma and Louise.

8. Avatar – It’s like they brought that Eiffel 65 song to life on the silver screen!

9. Star Trek – I hate nerds, but I loved this decidedly less nerdy version of Pocket Protectors in Space.

10. Adventureland – Reinforces my inkling that I should have been a carnie.

11. Drag Me To Hell – This movie was “grossly” entertaining! WOCKA WOCKA WOCKA!

12. Youth In Revolt - Technically this came out in 2010, but technically I'm a heterosexual as well.

Honorable Mention: Nice try assholes!

The Road - Post apocalyptic shenanigans, Oprah approved.

District 9 – A (relatively) thinking man’s Predator

Whip It – I hugged Drew Barrymore

Tyson – Face tattoo!

I Love You Man – I hate the band Rush, or this may have ranked higher.


Crazy Heart – Jeff Bridges is great though.

Watchmen – Blue penis!

Last House on the Left – Pretty scary when you watch it at a bed in breakfast on the lake.

Up – Not as good as Wall E or Ratatouille.

Fantastic Mr. Fox – Wanted to love it, just liked it. Seems like it would get better with repeat viewings.

Minor Disappointments, Like Me

Bruno, Public Enemies, Funny People, Paranormal Activity, The Men Who Stare At Goats, Sherlock Holmes, IN the Loop

Worst Movies of the Year

Miss March, My Life in Ruins, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Time Traveler’s Wife, Couples Retreat

White Chili

Up in the Air - Having lost a job in 2009 with a lot of other people, watching a movie about a guy whose job it is to fire people for a living was an interesting experience for me. It's not why I ranked it at the top of my list, but it did provide a personal touch. Clooney does an excellent job in this timely and very well-told story by a young Jason Reitman, who also gave us Juno and Thank You For Smoking. Great job.

The Hurt Locker - I'm pretty sure that my asshole didn't unpucker for the duration of this movie. Holy crap was this intense. It starts off with the line "war is a drug", and goes off in a white knuckle bomb-diffusing rally from there. It was nice to see how excellent attention to how the subtleties of a scene are filmed goes so much further than just having a couple of huge CGI robots fire their missiles to knock the asses of some other huge CGI robots through the Eiffel Tower.

Avatar - The acting is not Oscar worthy and the story is essentially Dances With Wolves meets Fern Gully. Having said that, this was the most fun I've
had at the movies that I can remember. I'm not a fan of the recent 3D fad with movies and I was worried that Cameron would unnecessarily have a spear fly into the audience or something. Not the case. It was very tastefully done. So much so that I'm worried about what the movie will be like without it. The special effects are tremendous and the last battle scene (which lasts for about 45 minutes) knocked my dick so far in the dirt that I have a new girlfriend in China to introduce to the folks. Go see it.

Up - All I knew going into this movie was an old guy had a house suspended with balloons. I wasn't sure how that translated into a feature-length film but Pixar hadn't given me a reason to doubt them. They still haven't. A word of warning: the first 20 minutes or so rivals Bambi for a sad beginning and had the woman in the seat next to me b
alling uncontrollably. I, on the other hand, just had something in my eye.

The Hangover - Funniest movie of the year. People will be quoting this one for years to come. Each subsequent viewing has made me want to go back to Vegas that much more. I sure hope they don't ruin it with a sequel. I just have one question. Is this the real Caesar's Palace?

Star Trek - JJ Abrams did a fantastic job with creating a new adaptation of the series. He certainly did his homework evidenced by enlisting a superb cast and keeping true to the smallest of details. He may have gone a bit overboard with the lens flares but for the most part the special effects were excellent. Also, Tyler Perry!

Watchmen - I think a lot of people saw this without having read the graphic novel and came out of the theater wondering just what the hell they saw. I read through it first and appreciated the attention to detail the producers of the film paid. The casting was perfect, the soundtrack was very appropriate and even a change to the original story was done in such a way that many fans have said was an improvement. I think this one got a bad rap and certainly didn't live up to the huge hype.

Funny People - I expected this to be unexpected, and enjoyed the result. This is not a typical Sandler funny face/voice experience. I liked how Sandler was able to actually do a bit of acting and portray a man having to deal with some very real problems. He also used his character to poke a bit of fun at the caliber of movies he has been known to churn out. The movie tends to run a bit long and could have probably been a bit better had they shaved off 20 minutes. Nobody likes those bushy films from the 70s.

Tyson - Say what you will about Iron Mike, this documentary was very well done. Not only did I learn quite a bit, Tyson came across as humble and honest about a great many things. If you have any interest in the sport of boxing, this is a must. Leave any preconceived notions you may have at the door and I think you'll enjoy this.

Inglorious Basterds - Better than I thought it would be. The opening scene is very well done and Christopher Waltz plays an excellent villain who clearly is in love with his job and himself. It would have been nice if the war actually played out like this.

Worst of the Year

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - I'm not normally one to declare such superlatives as my favorite band or least favorite melon (C'mon, Honeydew right?) but this movie may be the worst movie I've ever seen. The only hope is that it is, in fact
, actually an art commentary piece in which case Michael Bay might be the smartest human being who has ever lived.

The Hundley

Best to worst:

Sugar - Totally changed the way I look at drugs in baseball and how I view Latin baseball immigrants.

It Might Get Loud - Guitar porn of the highest order.

500 Days of Summer - Easily the best comedy of the last 3 years that I can watch with my wife.

Taken - Lots of action + Liam Neeson + sex trafficking = enjoyable x 2!!

Star Trek - This prequel is infinitely better than what the Star Wars franchise did, and with about 300% less hype.

Inglorious Basterds - Oh really, Tarantino is affiliated? Shoddy plot and odd and uncomfortable cameos aside (Office guy, Mike Myers), a solid film, especially the performance by Christoph Waltz.

Tyson - Even though 50% of it is probably untrue, this is a captivating documentary. DVD 'extras' are a must-see here as well.

The Hangover - More Zach Galifianakis, please

9 (The Tim Burton one) - Special effects skeet!

A Christmas Carol 3D - Special effects skeet AND a timeless story!

Sherlock Holmes - Who knew Sherlie was into MMA? And where the fuck was the tweed coat and Sherlock cap?

District 9 - A reach, but decent. Lead actor reminds me of Murray from Flight of the Conchords.

Brothers - Shame on you, Jim Sheridan. I expected WAY more

The Watchmen - When will I learn not to expect anything of a book-to-movie film?

My Bloody Valentine - Worst one I saw in '09, fo sho

Daft Funk

There's no greater testament to how strong 2009's movies were overall than looking at the list of films I enjoyed immensely but still couldn't squeeze into my list. Whether you like pitch-black comedy (Observe and Report, World's Greatest Dad), off-beat documentaries (It Might Get Loud, Tyson, Anvil!) or a warm and fuzzy tale of political murder and revenge in Northern Ireland (Five Minutes of Heaven), there are many many fantastic films from last year that didn't make it onto any end of year lists. There just wasn't enough room. That's what she said.

Here are my top 20 movies of the year in alphabetical order. Why 20? Because I traded Chip Wesley a bottle of 10 High for his list. Why alphabetical? Just to mess with you, specifically. Yeah you. I'm watching you as you read this. I do like what you've done with your hair today...

1. (500) Days Of Summer - This movie is proof that if you take a generic romantic comedy and put a different spin on the way you tell the story, you can make a movie that stands out from the pack. Yes, it centers around the mythical MPDG, but Joseph Gordon Levitt joining the UCLA marching band for a musical number set to Hall and Oates can overcome just about anything.

2. A Serious Man - I bestow the honor of the 2009 "Arcturus Goreo Award" on this film. Much like the mythical cookie, the movie is bookended by a beginning and finish that are a bit bizarre, but the center is full of delicious Cohen Brothers frosting. Better make sure that cookie is kosher when viewing this film.

3. Assassination of a High School President - One very important thing I learned this year is that just because a movie goes straight to DVD doesn't mean it isn't good. As far as high school mysteries go, it's not as cerebral as Rian Johnson's excellent Brick, but it's not going to completely confuse you either. Plus there's a naked girl. And Bruce Willis. You're out of excuses.

4. Away We Go - I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. It made me look forward to having kids one day. Then I went to the mall on a Sunday afternoon and I'm back to normal again.

5. Bad Lieutenant - It seems like Nicholas Cage got all the "bad" acting out of his system early in the year with Knowing because what he does in this movie is nothing short of brilliant. Full of one-liners, dancing souls, iguanas and fat Val Kilmer, this will most likely go down as my favorite Nicholas Cage movie of all time. And this is coming from someone who watches Raising Arizona and Face/Off on a regular basis.

6. Black Dynamite - Black Dynamite kung-fu fights RICHARD NIXON! If that's not enough to get you to add this blaxploitation throwback to your Netflix cue, you're on the wrong website.

7. Bronson - Michael Peterson is a real-life British criminal who has spent most of his entire life in solitary confinement for a number of crimes. If you had Guy Richie drop 4 hits of acid and direct a film about him, it would be this movie. The absolute insanity in this film reminded me of the first time I saw Fight Club. Easily one of the top 3 movies I saw in 2009.

8. Cold Souls - Paul Giamatti playing Paul Giamatti. Soul extraction services. Russian soul trafficking. The best movie Charlie Kaufmann wishes he wrote.

9. District 9 - The only complaint I have about this movie is that it switches from faux documentary to straight up action flick without much explanation. I wish it would have stayed one or the other. But that's me being seriously picky to try and find something I didn't care for in this movie. FOOK!

10. House of the Devil/Drag Me To Hell - Both of these films reminded me that, in a world full of Hostels and Friday the 13th remakes, fun and scary movies are still being made. While Drag Me To Hell pushes on the gas for the entire film, house of the Devil takes about 2/3 of the movie just setting up the Hitchcockian tension. But when you get to the payoff, you'll be crying for your mother.

11 - In The Loop - The Office meets the Bush White House. Sure, a lot of the characters are stock, but in a movie with so many characters and so much going on, there isn't a lot of depth that they can be given. Nothing beats seeing James Gandolfini telling someone he looks "like squeezed dick". I still don't know if I get that, but it made me laugh.

12. Inglorious Basterds - In a watershed year for war movies, Basterds is easily the most fun and balls-to-the-wall crazy. Who cares if the ending isn't what really happened in WWII? Ah wahnt mah scalps!

13. Moon - Much like how the movies listed at #10 made me feel better about the state of horror movies, films like Moon let me sleep better knowing that thought provoking sci-fi movies are still alive and well. While I feel like the "reveal" of the film happened too soon, that is but a small complaint in a movie carried by Sam Rockwell. And Sam Rockwell. Heh heh...I said "moon" and "reveal". Sounds like high school all over again.

14. Star Trek - I hated all Star Trek television shows and avoided all but one of the movies before this summer's "reboot" of sorts. I don't care if it had plotholes you could drive the Enterprise through or that everything was too shiny. I had a blast watching this movie. It needed more Eric Bana though. Then again, I think that about 95% of the movies I see.

15. Sugar/Big Fan - Just like 500 Days of Summer showed how romantic comedies can be done in new and exciting ways, Big Fan and Sugar were refreshing alternatives to the washed up, inspirational sports movies Disney vomits out every year. Want an ultra-real tale of what it's really like to be a Dominican player trying to break into the major leagues? Want to see what happens to the biggest NY Giants fan in the world when he gets attacked by his favorite player? Snap these two movies up and thank me later. With money.

16. Taken - Story? Why would you need story when Liam Neeson can kick ass all across Europe for an hour and a half?

17. The Hangover - I can't tell whether this movies was insanely funny or if the quality of comedies these days are so poor that The Hangover stood out more than usual. Either way, it's the most quotable comedy to come along since Anchorman. Classic!

18. The Hurt Locker - Alphabetical order or not, this was by far the best movie I saw all year. Just thinking about this movie again weeks later makes my hands sweat. Aside from an odd side-story involving a young Iraqi kid, this movie will Stranglehold you with its tension for 2 hours. Yes, that means this movie is Nugent Approved.

19. The Messenger - The second best movie about the Iraq war of 2009? Forget the emolicious Brothers and watch the underrated Woody Harrelson and the even-more underrated Ben Foster go door to door telling families that their loved ones have been killed in war. And Steve Buscemi has a supporting role, so you've got that going for you. Which is nice.

20. Up In The Air - Fantastic acting and directing make this movie a lot better than I would have thought. It really did come out at the perfect time and is the first movie to really take a close look at the economy we live in right now. My one complaint? Not enough Jason Bateman. Not enough Patrick Bateman either. Not quite blonde, are we? More of a dirty blonde...

Special Awards:

Most Disappointing: Bruno - I loved Borat. This movie...just wasn't funny. "Oh, you're dressed in a leather harness and humping the security guard at the zoo. Then what?"

Worst Ending: Knowing - Wait, so were they aliens or angels? Scientologists? An emo band? Just give me the answer!

Most Boring: Public Enemies - Never has there been a movie with so many actors I enjoy and a director I love that made me wish it was over so I could leave.

Best Use of Fake Genetalia (Make and Female): Antichrist - I still can't tell if this movie was genius or the worst thing I've ever seen. And I don't want to watch it again to find out because...well...I'm not a fan of multiple counts of genital mutilation.

Chip Wesley

1. New Moon
2. New Moon
3. New Moon
4. Taylor Lautner on SNL
5. Leaked trailer for Twilight: Eclipse on Access Hollywood
6. New Moon
7. New Moon
8. Robert Pattinson Pepsi Commercial
9. Wilford Brimley's Diabetes Dancemix
10. Waiting in line for New Moon with other New Moon fans, discussing our hopes, dreams and favorite/least favorite teachers.

Chip Wesley's REAL List (Even gayer than the fake one!)

Alright, so I don't see enough movies to have a formal best of list and I've been told I can't list New Moon 10 times. So instead here's a list of every movie I saw that was released in 2009, good or bad.

I Love You, Man - Paul Rudd and Jason Segal have some quotable lines and any movie with Lou Ferigno gets my approval. Grade: B

Monsters vs. Aliens - Having kids now, this is the type of flick in my wheelhouse any more. Overally pretty good. Some pop culture references will become dated over time. Grade: B-

Adventureland - Chaim Witz and I nearly had a limp-wristed slapfight over this one. He likes this movie while I hated it. The overall story was good but the acting sucked ass. Eisenberg and Stewart were a horrible couple and Ryan Reynolds' performance had "I'm mailing this in, just give me my paycheck" written all over it. A decent movie fallen victim to bad casting. Grade: C-

17 Again - Cheesy, dumb, mindless. Those are what I expected going in, and that's what I got out of it. I'll grade this better than Adventureland simply because my low expectations didn't lead me to disappointment. That and an outtake where Jim Gaffigan says "I have diarrhea," after saying his scripted line. Grade: C

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Better than X-Men 3 but not as good as X-Men. Watching get killed by a mutant was a plus at least. Grade: B-

Star Trek - J.J. Abrams reboots the franchise for a new generation. This ain't your nerdy basement-dwelling uncle's Star Trek! I've never been a fan of the series but after seeing Abrams version I'm on board for this one. Grade: B+

Up - Pixar once again doesn't disappoint. Then again have they ever disappointed? If you don't count that time Owen Wilson was a talking car, then no, no they haven't. Grade: A-

The Hangover - One of the best comedies in years and finally a chance for mainstream audiences to see the brilliance of Zack Galiafinakis. Grade: A

Food, Inc.
- Serious eye-opening documentary about our national food supply. In the end it really just made me feel shittier about myself when I eat quarter pounders. Grade: B+

The Proposal
- Mediocre romantic comedy that could've been slightly better if Sandra Bullock was remotely likable in it. Grade: C-

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Way better than the book! (NOTE: I haven't read the book) Grade: B

The Ugly Truth
- Cliche and formulaic comedy that gets bonus points for being raunchier than expected. Katherine Heigl, will you please just show your tits already? No one believes a sex scene where you wear your bra the whole time. Grade: C

It Might Get Loud
- Jack White, Jimmy Page and The Edge talk about their life as a guitarist. Great film if you love rock music, or any of the bands these three have played in. Watching it made me want to listen to all my Zeppelin albums again. Grade: B



Governor X @ 7:17 PM, February 05, 2010

Has there ever been a Ryan Reynolds performance that didn't have "I'm mailing this in, just give me my paycheck" written all over it?