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!
1. 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
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 balling 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.
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
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.
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 will.i.am 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