SPECIAL MENTION: STAR TREK & DISTRICT 9
Star Trek and District 9 were surprisingly similar films in many ways. At first, they felt like a bite out of a fresh apple, but slowly they started to taste mealier, ditching head first into a pool of cliches and unanswered expectations. Visually, both were outstanding – at first. District 9 ran out of money somewhere around the midpoint, and JJ Abram’s visions of running around on powerplants and blinding the audience with lens flares became too apparent by the end.
And finally, both had quite amazing marketing campaings: Star Trek was sold to me as a teen gay drama in space, and District 9 as a harsh commentary on prejudicament and western immigration politics. Unfortunately, neither of the films eventually responded to things that made me interested. But they were both definitively remarkable films, and deserve to be mentioned.
Whine, whine, boo-hoo it was boring, the story was crappy, the world was shitty and nothing happened in it. Wrong. It was a great film, the atmosphere was amazing, the story was maybe the strangest and wildest of the whole year and the cast was excellent. Metropia was not flawless, but a brave, ambitious and exactly what the world of animation needs – completely different from Pixar/Dreamworks dominating the market nowadays. I think we’ll see loads of groundbreaking films from the director Tarik Saleh in the future. So quit whining and respect the film!
Pixar never fails. I love everything they’ve done so far, even Cars, and Up! didn’t let me down. The first 20 minutes of the film is easilly the best and most moving 20 minutes in 2009 – hell, maybe in 2000′s. Unfortunately, as the film takes the absurd Pixarian twist, surprisingly enough the story doesn’t live up to the expectations (which is strange, since usually it’s exactly the absurdity that makes their films so excellent). Nevertheless, Up! is a lovely story and Edward Asner delivers one of the best lead performances of the year as the old man Carl Fredricksen. And as a viewer, I feel like somebody respects my time, unlike with most of Dreamwork’s pieces of shit they keep on spitting on the big screen every year.
(BTW. Ever wondered what’s the main difference between Pixar and Dreamworks? Well, here’s quite a good explanation.)
Stop-motion 3D animation is here to stay, and Coraline is a living proof that you don’t need a CGI-rendered animation when you have a visionary director working on a story that’s based on a book by one of the greatest modern storytellers. Those being, of course, Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick, in reverse order. Coraline is fun, atmospheric, brave, experimental, beautiful and dark and creepy enough! It’s a humble courtesy for the animaton lovers.
The film looks like one of those creepy airbrush-painted dolphin posters that were quite popular in among the most tasteless of us back in early 90′s. The story may not be the most original one – hell, you know exactly what’s going to happen from the very first minutes, and if not, make sure to watch a trailer, it’ll spoil the rest for you. But still, it’s a honest work of love from the grown-up nerd James Cameron, and if you’re able to leave behind the cynicism that’s probably fueling your lost fight against mediocrity, the film is quite damn enjoyable. Most importantly, it’s a film that will last quite long, and spawn heaps of sequels, TV-serieses, cool merchandising – and create a massive fanbase around it. You should enjoy it while you still can – it’s either theaters now, or never on your home telly. The 3D environment is such a big element of the whole film that watching it in 2D is almost like watching bad quality internet porn instead of… Well, the real thing.
The overlord Hayao Miyazaki is back, and takes a dive into the story of the Little Mermaid, giving it a surreal and fantastic twist, and delivering another masterpiece into a long line of masterpieces from the Ghibli Studios. Ponyo felt completely different from any other animation this year – honest and loving in a way only Miyazaki can do. His style is unique, and we sure should hope he stays in good enough shape to make at least few more, because as much as there’s nobody to step in for mr. David Lynch once his time is up, also Miyazaki is unique in this way.
5. MARY AND MAX
“So, you want to make a monochromatic animation about mental illnesses, and you want an all-star cast to it? Yeah, good luck with the funding…” Mary and Max was one of the biggest and most positive surprises – no, out-of-the-blues – this year. It’s a really touching, intelligent and extremely well-written animation about a life-long friendship between a girl in Australia and a man in New York. The story follows the letter exchange between these two, and builds up two perfectly believeable lives with all of the stranger-than-fiction odds and quirks life brings to you.
To be honest, I was a bit bored with Quentin Tarantino before watching Inglourious Basterds. I mean ever since Jackie Brown, his films haven’t been that impressive, and I started to feel like he had “found his slot” in the industry and descended from this once so promising young director into another retro freak repeating the same joke film after film. But I was wrong. Inglourious Basterds proved that there’s quite a lot of gunpowder still running through his veins, and he’s brave enough to do a film that’s basically long dialogues following each other, seasoned with hefty dozes of sudden violence. And there’s never enough of alternate history movies out there.
We got so excited about the film that we even did our own version of the trailer – sort of :) Enjoy “Iroun Sky Basterds”!
Semi-hard science fiction with slow pacing, great music, awesome performance and close relations to my next film, Iron Sky, when it comes to Moon as an environment, and Helium-3 as a new target for pure humane greed. Moon is the directioral debute for Duncan Jones who, with this film, catapulted himself among the most interesting directors of the next century. It was recently announced that he will direct the feature film adaptation of Escape from the Deep: The Epic Story of a Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew by Alex Kershaw. Jones also revealed that he will be doing “another science fiction film, called Mute, which takes place in a future Berlin. It’s a Blade Runner-inspired piece, a little love letter to that film.” And he will also direct Summit Entertainment project Source Code, a Science-Fiction thriller from Vendome Pictures, which will be produced by Mark Gordon. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is in negotiations to play a major role in the film. So there you go, quite interesting films – and Duncan Jones is also a very active Twitterer.
The Coen Brothers are able to “tilt my camera”, so to speak, so that suddenly everything around me feels a bit stranger and makes a little bit less sense, making life a little bit more exciting experience. A Serious Man was definitively one of those films – but it’s also a film you can do with two conditions: you need to be Jewish, and you need to have an Oscar to prove you know what you’re doing. Otherwise, you’d end up lynched.
1. DEAD SNOW
We’ve been raving about Dead Snow enough for one one year already, and to be honest, I’m not even sure if the film’s actual official release year is 2009 (that’s what IMDB claims, though, but I saw it in 2008 already) but who the hell cares? I just can’t get enough of the Norwegian Nazi Zombies, and Tommy Wirkola‘s excellent timing in both comedy and horror genres is stellar. He’s among the few directors I’m following very closely, and I’m very interested to see how his next film, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, turns out!
Here’s my review of Dead Snow.
Everyone – have a merry christmas time and remember not to go outside after dark – who knows what’s lurking there!
Ps! I challenge other Energidiots to do their own lists, too!