The Best Movie Critic + review

The Best Movie Year

2009 was the best movie year of my life. As best I can remember and in no particular order, these are the movies I saw for the first time last year:

Burn After Reading
The Lady from Shanghai
RoboCop 2
Village of the Damned
Klute
Good Morning, Vietnam
The Champ (1931)
The Gang’s All Here
Man on Wire
Kind Hearts and Coronets
Fists of Fury
W.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Milk
The Shop Around the Corner
Captain Blood
Quantum of Solace
Wall Street
The Running Man
Dark Passage
Great Expectations (1946)
The Protector
Female Prisoner 701 Scorpion
The Front
How to Marry a Millionaire
True Grit
But I’m a Cheerleader
Black Narcissus
Zelig
The Abominable Dr. Phibes
A Matter of Life and Death
I Know Where I’m Going!
The Red Shoes
Yojimbo
Branded to Kill
To Be or Not To Be (1942)
Ninotchka
The Thing From Another World
We’re No Angels
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
Out of Sight
Where Eagles Dare
The Monster Squad
The Haunting (1963)
Heaven Can Wait (1943)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
The Tales of Hoffmann
Trick ‘r Treat
Master of the Flying Guillotine
My Neighbor Totoro
Nashville
Witness for the Prosecution
Tokyo Godfathers
The Beyond
Scrooge (1951)
Supercop
Phantom of the Paradise
Three Ages
A Christmas Carol (2009)
Rambo III
Hobson’s Choice
Rio Bravo
Enter the Dragon
Basic Instinct
Moby Dick (1956)
All the President’s Men
Gonzo
Mark Twain
Full Metel Jacket
Oliver Twist (1948)
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Bullitt
A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy
The Girl Can’t Help It
On the Waterfront
Pineapple Express
JCVD
Risky Business
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
The 39 Steps
Drunken Master
Only Angels Have Wings
The Guns of Navarone
Not Quite Hollywood
A Boy and His Dog
An American in Paris
Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip
Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill
The General
Superman (1978)
The Soldier’s Tale
Mystics In Bali
Roadhouse
Pricilla, Queen of the Desert
Kung Fu Panda
The Phantom Tollbooth
Orpheus (1950)
Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Barbarella
Tarkan Vs. the Vikings
Destry Rides Again
The Sounds of Science
Another Thin Man
Network
Ong Bak
Night of the Creeps
Cat People (1942)
Phenomena
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
Die Hard: With A Vengeance
The Conversation
Up
Star Trek
Watchmen
Chinatown
Ball of Fire
Drag Me to Hell
Fire and Ice
Lady Snowblood
The Dirty Dozen
Thief of Bagdad (1940)
Rashamon
Purple Rain
Rhinestone
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Troll 2
The 400 Blows
Faust (1926)
The Lovely Bones
Girl Crazy
Shutter Island
Le Magnifique
Micmac
Frozen
Centipede Horror
Candy Snatchers
Kick Ass
Avatar
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Zombieland
Ong Bak 2
Green for Danger
Julie and Julia
District 9
Ponyo
Inglourious Basterds
Bruno
Funny People
The Brothers Bloom
Terminator Salvation
Coraline
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Frost/Nixon
The Wrestler
Slumdog Millionaire
Seven Days to Noon
Mac and Me

Phew…and that’s just movies I saw for the first time. That doesn’t count movies I’d seen before that I watched again in 09. And due to my poor memory, that doesn’t count movies I saw at friends’ houses or rented from Blockbuster*. I might have missed a couple I saw in theaters, also.

Are there people out there who saw more movies than I did in 09? Most definitely. But if there were a contest concerning who saw the most best movies (is that proper English?) in the span of the single year, I’d put myself in the running. Sure, there are some stinkers in there (Julie and Julia). I even managed to sit through some of the famed epic stinkers of all time (Troll 2, Mac and Me). But here’s the miracle: for every lousy movie I saw there were 7 greats. I can’t imagine it will be easy to do that again. I basically wiped out the careers of Michael Powell and David Lean in a single year. The Dirty Dozen or Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! or The Champ or Purple Rain or Rashamon or Rio Bravo? I’ll never be able to watch them for the first time again. I’ll never again see Murnau’s Faust with fresh eyes, excited by every new insane shot composition, astounded at what he was able to accomplish in 1926, and realizing in real time that yes, it’s better than Nosferatu.

My New Years resolution is to somehow have an even better movie year in 2010, and to maybe just share some of that good ol’ movie love with any of you out there who feel like reading.

So yeah. That’s me. My name is Ben. I watch movies. I watch movies all the fucking time. Just before Christmas I was out having drinks with some friends when I was accosted concerning why in the world I was watching all these movies and not sharing with the world. So here I am.

We’re off to a pretty good start so far. Three days into the new year and I’ve seen Up in the Air (yes), Ninotchka again (yes), I’m Not There (no, thank you), and La Dulce Vita (yes). So far, the common theme seems to be bored, dissatisfied, well-to-do people in decadent but decaying societies. I think I need a hug.

-Ben

*Yes, on top of our substantial personal movie collection, on top of our stressed-to-the-limit Netflix account, on top of the fact that we’ve taken not one but two vacations this year specifically to go to movie theaters we love, we still end up at Blockbuster more often than is healthy for our bank accounts or social lives. This movie obsession is a cruel mistress.

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