Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Split For Director And Best Picture?

Director James Cameron poses with his current wife and the ex.

Kathryn Bigelow accepted the Directors Guild Award last night with very enthusiastic responses, even from her ex-husband, Cameron.

It's safe to say now that Bigelow is a lock for Best Director at the Academy Awards, and a good thing, too. She truly deserves it, and it's about time a woman director got some recognition.

Where does this leave "Avatar" and Cameron in the running?

Well, it is looking quite possible now that while Bigelow will be walking away with Best Director, "Avatar" could still swoop in with winning the likes of Best Editing, and, yes, Best Picture.

It could be that this is one of those years where the director who wins didn't necessarily direct the movie to win the top prize.

Stay tuned this Tuesday for my summary and analysis of the nominations for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards!

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Titanic" Gets Sunk By The Unstoppable "Avatar"

Well, it's happened. "Avatar" has just surpassed "Titanic" at the international box office with $1.29 billion.

And on the domestic list, it won't be too long before "Avatar" also defeats the record for "Titanic" at $600.8 million.

Way to go, James Cameron, just cruising right along and outdoing not someone else, but rather, yourself. Wow. He has just claimed the crown of the top-grossing director on planet Earth. Too bad his head appears to be stuck in Pandora. Speaking the Na'vi language during an acceptance speech? Really?

It needs to stop. Please, please let some popular movie be released in the coming weeks that'll knock "Avatar" off its high horse for good. It's been number one for the sixth weekend in a row. That's quite enough.

I'll say it again: I love "Avatar," I truly do. But not this much. Stop seeing it, people. Please.

C'mon, James, let your ex-wife have some glory. The countdown to the Oscar nominations has begun. One more week.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"The Hurt Locker" Regains Its Chances

The Producers Guild of America announced the winners today for its annual awards, and "The Hurt Locker" ended up taking the prize over "Avatar," which is yet another mix-up in the award season predictions and buzz to add in along with the win for "Inglourious Basterds" at the SAGs.

This success for "The Hurt Locker" is a much-needed push for the film in its Oscar chances since the domination previously held by "Avatar."

The competition has heated up all over again, and thankfully so.

As for other winners, "Up" was awarded for Animation along with "The Cove" for Documentary.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Actors Speak

The 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards was yet another award show with some not-so-surprising results. But, before we begin, I must note that "Glee" won for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, and it was perfect.

Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique walked away with the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, respectively. No surprise there, and they're both well on their way to Oscar gold. The interesting thing to note about Mo'Nique's win, however, is that she was, for the first time, up against Diane Kruger of "Inglourious Basterds," and she even beat her.

Sandra Bullock was awarded Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for her work in "The Blind Side," and she beat some huge competition like Helen Mirren for "The Last Station," Gabourey Sidibe for "Precious," Carey Mulligan for "An Education," and Meryl Streep for "Julie & Julia." Yes, Bullock's win infuriates me. Do I have room to talk, though? Perhaps not, considering that I haven't seen "The Blind Side." In any case, I just feel like her win is a giveaway. And this win does mean that she, too, is well on her way to an Oscar win.

Jeff Bridges continued his winning streak, as well, for his performance in "Crazy Heart" for a win in the category of Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Performance. He is a secured lock for the Oscar.

The one surprise of the night came with the winner of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture which was awarded to the cast of "Inglourious Basterds." The expected winner was "Precious," but Quentin Tarantino's WWII masterpiece came out on top. What does this mean for its chances at some more Oscar nominations and wins? I think its chances just got a well-deserved boost. And why, why, why was the cast of "Nine" nominated over "Up in the Air?"

For a full list of nominees and winners, including those for television, go here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why "The Hurt Locker" Should Win

I love "Avatar," I really do. I think it is an amazing achievement in film, a changing moment in the way we look at films. I knew the HFPA wasn't going to pass it up. Now I'm going to explain why I think the Academy should and will.

I think Roger Ebert said it best in his Twitter:
"Yes, I love Avatar. Still do. But not for Best Picture. Hurt Locker, I'd say. Up in the Air. A film, not a phenomenon."

The HFPA will nominate and award a phenomenon, it's what they like to do. They did it last year with Danny Boyle and "Slumdog Millionaire," and they did it again this year with James Cameron and "Avatar." It was a sensation, a celebration of success and being in the moment.

By the time the nominations for the Academy Awards are released, and especially by the time there's voting, "Avatar" will finally start to lose some steam. There'll be many weekends between now and then where, yes, believe it or not, "Avatar" will not be number one at the box office. It's become almost commonplace now, and speaking of which, whichever movie does end up bumping it down to the number two spot is going to have quite the honor on its back.

In any case, the hype will have lessened by then, and things will start cooling down for "Avatar."

Kathryn Bigelow, I repeat, Kathryn Bigelow will not be ignored by the Academy. It's simply impossible at this point. She has churned out the best movie ever made about the war in Iraq, one of the best war movies ever made, and one of the best of the entire decade. She will also be the first woman director to win the award for Best Director if she does so happen to win. She will. This is my prediction.

Likewise, her film, "The Hurt Locker," I'm predicting will win for Best Picture. Yes, I personally believe "Up in the Air" was the best of the year, but timeliness isn't everything. "The Hurt Locker" is simply the best reviewed movie of the year.

The Academy seems to fit a pattern of switching back and forth between phases of awarding what's more sophisticated and what's more popular. Considering they followed the Golden Globes last year with "Slumdog Millionaire," I have a hunch that they're going to switch it up and skip "Avatar."

Why? The Oscars have categories for films like "Avatar" that the Golden Globes don't have. Editing, cinematography, visual effects, sound editing, they're all there, and "Avatar" can still win plenty.

Save Best Director and Best Picture for "The Hurt Locker."

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Top 18 Films/Comedies Of The Year

It's that time of year. That's right, it's time for my annual list (now lists) of what I consider to be the top films of the year. This year, however, I'm doing things a bit differently. I'm escaping the convention of selecting 10 and overreaching my bounds. Professional critics have already done it, so I figure I can, too.

As hard as I try, I don't end up seeing everything, so, yes, I very well could've missed something. And, please, comment below if you think a better movie needs to be on either of these lists. But, for what I have, what I know, and what I feel is important, here are my lists.

Top 12 Films of the Year:

1. Up in the Air
2. The Hurt Locker
3. Avatar
4. A Serious Man
5. Inglourious Basterds
6. Where the Wild Things Are
7. The Cove
8. A Single Man
9. Fantastic Mr. Fox
10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
11. Up
12. District 9

I think this year especially lends itself to a separate category for the best comedies as a wide array of movies need some recognition here whether it's a romantic-comedy, a horror-comedy, or just a straight-up comedy.

Top 6 Comedies of the Year:

1. Drag Me to Hell
2. Adventureland
3. The Hangover
4. (500) Days of Summer
5. Zombieland
6. Whip It

Putting these two lists together makes for a total of 18 films, but don't weight them against or with each other because they're separate entities. Comedies received their own category because it appeared this year action films made it in the ranks among the overall best of the year, examples being "Avatar," "District 9," and "The Hurt Locker."

So, there you have it. Take it for what it's worth. And, again, please feel free to comment below, and tell me your own personal selections.

The Globes Gone Blue: "Avatar" Takes The Top

Ricky Gervais did a fine job of hosting the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards, a return to hosting the event which always turns into a big, classy excuse for celebrities to get together and drink. I swear, they're all just waiting for the after parties. In any case, it was a night full of the expected outcomes and a few surprises and an embracing of big, Hollywood blockbusters, something I'm not quite sure the Academy will be replicating in their final decisions come March. The HFPA expressed their love for keeping with what's popular and awarded "Avatar" and James Cameron for Best Picture and Best Director, respectively.

The biggest surprise was that Kathryn Bigelow got snubbed out of her award for her direction in "The Hurt Locker." Standing on-stage to accept, even James Cameron was taken aback by the outcome. Once that came into fruition, there was no way "The Hurt Locker" was going to come out on top. It truly is a shame that this highly-accomplished film was forced to leave the night empty-handed. I do believe "Avatar" is worthy, but I just don't see it taking the top prize at the Oscars. It's nice to know that the Academy Awards sets aside technical categories which "Avatar" can fill while leaving open room for other possibilities in categories like, well, Best Picture. I also just don't see the Academy passing up Bigelow.

"Up in the Air" walked away rather empty-handed, as well, only nabbing an award for the writing of Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for Best Screenplay.

Aside from disappointments, the night was dedicated to celebrities proudly displaying their red- and yellow-colored pins in support for Haiti and many, many allusions and references to the earthquake tragedy. I think Mo'Nique said it best in her eloquently spoken speech at the start of the night. Nobody could top that as she accepted for her early predicted win for "Precious" in the category of Best Supporting Actress.

Following suit, Christoph Waltz went home with his win for "Inglourious Basterds" in the category of Best Supporting Actor. He and Mo'Nique just paved their way to Oscar gold with their wins last night.

Sandra Bullock continued her hype-filled hot streak with her performance in "The Blind Side" as she ended up indeed garnering herself the award for Best Actress. It really is amazing, too, considering who she was up against. This time Meryl Streep wasn't nominated in the same category to tie with her. I honestly think the HFPA just figured Bullock wouldn't churn out a better performance in her career, so they just figured they'd honor her now. I pray that the Academy has its head on straight and brings Carey Mulligan for "An Education" back to the forefront.

Meryl Streep defeated herself in the category of Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for her performance in "Julie & Julia" which beat her performance in "It's Complicated."

The joke of a category that was Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical this year was awarded to Robert Downey, Jr. for his turn in Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes." I mean, I guess he really just has that much charisma to win over voters. At least Daniel Day-Lewis didn't win for "Nine." That really would've been a travesty.

Continuing the trend of awarding what's popular, "The Hangover" won for Best Comedy or Musical over the assumed front-runner, "(500) Days of Summer." I was completely fine with this win, however, because "The Hangover" truly, truly was the funniest movie of the year.

Jeff Bridges received a standing ovation for his apparently well-deserved Best Actor win for "Crazy Heart," a film which I unfortunately will probably not get around to seeing. He will easily go on to win the gold at the Oscars over some tough competition like George Clooney of "Up in the Air" and Colin Firth of "A Single Man."

"Up" won for Best Animated Film, which really puts "Fantastic Mr. Fox" out of the running. Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" won for Best Foreign Language Film.

"Up" also won for Best Score from Michael Giacchino, while "Crazy Heart" won for Best Song.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro fittingly introduced Martin Scorsese for his acceptance of the Cecil B. DeMille award, and the night continued on its merry way making it just in time for its 3-hour limit.

The big question remains about whether or not "Avatar" is going to continue its hot streak onward to the Oscars. My guess? I think the highest honors will be distributed elsewhere. The next big step is waiting for the reveal of the Oscar nominations, which will be released on February 22, 2010.

For an entire list of the nominees and winners of the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards, go here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Man Incapacitated By Grief

A Single Man

Director Tom Ford's "A Single Man" is an astonishing debut film. Before this he worked as a fashion designer for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, and the close attention to detail throughout this film gives it the distinct feel of having been directed by a fashion designer. The art direction is impeccable with every single frame staged like it's about to be photographed. Ford uses close-ups on facial features of certain characters when they talk with an interchanging sharp and fuzzy focus. The color palette in the film is for the most part subdued while in some moments the colors noticeably pop into life to accentuate an interaction taking place. Every flourish that can be found amongst this deliberate art design makes this highly personal film all the more endearing. It may not be perfect, but it has beauty within its passion and sorrow to make it something unforgettable.

The centerpiece of the film is grief. George Falconer (Colin Firth) is an English professor from London who teaches in Los Angeles in 1962, and he is the single man. He has lost his lover of 16 years, Jim (Matthew Goode), to a tragic car accident. To George, Jim is irreplaceable, the one and only love in his life. It's been eight months since Jim's death, and yet George still struggles to wake up every morning. When he looks in the mirror he sees not his face looking back at him but "the expression of a predicament," as he states. He's lived his days in a haze, but for this one day, this 24-hour period to which the film is devoted, George vows to make this a changed day for today he wants to do something different. Based off Christopher Irshwood's 1964 novel, Tom Ford has lovingly adapted this source material into a deeply resonant and moving film that ever so subtly speaks to the lifestyle of gay men having to be "invisible" in the 1960s. For George, all of his emotions have to either be bottled up or explored inside of his imagination. We're shown these glimpses into George and Jim's life together in a series of elegant and touching flashbacks.

Throughout the course of George's day, he contemplates suicide yet puts on a face that is genial and formal on the outside. Colin Firth plays a man with an overly glamorized exterior to make up for his broken-hearted, crumbling interior, and his delivery is one of the stand-out male performances of 2009. Firth alone is enough to highly recommend this film. Consider the moment where George finds out the news of his lover over the phone. He plays up his politeness all the while holding back his true emotions. The camera lingers on his pain for a while allowing us to soak up this devastating instant and to relish in this amazing portrayal.

Julianne Moore plays George's best friend and once-lover, Charlotte or Charley, and she is wonderful. Her shining moment comes during an evening of drinking with George when she drunkenly confesses her deeper feelings for her dear friend. She becomes a woman shattered by her own singleness due to a divorce from her husband and equally shattered by the fading promise of George being more than a friend, a promise for which she had longed. There is also an almost fanciful blooming relationship between George and a student of his named Kenny (Nicholas Hoult of "About a Boy"). This young student finds something relatable in George and wishes for something outside of the lecture hall, and Hoult in the part is mesmerizing.

With a sultry musical score tying it all together, "A Single Man" buries deep into a meditation on the past, present, future, and grief from which there appears to be no return. The passing of time becomes ominous with frequent shots of clocks and the sound of them constantly ticking away. And yet there's a bout of optimism with an appreciation for the small moments in life, the moments where you feel like you truly are, at some intimate level, connecting with another person.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Start To The Festive Award Evenings

Although I unfortunately missed out on watching the BFCA's Critics' Choice Awards, here's the results and the winner's from last night's show which aired on VH1.

The biggest surprise of the night was when there was a tie, that's right, another tie--has this become the new trend for awards?--for Best Actress. Meryl Streep won for "Julie & Julia" while Sandra Bullock also won for "The Blind Side." And, in a comic little twist, they shared a rather intimate kiss on-stage in a way to jokingly make it up to each other.

The rest of the night held no shockers as "The Hurt Locker" went home with Best Picture and Kathryn Bigelow took home the prize for Best Directing. This definitely will boost Bigelow and her film's chances at the Academy Awards.

Quentin Tarantino won Best Original Screenplay for "Inglourious Basterds" while Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner won Best Adapted Screenplay for "Up in the Air." No surprise there, and it's probably what we'll see with the Academy.

For another no-brainer, Cristoph Waltz took home Best Supporting Actor for "Inglourious Basterds," and Mo'Nique received Best Supporting Actress for "Precious."

Likewise, Best Actor went to Jeff Bridges for "Crazy Heart."

Best Animated Feature went to "Up," while "The Hangover" nabbed Best Comedy and "Avatar" took Best Action Movie. The question becomes this: Had "Avatar" not been slid into a separate action category, would it have defeated "The Hurt Locker?" Guess we'll find out with the Golden Globes and so on.

Best Documentary Feature went to "The Cove," while there was a bit of a surprise in Best Foreign Language Film as it went to Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces" over Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon."

"Avatar" then went on to sweep up every technical award possible including Best Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound. Best Makeup, however, was awarded to "District 9."

For an entire list of the winners, check this out.

And be sure to stay tuned for my more in-depth coverage of the Golden Globes, which will be airing tomorrow night on NBC. Don't miss it!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Avatar" Continues To Dominate

James Cameron's "Avatar" has topped the box office for the fourth weekend in a row with a total domestic profit of around $429 million and a world-wide gross of over $1 billion. The film is the highest-profiting movie of 2009 surpassing Michael Bay's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" which held the record previously.

This places "Avatar" at the number-two spot of the highest grossing movies of all-time bumping down the previous holder of the silver spot, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." The 3-D phenomenon is just around $700 million below capturing the number-one spot held by "Titanic." This means that James Cameron is arguably the most successful director in the world now that his films hold the top two spots.

"Avatar" is also only the fifth movie to surpass the $1 billion mark among the likes of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" and "The Dark Knight."

And as an added note, I once predicted that the HFPA would crown "The Hurt Locker" with Best Drama at the Golden Globes, but the tides have changed. There's no way that the HFPA will skip over honoring the ever-accelerating "Avatar."

Early Anticipation For The Deathly Hallows

So, I don't know if this is a big deal, but I thought it was a big deal. Below is the first-released production photos from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," which is slated for release this November. By the looks of it, it seems this film will take the largest departure from the world of Hogwarts that the series has perhaps ever taken. Just look at that Muggle clothing!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Disney Takes A Trip Down Memory Lane

The Princess and the Frog

"The Princess and the Frog" is a throwback to traditional hand-drawn Disney 2-D animation. It is equally a throwback to Disney's traditional storytelling with a prince, a princess, and a happily ever after. But with such storytelling comes Disney's unfortunate habit of upholding certain stereotypes. And although Disney may believe they are correcting themselves with their first-ever African-American heroine, it really is a facade as the entire feature seems to be strenuously trying to avoid race altogether by sidestepping the misfortunes of being a poor black family in New Orleans during the early 1900s. If you are able to ignore these initial shortcomings, however, everything else about Disney's nostalgic return to its highest form is delightful with moments that are downright magical.

The story is a twist on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Frog Prince," and from directors Ron Clements and John Musker, the narrative isn't as strong and involving as the likes of "Aladdin" and "The Little Mermaid," both of which the movie references in hopes of reminding audiences of those classics. This latest effort does still work and is often funny, clever, and charming.

A young waitress named Tiana (voice of Anika Noni Rose) wishes to fulfill the dreams of her father (Terrence Howard) in opening a classy restaurant of her own. Her seamstress mother (a wonderfully soft-spoken Oprah Winfrey) surrounds Tiana with love and admiration for her high aspirations and also endowed her with good morals since her early childhood. And then enters a prince, Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) to be exact, who arrives in New Orleans but gets transformed into a frog from the movie's obligatory villain, the evil voodoo master Dr. Facilier (Keith David). One night Tiana gets mistaken for a real princess, and as a frog, Prince Naveen requests a kiss which he thinks will turn him human again. As we know, though, they both turn into frogs instead.

It's no spoiler to say how the story ends because we know already, but the point is getting there, and it turns out to be quite the catchy and lively adventure thanks to the songs from Randy Newman. How are those songs? Well, let's just say that it's Randy Newman again, but he's reliably good and with a mixture of styles from blues to jazz to Broadway, it adds some extra spice and kicking rhythms to the proceedings. As Tiana and Naveen, now as two slimy amphibians, make their way through the depths of the bayou, they come across a cast of colorful, distinct characters. There's a trumpet-playing, jazz-loving alligator named Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley); a Cajun firefly, Ray (Jim Cummings), who's in love with a brightly-shining night star; and the over-100-year-old Mama Odie (Jennifer Lewis) who has the power to reverse the wrongs of Dr. Facilier. They all have great songs to accompany them, the most captivating of which is Mama Odie's uplifting "Dig a Little Deeper."

At first the extremely goal-oriented Tiana has no interest in the lazy, womanizing Naveen, but, inevitably enough, such an attitude toward him fades away with another one blossoming in its place. The romance all happens rather superficially, but such is forgiven when it's delivered in such high-spirited and light-hearted behavior. "The Princess and the Frog" put a smile on my face and kept it there. Among a year full of great animation, it deserves its spot even if classic Disney storytelling will never again breach that of current Pixar. In any case, the movie works not only as a thoughtful and pleasant message for youngsters about hard work paying off, but it also works as a loving tribute to the city of New Orleans from its earlier time. Such helps us remember a cultural and historical importance that acts as a nice little bonus, perhaps something for which Disney wasn't even striving.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Directors Have Spoken

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) announced their nominations for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film today, and they are the following:

Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker"
James Cameron for "Avatar"
Lee Daniels for "Precious"
Jason Reitman for "Up in the Air"
Quentin Tarantino for "Inglourious Basterds"

So, no real surprises, and I'm predicting that the five nominations for Best Director from the Academy will mirror these selections exactly, that is unless Clint Eastwood sneaks in there instead of Lee Daniels, but that's unlikely.

Also as some breaking news, apparently Lee Daniels is the first black man to ever be nominated by the DGA, so kudos to him for that outstanding achievement.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Real List Of The Decade's Best

My previous list titled "The Best of a Decade" did not properly capture the best in cinema that the past ten years had to offer. Sure I hit some of the big ones, but my idea of having one movie representing each year was a misconstrued one. Some years had a lot of great movies while others didn't. Besides, in my other list I had 1999 represented simply because 2009 wasn't over yet. Well, now it is. And so, to remedy all of this, here is my so-called official list, in no particular order, of what I consider to be some of the best films from 2000 to 2009.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2
Quentin Tarantino's epic tribute to the styles of samurai and spaghetti western movies of the 1970s, this duo of movies, which can only be seen as one 3-hour masterpiece, really is a celebration of film and filmmaking.

Mulholland Drive
David Lynch's most accessible movie and one to be studied and remembered.

The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King)
With these three films, Peter Jackson had created a breathtaking epic that dominated the Oscar circuit for years.

King Kong
As he did with the previous selection, Peter Jackson knew how to take source material and bring it to life like nothing else.

The Hurt Locker
The first and only movie about the war in Iraq that wasn't preachy and, at the same time, entirely engrossing. An instant classic from director Kathryn Bigelow.

Pan's Labyrinth
Guillermo del Torro's blend of fantasy and horror managed to be both timely and timeless, a fairy tale for adults.

This road buddy movie could arguably be considered the most bittersweet and thoroughly entertaining one of the decade.

Lost In Translation
Pure beauty and sadness. A simply story perfectly acted and directed.

That's right. James Cameron's CGI explosion of visual enchantment is a film to be celebrated and remembered as a landmark for cinema to come.

The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan had taken the superhero genre and turned it into something dark and powerful, and it also works as a tribute to Heath Ledger.

Pixar cranked out a lot of great films this decade, but this one is undeniably the best one they had. It is poetry in the form of animation.

Man On Wire
The best documentary of the decade.

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
From Romania, this film about an illegal abortion is one of the most shaking and thought-provoking movies you may ever see.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
A mind-bending love story that speaks to the heart of relationships.

From Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze, all that can be said about this one is, well, go see it.

Spirited Away
Hayao Miyazaki, a master animator, created one of his greatest pieces of work with this one.

Up in the Air
Jason Reitman's third feature so effortlessly captured the feel of an era it's simply unbelievable.

No Country for Old Men
The prose of Cormac McCarthy got put to astonishing use with the Coen brothers in charge, and it is a work of stunning bleakness and beauty.

There Will Be Blood
Paul Thomas Anderson's commentary on American greed is brilliant with a performance from Daniel Day-Lewis that demands to be experienced.

The Savages
A comedy about the pains of living and dying that is unsentimental and pitch-perfect.

A musical done absolutely right from director Rob Marshall. (The opposite of "Nine.")

An animated film that was another example of pure poetry, this time in stark black-and-white. Part coming-of-age story, part political commentary, it is endlessly charming.

Minority Report
Stephen Spielberg's sci-fi thriller is mind-boggling and truly exciting.

Requiem for a Dream
Darren Aronofsky's deeply disturbing tale about addiction cuts to the core.

And soon to come are my lists for the best of 2009! Stay tuned.