Ray’s 2009 Movie Awards
The Year’s Sixteen 10 Best Films
1. District 9. This stunning debut feature from South African director Neill Blomkamp just knocked my socks off. [Read my review at http://hubpages.com/hub/Thirty-GreatMovies-Youve-Probably-Never-Seen-District-9.] 2. Precious. Staggeringly good little indie about a young woman with stubborn determination to rise above a sea of troubles. Also features the year‟s most astonishing performance. 3. Up in the Air. Gives the light romantic comedy back its good name and proves that Ivan Reitman is one of our best new directors. 4. Up. Once again, Pixar knocks it out of the park. 5. Avatar. Know it. Love it. Put on the glasses and watch it. 6. The Hurt Locker. Yeah, everything you have heard about it is true. It‟s gritty, gripping and great. 7. Moon. Duncan Jones eerie and melancholy tribute to the “smart” science fiction films of the late 60s and early 70s. 8. A Serious Man. The Coen Brothers bone-chillingly dark comedy update of The Book of Job. 9. Fantastic Mr. Fox. Easily Wes Anderson‟s best movie since Rushmore, this stop-action animated fable is arch, smart, great to look at and very funny. 10.  Days of Summer. Charming anti-romantic comedy with charming performances and great music. 11. Coraline. A deeply creepy fable about family, gorgeously realized in glorious stop-action animation. 12. Star Trek. Who would have thought the creaky franchise could get rebooted with this much flair and class? 13. Julie and Julia. Meryl Streep as Julia Child? „Nuff said. 14. Away We Go. Underrated little movie by the overrated director 15. Me and Orson Welles. Utterly charming fable about a high school kid who accidentally ends up in Welle‟s legendary Broadway production of Julius Caesar. 16. World‟s Greatest Dad. Bobcat Goldthwaite‟s creepy drama about the world‟s worst son.
*Sharlto Copley, District 9 Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man George Clooney, Up in the Air Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart Peter Capaldi, In the Loop
Honorable Mention: Hugh Dancy in Adam, Robin Williams in World‟s Greatest Dad, Colin Firth in A Single Man, Sam Rockwell in Moon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in  Days of Summer, Viggo Mortensen in The Road
*Meryl Streep, Julie and Julia Abbie Cornish, Bright Star Carey Mulligan, An Education Gabourey Sidibe, Precious Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side Honorable Mention: Rose Byrne in Adam, Zooey Deschanel in  Days of Summer, Maya Rudolph in Away We Go
Best Supporting Actress
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Away We Go Juliet Lewis, Whip It *Mo‟Nique, Precious Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Best Supporting Actor
Paul Schneider, Bright Star *Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles Woody Harrelson, The Messenger Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker Honorable Mention: Frankie Faison in Adam
Duncan Jones, Moon *Neill Blomkamp, District 9 Lee Daniels, Precious James Cameron, Avatar Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
The Performance of the Year
Mo‟Nique‟s shocking and shattering performance as the worst welfare mother around in Precious.
Moon (Nathan Parker, Duncan Jones) The Invention of Lying (Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson) District 9 (Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tachell) *Up in the Air (Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner) Precious (Geoffrey Fletcher)
Best Musical Score
Clint Mansell, Moon
Best Foreign Language Film
Every Little Step. A tremendously enjoyable film which connects the dots between the origin of the 1975 Broadway phenomenon A Chorus Line and its recent revival. Outrage. The appalling stories of closeted gay politicians who use homophobia to further their own careers. The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story. The fascinating exploration of the songwriting team behind Mary Poppins and many other Disney standards. *The Cove. Filmmaking as political activism. This movie might just help dismantle the dolphinarium industry. Ingelore. A work of stunning simplicity and power; a tale of survival redemption. [Egotistical note: After posting my review of the movie I got a nice note from the film‟s director! Read the review at http://hubpages.com/hub/Thirty-Great-Movies-Youve-Probably-Never-Seen-Ingelore] Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg! A fascinating look at a forgotten television pioneer. Art and Copy. The stories behind the people behind the most famous ad campaigns of the last fifty years. Capitalism: A Love Story. A surprisingly good piece from activist Michael Moore. Visual Acoustics. Tracing the career of iconic architectural photographer Julius Shulman. This is It. A remarkable record of the final rehearsals of the show Michael Jackson didn‟t live to perform.
Good Movies That Flew Under the Radar
Adventureland. A very sweet coming of age story set during a crappy summer job at a crumbling amusement park. In the Loop. Fall-down-on-the-floor funny political satire of the most scathing variety.
Good Popcorn Movies
A Perfect Getaway. A sharp and attractive cast help raise this little thriller out of the mundane. Good scenery, too! Taking Woodstock. Ang Lee‟s gentle riff on an iconic American event. It‟s Complicated. Not really, but it‟s fun to sit through. Whip It. It‟s shameful that more people didn‟t see this charming tale of rebellion on roller skates. The Informant! Won‟t hurt you. Reasonably funny and interesting true story. Surrogates. Decent science fiction thriller starring The Bruce. 2012. Go watch buildings you‟ve worked in collapse into the abyss!
Taken. Liam Neeson kills really bad guys really dead. Better than it sounds. The International: Clive Owen dodges bad guys in the Gugenheim museum.
Take Your Kids To It But Make Sure You, Uh, Talk About It Afterwards
Coraline. Deeply creepy, but worth seeing with an adventurous kid. Or adult. Where the Wild Things Are. Not exactly enjoyable, but could spark some really good conversations between parents and kids.
Good Family Fare
Hotel For Dogs
Can’t Believe They Got This One Made
The Road. I loved the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Cormac McCarthy novel it‟s based on. But it‟s such grim subject matter that I cannot believe they got anyone to invest money into it.
My Favorite Little Independent Movie
The House of the Devil. Scary and funny homage to tacky early 1980s horror films.
A pack of cute Scotty dogs turn into upside-down hanging bats in Coraline. The first time the bedroom door moves in Paranormal Activity.
He‟s Just Not That Into You. Okay, so it‟s not Citizen Kane. But it has an attractive and charming cast (as well as Scarlett Johansson).
The Year Two of My Favorites Finally Made It Big
Long underappreciated, two of my favorite actors had very very good years in 2009: Bradley Cooper in The Hangover, not to mention He‟s Just Not That Into You and New York I Love You. Ryan Reynolds hit pay dirt with The Proposal, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and even had time to shine in the indie charmer Adventureland.
Least Expected Comeback
Old-fashioned stop-action animation. Two excellent films were released in this venerated, but largely abandoned format. Coraline was creepy and lyrical, and Fantastic Mr. Fox was arch and whimsical.
Why Aren’t They Bigger Stars Yet?
Justin Long John Krasinski Maya Rudolph
Go Go Melanie Lynskey!
I‟ve been a fan of this quirky, pretty actress since her chilling turn as a psychotic teen murderess in Heavenly Creatures. In 2009 I was happy to see her talents in three different movies: Away We Go (a young wife struggling with infertility), Up in the Air (a young woman
struggling with a reluctant fiancé) and The Informant! (a young woman struggling with a crazy husband). Send your agent a REALLY expensive muffin basket, girlfriend.
Most Underrated Character Actor
Frankie Faison has been making movies better for decades. Why isn‟t he better known?
Why Can’t He Get Into a Good Movie?
Terrible Titles Scuttling Movies Actually Worth Seeing
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. Okay, I‟ll grant you it has a truly awful title. But this broad comedy about car salesmen is actually quite funny. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. A TRULY awful title kept people away from the film version of Tucker Max‟s memoir of debauchery. Matt Czuchry (also saddled with a challenging name) is terrific as Max.
Best Reboot of a Franchise
Star Trek. J.J. Abrams managed to make it feel classic and new at the same time. The superb cast helped a lot.
The Year Opening Credits Became Fun Again
Opening card of the credits for  Days of Summer:
Author's Note: The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Especially you Jenny Beckman. Bitch.
The “U” on the Universal logo gaining an umlaut at the beginning of Brüno. The jazzy music and graphic which opened An Education. The peek-a-boo titles which immediately drew you into the claustrophobic world of Moon.
Best Character Names
The roller derby queens in Whip It had a catalog of wonderful names, such as Eva Destruction, Juanna Beat‟n, Bloody Holly, Jaba the Slut, Maggie Mayhem and Iron Maven.
After Years of Working, They’ve Hit It Big!
Zoe Saldana, who burned up the screen as Uhuru in Star Trek and as a hottie blue alien in Avatar. Sam Worthington, who I first saw ten years ago in Bootmen, an odd but affecting dance movie from Australia, where he also did a lot of television. After Avatar and Terminator Salvation, I think he can look forward to bigger jobs and bigger paychecks from here on out. Next up: He plays the lead in the remake of Clash of the Titans.
Can We Please See More of . . .
Andrew Wilson. Who knew Owen and Luke even had a big brother? He was excellent in Whip It. Kathryn Hahn. Hot and hilarious in The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
Best Argument for a Best Casting Academy Award
Star Trek A Serious Man
Good to See You Back in the Saddle
Two People Who Should Work Together More
Wasn‟t it great to see Sigourney Weaver suit up for another rollicking James Cameron adventure? She really connects to his vibe and makes his movies better.
Three Good Supporting Performances by Ben Affleck
After a three-year absence from the screen, Ben was terrific as a corrupt politician in State of Play, an earnest boyfriend in He‟s Just Not That Into You, and especially as the naughty best friend in Extract.
Three Good Supporting Performances by Kristen Wiig
The Saturday Night Live comic scored comedy points in Adventureland, Extract and Whip It.
Sure, She’s Not Bad to Look At, But Who Knew She Had Such a Flair for Comedy?
Jennifer Garner in The Invention of Lying
“I do not like The Cone of Shame.” Dug the Dog expresses the chagrin we can all (at least sometimes) relate to in Up. “You look like a radioactive tampon.” Sam Rockwell gets real in Moon. Bus Ad: “Pepsi. For When They Don‟t Have Coke.” -- truth in advertising in The Invention of Lying. “I‟m committing carbicide.” Using ice cream to end everything in Brüno.
Best Love Story
The first fifteen minutes of Up.
Funniest Movie, Start to Finish
Actually, it WASN‟T The Hangover, even though that was a fun movie. The funniest movie this year was the British political romp In the Loop, with its amazing performance by Peter Capaldi (you might remember him as the sweet young linguist in Local Hero). The scathing insults he pelts his fellow cast members spew like battery acid, and you laugh until your sides hurt.
Not as Sublime as Borat but Still Funny
Best Random Moment
Drag Me To Hell. “You tricked me, you black-hearted who-o-o-o-o-ore! You b-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-itch!” – Okay, so it‟s not much of a line. But here‟s the thing: It‟s uttered by a goat. A goat.
The running jokes on signs and advertisements in The Invention of Lying. Highlights include a nursing home called “A Sad Place For Hopeless Old People” and a bus ad reading “Pepsi. For When They Don‟t Have Coke.”
Jodie Foster Award For Worst Performance By An Actress
The formerly-dependable Alison Lohman‟s bafflingly unconvincing performance in Drag Me to Hell fatally undermined an otherwise fun movie.
Movie I’m Most Ambivalent About
Inglorious Basterds. I like Tarantino, and there‟s lots to like about this movie, particularly the two main women (Melanie Laurent and Diane Kruger). There‟s also the spectacular supporting performance by Christoph Waltz, not to mention a devilishly charismatic turn by the handsome Michael Fassbender. But Brad Pitt is not a great actor, no matter how bad they want us to believe he is. He‟s an okay actor. And I left this movie with a fairly bad taste in my mouth.
Least Entertaining Harry Potter Movie So Far
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Proof That a Film Can Be Perceptive, Beautifully Made, and Perhaps Even Brilliant . . . and Still Not Be Very Much Fun to Sit Through
The very glum Where the Wild Things Are.
Bleh. Just . . Bleh.
The Lovely Bones
Worst Burial of a Franchise
Terminator Salvation. Enough already
Careers That Need to End Immediately.
Christian Bale. Okay, so can everyone now get on my page regarding this strange guy? He was great as a kid in Empire of the Sun, and he‟s been good a few times. But now all he does is scowl and growl. Boring and bewildering.
These Movies Sucked
Did you try to sit through any of these turkeys: Coco Before Chanel. Even my beloved Audrey Tautou couldn‟t make this tedious (and, reportedly, very fanciful) biopic interesting. Terminator Salvation. Needless sequel with a needlessly colorless performance by Christian Bale. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Lots of noise and things exploding and really attractive young actors running around in cool outfits. Unfortunately, it makes Starship Troopers look like Citizen Kane. X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Not Hugh Jackman‟s fault, of course, but the plot didn‟t make a lick of sense. And, of course, let‟s not forget:
The Year’s Worst Film
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen: Hours and hours of boring, repetitive CGI destruction. Yawn. I‟d love to hear your comments!