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Top Films of 2009?

The year in review

Jan. 4, 2010
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Is the future of filmmaking represented by two of my favorite movies from 2009? Embodying the computer-generated epic cinema of fantastic spectacle, Avatar is a movie too big to be enjoyed on an iPhone, while (500)Days of Summer is an artfully crafted, intimately scaled story suitable for a tiny screen. Could Netflix be the future for any movie that’s not an epic spectacle? One-third of the films in my two lists were never or barely screened in Milwaukee theaters and three additional favorites of the past year (Revanche, The Baader Meinhof Complex, IlDivo) were actually 2008 releases that made belated whistle-stop visits to Milwaukee in ’09.

Admittedly, the whole notion of the year-end “best-of” is fraught with foolishness. Exactly why is No. 8 better than No. 9? Who can say? But in what must be a bad mental habit picked up in grade school, people love to read lists and make their own. So, once again, here is my annual Top-15 roster of feature films and Top-5 for documentaries. Just don’t ask why Julie & Julia is better than In the Loop. It’s like trying to explain why an avocado tastes better than an apple. There’s no sense to it.

Feature Films

1. Up

2. (500) Days of Summer

3. Passing Strange

4. Jerichow

5. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

6. Avatar

7. Sita Sings the Blues

8. Julie & Julia

9. In the Loop

10. The Great Buck Howard

11. Inkheart

12. An Education

13. Fantastic Mr. Fox

14. The International

15. Youth in Revolt


1. Food, Inc.

2. It Might Get Loud

3. Capitalism: A Love Story

4. The Cove

5. Tyson


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