Another cinematic year over... another one without Rick Moranis. It sure would be nice if the 1980s powerhouse made a comeback. There was a time we were all living on Planet Moranis, but that time has passed since he hung up his trademark glasses some ten years ago or so. Looking aside from that large void, 2009 was a pretty impressive year in cinema. Cinephiles will remember this as the year in which Pixar reached new emotional heights ("Up"), Clooney proved to be king ("Up in the Air"), tween audiences ruled the world ("New Moon", the latest "Harry Potter"), and Quentin Tarantino returned to form ("Inglourious Basterds"). Sure there were surefire misfires like "Nine," "Transformers 2" (Transformer Gods, really?), "Watchmen," "G.I. Joe," "A Serious Man" (sorry critics), and countless others but overall the multiplexes rocked with enjoyable fare. Even movies that had no business being fun were just that... I'm talking to you far-fetched, long-winded "2012" and bewildering farce "Men Who Stare At Goats." With that, I give you my top ten movies and top 20 performances of the year. Agree or disagree? Weigh in!
1. "Up" - By far the company's best, and most poignant film...and that's saying something when you see their body of work.
2. "Up in the Air" - George Clooney evokes Cary Grant in Jason Reitman's instant true-to-life classic.
3. "The Hurt Locker" - Kathryn Bigelow's unflinching sign of the times boasts a breakthrough performance by Jeremy Renner.
4. "District 9" - This smash summer hit was everything a popcorn film shouldn't be: engrossing, engaging, and mindnumbing. Let's all lobby for Best Picture and Best Director (Neill Blomkamp) nods for this.
5. "Precious" - Lee Daniels' film adaptation of the novel "Push by Sapphire" hits you over the head with raw emotion and intensity. Gabourey Sidibe is an Oscar nod shoo-in, and Mo'Nique - in the best tranformation since Charlize Theron went "Monster" - is Oscar bound.
6. "(500) Days of Summer" - Along with Zach Braff's "Garden State," Michael H. Weber's unromantic/romantic comedy gem have come the closest to matching the generational impact of "The Graduate."
7. "Inglourious Basterds" - The film is way long, but way cool. Christopher Waltz's charming yet smarmy Nazi will win him an Oscar, but it's Melanie Laurent's performance - likely to be overshadowed come Oscar time - that stood out for me.
8. "Avatar" - James Cameron's eye-popping creation is marvelous to look at, although it lags a bit in length. Even so, there's no questioning this man's genius. It's eye candy at it's finest.
9. "Star Trek" - As a "Star Wars" nut (that's the first three, people), I was skeptical of any reboot of that other space series. But, J.J. Abrams made a fine-crafted thrill ride of an action flick that merits Oscar attention.
10. "I Love You, Man" - There were so many terrific comedies last year - notably "The Hangover" but this film packed the most honest laughs. Paul Rudd deserved a Golden Globe nod over dreadful Daniel Day-Lewis of "Nine" for his delightfully awkward performance as a man looking for a "bromance."
20 Best Performances of the Year
1. Mo'Nique - "Precious"
2. George Clooney - "Up in the Air"
3. Carey Mulligan - "An Education"
4. Jeff Bridges - "Crazy Heart"
5. Sharlto Copley - "District 9"
6.Zack Galifianikis - "The Hangover"
7. Paul Rudd - "I Love You, Man"
8. Woody Harrelson - "The Messenger"
9. Melanie Laurent - "Inglourious Basterds"
10. Jeremy Renner - "The Hurt Locker"
11. Alec Baldwin - "It's Complicated"
12. Gabourey Sidibe - "Precious"
13. Carey Mulligan - "An Education"
14. Colin Firth - "A Single Man"
15. Anna Kendrick - "Up in the Air"
16. Ricky Gervais - "The Invention of Lying"
17. Alfred Molina - "An Education"
18. Vera Farmiga - "Up in the Air"
19. Joseph Gordon-Levitt - "(500) Days of Summer"
20. Michelle Monaghan - Trucker