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James's Favorites for '09

I don't like the idea of compiling a year's "best" (too know-it-all for me), so here are my favorites (not necessarily in this order.):

Precious

For me, the best film of the year was Precious because it was illuminating. After we saw it, my 12-year-old said, "I will be thinking about that movie for a long time." Unfortunately, the film's tough language kept a lot of people away.

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
On Demand: Amazon | iTunes
Posters: Amazon | Movie Poster Shop

Up

My son, Jack, liked this one a ton. He called it funny, sad, unforgettable—so his movie creds have been partially restored (See Land of the Lost review). As for me, I think Up is probably the best movie I've seen so far this year. Somebody at Pixar is a real genius, but I've never seen much written about whoever this person is.

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
On Demand: iTunes
Posters: Amazon

Up in the Air

This movie is based on a novel, and it plays on the screen like a novel, a very good one. George Clooney plays a total prick who somehow manages to be charming and relatable. This is a really well done fable for these crazy times we live in.

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
Posters: Amazon | Movie Poster Shop

The Hurt Locker

A movie about soldiers who dismantle bombs in Iraq pretty much guarantees suspense, and Hurt Locker delivers that–plus fine acting and nice pacing. Still, I wonder who besides me, some critics, and maybe Stephen King will go to see this flick?

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
On Demand: Amazon | iTunes
Posters: Amazon | Movie Poster Shop

The Hangover

The trailer for this flick is brilliant. The movie, for me, wasn't quite as good. Very funny scenes—but the dialog could have been sharper—and for the most part the main characters are just having a lost weekend. They're basically schmucks.

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
On Demand: Amazon | iTunes
Posters: Amazon | Movie Poster Shop

The September Issue

I'm not particularly into fashion, but I love this movie! The star, for me, isn't Anna Wintour. It's the brilliant and very human Grace Coddington, art director at Vogue.

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
Posters: Amazon | Movie Poster Shop

Taken

In Hollywood talk, this is 24 meets The Bourne Identity. It delivers too—although I felt punch-drunk and gut-shot by the end.

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
On Demand: Amazon | iTunes
Posters: Amazon | Movie Poster Shop

Gran Torino

Here's hoping Clint Eastwood keeps directing movies for the next twenty years, and acting in some of them, too. His latest is probably my favorite—a terrific story about bigotry that is honest, tragic, and frequently very funny.

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
On Demand: Amazon | iTunes
Posters: Amazon | Movie Poster Shop

A Perfect Getaway

This is probably my favorite movie of the summer (or at least in the top two). The acting and direction are first rate. So is the suspense, the surprises (a couple of doozies), and especially the unexpected humor.

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
Posters: Amazon | Movie Poster Shop

Sherlock Holmes

The ads for this movie proclaim that it's "nonstop action," "exhilarating," "funny," and "deftly written." Amazingly, the ads tell the truth. This is a comic book version of Sherlock Holmes, but a really nifty one. My only nitpick is that it has the standard Hollywood reliance on crazy-over-the-top plot to save the world. But this is a top drawer escapist movie.

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
On Demand: Amazon | iTunes
Posters: Amazon | Movie Poster Shop

Zombieland

The 2nd best Zombie movie that I've seen—the best being Shaun of the Dead. It's very funny, but I caution anyone who doesn't like to watch people biting other people's faces. I'm okay with that.

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
On Demand: Amazon | iTunes
Posters: Amazon | Movie Poster Shop

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

This is a thriller I'll see for a second time. Director Tony Scott can be a little incoherent at times, but not here. Scott and Denzel Washington always work magically together. John Turturro and John Travolta have rarely been better, especially Turturro. I liked the original film made after John Godey's book, but this one is even better.

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
On Demand: Amazon

In the Loop

This is a very f–ing funny movie, and if anything in this sentence offends you, you probably shouldn't see it.

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
Posters: Amazon | Movie Poster Shop

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox is as clever and witty as any film for kids (and possibly even adults) that I've seen all year. The one question is who will enjoy it more, you or your kids?

On DVD: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Buy.com
On Demand: Amazon | iTunes
Posters: Amazon | Movie Poster Shop

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= James's Favorites