Previous roundups of year-end and decade-end lists and awards: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
"This was the year that the art world repeatedly checked its pulse to see if it was still alive. And guess what? It persisted, albeit in a slightly altered, chastened form." That's Roberta Smith, actually, one of two chief art critics at the New York Times and not one of the paper's three film critics. But as you look over "The Year in the Arts," this weekend's special section, you find that Smith might was well be writing about the whole of the art world, encompassing theater, music, architecture, cinema, of course, and all the rest.
Manohla Dargis begins her assessment of 2009 with a series of numbers that seem to add up to a dire situation indeed: "Movies have always been segmented among different audiences, but the disparity between the work that earns most of the critical love at release - and awards - time and much of what fills the multiplex on a weekly basis seems greater than ever." Gradually, though, the piece turns: "Despite the shake-ups and bad economic times there are now more choices for dedicated movie lovers than at any time in history, though only if you live in a major film market like New York, have access to a cable outfit like the Independent Film Channel, which shows some of the best movies around, or own a region-free DVD player on which you can play international discs." She wraps with "a baker's dozen of my favorite films of the year, in order of their domestic release."
"Ten is the hardest number for a movie critic," writes AO Scott. "But since this year ends in a nine and saw the release of two movies called Nine, I've taken the liberty of making a 10-best list of 19 films. One stands alone, while the rest are presented in loose thematic pairs. And then there are nine more that will be worth revisiting in the years to come." That #1 above all others is Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are. Scott, by the way - and this would be an online listening tip - discusses the best films of the decade on Talk of the Nation.
Stephen Holden asks: "Is it coincidence that Up in the Air [his #1] and The Messenger [his #4] - the two films that best captured a sense of what it was really like to live in the United States the year the bottom almost fell out - focus on men whose job it is to deliver very bad news to strangers?"
The Guardian will be rolling out its film team's choices for the top 10 films of the decade will over the next two weeks. In the meantime: Numbers 11 through 90. Also, the paper carries on running additions to its "2009: the year in lists" collection, including, of course, a bundle of film-related lists: "Seven ridiculous film plots, five unlikely weapons and the five scariest children in film." For John Patterson, 2009 was "the year Hollywood hit New Orleans in search of visual cliches."
The Telegraph's Tim Robey picks his best 100 films of the decade.
"Metacritic posted its Best-Reviewed Movies of the Decade list," notes the Hollywood Reporter's Jay A Fernandez. "And their Worst. The criticism-compilation site also breaks the top-reviewed films down by genre."
More films of the 00s from Film Salon: Robert Siegel (Big Fan) on Dover Koshashvili's Late Marriage, Karina Longworth on Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love, "literally a moving painting," and Matt Zoller Seitz's latest entry in his series on the directors of the decade: Robert Zemeckis and Wes Anderson.
Dusty Somers lists his top 50 of the 00s in the Oklahoma Daily. #1: Spike Lee's 25th Hour.
In Contention's Kristopher Tapley looks back on 2009. His personal favorite: Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man.
Time Out London selects "the ten best (and one worst) DVD film releases of 2009," while Time Out Chicago's Ben Kenigsberg and Hank Sartin each post their top tens of the year.
For Screen: "Leading lights from the international film industry give their views of 2009 and their hopes for 2010."
The new issue of frieze is a big, big 2009-in-review package and, as noted earlier, Stuart Comer and Rajendra Roy look back on the "best motion pictures and moving images of 2009."
Listening. Filmspotting's "Top 10 Films of 2009" episode.
Updates, 12/20: "[T]his year I have devoutly limited myself to exactly ten films," writes Roger Ebert. On each of two lists. The lists are divided into Mainstream Films and Independent Films.... They both are equal, and every film here is entitled to name itself 'One of the Year's 10 Best!'"
"I'm going to split my No 1 pick between two films that have a lot in common even though they seem quite different," writes Kenneth Turan. "While Bright Star is an emotional love story and The Hurt Locker is an overwhelming, tense saga of men at war, the two share - in addition to an increasingly rare female director - impeccable filmmaking skills." Also, an assessment of the current state of things: "[W]ith increasingly rarer exceptions, the last decade has witnessed the studios' gradual and nearly complete abandonment of the adult audience."
And also in the Los Angeles Times, Dennis Lim writes that "plenty of terrific titles made their DVD debuts in the last year, and the number of great films upgraded to Blu-ray is growing exponentially. Here's a top 10 - and then some - of the year's most rewarding offerings."
Roderick Heath writes up "Twenty-Five Essential Films of the 2000s," all the way through "determined to please nobody but myself."
Edward Copeland returns to present a top ten of the 00s. His #1: Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
More films of the decade at Film Salon: Molly Haskell on Robert Altman's Gosford Park, "a movie that continues to dance merrily in my head and a triumph after a desultory decade," Joe Swanberg on Jackass: The Movie, "smart, stupid, funny, dangerous, gross, human - basically everything I look for in a movie," and Glenn Kenny on Histoire de Marie et Julien, which "reconfirmed for me Rivette's standing as an ultimately unquantifiable master and prompted me to become ever more diligent in seeking out and exploring his other work."
Updates, 12/21: New York's David Edelstein posts a top ten of 2009 - and then some. His #1: Olivier Assayas's Summer Hours.
Michael Hawley's "100 Favorite Films of The Aughts."
Number 7 in Matt Zoller Seitz's countdown of the directors of the decade: Steven Soderbergh. Also at Film Salon, Scott Mendelson on Meet the Robinsons, "often hilarious and unabashedly emotional," Lisa Rosman on Forty Shades of Blue, "Ira Sachs's brilliant 2005 meditation on life in the United States today," and Martha P Nochimson on the Infernal Affairs trilogy: "Although they're genuine Hong Kong movies complete with a Buddhist subtext, these three surprisingly manifested a spirit kindred to American gangster flicks."
"It might be slightly more interesting to introduce a few extremely specific, admittedly eclectic, and personal categories." JM Tyree at 3quarksdaily.
Top ten of the decade, Paul Matwychuk. #1: David Lynch's Mulholland Dr.
More decade picks from Kristopher Tapley at In Contention. #1: Andrew Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
"What strikes you about the individual lists of The Hollywood Reporter film critics' top 10 films for 2009 is the wide range of styles, genres and commercial appeal in these choices," writes Kirk Honeycutt.
Drew McWeeny at Hitfix: "2009's 25 Best Movies." His #1: Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void.
Phil Nugent for Nerve on the "Happiest Surprises of the 00s." Also: "The Biggest Disappointments of the 00s."
3:AM Magazine presents its 2009 awards. Film of the Year: Peter Strickland's Katalin Varga.
Viewing. Guardian critics discuss their top films of the year.
"Every year Film Comment polls its many contributors and members of the critical community for their take on the twenty best films of the year, and publishes the results in January/February issue. We're pleased to bring you this sneak preview." Topping the list of the "20 Best Released Films of 2009" is Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker. And the #1 unreleased film is Alain Resnais's Wild Grass.
Stephen Saito reviews "2009's Most Memorable Critical Dust-Ups" at IFC.com.
Neil Young looks back on 2009 and begins rolling out his best of the decade lists: Performances and a list called "the 38 masterpieces (so far), and the top 44 'foreign language.'"
For the Bangkok Post, Kong Rithdee looks back on Thai cinema in the 00s and assesses the current state of things: "If anything, the experience of the recent decade demonstrated that Thai movies have developed many personalities, some commercial and others not, and that for the policy-makers to encourage the rush of homegrown creativity a lot of understanding and open-mindedness are urgently required."
Erich Kuersten at Bright Lights After Dark: "We can blame it on the war or Bush or global warming, but the real thing fucking with us in 2009 was the image, media, the simulacrum, the mirror. We recognized the enemy and it wasn't us, it was the mirror itself."
With a collection of quotes from the past year, SF360 launches "two weeks of reflection on the Year in Film and the Decade in Film by Bay Area critics, writers and filmmakers."
Tom Roston at the POV Blog: "Docs of 2009: The Year in Review."
Tweets Rex Sorgatz: "The list of lists is getting FULL."
Updates, 12/22: "Olivier Assayas's Summer Hours, a quiet sibling battle over the objects inside a French family's summer home, was named the best film of 2009 in indieWIRE's annual poll of more than 100 film critics and bloggers," reports Eugene Hernandez. "David Lynch's Mullholland Drive, a sort of American fever dream set in Hollywood, was chosen as the best film of the decade." Topping further lists in the 2009 survey: Tilda Swinton (Best Lead Performance, Julia), Christoph Waltz (Best Supporting Performance, Inglourious Basterds), Kathryn Bigelow (Best Director, The Hurt Locker), Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Best Documentary), Joel and Ethan Coen (Best Screenplay, A Serious Man), Steve McQueen's Hunger (Best First Feature) and Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers (Best Undistributed Film).
Marilyn Ferdinand writes up the "Twenty-Five Essential Documentaries of the 2000s."
"I've read lots of complaints that 2009 was a mediocre year for movies, but people who tend to complain about that sort of thing say that every year, no matter how many good movies there are. All I know is trying to pick just ten favorites out of all the worthy films felt tougher this year than it has in the four previous I've been at IFC." But Matt Singer does settle on a #1: James Gray's Two Lovers. Also at IFC, Alison Willmore: "Amongst my favorites this year are a melancholgic kiddie flick, a digital video journal and the first major film to deal with the 'war' part of the Iraq War." Her #1: Roy Andersson's You, the Living. Plus, Michael Atkinson on the "Best Films to Go Direct to DVD in 2009" and Vadim Rizov: "Here are seven of my favorites from our waning decade."
Bernardo Rondeau, film programs coordinator at LACMA, picks his ten best films of 2009. #1: Miguel Gomes's Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto.
Time Out New York's David Fear, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich: "The year in film, A to Z."
From Slate's Dana Stevens, in alphabetical order, her "favorite movies of the year and decade," annotated, followed by runners-up in both categories.
More films of the decade at Film Salon: "I'm picking Star Spangled to Death, by the experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs," writes Azazel Jacobs (The GoodTimesKid). I know how that looks, considering the film was made by my father - but that just proves how much I believe in it." Also: Thomas Rogers on Richard Kelly's Southland Tales, which "not only embodies what I like so much about American pop culture, but what I love about America itself," and Mike D'Angelo on Christopher Nolan's Memento, "custom-fitted for my particular sensibility."
The Guardian's Danny Leigh draws up a different sort of top ten: "not the decade's best per se, but it's most underrated." #1: Lynne Ramsay's Morvern Callar. Time Out Chicago's Ben Kenigsberg considers the "most overrated films of the decade." #1: Terrence Malick's The New World.
For TCM, R Emmet Sweeney lists the "US Films of 2009." His #1: Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! Topping Jürgen Fauth's list of the ten of '09: Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon. And Michal Oleszczyk's: Henry Selick's Coraline. That Little Round-Headed Boy: "My Dirty Half-A-Dozen: The Six Best Films of 2009." #1: Uli Edel's The Baader Meinhof Complex.
"The Top 20 Films Of The Decade As Decided By 40,000+ Flickchart Fans."
Online viewing. Peter Knegt has clips for each one of his top 20 films of 2009. His #1: Jane Campion's Bright Star.
Updates, 12/23: "The Hurt Locker is not just the decade's strongest Iraq movie and the finest action flick of 2009, but a remarkable consensus choice - having also been named the year's best movie by critical conclaves in both New York and Los Angeles," writes J Hoberman, introducing this year's edition of one of the most anticipated lists, year after year (here's the list of participating critics). "The Voice poll, which queries film critics throughout the country, had The Hurt Locker on 54 out of 94 ballots; its margin of victory surpassed the runner-up, Olivier Assayas's Summer Hours, by the poll's largest percentage since David Lynch's Mulholland Drive swamped Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love back in 2001." Take a look at the "Best of the Decade" list, and you'll see it's happened all over again.
More poll results: Actor (Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker), Actress (Tilda Swinton, Julia), Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds), Supporting Actress (Mo'Nique, Precious), First Feature (The Messenger), Documentary (Anvil!), Worst Film (Precious) and Undistributed Film (João Pedro Rodrigues's To Die Like a Man). Also in this package: J Hoberman's own top ten ("Sign of the times: The Hurt Locker is one of five war or war-related movies on my list") and his "Decade in Film: A Timeline," Anthony Kaufman on the state of New York's independent film community and Melissa Anderson: "Where Are They Now: Winners of Past Film Polls." And now the Voice is calling on you to fill in a ballot for its Readers' Film Poll.
"Fourteen critics ranked their favorite 2009 theatrical premieres and currently undistributed films for our first annual(?) film poll, which yielded a Top 10, especially, more demographically on-point than we had expected, given the diversity of sensibility demonstrated in the film writing published this year in The L." #1: Claire Denis's 35 Shots of Rum.
"12 writers, 12 films: MSN's Best Movies of the Decade." Jim Emerson points the way. #1: Joel and Ethan Coen's No Country for Old Men.
"One of the key stories to be told about the past decade has been the sorry decline of American cinema," writes Sukhdev Sandhu in the Telegraph. "For all the talk throughout the Nineties of how the internet would create a global village, there was, especially after 9/11, a pervasive mood of truculent insularity and cultural isolationism, one certainly exacerbated by George Bush's disastrous policies." Also: the "highlights of 2009."
More films of the decade at Film Salon. Erik Nelson on Mike Judge's Idiocracy, which "takes for granted what the sentient American thinks, but never says out loud," and Howard Feinstein on Jia Zhangke's Still Life, which "testifies to the inner strength of the powerless residents and boldly challenges the decision-makers who care more about technological 'progress' than quality of life." Also, Matt Zoller Seitz on #6 on his list of the directors of the decade, Michael Moore.
At Premium Hollywood, Bob Westal's "Eight Musicals of the 21st Century": "These are musicals that I think contributed to the development of this polarizing and hard to pull off genre. They don't hark back to times gone by or try to recapture a past glory that will never return, but actually take us into the future. That's important now that musicals seem to have a future."
Sight & Sound: "Despite the DVD industry feeling the economic pinch as much as any other, 2009 again saw a great number of unjustly obscure films rescued from history by intrepid distributors, as well as lavish and restored editions of well known classics. And so we polled our contributors and asked them to nominate their five DVD or Blu-Ray releases of the year."
Scott Marks's "Best & Worst Movies of 2009" entry features more categories than just two. His #1: Bright Star.
Erin Donovan lists the docs, narratives and fresh discoveries that impressed her most in 2009.
For IFC, R Emmet Sweeney lists the "Most Subversive Performances of 2009."
Roger Ebert lists his top ten docs of the year.
"Microcinema's Ten Most Notable Moments of 2009."
The editors of and contributors to Cargo, one of Germany's finest film magazines, list: "Was vom Jahr bleibt."
Viewing. Cinema 2009, a montage from Kees van Dijkhuizen that plays like an ad: "1 Year, 342 Movies, 12 Months of Production, 7 Minutes."
"This was my first decade as a film critic, which means a ten-best list is as much a referendum on how I've evolved as a viewer as it is a statement of personal tastes." Time Out Chicago's Ben Kenigsberg writes up his top ten of the decade, followed by a host of close contenders.
Updates, 12/24: "What is different this decade?" asks B Ruby Rich at SF360. "What responds to the 9/11 moment in any meaningful way? I consider the emergence of an extraordinary Palestinian cinema to be the signal trend of the decade. Elia Suleiman (Divine Intervention, The Time That Remains), Rashid Mashawari (Ticket to Jerusalem, Waiting, Laila's Birthday), Hany Abu-Assad (Ford Transit, Paradise Now), Kamal Aljafari (The Roof, Port of Memory) all have made remarkable films that tread an invisible line between fiction and documentary, hybridizing forms to represent a land that defines such signs and definitions."
IndieWIRE follows up on its poll with a collection of comments from many of the critics that voted: "From defending their poll votes to arguing for or against the year's oft-suggested designation as a weak year for cinema, it's an excellent overview on the great cinematic debates of '09."
Here in The Notebook, Neil Young looks back on the best of European cinema from the past ten years.
"While evaluating the films of the decade past, I discovered, to my amazement, two films by the French filmmaker Agnès Varda - The Gleaners and I (2000) and The Beaches of Agnès (2008) - were among my top picks of the 10-year period," writes Marjorie Baumgarten. "My amazement is not due to the fact that these are both personal documentaries and my tastes generally favor narrative fiction over nonfiction, nor are they sentimental choices that privilege the work of a female filmmaker whose output remains stirring in her eighth - and now ninth - decade of life. What's startling is that Varda's work still speaks so clearly to me, just as it did in the Seventies."
Also in the Austin Chronicle, Marc Savlov: "If Bertolt Brecht's axiom 'Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it' still holds - and there are plenty of reasons to suspect the obverse has become the norm - then the events of 9/11 and the bellicose, paranoid, hallucinatory mindset they evoked and implanted in the national consciousness appear to have acted as their own metaphorical Mjøllnir, shattering not only the art/reality mirror with a Thor-like thunderclap of metal on flesh on flame, but also bending out of true our own perception and appreciation of the real and the reel."
And Kimberley Jones on "the ideas and images of the Aughties that lingered for me."
In the Guardian, Ronald Bergan lists the FIPRESCI prizewinners from festivals worldwide in 2009.
At Slate: Troy Patterson's "26 top cultural moments of the 2000s in alphabetical order."
Today's Film Salon roundup: Matt Zoller Seitz on director #5, Steven Spielberg. Bob Calhoun on Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, Lawrence Levi on Sam Green and Bill Siegel's The Weather Underground, which "shows how fragile America's social fabric truly is," and Mary Elizabeth Williams on Jon Favreau's Elf, which "has become, like A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life, an undisputed holiday classic."
As part of the Boston Phoenix's "Year in Review," Peter Keough's top ten. His #1: The Hurt Locker.
Drew McWeeney (Hitfix) begins counting down his top 50 of the 00s.
At Cinematical: Todd Gilchrist's top ten of 2009. His #1: Inglourious Basterds.
Listening. "For the third year running, Scott Kirsner (Fans, Friends & Followers, CinemaTech), Woody Benson (Prism VentureWorks) and Lance Weiler (founder of the WorkBook Project, story architect) sat down to discuss the year in tech and entertainment. Subjects covered: the real-time web, geo locational services, emergent gameplay, transmedia storytelling, crowdfunding, augmented reality, DIY, 3D cinema investment, the impact of the Comcast / NBC Universal merger, Avatar and Paramount's new micro budget division."
Updates, 12/25: "The Noughties were the decade in which the drama of real life left the movies in the dust," writes Wendy Ide in the London Times. "Cinema has been struggling to formulate an appropriate response ever since [9/11]."
Scott Weinberg at Cinematical: "No rambling commentary, no goofy synopses, just 20 films from the past 12 months that I liked the best."
At GreenCine Daily: Aaron Hillis's top 32 of 2009. His #1: Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro.
Xan Brooks and Jason Solomons of the Guardian and Observer post their top tens of the year.
Updates, 12/26: "The Nerve list of the best movies of the past ten years is a collaborative effort," blogs Phil Nugent, "with titles selected (by Scott Von Doviak, the real brains behind the enterprise), from a pool of nominees, based on how many of us agreed on their virtues and how enthusiastically less unanimous contenders were championed by those who had given them a piece of their heart. I think it turned out dandy, but here, for the record, is what my own top-twenty ballot looks like." His #1: Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men. Nerve's: Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Michael Guillén looks back on his ten favorite interviews of 2009.
For Vanity Fair, John Lopez lists his "10 Best Films of the Decade." His #1: Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood.
Cartoon Brew's Amid Amidi picks his best animation books of 2009.
Because you want to read Bill O'Reilly use the phrase "sacrificed for the greater good," click to his name to see a list of his favorite movies of all time.
Listening. On Fresh Air: "Vogue Magazine film critic John Powers talks about the year in media: the major events, the trending topics and the evolution of social networking."
Updates, 12/27: "Thai cinema in the first decade of the 21st century continued building on its resurgent commercial strength and the increased international recognition and critical acclaim that had begun in the late 1990s," writes Wise Kwai. "For many movie buffs around the world, this was the decade they discovered Thai cinema. Here are 10 Thai films that were worth watching or were important in some way to the Thai film industry." His #1: Wisit Sasanatieng's Tears of the Black Tiger.
"I've asked Sydney-based film critics to send me their top 10 films of 2009," blogs Matt Riviera, who presents "an overall Top 20 collating results from all 13 participants." He's got the individual ballots and the collective #1 film released in Australia this year: Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In.
"There is, to put it frankly, far too much happening, not too little," writes Mark Olsen in his summing-up-2009 column on independent film for the Los Angeles Times. "In this moment of retrenchment and redefinition within the business, coinciding with what feels like a creative rejuvenation, it is no accident that ads for the upcoming 2010 edition of the Sundance Film Festival speak of 'renewed rebellion' and 'rebirth' while extolling an attitude of 'Sundance, reminded.' The reminder is that where there is an economy of means there can also be a richness of ideas, enthusiasm and creative vision. For me, perhaps no film this year captured the developing new spirit of independent film better than writer-director Andrew Bujalski's Beeswax."
For the AFP, Emilie Bickerton, assistant editor at New Left Review and author of A Short History of Cahiers du Cinéma, revisits the films that defined the 00s.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky revises his decade list. #1: James Gray's We Own the Night.
Nicholas Barber looks back on 2009 for the Independent: "Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold dazzled, but Richard Curtis seemed to have lost his golden touch."
Updates, 12/20: The Observer's Jason Solomons is "thrilled to announce that Quentin Tarantino will receive the Dilys Powell award from the London Film Critics' Circle. Named after the revered former Sunday Times critic, 'The Dilys' rewards excellence in cinema and, as the Circle celebrates the 30th anniversary of its awards ceremonies, I can't think of a more energising recipient than Tarantino whose continuing engagement with film history and criticism is being acknowledged... To disclose full interest, I am the current chairman wof the Critics' Circle Film section and when I proposed the Dilys to Tarantino, he was honoured to accept.... Also at the critics' ceremony, Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now will receive a special 30th Anniversary Award, having been voted the best film of all previous winners in the past 30 years."
"There are no surprises, major or otherwise, in the Houston Film Critics Society's list of the best 2009 had to offer," writes Steve Montgomery at the Alternative Film Guide. "Critics' faves The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air won three prizes each."
Updates, 12/21: "The Hurt Locker and Nine were named, respectively, best film drama and comedy/musical by the International Press Academy on Sunday evening," reports Anna Robinson at the Alternative Film Guide.
"The Chicago Film Critics Association has announced that Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker has been voted in as their best film of the year, adding to the hefty pile of honors the film has recently received," reports Peter Knegt, who has the full list of winners at indieWIRE. "Locker also took honors for best director, Jeremy Renner's lead performance, Mark Boal's screenplay, and Barry Ackroyd's cinematography."
Also: "The 30th London Film Critics' Circle Awards announced their nominations this afternoon, with Lone Scherfig's An Education leading the pack."
Updates, 12/22: The St Louis Film Critics Association goes for Up in the Air. Anna Robinson has the winners at the Alternative Film Guide.
"The 10th annual Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards were announced today," reports indieWIRE, "with Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds leading the winners."
Update, 12/23: The Oklahoma Film Critics Circle goes for The Hurt Locker. Anna Robinson has the full list of award-winners at the AFG.
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