In a few weeks, the Toronto International Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival will take place, therefore signaling the start of what people like the call “Oscar Season.” As always, I like to reveal what my favorite and my least favorite movies of the year so far during this time.
2009 was an amazing year for movies. By this point last year, Up, The Hurt Locker, and Drag Me to Hell had already come out and the latter two ended up making it in my top 10 of the year, while Up almost made it. But this year, with the exception of my number one and two and maybe three, I would not want any of the rest of my top 10 to still be there by the end of the year (or next July when I sort of close the book on the year). And of the ones that I have missed, there are only a couple that I truly want to see.
With that in mind, I present my top 10 and bottom 5 movies of the year so far. If any of the movies I mention have some sort of real Oscar potential I will point it out. I do hope that the rest of the year delivers.
Note: Haven’t seen Inception or a bunch of others yet.
10. She’s Out of my League
Directed by Jim Field Smith
It has everything that it needed to be a bad movie, but the heart that the people put into it made me like it a lot. I’ll probably forget it by the time the year ends, but I had fun. But I won’t forget Alice Eve’s looks, I can tell you that.
9. Shutter Island
Directed by Martin Scorsese
The movie is expertly crafted, as one should always expect from Scorserse. However, it is not one of his best, and the ending of the movie is the reason for that. Throughout the length of the film he keeps us guessing and wanting to find the truth, but when the twist is revealed, I felt cheated.
Oscar Chances: With this being an Scorsese picture it should not be counted out. It could make it into the Best Picture category given many contenders fail. Also a strong contender for Cinematography, Costume Design, and Art Direction.
8. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev
The story and the performances are wonderful, the production is appropriate, and the direction is bad. Fun way to kill 2 1/2 hours though.
7. Alice in Wonderland
Directed by Tim Burton
When I heard about this I expected greatness, but I just got a good movie from a great filmmaker who seemed to be working on autopilot. However, the greatness of the crafts, Mia Wasikowska, and Helena Bonham-Carter makes this worthwhile.
Oscar Chances: This is a seriously strong contender for many technical categories, and it made the money to push it through. It is almost a lock for Costume Design (beautiful work from Colleen Atwood), Art Direction, Visual Effects, and Score (Elfman’s best since Big Fish). It could also get in for Original Song for Avril Levign’s “Alice (Underground)” but voter may find it a bit grating (I love it though)
6. Hot Tub Time Machine
Directed by Steve Pink
A ton of fun with good perfromances, nothing more, nothing less. The first comedy of the decade that could probably stick around my top 10 comedies of the decade.
5. I’m Here
Directed by Spike Jonze
Runs for about 30 minutes, but those minutes are blissful. The love story between two robots is almost as great as that in WALL-E. Spike Jonze has yet to make a movie that I don’t like.
Oscar Chances: I hope this qualifies for the Live-Action Short Film category.
4. Youth in Revolt
Directed by Miguel Arteta
The impact of the movie is not felt until the end. Even so, when I was watching it, I could not peel off my eyes from the screen, even during somewhat pretentious parts. Michael Cera shows more range that he is used to, and I like it.
3. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Directed by Edgar Wright
Speaking of Cera showing range, he was the perfect choice to play Scott Pilgrim. The entire cast is also perfect, but this movie is all about Edgar Wright. His vision made this a wild and original ride that will likely be copied from now on, but never matched. I feel my opinion could change for the better as I see it more times, though.
Oscar Chances: Since it bombed at the box office, it face an uphill climb to get any sort of awards recognition. However, it should be a contender for Best Editing, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Original Song (for “Threshold” or “Ramona”), and even Costume Design. I do hope it will be recognized.
2. How to Train Your Dragon
Directed by Chris Sanders & Dean DuBois
Who would have thought that Dreamworks still had it in them to tell a great story? I did, but was losing faith. This movie is exciting, has beautiful animation, and great cast. I guess the culprits for this anomaly in the Dreamworks stable is due to the work of Sanders and DuBois, who made one of my favorite animated movies of the last decade (Lilo & Stitch).
Oscar Chances: A lock for Animated Feature, and a strong contender for Original Score and Adapted Screenplay. It could also get in the Sound categories and Original song since it’s got one. And since Paramount is planning a go-for-broke Best Picture campaign, I can see it actually getting a nomination there.
1. Toy Story 3
Directed by Lee Unkrich
As good as How to Train Your Dragon is, it has absolutely nothing on the latest Pixar opus. I had waited about 11 year to see what I now consider the greatest trilogy of all time to finally come to an end, and it did not disappoint in any aspect. And the ending is just the greatest.
Oscar Chances: It should already be a lock for a Best Picture nomination, but I’m still not 100% sure since it is about toys and it is a sequel and the 80 year old member might not go for that. It should also be a lock in the Adapted Screenplay, and Animated Feature categories. Besides that, Randy Newman’s score and his song “We Belong Togethere” stand a good chance in their respective field. Also, it could score in the Sound categories like previous Pixar movies. And if it the members embrace it as much as the critics and just about the rest of the world and don’t dismiss it as a silly cartoon, then it could get a Best Director nomination, therefore giving it a strong chance to actually win.
5. Clash of the Titans
You know you have a problem when the only good thing about is the hotness of a couple of females.
Oscar Chances: God forbid, but it could be nominated for Best Visual Effects since there will no longer be a shortlist and there will be five nominees. Make-Up and Costume Design are other possibilities.
4. The Losers
Supposed to be fun, but it isn’t.
3. Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Medusa gets killed while she is distracted by an iPod. ‘Nuff said
2. The Bounty Hunter
Horrible plot. Horrible performances. Regret seeing it
1. When in Rome
Premise with potential and two charming leads with chemistry. Yet, it was painful to watch