Staff Picks: The Best Movies of 2009

In the last month of the past decade, we put our readership through the ringer. We unleashed list after list of our favorites of the decade and the year. It was a tumultuous time at Reject HQ, as many battles were waged and whiteboard markers were thrown over who should write the lists and what movies should make it to the top. And while all of that is not gone — you know we keep the magic experience of listmaking going throughout the year — the storm is over. And we finish with a new list this year, a round of staff picks.

At the beginning of the week, I laid down my Editor’s Picks to kick off our Year in Review. To close down the Year in Review, I asked seven of our most prolific contributors of 2009 — the seven gentlemen who bled through the most reviews — to each deliver their top five movies of the year. We even let Dr. Abaius participate. What can I say? It’s the season of giving.

So without further adieu, the pièce de résistance of our Year in Review…

Robert Fure
Associate Editor, Los Angeles

District 9 // Most definitely on virtually every best of the year list, District 9 is one of the best science fiction movies of recent memory. Mixing cool commentary with awesome explosions, great characters (best performance in the film is by an alien even), and stunning visuals, this is easily the best movie of the year.

Taken // Released in 2008 in most of the world, we Americans didn’t get it until January 2009 and it’s such an awesome film that I’m going to bring it up. Taken has become one of those films you must watch whenever you see it. A realistic take on the ultimate bad-ass kind of movie, this movie is as hard as they come.

Star Trek // From a non-Trekkie perspective, I can easily say that this is my absolute favorite Star Trek movie, and a perfect example of fast paced, exciting, fun sci-fi. There is no heaviness to the story, just escapist fun at Warp Factor 5.2

I Love You, Man // While most end of the year lists are probably picking up the more recently released The Hangover, I Love You, Man started the year with a bunch of quotable phrases, a guest appearance by Lou Ferrigno, and, like Role Models made KISS cool again, ILYM made Rush acceptable to rock out to.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen // You either loved it or you hated it and half the reason I’m putting this on the list is to piss off critics that don’t have a sense of fun. While Transformers wasn’t the best movie the year, or the most coherent, it was definitely a very fun flick with plenty of laughs, lots of low angles on hot chicks, and some of the craziest and explosive battle scenes committed to film.

Brian Salisbury
Columnist, Austin

Up // While Pixar has often been the standard for stunning, effective animation, no animated film has ever spoken to me on such a deeply personal level as up.  This film is so fantastic that even though this has been a sort of banner year for animation, Up secured its Oscar as soon as the credits rolled.

District 9 // Science Fiction, as depicted on film of late, seems to have become inextricably linked with either action or horror.  District 9, while providing enough action to bolster its blockbuster status, brought back the thoughtful, cerebral quality that made the genre what it is.  It’s been a long time since Sci-Fi was culturally relevant and socially meaningful, but District 9 navigates those waters with ease; remarkable considering it’s the first film from director Neil Blomkamp.

Inglorious Basterds // Like him or loathe him Quentin Tarantino has proven himself a master storyteller.  Here he brings us his requisite geek homage, this time for the macaroni combat genre, while at the same time eliciting some phenomenal performances and weaving a series of wholly engaging subplots that culminate into his most explosive of finales.

Star Trek // It is never easy to tread on holy ground, and J.J. Abrams risked career crucifixion when he shouldered this sacred, though dying, franchise.  The result was an engrossing epic perfectly blending beloved cannon with untold origins to establish a whole new layer of myth to the series.  It is entertaining enough to appeal to the popcorn set while creative enough to satiate even the most hardcore of Trekkie/Trekker.  The effects and sound design are also worthy of scores of accolades.

Fantastic Mr. Fox // I am frustrated that this came out in the same year as Up because any other year it would have taken the title of best animated film hands down.  The style of animation in this film is something marvelously unique and represents a daring undertaking by Wes Anderson.  Wonderful characters, immaculate dialogue, and a medium that allowed Anderson to explore his favorite themes while also removing his typical level of moroseness.

Click Here to Read the Best from Kevin Carr, Robert Levin, Rob Hunter and Dr. Abaius >>

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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