Overall, 2009 was a decent year for entertainment, but not exactly exemplary. Almost everything that made my list had so many flaws they wouldn't have made it on better years. Still, I managed to come up with quite a few all-time favorites in the process.
Best TV Series: MAD MEN
By focusing on the year 1963, Matthew Weiner's brilliant series charted a pivotal course for his show during this pivotal time in history.
Best moment: a shaken Don Draper coming to grips with the truth in the episode entitled THE GYPSY AND THE HOBO with the haunting tagline "Who are you supposed to be?"
Second best: Office party lawn mower in GUY WALKS INTO AN ADVERTISING AGENCY
DIG, LAZARUS, DIG by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
I played the beejus outta this sucker. Favorite cut: Lie Down Here and Be My Girl.
PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION: FIVE MOVIES AND THE BIRTH OF THE NEW HOLLYWOOD by Mark Harris-One of the best books about the movies I've ever read. All about the transitional year of 1967, focusing on the five films nominated for Best Picture Oscars-THE GRADUATE, GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER?, BONNIE AND CLYDE, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and best of all DOCTOR DOOLITTLE.
Best Films (many have a 2008 release date, but I saw them in 2009. Don't like it? Lump it.)
10. PONYO-I just had to see a Hayao Miyazaki anime on the big screen and was rewarded handsomely. While PONYO is almost too cute, Miyazaki kept my cynical soul at bay with his brilliant artistic sensibilities.
9.CORALINE-Score one for Portland's Laika Studios. Henry Selick's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's tale ran circles around NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. The bittersweet ending of this victory is that Laika may not be able to follow up, laying off a major chunk of their workforce and the exiting of Selick. Oh well. One's better than none.
8.DISTRICT 9-Neill Blomkamp's Apartheid allegory with aliens in South Africa was the best sci-fi of the year. In a just world, Sharlto Copley would get a Best Actor nod.
7.WATCHMEN-Unfilmable? Probably, but Zack Snyder made a grand stab at Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' classic graphic novel (I know it was a comic book mini-series first. Back off, nerds) and succeeded in a very high percentile.
6.REVOLUTIONARY ROAD-Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet hate suburbia. If you don't believe it from AMERICAN BEAUTY and LITTLE MONSTERS, this one clinches it and was unduly snubbed at the Oscars. A fine film, but you'll want to drink afterwards...a lot.
5.THE WRESTLER-Mickey Rourke was robbed! Let's get a rematch with Sean Penn...this time...Hell in a Cell!
4.INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS-Quentin Tarantino lives to fight another day. It's a bingo!
3. THE HURT LOCKER-Katherine Bigelow finally has something to stand beside her debut masterwork NEAR DARK. Very possibly the most suspenseful film of the decade...and starring former Palace Showboat Player Jeremy Renner. Who knew?
2.UP-The sweetest damn film of this or any other year.
1.SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE-One of the best movie-movies ever. A modern-day fairy tale that has my favorite love story and a parable for the ages.
Why was it the best?
D.It is written.
The Best of the Decade