Top 10 Movies of 2009
Before I share with you my favorite movie picks of the year, please bear in mind two things. I usually never, I repeat never see all the movies that are nominated for Academy Awards. The reason for that is simple. I have kids and they'd be bored to tears. And so, this year's 2009 list of top 10 movies is comprised of family films and date night films. Sure I had less date nights than family nights (blame that on our weekend babysitters having active social calendars) but all in all, we did manage to catch some great performances. And the best thing about it is most of these films are now available on DVD. So let's get this party started!
10. The Princess and the Frog - The year would not be complete without a classic animated musical film with a twist - compliments of Disney. When a handsome prince visits New Orleans so he can marry a wealthy southern belle, he is tricked by an evil man practicing Voo Doo and is turned into a frog. Instead of miraculously turning back into a human when he kisses a beautiful girl he believes is a princess, she turns into a frog too (since she's really a waitress who dreams of opening her own restaurant). Desperate to reverse the spell, the frogs befriend a cowardly alligator who along with a firefly with a French accent, leads them to the Voo doo lady who could possibly help break the curse. Are you on the edge of your seat like me? Add some really great music and you have a film that'll be a keeper on DVD too.
9. Fantastic Mr. Fox - George Clooney as a fox, nuff said. Okay, seriously, this star studded animated film features so many famous voices, you'll spend the entire time trying to figure out who everyone is. There's Meryl Streep (who plays Fox's wife), Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and many more. The film is based on the book by Roald Dahl about a Fox who devises a plan to outsmart two evil farmers. What I love about it is that while you're kids will enjoy it, it's a great film for adults too.
8. Up in the Air - Considering I've just been on nine flights in less than two months, I can almost relate to this film about a bachelor who flies more than 350 days per year. Of course, I couldn't wait to come home every time my plane took off in another direction, but not Clooney - he loves his detached lifestyle and his career of firing people when they least expect it. While the subject matter is depressing and certainly relatable, "Up in the Air" wins my vote as one of the best films of the year.
7. Aliens in the Attic - This family comedy made the list because my son cast his vote and proclaimed it to be one of his favorites of the year. Personally, any film that features Doris Roberts as a ninja grandma gets top honors in my book. Seriously, Aliens in the Attic has a great mix of comedy and suspense for every member of the family.
6. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - I have always been a fan of Ben Stiller and I happen to have loved the first edition of "Night at the Museum." The movie sequel did not disappoint as all the artifacts from the Museum of Natural History are packed up and shipped off to the Smithsonian. But this time, since Stiller's character Larry Daley has now become a rich inventor (and is no longer a museum security guard), he gets an urgent message from Jebbadiah (Owen Wilson) that his museum friends are about to be boxed up for all eternity. While Wilson gets trapped in an hourglass for a good portion of the film, Bill Hader and Amy Adams are two great additions as the hapless, General George Armstrong Custer and the fearless Amelia Earhart. Plus, Hank Azaria is hilarious as a pharaoh with a lisp.
5. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - Based on the book by Judi and Ron Barrett, this outrageous animated film is for the underdog in all of us. A down on his luck scientist who can't seem to get anything right, comes up with an invention that rains food. From candy, to pizza to you guessed it, meatballs, the town that was once known for being the anchovy capital of the world, becomes a major tourist attraction for its wacky food-related weather patterns. But when the weather machine starts going haywire, and the sky starts raining monster entrees, the villagers must run for their lives or risk being squashed by a plate of spaghetti.
4. Julie & Julia - I finally got the chance to watch this on DVD this weekend. You see, since I haven't had the time to have a night out with my girlfriends and this film never would have made my husband's date night list, I had to wait until it was released at Blockbuster and thankfully, it made it just in time for my review! I have to say, what I loved most about the film were the scenes with Amy Adams (two votes for Amy Adams this year), who is dissatisfied with her day job and is convinced by her husband to start a food blog. When she decides to re-create 365 days worth of Julia Child's recipes, she experiences the ups and downs of food preparation, and gains a loyal following of readers along the way. All the while, we are also given a glimpse into the life of Julia Child who didn't pursue her fascination with cooking until her 40's! This film resonated with me on two levels - as a blogger always wondering if anyone is reading what I'm writing and as a woman who just turned 40 and is still on the road to pursuing her true passions. The only thing I couldn't relate to...the cooking! If I can't re-create a meal in 20 minutes or less, I just move on to the microwave.
3. Up - This bittersweet animated film by Disney Pixar was one of the best of the year. The reason? Simple - within 10 minutes, I was hooked into the story of a man who had fallen madly in love with his free-spirited wife. While they couldn't have kids, they kept saving their money so that one day they could set off on the ultimate adventure but sadly, his wife died and he never got the chance to fulfill their lifelong dream (tears started streaming from my cheeks at this moment). When he's supposed to move into a nursing home, the retired balloon salesman devises a plan - he covers his home in thousands of helium balloons and miraculously, it lifts off the ground and sails through the air. Unbeknownst to the old man, a hapless eight year old wilderness explorer gets trapped on his front porch and tags along on the journey of a lifetime.
2. Paul Blart Mall Cop - Let me just preface this by saying that I love this movie. I love the fact that my son has memorized most of the script and one of his favorites is Pahud's classic line..."Peanut Blart and Jelly!" Kevin James never fails to disappoint as a clumsy security guard who winds up in the hot seat when the new guy he's supposed to train turns out to be an evil mastermind intend on robbing tons of money from the mall. When Paul finds out that Amy, the sales girl at "Un-be-weaveable" is one of the hostages, he's determined to save the day. Between the slapstick comedy, the hilarious one-liners and those cameos by Pahud, my family can watch "Paul Blart Mall Cop" over and over again and still laugh as hard as we did the first time we ever saw it.
1. The Blind Side - While most of our film picks have been comedies, our winning selection turns out to be a drama starring Sandra Bullock. While she's best known for her comedic roles, this departure turned out to be a winning role for her as she plays outspoken Leigh Ann Toughy, in the remarkable true story of professional football player Michael Oher. After returning from a high school basketball game one evening, Leigh Ann welcomes Michael into her home when she realizes he doesn't have a place to stay. As Leigh Ann and her family get to know Michael, they discover he's an incredibly talented athlete with a troubled past. Determined to help him achieve his true potential, Leigh Ann takes charge of his life while becoming the doting mother Michael never had.