02 February 2010

2009 in retrospect (part II)

I didn't award any awards in that last post, did I? How foolish of me. Let's address that before moving on:

The Andy Roddick Memorial Award: Russian Circles - Geneva, Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way To Blue, The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love, Mastodon - Crack the Skye

The Spirit of Planet of Ice Award: ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - The Century of Self

The Bourne Identity Soundtrack Award: Animal Collective - Meriwether Post Pavillion

The Phantom Award: Porcupine Tree - The Incident, Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown (maybe - we'll have to see where I stand further down the road)

The "Holy Shit! I Care About You Again!" Award: Kylesa - Static Tensions

The Samuel Beckett Memorial Award: He Is Legend - It Hates You

The '04-'05 Phoenix Suns Memorial Award: Torche - Meanderthal

[new for 2010] The Chairless Award (for my favorite comedy album of the year): Patton Oswalt - My Weakness Is Strong

Moving on... Actually, no. Before I move on, I'd like to look into an alternate reality for a moment and muse on the possibility of breaking my self-imposed rules.

2009 was, in a ridiculous number of ways, a year of rereleases, at least from my perspective. Since I bar rereleased albums from consideration for my favorite album of the year list, they didn't get to make their way onto the list. However, if I lived in the reality where I didn't care about my self-imposed rules, my favorite albums of 2009 list might look something like this:

1. Pearl Jam - Ten
2. The Beatles - Rubber Soul
3. Converge - Axe to Fall
4. Michael Giacchino's Star Trek soundtrack
5. Booker T. - Potato Hole

Now, it's seriously time to move forward and focus on film.

There were more than a few movies that were excellent this year, and all for a grand variety of reasons. Some were spectacularly well-done (District 9, Moon, Inglorious Basterds), while others were marvelous adaptations of source material long-thought unfilmable (Watchmen), while still more were fantastic character studies of men about to snap (Observe and Report, Big Fan), or proof positive that 3-D might be the next great immersive step in filmmaking (Coraline, Avatar), and others were just so fucking fun that gaffes and logical gaps didn't even matter (Star Trek, Zombieland). And, of course, Up continued Pixar's virtually inassailable track record as the single best film studio in the 21st century.

Now, if anyone were to ask me which movie I saw in 2009 should win the Best Picture Oscar, my answer would be immediately, "Inglorious Basterds was the best movie of 2009, by far. Tarantino's movies are always better than everyone else's, anyway, but Inglorious Basterds was the work of a master operating at the absolute top of his game. Everything about it was perfect, from the way it demanded its audience's full attention from the first moment to the last, to the music, to the way the camera moved, to the performances, to that final, beautiful, hilarious orgy of violence. Inglorious Basterds was filmmaking at its absolute best, and if no one else is willing to recognize it... It's kind of okay, because I know the truth." 

Actually, there would probably be more cursing in my defense of what I feel was the best movie of 2009.

However, the most fun I had at a movie theater in 2009 was when I went to see Star Trek on opening night, no question. It was, to a grand degree, what I'd hoped the experience of watching the Star Wars prequels would have been like (if they'd been, you know, good movies). By the end of the film, I'd renewed my vows with Star Trek, and no movie released in 2009 could have any chance of competing with it.

I also found myself wrapped up in Moon more than I'd ever anticipated; it, and Observe and Report, were the two movies I wound up loving that I'd not expected to love. They were, after all, committed. Fully. District 9 was, too, but it didn't capture me on the basic level that I'd hoped it would.

In the interest of brevity, I'll say that my five most enjoyable moviegoing experiences of 2009 were as follows:

1. Star Trek
2. Observe and Report
3. Inglorious Basterds
4. Moon
5. Up (despite the fact that the fucking opening makes me cry every time)

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