Editor-in-Chief Eric Shirey's Top 10 Lists of The Year

I’ve never really done a Top 10 list of any kind that I can remember. They always seem to be too stressful or exhausting. Out of hundreds of movies that come out in one year, I’m supposed to pick just 10 of those that I really liked? Maybe to someone who is extremely picky and hates everything this seems easy. But I love all kinds of movies and see them as entertainment, so while most everyone hated Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen I actually thought it was pretty cool. Then you’ve got the guys who do a Top 10 Movies of the Decade list. Now that’s just self-abuse. I would literally have a coronary trying to put that together. I wouldn’t have enough time in a week to put that together. Here’s my attempt at a Top 10 list of my favorite movies of 2009 and my Top 10 major disappointments of 2009. Here we go:

Top 10 Movies of 2009 (That I Saw):

Halloween 2 – A major improvement on originality from the first film. Rob Zombie takes a chance and gets a little surreal and brainy, making a smart and franticly disturbing film. Of course, slasher purists absolutely hated it. Whatever – I’ll file this under “Thinking Man’s Slasher Film.”

Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince – Director David Yates finally gets it right. You’ve got all the magic, darkness, teen angst, and comedy rolled into one great film. What Order of the Phoenix lacked in “oomph” and substance was made amends for with this film.

Zombieland – What a great film. It took what was quickly becoming a stale genre and ran with it, adding fun and tongue-in-cheek humor to all the gore-filled scenes. Maybe I could relate to it as a sort of “Obsessive Compulsive Person’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.” Almost a sort of Slackers meets Night of the Living Dead.

Orphan – Was it completely original? No. Was it disturbing and made you cringe that a child could do such horrific things? Most definitely. And the end? There is no way that ANYONE saw that coming. Not in a million years would anyone figure that out. A true example of the end justifying the means.

Sherlock Holmes – How can one movie have so many ingredients put together successfully? Who would have thought that Guy Ritchie (yes, the violent thug English moviemaker) could make such a classy yet beautifully violent and smart film? This movie visually looks so good. The CGI London blends seamlessly with every human element. The chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law is undeniable. Here’s to many more of these films being made – I demand a franchise!

Shorts – Definitely one of the most underrated kid films of 2009. I can’t believe this didn’t do better. The Pulp Fiction way of telling the intertwining stories was excellent. And it was funny and unconventional. Kudos to Robert Rodriguez – I got it, man. I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be a kid.

Star Trek – J.J. Abrams more than successfully rebooted this almost-dying franchise, while keeping it linked to the original series. When looking back on it, no matter what purists say about changing the original “timeline,” it can never be said that Abrams didn’t find an absolutely genius way to do it. Put that together with a stellar cast that reminds you of the original cast, but still has room to grow on their own. In my opinion, the only misfire is Anton Yelchin as Chekov and even that can be overlooked.

Terminator Salvation – Yes, Christian Bale was over-the-top. But Sam Worthington was great as the cyborg who thought he was human and wanted to hang on to his humanity. Anton Yelchin played a pretty convincing younger version of the Kyle Reese character. It looked really good and moved at a pretty fast pace as well. And come on, who didn’t get giddy and smile really big when "Ahhnuld" came storming out of that storage chamber? I certainly did! I think McG is being judged a bit harshly and did all he could to refocus the franchise.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – If you like watching robots blow each other up and fight, I don’t know what could have possibly turned you off about this film. In my opinion, there was even a relatively decent storyline. If you went to the theater to see anything but robots blowing each other up, you’re a moron. Who really expected a Michael Bay film to be chock full of intelligent storytelling and groundbreaking dialogue? It was definitely better than the first one.

Watchmen – It performed underwhelmingly, but for comic book purists and fans it was more than satisfying. An intelligent commentary on the world and heroes. It looked great, too and pulled you into it. The film convincingly took you into another dimension and alternate reality from our own. Of course, when a movie is too well adapted from its source material, the normal moviegoer doesn’t seem to be able to accept the suspension of disbelief the way the Comic Con crowd can.

Top 10 Major Disappointments of 2009:

Drag Me To Hell – All those years of waiting for a new Sam Raimi horror movie and this is what we get? A disjointed film that was pretty bland and had the audacity to try to rehash old Evil Dead moments.

House of the Devil – An attempt at trying to capture the magic of films like Rosemary’s Baby and others of its kind goes horribly wrong. Bad pacing and a lack of anything going on for over an hour drags this into the area of being unbearable to watch.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – Same old, same old kiddie fare. Ray Romano is just downright unfunny, unpleasant, and mean-spirited. Nice attempt at pulling in the twentysomethings by having Simon Pegg voice an insane weasel. Lame.

The Invention of Lying – What starts out as a relatively decent little comedy spirals downward into a self-gratifying fit against Christianity and the belief in God in general. Ricky Gervais completely misses the mark by making one of the most mean-spirited and self-serving so-called “satires.” If you believe in any God or higher-being, only see this movie if you’re wanting to be called stupid and ignorant.

Monsters vs. Aliens 3D – Unfunny and predictable tripe from DreamWorks, who we’ve come to expect more from. Neither the monsters nor the aliens had enough personality or charm to hold this dud together. The 3D put you into a sleep-inducing stupor rather than enhance the visual experience.

Night At The Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian – Fell into the trap of more is better. Way too many characters shoved into a kid’s movie with a safe running time. I’m almost positive at one point you can actually see the character of the kitchen sink onscreen. This was really just kind of lackluster and “meh.”

Paranormal Activity – Where do I even start? What an absolute turd of a film. Uninspired, unoriginal, and not even well-done. If you think this movie was good, then you’re tricking yourself. An absolute atrocity of film that I can not say enough bad things about. I guess if you’re idea of scary is someone dropping a book behind you and you being startled and jumping then you’ll enjoy this giant piece of waste. I hope everyone who promoted this film as being one of the scariest films of all time got paid well. That’s the only way I would have touted this thing as anything worth anybody’s time was if I was getting paid to do it.

Planet 51 – Talk about a great idea executed badly. What a bummer. A one-joke film that stretched itself way too thin. Might have worked as a 45 minute short. What a waste of great voice talent in completely unrecognizable roles. What’s the point of having Dwayne Johnson, Gary Oldman, Jessica Biel, and Justin Long in a film if you can’t even recognize they’re in it?

The Unborn – Beautifully shot but relatively bland ghost kid flick. This was trying really hard to cash in on the spooky kid Asian horror genre, but fell flat. Gary Oldman couldn’t even save this thing. It wasn’t terrible…It just wasn’t anything.

Where The Wild Things Are – How many times did we really have to see the Wild Things smash crap and walk around in different landscapes? Another perfect example of stretching the source material out way beyond what is what meant to be. This thing became tedious after the first 45 minutes. But that’s what you get when you adapt a 48-page picture book into an hour and a half movie.

Now keep in mind, I didn't see every film I should have this year. This list reflects what I did have the opportunity to see. I'd like to say thanks to Steve Norwood for placing a challenge in front of me (whether he meant to or not) and getting me motivated to put this together. (Article by Eric Shirey)