Up in the AirUp in the Air While subtle and amazingly slight in its development of real human connections, the film is an honest look at the stark challenges of the actual world.

PreciousPrecious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire Heartbreaking sad yet triumphant tale that gets most of its lift from the brilliant performances.

The Hurt LockerThe Hurt Locker As the credits begin to roll, we slowly tear our fingers from the armrests, hoping no one notices the damage to the upholstery. Horror, western, psychological thriller, or war drama... pick a genre. The Hurt Locker is one of the most intense and thrilling representatives from any genre to come down the pike in quite some time.

An Education

An Education A finely crafted film that touches every emotion. Watch it to see how a story so fun and playful can also be so tender and heartbreakingly sad.

(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer We realize we're witnessing that ever-elusive magic that so many on-screen couples hope to channel, but so few do. And most importantly, the actors are successful in making us want their characters to be together.


District 9

District 9 Blomcamp's work of science fiction comes across in a documentary-like format that feels like a social experiment gone wrong, but like any bloody highway accident, you simply can't look away from the ensuing carnage.


Star Trek

Star Trek - Star Trek is, once again, beautiful in its bravado and poetic with a sense of purpose. J.J. Abrams has given the sci-fi geeks their nirvana and invites all the doubters to witness the birth of their own interest into a franchise they once only joked about.



Adventureland - Could end up being Stewart's best role in her young but burgeoning career. She's that good here.


Inglourious  Basterds

Inglourious Basterds - Inglourious Basterds is a funny film. It's also bloody and offensive. But most of all it's an extremely sad movie sure to make us all stop down and contemplate a web of conflicting thoughts and emotions.


Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia - The biggest joy comes from watching Streep ply her craft. She gets her character's genuine essence down pat - not only the pitch of her voice, her unusual tics and head tilts, but more impressively, how the woman effused so passionately over food.


The CoveThe Cove - Heartbreakingly Sad.


Food Inc

Food Inc. - If this one doesn't move you to action... nothing will.


It Might Get  LoudIt Might Get Loud - Guitar players are certainly already aware of their own innate kinship to these three generations of instrumental innovators and will have no problem connecting with It Might Get Loud. But even if you just love rock and roll, the story of these three influential musicians is always engaging, funny and honest.

UpUp!- One day a Pixar film will â"fail," but there should be no concern about Pete Docter and Bob Peterson (co-directors) spoiling the run of excellence with Up. The film is one of the most emotionally impactful films they've made to date.

The MessengersThe Messenger - It's dark subject matter is bouyed by the performances of Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster.

Crasy Heart Crazy Heart - Not necessarily a strong film, but you'll be blown away by the performance of Jeff Bridges as a broken down musician on the comeback trail.


invictusInvictus - An "OK" sports film driven by the performance of Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela.

The Young Victoria The Young Victoria - Emily Blunt is spectacular as Britain's Queen Victoria.

The Black BalloonThe Black Balloon - A mesmerizing coming-of-age film steeped in the stubborn reality that the world can't be changed. Sometimes we just have to accept it as it is.

The Blind SideThe Blind Side - A perfect example of how an actress can "make" a film.

BrunoBruno - Instead of scolding the closed-mindedness of in-your-face heterosexuals when confronted with alternative lifestyles, the movie candidly shocks its viewers and, in doing so, allows some audiences to recognize and laugh at their own ignorance and their own brand of arrogance.

Drag Me to HellDrag Me to Hell - Raimi steps away from the formulaic insta-star successes of the Spider-Man films - with some humility from the critical bashing and fan tongue-lashing of the third film - with a fresh new film that somewhat captures the spirit of the Raimi we love and miss.

Fantastic Mr. FoxFantastic Mr. Fox - A piece of fine, fine cinema; it is remarkable and engaging equal in depth and humor.

Funny PeopleFunny People - A heart wrenching story that attempts to explain, for reasons discovered only after all the silliness of daily life has subsided, why sometimes people do some pretty damn funny things.

HomeHome - This is a must-see for all good citizens of Earth.

I Love You, ManI Love You, Man - Has the feel of an Apatow production, but is somehow strangely untouched by him. Yet, it easily could be mistaken for one of his and, in my book, that's not such a bad thing.

MoonMoon - For a film that starts slow, it sure packs a stinger of a blind-sided punch in the end, one that will have viewers reeling in thought and drooling for more.

Paranormal ActivityParanormal Activity - It will be well worth your time. It's scary, and it's unsettling. And besides, you've been getting too much restful sleep lately anyway.

PonyoPonyo (Gake no ue no Ponyo) - Simple and heartwarming, and delivered without the accretion of competing themes (like the anti-war themes of Howl, and the somewhat anti-climactic ending of Spirited Away). Perhaps the decision to aim this film at young children helped Miyazaki focus.

The RoadThe Road Will represent different things to different viewers... Many will notice nothing but dark destruction and oppressive disgust, while others will be encouraged by the celebration of the inextinguishable will to live.

Sherlock HolmesSherlock Holmes Ritchie is a force behind the camera in Sherlock Holmes. The film's style is visually appealing, but not in an oversaturated sense and his camera is in constant play, but not annoyingly so as many a naysayer had previously feared.

State of PLayState of Play An airtight political thriller that'll have the audience on the edge of its seat, despite the fact that towards the end, it gets a little too twisty for its own good. So solid in all aspects, you just can't help but love this film.

Sunshine CleaningSunshine Cleaning An earnest attempt at exorcising all facades of fantasy or escapism from film... and its efforts at presenting reality comes across the screen with an unsettling feeling that anything could happen to this family.

Whip It!Whip It Leaps in true roller-derby fashion over those holes in character and structure with a profound sense of purpose reminiscent of Hanks' That Thing You Do.

ZombielandZombieland Movie's stand out performance goes to the zombie crusher himself, Woody Harrelson. I think this is one of the best roles Woody's played since Natural Born Killers! Finally, when you add in a hilarious cameo by Bill Murray you really get movie magic!

And now for the worst films of 2009:

The Box
Echelon Conspiracy
The Final Destination
Friday the 13th
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
The Goods
The Grudge 3
Land of the Lost
The Men Who Stare at Goats
The Shrink
Terminator Salvation
Year One