The Top 10 Films of 2009: Kyle's Picks
Some film fans like to make their Top 10 lists as early in December as possible; like checking off a Bingo card, they confidently assert that they've seen every relevant movie and are ready to weigh in. I envy their sureness, as it's taken me until the very last days of 2009 for my sense of the year in film to shift and settle. What was interesting about selecting my top ten movies, then, is how twinned they seemed, bound thematically, formally, and thrillingly. It may have been long in the making, but now that my list is in front of me, I couldn't have imagined it any other way.
Coraline (dir. Henry Selick)
Where the Wild Things Are (dir. Spike Jonze)
Sure, Avatar's Pandora provided a gorgeous 3D spectacle, but the color-saturated world that really popped for me this year was the one that Henry Selick adapted from Neil Gaiman's novel in Coraline. Though it owes more than a fair bit to Selick's The Nightmare Before Christmas collaborator Tim Burton (principally the riotous near-cartoon that is Beetlejuice) it's a testament to just how much imagination is unleashed that despite Coraline's influences, I felt myself continuously surprised by what came next. Part of Coraline's daring was in its willingness to go dark, and Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are found similar rewards from mining the more fearsome aspects of childhood. It's a marvel that Dave Eggers could co-write both the year's worst film (Away We Go) and one of its best, but perhaps it helped that his potentially cloying sensibility was filtered this time through Jonze, an ineffable, inchoate, incredible auteur.