The Top 10 Films of 2009: Michelle's Picks
Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze closed out the last decade (and the millennium) with two of that decade's best films; since 1999, the boom in independent filmmaking that fostered their breakthroughs has either flamed out or blown open the doors, depending on how you look at it. That they both made big budget studio adaptations of children's classics this year can also be seen two ways, but what seems clear is that spirit of regression has provided a sort of temporary refuge, a regrouping point for two of America's best and most innovative storytellers.
I would argue that the majority of the films on my list are informed in some way by that spirit -- even Avatar, an almost completely digital film whose technological genius serves a story straight from James Cameron's childhood fantasies. A friend of mine, whose father's entire family was killed in the Holocaust, has told of the dreams she had as a girl of flying -- superhero style -- back in time to kill Hitler with her bare hands -- to save the world. It's an impulse no less powerful for being childish, as Quentin Tarantino proved to strange and devastating effect. The films I loved this year told old stories, invented and re-invented the past and offered us that respite from the present, a re-grouping point. In no small way, and like all of the best art everywhere, ever, they tried to save the world.
1. Inglourious Basterds (dir. Quentin Tarantino)
2. Avatar (dir. James Cameron)
3. Bright Star (dir. Jane Campion)
4. Summer Hours (dir. Olivier Assayas)
5. The Fantastic Mr. Fox (dir. Wes Anderson)
6. Two Lovers (dir. James Gray)
7. The White Ribbon (dir. Michael Haneke)
8. Adventureland (dir. Greg Mottola)
9. Anvil! The Story of Anvil (dir. Sacha Gervasi)
10. Where the Wild Things Are (dir Spike Jonze)
PREVIOUSLY: The Top 10 Films of 2009: Kyle's Picks