- Gwoemul aka The Host
This 2006 Korean film is about a family hunting a giant Lochness type River Monster after it takes away their daughter. It is a gripping story and I was amazed at the bold choice to actually throw in humor during some really poignant scenes. There is a scene where the family is mourning the death of the daughter and it is sad, because for one it is a child that has died, but in between the uncle and father start brawling , blaming the father for the death , and it veers to slapstick comedy. Sounds absurd but the scene works so well, invoking both emotions in good measures. There are several beautifully shot scenes which the filmmakers could have easily used on the poster. The climax is so intense and it draws you in , your teeth gritting with rightful indignation , you are rooting for the family to vanquish this most foul beast. This is what cinema is all about. Guiding you through a gamut of emotions , introducing new worlds and ideas. The Host is a must watch.
2. (500) Days of Summer
A Splintered chronololgy love story? Whoa , when's that ever happened before. A wonderful background score and the charming lead couple - the cute Zooey Deschanel and the Talented Joseph Gordan Levitt - had me hooked from the start. They make it clear its not a love story, but a story about a boy and girl. It is a story about love and about people in love but not a love story. See it and you will know what I mean.
3. District 9
I was not that intrigued by the trailer. Nor by the short it was based on. Or the concept. But they blew me away. Stellar story telling, state of the art special effects and lots of cool alien weaponry made this one of the best movies I saw in the summer. This much like Avatar is about a unattached soldier/outsider going "native". Its been done before, but not like this. Watch it.
4. Luck By Chance
I went in for this tongue in cheek satire on Bollywood expecting little if nothing. I prefer Farhan Akhtar behind the camera and can't wait for him to get back behind it again, but if its movies like this that he wants to star in , I am all game. An entertaining tale of starlets and wannabe actors and the harsh and bittersweet world that is Bollywood where perhaps its all about Luck and not talent, fate and not ability. Its got the whole Akhtar family involved and talent , people, is in their blood. I cant wait for Zoya's next movie, which also stars her brother. Incidentally this is the first movie to actually have Aamir and Shahrukh together among a plethora of cameos.
5. The Education of Charlie Banks
Jesse Eisenberg playing the role that he and Michael Cera play in every movie. The shy soft spoken protoganist who gets the girl in the end. I mean seriously these guys play the same guy in every damn movie. And you could put them in each other's movies and it wouldn't make a difference. In fact Jesse Eisenberg even looks like Michael Cera with a Jewfro. Anyway this movie , as Anang noted, is kind of similar to a little movie I saw as a kid called "Big Bully". So , Mr.Eisenberg's character squeels on a bully for beating up someone. Years later he shows up in his life, and they actually become friends. But how does he tell him that he squeeled on him and had him locked away. Watch it for the austere 80s look and the Arthouse kind storytelling. Its directed by Fred Durst, the Limp Bizkit frontman. Go Figure.
6. I Love You, Man
The Judd Apatow camp has only film coming out next year. That is sad. We need more laughs like this. Its hilarious and I like to call it the "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" of 09. Jason Segal and Paul Rudd shine out in their roles and Jon Favreau reminds you that he started out as a comic.Little known secret : This movie is not related to Apatow in anyway other than it stars his frequent collaborators.
I agree with Time magazine. The opening scene with the sweet love story of Carl Fredrickson laid out in 5 minutes of a near silent montage left me colored melancholy. How dare the Pixar guys make such good movies one after the other. Such memorable characters , such strong balance of story , drama and humor. Their films are an exercise in perfection.
8. Inglorious Basterds
The film ends with Brad Pitt's character looking at the camera and saying "This might just be my masterpiece". He is of course referring to a swastika he just carved onto a Nazi's forehead but its also QT's way to tell you, that he too consider's the movie his masterpiece. I totally agree. This movie should not have been called IB, it should have been called " Once upon a time in Nazi occupied France" because that is what it is. It is the tale of how several characters converge at a movie theater premiering a Nazi war propaganda film including the titular fatherless spawns, a french theater owner hiding from the Nazi's who killed her family, a famed Jew Hunter, prominent members of the Reich and Fuhrer himself. The bar room shootout and the opening scene are so thick with tension, you could put out your tongue and lick it.
9. Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year/ Wake Up Sid/ APKGK
From the beginning of the movie, with the "Pankhon ko " song set to the images of a middleclass household, it reaffirms the claim of the trailer, of a story of "Hum aur aap jaise logon ki kahani". Did anyone catch all the rhyming dialogue?? Mice are Nice, Itne frustrate mat ho ki kabhi Castrate ho jaaon and the plans and empty cans. The screenwriter was seriously having fun writing the script wasnt he? Wake up Sid is the second cousin of Lakshya, but it held my interest with the taut storytelling and wonderful performances by the lead actors.It is such capable and flawless direction, I was amazed to know that this was a first time director. APKGK is just LOL. It will be the new generation's Andaz Apna Apna. What I love about these movies is the repeatability ie how well they stand during a repeat viewing and they are wonderful to watch again. I did.
10. Sherlock Holmes
I was really excited for this one. I was doing silly dances in anticipation. I knew what I was going to get, and I was so happy when I got it. Lots of laughs, a intriguing mystery, and maybe the year's best on screen couple - Holmes & Watson. I have no complains on this one. Thorough and total Enjoyment. The scenes where Holmes tells you what he is going to do, and then proceeds to do it are Kickass. Also there are many references to the novels and short stories.
11. Waltz with Bashir
What you cannot do with live action you can do with Animation. It follows a formerIsraeli soldiers attempts to recall his role in the Lebanese Civil war by talking and interviewing his former colleagues. It is a stark picture of war and its toll on soldiers. The images and the scenes are nothing short of Art. I found the actual scene where you find out why it is called Waltz with bashir to be very well shot. It was nominated for an Oscar. Yes its that good.
12. 12 Angry Men
12 men , jurors to be specific, get in a room to debate the fate of a murderer. 11 for conviction one against. What follows is this one jurors effort to convince the others that the murderer may be innocent. I never knew people talking and debating , just that, could make for such compelling and riveting drama. There is a reason this movie sits at #8 on the imdb's top 250 movies of all time.
13. 3 Idiots
While several people failed to deliver this year, Mr.Hirani did not. Fail that is. To me Mr.Hirani is the finest example of what Bollywood should be like. It is very much a Bollywood movie but it is also good cinema. There is no reason why they cannot be used in the same sentence without negation. Much like The Host , I loved how the director portrayed sad situations with a humorous touch. The Rastogi residence for instance is always shown in B & W. Like his previous Munnabhai films, this too has the right amount of laughs, emotions and drama. Aamir khan, Madhavan and Sharman reunite after RDB. Its amazing how convincingly young Aamir looks.
Also Loved : Avatar, Away We Go, Mother , Funny People, The Hangover, Casablanca, Sleuth, Warlock, The International, The Last of the Mohicans (amazing climax sequence)
Leading ladies I fell in love with : Summer Finn, Neytiri
Movies I haven't seen yet but want to : Up in the air, The Fantastic Mr.Fox , Precious, Paranormal Activity, Terminator Salvation
Shitfest: Wolverine ,TF2, GIJoe : Rise of the zzzzzzzzz, Ninja Assasin, Do Knot Disturb, All the best, Pelham 123, The Final Destination, Kurbaan
TV Shows that were amazing : LOST, Dexter, Parks and Recreation, The Office, V , Bored to Death, Entourage