My 2009 List of Lists

I’ve been avoiding making any year-end “Best of 2009” list and have been waiting for the flood of other people’s lists to pass me by, but now, goaded by TSS co-founder and now-just-occasional contributor Jay Kerr, I’ve decided to draw attention to some of the best films I saw in 2009 in my own unique way. No simple Top Ten for me. No way. I’m far too afraid of getting the order wrong, and besides, I’m not a professional film critic. I don’t see most of the major releases. In fact, if I don’t want to see a certain film, I don’t see it. And if I see it and don’t feel like reviewing it, I don’t review it. So I’m not really qualified to come up with a comprehensive list. Instead, enjoy a whole bunch of non-ranked lists from my filmgoing experiences of 2009. Films marked with an * actually appeared on my 2008 list as well.

P.S. I also get confused as to which films are actually eligible for these lists. Some films I saw in 2009 haven’t been released theatrically yet, while others that were released theatrically I actually saw in 2008 or before. And sometimes things that come out in the US have different release dates in Canada, or vice versa. It makes my head hurt.

Favourite Documentary Films of 2009

Favourites from TIFF 2009

Favourite Non-Festival Films from 2009

Favourite Films from 2008 That Are Appearing on a Lot of 2009 Lists

Favourite Undistributed Films of 2009 (no known distribution in US or Canada)

Perhaps this next list is most important, because it tells you that I’m far from qualified to judge 2009’s best films when I haven’t seen many which are being considered for awards and are on other critics’ lists.

Biggest Omissions in My Filmgoing in 2009

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2 Responses to My 2009 List of Lists

  1. Bob Turnbull says:

    Hey James! Happy New Year sir!

    Good lists…Yeah, I’m similar to you in my approach – I have no intention of seeing everything that is awards worthy. There’s just too much good stuff from past years I’ve missed and other hidden gems that I try to only see films that I expect I will enjoy (I’m nowhere near 100% accurate on that front by any means) or that I think will challenge me in some way. Otherwise, it just feels like homework and I don’t want that.

    I’ve seen 4 of your list of “haven’t seen yet” – “Inglourious Basterds” is great fun if you can get past the icky-ness that is Eli Roth. “Up In The Air” is 3/4 excellent and final quarter disappointing, but still worth it. “The Informant!” was a disappointment at TIFF, but I feel like I missed some of the rhythms of the film and would like to see it again (though that may just be the Soderbergh apologist in me…B-) ). “Public Enemies” was somewhat inert.

    Mr. Fox is one of my faves of the year (my own year lists should be going up today or tomorrow – I put up my decade ones up over the weekend). And I was surprised by how much I really liked (and seem to be growing fonder of as time passes) 500 Days Of Summer. I expected something too self-consciously quirky, but got something very different. I just saw “Lorna’s Silence” over the holidays (nothing says Christmas like illegal Albanian refugees, eh?) and I thought it was pretty terrific. I liked it a greal deal more than The Dardennes’ more well known “L’Enfant”.

    And you just reminded me of how much I enjoyed “Big River Man”. Insanity captured on film.

    As for categorizing things by years, I have avoided any attempts to be accurate – so I just use IMDB as my guide. I have one single place to look and I stay away from the vagueries of release schedules. Of course, then I miss the chance to plug a film from 2007 that gets released in 2009, but so be it.

    Hope to catch up with you soon…

  2. Jay Kerr says:

    Finally! Thanks for posting this. I’m always looking for recommendations and yours are some of the best!

    I wasn’t sure if you liked Bad Lieutenant or not. Crazy movie.

    I really have to see Food Inc. A lot of people have been raving about it. I should have seen Fantastic Mr. Fox instead of Up In The Air for a second time (this time with Lissa). Daniel saw FMF and loved it.

    Thanks for the list. I may have to borrow a few screeners.

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