THE VERDICT – Best Motion Picture: 2009

Here it is! After the long wait, and after seeing the ten nominees, here is the verdict!

# 10 was easy for e, though it did improve when I first graded it. #9 and # 8 were easy, too. #7 to # 5 were very hard to rank for me. # 4 was easy. I really had issues with # 3 and # 2, as both would do. I’m pretty sure with # 1.

You can just click on the titles for their profiles.

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10. The Blind Side

Although it was carried by the ever-talented Sandra Bullock, it suffers from a bad screenplay that ultimately proves to be the biggest reason why I should hate it. Still, I don’t hate it. It just doesn’t belong in a “Best Picture” race.

3

Best Scene: Leigh Anne brings Michael home
Best Performance: Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy

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9. Avatar

It’s a very accomplished epic saga that demonstrates the power of technology. There is intellect on the details, but not really on the screenplay. It has a bland lead actor and the first scenes of it just didn’t click with me, but it’s all worth the wait when you see the finished product.

Best Scene: The climactic arrival of the dragons in the man vs. Na’Vis war
Best Performance: (tie) Sigourney Weaver as Grace Augustine and (tie) Zoe Saldana as Neytiri

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8. Precious

If we talk about the emotional impact that a movie could bring, Precious absolutely delivers it. With its great performances, it is a gritty but totally inspiring story. But in spite of this, it still has big flaws that lessened the impact. Still, It is very effective and a movie to ponder.

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Best Scene: Mary’s confession
Best Performance: Gabourey Sidibe as Precious

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7. A Serious Man

This might just be the famed filmmaking duo’s most mature entry in their long history of acclaimed filmography. The film has a powerful central character, a very interesting story, an edgy direction, and an all-knowing screenplay, this love-or-hate film dares us to think deeper on the human psyche that it explores. And the result is a satisfying movie watching.

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Best Scene: Larry’s meeting with his wife about divorce and Sy Abelman
Best Performance: Michael Stuhlbarg as Larry Gopnik

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6. District 9

It is a fresh and naturally cool entry in the science fiction genre which uses innovation in plot and filmmaking to create a tragic story of humanity lost, morality deprived, and hope found. It’s not just a creative alien movie. It talks about relationships. And with all of these, it’s executed with full knowledge and understanding.

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Best Scene: Wikus silently asking for mercy to a soldier
Best Performance: Sharlto Copley as Wikus van de Merwe

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5. An Education

With a expertly rendered central performance from Carey Mulligan, it takes its subject with such grace that it reaches the level of being appealing without indulging into being overly saccharine. It represents mature direction, focused screenplay and sharp performances that are always dependable.

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Best Scene: The opening credits, celebrating school life
Best Performance: Carey Mulligan as Jenny Mellor

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4. Up

It never failed the expectations set in a Pixar movie. It brings life and charm in its rather mature subject. It takes you to these beautifully rendered shots, exciting action, involving characters, and natural humor from its heart. It has a lot of accomplishments, but its biggest is that it was able to tug our hearts without even forcing us to be tugged.

Best Scene: Carl’s married life
Best Performance: Edward Asner (voice) as Carl Fredricksen

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3. Up in the Air

It’s hard to create an effective drama-comedy with the film’s tough and delicate subject matter. And somehow, it does. Its take on downsizing is direct, natural, and authentic. It never sugarcoats the subject with charm, but it has the charm. The acting trio makes this dynamic movie. And it’s a film about self-analysis and soul-searching in places unexpected.

Best Scene: Natalie’s unexpected breakdown at the hotel lobby
Best Performance: George Clooney as Ryan Bingham

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2. The Hurt Locker

It relentlessly brings us in an on-the-edge, you-are-there experience that is professionally crafted with its brave direction and a set of ferocious actors who does their career best here. It never tries to make anything beautiful, but it succeeds on the artistry exerted in this. The damage of war shown in the movie is not physical, but entirely emotional. We see psychologically scarred characters we could all relate, and it’s a film not to be missed.

Best scene: The entire first ten minutes of the movie
Best Performance: Jeremy Renner as William James

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1. Inglourious Basterds

This was such a hard decision. I have a lot of favorites in this year’s roster. But still, Tarantino’s beguiling work, I just can’t ignore. He sets the comedic mood in this artistically excellent period piece dark comedy. He has two stories to tell, and he does both very well, the dialogue is with high intelligence but not self-indulgent, and it is with an entire ensemble of terrific actors in terrific parts with terrific lines in this terrific film. It’s the epic masterpiece of the year.

Best Scene: The whole movie premiere sequence
Best Performance: (tie) Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa and (tie) Melanie Laurent as Shoshanna Dreyfus

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So, although I did not personally agree with the Academy, I still think the winner was deserving.

Even if I think that 2009 had a pretty impressive list of nominees for this category, the winner was very obvious already. I don’t really want to provide a personal ballot this year, for it was indeed a great year. The Hurt Locker winning was expected even if Avatar was reigning the box-office.  But still, I don’t believe it was a landslide. Here is how I though the voting went:

1. The Hurt Locker

2. Avatar

3. Precious

(margin)

4. Inglourious Basterds

5. Up in the Air

(margin)

6. Up

7. An Education

8. District 9

9. A Serious Man

(big margin)

10. The Blind Side (Seriously, who would vote for this? The support from any of the other nominees are understandable, but this? Really?)

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So, before 2010 ends, let me just say that I wish we would have a very promising year to look forward to.

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What’s you pick? Do you agree with the Academy, or with me, or you have a different choice?

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8 thoughts on “THE VERDICT – Best Motion Picture: 2009

  1. I still haven’t seen half of these nominees, but so far, I think I’d go with Precious or Up In The Air. I didn’t care for Up, I thought it was good, but overrated, and familiar, but I still thought it was inventive.

    You should do 2005 or 1967 next.

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  2. YES! Inglourious Basterds is definitely the best. I didn’t like Up in the Air as much as you but Hurt Locker, Up and An Education were definitely the next favorites for me. It was really quite a good year. Except for The Blind Side…WHY!!!

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    • I do not really understand anybody who say that it was a weak year for movies. Maybe for lead actress, but picture? It’s the awards that kept on ignoring great films that year, but there is abundance of great films last 2009.

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  3. I loved most of these movies. I didn’t like “A Serious Man”. I thought the Cohen brothers lost their marbles with that one. I like “Avatar”, and own it on DVD, but I knew it wasn’t deserving of Best Picture. I loved, loved, loved all the other nominees. I had a feeling that Hurt Locker would win. An Education was surprisingly insightful and good. I’m from the south, so I loved The Blind Side (which I also thought to be an unusual choice for Best Picture nominee, but deserved). I liked UP. Up In The Air is surprisingly well-made and entertaining. Precious seems poignant and heartbreaking. Your blog is very inspirational, and I am also obsessed with the Oscars. 🙂

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    • Thanks a lot! That means a lot to me, especially from a fellow blogger. 🙂

      This was definitely a good year for movies. It’s nice to look back at these kinds of years – some of them not so good compared to the others but none were downright awful. And I wouldn’t actually say that I’m obsessed with Oscars. I am just obsessed with movies in general.

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