Top 5 Best-of Lists of 2009

by Tony Nigro

I find end of the year/decade lists are to be as stimulating as McDonald’s food is nutritious.  Somehow the Fourth Estate got the impression that we not only crave but need these round-ups, which generally prove little more than a publication’s lack of cultural memory, or a writer’s desire to prove his/her cultural memory is better than yours — and maybe revise some embarrassing choices from the past.

I don’t get list-making, but I am morbidly fascinated by it.  Hence, my favorite movie best-of lists of 2009.  And by “favorite,” I mean, like, whatever.  I don’t even care what movies these people selected.

5.  Mr. Beaks Presents His Top 100 Films Of The Decade!
[Ain’t It Cool News]

One hundred movies is a cop out, even when summing up a decade.  But that’s if you can make it past the 664 word, rambling preamble by the revered critic Mr. Beaks.  In it, he makes excuses for not seeing a bunch of big movies yet, including AICN fodder like Avatar, released a mere couple weeks after the list was started.  My favorite part has to be how impossible it is to find Part Four of the list, either through links or by searching.  I still don’t know what this guy’s top 25 of the decade are.  It’s a perfect example of the slipshod journalism that makes Harry Knowles’ amateur empire little more than a fanboy circle jerk.

4.  The 100 Best Films of the Decade [The Times of London]

One of the earliest lists I read — November 7! — this collection of films only released in the UK runs the gamut from Morvern Callar to Dancer in the Dark to Bad Santa. It goes out on a limb with a top pick of Michael Haneke’s Hidden (Caché), inspiring a New York Times blog post calling the list “more provocative than definitive.”  And all this weeks before Thanksgiving.  Scandalous!

3.  Movie Posters of the Decade [The Auteurs]

Now this is something I can get behind: a list of images looked at from a new perspective, and a nice batch from a decade in which Hollywood overdid the floating head formula.  Leave it to Adrian Curry to point out how Naomi Watt’s giant close-up for the Funny Games poster is more effective than the played out alternatives, or how the poster for The 40 Year-Old Virgin prompted “the Sears photo portrait genre,” mostly seen with movies involving Judd Apatow.

2.  The 19-plus Worst Films of 2009 [The A.V. Club]

A semi-ironic list to prove that I’m not the only genius out there, this one only makes my cut because I actually worked on the pick for number one worst movie, Miss March.  “Running incontinence jokes set the lowbrow standard,” but the assistant editing is beyond compare!

1.  Do Knowing, Funny People, or This is It Belong on Best-of-2009 Lists? [Vanity Fair]

I’ll be honest: I like Karina Longworth.  She’s no Jonathan Rosenbaum, but she does represent an evolution of blogging and print media that our generation will ultimately be remembered for.  The real reason her list is selected, however, is its original take on some critics’ “contrarian” selections, or “one list wonders.”  Armond White is an easy target for that, but I applaud Longworth for going there with his choice of This Is It.

Incidentally, my top pick for Best Film Critic Beef of 2009 is a non-beef in which White dissed Longworth, or maybe online writers, or something.  It was a messy Armond moment that became even greater recently when Longworth was named the new film editor of LA Weekly.  Now they’re officially colleagues, whether White likes it or not.


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