Before posting my now traditional Top Five Films of the Year I’m going to do a quick review of the year.
The year opened, as always in the UK, with Oscar movies: The Wrestler, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, Gran Torino, Milk, The Reader, Revolutionary Road and of course Slumdog Millionaire gave fans of serious drama plenty to feed upon.
After that, the much anticipated Watchmen movie was solid without being spectacular. I’m not really sure how you could have made that movie any better. Unfortunately, its reverence for the source material meant I felt like I was merely reading the ground-breaking graphic novel again rather than watching something inspirational.
Star Trek opened the summer’s blockbusters, and nothing managed to match it quality-wise after that. Transformers 2 was a huge disappointment for audiences, but not for the studio: who raked in one of the best opening weekends for a movie ever.
Finally, Harry Potter managed to be the year’s biggest film: proof Warner Bros was right to split the final book into two and get double their money.
Later in the year Twilight outdid everyone’s expectations at the box office, despite only appealing to 50% of the cinema-going population. Expect to see more movies like this try and captivate the teen-girl market over the next few years.
Finally, Avatar set new standards for visuals taking us to a new world like no other movie has. I hope its a taste of things to come. I fear, however, it will take the rest of the industry many years to catch up.
2009 will be remembered for a number of things. Some critics have noted the successes of films without known leads, and conversely the failure of films with previously bankable stars.
Many of the year’s biggest films: District 9, Star Trek, Paranormal Activity, and the Hangover had no big stars to attract movie-goers to the cinema. Conversely, Land of the Lost; Funny People; and Year One were all box office losers despite starring household names in Ferrell, Sandler and Black respectively.
I also think the quality of animations this year has been very high: Coraline; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs; Up; Monsters vs Aliens; Fantastic Mr Fox and Bolt were all very enjoyable movies. The Academy seems to have taken note of this, and for only the second time since the award was introduced in 2001, there will now be five nominees instead of three.
Finally, it was the year 3-D hit the mainstream: starting with My Bloody Valentine and ending with Avatar, movie-goers have come to expect animations and slashers to reach that extra dimension. Expect movies with explosions and probably super-hero movies to follow suit in the succeeding years.
Coming up tomorrow: My Top 5 Movies of the Year. If you’re pining for Top 5 lists, why not have a look at my 2007 and 2008 lists