UPDATE: I forgot Coraline. Edits below.

I guess since all the cool kids (plus Jared) are doing so, I’ll throw in my two cents on the first half of the year. “Do a top five,” I said. “It’ll be fun and easy,” I said. Then I realized I’ve only seen about ten 2009 releases and not many were good. Adam and Jared’s posts seem to indicate the same, that their choices are fine but flawed. I mean, look at our lists from last year at this time. Those are a lot better slates, no?

Well here we go, first half of 2009 top five. I think only a few of these we’ll still be talking about in a few months.

1. Up. It’s a funny movie because the squirrel got dead. Like #1 could be anything else. I just had an unfortunate realization today that this is going to be knocked out of 3-D theaters by Ice Age. I should go back and see it in 3-D, right?

2. I Love You, Man. Funny stuff but also original and clever. Between this and Role Models Paul Rudd is really showing that he can lead a movie.

3. The Hangover. Breakout hit of the year. Damn funny but I thought it needed more polish. Just not quite as tight as other R-rated comedies we’ve seen lately.

4. Coraline (3-D). Gorgeous style with some genuinely creepy touches. The “Other” characters with their button eyes were surely nightmare fuel for legions of youngsters. I just wish the conflicts resolved in a less straight-forward manner.

4. 5. State of Play. And now we enter the winner by default section of the list. Quite enjoyable but it got a big boost from me for being a DC film. I don’t think it’d be as good for people not from here. Not that it has any big DC insight, it just has lots of neat DC settings. The twists and turns are fun, except for the horrible last one. When Russell Crowe was in town to shoot this last spring I saw him play a short surprise set at a Great Big Sea show. He was surprisingly good.

5. 6. Duplicity. Frustrating in that only parts of it are truly great while other parts falter. Great story with a terrific ending, but I was tired of Julia Roberts and Clive Owen’s little back-and-forth with each other about a third of the way through. How many times can she pretend to be mad at him before it’s stale? I think if you take out some of those scenes you’re left with a pretty terrific film.

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