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It sounds like the other guys don’t have anything new to add after December, but I just keep finding better movies. In fact, my list has already changed since I compiled the five below. But I’ll leave that change til next month.

1. Up. I need to watch this again because I wonder if it’s just getting my #1 spot out of routine now. But At the Movies did a segment on it in their Best of 2009 show and I still found it quite affecting so I’m not terribly concerned.

2. An Education. Welcome to the small film of 2009 I love and the rest of the Grouches hate.

3. Zombieland

4. The Informant!

5. Summer Hours. A very charming French picture. Three siblings sort out what to do with the country estate their mother leaves them after she dies. One wants to keep it in the family for another generation while the other two, who have moved far from France, prefer to sell. It has a lot to do with the decline in French culture, which isn’t really a topic that moves me, but it has a lot to say about modern family dynamics and globalism.

The estate contains a lot of artwork and antiques while the house itself served as a studio for a beloved uncle and successful artist. I found fascinating its look at how we ascribe value to items and how we interact with them even as we – our lives and our memories – are temporary.

Furthermore, the plot never slides into melodrama. The siblings very much love and respect each other but are not immune to passive aggressive tendencies. They interact realistically and give the film a wonderful emotional depth.

I don’t think there’s any way to describe a film about estate planning without making it sound dreadfully boring, but even the mundane actions are never boring in this very good film.

Finally, honorable mentions to films that will never appear on my top five list mainly due to how late I saw them. If I had months ago they surely would have deserved at least one mention on this list.

Precious. Hopefully more to say on this later.

Rudo y Cursi. A Mexican film written and directed by Carlos Cuarón, brother of Alfonso and writer of Y tu mamá, también, and also the first film produced by Cha Cha Cha, the company founded by the Big 3 in Mexico: Cuarón (Alfonso), Del Toro, and Iñárritu. Plus it reunites Y tu mamá stars Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna.

So it has a hell of a pedigree and it definitely lives up to it. Bernal and Luna are brothers who try to make it big in Mexican soccer. It transported me to an interesting new world of the shadiness and pressure of Mexican soccer and creates interesting, dynamic characters. The brothers have demons holding them back but the film doesn’t get bogged down in cliche and I loved the turns the plot takes. Just a very well-made and entirely entertaining film.

January 2010