23. Pirate Radio

Was looking forward to this one for awhile because, well, Richard Curtis + classic rock + Philip Seymour Hoffman?  I’m not capable of dreaming up scenarios that awesome.  It was released as The Boat That Rocked in the UK but changed in the States because, um, pirates are cool?  This was the last of the 2009 movies I watched for this list, and it took the usually reliable Netflix almost a month to get the thing to me.  But I’m happy I was able to watch it with Megan (if only because it prevented either of us from making a decision about which movie to watch).  Anyway, the trailer doesn’t do the film justice, but I’m not really sure anything could.  The film doesn’t exactly have a story, per se, just a series of humorous events with the same cast of characters in a loose timeline.  It isn’t about character development so much as having fun with the characters. And the tremendous cast which includes a bunch of Curtis stalwarts, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Rhys Ifans, January Jones, and Nick Frost, Kenneth Branagh, and Jack Davenport.  Also Gemma Arterton and Talulah Riley, but we’ll get to them next post.  Just a really fun movie.

22. 2012

Speaking of fun movies!  Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow are clearly superior, sure.  But this one is still an excellent disaster movie.  Saw this one in theaters with Brian and Zack, and I think it exactly met our amped up expectations.  The film isn’t going to sway anyone’s opinion of Roland Emmerich, I don’t think.  And yeah, we are talking about some broadly-drawn characters.  But give me a fun cast (highlighted by a hilariously bonkers Woody Harrelson), lots of stuff blowing up, and a little bit of a completely unsubtle morality play and I’ll be a happy boy.

21. The Invention of Lying

When are people going to cotton to Ricky Gervais movies?  It sure seems like they have the recipe for success.  They are funny, sweet, tell an interesting story, and have great cameos.  Just doesn’t make sense to me.  OK, I could see how the send-up of religion could be mildly offensive to some, I suppose.  And the movie did start to trail off a bit at the last third.  But come on.  What a brilliant concept.  Plus, Rob Lowe as the bad guy!

20. A Serious Man

Glancing over our thoughts on the film, seems a safe bet that this was the most thought-provoking Oscar film for the Grouches.  Heck, I reread my full recap and still have no idea what I thought (or think).  I do know that it was rather unfortunate to have A Serious Man and A Single Man come out in the same year.  Unless maybe they helped bump each other up at the box office due to mistaken viewing of the wrong film?  Even now, I struggle to come to terms with my thoughts on the film.  Which makes the movie unique in this year’s class, so that’s something.  I may not always like the Coen Bros., but their ability to consistently churn out thought-provoking films to which I have a visceral reaction is nearly unparalleled.

19. The Blind Side

Back to back Best Picture nominees!  We’ve had plenty to say about this film, including John calling the nomination (well done, John!) in our wild and crazy picks post.  Oddly, I seem to be a little lower on Sandra Bullock than my fellow Grouches, but a little higher on the film.  Maybe I’m just more in touch with my emotions than them.  I’m guessing that where they found it a little schmaltzy, I thought it consistently hit solid emotional notes.  Sometimes cliches are cliches because they work.  Did the film bring anything new to the world of moviemaking?  Probably not.  But I still think it is a very fine piece of work.

18. Away We Go

Saw this one in theater in New Jersey with my uncle and brothers.  I went back and saw John called this film “painfully contrived.”  Isn’t that any road trip movie (which this is, essentially)?  I suppose if one called this film a little too precious, I’d have a hard time disagreeing.  But I thought it had a lot of a heart and a good sense of humor.  The supporting cast is chock full of talent, including Paul Schneider and this year’s Oscar nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal.  And perhaps each supporting character is just a tad too outsized.  But I sorta thought that was the point of it all.  I dunno, I’m surprised there’s any divisiveness on this one.

17. Julie and Julia

Saw this one at Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse with Adam and Dylan as part of a two-city double feature.  Because that’s how we roll.  By the way, what’s the connection between this one and Away We Go?  Chris Messina (aka the guy who isn’t Stanley Tucci, Amy Adams, or Meryl Streep).  I kinda got the feeling that all the actors had a good time making this one, and it shows.  Don’t quite know how it worked out this way, but most of the movies in this post seem to follow the same general pattern of a fun, mostly positively movies with a few touching emotional moments that soon get swept away with humor.  Brian is still alarmingly wrong about the Julie part being better than the Julia one.

16. The Answer Man

Was among my most anticipated 2009 movies.  Why?  Hm.  I’m not entirely sure.  I really like the cast (Jeff Daniels, Lauren Graham, Olivia Thirlby, Lou Taylor Pucci, Kat Dennings, Tony Hale).  And I guess the concept just kinda appealed to me.  A lot of stuff just worked in this movie.  Jeff Daniels and Lauren Graham go really well together as the leads in this romcom.  Daniels is fantastic as the philosopher with none (and yet all) of the answers.  The misanthropic character is a familiar one, yet it doesn’t feel tired.  Like my life, needed more Kat Dennings.

15. Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

We’ve written a bunch on this Oscar nominee.  It surely took an unconventional Oscar path.  It was Geoffrey Fletcher’s first produced screenplay, the second film directed by Lee Daniels, and starred an overweight newcomer and a BET regular whose recent filmography includes Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins and Phat Girlz.  But it would have been impossible to overlook this film.  And in particular, Gabby Sidibe and Mo’Nique.  It is staggering to me how Mo’Nique outdistanced herself from the competition.  By the end, it wasn’t even a matter of concocting a path as to how someone else could win Supporting Actress, it was a matter of figuring out if there was any possible way she wouldn’t win unanimously.  So I think it says quite a lot that going up against a performance like that, Sidibe more than held her own.  I didn’t quite understand the Directing and Adapted Screenplay nominations (let’s not talk about the writing win), but I do want to make it clear that I thought the film was very very good.