These only begin to list all the movies I wish I saw in 2009, but they're a start. Here are five movies I wish I saw last year -- and that I hope to rent as soon as possible in 2010.
1. The Hurt Locker
Kathryn Bigelow's latest, which many critics argue is the best movie so far about the War in Iraq, tells the story of an army team in the Middle East that includes a solider whose specific job is to disarm bombs.
According to IMDB, it's won 51 awards and been nominated for 45 others, including three Golden Globes (Best Director, Best Drama, Best Screen Play). I keep hearing about how amazing this movie is, but I missed seeing it at the Tivoli when it was replaced by Nine. Which was a good movie, but not great.
2. Black Dynamite
I'm not quite a Blaxploitation buff . . . but I'd like to be. I don't know of a single place in St. Louis that showed Black Dynamite, a parody and homage of the badass brand of 1970s exploitation films that kicked off with Sweet Sweetback's Badass Song and Shaft. So it's not my fault for missing it. Even so, I've heard good things and look forward to renting it. For the meantime, I'll have to be satisfied with my copies of Sweetback and Super Fly.
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
George Clooney was on a roll in 2009, and this Wes Anderson movie was to be no exception. I had free movie passes at the Chase Park Plaza for donating to St. Louis Public Radio in the fall, and I had to choose between Precious and this. I chose Precious, which I don't regret, but I have heard great things about Anderson's charming stop-motion picture. Apparently it was a massive project that Anderson was nonetheless able to micro-manage remotely via computer.
4. Funny People
Critics claim this is Judd Apatow taking his style of dick-joke, bromance comedy to the next level, showing the men behind the humor. Adam Sandler is the jaded stand-up comedy success, whose health has taken a turn for the worse, and who dreams he could be in the shoes of Seth Rogen, whose career is just taking off. However, I've heard mixed reviews of Funny People due to its length (146 minutes, practically an epic compared to most comedy runtimes) and the change in narrative focus toward the end. It's a movie I'd really like to see so I can decide for myself.
I know very little about the plot, but it stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg in a symbolic tale of sin and despair. Lars von Trier's imagery is stunning -- the kind that burns into your mind for weeks. Or so I've heard. It was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes, and as you'd expect from European art films, I've heard some complain that it's too pretentious. Whatever. I'm not one to rail against pretentious movies, as long as there's great filmmaking to back up the director's ego.