Top 10 movies of 2009
Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Despite the ongoing world recession, motion pictures retained their popularity, not only in the United States, but Jamaica.
Indeed, box-office receipts for movies released in the US last year soared to a record US$10.6 billion, surpassing the previous record of US$9.7 billion in 2007.
To say it was a bumper year for Hollywood would be an understatement, as more movies were produced.
Having seen many of the films shown here in 2009, I have compiled a shortlist of my favourites.
On a quick point of reference, similar to last year, there was a lack of original material from Hollywood, particularly during the summer.
Many of the films released during that period were sequels such as Ice Age 2, Transformers 2, Night At The Museum 2, the sixth Harry Potter film, Star Trek, Terminator Salvation, etc.
Here are my favourite movies.
Orville Clarke is a sports writer who has been a movie buff for four decades. Do you agree with his top 10 picks for 2009? Email your thoughts to email@example.com
Over the years, I have seen films such as Gandhi, Bhowani Junction and Nine Hours to Rama, which depict the true spirit of India, but none captures its raw essence like Slumdog Millionaire, filmed in the bustling city of Mumbai. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture and seven other Oscars. It tells a compelling story of an Indian teenager, Dev Patel, trying to win that country's version of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'.
Starring Australian newcomer Sam Worthington as a paralysed ex-marine, Zoe Saldana as his love interest, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriquez and Stephen Lang.
James Cameron's sci-fi epic about humans and aliens in faraway Pandora is the director's first film since his 1997 blockbuster Titanic, which has just been surpassed by Avatar as the highest-grossing film of all time with more than US$1.8 billion worldwide.
Filmed in digital 3D, requiring viewers to wear specially designed glasses, Avatar is a game changer. The visual effects are off the chain, and the story, with its underlying theme of America's military might in this world and the next, is compelling. Lang is memorable as the evil colonel, who unleashes army muscle against the indigenous blue people of Pandora.
Starring John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton and Danny Glover as the president of the United States.
Directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow), this special-effects-driven disaster epic leaves viewers in a state of awe and is worth the price of admission. Ejiofor, the black English actor, stands out as a bigwig geologist who warns the White House of impending doom.
Starring Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron and country music superstar Tim McGraw. An inspiring story in the mould of Will Smith's Pursuit of Happyness about a charitable high-scale family (Bullock and her agreeable husband, McGraw, and their two adorable kids) who takes in a homeless teenager (Aaron).
Aaron, as the gentle giant with 'protective instincts', finds his self-esteem, becoming a star linesman who is eventually signed with the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL.
Starring Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique. Sidibe plays Precious, a physically and mentally abused 16-year-old girl from the Harlem projects in this dark and disturbing movie. Sidibe and Mo'Nique, as the mother from hell, are great in their roles. But there is no redemption for poor Precious, a mother of two at age 16, who, in the end, tests HIV-positive.
Starring Brad Pitt as a man who ages backwards. Taraji P. Henson, as Pitt's adopted mom, who was nominated for a supporting Oscar for her role in this unique film.
Starring Johnny Depp as the notorious '30s gangster John Dillinger, and Christian Bale as famed FBI agent, Melvin Purvis, in this true-to-life crime story, directed by Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice) in his inimitable style.
Concert/rehearsal film about Michael Jackson's last days. All the big songs are present - Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It, Man In The Mirror and The Earth Song sequence, which was the most compelling in the film. An endearing look at a genius at work.
Starring Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz. Written and directed by my favourite filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino, this WW2 flick is cleverly done by the master himself. Pitt is good in an ensemble cast, but Waltz is even better as the nosey, but sophisticated German officer.
Starring Tom Hanks and Eric McGregor in this well-made prequel to The Da Vinci Code. Filmed in Rome (mostly at the Vatican City), this is a truly engrossing film about religious doctrine (the pope is poisoned) with a surprise ending.