The Real “Goods” So Far of 2009 – My Top Ten Movie List

Believe it or not it's already August. It's been a fun first half of the year; however it will be September soon, and to me and pretty much everyone else in America that's the cutoff point for the first half of the year. Let's look back on all the good movies we've had in the past eight months. Here's my top ten-

10. Brüno

Sacha Baron Cohen's sequel to his ever-popular Borat certainly did not disappoint. Raunchy, lewd and crude, Brüno had everything that I had hoped from it. In the mockumentary, Cohen plays a gay Austrian "fashionista" who's fired from his job as a reporter and moves to America in hopes of becoming über-famous. "I want to be the biggest Austrian star since Hitler." Larry Charles hits all of the scenes dead on off of Baron Cohen, Dan Mazer, Anthony Hines and Jeff Schaffer's brilliant screenplay. Some of it was obviously planned, although for the most part Brüno was comedic genius.

9. The Hangover

The Hangover was the "breakout comedy of the summer" (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone). It out-grossed Land of the Lost (a dud) opening weekend and stayed high and mighty for two. In The Hangover, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and stand-out Zach Galifianakis are all best man at Justin Bartha's wedding. So for a bachelor party, the group heads to Vegas, gets wasted and wakes up the next morning and can't find the groom. Todd Phillips made his official comeback from Old School and Road Trip and proved that Jon Lucas and Scott Moore could write more than just romantic comedies. Probably the funniest movie not done by Judd Apatow. The movie itself wasn't just fun, but it had the country cracking up. The craze was insane.

8. Observe and Report

It may have been a dud at the box office, but as I always say, numbers on a chart mean nothing to me. Observe and Report was hailed by critics, saying it was "light years funnier" (Gary Wolcott, Tri-City Herald) than similar Paul Blart: Mall Cop. 2009 has been an amazing year for R-rated comedies, and Report continued that trend. In Observe, Seth Rogen plays a demented mall cop hell-bent on capturing a flasher and winning over the heart of Anna Faris. Faris was funny, however Rogen simply made the movie. Saying that Blart was better is like saying that Wayne's World was better than Star Wars: A New Hope. They're two totally different films. Call it dark, dirty, disgusting, whatever you want to; but Observe and Report rocked.

7. The Last House on the Left

Just when I absolutely couldn't stand anything more based on a book, TV series or most of all remake, the Friday the 13th redo was released. It shed a whole new light to Jason to a younger audience. The same can be said for The Last House on the Left, based on the classic horror flick that launched the career of Wes Craven. With both Craven and Sean S. Cunningham producing, The Last House on the Left was pure terror. Sara Paxton, a regular Disney good-girl completely surprised me with just how great an actress that she is. Suspense at every corner, Last House was a fanboy's dream.

6. Away We Go

Early buzz on Away We Go was mostly positive. Pretty much the first hit indie of the summer, Away was directed by my longtime idol Sam Mendes. Mendes was just bouncing off of his epic Revolutionary Road and still a fresh young director on the scene. He cast John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as an expectant couple searching the U.S for a place to settle down and raise their soon-to-be kid. Offbeat and quirky is hard to pull off, however Mendes did it. Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida are fantastic screenwriters and authors. Away We Go was a surprising hit with audiences and critics, calling it "Juno road comedy for grown-ups." (Mike Scott, Times-Picayune) The cinematography and directing was beautiful, partially because a portion was filmed in my hometown of Connecticut. If you haven't seen Away We Go, see it NOW!

5. Funny People

Critics found it to be an odd move on writer/director/producer Judd Apatow's part. Well, in my review of the drama-comedy, I literally told the critics to screw off. I loved Funny People. The witty screenplay, the gorgeous directing, Seth Rogen, the fact that George Simmons was probably the best character that Adam Sandler has ever portrayed in his career…although what I loved the most about it was the subtle personal touches Apatow put on the movie. Mocking Sandler's previous movies with posters of stuff that Sandler probably would do, Leslie Mann and Apatow's kids playing a cameo, the actual crank calls caught on camera from when Apatow and Sandler were roommates. I never really understood how somebody could hate such a smart movie. "It's too long and not funny." Sorry if nobody showed their genitals and you got your money's worth when it came to a decent runtime. Funny People was exactly that, no matter what anyone else says.

4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Everybody loved the first two Harry Potter movies. Although from Prisoner of Azkaban on, the films started to get darker. From then, I stopped being a Potter-phile (love that saying). Let the record say, however, that I did catch Goblet of Fire in theaters, but never saw Order of the Phoenix. So I really wasn't that stoked for Half-Blood Prince, the series' sixth (!) installment. One night I went to the drive-in movie theater to see Ice Age 3; skipped on that (heard it was bad) and walked over to the screen that was playing Prince. I was immediately blown away. The beautiful cinematography could catch a person's eye from a mile away. The story was heartbreaking, and it proved to me once again why people still went gaa-gaa over Potter. Heart, story, acting and cinematography. What more could you ask from a movie?

3. Up

I've been a giant Pixar fan since I was a kid. I remember that Toy Story was my all-time favorite movie then. I've been hooked since. The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and WALL∙E had such rich storylines and messages. I went to an advanced screening of Up a few weeks before its release May 29th. Me and a friend were among the first to see the world premiere of the Toy Story 3 teaser trailer and a preview of Princess and the Frog before it went live on Disney Channel that night, along with, of course, the actual movie. Convinced that nothing could beat the absolute genius of WALL∙E, I watched Up. While it didn't quite top WALL∙E, Up was still an early summer treat for kids and adults alike. What Pixar captures in all of their movies, nothing can even touch upon. Many and I mean many have tried (cough cough DreamWorks cough cough) to take Pixar's crown as for making the best animated movies and nobody can. Up was sad, funny and moving all at the same time. A serious contender for 'Best Picture' at this year's Academy Awards. And I'm sure I'll see it on that list, now that the rules have shifted.

2. Coraline

This was the movie where Henry Selick got serious recognition as a director. Tim Burton was credited for directing James and the Giant Peach and Nightmare Before Christmas, however Selick actually did. Disappearing after 2001's Monkeybone, Selick returned to his stop-motion roots with Coraline. It took a year and seven months to shoot Coraline along with two years of post-production. Everything that the crew worked on for this delight certainly paid off! Dakota Fanning was amazing voicing Coraline. It makes you forget that she's a teenager now; almost all grown up, since she brings her character to life. The book by Neil Gaiman itself is utter brilliance, and the movie I believe only accompanies it as a modern classic children's tale. To call Coraline better than Up pretty much tells you how much I indeed loved it. In a winter month with nothing good coming out (Tyler Perry and the Jonas Brother, akk!), Coraline came marching through.

1. In The Loop

Lots of hit movies come out of the annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York, but In The Loop was ridiculous. Loop followed a corrupt British government when a mis-communication gets them accidentally involved in a United States war. Whenever I look back on this movie, I laugh. I've never really been a big fan of political comedy, and that might be because there hasn't been any real ones in the past years. And then Loop came along and stunned me. Easily the best movie so far this year, and one of the best comedies of the decade. Armando Iannucci pulled off an extremely difficult concept perfectly. Those of you who think that all indie movies are the same, boring crap, check out In The Loop. All comedies should be based around this; I know I use this as a model whenever I write.

There's my top ten list, folks. Disagree or agree with me? Tell me what you think in the comments and give me your top ten!

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