Notes from the back row 

Best of 2009

There was an old joke when we were kids - "What do you do with 365 used condoms? Make them into a tire and call it a good year."

Now, I don't know what you can make out of a shitload of used DVDs but 2009 was certainly a fine year for cinema as well. There were surprises, disappointments, tear-jerkers and two Megan Fox films (which are a different kind of jerker). So here's the best of the best from the back row.

Best Sci-Fi - Avatar needs to be mentioned for the mind-blowingness of its visuals but my top pick is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Moon , a character piece starring Sam Rockwell and a talking computer, is a smart, subtle, fantastic movie that reminds us that laser beams and aliens aren't as scary as the shit we might do to ourselves.

Best Comedy - The Hangover saved the summer by reworking a common concept but keep your eyes out for World's Greatest Dad, a black comedy that rebuilds some trust in Robin Williams (who has sucked more ass than gay hippopotamus lately) and also check out In the Loop , a scathing look at politics and people that watches like a classical opus of profanity.

Best Documentary - The Cove , a thriller doc about Japan's brutal dolphin slaughter, is stirring, sad, frustrating and extremely well done. As were End of the Line and Food Inc. , but for a doc that doesn't make you want to slit your wrists in shame and guilt over how shitty humanity is check out Anvil , an uplifting look at some Canadian metal legends and proof that Rock and Roll truly is a lifestyle.

Best Action - Forget G.I. JOE or any other fun-but-forgettable comic movies with giant robotic battle suits. When I think of ass-kicking in 2009 I remember Liam Neeson tearing around Paris trying to rescue his daughter from Albanian sex traffickers in Taken. Just like the best punches to the face, Taken came out of nowhere and left an impression.

Best Romantic Comedy - Not usually a genre I bother with but even I appreciated the scene in ( 500) Days of Summer where the guy nails the hot chick and then leaves her place the next day in such a good mood he's high-fiving strangers while the whole world breaks into a song and dance number. It would never happen, but it's so true. Runner up - Away We Go. Good if you're pregnant.

Best Horror - Not the best year for scary movies but Swedish kid vamp flick Let the Right One In certainly had its moments and Feast 3 - The Happy Ending held the B-Grade torch high as well.

Best Drama - The Hurt Locker , because nothing says tense like a bomb squad in Iraq. Also, in Inglourious Basterds Tarantino proves that cinema can save the world.

Best Kids' - A superb year for kids. Coraline, Ponyo, Where the Wild Things Are ( okay, that was more for people who remember being kids) but the best was Pixar's UP! Pure genius.

Best Movie of 2009 (Tie) - Fantastic Mr. Fox is slick comedy mixed with deeply layered visuals, a near-perfect script and the best way to swear in a kids' movie ever. District 9 , a tense rollercoaster of a flick that came out of nowhere, looked incredible, had alien-prawns you could actually empathize with and didn't hammer you too hard with its thematic allegory (like Avatar did). Neill Blomkamp and Peter Jackson went easy on the pre-hype and then delivered a classic flick with a flawed protagonist who I can't wait to see in District 10.

Yes, 2009 was a good year and remember, they've got free condoms at the Health Care centre so save your money for the cinema in 2010.




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