J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Top 5 Films of 2009

I am woefully behind the curve in seeing movies this year.  Whereas, I usually take in about half of the top 100 grossing movies in a year, I’ve only seen around 30 in 2009.  Because of that, there are some amazing films (I hear) that might have very well made this list that will be excluded.

Having said that, here are my top 5 films of 2009.

5.    Up – There is an early 5 minute or so scene in Disney’s “Up” that does a better job summarizing the life of Carl and Ellie than most 90 minutes of any other film does in portraying an entire story arc.  Sweet, fun, heart-warming, “Up” is a film that gives everyone who watches it a sense of adventure and nostalgia all at the same time.  For that, it transcends the kid film tag.

4.    Taken – “Taken” is a harsh movie about a harsh subject (kidnapping, human trafficking) that gives the viewer a vicarious joy in seeing bad guys punished and good guys winning at all costs.  Who would have ever thought that Liam Neeson could kick butt on screen and it would be believable?

3.    District 9 – “District 9” is about as subtle as a baseball bat (I wonder who the aliens represent?”) so the strength of the movie is not the allegory.  The strength is good story telling and the great use of special effects.  The best sci-fi always works on 2 levels which “District 9” accomplishes without heavy handedness.  Produced by Peter Jackson for almost no money, this film puts over-blown, big budget action films (Transformers 2, etc) to shame.

2.    Inglourious Basterds – Who knew that Quentin Tarantino could make a movie that would appeal to the masses?  He did it by finding the one group of people who can be hunted and tortured with no ire from moviegoers:  Nazi’s.  The true heart of the movie though is its love of movies.  Tarantino rewrites the victory of WWII both through film and by film.

1.    Anvil:  The Story of Anvil – Everyone loves an underdog, and Anvil are underdogs.  This documentary chronicles the life of a below average band that refuses to give up even after 30+ years.  Their story is heartwarming and inspirational and is worth multiple viewings.

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner.  Read it there and help me earn a penny.


December 26, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,


  1. Great list there dude!

    Comment by Paragraph Film Reviews | February 27, 2010 | Reply

    • Paul, thanks for responding. Since this post, I’ve seen Hurt Locker, Avatar and others, but I still haven’t changed by top 5. What films did you enjoy this year?

      Comment by jgordonduncan | February 27, 2010 | Reply

  2. Only did a decade list (link below) for my site but highlights of 2009 for me were: District 9, Inglorious, Zombieland, Away We Go, Adam, Taken, The Hangover and Watchmen. All reviews can be found under the ‘archives’ page.


    Comment by Paragraph Film Reviews | February 27, 2010 | Reply

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