Was this a great year for movies? Much of Hollywood thought so. In 2009, studios made record profits with fewer movies — “event” movies — while specialty divisions and indie distributors contracted or folded altogether. Meanwhile, many small and foreign-language films (including some listed below) showed up for a fee on cable in the same week they opened in New York and Los Angeles. I watched many of these films on my big-screen TV and felt sad over the lack of company. Sometimes I put the remote on the other side of the room to force myself to pay as much attention as I would in a theater, without the possibility of pausing or rewinding.
I gave up winnowing the list to ten at a certain point because there were simply too many wonderful films. (You'll find the rest of my list on my blog, The Projectionist.) The number is annoying anyway. Why should I count on my fingers and stop there? Why not my toes? Why not other extremities? As it is, I’ve left off too many docs (Under My Skin, The Yes Men Fix the World, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers), maligned socially conscious dramas (Mammoth), and maligned comedies (Observe and Report). Enough woolgathering. To the list!