And you can't say fairer than that.
Good solid family fantasy in the Never Ending Story/Willow/other such '80s movies mould - not amazing, but decent entertainment. Also I read the book a few months later and the film's actually better. Worth a watch to see Andy Serkis really enjoy saying the phrase "duct tape".
Covered way back when - basically, not bad. A bit too beholden to the comic sometimes, but probably as good a movie as you could make out of the material without incurring too much fanboy wrath. Top marks to Billy Crudup, who essayed what must be one of the hardest roles in the history of everything brilliantly.
Let the Right One In
Excellent. Spooky, thoughtful, tender and atmospheric. And again, better than the book (although the fact that the original author wrote the screenplay probably helped there). A stunning pair of performances from the young leads.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
I basically only went to see this as an X-fan, expecting it to be fairly dire and SUPER-SERIOUS AND ANGSTY. Imagine my surprise and delight that everyone was more interested in being shamelessly over-the-top and silly. And did it have a bit where Hugh Jackman walked away from an explosion in slow motion? Yes, it did have a bit where Hugh Jackman walked away from an explosion in slow motion!
Blimey, but this was a feast for the eyeballs. Being the first (and thus far, only) full-length film I've seen in 3D probably helped, but I kept having these moments where I'd admire a background detail then think "Someone made that." The atmosphere is impeccable, the soundtrack astonishing. My initial feeling was that the story was a little too simplistic, but on reflection I considered that it was deliberately positioning itself as a traditional fairy tale. Rewatchings on DVD also helped me pinpoint a few extra subtleties I'd missed the first time round. Basically, what I am saying is that this is an excellent film.
God bless you, JJ. You remembered that blockbusters used to be fun. This relentlessly entertaining romp kept me fully entertained in the most straightforward sense from beginning to end. And it had the best haircuts for extras in the history of anything ever.
I've Loved You So Long
Okay, so this isn't a 2009 film but I saw it in a cinema (well, my local arts centre) in 2009 and I hadn't seen it before so it counts. Fantastic acting all round, it might have been in with a shot of my favourite film of the year but for the plot, which seemed to be saying "Ha! Shocked you there!" when it was pretty obvious what was being led up to. Still superb, though.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
I found this passable enough when actually sitting in the cinema but upon reflection it was rubbish, wasn't it? Let's move on.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Otherwise known as David Yates Continues His Love Affair With The Colour Grey. Admittedly there was more point to the dour palette here than in Order of the Phoenix, but c'mon man. Anyway, it was all right in that special way that Harry Potter films have of being passable adaptations of books but fairly limp when it comes to being films in their own right.
(500) Days of Summer
Top stuff. Intelligently written and acted (top marks for protagonist Tom's descent into misery, where you feel bad for him but at the same time want to yell at him to stop being such a tit) with all sorts of brilliant inventive bits (the dance sequence, the split-screen party, the spoof of nouvelle vague that had me in absolute stitches). On a down note, I recognised several songs in the soundtrack but only own one of them, which means I'm not cool. Bah.
Very good, but not quite as good as the hype made out. An excellent performance from Sharlto Copley (who is apparently in the A-Team remake or something?) kept it grounded. Pun not really intended.
Excellent. Paul Bettany's central performance is surely worth an award nod or three, if not the awards themselves. Actually, everyone was fantastic in it. Some great sequences showing time-lapse nature, too.
Another slightly over-hyped entry - I felt that the comedy and drama were superlative, but the action/adventure sections seemed tacked on and could quite easily have been junked. A slight disappointment, but only very slight. Doug is probably the best character in all the films of the year, though.
In the Loop
An exquisitely sharp wit, remarkably depressing, pretty much a failure when it comes to actually creating believable characters. Probably not the point for this sort of movie, admittedly, but I always find it hard to warm to films where you can't sympathise with at least one person.
Another one that I wasn't expecting much out of - probably a few good cheap laughs, inventive zombie-splotting, the end. A very nice surprise to find a witty, well-rounded comedy that satisfied on every level and leaves me wishing they'd hurry up and release the DVD already.
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Yes, it got around Ledger's death smoothly, yes, it was very odd. And yes, surprisingly, Lily Cole gave a good performance. It did feel like a series of remarkable visual ideas searching for something more concrete, though.
Lovely look, good ideas, bit of a shame the script occasionally let it down. Not bad, but I imagine the short film that inspired it is probably better.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Now this was great. Witty, charming, imaginative, and, as noted, had a stop-motion Jarvis Cocker in it. The scene where Mr. Fox and Badger's arguement devolves into snarling and claw-waving was quite possibly the funniest scene of the year. Loved the "cuss" stuff, as well, which was far funnier than it probably should have been.
Where the Wild Things Are
What an odd film. It captured that arbitrary logic of many kids' stories (by which I mean both stories for kids and stories by kids) exquisitely, and the monsters were remarkable. A flawless performance by the wonderfully-named Max Records as Max, too. Overall, good not great; very memorable, though. But seriously, how did Spike Jonze ever convince the suits to stump up the cash?
So, best film of the year? Well, it's a toss-up between Let the Right One In and Coraline. And frankly, I can't make my mind up (it was originally Swedish vampires quite comfortably, but DVD rewatchings of girl meeting scary Freudian monster has seen my opinion of it rise, and I haven't got round to rewatching Right One yet). We'll call it a draw for now.