Goin' to the Movies

Informin' You About Movies

Films To See, Those You Might Have Missed In 2009

'The Hurt Locker' headlines the must-see films you might have missed in '09

December is well upon us, and a few major films that have not released but there are many more you might have missed that are either generating a ton of awards buzz as a film or have must-see performances. Below is a list of a few of those key films and when to expect some to hit DVD, theaters, or those already there.

Out Of Theaters:

“The Hurt Locker”– was getting Oscar buzz well before the film released, and remains in my top 5 films of the year. This is the current awards season juggernaut, grabbing almost every prize it is up for with best picture, best screenplay and a well-deserved best director nod for Kathryn Bigelow from many film societies. An excellent, gritty war film without a political agenda that examines the people who defuse bombs and what makes them tick. Grabbed a 98% fresh rating with over 160 reviews. The film played in limited release early in the year and will hit video on January 12th. Don’t be surprised to see the film gain a limited re-release when the Oscars get closer.


“Inglourious Basterds”– Christoph Waltz plays the “Jew hunter” in Tarantino’s latest film and is likely to win a best supporting actor for the role. Fantastic film from start to finish with flourishes of out right hilarity. Scored an 88% fresh rating on RT with over 250 reviews. Hit theaters earlier this year and will release on video Dec. 15th.

“District 9”– Neil Blomkamp’s feature film début was shaking up the science fiction world and exposing people to how effective an alternate world can be in the parallels to our own. Based in South Africa in which aliens have inhabited a reservation that has deteriorated into slums, the film has powerful themes of racism, greed and power and stands as one of the best science fiction films in years. Look for first-time actor (untrained in the profession) Sharlto Copley to likely pick up a nomination while the film also generates buzz. Scored 90% on RT with over 230 reviews. Hit theaters in August and will release on video Dec. 22nd.

“500 Days of Summer”– a quirky and humorous yarn that digs into the dreaded non-committal girlfriend/boyfriend. Not just marriage, no, this is about even having the simple title of boyfriend/girlfriend. Loved this film from start to finish and it breaks the mold of the typical romantic comedy and is refreshingly genuine and unique. Holds an 86% fresh rating with over 180 reviews. Hits video on Dec. 22nd.

“The Cove”– the documentary of the dolphin massacres in Japan that has garnered an outcry of supporters and has actually made waves towards change. Look for this film in the running for best documentary. Nabbed a 95% fresh rating with over 100 reviews on RT. Hit theaters earlier this year in limited release and is already out on video.

“Sugar”– the inspiring story of an immigrant with dreams of big league baseball. Already an early favorite for one of the best independent films of the year. Grabbed an impressive 93% rating on RT with 99 reviews. Already hit theaters and is on video shelves now.

It's CORALINE! Not Caroline!

“Coraline”– based on critically acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman’s fantastic children’s book of the same name, this stop-motion animated film wowed audiences (myself included) with its impressive 3-D and rich story. Directed by Henry Selick (“The Nightmare Before Christmas”), Coraline impresses with a tale of danger in the most unlikely of places. Scored 89% with over 200 reviews. Released in February nationwide and is out on video now.

In Theaters:

“A Single Man”– Tom Ford makes his directorial début in this examination of what a man, having lost his partner, is to do from there on. Fashion and cinematography take center stage while Colin Firth delivers an Oscar buzzed performance. Has an 84% fresh rating with over 50 reviews. In limited release across the country.

He told you over text?

“Up in the Air”– a best pic nominee from the outset, this tale of a cut-off man traveling cross-country focuses on why we tie ourselves down and challenges the audience to give a reason being free of commitments isn’t the way to live. Jason Reitman directs his finest work yet while Anna Kendrick is getting buzz for her supporting role. My favorite film of 2009 so far, this not only has great drama and provides meaningful discussion, but also provides a great sense of humor in a tightly wound package. Don’t miss this film. Holds an 89% fresh rating with over 120 reviews. In limited release with a wide released planned on Christmas.

“An Education”– a coming-of-age tale that has already grabbed buzz for the youthful Carey Mulligan. Has grabbed a 94% fresh rating with over 150 reviews. In limited release around the nation.

“Fantastic Mr. Fox”– the darling of critics across the nation, this film might actually upend the Pixar powerhouse “UP”. Wes Anderson delves into his first animated film in addition to his first PG-13 rating. Powered by Anderson’s unique humor and an impressive voice cast, Fox has an 92% rating on RT with over 170 reviews. Playing in over 1,000 theaters nationwide.

“The Messenger”– Ben Foster leaves behind his typical secondary villain roles to team with Woody Harrelson as a group of soldiers that deliver the worst of news to next of kin. Noted as a touching portrait of how to move on after war for those affected by it physically and emotionally. Harrelson, Foster and Samantha Morton reportedly shine bright in Messenger. Stands tall with an 89% fresh rating with 75 reviews. In limited release with only 50 theaters nationwide.

On The Way:

“Crazy Heart”– Jeff Bridges brings one of his best performances to date in this buzzed pic following a downtrodden country music singer named Bad Blake. While it may feel like last year’s “The Wrestler”, considering how great that film was I see no shame in finding a common thread. Rotten Tomatoes has only gathered 16 reviews, but the film still holds a 94% fresh rating and will likely stay above 90%. Hits four theaters nation wide in extremely limited release on Dec. 16th. Look for a gradual expansion through the winter, hopefully.

“A Town Called Panic”– one of those rare films which can confuse and amuse at the same time, this Fantastic Fest darling and one of the few animated Cannes official selections will finally get a proper release. Look for the continued adventures of Horse, Cowboy, and Indian in this stop-motion animated film adapted from the hit Belgian TV series of the same name. With only three reviews counted so far, Panic holds a 100% fresh rating. Look for that to dip, but not too far as the film is above all just whimsical fun. Releases this weekend in extremely limited fashion, with random dates popping up across the country. Keep an eye on the website to stay informed. Panic appears to be full of zany fun and provides a must-see experience.

“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”-Terry Gilliam had the unenviable task of recasting the role of the late Heath Ledger or completely scrapping his film. Enter Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell would helped play alternate versions of Tony (played by Ledger in his last film role). Gilliam brings his typical wild visuals and outlandish story in a somewhat flawed but altogether unique package. Imaginarium currently has a 65% rating with over 60 reviews counted. Set to release in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 25th, look for the film to have a slow and steady expansion until its nationwide release on Jan. 8th.

“The White Ribbon”– The likely front-runner for best foreign film, this visually arresting black and white feature focuses on suspense before World War I in a small village in Germany. Called “spooky” and “thought-provoking”, Ribbon maintains a 90% fresh rating at RT with 39 reviews. Look  for a Dec. 30th limited release with a gradual expansion.

This film list won’t cover every base possible, but I feel it gives a great outline for small films that either didn’t get enough press or are in serious awards contention. Notables like “Precious” or “Avatar” are already widely buzzed about among any casual movie fan. This is for those looking to go beyond. Hope you enjoy it.


December 14, 2009 - Posted by | Hittin' Homes, Hittin' Theaters, Interestin' News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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