(New entries will appear in red text.)
19. Coraline (Selick) – Teri Hatcher, Dakota Fanning
Ratings: 8/10; RT: 89%; IMDB: 7.9
- A truly gorgeous movie (even without the 3D format) with a legitimately interesting story. I enjoyed Coraline much more than I anticipated I would, but between the weird naked fat lady and the dark imagery and subject matter, it’s not exactly kid friendly. Consider yourself warned.
18. Sunshine Cleaning (Jeffs) – Amy Adams, Emily Blunt
Ratings: 8/10; RT: 72%; IMDB: 7.1
- An overlooked movie about a single mom who starts her own business cleaning crime scenes to make ends meet. Yes, the plot may seem fairly familiar, but Megan Holley’s story has real heart and the chemistry between Amy and Emily separate Sunshine Cleaning from the rest of the pack.
17. Drag Me to Hell (Raimi) – Alison Lohman
Ratings: 8/10; RT: 92%; IMDB: 7.2
- Holy geez! A critically well-rated horror movie?! How’d they pull that off? It knows exactly what it is and it executes it well. A campy, semi-predictable horror movie with some great thrills. Seems like a simple formula, but few horror movies have pulled it off in recent years. If you like horror flicks, this is a must see.
** Gomorrah (Garrone) – Gianfelice Imparato, Salvatore Abruzzese
Ratings: 8/10; RT: 91%; IMDB: 7.1
- It’s no secret that I love mob stories. So when I saw there was a well-rated, legit Italian mob film out there, I had to watch it. I enjoyed it, but I’d only recommend it with caution. Even with my working knowledge of the mafia, it still took me about an hour to figure out who everyone was. It’s not a fast paced film.. which isn’t rare for mob films, but I don’t think the average viewer would really have the patience for it.
For those of you who are like me, you’ll find familiar mafia related themes – waste management and young kids trying to get ahead the wrong way (think Christopher and Brendan in The Sopranos), but it comes off gritter than our Americanized versions. It almost seems like a documentary, and that being the case, we lose all the romanticized things we’re use to seeing, making this a disturbingly real portrayal of humanity at it’s worst.
16. Sherlock Holmes (Ritchie) – Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law
Ratings: 8/10; RT: 70%; IMDB: 7.8
- Despite the Oklahoma blizzard of 2009, my family and I spent our Christmas evening watching Sherlock, so it will always hold a special place in my memories. As far as the movie itself is concerned, I will look back on it as being good, but not great. This was another one of my highly anticipated movies of the year, which may have ended up working against it. I’m not exactly sure what I expected, but I know that my expectations weren’t met. Other than a few interesting story elements, its gritty look and another delightful performance from Robert, this movie was simply.. satisfactory. It’s worth watching, but it won’t hurt you to wait for the rental.
15. Adventureland (Mottola) – Jesse Eisenburg, Kristen Stewart
Ratings: 8/10; RT: 88%; IMDB: 7.3
- On my first viewing, I was a little bamboozled by this movie. It was marketed as your normal teen comedy, when in fact, it ended up being a coming-of-age drama with several moments of comedic gold. I walked out of the theater thinking it was pretty good, but not at all what I expected. Since then, I’ve watched it a couple times and it has moved up my list a couple spots each time. If you go in knowing it’s not going to be your average, shallow teen comedy, you’ll like it. Plus, Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr) is in it. Bonus!
14. I Love You, Man (Hamburg) – Paul Rudd, Jason Segel
Ratings: 8/10; RT: 83%; IMDB: 7.4
- I absolutely love Paul Rudd, so I was very happy to see him in a leading role. While the premise is simple and familiar, the comedic delivery of Paul and Jason made this movie my favorite outright comedy of the year.
13. Everybody’s Fine (Jones) – Robert DeNiro, Drew Barrymore
Ratings: 8/10; RT: 46%; IMDB: 7.4
- I was a little surprised to see this movie was rated rotten.. I enjoyed it quite a bit (obviously). I’d say this is easily DeNiro’s best performance in the last decade. The consensus is that this movie is a “stereotypical Christmas dramedy” but I couldn’t disagree more. There is very little comedy, really. And while the story focuses on a dysfunctional family, it’s anything but the normal holiday divorced family with crazy relatives and obvious ridiculous plot twists. To me, this movie was much more realistic and heartfelt than any other Christmas movie I’ve seen in years.
12. Star Trek (Abrams) – Chris Pine, Zachary Qunito
Ratings: 8/10; RT: 94%; IMDB: 8.2
- Damn you for making me like a Star Trek movie, J.J. Abrams.
11. Up (Docter/Peterson)
Ratings: 8/10; RT: 98%; IMDB: 8.5
- Another piece of Pixar gold. Of course, the 3D was fantastic but Up was a great mix of comedy, drama and kid friendly entertainment. This one is recommended for the whole family.
10. Away We Go (Mendes) John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph
Ratings: 8/10; RT: 66%; IMDB: 7.4
- Finally John Krasinski is in a decent movie.. unfortunately he’s still playing Jim. Nevertheless, I really liked this movie. It’s the perfect balance of quirky and charming, humor and drama. Someday I dream of a guy telling me that he’ll still love me even if I’m too fat for him to find my vagina. That’s true love.