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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #513 (Vol. 11, No. 4). This edition is for the week of January 18--24, 2010.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
The Best and Worst of 2009

Commentary by:
Michael A. Smith

theater seats

"Crazy Heart" by Mike Smith
The Best and Worst of 2009  by Mike Smith
DVD Review: "Corrosion Corner"  by Will Moriaty
Absolutely Fabulous: The Fab Four  by ED Tucker
Revenge of Japanese Toy Shopping  by Jason Fetters
Life, Love and Kramer  by John Miller
Branching Out .... Golden Comments .... Movie Notes .... Money In The Bank .... Someone Got Fooled .... Passing On .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

Attention Readers: you may be puzzled why I included "The Lovely Bones" on this list, even though it may have just opened recently. To qualify films for year-end awards, including the Academy Awards, a film must play in Los Angeles and New York prior to December 31. As a member of the Kansas City Film Critic's Circle, I sometimes attend screenings of films that will not open for some time. I saw "The Lovely Bones" early in December and that it is why it is included on this list.

As 2009 rolls coldly into 2010 it is time once again for me to take a look back at the year that was in film and pick out what I considered the cream of the crop. In no particular order, with the exception of the first film listed, here are, in my opinion...


1. "The Lovely Bones." After creating the most popular film trilogy of all time (earning seven Academy Award nominations and three Oscars for his efforts) and putting King Kong back on top of the Empire State Building, director Peter Jackson turned his attention to adapting the best selling novel by Alice Sebold which tells the story of 14-year-old Susie Salmon, whose murder less than 30 minutes into the film begins a tale that is both beautifully rendered and heartbreakingly acted. If Stanley Tucci doesn't win the Oscar it will be because he finished one vote behind "Inglorious Basterds" Christoph Waltz.

2. "Up In the Air." The older George Clooney gets the better he gets. Like Cary Grant and Warren Beatty before him, I don't think there is a character out there that he can't make his own. Director Jason Reitman, whose dad Ivan directed such comedy classics as "Ghostbusters" and "Stripes," proves himself a chip off of the comedic block.

3. "The Informant!" Matt Damon, 25 pounds overweight and with a bad hairpiece, gives an award worthy performance as a real life whistle blower whose efforts to help out the government don't exactly go swimmingly.

4. "Inglorious Basterds." When so many films are referred to as "Tarantino-esque" it's always a highlight when I get to see the real thing. With only seven films to his credit (six if you count the "Kill Bill" series as one, like I do), Quentin Tarantino has grown into one of the most influential filmmakers of the past 50 years. If Christoph Waltz doesn't win the Oscar it will be because he finished one vote behind "The Lovely Bones"' Stanley Tucci.

5. "District 9." Peter Jackson again, this time putting his magic behind director Neill Blomkamp, who turned his short student film into a perfect combination of science fiction and real world problems. Extra credit for turning Sharlton Copely from first time actor into "Howling Mad" Murdock in the upcoming "A-Team" film.

6. "The Hangover." The most popular comedy of all time, thanks to a tiger, a lot of alcohol and Mike Tyson.

7. "UP." The team of Pixar and Walt Disney have been turning out classics since 1995. This one may be their best, an animated film whose opening, silent ten minutes packed more emotion then most of the films released last year.

8. "Star Trek." Give Paramount credit for hiring director J.J. Abrams, who not only rejuvenated the 40 year old franchise, he re-invented it. Star turns by Christopher Pine and Zachary Quinto made the story flow. Leonard Nimoy as Spock let us know it was all right to go along with it.

9. "This Is It." In chronicling the concert that never was, director Kenny Ortega gave us one last look at the genius that was Michael Jackson.

10. "Paranormal Activity." Like "The Blair Witch Project" before it, either people loved this film or they hated it. I loved it. More chills and thrills here than two-and-a-half hours of "Transformers" could ever provide. Besides, when an $11,000 movie grosses over $100 million, something must be working.


1. "Couple's Retreat." Remember when Vince Vaughn was funny? One more like this and we'll be asking "remember Vince Vaughn."

2. "Halloween 2." How much did I hate it? To me, it's the "Jaws the Revenge" of "Halloween" flicks.

3. "The Time Traveler's Wife." I wonder if she can help me get back the two hours I lost watching this movie.

4. "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen." After what has to be the longest robot battle in screen history they should have titled this film, "Revenge of My Tired Backside."

5. "Year One." See my comments on "Couple's Retreat" and substitute Jack Black for Vince Vaughn.

6. "Fast and Furious." I never thought I'd ask what happened to Vin Diesel. That being said, what HAPPENED to Vin Diesel.

7. "Knowing." What I know is that not only does Nic Cage need to find someone better to handle his money, he needs to find someone better to pick his roles for him.

8. "Observe and Report." A "comedy" that dealt with mental instability and date rape. Ha ha.

This week's commentary, "The Best and Worst of 2009," is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2010, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.