Scot's Top 10 for 2009

  1. Just Another Love Story - I'm surprised as you are to see this at the top of my list. But the Vertigo-esque, two-films-in-one premise really worked for me. As did the brilliant performances by all three leads.
  2. Sauna - Shocking and haunting. I never thought I'd be so spellbound watching a horror flick about drawing the Finnish/Russian border in -- 16?? AD? -- as I was with this film. It's an incredibly artful and haunting exploration of human psychology and guilt, long before our current clinical analyses could peg those sickos.
  3. Cold Souls - Adorable, and not in a cute way. Paul Giamatti suffering through Uncle Vanya is low-key-hilarious enough, but throw in Dina Korzun, Emily Watson, and a chickpea, and you have a salad of existential humor fit for a king.
  4. Theater of War - Jeez. Meryl Streep rehearsing Mother Courage? Come on, people. Put your hands together.
  5. Drag Me To Hell - Disgustingly funny. But what really made this film for me was Alison Lohman's performance. I'd only seen her in Where the Truth Lies before, but in this, she runs the gamut from Mary Tyler Moore (please like me!) to Laura Croft ("Eat it, bitch!") with grace and aplomb. Plus, the kitty sub-plot is one of the funniest horror gags I've ever seen.
  6. The Maid - A remarkable thriller/drama. Okay, the thriller is mostly in my head, but I can't help comparing it to the fabulous mistake of a film The Housekeeper starring Rita Tushingham. Maybe I just love stories about "the help" who act out. I know *I* would act out.
  7. Humpday - I happen to like most "mumblecore" films I see. And this is one of those gems that explores relationships in a seemingly realistic way. Worth watching for Alycia Delmore alone, though I'm happy to see Josh Leonard in a fascinating new light.
  8. A Single Man - Based on my (probably) favorite novel, I was kind of pissed at first that they ditched the narrative structure of the book. But on the second viewing, I could see why they did so. It's an incredible effort and a beautiful result.
  9. Paranormal Activity - I do love a good low-budget film if it's effective, and this one certainly is that. It builds an intense creepiness based mainly on the expert performances of the two leads. Sure, it's not original in the least, but it is so well crafted that it seems to leave any prior horror fake-umentaries (not naming titles, Josh Leonard) in the dust.
  10. Precious - I had my mind set to *hate* this film but Gabby Sidebe, Mo'Nique, and Mariah Carey (!?) shook that hate right out of me. I have issues with Daniels' direction, but the performances are top notch.