Critics Choose Must-Sees and Worsts of 2009
Some of RT's distinguished critic friends share their choices with us.
James Berardinelli, ReelViews
It goes without saying that James Cameron has revolutionized 3D with Avatar, proving that, if used with care and respect, it can be more than a gimmick. But there's more to Avatar than immersive 3D and stunning visuals. Cameron is a story-teller and, while there's nothing groundbreaking or stunningly original about the narrative, it represents a familiar tale told exceedingly well. Avatar is one of the few movies of 2009 that feels like a genuine cinematic "experience" instead of just a "motion picture."
Worst Film: Old Dogs
What studio executive greenlighted this? If the stench of the script wasn't enough to consign it to a compost heap, then the flies buzzing around it should have sealed the deal. What's amazing is that someone gave director Walt Becker a few million dollars to make this and that it was selected for a theatrical release rather than the comfortable oblivion of straight-to-video. Tell me, Walt, of whom do you have pictures?
Peter Howell, Toronto Star
Must-See: The Hurt Locker
The movie to beat the Iraq War film curse - if you can handle the raging adrenaline. It brings the conflict down to the bomb-strewn pavement, where lives are saved through skill and nerve but lost through bad luck and malevolence.
Worst Film: Away We Go
Dead-end trip to Quirksville, as the dramatically inclined Mendes veers wildly off track with this lame attempt at a road comedy. Narcissistic lay-abouts seeking advice for their impending parenthood go on a twee trek, meeting hateful and pathetic stereotypes.
Jordan Hoffman, UGO
Must-See: Star Trek
Usually when you try to please everybody you please nobody, but the right mixture of matter and antimatter help propel J.J. Abrams' reboot of the mother-of-all nerd franchises to warp speeds. Fun, funny, dazzling to look at and loaded with fan service, Star Trek put me into a sugar shock of pure science fantasy euphoria this summer.
Worst Film: Gentlemen Broncos
The rare kind of awful that makes you angry. At least the hacks that serve up American Pie 12: The Nude Zoo know they are making junk -- Jared Hess is audacious enough to think his half-baked, lazy filmmaking is some kind of quirky genius. Gentlemen Broncos is so bad it made made me retroactively hate Napoleon Dynamite.