manohla dargis

The best of "best of" movie lists for 2009

The best of "best of" movie lists for 2009

Some people vow to lose weight and start exercising in the New Year. I resolve to whip my Netflix queue in shape, trimming out last year’s worthy crap and replacing it with this year’s best offerings, which I have 12 months to get through before they turn into last year’s worthy crap. Aiding me in this task are the nation’s critics, who dutifully spend all year watching movies and the last few weeks in December compiling “best of” lists. Many of these lists tend to look more or less the same, but some offer the occasional surprise. These critical taste quirks are the spice of list reading.

So here, in the spirit of 10 best lists, are the 10 best “10 best movie” lists of 2009. I must warn you that, as a parent of two small children who only rarely leaves the house to sit in the dark with cinematically minded strangers, I have seen very few of the movies on these lists. (Thus the great importance of proper Netflix queue maintenance.) Then again, given how many kid-friendly movies made it onto the lists this year, that excuse may be a bit flimsy. Too bad. It’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. On to the list of lists!

New American Realism?

New American Realism?

While many acquisition execs, journalists, and film goers were often confused by what to make of the tangled mess of films at this year’s Sundance Festival, New York Times critic Manohla Dargis seems to have already named this year as a movement. In “New American Realism Emerges Amid Grousing and Hummers [www.nytimes.com],” Dargis identifies a certain perspective that permeates the better films this year: