Best Films of 2009: More Lists

A few weeks ago the National Catholic Register ran my 2009 year-end piece with my lists of “top ten” and runner-up films. (An expanded version of the article appeared at Decent Films.) This week, I’d like to catch up with a few other lists from Christian sources worth noting.

Earlier this week, Christianity Today Movies & TV released the second of its two annual Top 10 lists, the CT Critics Choice Awards. Last week CT released its other list, the 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2009. (Full disclosure/disclaimer: As a regular CT contributor, I voted in these awards, though I didn’t necessarily vote for all the winners, or even see them all.)

In 1-10 order, the 2009 CT Critics Choice winners are: The Hurt Locker, Up, The Road, Up in the Air, A Serious Man, Summer Hours, (500) Days of Summer, Star Trek, Avatar and Inglourious Basterds. The 10 Most Redeeming Films are: Up, The Blind Side, Invictus, The Road, The Soloist, Where the Wild Things Are, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Julie & Julia and Up in the Air.

As you can see, there’s some overlap between the two sets of lists, and regular readers may note that some titles overlap with my own 2009 top 10 lists, including Up, Summer Hours, Star Trek, Avatar, Where the Wild Things Are and District 9.

One nice thing about the CT Movies lists is that they offer supplementary lists of “Ones that Got Away,” allowing each critic to add one film to both list categories. Happily, two of my favorite films of the year, Bright Star and Crazy Heart, were nominated for both “Got Away” lists. Other welcome additions include Ponyo, Coraline, Earth and The Young Victoria. My own nominees were Tulpan, a remarkable depiction of life among the yurt-dwelling shepherds of Kazakhstan’s Hunger Steppe (for Critics Choice) and The 13th Day, a lovely indie film on the Marian apparitions at Fatima (for Most Redeeming).

For the rest of the “Got Away” lists as well as write-ups on the official winners, see the CT Critics Choice Awards and the 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2009.

Over at Image Journal, my friend Jeff Overstreet published his top 10 films of 2009—along with a second list of ten films, plus almost 20 runners-up, for a total of nearly forty films in all.

At the top, in 1-10 order: Summer Hours, Munyurangabo, Seraphine, Up, The Class, Lake Tahoe, A Serious Man, Gomorra, Coraline and Where the Wild Things Are. Six of these titles overlap with titles from my top 20, along with four more from Jeff’s second ten, Bright Star, Lorna’s Silence, Moon and Star Trek. Some of Jeff’s picks I haven’t seen and now want to, including Phoebe in Wonderland, Duplicity and An Education (which also cropped up in one of CT’s “Got Away” lists). Among his runners-up are others I admire, including District 9, The Informant! and Ponyo. See Jeff’s lists for write-ups on the films.

At St. Anthony Messenger, Sister Rose Pecatte bestowed her CineRose Film Awards. Punning on her first name, Sr. Rose awarded “A Bouquet of Roses” to nine films (unranked): The Blind Side, Precious, Up, The Princess and the Frog, Julie & Julia, The Hurt Locker, The Last Station, Food, Inc., The End of Poverty. “Four Roses” go to A Christmas Carol, Amreeka, Imagine That, The Soloist, Where the Wild Things Are and The Informant!

A final note: Looking over all these lists, among others, if I could highlight one title deserving of more attention, it would be Katyn, Polish director Andrzej Wajda’s trenchant commemoration of the 1940 Katyn Forest massacre. It’s a brilliantly made, devastating film, imbued with Poland’s constitutional Catholic spirit, and well worth the attention of mature viewers. I’ll try to write a review soon.