The biggest year on record for domestic Box Office receipts was also one of the most forgettable years in memory for the movies. 2009 may have seen us forking over more money than ever to go to the movies, but it also shortchanged us with films that often felt altogether unwatchable. (2012 anyone?) But from amidst the muck and mire of underwhelming, overproduced Hollywood stinkers, came a handful of truly good films to remind us that not everyone behind a camera assumes their audience has the intelligence of a rutabaga. And so, since everyone has a best of list this time of year, The Pictorial has selected five of what we feel to be the few … the proud … the movies that mattered.
Why it mattered: Because it’s rare that press-fed hyperbole like “Riveting,” “Gut-Wrenching,” and “Unforgettable” are accurate. Kathryn Bigelow’s war epic is all of that and more.
Why it mattered: Because heartbreak has never been more heartening. And because Mo’Nique gave one the year’s most extraordinary perforamances.
Why it mattered: Because evil has rarely been quite so beautifully explored, so thoughtfully weighed, so skillfully rendered as in Michael Haneke’s dark study of a small German town.
Why it mattered: Because Carey Mulligan’s Jenny was a reminder of just what a bravura performance can do—in this case turning an old worn-out shoe of a story into something fresh and funny and new.
500 Days of Summer
Why it mattered: Because it’s a love letter to Los Angeles that doesn’t involve Hollywood, and because it’s a movie about love that is in no way a love story.