Favorite Films of 2009

It’s kind of fun, isn’t it, to look back over the year and note the high spots.  Here is a list of the best DVDs we watched, the ones that I would rate 5/5.  We studied WWII, we (she says) like food, we like Donne, we like Dickens and we like song. 

Documentaries

Our favorite DVD was I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal.  At the beginning of March it was the best DVD we had seen in 2009, and at the end of December I can still say it was the best.  My review.

The Singing Revolution documents the independence of Estonia through the power of singing.  It’s simply incredible!  Please!  Take two minutes, click on the link and watch the trailer.  I had the same response to this film that I had to a much different movie, Hotel Rwanda: these events took place during my (adult) lifetime.  Where was I? Why was I so ignorant?
In the case of Estonia, I just didn’t connect with the phrase, Baltic States.  Oh, if I was teaching the American War of Independence, I would show this film to compare and contrast America’s war and Estonia’s.

  

We rented one disc of Planet Earth from Netflix and decided we needed to own this series.  We gave the set to our sons for Christmas.  Extraordinary footage.  If you have kids in your life, it is worth owning this.  My review

Food, Inc. is an eye-opening look at what we eat.  Sounds appetizing, eh?  If you enjoyed Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, you will like Food, Inc.  It comes from the same kernel as King Corn. The highlight of the movie, for us, was the segment with Joel Salatin on Polyface Farms.  Warning: if you watch this, you might change your food choices.

World War II


As a family, we often remember a season or a year by our viewing.  One summer it was the Jeeves and Wooster videos, one autumn was occupied with Foyle’s War.  Last winter it was Band of Brothers.  It took us a while to find a friend willing to lend it to us.  Curt had co-workers who owned this set, but it was too precious to them to lend it out. Gritty, war-violence, it is not for the faint of heart. If you can stomach the intensity of combat scenes, it is highly excellent.  Our son was very happy to get this from his brother for Christmas.  On a side note, the theme music is the most compelling, haunting, soul-grabbing collection of notes. 

It is ironic that I watched Valkyrie with my daughter-in-law and her sister.  They said it was the best war movie they’d seen.  Apart from the opening, there are no gunfights or battle scenes.  It is all spy and mystery and thriller.  Even though you know that this operation failed, you are sucked into the suspense and hold your breath.  After watching this movie I am left with the question, how many lives would have been saved if this attempt on Hitler’s life from the inside of the Nazi machine had succeeded?  There are many potential points of discussion.

BBC and Me

I don’t know how I completely missed David Copperfield when it came out in 2000, but I did.  I love Dickens and I loved David C.  We’ve enjoyed Martin Chuzzlewit, Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby and have Our Mutual Friend waiting for me to finish the book. However, I don’t believe there is middle ground with Dickens: either you are a fan of sad, sordid, sorrowful scenes where one ray of light appears…or you aren’t. 

There is nothing funny about Wit but it is gripping.  This is, I believe, Emma Thompson’s best role….ever.  John Donne, the metaphysical poet, is worth exploring.  My review here.

Foreign

File The Chorus (Les Choristes) under films that demonstrate the power of music.  A composer/teacher takes a job at a boy’s reform school after WWII.  The headmaster is a typical two-dimensioned cruel man, a foolish tyrant.  Singing in a chorus brings beauty into the students’ lives.  A few gritty parts, and a little heavy on sentimentalism, but I liked it.

Fun with Food

A friend recommended Jamie Oliver – Oliver’s Twist to us.  It’s the first foodie show we’ve raved about.  Jamie Oliver is a guy’s guy who loves to cook.  Unpretentious. With a British accent.  What’s not to love?

I was delighted to receive (and watch!) Julie & Julia this Christmas.  Since Curt and I watched it in the theater, we rented a disc of Julia Child’s cooking shows. Having seen them underscored how brilliant Meryl Streep really is.  Perfectly delightful.  My review

What about you?  Which movies would you watch again in 2010?

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2 thoughts on “Favorite Films of 2009

  1. Hi Dear C…. what a great list to read!  Let’s see… life was a little limited movie-wise for us this year, but Netflix has been a gift and a joy, indeed —**Julie and Julia – got it for Scott for Christmas. I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed. Meryl and Stanley were the redemptive forces of the movie – the other couple was underdeveloped, I thought, and the Julie character was a little annoying. But Meryl! And that marriage! That part was pretty great.** Wit  – I got it at your recommendation and could only bear the first 30 minutes. I cried and cried and not in a good way. I think Emma is a genius, and I’ll try to watch it again some day. It was just uber bad timing for me.** it’s all-BBC-all-the time around here.  We’re into Cranford – again! – and I just ordered the DVD’s. We love pretty much everything they do – my Dr. Who loving husband [old AND new!] finds his heart’s true home there. It hasn’t been a season of finding much new… but that which I do find I usually cull from your recommendations – and Di’s…Can’t wait ’til we’ll all be in the same space enjoying the best of it all together. Much love!Steph

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