Movie Buzz: The Year in Review

Metro Spirit | December 23, 2009
The New Year brings new beginnings, but no new movies at the New Year’s Day box office. The awards season rush to cram Hollywood’s finest offerings in by December leaves little to be desired in the inaugural month of the year. Last January’s top movies included “Hotel for Dogs,” “Taken” and the Kevin James fronted comic disaster “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.”

Prequels, sequels and remakes littered the 2009 box office. The prequel trend included Hugh Jackman in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” writer Dan Brown’s “Angels & Demons” and J.J. Abrams’ take on “Star Trek.”

Sequels brought tween crowd pleasers “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and the vampire romance “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” Vin Diesel came back to “Fast & Furious” while horror sequels continued Rob Zombie’s clown obsession (“Halloween II”) and Jigsaw’s deranged legacy (“Saw VI”). Christian Bale played sci-fi action hero John Connor in “Terminator Salvation,” but Arnold Schwarzenegger was nowhere to be found. Lighter, happier sequels included Ben Stiller in “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.”

Summer blockbuster “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” was the year’s highest grossing film. “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” brought more ‘80s nostalgia, but critics balked at the live action flick much like they did with a lackluster remake of the 1980 musical “Fame.” Another musical, “Nine,” boasted a fine ensemble cast including Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz.

Funnyman Will Ferrell’s attempt to remake Sid and Marty Krofft’s “Land of the Lost” produced an absurd comic farce while Jack Black revisited prehistoric times to critics’ chagrin in “Year One.” Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau enjoyed summer success with “Couples Retreat” while Tyler Perry sent pistol-packing grandma Madea to jail and audiences realized “Borat” was way funnier than “Bruno.”

Power producer Judd Apatow helped Adam Sandler get his comic moxie back alongside Seth Rogen in “Funny People” and summer’s sleeper hit, “The Hangover,” earned critical raves by retracing the steps of four guys after a night of hard drinking left them with a baby, a tiger and a naked Chinese mobster.

Michael Jackson, Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers each had their time on the big-screen while younger crowds enjoyed “Coraline,” “Ponyo,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “Monsters vs. Aliens” and “The Princess and the Frog.” Jim Carrey lent his voice to several characters in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and Disney had its biggest hit of the year with “Up.” Music video directing legend Spike Jonze took his talents to a fantasy world full of monsters in “Where the Wild Things Are” and director Wes Anderson brought Roald Dahl’s children’s story to life with George Clooney voicing “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

“Watchmen” showed superheroes through the eyes of “300” director Zack Snyder while “2012” brought on the apocalypse. Indie films “(500) Days of Summer,” “Crazy Heart,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Paranormal Activity” and “Precious” earned critical raves while documentarian Michael Moore challenged the establishment with “Capitalism: A Love Story.”

“Julie & Julia” cooked up box office success for Meryl Streep, who was also part of a mature love triangle in “It’s Complicated.” Quentin Tarantino changed Nazi history with “Inglourious Basterds” and Peter Jackson directed extraterrestrial and human relations in “District 9.” Other critical successes included Sandra Bullock’s performance in “The Blind Side,” Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal as “Brothers,” Colin Firth as “A Single Man” and George Clooney as a frequent flyer extraordinaire in “Up in the Air.” Robert Downey Jr. embodied Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary icon “Sherlock Holmes” for director Guy Ritchie while Clint Eastwood took on Nelson Mandela with “Invictus” and James Cameron’s “Avatar” brought new technologies to the cinematic world.

Top movie prospects for 2010 include Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” a feature length helping of “The A-Team” and the big-screen treatment for TV’s “Arrested Development.” Sequels run rampant again, too, with “Iron Man 2,” “Sex and the City 2,” “Toy Story 3,” plus continuations of the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” sagas.
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