I don’t know about anybody else, but this year’s upcoming movies don’t seem very exciting to me. None of the movies that come out 2010 have seemed very good to me, which is a pity since last year’s production was wonderful. 2009 was a good year for movies.

I’ll list the three best, in my opinion, movies of last year. I’ll start with my least favorite to my absolute favorite, with an explanation of why the movie was so good.

3)  — The Princess and the frog by Ron Clements and John Musler – this is Disney’s newest hand-drawn film. It is based very loosely on the Grimm’s fairy tale “The frog prince”. It tells the story of Tiana, a young ambitious woman living in New Orleans. She dreams of owning her own restaurant, but despite her hard work that dream is far from coming true. When she meets a frog who claims to be a prince under a spell, she agrees to give him a kiss to turn him back into a prince for a load of money. Things don’t go as planned; the kiss results in the prince staying a frog and Tiana turning into a frog.

This movie had a lot of things that were nice and fun. The first being the characters. The prince, Naveen, is one of the few Disney princes that actually have a personality – and a really strong, well-developed one at that. Naveen is your typical frat boy, who loves partying but hates having to work in any way. It is easy to laugh at Naveen, but you can’t help but to like him. He matures throughout the movie and even admits that he has been a hopeless case. Tiana, the main heroine, is also a great character. She is a modern, strong woman with a big heart. She is also the one who defeats the villain in the end!

Dr. Faculier, aka. “The Shadow man”, is this movies incredibly villain. He is a voodoo magician who wishes to take over all of New Orleans. This is one of the coolest, neatest and actually interesting villains Disney has had in years. Dr. Faculier is a smart, cunning villain who even gives hints of why he has become the way he has. He also does look a little scary in certain scenes. And he gets his own, awesome song!

Another thing that was great about the movie was the story of the movie is entertaining and fun. It is a real feel good movie. And it’s nice to see a kid’s movie that takes place in an area with overwhelming population of African-Americans.

The third thing I liked about the movie was the animation. It was elegant and beautiful. You could really tell the animators tried their best to please the viewer. I thank them for that.

2) — “District 9” by Neil Blomcamp, Peter Robert Gerber and Simon Hansen – this was by far the best science fiction movie to come out since 2000. It is a harsh, vicious portrayal of human cruelty. The story takes place in Johannesburg, where a spaceship has landed and its passengers have been forced into ghettos. The aliens are hated and feared, they are controlled and used. The movies protagonist, Wikus Van de Merwe, is a man who gets the opportunity to lead the removal of the aliens from the ghetto they live in to a much worse slum area where they are not expected to survive long in. During his mission he comes in contact with some mysterious liquid that starts to turn him into one of the aliens. Do to this transformation, he gets kidnapped by the military and witnesses the horrible experiments done on the aliens. He escapes, only to be forced to work with the alien Christopher and his son for a chance to be turned back into a human again.

Neil Blomkamp, who not only has done most of the directing but also done most of the writing, has said that he has based most of the films happenings on his childhood memories of the Apartheid. That comes of no surprise. “District 9” is a clear attack on xenophobia and prejudice, on the vicious treatment “different” kind of people get. It is a cleverly done film; it is half mockumentary, aka fake-documentary, half-action film and half- political commentary (which in this movie adds up to more than one movie – in this case). Everything is filmed with a gritty feeling and spares us no gross details. The film also is able to get the viewer to sympathize and cry for the aliens despite there at first frightening appearance. There were times I had to close my eyes due to the cruelty done by humans. Christopher, the main alien, is a brilliantly designed and developed character. He acts just like your typical every-man, yet looks like a sea-creature.  Wonderful!!

Also strangely and thoroughly enjoyable is the open ending of the movie. It allows the viewer to decide for him or herself what will happen next.

1) — “Fish Tank” by Andrea Arnold (directed as well as written) – I find this movie to be the best movie of 2009. It is one of the few movies that gives a fair voice to abused and/or neglected young adults. It is also a brilliant portrayal of an outcast of society. The main character is Mia, a fifteen year old girl who is neglected by her mother, thrown out of school and has fallen out of her friends cycles. Nobody seems to really care about Mia, who finds comfort only in dancing and listening to Hip Hop. When her mother brings home a new boyfriend, Mia seems to have found someone she can talk to. Mia becomes very attached to the man. Too attached.

“Fish Tanks” has a “dirty realism” feel to it. Nothing about life is idealized; people are complex creatures with plenty of faults, the living areas are messy and the major conflict’s in life isn’t always resolved. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope; Mia is a strong girl and is able to find a way to change her life. The filming style of the film is very “dogmatic”: shaking cameras bleach colors etc. This makes the film feel realistic.

Andrea Arnold is a promising new woman director. She’s made one film before “Fish Tank”, “Red Road”, which I haven’t seen yet. She’s also made three short films, which are nearly impossible to find, but which have been highly acclaimed. Judging from “Fish Tank”, I’ll say that Arnold has a perfect feel of harsh reality and human drama. If you haven’t seen this touching coming-of-age film, I recommend that you see it immediately!

See more pictures at the end of this page!

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