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Stalker's Top Ten 2009: Matthew Fong

10FSReel.jpgNext up on the Stalker's Top Ten of 2009 is Matthew Fong. He's produced quite a popular list, and you can start to see some trends in the titles being picked for top films of the year. Matthew has also added in his list of his most anticipated films for next year, something I need to get done this week too.

Before we head off and look at Matthew's list, remember that you can see all the Stalker's Top Tens right here on Filmstalker in the Stalker's Top Tens, plus, here's information on how you can submit your own list.

Submitting your own list is easy to do, create a list, add at least a sentence explanation about each entry, how you'd like to be known on the published article along with a site link, and email it to me at competition@filmstalker.co.uk.

Now, let's hand over to Matthew. He runs a site in the US called Advance Screenings, where you can find out information on just that, advance screenings. He's also about to start a new site called What2See, so stay on the look out for that. In the meantime, catch him on Twitter and after reading his list comment below.

Here's Matthew:

Gathering the top 10 movies of 2009 was easy, putting them in order is a bit harder. Somewhat impossible because each movie is different and should be graded on different fields in my opinion. For the top spot, for instance, I am deliberating between Up In The Air and Avatar. How do you compare such movies? Up In The Air is a thought provoking real film while Avatar is a groundbreaking epic. You’re eventually going to break it down to points which both movies don’t share. So, I’ll just bunch them up into random groups in no particular order:

Movies that have space in em.
I have a blog. I am a geek. I like Sci-Fi stuff so of course I’m going to like movies that go into the final frontier (which isn’t really space – go watch Interstate 60). 2009 was truly a great year for sci-fi movies and stretching the imagination. Movies are often seen as an escape from the real world and with everything that has been going on in the real world, you can see that view shown in the year’s movies.

Star Trek (Filmstalker review)
I have to admit, this is one of two films on this list that I did not see in theaters (which is pretty impressive imo, I’ve spent a lot of time in those big leather seats this year). I finally got to see this film on Blu-ray and was pleasantly surprised. It already had a lot going against it being called Star Trek. Almost anything below amazing wouldn’t pass for the Trekkies or Trekkers, but to me, this surely does pass as an addition to the Star Trek franchise and a great movie in itself.

District 9 (Filmstalker review)
$30 million dollars? Really? How can you not be impressed with this film. Even without knowing how small the budget was for this film, it was a great sci-fi movie from an angle we haven’t seen before. Everything from the camerawork to the acting to the special effects were top notch. The story was different and gave us a different angle on the whole alien invasion thing.

Avatar (Filmstalker review)
From $30 million to $500 million. That’s like almost double, isn’t it?? Saying anything about the movie would just be redundant because you’ve heard it all before. This is the granddaddy of them all .. almost as if it were the finale for 2009. I was amazed on every level of this movie and couldn’t stop smiling as I watched it. I was drawn into the world of Avatar and didn’t want to come back. What amazed me the most wasn’t the technology behind the movie, or how much I was attracted to a blue creature, it was how fast the movie moved. It was close to 3 hours long but felt as if only 10 minutes had passed as the credits rolled. I would’ve been fine if the movie went for another 3 hours. Even after watching it multiple times, you just don’t get bored.

Now let’s talk about the technology. The whole industry owes this movie and James Cameron a thanks because he single-handedly got this 3D movie experience to us. He helped invent the technology and get it into the theaters for all of us to enjoy it. Now we have to see who takes the lead into getting 3D into our living rooms. (From what I know, most of the big companies have gotten the hint and have been developing technologies in the next couple of years. I’ve seen a prototype for a 3D computer monitor that didn’t need any glasses but got a headache after a little while so we’re still a few years away).

For those who say the plot has been done before and the story was lame…I’m sorry, which movie has been new recently? Almost every film is based on some other story or situation that has already been created. To me, it’s all about the fundamentals, that’s what any story is built upon and this one went to the most basic plot lines and executed them well. Sure, you can tell what was going to happen from before the movie even started, but I can do that with your life too … you’re going to die. Oh sorry, spoiler alert.

Movies that had people talking
2009 obviously had the continued rise of the Internet and the rapid rise of Twitter. As time goes on, the world wide web is closing the wide world into a much much smaller entity. And with that comes even more power to word of mouth and buzz. The following movies had people talking at the watercoolers and websites alike. (Obviously all the movies on this list had people talking since they were the best, but these grew a buzz that propelled them to be seen by millions when they probably wouldn’t have otherwise.)

The Hangover
Why aren’t we in Vegas right now? Well, I’ll be going next week actually, but that’s another blog post…This movie exposed everything we all want to secretly (or not secretly) do. We all want that crazy night in Vegas that we can’t remember, but we don’t want other people remembering it for us. Luckily, this movie let us remember some other guys’ crazy stories. This was another low budget flick that did remarkably well. Do you know it’s in the top 50 of all time domestic grossing films? It’s made over $275 million with a budget of about $35 million. HOW DID IT DO THAT? Well my friend told me I had to go see it? Oh, you too? Yeah, that’s why it’s in the “Movies that had people talking.” section. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…unless it’s videotaped. Then we all get to see it and it’s sure to be hilarious. What gets filmed in Vegas that isn’t funny?

Paranormal Activity (Filmstalker review)
Maybe this is the year of low budget films. I don’t even know if you can call this one a budget…it was $15,000. Ridiculous. To me, this film redefined scary movies. It created the experience that frightened rather than camera tricks and cheap thrills…it was a different kind of scary. I watched it in a real old-style theater (Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewfong/3952830080/) which created an even extra scary ambiance (it was also at midnight). What does this have to do with the actual movie? With scary movies, it’s all about the experience…not knowing what’s going on or what to expect. No one really knew what this movie was about except that it was scary as hell. Paramount launched an interesting marketing campaign where they made people demand the movie in their city. Slowly, it creeped across the states and got shown everywhere so that people could see what everyone else was talking about.

It’s hard to talk about this film. It’s a serious film that shows how the other half live. People need to see this movie to see what others have to live through. It’s real, profound, and delivers a message that needs to be heard. Some of what’s shown is tough to stomach but hey, it happens in real life.

Just bad ass films.
“It’s just a good movie.” As noted before, a lot of times movies are an escape. A couple hours out of the mundane to enjoy a glimpse at another way to live. Some films are just nice to watch.

Inglourious Basterds (Filmstalker review)
My favorite Quentin Tarantino film, hands down. This movie had everything you’d expect from a Tarantino film and more. The story line was absurd, the characters were unique and entertaining, and the ending was overblown and exaggerated. Honestly, I don’t want to write more about this film, it speaks for itself.

Taken (Filmstalker review)
This could be the definition of bad ass film. I don’t know where this film came from. This is the other film that I didn’t watch in theaters. Had I known how bad ass it was, I probably would’ve. Liam Neeson delivers an incredible performance of a dad with a special set of skills that proves to entertain through a great in your face action film. We all wish we had super spy skills and could be James Bond. But in recent films, these characters are portrayed more as superheroes than regular people. Taken puts it all back into perspective and you can really believe that this normal guy is more than just normal…but doesn’t have superpowers.

Sherlock Holmes
alright, so this movie being on the list may just because it came out at the end of the year but it’s also a guilty a pleasure of mine. Robert Downey, Jr. has quite an amazing comeback recently (He may be the star of 3 huge franchises by the end of this year, Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, and Cowboys and Aliens). I’ve been a Jude Law fan since Gattaca (which is one of my all time favorite movies) and I fell in love with Rachel McAdams in Wedding Crashers (another all time favorite). Wrap those 3 in a Guy Ritchie film with great dialogue and I’m sold. The movie is just a nice watch, also, the dog’s name is my dad’s name…

I dunno what to name this category…it’s up in the air.

Up In The Air
Arguably the best movie of the year, Up In The Air has the total package. It has everything except being a mainstream blockbuster movie. It’s a thought-provoking film which exposes some real lifestyles. To me, the movie is about making choices. Some people think the main character is lonely based on the way he lives his life. He doesn’t take the typical route of a family, house, and picket fence. Instead, he lives his life on the road and is away from his rinky dinky apartment more than he’s home. But really, who would want to live in Omaha, Nebraska, anyway ;) ? As I begin a jet setting stage in my life, this movie hits close to home. What is the right choice? Do you live life to the fullest with whatever’s around you? Or do you gather things around you now and make the best life for yourself where you can. But in the end, you can’t control everything and have to roll with the punches life gives you. I love moviesthat are genuine and mean something after you watch it. I can’t wait to watch this one again and add it to my all time favorites.

What am I looking forward to in 2010? (US release dates)

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (already released but not wide)
Shutter Island (February 19, 2010)
Hot Tub Time Machine (March 19, 2010)
Death at a Funeral (April 16, 2010)
Kick-Ass (April 16, 2010)
Iron-Man 2 (May 7, 2010)
Inception (July 16, 2010)

Cracking list Matthew, many thanks for the submission. What do you think? Anything to agree with or disagree with? I definitely don't think Paranormal Activity belongs up there, it didn't scare me one bit.



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