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Greg’s List: Favorite movies of 2009: Star Trek, Julie & Julia, Inglourious Basterds and others make cut

Editor’s note: These are by no means meant to be any kind of best picture rankings.

They are simply the movies that I enjoyed the most this year, films that left me satisfied and damned glad I saw them.

1. Star Trek

I’m the furthest thing from a Trekkie that you can imagine. When my old roommates in the early 90s were watching late-night Star Trek reruns in our Newport Beach apartment, I’d be on the sofa, indifferent, reading a copy of People magazine or something and would occasionally look up and ask things like: “Is that dude human?” or “What planet are they on right now?”

But I wanted to see the new Star Trek movie for some reason and my pal Eddie did too. So we went to the 3:45 showing at The Grove on Friday and I gotta say, it was a fantastic time! The dreamy Chris Pine becomes a major movie star in this film as Capt. James. T. Kirk. He is strong in the action scenes but funny and sexy in others. And Zachary Quinto is wonderful as Spock, making Leonard Nimoy’s iconic role his own. The fact that Nimoy is also in the movie as an older version of Spock (I admit, that was the only part confused me a little) makes Quinto’s triumph all the more impressive.

Kudos to Eric Bana who proved that he could be completely stripped of his good looks and give a standout performance (he’s the bad guy in this).

The movie tells the story of these characters from the beginning – how Spock and Kirk meet, their family histories, and hoew the crew of The Enterprise comes together. So now I’m up to speed and I’m ready for more installments with this terrific cast. Julie & Julia

Streep’s performance as Julia Child is joyous and goes well beyond being an impersonation. She captures the woman’s lust for life (and for her husband, played by Stanley Tucci), her wonderful humor and indomitable spirit and, on a few rare occasions, her pain.

This goes right to the top of Streep’s best performances and I enjoyed every minute she was on screen from Julia’s life in Paris starting in the late 40s through to her landmark cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking being published in the early 60s.

(It is also great to see the great Jane Lynch in her scenes as Julia’s sister who comes to Paris for a visit and ends up finding love. She and Streep have some wonderfully fun scenes together.)

In the film’s present day story, Amy Adams plays Julie Powell, a woman on the verge of 30 looking for meaning in her life. She aspires to cook all 524 recipes from Child’s cookbook and decides to blog about it. The stories were interwoven nicely as both women find themselves through cooking.

Adams is wonderful, as usual, and has terrific chemistry with on-screen husband played by an adorable Chris Messina. As a blogger myself, I related a lot to the Julie scenes in the film which capture the life of a blogger quite well – the solitary nature most times, the odd hours, the obsession with blog traffic and this often stern reminder from friends or family: “Do not put that in your blog!”

3, (500) Days of Summer

I was completely charmed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer and think Zooey Deschanel’s character was insane not to snap this dude up!

Oh well, her character ended up being kind of annoying anyway!

Deschanel is so beautiful and so lovely in her role but for me, Gordon-Levitt really made this movie and it was the first time it was the first time he was seen as a romantic leading man after years of dark and dramatic roles in such films as Mysterious Skin, Stop-Loss, and Brick.(

I really enjoyed this movie a lot and I liked that it was so out of sequence because you were forced to really pay close

4. Inglourious Basterds

This was SUCH a good, old-fashioned entertaining time at the movies. I did not expect this Quentin Tarantino written and directed film to be as enjoyable as it was.

The film, set in German-occupied France, tells the story of two plots to assassinate the Nazi political leadership, one planned by a young French Jewish cinema proprietress (a superb Melanie Laurent). The other is by a team of American soldiers called the “Basterds” led by A thickly accented Tennessean played by Brad Pitt who is responsible for all the film’s laughs. The film also includes an Oscar-worthy performance from Christoph Waltz who is perfection as Col. Hans Landa.

5. Taken

Oh man, this is about as suspensful a movie as I saw all year and Liam Neeson was just superb  as a former spy who relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter who has been forced into the slave trade after being snatched while on vacation in Paris.

The kidnapping occurs while the dad is on the phone with his daughter and you see him instantly snap into action and pull out all the stops to get her back. It’s a first-rate thriller that leaves you on the edge of your seat.



(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

2 Remarks

  1. Great list. It’s nice to read a column … Chris Pine (oh, sorry, the mind drifts) … that isn’t afraid to single out the movies that were simply entertaining. Yes, I enjoy a cerebral moviegoing experience as much as the next gay … Chris Pine (there it goes again!) … but sometimes it’s just plain fun to enjoy a Movie. I’ve not seen “Taken”, but plan to soon based on your recommendation. … Chris Pine ….

  2. Darling, if these are the movies you enjoyed the most, these are your best films of the year: there is no other–or at least no better–criterion.

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