Meek's Cutoff is the latest ponderous, gorgeously shot film from the minimalist indie director Kelly Reichardt, whose two previous films—2006's Old Joy and 2008's Wendy & Lucy—were striking examples of her delicately academic approach to cinema and interest in exploring journeying characters in moments of despair (existential, personal, psychological).
Unlike any film I can remember, Inception surely puts the psychological in "psychological thriller." This is a film that is about the mind, takes place in the mind, and will stick in your mind. It's energy comes not from explosions or cheap thrills but from the steady, deliberate way that it wraps itself around your brain, python like, a tighter and tighter coil as the film goes along.
As a film critic, I have to see a lot of movies that are not necessarily pleasant to sit through. Which is fine. A lot of my favorite films—and some of the most beautiful, important films of all time—would hardly be categorized as “pleasant” viewing experiences. Films like Breaking the Waves, or Requiem for a Dream, or a number of films by David Lynch, are in my view works of art, deeply disturbing though they may be.
The White Ribbon (which last week I named the best film of 2009) is unlike any film I saw this year, and a film that any lover of cinema should make an effort to see and think about deeply.
Here are my top ten favorite movies of 2009, with an additional 15 honorable mentions that could easily have made the best ten as well. This list has gone through many variations in recent weeks, as I’ve seen a few films more than once or some for the first time (and yes, I did see Up In the Air… but it didn’t make my list). I hope you'll try to see each of the following films if you get the chance (many are available on Netflix). They are the movies that thrilled me the most in 2009.