CATEGORIES Best & Worst of 2009Sent to bed without dinner? Wife cheating with your brother? Those roving post-apocalyptic cannibals after you again?
As if real life weren't hard enough, in 2009 the movies seemed to have gone all emo, giving us all sorts of things to worry about. Whether films portray society's impending doom, the emotional toll of war, or how hard it can be to just make it through the day, it looks like even the best movies can be downright depressing. Here's a list of the Top 10 movies that, for one reason or another, left us reaching for the Prozac. Sent to bed without dinner? Wife cheating with your brother? Those roving post-apocalyptic cannibals after you again?
As if real life weren't hard enough, in 2009 the movies seemed to have gone all emo, giving us all sorts of things to worry about. Whether films portray society's impending doom, the emotional toll of war, or how hard it can be to just make it through the day, it looks like even the best movies can be downright depressing. Here's a list of the Top 10 movies that, for one reason or another, left us reaching for the Prozac.
Sure, it's a big budget popcorn affair, but there's plenty of people who actually believe that this cataclysmic event will go down as scheduled. With the bevy of recent films that portray the end of the world as we know it (and a good number of them helmed by '2012''s Roland Emmerich) this is the only one that provides the audience with their very own doomsday countdown clock. Gee thanks, you shouldn't have!
After being presumed dead, taken prisoner and forced to beat another man to death, Sam (Tobey Maguire) returns from Afghanistan traumatized and convinced that his wife and brother have had an affair. Even worse, he goes and destroys a perfectly good remodeled kitchen! Based on the Danish film 'Brødre,' there's enough tears and trauma in this one to make up for Natalie Portman's inexplicably wooden performance -- well, almost.
8. 'He's Just Not That Into You'
Fact: Until you meet the right person, dating in real life is just plain depressing. But watching clueless, neurotic people try to hook up (no matter how good-looking they are), now that might be even worse.
7. 'The Cove'
This compelling documentary investigates Taiji, a picturesque coastal town in southeast Japan that seems to be hiding a horrifying secret. With a team of experts in tow, the filmmakers embark on a dangerous, covert mission to find out whether or not Taiji actually hosts the hunt and slaughter of thousands of dolphins. The scene of these crimes is in a remote cove, one canvased with "Keep Out" signs and patrolled by Japanese mafia. Using hidden cameras, the filmmakers attempt to uncover the truth of what goes on in Taiji, while raising provocative cultural and ethical questions in the process.
6. 'Food, Inc'
If 'Super Size Me' had you swearing off Big Macs, then 'Food, Inc' might have you on an all-out hunger strike. This sobering look at the American food industry argues that the current factory farm and agricultural practices are simply unsustainable, both environmentally and economically, and that the way Americans eat is as deadly as it is profitable. Whatever side of the issue you take, you'll never look at a chicken the same way again.
5. 'The Road'
A bleak portrait of a father and son's grim struggle to survive after an unnamed apocalypse causes society to collapse, leaving behind only ashes of the world we know. Without food, running water or electricity, the two slowly make their way to the coast, all the while trying to stay alive and preserve what's left of their own humanity. Based on Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, this film's as emotionally devastating as it is completely terrifying.
4. 'Where The Wild Things Are'
This live-action children's book adaptation took director Spike Jonze's usual themes of repressed emotions and existential angst and ratcheted-up the stakes by threading them all through a child's eyes. As Max (Max Records) leaves his mother and sister behind in a fit of rage, he finds a new family of monsters, but quickly learns how hard it is to be in charge of those you care about. Through extended exchanges with wild things around him, Max seeks answers to life's hardest questions, but finds that he's just as lonely and angry as he was before.
3. 'A Single Man'
Without careening head-long into Spoilerville, let's just say that this character study of a gay literature professor (Colin Firth) in the 1960s is dark, probing and exquisitely melancholy. Beautifully rendered by first time director and fashion designer Tom Ford, this film artfully captures the alienation of one man in mourning, and the lengths he's willing to go to escape his own emotional turmoil.
2. 'The Messenger'
A political film that doesn't take sides, this one chronicles, in heart-wrenching detail, the emotional and ethical struggle of two military officers (Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster) whose job it is to inform families that their loved ones have died at war. Between the talented cast, the timely topic and the obvious skill employed by first-time director Oren Moverman, you'll be moved to tears without feeling manipulated.
1. 'Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire'
Some critics called it "A great American film," others labeled it "poverty porn," but whichever way you slice it, Lee Daniels' 'Precious' is nothing short of a total bummer. Terrorized by her abusive mother, repeatedly raped by her father and pregnant with her second child (the first of which has Down's Syndrome), morbidly obese and nearly illiterate 16-year-old Precious' (Gabourey Sidibe) life is unimaginably bleak, and watching it unfold in unflinching detail onscreen is nothing short of an excruciating emotional endurance trial. And yet, as depressing as 'Precious' is (and man, it's a doozy) there's an upside: by the time it's over, it will likely make your own problems seem absolutely minuscule in comparison.