We've arrived at the very end of 2009, which means it's finally time to unveil our hotly-anticipated 25 Hottest and Lamest lists of 2009. Tonight we're kicking things off with our 25 Hottest of 2009 list, which includes a number of movie-related events (films, actors, actresses, trends, scenes) that we all thought were the hands-down hottest things to happen in Hollywood over the past 12 months. Joining us from the Cinematical staff for this year's lists are Eric D. Snider, William Goss, Monika Bartyzel, Dawn Taylor, Elisabeth Rappe, Jen Yamato and Peter Hall. We'll be back tomorrow night with our list of the 25 Lamest of 2009. Enjoy!

25. Up's tear-jerking silent vignette
With each new film, Pixar finds some way to top itself. The marvelous innovation in Up was the wordless sequence near the beginning, set to Michael Giacchino's wistful score, depicting Carl and Ellie's entire life together -- including the sad fact that they can't have children. Who else would dare to try that? And who but Pixar could pull it off so gracefully? -- ES

24. Chris Klein in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (so lame it's hot)
February is traditionally a dumping ground for Hollywood duds, and when watching Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, it's hard to disagree. But then who rises out of the ashes of clunky dialogue and limp fight scenes but Chris Klein, strutting his way into both the movie and my heart with an equal amount of swagger. That greasy hair! That false bravado! Those squinty eyes! The way he screams "Nash out!" into any nearby communication device! Don't let the release date fool you; within this crappy video game movie hides one brilliant audition reel for any coming Zoolander sequel -- WG

23. Inglourious Basterds
It may have set the nation's copy editors on edge, but Quentin Tarantino's latest film -- his first standalone feature since 2004 -- delighted almost everyone else with its revisionist history, colorful characters (Bear Jew!), and a career-making performance by Christoph Waltz. Heck, even the copy editors had to smile when Col. Landa whipped out that comically oversized tobacco pipe - ES

22. Rockumentaries

Anvil! The Story of Anvil turned into a Cinderella story for the Canadian heavy-metal band it features, finally giving the 30-year-old group its first national TV appearances and earning them new fans. It Might Get Loud, meanwhile, featured people who didn't need any discovering -- Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White -- but gave their numerous existing fans a thrilling jam session they'd never get anywhere else. -- ES

21. Zombieland
The walking dead are a cinematic staple, but it had been a while since we'd seen a good zombie comedy. Then Zombieland came along and infused new life (as it were) into the genre, complete with an out-of-nowhere, completely hilarious celebrity cameo. Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg: action heroes! -- DT

20. Good Iraq/Afghanistan Movies

Hollywood was having a tough time making good films about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this year yielded a bounty of excellent films about soldiers abroad and on the home front. Oren Moverman's The Messenger, featuring a standout turn by Ben Foster as a casualty notification officer, earned Woody Harrelson a Golden Globe nod. Jim Sheridan's Brothers is up for two Golden Globes, including one for Tobey Maguire's emotional performance as a Marine held in Afghanistan. And last but not least, Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker has become one of the year's most potent Oscar contenders. -- JY

19. Disaster Porn

Every generation needs its mindless end-of-the-world popcorn flick, and in 2009, the man who gave us Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow helped coin a new term: disaster porn. With an unabashed commitment to destroying everything in sight -- including decimating millions of human lives and cultural landmarks across the globe, and sliding all of Los Angeles into the Pacific -- Roland Emmerich and 2012 helped usher in a new appreciation for watching gleefully as all the world goes to pieces. -- JY

18. Stop-Motion
Stop-motion animation used to be soooo last century, but in 2009 the handcrafted genre made a glorious return to form. Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) gave life to Neil Gaiman's Coraline with his dark and wondrous 3D film, while live-action auteur Wes Anderson made his first foray into animation with a finely detailed adaptation of Roahl Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox. Even foreign filmmakers got into the spirit, submitting the Claymation drama Mary & Max (Australia) and the delightfully anarchic Belgian farce A Town Called Panic. All four pics will vie for a slot opposite Pixar frontrunner Up and a bevy of CG-animated films in this year's Oscar race. -- JY

17. Esoteric Kid Movies
Parents often sit through as much family-friendly fare as the kids do with little to enjoy, but more auteurs got their chance to take a chance and aim for adults instead. Spike Jonze turned Where the Wild Things Are into something austere and raw, Wes Anderson brought every one of his idiosyncrasies to Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Pixar brought up the woes of old age before dashing them away in Up. Combine those with the super-snappy Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and we won't hold it against you if you just leave the little ones at home next time. -- WG

16. Meryl Streep

It's odd to think of Streep being hot, isn't it? She's a legendary actress, a master of every genre and accent. But suddenly, Streep is cool. She's gone from that tried and true Oscar contender to something resembling a pop star. She's a girl crush, she's a money maker, she's independent, she's everything. It doesn't matter how fluffy the movie appears to be (It's Complicated, anyone?) Streep's presence immediately gives it a warm and genuine credibility. I believe her name should become shorthand for classiness. As in "Wow, I expected that would be a lousy party, but it was really very Meryl Streep, wasn't it?" -- ER

15. The Hangover

In the summer of '09 it was best to keep quiet if you had not yet seen The Hangover, otherwise anyone in the 17 to 35 year old age range would look upon you like a leper. Todd Philips' spiritual follow-up to Old School - which found four friends attempting to remember a roofie-laced bachelor weekend in Las Vegas – was on the tongue of every man, woman, and teen who snuck in to the R-rated romp thanks to a wholesome binge of crude humor, life lessons taught by Mike Tyson, and the bearded wonder that is Zach Galifianakis. -- PH

14. Gerard Butler

Just as moviegoers were wondering "So, where'd that guy from 300 go?", Gerard Butler scored a hat trick with The Ugly Truth, Gamer and Law Abiding Citizen. No matter where you went or what you watched, Butler's face was grimly staring back. The tabloids can't get enough of him, he's name-dropped for every beefy role that comes up for grabs, and Variety has dubbed him the International Male Star of the Year. Hollywood has certainly decided he has arrived, though I still think the jury is out with moviegoers. Nevertheless, he was certainly one of the hottest things going this year – and not just because he showed his ass again. -- ER

13. Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. is unstoppable. He's the star of two franchises already, and a serious contender for just about any comedic, genre, or dramatic property in pre-production. It was universally agreed that his attachment to Steven Spielberg's short-lived Harvey was the only interesting thing about it. My only hope now is that when Iron Man 2 blasts off into the box office stratosphere, we'll see an end to weepy articles bemoaning Downey's troubled past. There's no denying his comeback is a triumph, but he's no longer a symbol of the excessive 1980s, or young and squandered talent. Keep those labels for The Two Coreys. Allow Robert Downey Jr. his reinvention as a bonafide movie idol. -- ER

12. Watchmen
It was the adaptation they said could never be made, but this year, Zack Snyder brought to life the acclaimed graphic novel and left it mostly intact. Thanks to DVD and Blu-ray, we can appreciate his more sprawling take on an alternate America dominated by self-appointed superheroes and the massive moral dilemmas they face, and at any rate, we can be grateful for Jackie Earle Haley's terrifically unhinged portrayal of the psychotic Rorschach. In a year where Warner Brothers took more creative risks than most studios would, this had to be the biggest and ended up being one of the best. -- WG

11. District 9
Neil Blomkamp's docu-style, sci-fi flick about Johannesburg aliens referenced apartheid without preaching and made a profit its first weekend in theaters. Fun Fact: Transformers 2 cost ten times as much as District 9. -- DT

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CATEGORIES Fandom, Cinematical