Friday, December 4, 2009

My Favorite Films of 2009!

I know it's a little early but there aren't really any other films coming out this year that I'm interested in. With Ishqiya pushed back to 2010, I think it's safe to run down my favorite films of 2009 along with my biggest disappointments. Just a small caveat - I'm not attempting to list the best films of 2009 in any objective manner, just my favorites. And my biggest disappointments are not necessarily the 'worst' films, just ones I felt didn't live up to their potential.

(And please note that I have yet to see Wake Up Sid, London Dreams, Wanted, Life Partner, Gulaal, and Dev.d - all of which look highly entertaining.)

This was an odd year for Bollywood, with the producer's strike that halted the release of new films for what seemed like an eternity. Add to that the growing tension between producers who want to make films for the classes and those who want to make them for the masses and you have a schizophrenic movie year, to say the least.

Here are my TOP 5 Favorite Bollywood Films of 2009!

#5 New York (June 26, Yash Raj)



In any other year, New York might have been overlooked by the public but as luck would have it for Yash Raj, it was released right after the strike ended and the public, hungry for new films, came out in droves! It's an odd little film, starring three actors who are not known to be strong performers (John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, and Neil Nitin Mukesh), and tackles a difficult subject (terrorism). There are no lip-synced songs and the soundtrack as a whole is extremely subdued. Yet, something about New York really resonated with me. John Abraham gives one of the best performances of his career as the man whose life is turned upside after the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City. Neil and Katrina back him up with vulnerable appeal. The emotions all felt very close and very real and the narrative plunges ahead with just the right amount of chills, thrills, and emotional dil.

You can read my review here.

#4 Raaz: The Mystery Continues (January 23, Mahesh Bhatt Productions)



Here is another small film that caught me off guard. Raaz: The Mystery Continues is probably the closest thing to a traditional masala film that came out of Bollywood this year and I enjoyed every second (although there were a few niggling misogynist undertones towards the end). Raaz 2 had a lot of things that aren't seen as often as I would like in Bollywood anymore - like poor people fighting back against big corporations and romantic song picturizations involving lip syncing. Kangana Ranaut is delicious unbalanced as a high fashion model with terrifying visions and her then-boyfriend Adhyayan Suman plays an all-too-convincing douche-bag. Add in Jackie Shroff in an age-appropriate role and Emraan Hashi with a bad haircut and you have yourself a very fun film!

You can read my review here.

#3 99 (May 15, People Pictures)



I'm three for three with the films I went in expecting nothing from. 99 stars the chronically underappreciated Kunal Khemu, former VJ Cyrus Broacha, Boman Irani, Soha Ali Khan, and Vinod Khanna - in other words, the cream of the B-list - and just charmed the pants right off of me. Seriously. If 99 had taken me out to dinner, I'd have ended up back at its apartment enjoying breakfast the next morning (eggs over-easy, please, and two slices of toast)! The film itself doesn't have any deep messages or over-the-top comedy or flashy song picturizations. It's just a tightly plotted, wittly written, well acted, and, above all, clever little film. Kunal puts in yet ANOTHER excellent performance that went unnoticed and Vinod Khanna added just the right amount of gravitas to his scenes. Boman was in top form - and thankfully minus his typical "comedy" shtick. If you missed this the first time around because you didn't recognize the cast or thought it would be poorly produced, I highly recommend giving it a try - I don't think you'll be disappointed. (Besides, 99 has more than one seat open at its breakfast table!)

You can read my review here.

#2 Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (November 6, Tips Music Films)



My first big-budget pick! I really, really enjoyed APKGK (I'm not typing that out again) for a number of reasons, not the least of which was Ranbir and Katrina's adorable performances as the young lovers at the center of the story. The music was great, the costumes were great, the sets were great, the assorted actors were great, the direction was great, and the story was a joy! At its heart, APKGK isn't anything you haven't seen before but when did that ever matter in when it comes to romance? So, just sit back and enjoy this sweet and funny story, which for my money, is the best rom-com to come out of Mumbai since Jab We Met.

You can read my review here.

#1 Aladin (October 30, Eros Entertainment)


Finally! Number one on my list is a film that was ruthlessly panned by critics for reasons that totally baffled me. Much like some of my other favorite critical flops, like Jaan-e-Mann, part of the reason I enjoyed Aladin so much was the marriage of high and low concept. Aladin provided meta-commentary on Bollywood and hilarious sight gags; an engaging emotional narrative and pratfalls. Add to this rich mix, beautiful set design, a witty script, Amitabh Bachchan in top form, an eye-catching heroine who knows how to handle herself on camera (Jacqueline Fernandez), and Riteish Deshmukh's big debut as a solo hero and you have my favorite film of 2009.

You can read my review here.

What were your favorites this year?!

13 comments:

Ameya said...

I quite liked Billu & Delhi 6 & I loved Dil Bole Hadippa. I think those were the only ones i saw in theatres this year, actually.

I really wan to see Aladin! And i'll have to put some of this list on my to-watch queue

Filmi Girl said...

I enjoyed Billu and DBH quite a bit, too! If I had done 10 films, they would have been in there... :)

Damilola Adejonwo said...

I AM SO HAPPY U PUT MY FAVORITE ACTRESS KANGANA RANAUT MOVIE ON UR LIST. RAAZ 2 WAS A SCARY MOVIE AND KANGANA IS A GREAT ACTRESS

TadyLovesDaniel said...

I really LOVED Love Aaj Kal, I think i'm developing a weakness for the Saif and his botox....lol...and Kaminey, and I freaking LOVED What's your Rashee? ... this was my Tashan of 2009...The music worked so well in the film, I actually like Harman, And Priyanka was awesome to watch on screeen....

Anita said...

I'll only have a top two. 2. Love Aaj Kal and 1. (by a large margin) Luck By Chance

shell said...

Yikes. I have not seen one single movie on your top 5 list. I did pick up a copy of 99 based on your previous review, but haven't had a chance yet to watch it. Actually, I've quite a few movies from this year just sitting waiting to be watched. I'd have to say so far Billu and Luck By Chance are probably my favs of the year that I've seen so far. (I didn't really like Love AajKal and Dil Bole Hadippa was just so-so for me).

Aya said...

Hi! My favorite films of the year were Dil Bole Hadippa and Kaminey soo far! yeaahh Shahid makes me weak in the knees. but I didn't watch any of the films on your list :/ I now want to watch New York(even though I really hate 9/11 and terrorist type movies in bollywood). Also Ajab Prem once its on DVD and I will add 99 on my netflix queue!!

Filmi Girl said...

@Damilola If only Kangs had been in more good films this year!! :(

@Tady I never saw "Love AajKal" but LOL! at your weakness for Botox!Saif :D

@Anita You are going to hate my biggest disappointments list... ;P

@shell You need to watch "99" - it didn't deserve to be overlooked like it was... very good film! :)

@Aya Def. add "99" to your Netflix queue - it was a cute little film and very untraditional!

kimt76 said...

Love the lists...I need to check out 99!

My five favorite of the year would be, in order:
1) Delhi-6
2) Luck by Chance
3) Love Aaj Kal
4) Kaminey
5) Dil Bole Hadippa
Honorable mentions go to: Kaminey (I need to rewatch in order to finalize my opinion), Kambakkht Ishq (I'm a sucker for the Stallone) and New York (I was also very impressed with John Abraham's performance and Irfaan (sp?) Khan was a true scene-stealer).

Biggest disappointments: Chandni Chowk to China (I don't know what I was expecting though with this off the wall (no pun intended) premise) and Life Partner (couldn't finish though I really do want to like Govinda and this did have some great song picturizations early on).

One of the best films to come out of India this year, though, was not a Bollywood film, in my opinion. The President is Coming was satirical perfection!

I am still looking forward to seeing Wake Up Sid and What's Your Rashee? I love Konkona and I'm curious about Harman and the Hrithik comparisons and I've never seen him in anything.

kimt76 said...

I just realized I have Kaminey in the top five and in the honorable mentions...I guess I'm still not sold on it, but I really want to like it as I'm a big fan of Vishal Bharadwaj. It's ranked about DBH just because that's really just a guilty pleasure.

myrna-nora said...

I saw 3 new movies this year (plus Ghajini on New Year's Day -I would pick that one as my favorite if I could).
Love Aaj Kal was good in places but overall average and kind of bland.
Dil Bole Hadippa I loved, but I would have liked a little more focus on the romance.
Aladin I loved equally as well as DBH, but it felt more complete as a movie. So I think I'll have to agree on it as the #1 film.

I'll be sure to look for the others on your list on DVD. Thanks for all your great reviews and recommendations!

eliza bennet said...

I need to watch more films from this year but from the ones I have seen

Kaminey
Luck By Chance
and
Tasveer 8x10

Apparently I'm a sucker for clean cinematography :)

Simran said...

Yayyyy!!! Seeing 99 on your list made my day .. =D

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl