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Roger Ebert's Two Lists of the Best Films of 2009 Unveiled

by
December 20, 2009
Source: Roger Ebert's Journal

The Hurt Locker

Ah yes, it's that time of year when everyone starts putting out their best of the year lists. Roger Ebert has announced his list of the best of 2009 and he's split it up into two specific lists in order to give 20 different films this honor. He explains: "The lists are divided into Mainstream Films and Independent Films. This neatly sidesteps two frequent complaints: (1) 'You name all those little films most people have never heard of,' and (2) 'You pick all blockbusters and ignore the indie pictures.' Which is is my official Top Ten? They both are equal, and every film here is entitled to name itself 'One of the Year's 10 Best!'" See all 20 below!

The Top 10 Mainstream Films:
» Bad Lieutenant
» Crazy Heart
» An Education
» The Hurt Locker
» Inglourious Basterds
» Knowing
» Precious
» A Serious Man
» Up in the Air
» The White Ribbon

"Now you are thinking, hey, what about Avatar? Faithful readers know of my annual Special Jury Prize. This year it goes to James Cameron's ground-breaking epic. No, that doesn't mean it's the best film of the year. It means it won the Special Jury Prize."

The Top 10 Independent Films:
» Departures
» Disgrace
» Everlasting Moments
» Goodbye Solo
» Julia
» Silent Light
» Sin Nombre
» Skin
» Trucker
» You, the Living

I don't know how films like The White Ribbon or Bad Lieutenant or even Crazy Heart count as "mainstream films", because those three are certainly not mainstream, but I guess they're not as independent as those on that list. Usually I agree with Ebert, but something seems off about his lists this year. Maybe I just don't think that most of those he ended up choosing were really the best films of 2009. Sure, they are great, but I guess I just feel like he's missing a few that I really want to see up there. I am very happy for Up in the Air though, as it definitely deserves that spot on here, as do The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds as well.

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  • tobi,leader of the akatsuki
    inglorious basterds is a cool film,i personally loved the watchmen & transformers 2.
  • RPH
    Knowing? Really? That was one of the most cliche and badly acted/written films I have ever seen, yes the aliens/ships were cool but that's about it.
  • Spencer
    I know this isn't going to Roger, but I mean....REALLY ROGER? KNOWING? REALLY? (500) Days of Summer > Knowing. ANYDAY of the week. Come on Roger...
  • Spencer
    Tobi, Transformers 2 was one of the WORST movies I have ever seen in my entire life.
  • Knowing?
  • tobi,leader of the akatsuki
    @ spencer it maybe what you think,but it done what it said on the packet,great special effects,megan fox,giant fucking robots fighting.ain't that cool in its own right.
  • Scott
    Knowing?? Seriously Wow. No Avatar??? And the White Ribbon needs to be on the bottom list. I usually view Ebert's review with reverence but this can't be right
  • David
    what i am wondering is why district 9 is not on either list (honestly no clue as to which it should be on) as it was one of the best films of this year by far or is it just that because it is sci-fi it gets the screw?
  • Brandon
    I agree District 9 deserves to be up there. Knowing? Common!
  • me
    "You, the Living" is the best film of 2007, not one of the top ten of 2009. LOL
  • samuel j
    he must have been smoking crack. both lists are horrible
  • beavis
    i don't like this list stuff. but if i had to pick the best? best mainstream: "an education"......this year nothing else is close. if it's based on visuals alone - then avatar gets it; but, i expect more and "education" really delivers. it's wonderful. best indie : "sin nombre"..... and again, no other indie comes close to it. i don't think i could pick between my two "best" movies. they're both equally great. if anyone on here hasn't seen them - do so. they're excellent. a few other thoughts: - and by the way.......i have to agree with the people above - "knowing"?????? it wouldn't make my top 10 due to weak story and unbelieveably predictable ending. - i thought that after chapter 4, "inglorious bastards" was very boring. and the ending was lame too. - why didn't "district 9" make his top 10?
  • kalen
    no star trek? district 9? up? o and tobi....... only a child thinks a movie is good just because it has explosions and giant fucking robots. "aint that cool in its own right." cool does not equal good! sure it made it a bit entertaining, but theres a big line drawn where something is GOOD. it was entertaining, but it wasnt good! the story sucked, the acting sucked, ect..
  • Zim
    Knowing? lol what about D9? 500 Days of Summer? The Hangover? Star Trek? Moon? (I'm the only one who love this movie).
  • tms
    can't stop laughing at the tobi guy with his transformer 2...
  • Come on people
    I'm relieved to not see Avatar, but a little sad to not see District 9. Also, Knowing is completely random. That movie was quite mediocre.
  • HB
    i'm thinking that knowing was put up there as a joke...
  • Ryan
    I would consider about 5 of those Mainstream films mainstream and even THAT's generous (Precious, Hurt Locker, Basterds, Knowing, Up in the Air)
  • dan
    Roger Ebert is fat
  • notes
    I agree with #19.
  • smithy
    I agree with #20
  • The Goodfella
    i agree with #21
  • Caitie
    Although I loved the beginning of Up, the rest was pure fluff, so glad he didn't include it. But hey no (500) Days of Summer, what gives?
  • locxn
    errr the moment i saw "Knowing" on the list .. i laughed.. just listing that movie alone made the list not credible. I would have expected Up or 500 Days of Summer in there somewhere.. or even Avatar? .. .or Where the Wild Things Are? or like... District 9??
  • locxn
    and also.. a lot of the titles listed under "Mainstream" are not even mainstream releases...
  • locxn
    oh yea and transformers 2 sucks megan's ........ 😀
  • DCompose
    Roger Ebert isn't fat anymore.
  • Spencer
    @tobi Dude, Transformers did not do what was advertised. Avatar did. Transformers was a jumbled together piece of shit that didn't even have cool action.
  • dqniel
    D9 was nothing special aside from the special effects. It wasn't some sort of brilliantly unique story that people keep raving it is. I didn't feel for the characters even though the acting was fine, simply because the direction didn't give me a way to empathize. The writing and storyline were both cliche and the action grew tired during the climax, although seeing people get vaporized/exploded never grew old. I like Knowing better than most reviewers, but have to agree that it's crazy to have it on a top ten list. 500 Days of Summer would be on my list as both the funniest and possibly most stylish movies of the year. Loved the camera work in that movie. I'm incredibly happy that Up didn't make the list. Overrated piece of formulaic garbage.
  • Taylor
    The idea of having two lists (one mainstream and one indie) is a horrible idea. First, where do you draw the line? What was Slumdog Millionaire? Second, the best part of these lists from film critics is to discover films that you might not have had the chance to see. But now, the viewer has no frame of reference of how good these movie are. Are they indie good or mainstream good? Horrible idea.
  • jon
    What about the hurt locker?
  • LORD MANTACO
    Spencer.....Okay you can hate on Transformers 2 , but to say it didnt have cool action is just showing you are a one sided assclown...I am not saying Transformers 2 was great but The Forrest fight alone in Transformers 2 was more action than you have ever gotten in your life....Nuff said !!!
  • hi
    Alex, you do know what determines a 'Mainstream film' right? It's the number of theaters it's released in, not the style/money.
  • hi
    @ 31 "The Top 10 Mainstream Films: » Bad Lieutenant » Crazy Heart » An Education » The Hurt Locker------------------------------------------------------------------ » Inglourious Basterds » Knowing » Precious » A Serious Man » Up in the Air » The White Ribbon"
  • Me.
    wtf. Ive only heard of two of those movies. Um hello pick movies people know of!
  • Taylor
    Saying the difference between mainstream and indie films is the number of screens it was released on makes just as much sense ad splitting them up alphabetically
  • The real Me
    Wheres Fantastic Mr. Fox? Glad to see Goodbye Solo up there.
  • billy
    WHERE IS PUBLIC ENEMIES, I HAVNT SEEN IT YET BUT I WAS THINKING IT WAS GOING TO BE A BIG MOVIE. ANY ONE KNOW WHAT IT WAS LIKE???????????????
  • Clover
    Dear Roger: YOUr love affair with the Hack Cage is just plain wrong.
  • jep
    I'm gonna go ahead and repeat this.... KNOWING?! REALLY?? REALLY??? WHAT ABOUT D9? LAW ABIDING CITIZEN? AVATAR? STAR TREK? WTF AND THE LIST GOES ONE...EBERT WTF ARE YOU CHEEFIN' HOMIE?
  • Geoff
    $20 that "Come on people" hasn't even seen Avatar
  • Eric B.
    KNOWING was the best movie I have seen this decade. Way to be courageous Roger!
  • Dirty Dutchman
    I'll have what ever Roger was smoking while watching the majority of those movies.
  • radiogorillaz
    Just like the Academy Awards, you spend money, you'll end up winning whether it was a good movie or not. Prime example, Hollywood loves cliche musical. Best picture will be Nine. Not that is should actually get it, but that's what will happen because they bought the right people. Just like this list. He was paid or compensated in some manner to include certain movies and blurred the lines of what could or should be called independent. From what I understood, Inglorious and Hurt Locker were considered Independent films. I guess a better definition is needed as to what makes one and not the other.
  • jep
    @ radiogorillaz, I was also under the impression that Hurt Locker was considered Indie.
  • Cineprog
    Harry Brown is good, Transformer Revenge of the Fallen, Gi joe, A prophet, sherlock holmes, District 9, inglourious Bastards.
  • Golgo 13
    I think Roger Ebert is as honest as they come for movie critics. He actually ENJOYS watching movies, which is why Knowing is probably his guilty pleasure. He enjoyed it, plain and simple. I doubt he thinks it's a technically well made film, as many like I think it's not a very good flick, but it was one of HIS favorites. Can't fault him for that; plus, he also includes some other solid picks.
  • CJ
    Knowing? Get off the acid Robert
  • Derek
    @35... if you keep up with movies at all then you've heard of all those movies, and if you don't keep up then thats why critics make lists like that, so noobs that can't find a good movie can find one.
  • Derek
    My top 10 mainstream: >The Hurt Locker >Inglourious Basterds >A Serious Man >Avatar >District 9 >Up In the Air >Precious >Crazy Heart >The Bad Lieutenant >Star Trek ...i haven't seen An Education or The White Ribbon yet so i can't speak for them, but Knowing, seriously? >>ALSO, i had to go to an independent theatre to see A Serious Man, and i know it was a popular movie among movie people but it only showed in like 250 theatres across the US so idk how it could possibly be labeled as MAINSTREAM?!?!?
  • Knowing sucked so fucking hard, I'm STILL trying to remove my couch from my TV. That "movie" had some of the worst everything I've ever seen. I wonder if making a bad movie is like being crazy. Do you actually know you're making a horrendous piece of piss? Piece of shit is too kind. This movie is a petrified piece of rancid truck stop mens room floor urine. I like Nic Cage, and yes he's made some turds, but he still gets a pass for some of his earlier work (I just watched Bringing out the Dead again a couple of nights ago and when Cage has good material to work with he's solid as fuck), but I would have to say after praising him for his earlier work, I would have to punch him in the dick for making this putrid piece of stinktacular detritus. I watched it for free and I still want my money back. We have to save the children!!! Fuck you. and the children. Nuff said.
  • oh yeah and further follow up, roger ebert has lost about a trillion points on my respect meter, guilty pleasure or no.
  • yumyumfish
    angels and demons and star trek both should replace knowing and a serious man. Its a bit unfair when someone with different tastes to some others decides which movies were best.
  • I hate sushi.
    LOL @ #51 !!!!!! i, too, watched it for free :P...... and i am robbed of 2 hours of my life that i can't get back. Seriously... His taste or not... it is undeniably a shit movie. But if you are into that kind of entertainment, fair enough.. theres tonnes of movies like that out there... and don't get me wrong... i thought "Knowing" was kind of entertaining..kind of funny even with that gooky script who wouldnt? But to list it as one of the best "mainstream" films of 2009 is just ludicrous... hey in that case.. why not put Transformers 2, or Terminator Salvation, or at least district 9??
  • Derek
    @53 ...you've obviously not seen A Serious Man, that was easily one of the funniest movies of the year... NOONE does dry humor like the Coen Bros!

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