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Our favorite DVDs of 2009

Now that you've reviewed our Best Films of the '00s list, it's time to get more specific. Here now are our favorite DVD releases of 2009. Each staffer made a list of ten DVDs, which the inventory office then typed up and tabulated the results. Anything that came out on DVD last year was eligible for inclusion: TV shows, classic films making their DVD and/or Blu-ray debut, foreign imports, Criterion re-releases or awesome opuses made by our co-workers. The top five vote getters are as follows: 1) INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS--After this, it was pretty obvious it would end up on top. 2) UP--Everyone on staff cried in the first 10 minutes. Everyone. Even those who lied and said they didn't. 3) DISTRICT 9 --We love us some well made political sci-fi. This, as well as the two above, also showed up on our Best of the Decade list. 4) CORALINE--In a year that didn't have a Pixar movie (or Fantastic Mr. Fox), this beautiful film would be a shoo-in for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. 5) THE HANGOVER--It's win for Best Picture: Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes made us wonder if it will slide into one of the 10 slots for the Best Picture Oscar. Can anyone even remember the last time a comedy was nominated? All these movies received at least two votes: Adventureland Antichrist Anvil Breaking Bad: Season 1 Chocolate The Cove Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Criterion) Detroit Metal City--Watch out, Daniel Day-Lewis! Ken'ichi Matsuyama (L from Deathnote) has a full range of character acting skills you've go to see! This live action DMC based on the popular anime is as ridiculous as it is genius. Japan has a great sense of humor, and knows how to laugh at itself. I couldn't believe how perfectly it captured the outrageously hilarious anime; it's almost too good to be true. For metal fans, pop fans, Otakus and anyone who has a dream. "No Music, No Dream!" Look also for a CAMEO by GENE SIMMONS!---Alex T. Eastbound & Down: Season 1 Friends of Eddie Coyle (Criterion) Funny People Gomorrah (Criterion) The Good, The Bad and The Weird--This is the best Western/Korean (and the only Korean-Western) film I have ever seen! In it's own creative awesome way, this action adventure had me wide-eyed and smiling the whole time. The Bad is bad-ass, the Good is super cool, and the Weird...well, let's just say I haven't gotten this excited about a movie in a long time. Hilarious, fun, full of action and homages but still very original---Alex T. Humpday Hunger In The Loop Ip Man Let The Right One In Mad Men: Season 2 Martyrs--A psychologically ferocious whirlwind of pain, mutilation and remorseless torture, a borderline unwatchable masterpiece. Top 10 material for any horror buff.---Ryan Ong Bak 2--I don't know how realistic the story and history in this film is, so in my mind it's a fantasy film. A great reality bound fantasy. It's so beautifully shot and so well choreographed, I think it surpasses all of Tony Jaa's other films. I haven't been as excited about an action movie since I watched the original Rambo movies as a kid.---Marc "Swellzombie" Palm Pineapple Express Ponyo--As an illustrator and fledgling 2D animator, I can't help but be completely dazzled by a film like this that has been completely done by hand. The good old fashioned way! It helps when the story is so amazingly fun and unique that you are anxiously waiting what is going to happen next. I think it's unique even though I know it's based off of the original story of The Little Mermaid. Nothing that Disney has done or ever will do will have this level of imagination and fun.---Marc "Swellzombie" Palm Rachel Getting Married Role Models Science Is Fiction (Criterion) Sita Sings The Blues Star Trek The State: Complete Series--Like a time capsule the State box set reveals genius that has been forgotten and neglected by most people. For those of us who stalked the day when we'd be able to revisit greatness we felt a great relief once it came out. I think that the world has suffered by not being exposed to hilarity that the cast of the State brought to MTV back in the day. I wonder where we'd be had the world been exposed to this stuff sooner. There would probably have been a cure for cancer and jet packs by now.---Marc "Swellzombie" Palm Stingray Sam Synecdoche, New York Watchmen Wise Blood (Criterion) The Wrestler--I haven't enjoyed pro-wrestling since I was 11, so it wasn't the wrestling that has me excited about this movie. Darren Aronofsky's films have an intensity that I think a lot of films lack but you can't always be making neurotic films that disturb people. For the Wrestler he uses that intensity and then injects a huge amount of heart into it. There's warmth to the characters that one might normally feels are cold and distant. This I think is his best film because of how well rounded it is. It's rough, it's funny, and it's warm.---Marc "Swelllzombie" Palm ...and here are the rest, presented just like the guest stars on The Love Boat (in alphabetical order): Andy Barker, PI: Complete Series--In his third (so far) sitcom, Andy Richter plays an accountant who rents an office above a video store (run by Arrested Development's Tony Hale) that was once a detective's office. Someone mistakes him for a P.I., but he takes the case and winds up getting himself into all kinds of absurd situations (the show features writers who went on to How I Met Your Mother and Psych along with Mr. Conan O'Brien, if that's any indication of the level of absurdity present in each episode). Worth it for the commentary tracks alone.---Jen Andy Richter Controls the Universe: Complete Series Ascent of Money Ashes of Time Redux Away We Go Baader Meinhof Komplex Beyonce and Rihanna Beyond Rangoon Big Man Japan--This is not your typical Japanese movie. Matsumoto--writer, director & star--has four prime time shows on in Japan since the 80s. This movie is very much his style. It's mockumentary-style, yet drier than a Wes Anderson film. It's slow, but very rewarding for the patient. The subtle humor is mixed with the weirdest, goofiest, and creepiest monster scenes I've ever seen. A great homage to old Japanese monster films.---Alex T. Blood and Bone--Blood and Bone is a badass old school style action movie about an honorable ex-con on a mysterious mission of revenge through underground fighting. Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite) will be your new hero after you watch it, and it has a great villain too (he chops a minion with a sword during a tense Wang Chung sing-a-long). Don't be intimidated by all the mixed-martial arts cameos. This movie is great fun.---Bryan T. Born of Fire Brick City--This five part documentary series follows Cory Booker, the charismatic mayor of Newark, New Jersey as well as others in the community who are trying to battle decades of urban decay. It captures the political process on all levels of a city in action, revealing that change comes very slowly and not without concessions, even from those who have the sincere will to make a difference. A must see for fans of HBO's series The Wire. ---Anissa Brown, Derren: The Specials Bruno--Out of the characters that Sacha Baron Cohen has created, Borat is his best. Borat is at least naive and somewhat charming. Bruno on the other hand is stupid and mean. He embodies some really horrible traits. These traits Cohen uses to irritate so many different people in this movie that it's amazing he wasn't murdered. And it's amazing he was able to do it again after Borat. He hasn't lost any sort of strength in his ability to get under the skin of others. ---Marc "Swellzombie" Palm C.K., Loius: Chewed Up Carny Centerfold Girls Chaser--WOW! I thought I was going to die of a heart attack! I was caught up in suspense for 40 straight minutes! This gory Korean film isn't about getting the serial killer, it's proving he is. Goes to show the incompetence of justice worldwide. An unforgetable thriller, intense & wll paced. ---Alex T. Che: Part 1 and Part 2 Choke Class, The Colt is My Passport Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Volume 1 Damned United--One of my favorite movies of the year. The brilliant Michael Sheen (The Queen) plays the legendary footy coach Brian Clough, who said, "They say Rome wasn't built in a day, but I wasn't on that particular job." --Anissa Dead Set Death in the Garden Defiance Deliberate Stranger Detective Bureau 2-3: Go To Hell Bastards! Dexter: Season 3 Diary of Anne Frank (2009) Dogville Shorts Dollhouse: Season 1 Doubt Downhill Racer (Criterion)--A rare sports drama where you actually root against the main character. Robert Redford plays against type as an arrogant, selfish skiing phenom who'll stop at nothing to get to the top. Directed by Michael Ritchie (The Bad News Bears) with a cynical eye towards what really makes a champion. Gene Hackman also stars as his frustrated coach.---Kevin C. Dr. Mabuse Collection Drag Me to Hell--After three big budget Spider-Man movies in a row and his past as the director of The Evil Dead practically forgotten, the old Sam Raimi suddenly reappears with this crowd-pleasing and darkly humorous horror show. Trying to impress her boss at the bank, a young loan officer (Alison Lohman) denies a loan extension to a toothless old Gypsy woman who promptly turns around and curses her. Lohman spends the rest of the movie trying to do whatever she can to avoid getting sucked down into the netherworld, including but not limited to sťances, grave robbing and animal sacrifice. Eyeballs appear in her food, flies invade her internal organs, a goat yells at her, blood and worms spray out of her nose and mouth, and all the while she attempts to continue her career and social life. Early in the movie there is a knock down, drag out catfight in a parking garage that's better than any fight in an action movie this summer, and Raimi maintains that type of energy throughout. He also cleverly gives the heroine more of a dark side than females are usually afforded in the horror movie formula, leading to some big laughs. You'll be smiling and laughing (and if you're a Raimi fan you'll notice a lot of references and in-jokes) but it's not a comedy, it's a straight ahead old fashioned horror movie getting a kick out of playing with the audience. Drag Me To Hell is not the scariest or most disturbing horror movie of the year, but it's by far the most enjoyable.---Bryan T. Edge of Darkness Encounters at the End of the World Exiles Exterminating Angel Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 5 Deadly Venoms (500) Days of Summer Footprints on the Moon Four Flies on Grey Velvet 42nd Street Forever Volume 5 Freebie and the Bean Friday Night Lights: Season 3 Gabriel Over the White House--This 1933 film by Gregory La Cava is new on DVD courtesy of the Warner Archives. Walter Huston is magnificently crooked then mysteriously penitent in this jaw-dropping surrealist fantasy vision of the Presidency. Girlfriend Experience Glen and Randa Goodbye Solo Gran Torino Graveyard Disturbance Grin Without a Cat Handsome Suit--When I visited Japan, I saw this movie in the theater! Even without subtitles (or understanding Japanese), I laughed and cried at all the right parts. One of those "feel good" romantic comedies you're sure to enjoy...now with English subtitles!---Alex T. Happy-Go-Lucky Hardware Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince The Hit--Ex-gangster in hiding Willy Parker finally gets nabbed by the organization he betrayed ten years earlier. Our man keeps his act cool as ice right up to the end. A perfect prisoner. Seemingly fearless, strong-headed and a bit of a smartass. The close interactions of these perfectly written characters is intense and excellent. The Hit is a quietly genius film. "I think you're crazy, but I admire your attitude." -Myron ---Jensen Hobson's Choice Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Icons of Screwball Comedy v.2 International, The It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: Season 4 It's Garry Shandling's Show: Complete Series JCVD Jeanne Dielman 23 Quai Du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles (Criterion) Jerry Cotton: Die Rechnung Johnny Got His Gun Jones, Terry Collection Julia Karloff and Lugosi Horror Classics Knowing Limits of Control Lost: Season 5 Man Hunt Marie and Bruce Marple: Season 4 Massacre Mafia Style Midsomer Murders: Season 10 Mirageman Miss Mend Monty Python: Almost the Truth Moon--More science fiction movies should be like this. Intelligent, well paced, creative, and very pleasing aesthetically. Moon messes with one's perception right away, but then brings you around to a stable reality that draws you into the real concerns of the characters. Without Sam Rockwell, this movie wouldn't be as good as it is. His acting abilities rival those of Nic Cage's performance in Adaptation. Over all Moon shows you new ways that humans messing with science and technology can make life worse for the average working man. ---Marc "Swellzombie" Palm Mother MST3K v.15 Murder by Contract My Effortless Brilliance National Parks: America's Best Idea (Ken Burns) Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Night of the Creeps Nightwatching Not Quite Hollywood--A lot of documentaries inspire me or enlighten me about a subject that I don't know a lot about. That's their job and good ones do it well enough where I form a lot of respect for the subject. I usually don't get so inspired that I'm motivated to enter the world that they're focused on, but Not Quite Hollywood really got me. I went out and watched a large number of Australian "Oz-ploitaion" films and was never disappointed. The stories and passion that those interviewed have just making watching the movies juicier.---Marc "Swellzombie" Palm Observe and Report--You might not be able to imagine being so proud of your job that you take the values from it and insert them into your personal life. If people did do this they'd have some conflicts with the world around them. Seth Rogan's character in this film has some major conflicts. He's a troubled person in a troubled world. So once in a while it's funny what happens and sometimes it's brutally sad. This movie mixes the two in such a way you are not sure when you should be laughing. ---Marc "Swellzombie" Palm Orphan Our Gang: Complete Collection Our Man in Havana Outlander--A) When a movies is about VIKINGS FIGHTING ALIENS, it really does not have to be very good to make me happy. B) For some reason, this movie has great special effects, a solid cast, decent writing, and a beautifully designed alien/monster. C) You should see it. ---Travis Parks and Recreation: Season 1 Pimps, Pigs, and Prostitutes: Three films by Shohei Imamura Playtime (Blu-ray) Poirot: Set 4 Powell, Michael: The Films of Michael Powell--Age of Consent & A Matter of Life and Death Princess (2009) Private Life of Plants Razorback Reducing (1930, Warner Archives) Rifftrax: Shorts 1 Rossellini's History Films Samurai Pizza Cats--If you're thinking, ''Hmm...that sounds suspiciously close to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," well, you couldn't be further from the truth. Funny, punny, goofy and spoofy; I grew up with this show around the same time Power Rangers and Sailor Moon were on the air. This series is one of the few to be enhanced by the wacky English dub, even keeping with a lot of the original Japanese culture in the show (rather than editing it out for Westerners who might not understand it). A very loose translation of the Japanese title is Cat Ninja Legend Teyandee. The slang word teyandee can be considered roughly equivalent to the phrase, "What the hell are you talking about?" Such a great show. Rent this if you remember it dearly or if it sounds fun--you won't be disappointed!---Alex T. Sauna Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days--Wonder what Carroll Spinney looks like without the top half of Big Bird? Want to hear what Frank Oz and Jim Henson chatted about between takes as Bert and Ernie? You'll find those extras and many more on this two disc collection, full of every clip you'd ever want to see from the show's incredible run (ok, except this one). I don't want to imagine a world where Sesame Street isn't on the air...---Jen Seven Pounds Silent Scream Simon of the Desert Sinful Dwarf Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Blu-ray) Sons of Anarchy: Season 1 Special--When I was a kid I imagined candies like M&M's gave me energy and powers. When I was older I found out that pills couldn't do cool stuff like that. What if they did? What if when you took pills your perception complete changed and you thought you had powers? Would it be a blessing or a curse? After volunteering for a medical experiment with an anti-depressant, Michael Rapaport's perception changes and he has to battle what he thinks is happening with what really is happening. ---Marc "Swellzombie" Palm Standed State of Play (2009) Steel of Fire Warriors 2010 A.D.--This is the best thing to come out of the Apocalypse since those adorable mutant kittens. Travis & Kevin, two brave, strong men united by destiny, take on an army of flesh eating mutantzoids in an epic battle to save humanity. Hilariously brilliant & beloved by the Scarecrow staff.---Rhias Stella: Live in Boston Stepfather Stranded Stuntrock Sunshine Cleaning Taare Zameen Par (Like Stars on Earth) Taken--This is one of the most exciting, adrenaline pumping movies I've seen in a while.---Ryan Tall Target Tarzan's Greatest Adventure 10th Victim Tezuka, Osamu: The Astonishing Work of Osamu Tezuka 3 Stooges: Volume 6 Thirst 30 Rock: Season 3 35 Shots of Rum Timecrimes Tom and Jerry: Chuck Jones Collection Torchwood: Children of Earth Trail of the Lonesome Pine Trapped Treasures IV Trick R Treat Tulse Luper Suitcases--Greenaway utilizes a toy chest of digital editing tricks to manipulate screen space and sample and loop images and sounds in what is undoubtedly his most modern-looking film. It would be unbearably pretentious were it not so darkly humorous and fun to watch. With gusto and a touch of meticulous fascism, Greenaway's typical obsessions play-out, sometimes literally in list form, in the tale of a man who can't keep himself out of prison. It is also, ostensibly, about the history of uranium, and part of a much larger project (that may never happen). - Laird Tyson Unmistaken Child Urgh!: A Music War Venture Bros: Season 3 Vinyan Viva VHS--If you missed out on seeing it presented live, you can now rent and/or own the home viewing version! Wagon Master We Feed the World Whole Shootin' Match You'll find all of these quality DVDs in our special Best of 2009 rental section, downstairs opposite the last row of director's shelves. Just look for the bright blue & yellow sign. 8022815

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