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Ten best films of 2009

Uncovering some gems in an uneven year at the movies.

(Page 4 of 4)

Pound for pound this London/Washington, D.C., farce directed by Armando Iannucci is the funniest film of the year and the most pointedly political.

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La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet

Our finest documentarian, Frederick Wiseman, trains his eye on one of the world’s finest ballet companies.

Me and Orson Welles

Richard Linklater’s love letter to a life in the theater is one of the most heartfelt of its kind ever made.


Hayao Miyazaki is the greatest living animator, as he demonstrates yet again in this fish-out-of-water tale that is one cascading marvel after another.


If I had to choose a best film of the year, this could well be it. Yolande Moreau, who recently won best actress from the Los Angeles film critics, plays the real-life Séraphine Louis, a religiously devout housekeeper who was also a wildly gifted, and unbalanced, artist. Directed by Martin Provost, it’s a luminous, numinous experience.


A 19-year-old Dominican baseball prospect comes north to try out for the big leagues, and nothing quite goes according to plan. It’s bittersweet and full of grace. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were the writer-directors. It puts “The Blind Side” in the shade.

Treeless Mountain

The South Korean director So Yong Kim achieves sequences in this film as powerful as any in De Sica’s “Shoeshine” in their depiction of the sadnesses and resiliency of abandoned children.

Unmistaken Child

The young Israeli documentarian Nati Baratz chronicles the search for the reincarnation of a Nepalese Buddhist master, which leads to a feisty, mischievous boy whose parents must be persuaded to part with him for life. If you really want to be transported to another world, this film will take you a lot further than “Avatar.”

Up in the Air

A smart, sexy entertainment that also has something more on its mind. George Clooney and Vera Farmiga have some of the best chemistry since Bogart and Bacall blew smoke rings at each other.

Other picks: “An Education,” “A Serious Man,” “Bright Star,” “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans,” “The Beaches of Agnes,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Hurt Locker,” “The Last Station,” “O’Horten,” “Tyson,” “Where the Wild Things Are.”