The 49 Films That Will Define 2009

Revolutionaries, robots, mutants... Monsters, aliens, in-betweeny human-aliens... From January to December and, umm, a little bit beyond... All the movies you'll be talking about in the final year of the noughties... 

Che: The Argentine/The Guerrilla (Director: Steven Soderbergh, ETA: Jan/Feb)
What is it? Two-part biopic of revolutionary-cum-poster boy Che Guevara, starring Benicio Del Toro
Why we’re excited: Because this isn’t Ocean’s Fourteen, and because the last time Soderbergh strayed into such weighty territory he gave us Traffic. And the buzz around Del Toro is big – he picked up best actor at last year’s Cannes for the role.


Slumdog Millionaire (Director: Danny Boyle, ETA: 9th Jan)
What is it? Indian-set drama about a street kid called Jamal and his run on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Sort of.
Why we’re excited: Because it’s not really about that at all, it’s a whirlpool of flashbacks and heartache and slums, building into a dazzling emotional whole. And it's a major Brit hope at the Oscars.



The Wrestler (Director: Darren Aronofsky, ETA: 16th Jan)
What is it? Bitter fictional biopic about a ruined pro wrestler played by Mickey Rourke.
Why we’re excited: Following on from his turn as broken lug Marv in Sin City, Rourke probes deeper into his own self-destructed career in an authentically seedy take on what happens when the spotlights go off. Charged and raw.

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (Director: David Fincher, ETA: 6th Feb)
What is it? Adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short about a man born old, living his life in reverse. 
Why we’re excited: Take your pick: Because we’d watch a Fincher remake of Carry On Columbus. Because Pitt is at his career peak. Because the last time the two paired up we got Fight Club. Because the story is a heartbreaking burrow into love, life, death and despair - and in the end, that’s all there is.



Notorious (Director: George Tillman, Jr. 13th February)
What is it? Glittering biopic of murdered rap superstar Notorious B.I.G.
Why we’re excited: Because it’s going for authenticity rather than pop-video excess. Or probably both. Sean Combs is listed as producer, and star Jamal Woolard – playing Biggie himself – raps under the name Gravy and was infamously shot outside New York ratio station Hot 97 before his live interview.


The International (Director: Tom Tykwer, ETA: 27th Feb)
What is it? Corporate thriller with Clive Owen and Naomi Watts investigating a multinational bank with ties to terrorism.
Why we’re excited: Because Owen is at his best in a suit with a girl, a gun and a moody stare. And because the mood is just right for an investigative thriller sticking it to the banker man.

Assassination Of A High School President (Director: Brett Simon, ETA: March)
What is it? Twisted conspiracy comedy set in a Catholic high School.
Why we’re excited: Because it sounds like a spiky mix of Rushmore and Brick , with school paper reporter Bobby Funke working the angles of a corrupt bureaucracy to reach its rotten core.

Surveillance (Director: Jennifer Lynch, ETA: 6th March)
What is it? Small-town police mystery with Bill Pullman and Julia Ormand as FBI agents investigating a series of murders.
Why we’re excited: Jennifer Lynch’s last film was the utterly crackers lady-in-a-box love story Boxing Helena, and even though this looks like a by-numbers rozzer procedural, you know there’ll be something sinister and... Lynchian going on underneath.


Watchmen (Director: Zack Snyder, ETA: 6th March?)
What is it? Hugely hyped adaptation of the finest graphic novel ever created.
Why we’re excited: The trailer is immense, the source material impeccable, and while Snyder’s 300 was shallow, it looked sexy as all hell and showed Snyder's flair for faithful adaptation. But will the Fox/Warners wrangle hold back the release?


Duplicity (Director: Tony Gilroy, ETA: 20th March)

What is it? Corporate espionage flick about rival spies – Clive Owen and Julia Roberts – who team up to manipulate their employers.
Why we’re excited: Because writer/director Gilroy showed he could do tight corporate thrillers with the incredible Michael Clayton , and because the last time Owen and Roberts were onscreen together (in Closer ) the result was explosive.

Lesbian Vampire Killers (Director: Phil Claydon, ETA: 20th March)
What is it? Exploitation comedy about holidaying idiots encountering a group of lesbian vampires and (apparently) their female slaves.
Why we’re excited: Chances are it’ll be a no-budget slog with some clumsy scripting, but - the clue's in the title...

Adventureland (Director: Greg Mottola, ETA: 27th March)
What is it? Semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama about love in the summertime at an amusement park.
Why we’re excited: Because Mottola’s work on Arrested Development showed he can juggle wry jokes and emotional vulnerability all day long. And because the nostalgic hipster vibe could make this the hit that star Jessie Eisenberg ( Roger Dodger , The Squid And The Whale ) deserves.


Genova (Director: Michael Winterbottom, ETA: 27th March)
What is it? Disquieting drama about a father who moves his two daughters to Italy following the death of their mother.
Why we’re excited: There's something charged and classically continental in the mix of emotional distance, emerging sexuality and glimpses of the supernatural (see Don't Look Now ), and if anyone can pull off a classic modern-day Euro art film it’s Winterbottom.


Monsters Vs Aliens (Directors: Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon, ETA: 3rd April)
What is it? Dreamworks CG blockbuster about humans-turned-monsters battling to save Earth from invading aliens.
Why we’re excited: Because the story’s got that special Pixar-esque something that Dreamworks notmally struggles to tap. It’s instant-hit interesting but, as the trailers show, gleams with depth and imagination. Plus, Stephen Colbert plays the president of the USA, which is really cool stunt casting. Oh, and 3D, as we know, is the future.

Dragonball: Evolution (Director: James Wong, ETA: 10th April)
What is it? Adaptation of long-running manga/videogame series about a set of martial-arts aliens.
Why we’re excited: Because even if the cartoon rolls along at a limping glacier’s pace and the storyline is as impenetrable as a maze constructed from live bees, the trailer is intriguingly insane - and it can't be any worse than Max Payne .

Crank 2: High Voltage (Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor, ETA: 17th April)
What is it? Impossible sequel to totally relentless and brilliantly brainless chase flick.
Why we’re excited: Because Jason Statham is the daddy, and never more watchable than when he’s hitting men, publicly rutting with women or, in the case of Crank 2, electro-shocking his faulty replacement heart to keep it ticking. Exactly.


State Of Play (Director: Kevin MacDonald, ETA: 17th April)
What is it? Political thriller based on the BBC drama, with reporters and police digging into the mystery surrounding a politician’s mistress.
Why we’re excited: The cast – Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, a rejuvenated Ben Affleck – has the quality needed to condense and sustain the complexity of the superb original, and Tony Gilroy’s name is on the writing credits.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Director: Gavin Hood, ETA: May)
What is it? First spin-off from the X-Men series exploring the background stories of its heroes.
Why we’re excited: Because the presence of Hugh Jackman, who can act as well as flex, reduces the chances this’ll be a limp cash-in to practically zero. Wolverine’s the most watchable X-Man anyway, so it's pretty much a two-hour highlight reel.

Star Trek (Director: J.J. Abrams, ETA: 8th May)
What is it? Reboot of the most influential sci-fi series of all time.
Why we’re excited: Along with Watchmen, the must-watch big budget film of 2009. Abrams is the perfect choice to breathe vitality, relevance and cool back into a franchise that’s coasted on nerdcore support for too long. The casting is inspired, the design impeccable, and the trailer makes us believe it can all work.

Synecdoche, New York (Director: Charlie Kaufman, ETA: 15th May)
What is it? Absurdist comedy drama about a depressed theatre director who builds a miniature version of New York inside a Broadway warehouse.
Why we’re excited: The premise taps into the purest vein of Kaufmaneqsue deep thought, with the mundane crashing clumsily against the existential and outrageous. It’ll be fascinating – and terrifying – to see what he does with his own ideas, without the filter of a Jonze or Gondry.



Untitled Bruno Project (Director: Unknown, ETA: 29th May)
What is it? Sascha Baron Cohen’s latest satirical shock-doc, this time in the guise of fey fashionista Bruno.
Why we’re excited: Because after the blunt disappointment of the Ali G movie, Borat was an unexpected sensation, and because the approach of Bruno has been heralded by a rippling wave of semi-scandalous news stories – Bruno at the Prop 8 rally, Bruno at the Milan fashion show – which makes us more eager than ever to see the excruciating social humiliation play out.


Drag Me To Hell (Director: Sam Raimi, ETA: 29th May)
What is it? Blood-and-guts horror about a girl hit with a curse.
Why we’re excited: Because we’re – at least temporarily – all Spidey’d out, and it’s a buzz to see Raimi heading back to his sticky horror roots. The geeky comedy presence of Justin Long and some icky rotting creature effects give out a strong whiff of Evil Dead.

Up (Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, ETA: 29th May)
What is it? Pixar’s annual raising of the animation bar, starring a septuagenarian who ties balloons to his house and flies it to South America.
Why we’re excited: It's Pixar being ambitious and brave enough to throw away the staple 'toon diet of robots and anthropomorphised animals to reach for something truly emotional and extraordinary.

Inglourious Basterds (Director: Quentin Tarantino, ETA: June)
What is it? Gritty WWII action flick about a group of Jewish-American commandos spreading fear behind enemy lines with a series of brutal killings.
Why we’re excited: The plot is inspired exploitation nonsense, the cast is gloriously eclectic (Rod Taylor and Mike Myers? Really?) and it’s a film Tarantino has been threatening to make for over ten years.


Terminator: Salvation (Director: McG, ETA: 5th June)
What is it? Post-apocalyptic struggle against the rise of The Machines.
Why we’re excited: It’s the Terminator sequel we’ve been craving for years - skipping the boring part where mankind is still alive trying to save the world, and simply getting on with the (hopefully exhilarating) death of everything. And as the man who saved the Bat, Christian Bale has somehow become the biggest action star on the planet – he simply doesn't appear in bad films.

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen (Director: Michael Bay, ETA: 26th June)
What is it? Sequel to the occasionally kick-ass live action robot blockbuster.
Why we’re excited: Because the backstory’s out of the way, which means Bay can get on with nailing the sort of incredible action sequences and fight scenes which were in disappointingly short supply in the first film.

They Came From Upstairs (Director: John Schultz, ETA: July)
What is it? Kiddie horror in which a family vacation house is invaded by aliens.
Why we’re excited: Because it’s difficult to balance a family movie without it coming off either too lame or too scary. This looks just about right - Home Alone with cartoon aliens. And since Home Alone is a classic (yes it is) that’s fine by us.


Public Enemies (Director: Michael Mann, ETA: 3rd July)
What is it? Period crime drama about the fledgling FBI’s war on John Dillinger and other high-profile gangsters in the 1930s.
Why we’re excited: Because if you’re looking for a hard-edged crime piece about professional men getting down to business, Michael Mann is still the authority. And because if he can pull Bale versus Depp with anything like the tension and grace of Heat’s Pacino versus De Niro moment, it’ll be an instant classic.

2012 (Director: Roland Emmerich, ETA: 10th July)
What is it? End-of-the-world blockbuster set at the close of the Mayan calendar.
Why we’re excited: Because if there’s one thing that Roland Emmerich does well, it’s the apocalypse. From the trailer and description is sounds a lot like The Day After Tomorrow Mark II, but who cares? Big waves are awesome, and this time it’s got John Cusack in.

Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince (Director: David Yates, ETA: 17th July)
What is it? Harry’s penultimate year at Hogwarts, in which he explores the dark past of Lord Voldemort.
Why we’re excited: Because from humble beginnings, the Potter films have grown into sophisticated blockbusters, and because Yates was the force behind the best one yet ( Order Of The Phoenix ). We wouldn’t have believed it when a stuttering Daniel Radcliffe wandered onto cinema screens not knowing what to do with his hands all those years back, but we’ll miss Potter when its gone.


Land Of The Lost (Director: Brad Silberling, ETA: 17th July)
What is it? Family fantasy in which Will Ferrell’s park ranger somehow falls into a prehistoric world with his children.
Why we’re excited: Because it’s time for Ferrell to break out of his slapstick comedy cycle, and there’s almost certainly no better way to do it than by fighting a dinosaur.

The Year One (Director: Harold Ramis, ETA: 24th July)
What is it? Biblical-era comedy with Jack Black and Michael Cera as travelling exiles.
Why we’re excited: Because as well as being everybody’s favourite Ghostbuster, Ramis is also a consistent and frequently superb comedy director. And because the potential for barbed bible gags recalls Life Of Brian . And because David Cross and Paul Rudd are listed in the credits as Caine and Abel.

Final Destination: Death Trip 3D (Director: David R Ellis, ETA: August)
What is it? Fourth instalment in the ‘cheating death only for death to collect in an entertaining way’ series.
Why we’re excited: Even though it’s basically a remake of the first (well, all) of the series with a race crash subbed in for a plane disaster, this time it’s in 3D, which will make the cheap shocks a) even cheaper, and b) HAPPEN RIGHT IN YOUR EYES.

Mardi Gras (Director: Phil Dornfield, ETA: August)
What is it? Debauched comedy about three frat buddies who head to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
Why we’re excited: Because for every high-brow indie thinker and rigorous intellectual work, you’ve gotta have a stinking drunk laffer with some hot chicks. Right? And we're a bit bored of the Apatow thing.


The Taking Of Pelham 123 (Director: Tony Scott, ETA: 7th Aug)
What is it? Remake of seminal Seventies crime caper about a subway hijack and the ransoming of its passengers.
Why we’re excited: Because Scott is the safest pair of hands in the action blockbuster business, Denzel Washington only ever varies between ‘watchable’ and ‘astonishing’, and the story is a cast iron classic.

GI Joe: Rise Of Cobra (Director: Stephen Sommers, ETA: 14th Aug)
What is it? Transformers-style live action reboot of a nostalgia-fuelled cartoon-cum-toy line.
Why we’re excited: Because the toys are ace. Because even though it was a while back The Mummy shows Sommers can balance action with unselfconscious fun. And because dressing Sienna Miller in dominatrix leather is A Good Idea.

The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus (Director: Terry Gilliam, ETA: Sept)
What is it? A circus of imagination, fantasy and danger, featuring a magical looking glass that leads into other worlds.
Why we’re excited: After Heath Ledger’s blockbuster-bossing turn in The Dark Knight there’s not a movie fan alive who doesn’t want to see what he did next, and how Gilliam’s production accommodated his sad departure. Here’s hoping we get a back-to-form Gilliam classic to see the Best Supporting Actor winner off in style.

The Informant (Director: Steven Soderbergh, ETA: 18th Sept)
What is it? Insider-style whistleblower drama, with Matt Damon feeding info on price-fixing to the FBI.
Why we’re excited: Even though the machinations of agricultural monopolies might not sound too thrilling, there's some serious pedigree here: Soderbergh directs, Damon stars (with guesting body fat) and Kiwi Melanie Lynskey – the one from Heavenly Creatures who wasn’t Kate Winslet – gets a long-overdue crack at the big time.


Where The Wild Things Are (Director: Spike Jonze, ETA: 16th Oct)
What is it? Live-action rethink of the classic bedtime story.
Why we’re excited: Because the secrets of childhood and the grace of monsters are perfect for the delicate leftfield brain of Spike Jonze, and the stills which have emerged so far – grumpy king Max dancing with giant furries in a midnight forest – look faithful and fantastic. The delays are a worry, though...

Shutter Island (Director: Martin Scorsese, ETA: 23rd Oct)

What is it? Period crime drama about a US Marshal’s search for an escaped murderess.
Why we’re excited: Scorsese’s intitially bewildering pairing with DiCaprio improves with each outing, and Dennis Lehane – the author of the source novel – is all kinds of hot after the success of Gone Baby Gone .

The Box (Director: Richard Kelly, ETA: November)
What is it? Supernatural moral dilemma: a couple are given a box and told that pressing the button inside will make them rich, but also kill someone they don't know. 
Why we’re excited: Because no-one can direct Donnie Darko and not have another great film in them. And because even if this is the stuff of recycled Twilight Zone episodes, it’s got Frank Langella in and he’s awesome.

Sherlock Holmes (Director: Guy Ritchie, ETA: November)
What is it? Reworking of the classic detective story, starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law.
Why we’re excited: Downey Jr has the right mix of elusive genius and fitful energy to nail Holmes dead on, while we're keen to see where Post-Madge Ritchie's head's at...


The Wolf Man (Director: Joe Johnston, ETA: 6th Nov)
What is it? Victorian horror remake, starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.
Why we’re excited: Because in his best roles – The Usual Suspects , Fear And Loathing – Del Toro is just a degree or two removed from being an inscrutable howling animal anyway. And because you can never have too much gothic London horror with fog and cool street lights.

The Lovely Bones (Director: Peter Jackson, ETA: December)
What is it? Murder mystery narrated by the victim - a young girl watching over her family from heaven.
Why we’re excited: The last time Jackson took on serious drama he made the modern classic Heavenly Creatures . Also, the film’s move from its original March slot to a December release means it’s being positioned for awards glory – someone, somewhere, thinks they have a winner.

Avatar (Director: James Cameron, ETA: 18th Dec)
What is it? A vast, ambitious interplanetary war saga, filmed in 3D.
Why we’re excited: It’s the first project to stir James Cameron from his slumber since Titanic , and sees him return not only to sci-fi but also to cutting edge special effects. If it’s half as good as T2 , it’ll be the best film, like, EVER.


Surrogates (Director: Jonathan Mostow, ETA: 26th December)
What is it? Future-set murder mystery, with Bruce Willis as a cop investigating the murders of robots.
Why we’re excited: The Phillip K. Dick-style graphic novel source paints a grim and engaging future where humans are house-bound and interact only through robot middle-men (the surrogates of the title). As Twelve Monkeys and The Sixth Sense show, Willis is at his best when he’s playing against his star image in twisted genre setups.

Jennifer’s Body (Director: Karyn Kusama, ETA: 2009)
What is it? Comedy horror in which Megan Fox’s possessed cheerleader starts feeding on senior-year schoolboys.
Why we’re excited: After Juno , writer Diablo Cody is raging hot, and, as long as she doesn't stray from her proven expertise of chippy teen dialogue, there should be an interesting swerve on the usual Freudian swamp of sex and death horror.

TR2N (Director: Joseph Kosinski, ETA: 2011)
What is it? Sequel to the early '80s cutting-edge, effects-driven sci-fi adventure.
Why we’re excited: Because it’s FLYNN, man. For a generational army of arcade orphans, Jeff Bridge’s high-score hero trumps Superman, Rambo and Luke Skywalker as Cinematic Icon Number One. So Tr2n makes the list based solely on his appearance in a fleeting teaser trailer - despite the fact it’s not out until 2011… But, y'know, they might speed up and, and, it might come out in 2009...


Chasing Ghosts: Beyond The Arcade (Director: Lincoln Ruchti, ETA: 2009)
What is it? Breathless, bittersweet doc on '80s videogame heroes. Think Dogtown And Z-Boys for the arcade-gaming generation.
Why we’re excited: Because, despite a tendency to sneer in places, Ruchti absolutely nails the likable naivety and sense of infinite possibility that propelled the elite gamers of the day. It's King Of Kong , cubed. Flynn would love it.


So which of those are you most excited about? And tell us which movie we missed. What should have been number 50?


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