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Richard Roeper Blog

(90) Days of Summer.

We knew it might get LOUD, and it did.

As has been the case since the 1970s, the 2009 summer movie season was heavy on the big noisy blockbusters and light on Oscar contenders—-but that doesn’t mean some of those mega-budget movies weren’t entertaining, nor does it mean there was a paucity of smart, entertaining quality films at the multiplex. A season that included such treasures as “Up,” “(500) Days of Summer,” Meryl Streep’s amazing performance in “Julie and Julia,” the brilliant work by Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds” and Jeremy Renner’s stunning turn in “The Hurt Locker” cannot be categorized as “The Summer of Suck,” as one blogger recently put it.

Then again, there was no shortage of crappy sequels, underwhelming action films, lame-o comedies and a “Terminator” movie that made absolutely no sense but at least gave us one of the most memorable off-camera rants in movie history. “Oh GOOD for you!”

Some of the highs and lows of the moviegoing summer of 2009:

Best movies of the season:

1. “(500) Days of Summer”

500DaysPoster

2. “Inglourious Basterds”

3. “Up”

4. “The Hurt Locker”

5. “District 9″

Honorable mention: “Public Enemies,” “Julie and Julia,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “The Hangover,” “Funny People,” “Star Trek.”

Worst movies of the season (with #1 being the worst):

1. “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

transformers11

2. “G.I. Joe: the Rise of Cobra”

3. “Land of the Lost”

4. “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”

5. “The Ugly Truth”

Best performances:

Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”

inglourious_basterds_christoph-waltz

Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker”

Meryl Streep in “Julie and Julia”

Sharlto Copley in “District 9″

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “(500) Days of Summer”

Alison Lohman in “Drag Me to Hell”

Best movies you probably didn’t see:

“The Hurt Locker”

“Shrink”

“Whatever Works”

“In the Loop”

Best musical number:

I particularly enjoyed the footwork from the guy who plays Turtle on “Entourage.”


Most disappointing movie:

For me it was probably “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” because I was such a fan of the novel. But what worked so well on the printed page came across as confusing, occasionally creepy and sometimes unintentionally funny on the screen. It’s not a terrible film; it’s just mushy and convoluted. Rachel McAdams was lovely and winning and there were a few genuinely effective romantic moments, but Eric Bana was a bit stiff as the object of her undying devotion. An ending that should have left audiences drowning tears was telegraphed so many times it had little impact upon arrival.

Most effective and weirdly anachronistic song choice:

David Bowie’s “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” was originally used to such great effect in the eerie erotic thriller from the early 1980s

And now it shows up in “Inglourious Basterds” as a scene-setter for the climactic showdown in the movie theater, and you’re thinking “Where the hell did THAT come from?” And yet, somehow it works perfectly. That Tarantino is one wacky-ass filmmaker. (A good source tells me Tarantino would love to do a show on satellite radio in which he just plays music from his private collection. Something tells me it stretches far beyond the music of the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake.)

Best soundtrack:

“(500) Days of Summer,” an eclectic and carefully chosen of songs that augment the story without shouting, “Check out the Indie Hipster Music!” The soundtrack includes selections from everyone from Simon & Garfunkel and Hall & Oates to The Temper Trap and Regina Spektor. There’s also “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” from the Smiths. How appropriate that the song would show up in a smart and funny and touching film around the same time the movie world was mourning John Hughes. In “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the Dream Academy does an instrumental cover of “Please…” that plays during the beautiful Art Institute sequence…

R.I.P.: John Hughes.

39 Responses to “(90) Days of Summer.”

  1. Newton Gimmick Says:

    Nonsense, you know GI Joe was #1! On the good list!

    Honestly though, it’s a fun kidish movie. If you like big noisy blockbusters.

    500 Days of Summer just looks so blah.

  2. White Sox Cards Says:

    I enthusiastically agree with your choice of Chistoph Waltz. That was the most effective and convincing performance I have seen in many years. If he isn’t at least nominated for an Academy Award, the members skipped seeing the film.

  3. Roeper’s Top Five Says:

    [...] Roeper has named (500) Days of Summer his number film of the summer.  As follows: Best movies of the [...]

  4. levi Says:

    Wow, I completely agree with you. Although I think the woman who played the Old Lady comes in a little higher than Ali Lohman in Drag me to Hell.

  5. np Says:

    No love for Diane Kruger?? I thought she was so great in Basterds.

    Add Thirst to the disappointment pile.

  6. Alex Says:

    What about Sam Rockwell in Moon. The movie and his performance was great enought to be in the top 5.

  7. Guyinthehall8 Says:

    (500)Days of Summer, I agree wholeheartedly. It was a fantastic, beautiful, funny, touching movie.

  8. Adam T. Martin Says:

    The bad list.

    I would have inverted choices 1 and 5. I’d take crude humor, Megan Fox, and robot combat over Katherine Heigl any day.

    Good top choices by the way but I would have put Star Trek and Public Enemies on there. Also glad to see District 9 make the best list cut.

  9. Cait Says:

    Love this list! I do think Inglourious Basterds was QT’s masterpiece. He did do a special show on XM where he played music that inspired him during filmmaking. It was a mix of the stuff you would expect to hear from him to Maroon 5 and Britney Spears. I love your blogs! Go Sox!

  10. Timothy Biley Says:

    (500) Days of Summer is easily one of my favorite movies. It’s one of the most honest stories about love and most people could relate to Tom and/or Summer.

  11. Karen Says:

    500 Days of Summer is my top pick too. I’d also include Away We Go on the list.

  12. Danny Says:

    Great article. I can’t really find anything to disagree with. I would only put Inglourious Basterds at #1 on my list, maybe put 500 Days of Summer at #3 or #4. I thought Copley, Waltz, and Renner were the best performances, but I also loved Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt.

    An honorable mention for best film of the summer should also be the trailer for Nolan’s “Inception”!

  13. Michael Desantis Says:

    The Hurt Locker was great.

  14. Liz Cappon Says:

    I have seen 500 Days of Summer three times now, find more to love about it everytime I see it! I want the soundtrack, but everytime I go to Best Buy & Target they are still sold out.

    Up was an amazingly touching film too, crying from the get-go in that one. I still need to see Inglorious.

  15. Nelson Says:

    Is this the list for best movies of the year so far, or just for the summer? Because I think I Love You, Man is the best movie of the year so far. I still need to see 500 Days of Summer. I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He deserved and Oscar nomination for The Lookout. The Lookout and Matchstick Men I think are 2 of the most under rated movies of the last 10 years or so.

    Richard…..are you going to have a review show? I am really missing you and Ebert, and reading your guys reviews online just isn’t enough for me. I hope to see you on TV again. I am glad At The Movies has fired the last 2 clowns and A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips are taking over. But thats not good enough for me. I need to see you on TV. I have been watching all the archive reviews that you and Ebert did.

    I also checked out that website twothumbsup.tv but it didnt seem very updated. I heard that was going to be your new review site or something, but i didnt really see much on it. Someone please inform me, or maybe you could inform me Richard. Thanks so much. Hope to have you back soon!!!!!!!!

  16. kandice Says:

    I loved 500 Days of Summer. I don’t get to see a lot of movies anymore, but I did see that one and it was great.

  17. Bryan Jacobson Says:

    Like someone else said, where was Sam Rockwell in Moon, and Moon alone? Moon proved to be a superior science fiction film, much better than Star Trek (which was good), and yet Star Trek is an honorable mention. Like seriously. Where is it?!

    Moon, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, Up, (500) Days of Summer, and The Hurt Locker were my personal faves, in no particular order.

    But Sam Rockwell gave the best performance of the summer in my opinion. Than Jeremy Renner, then Christoph Woltz, and then Sharlto Copley. All put up award worthy performances. And Meryl Streep. But that one was obvious. She’s Meryl Streep.

    But once again, where was Moon on this list? Very original, very awesome. And Kevin Spacey’s voice.

  18. richard Says:

    Thanks for all the comments. Because I was in L.A. working on a few projects, I missed “Moon” and a few other films I normally would have seen. I’ll make sure to catch it!

    Best,

    RR

  19. klara Says:

    These have been my recommendations from the year so far, as well. It’s interesting that they stand out now as potential Oscar contenders, having been such a weak year. I’ve mentioned my picks already to so many people, since it has been an eclectic year for the better films, and it’s funny to see how they’ve each gained the attention they deserve.

    My favorites – and the films that really stood out – are by far “500 Days of Summer”, “Inglorious Basterds”, “Moon”, “Star Trek”, “Public Enemies”, “The Hurt Locker” – and for comedies “I Love You, Man” & “The Hangover”. Perhaps any other year, these films wouldn’t seem so strong, but I’m glad that they stand out since I enjoyed them all. (I actually avoided seeing any of the films on your worst list, altogether. I’ve learned to be able to tell what’s worth watching without having to waste my time on the bad ones! You should definitely see ‘Moon’ ASAP ;))

  20. klara Says:

    P.S. Here is a blog post I wrote for “Moon”, back in June, right after seeing it!

    http://retroactivecritique.blogspot.com/2009/06/moon-2009.html

  21. Abby Says:

    I didn’t idea (500) Days of Summer was your favorite of the season! I loved it as well. Did you write up a review for it? Can’t find one.

  22. Abby Says:

    Oops, I mean to say “I had no idea (500)…” haha.

  23. Nelson Says:

    When does Sam Rockwell give a bad performance? Matchstick Men he should have gotten a best supporting actor nomination, and the CRIMINALLY UNDERRATED “SNOW ANGELS” He should have WON best actor. That is the best acting I think i have seen to date. Sam Rockwell is phenomenal. I as well need to see Moon. I didnt get it released near me.

  24. Nelson Says:

    Richard, could you please take some time away from playing poker and tell me when you are going to be back on TV doing movie reviews???? I miss you and Ebert so much.

    I am joking about poker, although poker is what i spend a ton of my time doing. We have a ton on common!!!!!!!

  25. Nelson Says:

    Another suggestion Richard, if you ever get the free time, you should do a LIVE CHAT a couple times a month so people can talk to you about movies. I know you are busy, but there are a ton of people out there, and I am one of them, that like to have conversations and talk with people/experts in their field. I devote alot of time to reading what you have to say, watching your old archives because movie reviews will never be the same. Hopefully you will take that into consideration and do some live chats every now and then to talk anything movie related, and if your down, some personal questions, like are you truely sad that the White Sox are struggling. They have my favorite player, FREDDY GARCIA, because I live in Seattle and Freddy aka The Chief was my fav.

  26. Trane90 Says:

    Nice list I completely agree with your choices. As for my list here it goes

    top 10 Best
    10. Sugar
    9. Star Trek
    8. The Hangover
    7. Drag Me To Hell
    6. District 9
    5. Inglorious Basterds
    4. 500 Days of Summer
    3. The Hurt Locker
    2. UP
    1. Sin Nombre

    top 5 worst
    5. Wolverine
    4. Paul Blart
    3. The Unborn
    2. Land of the Lost
    1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

  27. Blair Says:

    How can Terminator Salvation not make your ‘Worst’ list? It was easily the most frustrating, agonising experience I’ve ever had in a movie theater. Truly a textbook example of exactly how to NOT make a film. Granted, I was wise enough to stay away from the ones that did make your list… I just find it hard to believe there were worse films than this steaming pile of crap.

    Damn I hated that movie.

  28. EvilGoldfish Says:

    BEST

    1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
    2. Star Trek
    3. Up
    4. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (seriously)
    5. District 9
    Honorable mention: Drag Me To Hell

    WORST

    1. The Ugly Truth
    2. Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
    3. Funny People
    4. G. I. Joe
    5. Terminator Salvation

  29. IrmaCMD Says:

    In the Loop is the funniest movie I have seen in what seems years. It was like being at a Chris Rock concert, I couldn’t stop laughing. Ingenious! 500 Days was incredible and well worth buying when it comes out, Hurt Locker should be a lock for Oscar nom. I agree with your assessment of Time Traveler’s Wife, you had to have read the book to really get the movie and still it was very disappointing. Eric Bana was not the right choice for that role.

  30. One Movie, Five Views Says:

    I totally agree. (500) Days of Summer, Up and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were some of my favorite movies of the summer. I also loved The Brothers Bloom. That was a great movie.

    Here’s a link to my full article on summer movies:

    http://onemoviefiveviews.blogspot.com/2009/09/retrospective-of-summer-films.html

  31. The Truth Says:

    Why do anonymous posters think their top ten is of interest.

  32. kandice Says:

    I’m with Abby did you write a review for 500 Days? I’d love to read it if you did.

  33. Christian Says:

    I thought Inglourious basterds was the best movie of the Summer. But I didn’t see 500 days of Summer, so I probably can’t talk.

  34. Christian Says:

    My favorite movie of the Summer was Ingloruious Basterds and the worst was Land of the lost. I hated Transformers also though.

  35. Christian Says:

    The best films of the Summer
    1. Inglourious Basterds
    2.Up
    3.(500) days of Summer
    4. Harry Potter and the half blood prince
    5.Star Trek

  36. Wil Says:

    Now that they are all available on DVD, this is a great reference for movie night!

  37. Wiltrude Burkert Says:

    Hello, sry for my bad english but Ih ave found your site and would say that I find your posts great because they have give me new ideas and new aspects. Thanks for this information.

  38. Delmar Ridder Says:

    The trouble with her is nearly always the same. We only be sorry for the likes of her. The girl needs some type of sorting herself out or coaching or training or something. I really liked her previous single, and I’d hate to think that we wouldn’t be hearing her beautiful voice any more.

  39. Eldon Switalski Says:

    To Jess K: to be true: I am not sure he deserves her. Not because of her achievement as an actrees but taking into account her wisdom, beauty and honestyReport this comment as spam or abuse

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