/Film UK - The Queen Hands Out Her New Year's Honours, And So Do I

Coming to you weekly from my vantage point in good old Blighty, it's Slashfilm UK. Anglos and Anglophiles rejoice as every Friday I'll be bringing you a round up of news, links and coverage specific to the motion picture comings and goings here in the UK. Well, except for this Friday because hardlty anything has happened. This week, then, a special edition that covers the film folk recognised in The Queen's New Year's Honours and then, my pick of the best films of 2009.

The New Year's Honours for the year have been unveiled, and here's a quick list of the film folk to get the nod:

  • Phyllida Lloyd, director of Mamma Mia
  • Tessa Ross, Channel 4 director of film and drama
  • Actress Margaret Tyzack, from 2001 and A Clockwork Orange
  • Patrick Stewart, Star Trek, X-Men and RSC actor
  • Nicholas Hytner, director of The Crucible and The Madness of King George
  • Graham King, producer of The Young Victoria, Next and The Departed
  • Christopher Hilton, former manager of The Odeon Leicester Square
  • Peter Jackson has been made a Knight too, seeing as New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth.
  • ...and I think that's the lot. Congratulations to all. I bet it's rather nice knowing that the Queen and her crew like you.

    On to a rather lower-key set of New Year's Honours.

    What follows is my list of the best films of the year. All of the following were released into British cinemas or direct to disc here in the year 2009. As a result, a number of these films will have appeared on other lists this time last year.

    Every film in the entire selection has qualities for which it can be recommended and I hope you adopt this same attitude of positivity when reading along. Obviously, we could take pot shots at a number of the films, particularly those in the lower reaches, but just because a film has failings it doesn't mean it is a failure per se. I'm sure I'll watch every single one of these films again, and enjoy doing so too.

    I've divided the films into three sections.

    The "Quite Good" listing contains films that can be commended for their construction or ambition, and in most cases both. Check these out if you're a particular fan of their respective subgenres, or simply like to watch a lot of movies. I'd imagine you fall into the latter category, right?

    The Boat that Rocked – Dir. Richard Curtis

    Broken – Dir. Simon Ellis

    Carriers – Dir. Alex and David Pastor

    Cheri – Dir. Stephen Frears

    Coco Before Chanel – Dir. Anne Fontaine

    Confessions of a Shopaholic – Dir. PJ Hogan

    Crank: High Voltage – Dir. Neveldine/Taylor

    Dorian Gray – Dir. Oliver Parker

    Frost/Nixon – Dir. Ron Howard

    Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – Dir. David Yates

    Ip Man – Dir. Wilson Yip

    The Final Destination – Dir. David R. Ellis

    Last Chance Harvey – Dir. Joel Hopkins

    My Bloody Valentine 3D – Dir. Patrick Lussier

    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Dir. Bharat Nalluri

    Monsters vs. Aliens – Dir. Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon

    Nowhere Boy – Dir. Sam Taylor Wood

    Paranormal Activity – Dir. Oren Peli

    The Reader – Dir. Stephen Daldry

    Repo! The Genetic Opera – Dir. Darren Lynn Bousman

    Role Models – Dir. David Wain

    17 Again – Dir. Burr Steers

    Star Trek – Dir. JJ Abrams

    State of Play – Dir. Kevin Macdonald

    Shuttle – Dir. Edward Anderson

    Stuck – Dir. Stuart Gordon

    Timecrimes – Dir. Nacho Vigalondo

    Zombieland – Dir. Ruben Fleischer

    The "Rather Good Indeed" section contains the next tier of films, better made and greater in reach without quite earning gold star status. I would recommend any of these to pretty much any viewer.

    Antichrist – Dir. Lars von Trier

    An Education – Dir. Lone Scherfig

    Bunny and the Bull – Dir. Paul King

    Che – Parts 1 & 2 – Dir. Steven Soderbergh

    Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs – Dir. Phil Lord and Chris Miller

    Deadgirl – Dir. Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel

    The Disappeared – Dir. Johnny Kevorkian

    District 9 – Dir. Neill Blomkamp

    Doubt – Dir. John Patrick Shanley

    Duplicity – Dir. Tony Gilroy

    Franklyn – Dir. Gerald McMorrow

    Funny People – Dir. Judd Apatow

    The Girlfriend Experience – Dir. Steven Soderbergh

    Hannah Montana: The Movie – Dir. Peter Chelsom

    The Horseman – Dir. Steven Kastrissios

    The Hurt Locker – Dir. Kathryn Bigelow

    In the Loop – Dir. Armando Iannucci

    Jennifer's Body – Dir. Karyn Kusama

    Julia – Dir. Erick Zonca

    Knowing – Dir. Alex Proyas

    Paper Heart – Dir. Nicholas Jasenovec

    Red Cliff – Dir. John Woo

    Rumba – Dir. Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon

    The Red Riding Trilogy – Dir. Julian Jarrold, James Marsh and Anand Tucker

    Synecdoche, New York – Dir. Charlie Kaufmann

    Taken – Dir. Pierre Morel

    Terminator Salvation – Dir. McG

    The Time Traveler's Wife – Dir. Robert Schwentke

    Valkyrie – Dir. Bryan Singer

    Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Dir. Woody Allen

    Watchmen – Dir. Zack Snyder

    X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Dir. Gavin Hood

    Where the Wild Things Are – Dir. Spike Jonze

    Up – Dir. Pete Docter

    And finally, here's the upper tier. Though there are 25 exactly, that wasn't planned. I have put these specifically into preference order, even though at this level we're dealing with nothing but great films. These all have something to say and have been made with skill and consideration. None of them are perfect and all of them will turn off some viewers but if you pull them apart and look at their nuts and bolts you'll find some exquisite craftsmanship.

    25. 500 Days of Summer – Dir. Marc Webb

    24. Not Quite Hollywood – Dir. Mark Hartley

    23. A Serious Man – Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

    22. The Damned United – Dir. Tom Hooper

    21. Trick'r Treat – Dir. Michael Dougherty

    20. Let the Right One In – Dir. Tomas Alfredson

    19. A Christmas Carol – Dir. Robert Zemeckis

    18. Frozen River – Dir. Courtney Hunt

    17. Sin Nombre – Dir. Cary Fukunaga

    16. Moon – Dir. Duncan Jones

    15. The Informant! – Dir. Steven Soderbergh

    14. Inglourious Basterds – Dir. Quentin Tarantino

    13. Avatar – Dir. James Cameron

    12. The Wrestler – Dir. Darren Aranofsky

    11. Toy Story 3D – Dir. John Lasseter

    10. Martyrs – Dir. Pascale Laugier

    9. Looking for Eric – Dir. Ken Loach

    8. Drag Me to Hell – Dir. Sam Raimi

    7. Julie & Julia – Dir. Nora Ephron

    6. Bruno – Dir. Larry Charles

    5. Bright Star – Dir. Jane Campion

    4. Rachel Getting Married – Dir. Jonathan Demme

    3. Is Anybody There? – Dir. John Crowley

    2. Coraline – Dir. Henry Sellick

    1. The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus – Dir. Terry Gilliam

    There are several notable omissions from this list because, truth be told, I may not have seen the films in question. Other films you may have expected will be absent because I don't accept that they are good movies. Be sure and berate me over this in the comments.

    There are also some particular contributions to some of the films on the list that I would like to indicate and applaud.

    For the cinematography that most impressed me this year, I would like to name Roger Pratt for Dorian Gray; Steven Soderbergh for Che parts 1 & 2; Bruno Delbonnel for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince; John Sorapure for Bunny and the Bull; Nicola Pecorini for The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus; Darius Khondji for Cheri; Greig Fraser for Bright Star.

    For the work in musical score that impressed me this year, I would like to name Clint Mansell for Moon and The Wrestler; Carter Burwell for A Serious Man; Mychael Danna for 500 Days of Summer, The Time Traveler's Wife and, with Jeff Danna, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.

    For their FX work specifically in the medium of CG, I would like to name pictures Avatar, District 9, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.

    For post production colour correction I would like to name the pictures Antichrist, Bright Star, Terminator Salvation, Sin Nombre, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

    For nifty plot maneuvers or clever structural twists I would like to name the pictures Inglourious Basterds, Shuttle, Doubt, Star Trek, Taken, Looking for Eric, Bruno, Moon and Rumba.

    For their work in stereography I would like to name Pete Kozachik, David Franks, Nicholas Ilyin and Brian Gardner for Coraline. Even above Joshua Holland's work on the Toy Story films and the not inconsiderable achievements of the Avatar team, Coraline is possessed of a clever, varied and purposeful application of stereography that expands the language of film notably.

    Here's a bunch of little imaginary medals:

    For matte painting excellence, Franklyn; for big hairy suits, the monster crew of Where the Wild Things Are; for somehow retrieving the irretrievable, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus; for the nightmares, Martyrs; for song and dance 500 Days of Summer; for the Teacher-targetting tear jerking, An Education; for not coming out in the UK this year despite being really quite brilliant I would like to name Heartless and The Princess and the Frog.

    Here's hoping the next seven days are so full of British film news that next week's /Film UK will be full to bursting. See you then