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The Best Movies of 2009? MOMA weighs in

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The year 2009 has not ended yet, but of all the movies shown this year the Museum of Modern Art has already selected 20 to be shown in The Contenders, 2009, a 10-week film series of movies that, in the opinion of the museum’s film curators, are “contenders for lasting significance.” Several of the directors will be present during the screening of their films.

Highlights courtesy of the museum: “Opening the series on October 31 was Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell, in which the director— who is known for directing the Spider-Man series among other hit Hollywood films—combines horror, black comedy, gore, and the same outsize imagination that fans remember from his cult horror favorite The Evil Dead (1981). The series closes on January 13, 2010, with another horror film, Lars Von Trier’s diabolical Antichrist, which assailed viewers with its exquisitely framed menace when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Other genre movies include Ruben Fleischer’s comedic, post-apocalyptic Zombieland, and Neill Blomkamp’s South African sci-fi chiller District 9.
Additional popular releases include Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animation adaptation of the children’s book by Roald Dahl, The Fantastic Mr. Fox; Marc Webb’s romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer; and Todd Phillips’ Las Vegas bachelor-party buddy comedy The Hangover. Also featured is Jane Campion’s Bright Star, set in 1818 London, about poet John Keats’ (Ben Winshaw) secret, tragic love affair with the girl next door (Abbie Cornish).”

Here is the list and schedule:

Wednesday, November 4
bestmoviestyson8:00 Tyson. 2009. USA. Directed by James Toback. Acclaimed and enigmatic; terms that could apply equally to both the subject and creator of this mesmerizing documentary. Toback’s Tyson is a complex, layered portrait of a confused and controversial man. Mike Tyson is revealed as both an inspirational figure who transcended the harsh terrain of his upbringing, and a potentially unhinged and cliché-confirming victim of his own celebrity. Toback balances unfiltered recollections from Tyson with historical footage to forge a cinematic experience that’s half fable and half knockout punch. 90 min. Q&A with Toback following the screening.

Thursday, November 5 7:00
Valentino: The Last Emperor. 2008. USA. Directed by Matthew Tyrnauer. Fabulous and steadfast amid a sea of frantic assistants, event planners, and fashionistas, Valentino Garavani can now add leading man to his growing list of creative accomplishments. Tyrnauer’s affectionate and funny documentary follows fashion’s last great independent designer as he prepares to leave his company after forty-five years. Stitched together with a fierce vision and fifty years of support (and squabbles) from his partner in life and business, Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino’s legacy is sure to endure. 96 min.
Q&A with Matthew Tyrnauer and Valentino Garavani following the screening.

Monday, November 16 8:00
Politist, adj (Police, Adjective) 2009. Romania. Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu. With Dragos Bucur, Vlad Ivanov, George Remes.
Winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Porumboiu’s Police, Adjective offers further evidence that Romania is producing some of the most brilliant, cleverly subversive, and exquisitely crafted films in the world these days. A policeman’s seemingly pointless stakeout of three dope-smoking teenagers evolves into an absurdist Socratic debate on law, ethics, epistemology, and the slipperiness of language. Romanian; English subtitles. 115 min.

Tuesday, December 1 7:00
The Hurt Locker. 2008. USA. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Q&A with Kathryn Bigelow and special guests following the screening.
THE HURT LOCKER

Wednesday, December 2 7:00
(500) Days of Summer. 2009. USA. Directed by Marc Webb.

Monday, December 7 8:00
The Fantastic Mr. Fox. 2009. USA. Directed by Wes Anderson.

Sunday, December 13 7:30
A Serious Man. 2009. USA. Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.

Thursday, December 17 8:00
District 9. USA/New Zealand. Directed by Neill Blomkamp.

bestmovieskatyn
Friday, December 18 4:00
Katyn. 2007. Poland. Directed by Andrez Wajda. 4:30

Zombieland. 2009. USA. Directed by Ruben Fleischer.

Saturday, December 19 2:00
Katyn. 2007 8:30
Every Little Step. 2008. USA. Directed by Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern.

Sunday, December 20 5:30
Hunger. 2008. UK/Ireland. Directed by Steve McQueen.

Monday, December 21 8:00
Hunger.

Saturday, December 26
1:30 The Beaches of Agnes. 2008. France. Directed by Agnès Varda.

Sunday, December 27 5:30
The Beaches of Agnes.

Tuesday, December 29
4:00 The Maid. 2009. Chile. Directed by Sebastián Silva.

Wednesday, December 30 8:00
Summer Hours. 2008. France. Directed by Olivier Assayas.

Thursday, December 31
4:30 Summer Hours.

Saturday, January 2
4:00 The Hangover.2009. USA. Directed by Todd Phillips.

Sunday, January 3
4:00 The Hangover.

Monday, January 4
8:00 The Hurt Locker.

Wednesday, January 6
8:00 My Neighbor My Killer. 2009. USA/France. Directed by Anne Aghion.

Thursday, January 7
8:00 My Neighbor My Killer. (See Wednesday, January 6, 8:00.)

Friday, January 8
8:00 In the Loop. 2009. UK. Directed by Armando Iannucci.

Saturday, January 9
5:00 In the Loop.

Sunday, January 10
2:00 Antichrist. 2009. Denmark/Germany/France/Poland/Italy. Directed by Lars von Trier.

Monday, January 11 8:00 Bright Star. 2009. UK/Australia/France. Directed by Jane Campion. Wednesday, January 13 8:00 Antichrist. (See Sunday, January 10, 2:00.)

For descriptions of some of these films go to our 2009 fall film preview guide