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The Best Films of 2009

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10. “Up” Maybe its jumbled plot didn't make much sense, but as a comedy this was by far the funniest, laugh-out-loud kids' movie of the year, and one of the funniest all around.

9. “Food Inc.” This investigation of the origins and results of factory farming in America is distressingly thorough.

8. “Coraline” This charming children's fantasy mixed expert stop-motion animation with newfangled 3-D technology without drawing undo attention to either.

7. “Capitalism: A Love Story” Documentarian Michael Moore shed light on another social ill. Many are doing this now, but Moore still does it with a sense of humor, compassion and level of engagement that stands above the rest.

6. “Der Baader Meinhof Komplex” A dispassionate script elevated this tense historical drama about the origin and activities of a notorious hippie-era terrorist organization.

5. “The Messenger” The best parts of this contemporary war story contained a documentarylike realism depicting the difficulty of informing next of kin of war casualties.

4. “The Informant!” A mustache, paunch and terrible eyeglasses helped Matt Damon transform himself into the funniest crazy person of the year, a con man who helps bring down an infamous American price-fixing scheme while lining his own pockets.

3. “Two Lovers” Joaquin Phoenix's supposed last acting gig was also an eloquently understated portrayal of normal people struggling with everyday problems.

2. “Bright Star” Simultaneously, this fine, moving period film looked at the great poet John Keats, as seen through the eyes of his paramour, and explored what love is.

1. “The Road” A grim but admirably authentic vision of the struggle for existence, and the meaning of that struggle, at the end of the world. 

Also worth mentioning: “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” “Extract,” “Funny People,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Precious,” “The Soloist,” “Sugar,” “Up in the Air.”

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