The year 2009 saw the release of many great movies across various genres. From mind-bending science fiction to heartwarming dramas, the movies of 2009 offered something for everyone.
Some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful films of the year include Avatar, Up, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, and District 9.
Avatar, directed by James Cameron, broke box office records and set a new standard for visual effects in film. Up, from the beloved animation studio Pixar, won hearts with its touching story of an elderly man embarking on a grand adventure.
The Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, took home the Best Picture award at the 82nd Academy Awards and is widely regarded as one of the best war films ever made.
Inglourious Basterds, directed by Quentin Tarantino, was a critical and commercial success, and District 9, directed by Neill Blomkamp, became a sleeper hit with its unique blend of science fiction and social commentary.
Best 2009 Movies
Overall, the movies of 2009 showcased the talents of many great directors, writers, and actors, and left a lasting impact on the film industry and audiences alike.
1. Enter the Void (2009)
Enter the Void is a drama film released in 2009, directed by Gaspar Noé and starring Nathaniel Brown and Paz de la Huerta in the lead roles. The film follows a young American drug dealer named Oscar (Brown) who lives in Tokyo with his sister Linda (de la Huerta).
After getting involved in a drug deal gone wrong, Oscar is shot and killed, and his spirit is sent on a journey through time and space as he reflects on his past and the people he has left behind.
Enter the Void is known for its experimental style, with a heavy emphasis on psychedelic visuals and a non-linear narrative structure.
The film’s stunning cinematography and unique visual effects have been praised by critics, while its themes of life, death, and spirituality have been the subject of much analysis and interpretation.
The film’s graphic and controversial content, including scenes of drug use, sex, and violence, have also drawn criticism from some viewers. Despite this, Enter the Void has developed a cult following and is considered a landmark in experimental cinema.
Overall, Enter the Void is a challenging and thought-provoking film that offers a unique cinematic experience. Its unconventional approach and themes may not be for everyone, but for those who are willing to embrace its experimental style, it is a powerful and unforgettable journey.
2. The White Ribbon (2009)
“The White Ribbon” is a drama film directed by Michael Haneke, released in 2009. The film is set in a German village in the year leading up to the outbreak of World War I.
The story of the film follows the lives of the village’s inhabitants, focusing on the strange events that occur, including a series of violent incidents that seem to be connected to the village’s children.
The film explores themes of power, control, and the darker side of human nature, and is told through a series of interconnected vignettes.
“The White Ribbon” was praised for its direction, cinematography, and its commentary on the social and political climate of pre-World War I Germany.
The film was noted for its slow-paced, atmospheric style and its use of black-and-white photography. The film won the Palme d’Or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for two Academy Awards.
The film also received positive reviews from critics, who praised its haunting, thought-provoking story.
3. Antichrist (2009)
Antichrist is a psychological horror film released in 2009, directed by Lars von Trier and starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
The film follows a couple, known only as He and She, who retreat to a cabin in the woods following the death of their young son. As they try to cope with their grief, their relationship becomes increasingly strained and they are confronted by disturbing and surreal events.
The film was noted for its graphic and controversial content, including scenes of extreme violence, sexuality, and self-mutilation. It received mixed reviews from critics, with some praising von Trier’s direction and the performances of the lead actors, while others criticized the film’s explicit content and portrayal of women.
Antichrist was also noted for its exploration of themes such as grief, sexuality, and the relationship between men and women.
The film’s title and imagery allude to the concept of the Antichrist in Christian theology, and the film has been interpreted as a commentary on the nature of evil and the breakdown of societal norms.
Despite its controversial content, Antichrist received numerous awards and nominations, including the Cannes Film Festival’s Best Actress award for Gainsbourg. The film has since become a cult classic and has been studied and debated by film critics and scholars.
4. City of Life and Death (2009)
“City of Life and Death” is a 2009 Chinese historical war drama film directed by Lu Chuan.
The film is a fictionalized account of the 1937 Nanking Massacre, in which Japanese troops killed hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and soldiers after capturing the city of Nanking (now Nanjing) during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
The film follows several characters, including Chinese soldiers and civilians, a German businessman, and Japanese soldiers, as they navigate the horrors of the massacre and its aftermath.
The film is notable for its stark black-and-white cinematography and its unflinching portrayal of the violence and brutality of war.
“City of Life and Death” was praised by critics for its powerful storytelling, its stunning visual style, and its nuanced portrayal of the human toll of war.
The film was a commercial success in China and won numerous awards, including the Best Director award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.
The film is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Chinese cinema and a powerful examination of the effects of war on individuals and society.
5. Dogtooth (2009)
“Dogtooth” is a 2009 Greek film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. The film follows a family of three adult children who have been raised in complete isolation by their controlling parents, who have created a bizarre and unsettling world for them.
The children have been taught a distorted view of reality and language, with made-up words for common objects and ideas.
The plot of the film revolves around the children’s attempts to break free from their sheltered existence and discover the truth about the outside world. The film is a dark, surreal satire on social conditioning and the impact of isolation on the human psyche.
“Dogtooth” received critical acclaim and won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.
The film’s exploration of power dynamics and control, as well as its unsettling depiction of family relationships, has made it a highly regarded work of contemporary Greek cinema.
6. Hamlet (2009 TV Movie)
The 2009 TV movie “Hamlet” is a filmed version of William Shakespeare’s play of the same name, directed by Gregory Doran and starring David Tennant in the title role. The film was produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and was originally broadcast on television in the UK.
The story follows the young prince Hamlet of Denmark as he tries to avenge his father’s murder at the hands of his uncle, who has seized the throne and married Hamlet’s mother. The play is a tragedy and explores themes of betrayal, revenge, and madness.
David Tennant’s performance as Hamlet was highly praised, with critics lauding his emotional range and ability to convey the character’s complex psychological state.
Other notable performances include those of Patrick Stewart as King Claudius and Mariah Gale as Ophelia.
The film was shot on location at various historic sites in England, including Dover Castle and Blenheim Palace, and features lavish period costumes and sets.
“Hamlet” received positive reviews from both audiences and critics, and is considered a faithful and compelling adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s greatest works.
7. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
The Secret in Their Eyes is a 2009 Argentine-Spanish crime drama film directed by Juan José Campanella and starring Ricardo Darín and Soledad Villamil.
The film is based on the novel La pregunta de sus ojos (The Question in Their Eyes) by Eduardo Sacheri and follows a retired legal counselor who decides to write a novel based on a case he worked on in the 1970s, involving a young woman’s rape and murder.
The film explores themes of love, justice, revenge, and the impact of the past on the present. It is notable for its intricate and suspenseful plot, as well as its strong performances from the cast, particularly Ricardo Darín and Soledad Villamil.
Upon its release, The Secret in Their Eyes was met with critical acclaim, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards.
The film was praised for its expert storytelling, as well as its exploration of complex themes and its emotional impact. It is now considered a classic of Argentine cinema and one of the best crime dramas of the 21st century.
8. Moon (2009)
Moon is a science fiction film released in 2009, directed by Duncan Jones and starring Sam Rockwell in the lead role.
The film tells the story of Sam Bell (Rockwell), an astronaut who has been working alone on the Moon for three years, mining helium-3 to send back to Earth to meet its energy needs.
As his time on the Moon comes to an end, Sam begins to experience strange visions and discovers a shocking truth about his mission and his own identity.
Moon is notable for its minimalist approach to storytelling, relying on strong performances and a thought-provoking premise to create a tense and compelling atmosphere.
The film’s themes of identity, isolation, and the ethics of scientific progress have resonated with audiences and critics alike, earning it widespread acclaim.
Rockwell’s performance as Sam Bell has been particularly praised, as he effectively conveys the character’s emotional journey and inner turmoil. The film’s visual effects and production design have also been noted for their impressive realism and attention to detail.
Overall, Moon is a captivating and thought-provoking film that offers a fresh take on the science fiction genre.
Its unique premise, strong performances, and minimalist storytelling make it a must-see for fans of the genre, as well as for those looking for a gripping and emotionally resonant film.
9. The Secret of Kells (2009)
“The Secret of Kells” is an animated film directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, released in 2009. The film is set in Ireland in the 9th century and tells the story of a young boy named Brendan, who lives in the Abbey of Kells.
The story of the film follows Brendan as he embarks on a journey to complete a magical book that has the power to defeat an evil force known as Crom Cruach.
Along the way, he encounters a forest spirit named Aisling and a master illuminator named Brother Aidan, who teaches him the art of creating illuminated manuscripts.
“The Secret of Kells” was praised for its stunning animation, unique style, and its celebration of Irish culture and history. The film was noted for its use of vibrant colors, intricate designs, and hand-drawn animation techniques.
The film was a critical success and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The film also received positive reviews from critics, who praised its imaginative storytelling and its ability to appeal to both children and adults.
10. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Inglourious Basterds is a war film released in 2009, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Set during World War II, the film tells the story of a group of Jewish-American soldiers, known as the “Basterds”, who are tasked with killing and scalping Nazi soldiers in occupied France.
The film features an ensemble cast, including Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, and Mélanie Laurent.
The film received critical acclaim for its direction, screenplay, and performances, particularly that of Waltz, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as SS Colonel Hans Landa.
The film’s blend of humor, violence, and historical revisionism was also noted, with Tarantino’s trademark dialogue and non-linear storytelling style adding to the film’s appeal.
In addition to its action-packed plot, Inglourious Basterds explores themes such as revenge, justice, and the power of cinema.
The film’s climactic scene, set in a cinema where the Basterds plan to assassinate top Nazi officials, has been hailed as one of the most memorable moments in recent cinematic history.
Inglourious Basterds was a commercial success, grossing over $321 million worldwide against a budget of $70 million.
It received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and won the awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay. The film has since become a cult classic and is widely regarded as one of Tarantino’s best works.
11. About Elly (2009)
“About Elly” is a 2009 Iranian drama film directed by Asghar Farhadi. The film follows a group of middle-class friends who travel to the Caspian Sea for a weekend getaway.
Among them is Elly, a young schoolteacher who is invited by one of the friends to meet a potential suitor. When Elly disappears, the group becomes desperate to find her, and their search uncovers some unexpected truths and tensions within their relationships.
The film was praised by critics for its intelligent storytelling, nuanced performances, and exploration of social and cultural issues in contemporary Iran.
“About Elly” won numerous awards, including the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival, and it helped establish Farhadi as one of the most important and innovative voices in Iranian cinema.
The film is noted for its themes of social conventions, societal expectations and their impact on individual lives, as well as the challenge of making moral choices in complex situations.
The film remains a poignant and powerful exploration of human relationships and the complexities of modern Iranian society.
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12. The Road (I) (2009)
“The Road” is a 2009 post-apocalyptic drama film directed by John Hillcoat and based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy.
The film stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as a father and son who traverse a post-apocalyptic wasteland, struggling to survive in a world where society has collapsed and humanity is on the brink of extinction.
The film portrays the father and son’s journey southward in search of safety and supplies, facing numerous dangers and obstacles along the way.
Their relationship is at the center of the story, as the father tries to protect his son and instill in him the will to survive and maintain their humanity in a brutal and unforgiving world.
“The Road” received generally positive reviews, with particular praise for the performances of Mortensen and Smit-McPhee, as well as the film’s bleak and atmospheric visual style.
The film’s exploration of themes such as love, hope, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming despair has made it a highly regarded work of post-apocalyptic fiction.
13. Thirst (2009)
“Thirst” is a 2009 South Korean horror-drama film directed by Park Chan-wook. The film tells the story of a Catholic priest, Father Sang-hyun (played by Song Kang-ho), who volunteers for a medical experiment in Africa in the hope of finding a cure for a deadly virus.
However, the experiment goes awry and he becomes infected with the virus, eventually turning into a vampire.
The film explores themes of faith, desire, and morality as Sang-hyun grapples with his newfound thirst for blood and the conflict between his religious beliefs and his vampiric nature.
He falls in love with a childhood friend, Tae-ju (played by Kim Ok-bin), who becomes his partner in crime as they embark on a violent spree of feeding on the living.
“Thirst” was well-received by critics, who praised Park Chan-wook’s direction and the performances of the cast. The film won the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and several other awards at international film festivals.
It is noted for its stylish visuals, dark humor, and provocative themes, and is considered one of the standout films of the Korean New Wave.
14. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Drag Me to Hell is a 2009 horror film directed by Sam Raimi and starring Alison Lohman and Justin Long.
The film follows a young woman named Christine Brown who, after refusing a loan extension to a mysterious elderly woman, becomes the victim of a supernatural curse that threatens to drag her to hell in three days’ time.
The film is notable for its blend of horror and dark comedy, as well as its use of practical effects and Raimi’s signature camera techniques. It explores themes of morality, karma, and the consequences of our actions.
Upon its release, Drag Me to Hell was met with critical acclaim and was praised for its expert direction, strong performances, and effective blend of horror and humor.
The film was also a commercial success, grossing over $90 million worldwide. It is now considered a cult classic of the horror genre and a standout film in Sam Raimi’s filmography.
15. My Dog Tulip (2009)
My Dog Tulip is an animated film released in 2009, directed by Paul Fierlinger and based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by J.R. Ackerley.
The film tells the story of Ackerley (voiced by Christopher Plummer), a middle-aged man who adopts a German Shepherd named Tulip and forms a deep and loving bond with her.
My Dog Tulip is known for its unique animation style, which uses hand-drawn images and watercolor backgrounds to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
The film’s portrayal of the relationship between Ackerley and Tulip is heartwarming and authentic, depicting the joys and challenges of pet ownership with honesty and humor.
The film’s themes of companionship, loyalty, and the love between humans and animals have resonated with audiences and critics alike, earning it widespread acclaim. Plummer’s voice acting has been particularly praised for its emotional depth and authenticity, as he effectively conveys the character’s love for his beloved pet.
Overall, My Dog Tulip is a charming and poignant film that offers a unique perspective on the human-animal bond. Its beautiful animation, heartfelt storytelling, and universal themes make it a must-see for animal lovers and fans of animated films alike.
16. Mother (2009)
There are several films titled “Mother,” so it’s important to clarify which one you’re referring to. However, assuming that you’re referring to the Korean film “Mother” directed by Bong Joon-ho and released in 2009:
“Mother” is a drama thriller film that follows a mother’s search for the truth after her mentally disabled son is accused of murder. The film explores themes of parental love, sacrifice, and the corruption of power.
The story of the film centers around a mother, played by Kim Hye-ja, who sets out to clear her son’s name after he is accused of killing a young girl. As she investigates, she uncovers dark secrets about the girl’s family and the corrupt officials who are handling the case.
“Mother” was praised for its direction, cinematography, and the performances of its cast, particularly Kim Hye-ja’s portrayal of the mother.
The film was noted for its complex plot, nuanced characters, and its exploration of the mother-son relationship. The film received positive reviews from critics and was a commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing Korean films of all time.
17. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Fantastic Mr. Fox is a stop-motion animated film released in 2009, directed by Wes Anderson and based on the children’s novel of the same name by Roald Dahl.
The film features the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and Jason Schwartzman, among others, and follows a wily fox as he outwits three farmers who are trying to catch him and his family.
The film received critical acclaim for its visual style, direction, and voice acting. Anderson’s distinctive visual aesthetic was particularly praised, with the film’s use of stop-motion animation adding to its charm and whimsy.
The film also features a memorable soundtrack, including original music by Alexandre Desplat and popular songs by the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones.
In addition to its entertainment value, Fantastic Mr. Fox has been noted for its themes of family, community, and the importance of standing up to authority. The film’s characters are complex and flawed, and their struggles and triumphs resonate with audiences of all ages.
Although the film was not a box office success, it received numerous awards and nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. It has since become a cult classic and is regarded as one of the best animated films of the 21st century.
18. Brüno (2009)
“Brüno” is a 2009 American mockumentary comedy film directed by Larry Charles and starring Sacha Baron Cohen as Brüno, a flamboyant and eccentric Austrian fashion journalist who travels to the United States to become a celebrity.
The film follows Brüno as he interviews and interacts with real people in a series of outrageous and provocative stunts, all while satirizing celebrity culture and societal norms.
The film received mixed reviews from critics, with some praising its sharp humor and biting social commentary, while others criticized it as crass and offensive. Despite this, “Brüno” was a commercial success, grossing over $138 million worldwide.
The film is notable for its use of hidden cameras and its unscripted interactions with real people, which often lead to uncomfortable and sometimes offensive situations. It also tackles themes of homophobia and the intersection of fame and power in contemporary society.
19. A Serious Man (2009)
“A Serious Man” is a 2009 dark comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film is set in a Jewish suburb in the late 1960s and follows a physics professor, Larry Gopnik (played by Michael Stuhlbarg), who is beset by a series of personal and professional crises.
The film explores themes of existentialism, faith, and the nature of suffering. As Larry’s life spirals out of control, he seeks answers and guidance from various sources, including a series of rabbis who offer him cryptic and conflicting advice.
The film received critical acclaim for its sharp writing, black humor, and strong performances, particularly from Stuhlbarg in the lead role. It was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.
“A Serious Man” is considered one of the Coen Brothers’ most personal films, drawing heavily from their own experiences growing up in a Jewish community in Minnesota.
The film’s ambiguous and philosophical themes have led to numerous interpretations and discussions among viewers and critics alike.
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20. A Town Called Panic (2009)
“A Town Called Panic” is a 2009 Belgian stop-motion animated film directed by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar. The film is based on the popular Belgian television series of the same name and follows the misadventures of Cowboy, Indian, and Horse, three plastic toys who live together in a surreal and absurd world.
The story revolves around the trio’s attempts to build Horse a birthday present, which goes hilariously awry and leads them on a series of wild and unpredictable adventures.
Along the way, they encounter a variety of strange characters, including giant snow monsters, underwater goblins, and a mad scientist who creates a giant robotic penguin.
The film is known for its offbeat humor, fast-paced action, and imaginative visuals, all created through the use of stop-motion animation.
“A Town Called Panic” was well-received by critics, who praised its creativity and originality. It won several awards at international film festivals and has since gained a cult following. A sequel, “A Town Called Panic: The Christmas Log,” was released in 2013.
21. Up in the Air (I) (2009)
Up in the Air is a 2009 comedy-drama film directed by Jason Reitman and starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick.
The film follows Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizing expert who travels the country firing people for a living.
He values his freedom and solitude above all else, but his lifestyle is threatened when his company introduces a new employee and he begins a romantic relationship with a fellow frequent flyer.
The film explores themes of isolation, human connection, and the impact of the recession on American workers. It is notable for its sharp writing, strong performances, and nuanced portrayal of complex characters.
Upon its release, Up in the Air was met with critical acclaim and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
It was praised for its timely and relevant story, as well as its exploration of the modern American workplace and the human toll of corporate downsizing. It is now considered one of the best films of 2009 and a standout in Jason Reitman’s filmography.
22. I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
I Love You Phillip Morris is a 2009 black comedy-drama film directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa.
It stars Jim Carrey as Steven Russell, a married father and former cop who becomes a con man after realizing that he is gay.
While in prison, he falls in love with his fellow inmate, Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor), and begins a series of elaborate schemes to free himself and be with Phillip.
The film received positive reviews for its performances, particularly Carrey’s portrayal of Steven Russell. The film was also praised for its unique mix of comedy and drama, which effectively balanced the serious subject matter with moments of humor.
I Love You Phillip Morris is based on the true story of Steven Russell, and the film’s exploration of his sexuality and his relationship with Phillip Morris has been praised for its honesty and sensitivity.
The film also addresses important social issues, such as the prison system and the difficulties faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in society.
Overall, I Love You Phillip Morris is a well-crafted film that offers a unique and engaging story with strong performances and a mix of comedy and drama.
Its exploration of important social issues and its portrayal of a complex relationship between two men make it a thought-provoking and memorable film.
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23. Black Dynamite (2009)
“Black Dynamite” is a comedy film directed by Scott Sanders and released in 2009. The film is a spoof of blaxploitation films from the 1970s and follows the titular character, played by Michael Jai White, as he sets out to avenge the death of his brother.
The story of the film takes place in the 1970s and follows Black Dynamite, a former CIA agent and Vietnam veteran, who becomes a vigilante after his brother is killed.
Black Dynamite’s investigation leads him to a conspiracy involving drugs, corruption, and a powerful politician.
“Black Dynamite” was praised for its humor, its homage to blaxploitation films, and the performance of Michael Jai White in the lead role.
The film was noted for its authentic recreation of the 1970s aesthetic and style, including its music, costumes, and dialogue. The film was a critical and commercial success, and has since gained a cult following for its unique blend of satire and action.
24. Valhalla Rising (2009)
Valhalla Rising is a historical action-adventure film released in 2009, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Mads Mikkelsen.
The film is set in 11th century Scandinavia and follows a mute warrior named One Eye, who escapes from captivity and embarks on a journey with a group of Christian Vikings in search of the Holy Land.
The film received mixed reviews upon release, with some praising its visual style and atmospheric tone, while others criticized its slow pacing and lack of plot. The film is notable for its graphic violence and stylized cinematography, which has been compared to the works of Stanley Kubrick and Terrence Malick.
Despite its mixed reception, Valhalla Rising has developed a cult following over the years, with some viewers praising its artistic merits and thematic exploration of violence, religion, and destiny.
Mikkelsen’s performance as the enigmatic One Eye has been particularly praised, with critics noting his ability to convey complex emotions without dialogue.
Valhalla Rising remains a divisive film, but it has left a lasting impact on the action-adventure genre and is often cited as an example of bold and uncompromising filmmaking.
25. A Single Man (2009)
“A Single Man” is a 2009 American drama film directed by Tom Ford and based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood.
The film stars Colin Firth as George Falconer, a middle-aged English professor living in Los Angeles in 1962, who is grieving the loss of his long-time partner, Jim (played by Matthew Goode). Over the course of a single day, George reflects on his life, his relationship with Jim, and his own mortality.
The film received critical acclaim for its direction, performances, and cinematography, with Firth earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
“A Single Man” is notable for its exploration of grief, loss, and loneliness, as well as its examination of the social and cultural landscape of 1960s America.
The film’s stylish and visually striking aesthetic, which is informed by Ford’s background in fashion design, has also been widely praised.
The use of color, light, and camera angles is particularly notable, as is the film’s score, which was composed by Abel Korzeniowski. Overall, “A Single Man” is a moving and poignant exploration of human emotion and the human condition.
Best 2009 Movies – Wrap Up
The year 2009 saw the release of many critically acclaimed and commercially successful films across a wide range of genres. Here are some of the best movies from 2009:
“The Hurt Locker”
“A Serious Man”
“Up in the Air”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
These films received numerous award nominations and wins, including Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and BAFTA Awards. They were praised for their strong storytelling, well-developed characters, and impressive technical achievements.
Overall, 2009 was a strong year for cinema, with a variety of films that appealed to different audiences and showcased the talent and creativity of filmmakers from around the world.