Once a year at Twisted Flicks we like to recognise, and pour adulation on, some of the previous year's outstanding achievements in foreign and genre cinema. Films that generally are on the fringes and likely to be passed over for mainstream industry recognition - or probably just films that we like, but most sane people don't.
Undoubtedly there will be glaring omissions. There will also be films released in 2009 that we haven't gotten around to watching yet. This is a work in progress, so feel free to chime in with your opinion and suggestions.
TFA2009: Movie of the YearWinner: Thirst (Korea)
Runner Up: Inglourious Basterds, The Spirit, Black Dynamite
With a plethora of sub-standard dross being released each year in the vampire genre, its refreshing to see an original update to the theme. Korean director Park Chan-wook is a truly creative film-maker who is at the top of his game right now.
Thirst has all the best elements of a genre film - sex, violence, comedy - combined with a good script, great acting and superb cinematography. This is exploitation genre cinema at its very best.
For bringing auteur quality to genre films this year, Park Chan-wook and Thirst receive this year's TFA Movie of the Year award.
TFA2009: Badass Motherfucker of the YearWinner: Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds
Runner Up: Michael Jai White for Black Dynamite, Clint Eastwood for Gran Torino, Vincent Cassell for Sheitan
This year's winner is a bit different to previous year's winners, in that he doesn't indulge in a great deal of the ol' ultra-violence. He's not an ass-kicking hero we cheer as he ruthlessly dispatches the bad guys. Rather he is a badass in a much more insinuating and realistic way. Christophe Waltz takes the honours this year simply for a sublime performance as the least likable character portrayed in film this year, Colonel Hans Landa.
Waltz personifies the ultimate arrogant prick ... the kind of guy you just wish you could step through the screen and pummel the condescending, shit-eating grin right off his face. It's hard to imagine how he could have more perfectly channeled his character, and if you ask me, it's a performance worthy of Oscar recognition this year.
TFA2009: Badass Babe of the YearWinner: Kim Ok-bin for Thirst
Runner Up: Macarena Gomez for Sexy Killer
Ok-bin's performance ranges from shy, submissive housewife through sex-crazed vixen to psychotic blood-thirsty vampiress all in the space of one film. She convincingly pulls off all roles while simultaneously being called upon to provide most of the film's comedic moments, as well as baring all for the erotic scenes.
This is a brave, startling performance from an actress to keep an eye on in the future. For such a challenging and multi-faceted role, delivered with intensity and verve, Kim Ok-bin wins this year's Badass Babe of the Year.
TFA2009: Best ComedyWinner: Black Dynamite
A hilariously cheesy throwback to the golden era of 70s blaxploitation - complete with the requisite sexism, racism, macho posturing and kung fu! Some jive turkey has killed Dynamite's brother and he needs to get to the bottom of a web of intrigue to find out who is responsible. A journey that takes him right to the very top as he discovers a diabolical conspiracy to keep the black brothers down, perpetuated of course by Whitey! (aka The Man).
The production values are excellent, and White's performance as Black Dynamite makes it seem he was born for the role. Black Dynamite is one of the best retro parodies I've seen, and earns this year's Best Comedy award. Can you dig it?
TFA2009: Best SoundtrackWinner: The Informers
While not utilising my favourite music from the 80's, in fact for the most part it is what was referred to at the time as 'yuppie music', the way period music was used in the film was superb. And in any case, this movie is a film about yuppies, so fits the bill perfectly.
Aggressively placed prominently in the mix, the atmospheric soundtrack is an immersive experience that elevates the film to a new level. When a soundtrack plays such a pivotal role in a film, I sit up and take notice.
When combined with a smooth and contemporary score by Christopher Young, we're onto a real sonic winner. Cuts on the soundtrack include: Simple Minds, Wang Chung, Pat Benatar, Men Without Hats, Gary Numan, and A Flock of Seagulls.
TFA2009: Eye Candy AwardWinner: The Spirit
Runners-up: Angel-A, Thirst, Inglorious Basterds
Whilst obviously derivative of Sin City, and understandably so as they're both based on the comics of Frank Miller, The Spirit did not bring a completely unique vision to film-goers. However, it did a fantastic job in this style and looks stunning.
Miller was in the director's chair this time, and as such was able to fully realise his creative vision. Practically every scene of the film looks impressive from an artistic standpoint. A hyper-noir reality evokes the appropriate atmosphere, Nazi-inspired uniforms are sported by Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L Jackson, and neo-Japanese surrealist scenes add to the spectacle.
The Spirit is a visual feast.
TFA2009: Ultra-Minx AwardWinner: Rie Rasmussen in Angel-A
The sexiest seductress on film in 2009 goes to Rie Rasmussen for her role as Angela in Angel-A. With a character best described as a slutty angel, she nevertheless manages to achieve this contradiction with her Nordic supermodel looks combined with the shortest of skirts.
It's a nuanced and knowing performance, infused with real heart and an indefinable x-factor, which helps make the film's fantastic premise believable.
As a male fantasy come true, and as an actress, Rie delivers on all counts.
Note: The film was actually released in 2005 but we reviewed it in 2009, so its included here.
See also: The TFA2008 Awards