It’s been a great year for the British film industry. It kicked off with the British invasion of the Oscars, with notable wins for Kate Winslet, and Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. The huge amount of British Actors plying their trade successfully in Hollywood continued to grow, with Scot Gerard Butler particularly in demand with parts in Gamer, The Ugly Truth and Law Abiding Citizen.
British filmmakers have been responsible for some of the more interesting films this year. Duncan Jone’s Moon was a brilliant yet under appreciated sci-fi drama. Fish Tank and Harry Brown lead the way for low budget drama. Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus finally found a distributor. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince became the highest grossing British movie of all time.
British film festivals Raindance and the BFI London Film Festival saw record attendances, and showcased some great films from home, like An Education, and abroad, like The Road. Attendances were also up for cinematic audiences in general across the country. Buoyed by the slew of Hollywood blockbusters released this year, the box office thrived despite the global economic crisis (or maybe because of it).
In fact, movies were a big source of revenue across the globe, with the US also reporting a bumper year at the box office. Big budget studio pictures made a lot of money, despite the majority being panned by critics. 2009 was possibly the culmination of the recent trend of franchises drawing more revenue than big name stars. It used to be that the presence of one of the big A-List stars, like Gibson, Hanks or Willis, guaranteed a big opening weekend. However, this year saw franchises with almost B-list casts, like Star Trek, G.I.Joe and The Twilight Saga: New Moon out grossing star vehicles like Bruce Willis’ Surrogates. Even the highest grossing movie of the year Transformers 2, despite what Shia Lebouf and Megan Fox might like to think, was sold on the big-ass robots and not the cast. One of the last remaining bankable stars, Will Smith, was notably absent from theatres this year.
It’s hardly been a vintage year for great films, ironic considering the Academy Award for best picture has been opened up to allow ten nominations. The Hurt Locker has been the most successful so far in the end of the year awards stakes. Other critically acclaimed films this year have included Tarantino’s glorious return to form with Inglourious Basterds, surprise hit of the summer District 9, the prolific Coen Brother’s A Serious Man. Two of the big Oscar contenders have yet to be released in the UK. Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire. And Jason Reitman’s Up In The Air, starring George Clooney, who also featured in outside award contenders Fantastic Mr Fox and The Men Who Stare At Goats.

Pixar’s poignant and touching Up continued the growing trend of animated movies addressing adult issues, along with Waltz With Bashir. Shane Acker’s 9 presented a unique and visually stunning animation style, but sadly fell down on story.
Thanks to the afore mentioned trend of casting relative unknowns in big movies, this year has produced a bumper crop of ‘next big things’. Sam Worthington stole the plaudits from Christian Bale in Terminator: Salvation, and should now come to public attention following his lead role in this year’s biggest movie. Chris Pine took on the monumental task of replacing William Shatner as Jim Kirk, and may now be the next Jack Ryan. Zoe Saldana has appeared alongside both, and is everywhere next year, including the comic adaptation of The Losers. Carey Mulligan impressed with her performance in An Education, and appears in next year’s Wall Street 2.
A couple of known actors also did enough to show they could make it big next year. Sam Rockwell’s one man show in Moon once again showed his great acting talent, and a part in next year’s Iron Man 2 may help to cement his A-list status. Following his great performance in Rian Johnson’s Brick in 2006, Joseph Gordon-Levitt  impressed in relationship de-construction 500 Days of Summer, and he gave a truly entertaining performance in G.I. Joe. His turn in Christopher Nolan’s Inception next year may be the part that brings him to mainstream recognition.
It’s been a mixed year for directors. Richard Kelly made it big in 2001 with Donnie Darko, but followed the woeful Southland Tales this year with box office flop The Box. Zach Snyder’s Watchmen was panned and failed to recoup it’s budget. McG talked a good game, but his Terminator: Salvation was uninspired. The usually consistent Sam Mendes got mixed reviews for Away We Go, as did Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. Newcomers Neill Blomkamp and Ruben Fleischer scored big with debuts District 9 and Zombieland respectively. Comedy director Judd Apatow made his most mature film to date, Funny People, and Oren Peli’s feature Paranormal Activity broke the record for biggest profit to budget ratio.
The year’s biggest story, however, was saved until last. After nearly 15 years and 0m, James Cameron’s technological masterpiece reached the big screen. Avatar revolutionised 3D technology, polarised the industry in (almost) unanimous praise, and looks set to be in the list of ten when Oscar season comes around. So will the example set by Avatar, big box office from an original concept, set the trend for 2010?
That looks unlikely. With sequels like Iron Man 2 and the next Twilight, remakes/reboots like Clash of the Titans and Robin Hood, and adaptations like Kick Ass and The Losers on the way, franchises will again rule the roost. There’s even talk of sequels to come for Avatar itself in the future. Hopefully original concepts like Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables will also meet with great success.
I’d like to thank everyone that has visited the site. It’s our continuously growing readership that allows us to do what we do. I’d also like to thank the press officers and studio representatives that have helped us to our achieve success. And i’d like to thank the great Heyuguys team, led by Dave. It’s been an incredible year for the site, and next year looks to be even better. All that remains is to wish everyone a very merry Christmas, and the happiest of new years.
Bazmann – You can follow me on Twitter at