5. The Final Showdown in District 9
No matter what you thought about the opening sequence of District 9 - a faux documentary about the aliens' arrival on earth - it is impossible to deny just how awesome the ending of the movie was. Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) had been having the worst day on Earth - slowly transforming into an alien, everyone turning on him - and just when he's about solve all his problems, everything goes to hell. But does Wikus back down? Hell no. Instead, he grabs some alien guns, an alien Exo suit and throws down with the bad guys John McClane style.
Before people were dropping their jaws over Avatar, they were being amazed by the sort of visual feats director Neill Blomkamp achieved with a $30 million budget. And while District 9 may be a sci-fi film, as far as Westerns go, the ending is one of the best OK Corral shootouts ever put to film.
4. The Sacrifice of George Kirk in Star Trek
Actor Chris Hemsworth will play Thor in the summer of 2011, but undoubtedly his star first shot high when he played Captain Kirk's father, George Kirk, in the epic opening sequence of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot. George Kirk's bravery in face of the terrors of space not only sparked the Trekker spirit in many longtime fans, it set the immediate precedent that this was going to be a Star Trek movie that the average person could actually connect to and care about - a film with genuine feeling and drama but also some epic and enjoyable adventure.
After that grand overture, I was strapped in tight for the voyage.
3. The Final Battle in Avatar
Upon first viewing, I thought that "the banshee flight" sequence in Avatar was my favorite. Upon second viewing, I have to say it is definitely the final battle between the Na'vi aliens and the mercenary forces of the evil Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang). Dozens of CGI alien beasts, gunships, mech suits, roaring flames, explosions, smoke and splintered wood blasting into the air, blue aliens fighting to preserve their world while sacrificing their very lives.
There is a lot about Avatar that was amazing, but this end battle truly showcased the potential of Cameron's vision: a scene that is almost totally CGI, yet is as weighty, dramatic, moving and beautiful as anything "real-world" film can capture. Study this and learn, George Lucas.
2. The Opening Montage of Up
Pixar's latest was marketed as a lighthearted adventure fantasy, so imagine everyone's surprise when the film opened with a heartbreaking montage of the life and romance of Carl and Ellie Fredricksen. From the first time they met as kids, to their wedding day, the ups and downs of their married life and finally, Ellie's untimely passing - the film was barely onscreen for fifteen minutes before we were all reaching for a tissue or napkin to stop our tears.
Never has a mainstream animated movie packed such a powerful emotional punch.
1. Perrier LaPadite vs. Col. Landa in Inglourious Basterds
People were nervous that Quentin Tarantino's latest film would be another Death Proof (read: bor-ing). However, those fears were instantly erased by the opening scene to Basterds. On the surface, it was just a conversation: A mild-mannered French farmer (Denis Menochet) is paid a visit by a notorious Nazi Colonel (Christoph Waltz) and the two have a civilized conversation over some glasses of fresh milk (harmless, right?). However, beneath that innocent facade, many brilliantly twisted and terrible things were happening.
Col. Landa's diatribe about why Nazis do what they do sounded almost logical for all of a second before an act of insidious violence reminded you just what kind of monsters the Nazis truly were. Hands down one of Tarantino's best scenes ever (and one that has made a star out of Christoph Waltz).
Those are our top ten standout movie moments for 2009. Do you agree with our list? Have a few other moments you would like to add? Let us know below.