The Best of 2009 – Poll Results

25 January 2010

You, the Midnight Eye readers, have spoken... These Japanese films are your favourites of 2009.

Below are the final results, plus your personal comments and reactions. Many thanks to everyone who voted!

Find out what Midnight Eye's own favourites of the year were in our Best (and Worst) of 2009 feature.

Ranking Title Original title Director
1. (31.71%) LOVE EXPOSURE Ai no Mukidashi Sion Sono
2. (14.28%) Still Walking Aruitemo Aruitemo Hirokazu Koreeda
3. (7.79%) Departures Okuribito Yojiro Takita
4. (5.63%) Air Doll Kuki Ningyo Hirokazu Kore-eda
5. (5.19%) Fish Story   Yoshihiro Nakamura
6. (3.46%) Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Gake no Ue no Ponyo Hayao Miyazaki
7. (3.03%) Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance Evangerion Shin Gekijoban: Ha Hideaki Anno
Yatterman Yattaman Takashi Miike
8. (2.60%) Crows Zero II   Takashi Miike
9. (2.16%) Naked of Defenses Mubobi Masahide Ichii
10. (1.73%) Goemon   Kazuaki Kiriya
Vampire Girl Versus Frankenstein Girl Kyuketsu Shojo tai Shojo Furanken Yoshihiro Nishimura
11. (1.30%) Bare Essence of Life Ultra Miracle Love Story Satoko Yokohama
Nanayo Nanayomachi Naomi Kawase
Symbol Shinboru Hitoshi Matsumoto
12. (0.86%) Ain't No Tomorrows Oretachi ni Asu wa Naissu Yuki Tanada
Autumn Adagio Fuwaku no Adagio Tsuki Inoue
Blood of Rebirth, The Yomigaeri no Chi Toshiaki Toyoda
Brass Knuckle Boys Shonen Merikensakku Kankuro Kudo
Clone Returns Home, The Kuron wa Kokyo o Mezasu Kanji Nakajima
Dear Doctor   Miwa Nishikawa
Instant Swamp Instant Numa Satoshi Miki
Normal Life Please, A Futsu no Shigoto ga Shitai Tokachi Tsuchiya
Summer Wars   Mamoru Hosoda
Villon's Wife Buiyon no Tsuma Kichitaro Negishi
13. (0.43%) 8000 Miles SR: Saitama no Rapper Yu Irie
Crab Cannery Ship, The Kanikosen Sabu
Daydream Hakujitsumu Kyoko Aizome
Drop   Yu Shinagawa
Hovering Blade, The Samayou Yaiba Shoichi Mashiko
Kakera: A Piece of Our Life Kakera Momoko Ando
Kamui Kamui Gaiden Yoichi Sai
Live Tape   Tetsuaki Matsue
Robo Geisha   Noboru Iguchi
Toad's Oil Gama no Abura Koji Yakusho
Twentieth Century Boys - Chapter 3 Nijuseiki Shonen Saishusho Bokuro no Hata Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Vacation Kyuka Hajime Kadoi
14. (0.00%) April Bride Yomei Ikkagetsu o Hanayome Ryuichi Hiroki
Assault Girls   Mamoru Oshii
Be Sure to Share Chanto Tsutaeru Sion Sono
Buy a Suit Sutsu o Kau Jun Ichikawa
Crime or Punishment Tsumi Toka Batsu Toka Keralino Sandorovich
Dark Harbour, The Futoko Takatsugu Naito
Deep in the Valley   Atsushi Funahashi
Dump Truck Woman Danpu Neechan to Horumon Daio Akira Fujiwara
Permanent Part-timer in Distress, A Suonan Freeter Hiroki Iwabuchi
Hard Revenge Milly: Bloody Battle   Takanori Tsujimoto
Harimaya Bridge, The Harimayabashi Aaron Woolfolk
Heaven's Door   Michael Arias
High Kick Girl   Fuyuhiko Nishi
Lalapipo: A Lot of People Lalapipo Masayuki Miyano
Looking for Cherry Blossoms Sakura na Hitotachi Jo Odagiri
Mental Seishin Kazuhiro Soda
No More Cry Nakumonka Nobuo Mizuta
Osaka Hamlet   Fujio Mitsuishi
Pandemic Kansen Retto Takahisa Zeze
Pool   Mika Omori
Pride   Shusuke Kaneko
Rain Fall   Max Mannix
Sanpei the Fisher Boy Tsurikichi Sanpei Yojiro Takita
Sideways   Cellin Gluck
Stop the Bitch Campaign Enjo-kosai Bokumetsu Undo Kosuke Suzuki
Summit: A Chronicle of Stones. The Tsurugidake: Ten no Ki Daisaku Kimura
Lost Paradise in Tokyo Kazuya Shiraishi
Twentieth Century Boys - Chapter 2 Nijuseiki Shonen Dainisho Saigo no Kibo Yukihiko Tsutsumi

Comments and reactions:

On 29-01-2010 'Mick Brooks' voted for 'Love Exposure'

Not seen most, but of what I have...

On 29-01-2010 'logboy' voted for 'Fish Story'

lucky to catch fish story. serene to start, sags in the middle, drifts a while, then rouses towards the last 30 minutes or so; deserves a dvd, soon.

i've noticed a fair few interesting classics and contemporary standouts are now getting the fansub treatment. companies have supported an interest in films that has diversified somewhat, but they've also failed to capitalise on their opportunities to get smart and license what isn't so obviously worth licensing. hence the digging being done that is beginning to outstrip those with that particular key responsibility which would put the companies in the driving seat instead of handing it over, gradually, to what could become as ravenous (and self-imploding) as the anime fanbase in america.

a fair few of those picked out in the lists this year already languish on DVD - "love exposure" hit DVD in the UK this week thanks to the ever-improving third window films - and some of them are already in my grasp and awaiting their slot. some of them are in line for a release too - "summer wars" is coming to BD and DVD via manga in the UK, cinema too maybe, by september - but many more always seem left out. not as many as once would have been, so dig deep and ask around to find some of the more hidden gems like "vacation", which is out in taiwan with english subtitles.

as for non-japanese films : i really like "mesrine" overall, but preferred the second half. "white ribbon" is sharp and very much open to alternative interpretations. "moon" was so nicely put together but a little familiar, and "let the right one in" was refreshing - superb soundtrack CD too - and so, i will continue to sometimes venture out to the cinema to see films like this. caught all of these as digital projections, which is really quite a joy.

On 29-01-2010 'Jasper' voted for 'Love Exposure'

Love Exposure all the way!!!!!

On 29-01-2010 'Renee Saracki' voted for 'Love Exposure'

Saw U.S. premiere at the NYAFF in July and am stll amazed by the film's ambition, scope and sheer bravado.

On 29-01-2010 'Eric' voted for 'Love Exposure'

Not an easy choice this year between Love Exposure, Fish Story, Naked of Defenses, Departures and--shame on me!--Yatterman. But Sion Sono's magnum opus gets the nod...

On 29-01-2010 'Paul Kazee' voted for 'Fish Story'

Sadly, I've seen far fewer Japanese films this year than in past years, but of those I've seen, FISH STORY is my clear favorite. LOVE EXPOSURE holds the 2nd place spot in my heart, and - with some trimming - might have been my 1st choice. As is, however, I found the film to unnecessarily drag under the weight of what felt like padding to me in several spots.

On 29-01-2010 'anonymous' voted for 'Instant Swamp'

It's insanely fashionable and sweetly optimistic, and the dragon and kappa are like old-style Daiei monsters!

On 29-01-2010 'Eddy Ospina' voted for 'Still Walking'

My favourite was Nankyoku Ryouri-nin but it's not on your list! Second fav. was Aruitemo Aruitemo.

On 29-01-2010 'Micky San' voted for 'Still Walking'

His most simple, affecting, and beautiful film since NOBODY KNOWS

On 29-01-2010 'Stuart L. Hass' voted for 'Blood of Rebirth, The'

Unfortunately, I am familiar with only two films by title - "Departures" & "Still Walking". I was quite impressed by "Still Walking" so I voted for it. I will likely see "Departures" and suspect it will be quite good. And I will use the names of the films in your poll as a "shopping list" to request that Netflix include as many of these films as possible, sooner or later. Thanks ! Sincerely, Stuart L. Hass, organizer of the UMFCS (Undocumented Minority Film Critics Society, a very "tongue-in-check" name, though we seriously love films)

On 29-01-2010 'michel denis' voted for 'Love Exposure'

you forgot:

futso no koi

moya no naka

On 30-01-2010 'VooGPF' voted for 'Love Exposure'

Truly one of the most accomplished films of the decade!

On 30-01-2010 'Alex Higuera' voted for 'Love Exposure'

Its the most bravest modern film i have ever seen, an ode to love, mental breakdown and euforia. Love it with all my heart.

On 30-01-2010 'mauro pittiruti' voted for 'Fish Story'

genial, refreshing, entertaining

On 30-01-2010 'Nicholas Vroman' voted for 'Symbol'

My 10 best is here:

10 Best Japanese Films 2009

On 02-02-2010 'anonymous' voted for 'Love Exposure'

I voted for the Sono, but my favorite Japanese film of the year, seen at the HKIFF, was Watabe Atsuro's Kotoba no nai fuyu [Echo of Silence].

On 02-02-2010 'Lalit Rao' voted for 'Departures'

Takira Yojiro has made a great film about human emotions.This is the reason why I like this film.

On 03-02-2010 'Rich' voted for 'Drop'

After two Crows films, it was refreshing to see a delinquent movie based in a reality where schools have teachers, students have families, and (gasp) girls exist.

On 04-02-2010 'Duff' voted for 'Departures'

Enjoyed ever moment of a nearly perfect movie. The only exception - the super-cheesy cello played by the riverside montage.

On 07-02-2010 'Fergus Stewart' voted for 'Love Exposure'

So many Japanese films have sections that could have done with tighter editing and thus a shorter running time but here we have nearly four hours that feel like one and a half! As soon as it was over I put it on again! Sono delivers a masterpiece!

On 07-02-2010 'Amik' voted for 'Love Exposure'


On 08-02-2010 'Sano' voted for 'Love Exposure'

Would have voted for "Sky Crawlers", but I guess that's 2008 for you.

On 08-02-2010 'Patrick Atherton' voted for 'Still Walking'

"Still Walking" is the only one of these films I have seen!

On 09-02-2010 'rus brockman' voted for 'Love Exposure'

just phenomenal

On 09-02-2010 'John Box' voted for 'Villon's Wife'

How did this not make any of Midnight Eye's Best lists? This movie should be up for a Best Picture Oscar.

On 17-02-2010 'kiko' voted for 'Still Walking'

film is beautiful

On 17-02-2010 'cuttermaran' voted for 'Love Exposure'

Best movie of the year, not only in the japanese section.