World's Greatest Dad
And nine other great movies you didn't see this year.
World's Greatest Dad. The current pop culture moment is all about degradation comedy (The Office, Borat) but no one goes further or deeper than Bobcat Goldthwait with his third film, World's Greatest Dad. Robin William's life blossoms after his hideous teenaged son (played by Spy Kid Daryl Sabara)dies in a masturbation accident and Williams ghostwrites "the biggest posthumous autobiography since The Diary of Anne Frank." Is it funny? Not really. Does it rely too hard on its pop soundtrack? Sure. But it manages to find the humanity in humiliation, and it contains a performance by Robin Williams so restrained and subtle that it clears Patch Adams from his karmic debt load. (VOD release in July 2009)
Best Undistributed Film
Love Exposure. Sion Sono's four-hour epic about cults, Catholicism, up-skirt photography, porn, imprisonment, gang fights, brainwashing, guilt, redemption, sexual abuse, and true love became a massive hit with teenagers across Japan and inspired rabid devotion among those lucky enough to catch it at film festivals.
A Town Called Panic. Action has a new hero: Horse, a small, plastic horse who lives with a tiny plastic cowboy and a little plastic Indian somewhere in Belgium. See Horse, Cowboy, and Indian plunge to the center of the Earth! Fear as they are attacked by a mechanical penguin! Smell the stink of the sea creatures who oppress them! Time after time, it's Horse's coolness under pressure and his desire to learn the piano that brings them through the raging inferno of danger and safely out on the other side. A stop-motion, animated epic made entirely with toys, it's currently getting a very limited art-house release.
Correction, Dec. 31, 2009: This article originally misspelled Dwight Yoakam's last name. (Return to the corrected sentence.)
Correction, Jan. 4, 2010: This article originally and incorrectly shortened the name of the film Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire as Push. ( Return to the corrected sentence.)
Grady Hendrix is one of the founders of the New York Asian Film Festival and he writes about pop culture on his blog.
Still from World's Greatest Dad © 2009 Magnolia Films.