Film in 2009: Cheers for sink-estate misery. Jeers for a boat that plopped

'Fish Tank' by Andrea Arnold dazzled, but Richard Curtis seemed to have lost his golden touch

Corker of the Year

Fish Tank was Andrea Arnold's dazzling follow-up to Red Road. From a distance, it could have been mistaken for a medicinal dose of British council-block misery, but its bolshie Essex-girl heroine, Katie Jarvis, opposed life's slings and arrows with such wit and spirit that she left me cheering.

In different ways, State of Play was as impressive. Beforehand, it sounded like a bad joke: a Hollywood remake of a beloved British TV series, with John Simm and David Morrissey replaced by Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck. But the film, as directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and co-written by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, The Bourne Trilogy), was a rich, intelligent political thriller in its own right.

Turkey of the Year

I wish I could give the wooden spoon to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which was reprehensible in every conceivable way, but a film can't be classed as a turkey when it's made enough money to cover Third World debt. A more appropriate turkey would be The Boat That Rocked, even though it wasn't reprehensible in quite so many ways.

Richard Curtis has long been synonymous with British films that charm the world, so it was quite something when, after The Boat That Rocked sank in Britain, he had to change the title and cut 15 minutes before its release in America.

Surprise of the Year

Woody Allen devotees have a habit of hailing every one of his new films as a return to form, but the sun-kissed Vicky Cristina Barcelona really was the first in a decade that any of us could watch without wincing.

As a bonus, we also got Two Lovers, 2009's other triumphant Woody Allen. Strictly speaking, Allen had nothing to do with it, but it revolves around a neurotic, film-loving, Jewish Brooklynite (Joaquin Phoenix) who romances an unstable blonde shiksa (Gwyneth Paltrow), so it counts as honorary Woody.

Face of the Year

Strictly, the title ought to belong to Penelope Cruz. It was only a few years ago that she'd failed to break Hollywood, despite being Tom Cruise's arm candy. This year, she won an Oscar, and grew ever more goddess-like from Vicky Cristina Barcelona to Broken Embraces to Nine. But since she's had quite enough acclaim already, let's pass the gong to someone who needs it: Steve "The Lips" Kudlow. As his nickname suggests, he boasts quite a physog – he looks as if he's escaped from Where the Wild Things Are – and we saw plenty of it in Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Sacha Gervasi's hilarious yet weirdly touching documentary about a Canadian heavy metal band that has kept on keeping on for decades, despite being ignored for most of that time.

Setting of the Year

The bullying and peer pressure that can make school a misery were a recurring theme in some of the best films of 2009, as well as in a number of also-rans (Cracks, American Teen, the St Trinian's sequel). Top marks to the spine-tingling Swedish vampire drama Let the Right One In, which had as much to do with a swot being picked on as it did with immortal blood-suckers.

There was delicious comedy-horror in the Brit flick Tormented, which portrayed a UK comprehensive with pinpoint accuracy, undead marauders included. There was Afterschool, a stunning American indie film as cool and precise as a scalpel. There was An Education, in which most of the educating was done out of the classroom. And then there was The Class, a riveting French docu-drama about an inner-city teacher who wasn't quite as laid back and liberal as he thought. And as if that weren't enough, there was 17 Again, which was almost, if not quite, a Back to the Future for the High School Musical generation.

Rollercoaster of the Year

Crafty South African sci-fi thriller District 9 was a fast, loud, overwhelming sensory bombardment, and it made me feel a bit sick, but still I wanted to get straight back on for another go.

Cameo of the Year (here's a clue: it's in 'Zombieland')

But I can't say who it is without spoiling it. In fact, if you haven't seen the film yet, forget you ever read this.

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism