Hollywood had its biggest year ever with $10.6 billion — I said billion! — in the till for 2009. And we weren't just paying more for the price of a ticket. Admissions were up by four percent. But if we are defined as a culture by the movies that win the popular vote, you may be pulled up short by this list of the Top 10 winners of 2009. Take a look, then we'll talk:
1 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen $402 million
2 Avatar $352 million (and growing)
3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince $302 million
4 Up $293 million
5 The Twilight Saga: New Moon $288 million
6 The Hangover $277 million
7 Star Trek $258 million
8 The Blind Side $209 million
9 Monsters Vs. Aliens $198 million
10 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs $197 million
OK, don't be too depressed. *Avatar*, which just opened on Dec. 18th, will easily overtake the dreaded *Transformers 2* to lead the box-office parade. Better to have that at the head of the class than a Michael Bay hack job. I have nothing bad to say about *Avatar, Harry Potter, Up, The Hangover* and *Star Trek*. So 5 of the Top 10 represent solid pop achievements. As for the other five, in my dream universe small personal films such as *Precious, The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, An Education* and *A Serious Man* would replace the pap.
My question today concerns what the Top 10 Money Films of 2009 say about us and what's in our hearts. The way I see it, only James Cameron's 3D *Avatar* and Pixar's animated masterwork *Up* can rightly claim to have raised entertainment to the level of art.
Do you disagree? Tell me which one of these Top 10 grossers you'd put in your personal time capsule and which one you'd like to see burn like the Nazi high command at the end of Quentin Tarantino's *Inglourious Basterds*?