It's that time of year again, and here's how we're going to do this.

I could publish one quick list of the titles by themselves, but what fun is that?  If I can't justify the inclusion and/or the placement of a title, I shouldn't be making a list in the first place.  And while I'm not trying anything nearly as exhaustive as Dan Fienberg's awesome best TV of the decade list, I would like to dig in and do this right.

I tried to narrow things down to a top ten.  But honestly, I liked a whooooole lot of movies this year.  There are movies that I genuinely love that aren't going to make this list this year, movies like "Mystery Team" or "Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans" or "The Loved Ones" or "Big Fan" or "Away We Go" or 'Funny People" or "It Might Get Loud" or "The Hurt Locker" or "Paranormal Activity" or "Paper Heart" or "Star Trek" or "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" or "The Lovely Bones," and that is rough.  I wish my list had room for every "The Slammin' Salmon" or "The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus" that I saw, because my DVD shelf certainly does.  Any one of those easily could have found its way into the top 20, but in the end, you just have to go with your gut and decide what you feel the most deeply.

The very nature of list-making is reductive.  You have to kill some of your babies.  On the other hand, I am terrible at letting go of things, and so for a list that is supposed to be 20 titles long, I managed to wrassle in 25 titles because I am a big fat cheater.  If I'm going to make your OCD ring like a bell by including more than 20 titles, then buckle up.

You can read runners-up #20 - #16 here.

You can read runners-up #15- #11 here.

And finally here we are.  This final list of my ten favorite films from 2009 fatures one movie that's had no distribution in the US yet, one movie no one saw, and a whole mess of films that seem to cause people to argue incessantly after seeing them.

Wouldn't have it any other way.

Personally, I think if you're not moved to the point of argument after a film, it probably didn't mean much to you.  Many of the films on this list could be called "love it or hate it" movies, and you can guess from their inclusion here which way I come down on the conversation.  Even so, I would hope that if you are a serious movie lover, you at least give these films a try.  You may not agree with me on them, but I think you'll be richer for having seen them.

You can view my top ten gallery here, with my final thoughts on each of the top ten.

We're also excited to bring you the best of the decade, a much larger task to tackle, and we'll have that for you before the holiday as well.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around that list, though, and it's a much bigger job just whittling down which films I think even qualify.

Let me just say that slowly but surely building a readership here at HitFix has been one of the most gratifying things I've done online.  I hope I can reward you for your readership in the year ahead by adding a number of new features to the blog and by always pushing to give you material that's really worth your time, and not just white noise to fill column inches.

I think we got lucky that this first year of HitFix, there was so much worth discussing, and this was a year where we were still feeling the after-effects of the writer's strike.  That gives me hope that moving forward in 2010, we're going to have even more to talk about, and I'll get even better at putting it all together for you. 

Putting this list together, I reflected on over 260 films I've seen this year, and I still feel like there's a ton of stuff I missed.  Hopefully in 2010, as we start the cycle over at Sundance on January 21st, I'll see even more and bring you guys even more to read and discuss, and when we meet back here this time next December, I'll feel like it's been an equally exciting twelve months.

See you then.  Thanks for reading, folks.  Happy holidays. 

Can't get enough of Motion/Captured? Don't miss a post with daily HitFix Blog Alerts. Sign up now.

Don't miss out. Add Motion/Captured to your iGoogle, My Yahoo or My MSN experience by clicking here.

Not part of the HitFix Nation yet? Take 90 seconds and sign up today.