Taking the familiar for another run

<i>By Steve Zeitchik, <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="ORCRP00305312828" title="Los Angeles Times" href="/topic/arts-culture/mass-media/newspapers/los-angeles-times-ORCRP00305312828.topic">Los Angeles Times</a> staff </i><br>
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You know which films you loved this year. We pair them with promising prospects from next year.<br>
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Contemporary Hollywood can feel like a creatively stagnant place, stocked with remakes, sequels and vehicles inspired by toys and television. But for anyone worried that the movie business has an originality problem, 2009 offered plenty of evidence to the contrary. &#182; Could that be a harbinger for the new movie year? &#182; True, studios in 2009 ransacked the 20th century for time-tested properties like <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="ENMV000104" title="Star Trek (movie, 2009)" href="/topic/entertainment/movies/star-trek-%28movie-2009%29-ENMV000104.topic">"Star Trek"</a> and " <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PEFCC000042" title="G.I. Joe (fictional character)" href="/topic/services-shopping/g.i.-joe-%28fictional-character%29-PEFCC000042.topic">G.I. Joe</a>" and went back to the global-disaster well for the umpteenth time with "2012." But amid all the familiar retreads and easy explosions came a surprising number of fresh ideas. &#182; With a microscopic budget and a simple haunted-house premise, the lo-fi <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="ENMV000000635" title="Paranormal Activity (movie)" href="/topic/entertainment/movies/paranormal-activity-%28movie%29-ENMV000000635.topic">"Paranormal Activity"</a> elicited millions of gasps and screams. <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="ENMV00005020" title="The Hangover (movie)" href="/topic/entertainment/movies/the-hangover-%28movie%29-ENMV00005020.topic">"The Hangover"</a> combined seemingly shopworn elements -- buddies on the road, a trip to Vegas, raunchy antics -- and turned it into something subversive and wholly original (it also became the most successful R-rated comedy in history). And " <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="ENMV000003970" title="District 9 (movie)" href="/topic/entertainment/movies/district-9-%28movie%29-ENMV000003970.topic">District 9's</a>" unique setting and sharp special effects, coupled with <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PECLB002550" title="Peter Jackson" href="/topic/entertainment/movies/peter-jackson-PECLB002550.topic">Peter Jackson</a>'s imprimatur, drew crowds to a sci-fi story that also doubled as a pointed political allegory.

( TriStar Pictures )

By Steve Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times staff

You know which films you loved this year. We pair them with promising prospects from next year.

Contemporary Hollywood can feel like a creatively stagnant place, stocked with remakes, sequels and vehicles inspired by toys and television. But for anyone worried that the movie business has an originality problem, 2009 offered plenty of evidence to the contrary. ¶ Could that be a harbinger for the new movie year? ¶ True, studios in 2009 ransacked the 20th century for time-tested properties like "Star Trek" and " G.I. Joe" and went back to the global-disaster well for the umpteenth time with "2012." But amid all the familiar retreads and easy explosions came a surprising number of fresh ideas. ¶ With a microscopic budget and a simple haunted-house premise, the lo-fi "Paranormal Activity" elicited millions of gasps and screams. "The Hangover" combined seemingly shopworn elements -- buddies on the road, a trip to Vegas, raunchy antics -- and turned it into something subversive and wholly original (it also became the most successful R-rated comedy in history). And " District 9's" unique setting and sharp special effects, coupled with Peter Jackson's imprimatur, drew crowds to a sci-fi story that also doubled as a pointed political allegory.

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