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The surprises stretched outside traditional male genres. "Up" made a balloon-enthusiast septuagenarian its unlikely hero and in the process deflated the idea that animated movies need talking animals and frantic action. "Julie & Julia," adapted from Julie Powell's book, took a seemingly esoteric subject of a cookbook writer in Cold War-era France and, by spicing it up with a culinary-minded everywoman, created a warm crowd-pleaser. "The Blind Side" showed that red-state audiences will come to a drama in droves if there's a touch of football, a dollop of Sandra Bullock and a wallop of sweetness.
These movies dominated the cultural conversation in 2009, and though it's impossible to know which will do the same in 2010, there's a fair share that could have a similar effect. With that in mind, here's a rundown of films to keep on your radar moving into the new year.