Tag Archives: 2010

The Year End Review: Movies

Let me start off by saying that, if you don’t read this, I won’t hold it against you. I know this list is almost too small to even justifying being written, but I’ve been doing it for a few years now, and as the musical says, “Traaadiiitiooooon!!” I’ll say that I really enjoyed all three of these films and thought they were a cut above the standard A-Team crap we have thrown at us all year long. But still, this list feels a little like it looks the way it does more because of the movies I didn’t see this year rather than the ones I did see. Anyway, keep reading, if you dare!

Inception. It’s nice to see Hollywood taking a chance on an expensive sci-fi flick that actually makes you think, although they probably wouldn’t be if someone like Christopher Nolan weren’t in charge of the whole thing. This one also scores points because it managed to keep Leonardo DiCaprio out of a falling tank, shooting planes out of the sky. It was also one of Ellen Page’s first films that didn’t make me want to hit her. But seriously, folks, although the first half was a little exposition heavy, it was a great story that did a better job of incorporating its action scenes into it than most films. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Tom Hardy.

The Social Network. Everything Aaron Sorkin writes takes place in a sort of heightened reality where people have mountains of raw data and statistics at their fingertips, and almost everything they say is quotable. And if his cocaine habit is the price we have to pay for that, then I’m more than willing to make the sacrifice. I think we all understand that his version of Facebook’s creation was embellished just a little bit, but who cares? We expect that sort of thing, right? Major props to Jesse Eisenberg for snapping out of his Michael Cera funk, and Andrew Garfield, who just might make a proper Spiderman yet.

True Grit. I reviewed this one just a few days ago, so I’m not sure what else I could really add here. I’ll just say that nobody does it like Jeff Bridges. And nobody really does it like Jeff Bridges wearing an eye patch. And why haven’t we seen Matt Damon in more westerns?

I admit that this is a pretty generic list. But it does represent the best of what I saw this year. I don’t get to watch as many movies as I’d like, so some, like The Fighter, Winter’s Bone and Toy Story 3 passed me by. I’d apologize, but none of you are here to read my movie reviews. You check back every week in the vain hope that I’ll start LOSTWATCH!! back up. Well, who knows what 2011 will bring. More movies, definitely. More LOSTWATCH? Definitely maybe.

The Year End Review: TV

It’s that time of year again. And I mean, it’s really that time of year. Any more time and it’d be next year. Speaking of which, how many of you are absolutely sick of the fact that I can’t get my s**t together and update this thing more regularly? Well, too bad! I’m pretty set in my ways, and if I wouldn’t change for any of my three wives, I probably won’t change for you. Anyway, it was a pretty good year for TV, and for those of you who care, these are my top 10 picks. If I had more time on my hands, this list might look somewhat different**, but I can’t watch everything. So, in no particular order…

Lost. I’d be remiss (what does that mean?) if I didn’t mention one of the greatest TV shows in the history of TV (and shows). ‘Lost’ earns its place on the list more in recognition of the entire series than the sixth season, which most people will admit had its problems. But for all of the questions that were left unanswered and weird, glowy caves that had holes in the middle that needed to be plugged up or else the world would explode — I mean, seriously, what was that? — the show delivered a finale that was as emotionally satisfying as I could have hoped for. And before the numbers, polar bears and four-toed statues, it was the characters that made the show what it was. And that damn dog gets me every time.

Treme. For a little while, ‘Treme’ felt like the kid who was a little too cool for school. It didn’t really invite us into its world, but kept us at arm’s length, telling us that we just didn’t get it. But slowly, as if in the arms of a generous lover, it opened up to us. And once the characters started doing a little more than hang out, drink and play music it turned into appointment television. And the fact that it comes from David Simon and could probably go on for six or seven seasons without building toward any clear ending makes it one of the best character studies in recent memory.

Louie. Hands down, the best comedy of the year. FX told Louie CK that, even though they couldn’t pay him as much as other networks, they would give him complete creative control over his own show, and the opportunity was not wasted. I hate to sound trite (no I don’t), but he’s really reinvented the sitcom, with each episode taking the form of a mostly-self-contained short film. And not only is it hilarious, but introspective and thoughtful. Not to mention gorgeously shot. If you haven’t caught this one yet, you can stream it on Netflix. I really can’t recommend it enough.

Archer. ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ are all good and well, but man cannot live on live-action drama alone. Solid animated fare is important, and unfortunately ‘American Dad’ can’t carry the load all by itself. ‘Archer’ comes from the fine folks who brought us ‘Frisky Dingo,’ which for two short years carried the mantle ‘Arrested Development’ left behind after it was canceled. The show takes the world’s most self-absorbed incompetent, gives him a double-0 rating and sets him loose on the world. Hilarity ensues. And when I say hilarity ensues, I mean it. Did you read what I said about ‘Frisky Dingo’? The show comes back for another season in January, so check it out.

Breaking Bad. Suck it, ‘Supernatural’ fans. In its third season, ‘Breaking Bad’ made the jump from engrossing (and high-grossing!), to the best show on TV. And the season before was already pretty great. Watching the lengths Walter White is willing to go to, at first to provide for his family, but then to satisfy his own ego is completely devastating. Walter shooting that drug dealer in the head at the end of “Half Measures” had me screaming at my TV, and if the season finale is any indication (it is), things are only going to get darker going forward. Unfortunately, AMC’s schedule is all jacked up, so the show won’t be back until July. The curse of cable television!

Mad Men. This is another show that doesn’t really have any sort of clear end in sight. And because it’s AMC’s darling, they’re probably going to try and keep it around for as long as they can. The trick then becomes how to keep it feeling fresh and not like it’s spinning its wheels. Season 4 did that. Don has his own agency, and now that he’s divorced he’s back out on the prowl. Although I guess that was the case even when he was married. Anyway, the season featured some of the series’ best work. “The Suitcase” and the showdown between Don and Peggy being only one example. Expect that one to be showered with Emmys at next year’s ceremony. For my money, the show came in just a hair behind ‘Breaking Bad’ this year, but…it was a very fine hair.

Fringe. I don’t think anyone really gives a s**t if a show comes “from the mind of J.J. Abrams” anymore. And if you ask me that’s only worked in ‘Fringe’s’ favor. When it wasn’t the hit some expected it to be, it kind of dropped off the radar. That really gave it carte blanche to go balls to wall and make a show for the people who were watching it, the people who were carrying it into second and third season renewals. This season’s proved that like no other, and really shows what risks the showrunners were willing to take with things. Thankfully they all paid off. I’m feeling a little better about the show’s move to Friday now than I was when I first heard about it, so hopefully its audience will move with it and it’ll be back for a fourth season.

Boardwalk Empire. AMC winning all those Emmys must have really pissed HBO off, because they’re coming back in a big way. It took ‘Boardwalk Empire’ about four episodes to find its footing, but after that it was strong all the way to the finish. It’s always good to see such a big show get things right, and that was before we saw exactly how big a freak Agent Van Alden was, and met Richard Harrow (who’s thankfully been promoted to a series regular in season two). What the show lacks in ‘Sopranos’ it makes up for in ‘Deadwood,’ which sucks me in every single time. Can we lay down some cash that season two will open with a montage of all the characters getting dressed in the morning?

30 Rock. Oh ’30 Rock,’ it’s so good to have you back. After a lackluster fourth season, the show’s really amped things up this year, delivering several episodes that are as good as anything they’ve done in the past. I mean, you’ve got Matt Damon! Paul Giamatti! Liz’s Julia Roberts laugh! John Effing Slattery! I cower before the brilliance of his performance. Now, if the show could just find more excuses to bring Jon Hamm back, all would be right with the world. Really, this is the show propping up NBC’s Thursday night lineup. ‘The Office’ has turned into the grandpa with Parkinson’s disease. Every once in a while it remembers how good it was, but it mostly thinks we’re its wife and yells at us for not having supper on the table when it gets home from work. ‘Outsourced’ is garbage and ‘Community’ is too busy smelling its own private parts to do much else. When the lineup grows by a hour come January, it’s gonna be ’30 Rock’ and ‘Parks and Rec,’ so get ready for it.

Justified. FX is really trying to roll with the big dogs as of late, at thanks to shows like ‘Justified,’ it’s paying off. The show had a mix of procedural and serialized storytelling, and I think that as the season progressed, it realized how much stronger those serialized elements were, and so followed them more as the season closed out. Timothy Olyphant is a great actor, and fans of ‘Deadwood’ know that this role was almost tailor-made for him. The back and forth between him and Walt Goggins is great, but honestly, I’d watch a show of Olyphant just ramming Dewey Crow’s face into steering wheels.

And there you have it. A pretty good year, all things considered. And next year we’ve got ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Luck,’ ‘Lights Out,’ ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ and more ‘Parks and Rec’ to look forward to, so it’s going to be pretty crowded. So until then and as a always, excelsior true believers!

**’Community’ still wouldn’t be on it, because it still isn’t that good.

And the winner is?

Anyone else leave the Oscars feeling a little underwhelmed this year? Like every year, there were things I liked and things I didn’t, but overall it was hard to not look back at Jon Stewart or even Hugh Jackman and think about what could have been. You’d think that having Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin co-host would be a sure thing. Instead it felt like all we got was a reheated stand-up routine, the underlying theme of which was Meryl Streep’s a fantastic actress, but man, what a bitch.

This trend continued with many of the award presenters themselves. Penelope Cruz made a few mumbled remarks about how difficult it was to understand anything that came out of her mouth. I only know this because a Spanish friend of mine was there to translate. Finally, things looked like they were brightening up when Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey came out to present the award for original screenplay. Their bit had me spitting Dr. Pepper all over my sister’s brand new LED TV (it’s done). I kept hoping Tina Fey would say that everything up until that point had been a joke and they were the real hosts of the show, then Robert Downey Jr. would put the Iron Man suit on. I seriously think he’d fake his own death if he thought he could live out the rest of his life as Tony Stark.

As for the winners, I can’t say that I have any major complaints. I thought it was a good move on the Academy’s part to widen the pool of best picture contenders to ten. But still, did anyone besides Avatar and The Hurt Locker ever have a real chance? Probably not. And I liked Avatar as much as the next guy, but thought The Hurt Locker was more important and deserved to win. Plus, it’s funny to think of how all those message board guys who were depressed that Pandora wasn’t a real place are taking this. They’re probably hating life right now. If I had to complain about something, it would be that Inglourious Basterds didn’t do better than it did. That film may be the best Tarantino’s ever done and I thought it deserved more recognition.

The only other major highlight of the show was the tribute to John Hughes. I swear, would there have been any movies made in the 80s if he hadn’t of been around? In the end, there were surprises and not surprises, and James Cameron still got away with most of our money. It’s okay, though. It was only half a billion dollars.

Anyway, here’s a list of the winners…

[Best Picture]
“Avatar”
“The Blind Side”
“District 9”
“An Education”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious”
“A Serious Man”
“Up”
“Up in the Air”

[Best Director]
Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”

James Cameron, “Avatar”
Lee Daniels, “Precious”
Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air”
Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”

[Best Actor]
Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”
George Clooney, “Up in the Air”
Colin Firth, “A Single Man”
Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”
Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”

[Best Actress]
Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan, “An Education”
Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”
Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”

[Best Supporting Actor]
Matt Damon, “Invictus”
Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”

[Best Supporting Actress]
Penelope Cruz, “Nine”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart”
Vera Farmiga, “Up in the Air”
Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”
Mo’Nique, “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

[Original Screenplay]
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The Hurt Locker”
“The Messenger”
“A Serious Man”
“Up”

[Adapted Screenplay]
“District 9”
“An Education”
“In the Loop”
“Precious”
“Up in the Air”

[Best Animated Feature]
“Coraline”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Secret of Kells”
“Up”

[Best Foreign Language Film]
“Ajami” (Israel)
“El Secreto de Sus Ojos” (Argentina)
“The Milk of Sorrow” (Peru)
“Un Prophete” (France)
“The White Ribbon” (Germany)

[Art Direction]
“Avatar”

“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“Nine”
“Sherlock Holmes”
“The Young Victoria”

[Cinematography]
“Avatar”

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The White Ribbon”

[Costume Design]
“Bright Star”
“Coco Before Chanel”
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“Nine”
“The Young Victoria”

[Documentary (Feature)]
“Burma VJ”
“The Cove”
“Food, Inc.”
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”
“Which Way Home”

[Documentary (Short Subject)]
“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”
“The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner”
“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
“Music by Prudence”
“Rabbit a la Berlin”

[Film Editing]
“Avatar”
“District 9”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious: based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

[Makeup]
“Il Divo”
“Star Trek”
“The Young Victoria”

[Music (Original Score)]
“Avatar”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Sherlock Holmes”
“Up”

[Music (Original Song)]
“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36”
“Take It All” from “Nine”
“The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart

[Short Film (Animated)]
“French Roast”
“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty”
“The Lady and the Reaper”
“Logorama”
“A Matter of Loaf and Death”

[Short Film (Live Action)]
“The Door”
“Instead of Abracadabra”
“Kavi”
“Miracle Fish”
“The New Tenants”

[Sound Editing]
“Avatar”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Up”

[Sound Mixing]
“Avatar”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

[Visual Effects]
“Avatar”
“District 9”
“Star Trek”

Happy New Year!

Here’s wishing everyone a happy 2010. Have fun tonight, and be careful. It’d be a shame if you all died after getting plastered with your friends.