December 23, 2009

The 2009 Grantie Awards

As per annual nerdy tradition, it's time for me to hand out some Granties!

Star Trek
I loved "Next Generation" back in the day, but never really considered myself a huge Trek fan. This movie made me fall in love with the franchise. It's the complete package -- fun, funny, exciting -- with a perfect cast. For me, Star Trek set the bar for the rest of the year, and nothing ever topped it.

District 9
This movie really took me by surprise. It took twists and turns I didn't expect, and even though it borrows sci-fi elements I'd seen before, it unfolds in an original and captivating way. District 9 will stand the test of time, and it's one helluva debut by director Neill Blomkamp and actor Sharlto Copley.

While I don't consider Zombieland to be on the same level of "cinematic quality" as my first two choices, it was probably the most fun I had in the theater all year. I thought it was hilarious, I loved the characters -- I can't wait to own it on DVD. To be honest, I had a hard time choosing between Inglourious Basterds and Zombieland for my #3 spot. I think I like them equally. But in the end, Zombieland will probably stay with me longer and be more enjoyable on multiple viewings. I think it's a goofball horror flick that'll age well, like Ghostbusters. (Bill Murray... He just gets me.)

True Blood
Those of you who aren't giving this show a chance because you think it's just another vampire craze/Twilight knock-off, you're doing yourself an injustice. "True Blood" is one of the most entertaining shows on TV (and definitely not for kids - thank you, HBO). Season 1 was a lot of fun, but Season 2 is what really hooked me. It's insane and addicting and has a killer cast, and I'm excited to see where it goes in Season 3.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars
First of all, I gotta mention that the DVD/Blu-ray packaging for Season 1 is amazing. Easily one of the coolest-looking releases -- the booklet of concept art alone makes it worth buying! But the main reason I'm listing "Clone Wars" in my top TV shows of 2009 is because Season 2 so far has been incredible. It's better than Season 1, for sure, but more than that, it's really finding its groove and delivering the Star Wars goodness. The stuff the prequels got wrong, the "Clone Wars" cartoon gets right.

Modern Family
My favorite new sitcom. Every episode is hilarious (and surprisingly touching) - the entire cast is great. It's up there with "The Office" and "30 Rock," in my opinion, and that's quite a feat, considering the show is brand-spankin'-new. I hope the writers can keep up the same level of quality that they've given us so far.

Star Trek: The Art of the Film
I'm a sucker for big, glossy movie art books. I saw this one at Barnes & Noble, and obviously I loved Star Trek, so I flipped through it. Loved it, had to buy it -- everything from ship designs to costume sketches -- it's just a damn pretty book. Highly recommended for any Trek fans and/or dorks like me who get overly excited about sci-fi movie concept art.

Bone, Volume 9: Crown of Horns
The conclusion of the "Bone" saga in all its full-color glory came out this year (it was my first time reading the series - I'd been buying these new Scholastic versions as they came out). Needless to say, the critics are right. "Bone" is a wonderful series, and this final book is probably my favorite of all nine volumes. Jeff Smith has such a smooth, easy, cartoony style. I definitely want to re-read the series sometime in its original black & white format.

Exodyssey: Visual Development of an Epic Adventure
This book caught my eye at Comic-Con. It's a massive collection of sci-fi visual concepts by a team of insanely talented artists, and every page blows me away. It's one of these things that I like to have sitting on my shelf so that I can flip through it and get inspired. I love the variety of styles and I highly recommend it to anyone who digs concept art. Great-lookin' book.

As you can probably tell, I didn't do a whole lot of reading in 2009. It was mostly looking at art books... Just didn't find much time for novels or comics. :/

Battlestar Galactica: Season 4 Soundtrack
All of the BSG soundtracks have been amazing, and this one's no different (and of course, being the final season, it went out with a two-disc bang). It's definitely the CD I listened to the most in '09. Bear McCreary can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned.

The Beatles Remastered
I'm counting the entire Beatles reissue/remastered release as one entry here. But if I had to pick a top favorite CD, it'd probably be Abbey Road. What else do I need to say? The Beatles.

Alice In Chains: Black Gives Way To Blue
This one was an event for me, because Alice In Chains is one of my favorite bands of all time and they hadn't put out a new album in 14 years. I was hoping for the best, but secretly dreading it would suck... Turns out, I loved it. It was like an old friend coming back into my life (yeah, I know, I'm getting super cheesy here). Alice In Chains didn't let me down. And I'm happy to see that there is, indeed, life after Layne Staley.

2009 saw the end of my beloved TV series: Battlestar Galactica. A lot of fans were divided over the 4th and final season. Personally, I'll admit, yes, there are a couple things that didn't completely satisfy me. But over all, I loved Season 4. I don't think there was a single episode that didn't have my jaw on the floor at least once. The show didn't pull any punches, it wasn't afraid to go into strange, unexpected directions, and every week it delivered a level of quality far above anything else on television. I could go on and on about how much I love BSG. It'll go down in TV history as one of the great, monumental sci-fi series. In fact, when I think back on this decade as a whole, it'll be one of my fondest memories. Kudos to the cast and crew for a frakkin' awesome experience. I miss hearing those poundy drums every friday night.