January 3, 2011

My Favorite Stuff From 2010

I know all the cool kids like to make fun of these "best of" lists, but I don't care -- I still think they're fun. :) So here's my list of the stuff that entertained me the most in 2010!

Obviously this movie made a huge impact, and I was one of the millions of people who was pretty blown away by it. The dream levels concept and the tragedy of Leo's limbo stuck with me long after I left the theater. Really cool to see a movie come along that actually makes you think a bit.

True Grit
I am a sucker for westerns, and this movie was everything I wanted it to be. It left me wanting MORE Rooster Cogburn! :) The Coen brothers have a way of making every line of dialogue and every character interesting and quirky. Loved Matt Damon in this flick. And Hailee Steinfeld -- I think we can all agree she's got a pretty amazing career ahead of her.

The Social Network
I feel like this was the most important movie of 2010. It says so much about relationships and the way people act and operate today. Props to Trent Reznor for the awesome score, and of course the actors are all great. You don't know who to cheer for, because there isn't really a hero or a villain -- there's just greed and revenge and bitterness and the desire to be accepted and loved.

HONORABLE MENTION: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
Originally I was going to put this in my top three, but I wanted to make room for True Grit, so I'm bumping it to Honorable Mention -- which is okay, because I have no doubt "part two" will be in my top three movies of 2011, and these two movies are essentially one big one. So, yeah, I thought Deathly Hallows "part one" was fantastic. My favorite of the HP films so far, which isn't surprising, because Deathly Hallows was my favorite of the books. Loved it.

HONORABLE MENTION: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
A lot of people overlooked this flick, and a lot of people didn't "get" this flick... That's cool if you're one of those people. But I personally thought it was really stinkin' FUN. I'm a fan of the comics, and it's a pretty faithful adaptation. I really dug it. If there was an award for "Most Awesomely Entertaining Goofy Fun Movie of 2010," it'd be Scott Pilgrim all the way.

How To Train Your Dragon
C'mon, you mix vikings and dragons, add in some killer 3D animation, give it a great soundtrack, along with one of the coolest final battles ever seen in a kids' movie, sprinkle in some emotional moments and tons of humor = you get a winner, baby! If you haven't seen this movie, then you are missing out on a new classic.

Toy Story 3
I have to admit, I wasn't a huuuge fan of the first two Toy Story movies. They were good, but I didn't love 'em. This 3rd one, however, did the trick. It's sort of the perfect "coming of age/passing the torch" story. It's got thrills, laughs, and sniffles.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
A surprisingly dark movie (very Secret of NIMH-ish), but that's not a bad thing -- I really loved it. It starts off a bit slowly, but I definitely came away from it impressed. Really great visuals, action, and CG animation.

A Game of Thrones
When I heard that HBO was planning a new fantasy series based on George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels, I knew I had to check it out. I saw the cover art of the first book (shown above) and cringed -- I almost didn't read it because the cover was so frickin' ugly. :P Fortunately I pressed on, and holy crap, I'm glad I did, what an amazing book. Easily one of the best novels I've ever read, and I'm already making my way through book 2, and I can't wait for the HBO series to start in a couple months. :)

The Making of The Empire Strikes Back
My wonderful girlfriend got this for me for Christmas, and needless to say, it's pretty much the most awesome behind-the-scenes book ever created. If you're a Star Wars fan (or even just a cinema nerd), you really should quit whatever it is you're doing and go buy this thing. It's worth the hefty price tag.

Cover Run: The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes
Everyone in the world of comic books is familiar with Adam Hughes and his ridiculous mountains of talent. What everyone might NOT know is that this book is a treasure trove of prelims and sketches, not to mention a collection of Adam's best work at DC, plus a ton of interesting and witty commentary by the man himself. It's a beautiful, awesome book, and a must-own for AH! fans and art lovers alike.

TRON Legacy soundtrack ~ Daft Punk
I've listened to this CD a lot since I got it, and every single time, it makes me feel like I'm suddenly in some awesome sci-fi '80s movie. Daft Punk stole the show with this one. Say what you will about TRON: Legacy (I thought it was dumb but fun) -- this score is epic.

All You Need Is Now ~ Duran Duran
Speaking of all things '80s-licious, Duran Duran released their latest album, and it's pretty damn good. It definitely feels like a return to form, in the sense that they're re-embracing their "Rio" roots.

Endlessly ~ Duffy
Been waiting for her new CD for, like, everrrr. It finally came out in late 2010, and it's great. I can't say I like it as much as her 1st album, but it's still Duffy, and I luvs me some Duffy.

HONORABLE MENTION: How To Destroy Angels
I need to mention HTDA because (a) "The Space In Between" and "A Drowning" were two of my favorite songs in 2010, and (b) I love Trent Reznor.

Mad Men ~ Season 4
I enjoyed the first 3 seasons of Mad Men, but the show really stepped it up a notch and blew me away with season 4. It got me emotionally invested in the fall and rise (and fall) of Don Draper. One particular episode - "The Suitcase" - was one of the best, most powerful hours of television I'd ever seen. Kudos to AMC.

The Walking Dead ~ Season 1
More kudos to AMC for making this show happen. I'm a fan of the comics, so I know how dark and disturbing this series will likely become -- and so far, I've been very impressed with what they've done. In a lot of ways, I think the show is an improvement on the comics. I care about the characters more, and it's great acting and directing and storytelling that turn a somewhat generic zombie survival tale into something gripping and emotional. And as a BSG geek, I must also give kudos to composer Bear McCreary for doing an excellent job with the score. Can't wait for season 2!

Californication ~ Season 3
Technically this aired in 2009, but I just watched it on DVD last month, so I'm counting it as 2010. Either way, Californication remains one of my favorite shows on TV. It's funny, it's twisted, it's filled with great characters, and it delivers the occasional emotional punch right when you least expect it. Never before has a show been so inappropriate for children, and yet deliver so many valuable life lessons. :P

HONORABLE MENTION: Tosh.0 ~ Season 2
I gotta at least mention Tosh.0, because that show made me laugh harder than anything else I saw in 2010. Every episode had at least 3 or 4 gems in it. Can't wait for season 3!

And finally, I have to mention LOST. I gotta admit, my love for the show took a few blows over the past couple years... Season 5 really frustrated me, and the beginning of season 6 still left me scratching my head. BUT season 6 did quickly get better, and my love for LOST returned, slowly but surely. I REALLY loved the finale. I've heard all the complaints from the angry fans, and, yes, I agree - they could've answered more questions and all that jazz. But for me, I just wanted emotional closure with the characters, and that's what I got. It was a beautiful ending.

So I may have my issues with season 5 and early season 6, but over all, LOST as a series will always rank among my favorites. It was appointment television, which is pretty rare for me. Thanks for the wild ride, Losties!