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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Best of the Rest

Yeah, this is primarily a music blog, but I am an avid devourer of pop culture of all sorts, so to cap off my year end countdowns, I want to share the other morsels of entertainment that rocked my 2010.

Top 10 Movies of 2010

Now, I'm no serious movie critic, but I did see 33 of this year's movies (which I think is a personal record), and I know what I like. My list'll be populated by a few more genre films than the typical "critic's list." I've developed quite a wide range of tastes when it comes to movies (just no lame romantic comedies, please).

Let Me In
A dark, scary coming-of-age film about the connection between outcasts. It just happens to have a vampire in it, too, but this is no Twilight. In my opinion, it managed to one-up the artier Swedish original. It can be a brutal watch at points, but absolutely worth it. (Coincidently, the film's star -- Kodi Smit-Mcphee -- also co-starred in my favorite movie of 2009, The Road. He's undoubtedly the best kid actor out there)

Lived up to the hype as an original, thinking man's action movie. Plus, it's got one of those endings that people will be talking about for years.

Black swan
The most beguiling of all this year's Oscar contenders, I wasn't sure exactly what I thought of it until that stunning, operatic ending.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part One
The truest to the book, and by far the darkest, most character driven film in the series.

My favorite straight-up action thriller of the year. More twists and turns than any other movie in 2010 and one kick-ass heroine.

How To Train Your Dragon
The umpteenth "boy and his dog" story told in the movies, but this made it fresh with stunning visuals, endearing characters, and a sharp script with plenty of heart.

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story
The "smallest" film on my list, this slice-of-life coming of age in the psych ward indie was a pleasant surprise. Very endearing.

Tron: Legacy
Most impressive visuals of the year. This brought me back to when I was about ten years old. It's all about the suits and the cars and all that cool stuff, honestly.

127 Hours
Wasn't sure how they could form an entire film around this story, but the acting and direction proved to be enough to be at turns gripping and profound.

True Grit
From setting to dialogue (some of the best dialogue of the year, for sure) this deposited the viewer so clearly in a place that it was impossible not to be entranced. Plus, Hailee Steinfeld = birth of a star.

+ a few more worth a mention:
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, Toy Story 3, Unstoppable, Kick-Ass,

Top TV

British Invasion

I loved it last year, and adored it this year. Robert Sheehan is without a doubt my breakout star of 2010. His Nathan is a force to be reckoned with and well worth watching even if you're not a fan of genre shows. The series grew in both quality and depth this year, introducing some sci-fi inspired mystery into its already potent blend of Heroes (anti)super-heroism and creepy/funny Twin Peaks-esque plot lines.

Yeah, I'm a couple of years late on this one. I've only made it through the first two seasons (with the unbeatable, original cast), but what I've seen thus far has been the best teenage drama I can remember being put to screen. Look past the sex and drugs and romantic triangles and you've got an incredibly natural, sharply written coming-of-age story with one of the strongest ensemble casts in recent memory. And
no series this year has upset/gripped/touched me more than Skins in its final two episodes.

Quite bluntly, it took over my life this Fall (as it does every Fall, to be honest). But this year was the biggest and best yet. More controversy, more interesting contestants (bar the eventual winner, who was the definition of "bland") and a larger than life, coliseum style live show that cemented the X-Factor as appointment TV. I only hope the American version is as addicting.

And on my own Shore:

America's best series reinvented itself yet again as a twisted road trip dramedy. It was in a lot of ways the series' most inconsistent, strange season and lost a lot of steam in the middle, but at the same time I felt like the writers really tried to push the characters to new levels this year. Both the beginning and the end of the season were amongst the strongest this show's been, and that final episode stands as one of the best (if not the best) half-hour Weeds has given us so far.

United States of Tara
Tara had one of my favorite debut seasons of any show last year. The four central actors are enough to keep me watching no matter what they do. Throw in the ongoing mystery element that season two got closer to solving and I was completely hooked. Basically, this show makes me want to travel to Kansas and live with this family for a day. It's just so endearing.

The Middle
Modern Family's gotten all the love (and mostly deserves it), but my preferred Wednesday night sitcom is its companion piece, The Middle. I was a huge fan of Malcolm In The Middle when it was on the air, and this is in a lot of ways very reminiscent (in title, even). I'm a sucker for a good, light family comedy and 2010 proved that this series is one to watch. The cast is gelling, the quality's improving, and it often gets more laughs from me than its more-critically praised ABC counterpart.

Top Books

Will Grayson/Will Grayson
Two very different books this year. Will Grayson was the first book in awhile to literally make my mouth drop at one point. Strong characterization and an interesting dual-narrative format made this a standout.

The Marbury Lens
Quite simply, one of the most gripping books I can remember reading. Often times it's as close to a nightmare as you can get on the page, but the book's real power is its ability to draw you back in and stay with you after you've finished. It's a real mystery of a story, but one I'll never forget.

Top Stage

I don't often get to go see shows (unfortunately), but I managed a couple this year, and even though I've mentioned it before on the blog, this one still warrants another mention:

Billy Elliot
It's, by a hundred miles, the best show I've seen. I can't remember ever leaving a show/concert/movie feeling better than I did after this one. You'd think a show about a young boy who wants to dance would be schmaltzy and sugary -- a strictly "for the kids" affair, but like the movie they managed to retain the wit, darkness and adult subtexts. No wonder it won all those awards. I can't wait to see it again this Spring.

That's it for 2010! What do you guys think? Agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear your own lists. I'll be back in the new year with a five part tribute/review/analysis of the best band in the world, who will be celebrating their last year together in 2011...

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Blogger Feathers said...

Okay, now I guess I have to see True Grit. I'm so polarized, cause I love the Coens, but the cast seems so random. Your assignment for the next year is to watch more Coen Brothers. Fargo, at the very least.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

The cast is actually really good. I'm hardly a Matt Damon fan but even him being in the movie didn't destract from the authenticity.

7:44 PM  
Anonymous gmisk said...

Let me in wasnt a patch on let the right one in. I would definitely put another year and the social network in a top 10 films of the year. When it comes to British tv I would definitely check out being human (it just goes from strength to strength)

2:49 AM  

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