Friday, December 24, 2010

end of the year review.

It's that time again - winter is in the air (everywhere except ABQ, apparently) and people are recounting what happened. What's the best when it comes to the media I consumed?

Books

This year, I read less than I did last year, but I still managed to get in some good ones. Other than the old stuff that I read for class (like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - good, a lot different than Blade Runner - and To Kill A Mockingbird - yup, I'd never read it before, and yes, it was as good as everyone said it was) I read a combination of stuff.

The Hunger Games Triology - When I was researching nonfiction for my class, John Green told me on Twitter that he believed these books predict the future and, thus, could be considered nonfiction. I certainly hope not, because I wouldn't survive the way Katniss Everdeen does. These books, however, deserve all the praise they get. They were great, engaging young adult novels that consistently pushed the boundaries of what could be considered appropriate for young adults, but in all the best ways. I really do think that Collins wrote part of the last one as a refutation to the Stephanie Meyer/Bella theory of women as servants. Strong characters, excellent plot line, these books were head and shoulders above everything else I read this year.

Charles and Emma - A great place for me to start in nonfiction, it proved to me that it didn't all have to be boring.

The Help - A book club selection that turned out to be a great novel, I loved most of the things about this novel. I also liked that I read it while it was popular, because it opened a lot of novel (pun!) conversations to me that I would have missed out on otherwise.

I also read Crank which seems like it's going to be really important (or has already been) to a certain subset of teenagers, and Replay, which had me thinking for a long time about what I'd do under the same circumstances. The Stand ultimately disappointed me.

As always, comic books win this category for me, but I honestly can't think of the best comics that I read this year, other than to keep harping on The Unwritten which is as close to perfection as I think we're going to get in this age.

Oh, shit! Yeah! The ending to Ex Machina! That's the one! Number one thing I read all year, definitely. With a bullet.

Movies

I watch a shitload less movies than I used to, but that's been a pretty consistent thing for a while now. Below, a ranking of the best new ones in 2010 movies that I did see and a few words on others as well.

4. Despicable Me - The best animated flick of the year. Cute storyline, immediately quoteable lines, and a winning job from a non-Pixar team that must get tired of getting slapped around.

3. Iron Man 2 - A solid sequel to what I think still might be my favorite comic book movie of all time. Moves things along nicely, uses its own story in the best way it can and sets things up for the future. Downey was born to play the part. Here's to hoping he gets to stick with it forever.

2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Did I say Iron Man was my favorite comic book movie of all time? I did, because this was more of a video game than anything else. That, however, is not a knock. I know it's based on a comic, trust me, but there's no denying that the comic (and this movie version) owe a tremendous debt to the world of video games. And it works. It's got heart, it's got comedy, it's got nerdy jokes at every level. The sound effects are what make the movie. Go see it.

1. Inception - I'm not going to waste my time reviewing this movie. You saw it. We all did. I know December always sees a bunch of Best Film contenders released and that I haven't seen most of those (yet) but try to remember how you felt when you walked out of this movie, after seeing it for the first time. This was the best movie of the year. Don't kid yourself.

I also saw Toy Story 3 (didn't think it was as good as everyone else did, and certainly not as good as 1 or 2) and Shutter Island (which didn't impress me) in the theaters.

Over the course of year, thanks to Netflix, I caught up on the following movies from last year, which I thought were just as good as almost everything on the list above, and I was happy to take in: Pirate Radio, Up in the Air, An Education, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Invention of Lying.

However, A Serious Man gets a special nod for being the worst movie I saw this year, especially after all the praise it got. I thought it was irredeemable.

Music

Music is always the hardest for me to rank and it's only getting harder. With me getting older and so much music being put out, it's a losing combination. However, there were some amazing albums put out this year. This is my list.

10. Eminem - Recovery
9. Harlem - Hippies
8. Deer Tick - The Black Dirt Sessions
7. Wale - More About Nothing
6. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
5. Maximum Balloon - Maximum Balloon
4. Matt & Kim - Sidewalks
3. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot, the Son of Chico Dusty
2. Broken Bells - Broken Bells
1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Honorable Mentions go to The Gallery (I have no idea if they put out an album this year, but I loved their live show!), the Roots with How I Got Over, the Knux with Fuck You, Johnny Cash's American VI, She & Him's Volume II, Band of Horse's Infinite Arms, and Kings of Leon with Come Around Sundown. Artists that were on other lists that I haven't got to listen to yet include, but are not limited to, the National, Best Coast and the Walkmen. Artists that are on other lists that I didn't find all that impressive include, but aren't limited to, Beach House, Vampire Weekend, LCD Soundsystem, Robyn, Drake, the Arcade Fire, and Sleigh Bells.

As much as I tried to deny it, it's still Kanye's world for me. I really wanted to put Big Boi on top, but it would just be me trying to make myself contrarian. The songs, however, paint a somewhat different picture.

Songs of the Year

5. Kanye West - Runaway

4. Jay Electronica - Exhibit C

3. Big Boi - Shutterbugg

2. Lupe Fiasco - The Show Goes On

1. Cee-Lo - Fuck You!

What'd I miss?

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