Saturday, January 2, 2010

Those who don't do make lists.

I've always loved being a critic. Hating can be a lot of fun when you're among fellow haters, but getting the chance to talk about the things I love is great because it reminds me that no matter what, the world still has a lot of interesting and creative people. With that in mind, here is my list of my favority movies, albums, and TV episodes of 2009. Note that I say "favorite" not "best", because this is all about my opinions. If you hate or one of the picks, let me know! I'd love to explain to you why you're wrong or share our mutual adoration. Now, without further ado, is Blair's Best of '09:

10. Watchmen
Those who know me (meaning everyone reading this blog) might be surprised that I'm putting this movie in my top ten, or that I even enjoyed it at all. I'm generally not a huge fan of action movies because I prefer character development to watching things blow up. I'm giving Watchmen a spot on the list not because it was one of my ten favorite things last year, but because it so much exceeded my expectations for most superhero flicks that I want to give it some recognition. I found that the flawed and layered characteristics of the "heroes" made the film much more relatable, and I loved seeing how real yet different a world with superheroes would supposedly look. Only drawback? The soundtrack. Whoever picked the music seemed more intent on having a best-selling CD than sensibly matching songs with scenes.

9. The Office, "Stress Relief"
The Office is a show that peaked at seasons 2 and 3, but watching Angela throw a cat into the ceiling minutes after the Superbowl made up for having to sit through 4 hours of football.

8. La Roux, La Roux
The first time I played "In For the Kill", the album's opening track, I believe my first coherent thought was "Holy shit, this is catchy!" Upon listening to the album about a hundred more times, it turned out to be more than just catchy-- it's a hate letter to the world, but in a good way. To quote my friend Jesse "La Roux's so disappointed, I love it!" I can't wait for them to release another album, and another and another.

7. Up in the Air
I saw this movie last week with my dad, and thank God for his man crush on George Clooney, because I honestly wasn't too excited about it and wouldn't have seen it otherwise. The trailer made it look way too much like a predictable romantic comedy, so I was actually happily surprised when it turned out to have thought-provoking and depressing themes. It's main point, as far as I can tell? Don't waste time fooling yourself into thinking you don't need connections to other people, because when you finally do come in to land, it might be too late.

6. Regina Spektor, Far (Bonus Track Version)
On her latest album, Regina Spektor continues to ooze creativity. Every song has its own merits, but one of my favorites is "Folding Chair" (which I got to see live a year and a half ago before she released it), and not just because she imitates a dolphin. Another bright spot is "Wallet", in which Spektor manages to romanticize finding a stranger's lost wallet and returning it to "my local Blockbuster" The best part is the ending: "You'll never know me/ I'll never know me/But you'll be so happy/ When they call you up."

5. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
On the way home from seeing this movie with my friend Jesse, neither of us said much. There just wasn't much to say that hadn't already been captured so well on the screen. I was afraid to see it because I thought it would be too hard to watch, and a few scenes were, but ultimately the film's realistic attitude made it easier to stomach, because they made the few bright spots so much more important.

4. Mad Men, "Shut the Door, Have a Seat"
The season 3 finale to the best drama on television did exactly what a finale is supposed to do: left me counting down the months until season 4. With Betty and Don's pending divorce and the formation of a new company, the show managed to be riveting without going too far. Here's hoping that keeps up in 2010.

3. Lady Gaga, Fame Monster and Monster Ball Tour
Mid-November through mid-December was the Month of Gaga for me. I downloaded Fame Monster the day it came out and listened to it at least once a day. The Gaga Fest culminated in seeing her live in San Francisco, and her performance was like that Fantasia movie on steroids-- visually stunning and incredibly well thought-out. This is the first time I've loved such a universal pop star so much, probably because she refuses to fit into boundaries, and her songs have as much meaning as they do catchiness. 2009 began what could be a life-long love affair for me, so long as Lady Gaga proves her critics wrong and isn't just a flash in the pan.

2. Tegan and Sara, Sainthood
Tegan and Sara made great music throughout the whole decade, and their 2009 effort is no exception. Some of the best songs off Sainthood are "Alligator", with its early-Madonna feel, and "The Ocean" for its honesty about the end of a relationship. And, to quote the review in Rolling Stone, "On 'Northshore,' they cap a laundry list of "don'ts" with the declaration "My misery's so addictive!" True, that."

1. 30 Rock, "Jackie Jormp Jomp"
Big surprise, I put 30 Rock at the top. Every episode is great because the show has great wit and the ability to be completely ludicrous and yet somehow say so much about reality. But the best in '09 was "Jackie Jormp Jomp" in season 3. Jenna's death is faked in order to promote her biopic of a Janet Joplin-type singer (they couldn't get the film rights to actually use Janet), and Liz meets a group of single stay-at-home women who show just how desparate housewives can be by forming a fight club. Best quote, in or out of context: "Or you could write a cookbook made specifically for interracial children".

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