Monday, December 19, 2011

2011: The Year in Review

A week early, but why the hell not? I don't expect anything exceptional to happen next week. In no particular order, my best and worst of 2011:

Best Movie You Almost Certainly Didn't See -

Meeks' Cutoff

The story: During the mid 1800s, a party of migrants are moving westward. They hire a guide, who leads them astray with promises of a shortcut. They are lost. They are hungry. They have almost no water left. All they can do is keep walking.  A visual and emotional feast. If you're in it for chase scenes, a soundtrack, and a big, obvious story, don't bother. This quiet movie (there is almost no dialgoue) is all about the getting there. Or, to be more accurate, the NOT getting there. 

Bruce Greenwood, a vastly under-appreciated actor, has never been better. Michelle Williams is as good as ever, turning in what may be the most honest portrayal of a strong woman I've seen in years. In many ways, it's a feminist film. It is a thing of a beauty. I'm willing to bet almost no one who reads this actually saw it. That's a damned shame. It really deserved to be seen on a big screen.

Book Most Likely To Break your Heart, and Maybe Mend It -

Joan Didion's Blue Nights

Joan Didion's life has revolved around loss for well over two years, now. A prolific writer, she turns to the tools of her trade to deal with this loss. Blue Nights, which picks up, so to speak, where The Year of Magical Thinking left off, is a collection of Didion's reflections on the life and death of her only child, on her efforts to keep grief at bay, on the many people who have moved through her life in in the last 77 years, on aging alone, on her own mortality. On realizing that, no matter what our losses, we have only two choices: to keep on living, or to die. Beautifully written. Anyone who has suffered a loss will feel this one. As empowering as it is heartbreaking.  

Piece of News that Did My New York Heart The Most Good

Same Sex Marriage Becomes Legal in New York

The photo says it all. Bless their married, lesbian hearts. I've never been prouder to call myself a native New Yorker.  To date, no less than four people from my high school graduating class of under 200 have legally married their same sex partners in NY. Now, if only we could get a federal ruling that had teeth.

Funniest TV Moment-Cum-Internet-Meme -

Rum Ham

You kind of had to be there. If you were, it was funny as shit.

Best and Biggest Campfest on TV -

American Horror Story's Gays

When Zach Quinto comes out of the closet, he really comes out of the closet

Most Annoying Character on A Most Promising New Show -

Amy Jellicoe, Enlightened 

Laura Dern's Amy Jellicoe has been to rehab and back, and she's got all the answers. A great show. A main character I want to strangle, even as I root for things to work out her way. Just shut up, Amy.

Most Original Villain -

Gillian Darmody, Boardwalk Empire

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Boardwalk Empire isn't really about prohibition. It's all about the women. And no woman loomed larger in season 2 than Gretchen Mol's Gillian Darmody. Gillian is no paper cut-out. She's got dimension and a past...a past that includes horrors perpetrated against her, and horrors she's perpetrated against her own son. We all saw it coming - the incest - but did anyone see that scene and not feel shock, revulsion, and fury? By season's end, there were two women holding the purse strings that control Atlantic City, and one of them was Gillian. I, for one, am stoked. Bring it. 

Worst TV Trend -

Whitney Cummings Taking Over the World of Network Television

More annoying than those asshole kids from Glee. That's saying a hell of a lot. I refuse to post a clip. 

Best New Music - 

Alabama Shakes

Yes, the singer sounds very Janis Joplinesque. She's good. She's damned good. The whole band is good. Her voice is like Joplin, but the band has a sound all its own. And she's not another Madonna clone. Lady Gaga, I'm looking at you.

Performer Whose Talents Are Most Wasted on Crap -

Lady Gaga 

Yeah, I said it. Her pop music is crap. Her persona is annoying as hell. But listen to that voice. Why is she pretending to be Madonna, when there's so much real talent that's all Gaga? If only she'd make this kind of performance her mainstay. I might have to start liking her. 

Most Inconsequential Sporting News -

If New York or Boston Don't Win A Pennant, Does The World Series Really Matter?

Most Satisfying Sporting News -

New Zealand Wins The 2011 Rugby World Cup

Not just because I'm a proud Kiwi citizen who'll always have a warm spot in my heart for New Zealand. Not just because the All Blacks are majestic. Not just because they won it at home. Mostly because kicking French ass at anything makes everyone feel good. 


TheWeyrd1 said...

Did not know that you're a kiwi...very cool! And yes, I have not seen that movie. But then again, I see about 2 movies max at the theater. I promise to watch it when it makes it to my DirecTv...or DVD... I do kinda like 2 Broke Girls, but that Whitney chick IS everywhere it seems...or clones of her anyway.

Snapper said...

Weyrd1 - I'm American by birth, but I lived in NZ for 6 yrs and have dual citizenship. NZ is close to my heart. Do check out Meek's Cutoff. I hardly ever go to the movies, either...I saw this on a strange whim, and I'm so glad I did.