The Last 2009 List- Honorable Mentions

January 2, 2010


Movies

There were some great contenders within an inch of the best; “Invictus” was a wonderful film and Morgan Freeman played Nelson Mandela as convincingly as you would have imagined. The only fault for me was there really wasn’t enough of his character in the film– I would’ve liked to have seen Morgan bring Mandela’s inner self out onto the screen, to see where he came from and what drives him. I understand that this picture wasn’t a Mandela biopic meant to encapsulate his whole life– it was about the Rugby Cup, the unification of the country through a shared  (though labored for) passion. All in all, it was a good picture a bit shy of being a great movie.
“Sherlock Holmes” is an excellent action movie; I saw it after I posted my list, and had I caught it first it may have been in consideration– all in all, I think I would have kept my original list though as it was just beaten by the fierce competition this year. Last year it would have made it.
The best blockbuster of the summer was “Star Trek.” Unlike “Transformers 2,” it had smarts, good acting and just-as-good effects. The first Star Trek movie that levels the playing field and works for more than just a core fan base, this one was fun for anyone remotely interested in science fiction or smart action movies.

Then there were just a lot of fun genre movies that wouldn’t make a best of list because they’re understandably not “great” movies, just really fun ones that work for their target audience. There was a trilogy of great, ‘80s style horror movies– the “Friday the 13th” remake was an amped-up and entertaining hour-and-a-half mash-up of the original first 3 F13 movies, trimmed of the fat and void of any pretense, it actually improved on the originals (which let’s face it, weren’t sacred cinema to begin with). Then there was the “Evil Dead” cult-fave director Sam Raimi’s return to form with “Drag Me to Hell.” Raimi’s been mainstream with the “Spider Man” movies the past few years, so it was nice to see he could still deliver the laughs, thrills and B-movie schlock that he does so well in a really fun fright-fest. Last in this batch, there was “Jennifer’s Body.” The writer of “Juno” out of nowhere decided to pen an over-the-top, could-it-be feminist horror movie (well, to a point– we do have a sex-glowing airbrushed-looking Megan Fox prancing around playing the vapid hateful slaughter machine). “Jennifer’s Body” was more fun, intentionally laugh-provoking and exciting than anyone would have ever believed and was the best horror movie of the year.
The two funniest movies this year (high on laughs with no real concern for plot) were “The Hangover” and “Bruno.” Grossing more money than a Nicholas Spark adaptation, “The Hangover” delivered almost non-stop laughs. Not quite as relevant and important as “Bruno,” but more envelope-pushing and more proof of Sacha Boren Cohen’s relentless cajones in exposing hypocrisy and ludicrousness, “Bruno” did things on the big screen that were truly unmentionable (yet funny).

Comics


Only one mainstream work made my list of best comics and graphic novels this year (“Amazing Spider Man”). DC had all the runner-ups, though. “Batman and Robin,” though best in its first few issues when Gary Frank’s art was complimenting Grant Morrison’s prose, every issue has been fun even with the follow-up pencilers. Every Batman book has been a lot of fun this year that Bruce Wayne has been “dead.” JH William III drew an impressive pallet of experimentalism in the core Batwoman story in “Detective Comics,” Tim Drake’s journey around the globe in “Red Robin” was good, the return of a new “Batgirl” was fun (and not even campy). Outside of the Batverse (but still in DC), Gail Simone has hit her stride in what could become her best run on any book with “Secret Six.” Although every Superman book is currently tied up in the “new Krypton” affair, the Geoff Johns written Gary Frank penciled “Secret Origin” is amazing so far. Away from DC, “Boom Studios” produced Mark Waid’s terrific “The Unknown – The Devil Made Flesh,” some creepy horror fun. The CBLDF fundraising books “Liberty Comics” issues 1 and 2 featured every notable artist and writer in some fun, censorship baiting one-offs. Vertigo’s next big hit might by “Sweet Tooth,” which was building to a big moment as the year wrapped up.

Music


There were some great music items that seemed to have been polished and released out of nowhere. The Tom Petty Live Anthology, a whopping 4 discs of remastered, unreleased alternate takes came out for less than 20 bucks, and it contained about 5 hours of excellent rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame released (through Time Life) some great DVDs featuring the best speeches, inductions and performances of the past 25 years. Paul McCartney’s 2 disc (and 1 DVD) “Good Evening New York City” was a nice live review. To top it all off, the entire Beatles catalogue was finally remastered and sold out in retail stores across the country at a time when people seem to have stopped buying music in that manner.
As for albums that came close to making the cut (and didn’t get a mention on any of the music lists here this year), Morrissey’s “Years of Refusal” is his best work since The Smiths and was the one album that made it the closest to the cut. “It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore” almost made the singles list but didn’t– there are really 6 or so other songs on the album equally as good though. “The Promise Land,” a song by Mike Dunn and the Kings of New England, was on the singles list until the last minute. It’s the best song off of a promising album by a New England old-school bar band.

That’s it, I’ve said enough about 2009. I’m going to try and get my “Best of the 2000s” lists posted within the week, then that’ll be it for the pop culture commentary for awhile. I’ll be played out on it, moving on to something different.

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