2010 Addendum (Last Recap)

January 6, 2011

As always, I find myself with odds and ends that did not make it on any of my year-end “best of” lists but warrant a mention anyway, so I have one last catch-all post to highlight those items.

First, I did not manage to catch “The King’s Speech” prior to ranking my favorite films of 2010, but managed to finally view it last week. I’m not sure where it would have made it on my list if I’d seen it sooner–arguably right in the middle, but anywhere on the list would have forced my tenth slot, “The Town,” off of the list and into the “honorable mentions” category. “The King’s Speech” is a truly wonderful film, full of humor and heart. Colin Firth is an excellent actor as always, giving a performance that ranks with or quite possibly is his single best yet as “Bertie,” or Albert, or the man who adopts the title of “King George VI” when his brother deserts the throne to marry Wallis Simpson. The friendship he cultivates with his speech therapist Lionel Logue (played terrifically by Geoffrey Rush) is the core of the movie, but everything about this one clicks from the expertly crafted sets that recreate England in the 1930s to the marital relationship of Albert and his wife (another fine performance from Helena Bonham Carter), the charming look at Princess Elizabeth and Margaret’s childhood, etc. Every performance is out-of-the-park, and writer David Seidler and director Tom Hooper manage to craft suspenseful scenes out of public addresses as Firth gives his heart and soul (as George) into attempting public speaking–who could have thought a battle to overcome a speech impediment could rank with the best of “the big game” style scenes from sports movie classics?

I never do a TV best-of, primarily because I rarely catch a show all the way through as it debuts–my favorite shows from the past few years (The Wire, Six Feet Under, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Breaking Bad) were all viewed way after the fact via Netflix, but I did catch AMC’s “The Walking Dead” from the beginning each Sunday night this year and was thoroughly impressed. I enjoy Robert Kirkman’s Image comic that this is based on, and the entire premise that makes that series work is that it is a detailed, in-depth look at the survivors who have to live in the world at a time after the spot most zombie movies roll the credits–a film adaptation of this simply wouldn’t work, it would miss the point. So this AMC approach is phenomenal, it gets to adapt this story in the format that the comic did. Not only that, by having years of material to draw from, the series can know where each player will end up and thus be more certain of their portrayal early on. This show was harrowing and taut, wonderfully acted and shot uber-creepy. The first episode was arguably the strongest, but each of the six from this first season had plenty to offer whether psychological or visceral, action or drama, focused on the zombies or the internal human threats. I look forward to the second season and hope that the director’s idea to move from a writing round-table to a BBC style freelance script submission will prove to be a good move.

I still heartily recommend Stephen King’s “Full Dark, No Stars,” which I reviewed here. It was his best book in years. I’ve had a blast playing “Red Dead Redemption” on the PS3, I’m sure many gamers have reviewed that one all across the web so I’ll add nothing to that other than say it’s a lot of fun. Also, “Scalped,” “Northlanders” and “The Unwritten” continue to be some of the best ongoing series Vertigo has put out into the comics field in some time and they deserve a shout-out even though their particular runs for this year didn’t make the top 10.

 A few more albums that didn’t get listed on my best of but deserve a listen: Eric Clapton: Clapton, Elton John and Leon Russell: The Union, Vampire Weekend: Contra, Ra Ra Riot: The Orchard, Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch: The Social Network Soundtrack, Danzig: Red Deth Saboth, High on Fire: Snakes for the Divine, Girl Talk: All Day, BoB: No Genre, Hold Steady: Heaven is Whenever, Gil Scott-Heron: I’m New Here

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