Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Year-End List of Lists (2009) - TV and Movies

Since everyone is posting their "Best of 2009" lists, I thought it'd be fun to talk about my favorite things from the past year. In fact, it turns out I had so much to say, I've split this post into two parts. Today, lets discuss TV and movies. (Tomorrow it will be books and music.)

Favorite TV Shows:

I still firmly believe that television has so much more to offer than feature films. This year I continued to be addicted to Burn Notice, Fringe, Dexter and LOST. I love the chemistry between Fiona, Michael and Sam on Burn Notice. The show is fast-paced, smart, fun and it consistently delivers. Meanwhile, Dexter had me on the edge of my seat for all 12 episodes. And even though I'm still fuming mad about the ending, it was probably the best season since Season 1. John Lithgow was all kinds of creepy amazing. I might need therapy just to get over everything that show put me through this year!

Next to LOST, I would have to say Fringe is probably one of my very favorite shows. Olivia is an interesting, complex character and a rare, strong female lead (especially rare in that she doesn't have to stereotypically sex it up with short skirts and spiked heels). She's tough without being butch, and has moments of tenderness and vulnerability without being a weak cliche. The layers of character development they've put into Peter and Walter isn't too shabby either. I enjoy the super-weird sci fi craziness on the show, and I'm dying to know more about the Pattern and William Bell, but it's the characters that keep me coming back week after week.

These are all quality shows, but LOST is still at the top of my list. (Beware - minor spoilers to follow - stop reading if you haven't watched Season 5). Last year we got to see all the backstories about the island, including Dharma in it's prime, Danielle and the French shipwreck, the Temple, the Statue, and we got to see Charles Widmore's history with the island. We also got to see Faraday send a distress call across time into Desmond's brain (how cool was that?), saw how and why the Oceanic Six decided to lie about what happened, and how they all made the choice to be on the Ajira plane, we saw a heart-wrenching resolution to the Aaron plotline, saw the reappearance of the mysterious Ms. Hawking, visited The Lamp Post Station and spent a lot of time off-island. We even donned some polyester for the return of the 70s. My favorite episode though, was "He's Our You", when Sayid was faced with the choice of killing childhood Ben, before he grows up to become an evil manipulative villian. Sayid is one of my favorites, so I always like the shows that center around him, plus it had this pivotal point with Ben, and it brought up more issues about whether or not time can be changed, AND it had a flaming Dharma van. What's not to love? I can't wait for the final season to start, yet at the same time it's so bittersweet. It's the beginning of the end...

Other shows that I enjoyed, but might not have obsessively looked forward to like I did the previously mentioned shows were: The Office, Psych, Monk, and In Plain Sight, (and no, I don't work for the USA channel). I cried at the season finale of Monk, which was also the end of the show. It was some good closure. We also added Community, Royal Pains and Parks and Recreation to our viewing list. Parks and Recreation started out a little clumsy, but it has really taken off, and usually provides some pretty good laughs. Like I said, television is better than cinema right now, thus my unusually long TV viewing list.

Favorite Movies:
Have I mentioned that television is better that feature films right now? In my year-end post for 2008, I said, "I honestly don't know if I'll be going to the movies at all next year." and I predicted correctly. I didn't hardly go to the movies at all in 2009. Not only was my viewing experience better at home (with a quality entertainment system and quality TV shows), but there just weren't that many new movies released that I was even mildly interested in seeing: a sad state of affairs for the wonderful art form known as cinema. (Of course, I say that, but then look at the long list below... sometimes I make myself laugh...)

That doesn't mean there weren't a few diamonds in the rough though. The Johnny Depp vehicle, Public Enemy, was an interesting character study, as was The Soloist. While Paul Blart: Mall Cop was cute, funny and clean - a very rare thing in Hollywood. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Taken, with Liam Neeson as the security specialist on the hunt for his kidnapped daughter. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince started the beginning of the end of the Potter series and was quite satisfying. District 9, did a lot of innovative and exciting things for the sci fi genre but I hated the lead character and the whole plot was uneven and just left a bad taste in my mouth. Speaking of bad movies, I still want the two-hours of my life back that Underworld 3: the Rise of the Lycans stole from me. (My apologies, again, to C.O.O. for making him sit through that.) Oh, there was such wasted potential for that whole storyline.

However, four movies stood above the rest for me. J.J. Abrams consistently delivers good entertainment (LOST, Fringe, Cloverfield, MI:4) and he didn't disappoint with the new Star Trek film. I'm not even a Trekkie and I thoughroughly enjoyed it. I feel like I should write J.J. Abrams a personal thank you note for all the happy entertaining hours he's provided me with! I also recently saw The Blind Side and was so touched by this film, and was impressed with its honest, real, positive portrayal of Christian love. Funny enough, my top two favorites are animated children's films (not sure what that says about me). Coraline was a faithful adaptation of the creepy Neil Gaiman novel and it was a beauty of stop-motion animation magic. I loved every 3D minute of it! But hands-down, easily my favorite film last year, was the Pixar film UP. Words cannot describe how much I loved this film. In fact, it has warranted a multi-post article that I'm currently writing. So I will leave my comments for then. Bottom line - if you haven't seen it, go out and rent it right now!

Movies that were released in 2009 that I haven't seen yet, but really want to: Where the Wild Things Are, Drag Me to Hell, Paranormal Activity, Inglorious Basterds, Zombieland, Pirate Radio, Hurt Locker, A Perfect Getaway, Thirst, Sherlock Holmes, and Invictus.

Lest you think that I waste my life away in frivolous pursuits such as television and movies, please come back tomorrow when I wrap up with my favorite things from 2009, and then conclude this discussion with the things that are really important to me.


Shawn White said...

Good lists and thoughts. I think from the movie stand point, The Blind Side was my favorite of the year - wow what a great movie. Absolutely loved it.

And LOST is still at the top of my list for television shows. I'm going to be so sad when the final season starts up in Feb. I'm really going to miss it when it is gone. Also, the Monk season and series finale was extremely bittersweet. What a way to close out such a wonderful show. I'll miss the entire cast.

chandy said...

I totally agree about UP. We got that 'for the kids' for Christmas, and I cried like a baby all over again when we watched it. Pixar just nailed it with that movie. How can you be holding back tears (or in my case, not holding them back) in one scene, and then laughing out loud in the next?


Anonymous said...

Lili and I loved Up. "Squirrel!" makes me laugh (although, strangely I never saw one in the movie, did I?) I forgive you for Rise of the Lycans. I wish it had been more campy badness, so we could have made more fun of it. Shawn picked the right strategy with that one - sleep through it! I'm scared to start DVDs of Lost. I feel like it's a mountain I'll never be able to climb. I do studiously avoid spoilers though. (There's a lot of TV I don't see - I've never seen burn notice or the fringe, two shows I'm sure I'd like). -Chad (only anonymous poster so that's probably obvious).

D.L. White said...

@ Chad - Yeah, I think you might be right. I don't think we ever see a squirrel in "Up".

Speaking of lycans, were you planning on seeing "Wolfman" when it comes out? Shawn suggested it as a date night for Valentine's Day! Woot! I really hope it ends up being as good as the trailer... I'll let you know....