In addition to yesterday's Top 10+ Albums of the Decade, I am going to do a run down of the best of this year with both music and movies (I would do books, but I have no idea when half the stuff I read was published). Honestly, there wasn't much that really impressed me this year, so here it is - no specific order again.
[Best Albums of 2009]
Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
I struggled with not putting this album on the best of the decade since it is so fresh in my mind. I honestly do think it stacks up, but I am holding off (I did that with much of the 2009 output). Neko Case's voice is a fucking massive storm with breaks of light at the center vortex. This album is inventive and clever. Her backing band is fantastic. Great album from front to back and a wonderful concept tying the whole thing together.
The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You
The band's major label debut is satisfyingly restrained. When I heard Rick Rubin was going to produce it, I assumed he would put his stink all over it. He didn't. The boys are still staying true to their sound. I noted in previous blogs that there are a few questionable song selections that don't seem to fit, regardless, the output is wonderful.
Conor Oberst - Outer South
This album DID make my year decade list. The Mystic Valley Band is something special and I hope Oberst known what he has with these guys. Here is a clip I took MYSELF at a concert in Delaware (it sucks but you saw the good one yesterday).
Them Crooked Vultures - Self Titled Album
Take Led Zeppelin + Foo Fighters + Queens of the Stone Age and you have Them Crooked Vultures.
Ben Harper & The Relentless 7 - White Lies for Dark Times
Harper brings the rock and a back-up band.
[Best Movies of 2009]
I saw a ton of movies this year, and I have to say I was underwhelmed by most of them (I am looking at you Watchmen and Terminator: Salvation). Some showed tons of promise, but you had to overlook so much (District 9). In many cases, the acting was excellent, but the movie was just so-so (500 Days of the Summer). While I try to love horror movies, they always screw things up so badly they become unwatchable (Drag Me to Hell). So anyway, here are the movies that I think were outstanding this year.
There are a ton of plot holes and I don't give a shit. This movie was awesome. How do I know? My wife hates Star Trek and she liked it. JJ Abrams is the man. He managed to reboot everything without pissing off the geeks (FYI - I am NOT a Star Trek geek - I never got into Star Trek/Star Wars beyond watching it because it was on).
This movie gives you a very unexpected punch in the gut in the first 20 minutes that I don't think many adults will recover from. Younger kids won't get it. Overall a delightful movie. Great for kids and adults, the animation is top notch as is the voice acting.
Totally alternative history with the way we all hopped WWII would end.
Up in the Air
I recently saw this movie, but it definitely belongs on this list. The characters are real, the problems are real, and the ending is real. The whole backdrop of the job terminations in the current economic climate puts the movie over the edge.
The Bill Murray cameo alone puts this movie on the list. Zombie Comedies are 2 for 2 (Zombie Strippers does not count!)
[Best Television of 2009]
Some of the favorites are still alive like "How I Met Your Mother", "30 Rock", and "Weeds" but here are some of the standouts this year (and some new things that I think might be worth your time).
The Big Bang Theory
It took me a few years to like this show. I thought it was stereotypical nerds doing nerd things. And while the nerds do nerd things - they are doing REAL nerd things. They aren't building bullshit flux capacitors, the science they talk about is real, the shows they obsess over are real, the comic speak is legit... the acting (especially the guy who plays Sheldon) is outstanding.
Life After People
Documentary series that tells what happens to the world after people are gone.
Last year's season was a bit of a letdown but they stepped it up big time this year. I will say no more but the last episode of the season left me with my jaw dropped.
I liked the first few seasons of the original Stargate series, but it got overwhelming keeping track. I think the creators realized this and kept things simple on this series. 30 people stuck on an ancient space ship - they can't control it, and they don't know where it's going. The only supplies they have is what they had on them when they arrived. Less sci-fi geek, more survival character driven show.
Cooking with the Neelys
Pork in everything. EVERYTHING. I love this show.
[Best Comics of 2009]
This was one of those build up years in comics where story-lines are being set up for massive cross overs in 2010. As a result most comics from the big publishers felt a bit forced and formulaic. Some of the big expected payoffs this year underwhelmed while a few sleeper hits came out of nowhere. Overall, from a creative perspective, 2009 was a little weak, but I think there will be reward in the next year. With that said, I think there were a few shining examples.
1. The Mighty by Peter Tomasi and Keith Champagne
This limited series by DC takes the typical "superman" concept and turns it on it's head. The comic doesn't go the typical "superman is a bastard" route that has happened in other series. Tomasi keeps you guessing as to what the true motivations are for his Alpha One character and with one issue left in this 12 issue maxi-series, I am on the edge of my seat. The first 6 issues have been collected in trade format and I suggest you check it out.
2. Power Girl by Palmiotti, Gray, and Conner
Buy this book for Amanda Conner's art alone. She draws this typically busty character with an irreverence that is comical and heartwarming. The over-arching plot is typical superhero shit, but the snappy one liners and the character's interactions with the world are outstanding.
3. Green Lantern/Blackest Night by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi (and a host of others)
This comic should have been the no brainer best comic of 2009 for me. Writer Geoff Johns has been leading up to this event for 4.5 years and now that it is here, I am slightly underwhelmed. I feel like the story has to hit certain beats to move all the side stories along and meet deadlines. Because of this, the flagship comics feel over scripted and aren't given any room for character moments. While Johns is pulling the strings on this project, writer Pete Tomasi has been given the breathing room to tell a good story over at the Green Lantern Corp title, but that series feels like it is stalling for the other titles to kick into high gear. Overall the resolution of almost five years of story-lines is satisfying and is being done very well. It's just not mind-blowing.
4. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
It has been one of my favorites since it started. This comic about a post apocalyptic zombie infested world isn't about zombies, it's about the people who have managed to survive. Always excellent for almost 70 issues.
5. The Boys by Garth Ennis
Violent, Graphic, and foul-mouthed. This comic set out to piss all over typical superhero comics and has succeeded. Originally under a DC Comics owned company, Ennis had to move it to another publisher due to some very controversial story-lines. Bad for DC, good for us.