Category Archives: 2011

What I Liked in 2011

Rather than go whole hog and do a best and worst of blog entry this year, and besides I’m already a week or so late for that anyway, I’m going to be tardy and lazy, and just do lists. Sorry, but I’m burnt, that’s all you get this year. Here are the lists, bests, favorites, take your pick…

Movies – in no particular order – Hugo, Ra.One, Captain America: The First Avenger, Super 8, Midnight in Paris, Attack the Block, Thor, The Help, Source Code, and Bunraku.

Television – also in no particular order – “Hell on Wheels,” “Game of Thrones,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Treme,” “Doctor Who,” “Mad Men,” “Dexter,” “The Hour,” “Shameless,” “Castle,” “Chuck” “Louie,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “The Walking Dead.” And yes, I know that’s more than ten choices. Deal with it.

With the birthday gift of a Nook late in the year I have started to read again so I wanted to give a shout out to a few books as well. I liked A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Horns by Joe Hill, Supergods by Grant Morrison, Kraken by China Mieville, and Reamde by Neal Stephenson.

I didn’t really listen to much new music this year. I bought a lot of stuff from “Glee,” and new albums by Kate Bush, William Shatner, Adam Warrock and Robyn, as well as soundtracks to Ra.One, X-Men First Class, and “Treme” spent a lot of time on my iPod.

Comics – T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents by Nick Spencer, Aquaman by Geoff Johns, Secret Avengers by Warren Ellis, Frankenstein Agent of SHADE, Action Comics by Paul Cornell, and the new Defenders series from Matt Fraction are all up high in my opinion.

And, in short, that’s what I liked in 2011…

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The Help

The Help ~ This is another flick that I saw on board the Disney Dream on my recent vacation. They gave a fairly large and beautiful old-fashioned style theater, and for this first run film, every seat was filled and there were folks standing and even sitting on the stairs even though they weren’t supposed to. There’s a reason I mention this that I’ll get to later.

The Help, based on the bestselling book by Kathryn Stockett, is a period piece set in early 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. Some of the hairstyles, wardrobes, sets and cars were probably filched from the set of “Mad Men” they look so authentic. The history is strong and accurate, which for me is important as I get irritated when the facts are wrong or timelines are mixed. My suspension of belief has a low tolerance for that sort of stuff. Don’t even get me started on Forrest Gump.

The film is an ensemble piece about a struggling young writer putting together a book of the experiences of black maids and their feelings about the white women whose children they were raising. Set in the hotbed of the civil rights movement, it explores and reveals a side that is rarely talked about in the history books, and shows that subtle racism is just as bad as overt racism. Well, it’s all bad, but back then, it was a matter if degrees.

The performances in all cases are amazing, and if this wasn’t a summer release, I’d say it’s an easy sweep for the Oscars, but unfortunately the noms are usually later in the year. Shame. Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard would all be major contenders to get statues. And although it’s a small part, Sissy Spacek steals the movie.

There were no seats empty in the theater, and a young African-American woman sat next to me with her family behind her – as they were split up by showing up late. I don’t know whether she was aware if the history of this film. I am always amazed when I see films like Apollo 13 and Titanic and hear younger folks express ignorance of the endings. This young woman was completely pulled into the movie and was struck by a full emotional spectrum. She laughed, cheered, clapped, but mostly cried, sniffed and sobbed. Yeah, it’s that powerful a film, and made that much more so because it happened.

Highly recommended, do not miss, The Help is easily one of the best movies of 2011.

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Cow Appreciation Day 2011

Oscar Noms 2011

Well, better late than never, right?

The Oscar nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards were announced early this morning. There were a few surprises, but not many. Here are the main awards…

Best Actor – Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth and James Franco.

Best Supporting Actor – Christian Bale, John Hawkes, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo and Geoffrey Rush.

Best Actress – Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams.

Best Supporting Actress – Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Hailee Steinfeld and Jacki Weaver.

Best Animated Film – How to Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist and Toy Story 3.

Best Foreign Film – Biutiful, Dogtooth, In a Better World, Incendies and Outside the Law.

Best Director – Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, Tom Hooper, David Fincher, and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.

Best Film – Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter’s Bone.

Hmmm… now let’s not always see the same names, shall we? I can’t really make official guesses at this point, having not seen all the films and performances nominated yet, but I do have some thoughts. I was fully unimpressed by both True Grit (other than Hailee Steinfield) and Inception, so I doubt they will get much more beyond the noms. I liked Hailee quite a bit. It’s time for a win for Colin Firth. And I wouldn’t underestimate the dark horses like The Kids Are All Right and 127 Hours.

Speaking of horses, where was Secretariat? Where was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the foreign category? Where were Waiting for Superman and Despicable Me for documentary and animated film? Major snubs here, folks.

Check out the complete nominations here, folks, and I’ll be back with my predictions in a while, once I’ve caught up on all the flicks.

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