Tuesday, December 28, 2010

End of the Year Lists 2010

Some people say that this is the most wonderful time of the year. It isn't. However, that doesn't mean it isn't in contention or worth discussing. It's a great time because it's the end of the year. It's also the end of everything good and bad about the previous year with hope for the best and less of the worst in the coming year.

There are plenty of great things about this time of year, including the marathon of holidays (three in less than six weeks). These holidays bring together families and those we care about. Then, each of us all try to summarize what we've done in the past year and explain where we're going in the coming year to the harshest critics out there: extended family members.

Summarizing the events of three hundred and sixty-five days is no easy task, but there are ways to do it. My favorite way is with End of the Year Lists. They're concise, judgmental, and most of all they're fun to make and discuss. After the jump, is my attempt to summarize the year with my End of the Year Lists for 2010.

Transit taking a count for a game of Heads Up, 7 Up

Best New Albums I Heard in 2010:
1. The Gaslight Anthem- American Slang
2. Transit- Keep This To Yourself 
3. Stars- The Five Ghosts
4. Motion City Soundtrack- My Dinosaur Life
5. Jimmy Eat World- Invented
6. Max Bemis & The Painful Splits- S/T
7. Four Year Strong- Enemy of The World
8. Valencia- Dancing With A Ghost
9. Pink Bead Federation- Swagger Town City Council
10. Coheed & Cambria- Year of the Black Rainbow

Those good ol' boys from Jersey, The Gaslight Anthem, returned with a very impressive follow up their smash debut which nearly topped my list last year.

A new (and very young) band from Massachusetts named Transit surprised me with the album Keep This To Yourself. I saw them play with The Swellers this past summer and was very impressed with the energy and passion bleeding from their live performance. They, much like The Swellers, are a band that is a part of a resurgent trembling of pop punk that is starting to bubble over. This wave, however, is a bit more aggressive than it's 90's predecessor (which relied on silliness and pop) and takes a few cues from the hardcore scene, however, they don't feel the need to include a breakdown after every verse. I predict in the coming year that a few of these bands will bust out and open the doors for some of their counterparts. So, keep an ear out for that.

Stars and Pink Bead Federation add a bit of variety to the list with great pop and hip hop releases that push their genre forward, the latter with a tongue pressed firmly in cheek. The rest of the list rounds out with a group well established bands in my collection releasing solid efforts.

Honorable Mention: Saves The Day- 1984 EP.
Not an official album, so it couldn't make the list, but the two new songs give me hope that the next long awaited Saves The Day album, "Daybreak" will hold up among their previous releases.

Albums I Listened to Most in 2010 Regardless of Release Date:
The Swellers- Ups And Downsizing (My Album of the Year in 2009)
Say Anything- S/T; ...Is A Real Boy (My Album of the Year in 2004); Demos 
Hot Rod Circuit- The Underground is A Dying Breed
Lifetime- S/T
Promise of Redemption- When The Flowers Bloom
Jimmy Eat World- Bleed American
Valencia- This Could Be A Possibility
Bad Religion- Against The Grain
Death Cab For Cutie- Plans; Transatlanticism
Kanye West- Late Registration; Graduation

Best Movies Released In 2010:
1. Inception
2. Going the Distance
3. Shutter Island
4. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
5. Get Him to the Greek
6. Dinner for Schmucks
7. Kick Ass
8. Alice in Wonderland
9. Cop Out
10. The A-Team
"I'm gonna buy so many hats..."

There is no doubt that Christopher Nolan has established himself as one of the great writer/directors of this past decade. Leo Dicaprio has also proved himself to be the new beast of the box office. He tore up the screen this year taking in more than $1.1 billion worldwide between Inception and Shutter Island at the box office.

Going the Distance was by far the funniest movie I saw all year with the best casting choices I've seen in a romantic comedy in a long time. The always lovable Drew Barrymore was on point, opposite Justin Long. They provided laughs with Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia), Jason Sudeikis (one of the funnier people on SNL currently), and Christina Applegate. There are even great appearances from Ron Livingston (Office Space) and established stand up comedian, Jim Gaffigan. To top it all off, the soundtrack is spot on and features up and coming indie band, The Boxer Rebellion.

Visually, Scott Pilgrim and Alice, provided some wonderful cinematography which made it worthwhile to go to the theater this year. Filling up the rest of the list are the best action movies I saw this year, featuring the surprisingly great A-Team reboot, which provided all that I expected and more from one of my favorite television series ever. Don't you just love when a year end movie list comes together?

Honorable Mention: The Expendables
Stallone's movies are awful for Hollywood, children, and society in general for a multitude of reasons. That being said, if you want an hour and a half of pure unadulterated action without any plot whatsoever to get in the way, his releases hit their mark like a punch to your gut. Or a rocket to your face, whichever you prefer.

Worst Movies Released in 2010 That Wasted Hours of My Life That I Will Never Get Back:
Paranormal Activity 2
Twilight: Eclipse
Transformers: Rise of the Fallen
Avatar (I know, Avatar came out in 2009, but I made an exception for it because all of the unjustified praise and adoration continued for it into this year. Plus, it came out very late in 2009.)

These movies aren't worth ordering. How do you compare a crap salad with a shit burrito? At the end of the day, you still have the same shit eating grin.
They're all awful. Most were just money grabs by studios.

Somehow Paranormal Activity 2 took my disappointment in movies to new unimaginable levels. I expected absolute crap when I went in and the movie couldn't even deliver that. I don't know how they did it.

Twilight needed better actors from the start, and a better book series to be based on. Unfortunately, there will be two more of these coming...ugh.

Michael Bay just won't stop and Shia LeBeouf will still embarrass himself in these movies no matter which hottie plays his girlfriend in Transformers.
"What Are You Doing?"
"I'm Acting As Hard As I Can"

Avatar just pissed me off. I don't care how many people loved it. I though it was trite crap glossed over with snazzy computer animation. Sure, some parts looked great but as far as the storytelling was concerned, it was drawn out far, far too long. There was a good hour that could have been trimmed (and yet on the DVD release was even more footage, are you kidding me?). From the beginning, you can already figure out what the climax will consist of, yet you have to wait an hour and a half to see it (Hint: there's a battle over the blue man group's sacred land). The main character is the computer animated equivalent to a sack of potatoes. He somehow pulled off acting like more an of idiot than Channing Tatum, which is somewhat impressive, I guess. All around everything was just as weak as the aforementioned three above, except in the visual effects department. Given the hype and budget, James Cameron should have come out with something better than a high budget, low rate rip off of Ferngully.

Best Natural Disasters of 2010:
1. Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland (April)
2. Snowmegeddon 2010 in the Pacific Northwest (November)
3. California Rainstorms (December)

The pictures above should be all you need to know about these awesome disasters.

Most Wonderful Time of the Year in 2010:
1. Late Summer (Mid July-Mid September)
2. Early Spring (Late March-Early May)
3. Late Autumn (November-December)

This list orders which were the best portions of the year for me in 2010. Late summer takes the cake with numerous awesome adventures with my girlfriend, including first time trips to Gasworks Park and Mt. Rainier. Also, two pilgrimages to the Gorge Amphitheatre, including my favorite summer tradition the Vans Warped Tour.

Early Spring of this year brought new found hope for the future as I found love and moved into my new apartment here in Seattle. After living in the south sound my whole life, moving here gave me a clean slate to blaze my own trail through the concrete jungle of the city. This time of year would have been number one, however, it took until late summer for me to really get settle into my new place.

"Where do you see this country going next decade?"
"...Hell if I know!"
This time of year, Late Autumn, has brought plenty to cheer about as well. Snowmegeddon 2010 brought the holidays in with an icy chill that shut down the Pacific Northwest for a few days. Christmas brought plenty of cheer and New Year's promises to be spectacular as usual with New Year's Eve partys all around and New Year's Day bringing Six (!) NCAA College Football games in what I like to call BOWLATHON 2011! Hell, I even started a blog during this time of year, so it had to be good. Am I right?

No matter how you slice it, 2010 brought plenty of good and bad. It certainly closed out a decade full of innovation, confusion, and progress. Where will this next decade take us? No one knows, but I'll be in line to buy a ticket to ride.

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