My Favorite Entertainment of 2007
Massive blog post. Wrote up a lot of it while I was still working. Yeah.
No Country for Old Men
First hour and half is some of the most tense and masterful filmmaking I’ve ever seen – which is enough to make it one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. Javier Bardem pretty much locked up the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, as he is the scariest villain in a film since arguably Hannibal Lector. And Josh Brolin doesn’t do such a bad job in the starring role, either. Unfortunately, the last 30 minutes consist of Tommy Lee Jones being old and talking about being old. The abrupt tone shift is just deflating. I’ve never seen an audience so completely inert at the end of a movie. I guess that was the Coen Brothers’ intent, but that doesn’t make it any better (and definitely not more entertaining) of a movie.
The Bourne Ultimatum
Another Bourne movie, another awesome ride. The showcase hand-to-hand fight was by far the most brutal in the series, and it was the most-action packed of the three. The end to arguably the most consistently great American film trilogy ever. Not really much to say here, as you should know what to expect by now.
The British trio of Simon Pegg, Edger Wright, and Nick Frost deliver on their second film. It may not be as great as Shaun of the Dead, which is almost perfect, but it’s an original, fun romp of a movie. It’s a bit long and slow for a movie of this type, but the buildup throughout leads to an incredible payoff in the last 20 minutes or so.
Gone Baby Gone
I can’t believe an Affleck family presentation was this damn good. Casey is a better actor than his brother and Ben is more than competent behind the camera, apparently. Surprise of the year for me and, if I had to pick, my favorite movie of the year — purely due to my love of the theme of people doing the wrong things for the right reasons.
Neither are quite at the top of my favorite comedies, but together they form a pretty damn formidable and complimentary duo. I really expected to absolutely LOVE Superbad, but it was a bit too ridiculous, even for me. And that’s saying a lot. Knocked Up is definitely a great date movie, so it’s not something I feel like ever watching again by myself. Both involve Judd Apatow, who seems to be involved with almost every comedy nowadays.
There Will Be Blood
Incredible. Paul T. Anderson directed the one film this year that I think will be looked back at as a undeniable classic (although I haven’t seen The Assassination of Jesse James and the Ridiculously Long Title). Daniel Day-Lewis gives a mesmerizing performance, but that’s to be expected. What was more surprising how well Paul Dano (the Nietzsche kid from Little Miss Sunshine) rises to the occasion. And Jonny Greenwood’s score is so unconventional, yet it works so amazingly well at setting the evil, foreboding tone of the film. Basically, everyone involved just does an awesome job. In contrast to No Country, this film builds to its final, stunning act instead of abruptly shifting in tone and meandering to an end.
Surprise of the year. I really wasn’t caught in the hype leading up to the release, but the dichotomy of the review scores definitely shocked me a bit and tempered my urge to play the game. I was going to ask for it for Christmas, but bumped it down to a rental. After borrowing it from Frank and ripping through it, turns out it probably deserves the sale. The repetitiveness definitely starts to wear on you after a while, but the detailed cities and the crowd physics and AI truly show what next-gen means.
God of War II
Just like the original, just MORE. Not a bad thing.
Bioware has created a massive fictional galaxy replete with dozens of worlds and species, each with their own identities and histories. The game is basically a space opera. I haven’t gotten too far, but even after only a short time I’ve learned a bunch of cool abilities and learned to utilize them well in concert with the variety of weapons.
The natural expansion of Guitar Hero, brought by the creators of Guitar Hero. The guitar charts are more noob-friendly than the ridiculous Guitar Hero III, but the drums provide the challenge this time around. Vocals are just an added bonus. Playing on Festivus was the most fun I’ve had playing a video game with friends in a long time. Since then, I’ve played at Best Buy for an hour and half with a complete stranger and it was totally awesome. I don’t know how I’ve restrained myself from buying it this long.
Call of Duty 4
Best online multiplayer FPS I’ve played on a console, possibly ever. The perk system is one of the coolest ideas to be integrated into an FPS, and the 60 FPS (most of the time) soothes the soul. The SP is a bit archaic, but it more than makes up for it in theatricality and wow factor. Just don’t play on Veteran unless you care about achievements. I’d go on more about it, but it overtaking Halo 3 one week means people know of its greatness.
The Orange Box
Best gaming value ever, even ignoring the already-released Half-Life 2 and HL2:Episode 1. From everything I hear, Episode 2 is at the very least on par with HL2 (which means it’s awesome). I know from first-hand experience that Team Fortress 2 is fun as hell on the PC. And Portal is the innovative and charming bite-sized game that doesn’t come along nearly enough. Possibly the most clever writing ever in a video game.
Was thinking about leaving it off the list, but it’s such a unique experience (for people who haven’t played System Shock 2, like myself) that it needs to be included. It may fall apart a bit after the climatic encounter, and the final battle might be pure cheese that doesn’t fit the tone of the rest of the game, but it’s an amazing story that should be played through by every gamer. The gameplay might not be all that it can be, but the atmosphere does a good job of making up for it.
Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
I wasn’t a big fan of their first album, even though it seemed to get massive hype from the indie crowd. While many people don’t seem to like this second album as much, I think it’s vastly superior. This may be due to my loving his Vin Butler’s Springsteen impression on many of the tracks, as opposed to his singing voice throughout most of their debut album. I remember reading a comment on GAF, “Like Springsteen doing New Wave,” I guess that’s kinda the sound on a lot of songs. And it’s great.
Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare
Another band whose debut album I didn’t love quite as much as many of the critics, and whose sophomore album I think is awesome. This album just rocks a lot harder and faster than their debut, yet manages to have some slower, more lyric-focused songs mixed in. I think the second half of the album is vastly superior to the first half.
Radiohead – In Rainbows
My favorite Radiohead album since OK Computer. It’s like they rediscovered what made them great in the first place. I really hope their experimental period is over. I enjoyed select songs on their past few albums, but overall they were pretty subpar. In Rainbows seems to follow the structure of OKC, even down to the crap song in the middle. The minute I heard 15 Step, I knew this was going to be a cool album. It has that signature Radiohead creativity, but they actually made a fun song out of it, instead of a tech demo.
Daft Punk – Alive 2007
I don’t like electronic music. At all. That hyped LCD Soundsystem album? Crap. On the other hand, this live album is freaking awesome. I had never listened to Daft Punk before this, and going back to their album versions of the tracks packed into this album is just disappointing. This album is all the Daft Punk (and electronic music) I need.
The Wire Season 4
The one show that gets better and better with each and every season. This season concentrated on the education system and a white man running for Mayor of Baltimore. The greatest social commentary currently airing on television, and has been argued as being the most important television show in at least a decade. Everything has been building through the four seasons, and it all points to season 5 being possibly the greatest season of television ever. The show is written like a novel, so I can only suspect that what is planned for the final season is incredible.
Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 6
I bought the DVD set and ripped through the 10 episodes in two days. I had heard some rumblings about this season not being quite as good as the others, but I think this was possibly the best since Season 2. The season-long arcs were well-thought out, the new characters were hilarious, and the season finale couldn’t be more perfect. I cannot stress that fact enough. Fucking PERFECT.
Our Dumb World: Atlas of Planet Earth
I’m not even sure if I read any other books that were released this year, but this is the only one that you need. Well, Stephen Colbert’s book is probably good too. But this is just untouchable. The Onion has outdone itself once again. Just a taste…