A year in movies: 2010

January 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm (Movies, Tops)

I have to start by apologizing for the long delay in posting the top of my fave movies of 2010. At first, I wanted to wait a few days, in order to maybe catch a couple of more films that I might enjoy; then a nasty bronchitis got the better of me, and made me forget about posting this altogether.

Anyway, at long last, here are my favorite films of 2010, with the very important note that I haven’t yet seen some movies that I might love and that might make the top ten, especially Black Swan, The Fighter, True Grit and Animal Kingdom. As soon as I see them, I will post a revised version of this top.

Until then, my favorite film of 2010 is…

Inception (dir: Christopher Nolan)
I wrote about this once it came out, and nothing has changed since. It’s a brilliant heist movie, the perfect popcorn film, a rare smart blockbuster, and the final proof of the complete director Nolan has become.

Rest of the Top Ten:

2. Enter the Void (dir: Gaspar Noe) – another crazy ride from Gaspar Noe, a brilliant film about the last trip of the human mind, right before death, caught between reality and imagination, between memories and dreams. It’s shocking, very hard to watch, but ultimately fabulous.

3. Kick-Ass (dir: Matthew Vaughn) – when I first saw this back in spring, I loved it, but it wasn’t in my top 3. However, I watched it again a few weeks ago, and I enjoyed it even more, clear sign of something memorable. Hit Girl is my new favorite superhero. 🙂

4. Toy Story 3 (dir: Lee Unkrich) – the perfect way to end an amazing trilogy. You thought animations can’t be, literally, thrilling? Think again. There’s one scene at the end of this film that kept me on the edge of my seat. Brilliant filmmaking from start to finish.

5. Shutter Island (dir: Martin Scorsese) – a creepy story with a creepy Di Caprio, brilliant cinematography, and an all-around amazing film.

6. The Social Network (dir: David Fincher) – the story of our generation. Who thought a movie about Facebook can be so good? Sorkin’s script is amazing, just as the performances, and the unconventional score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

7. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (dir: Edgar Wright) – the most under-rated movie of the year. An audio-visual treat, perfect for arcade game lovers and pop culture fans like myself.

8. The Town (dir: Ben Affleck) – The crime drama of the year. Ben Affleck proves once again he is an extremely talented director.

9. Winter’s Bone (dir: Debra Granik) – A very small, minimalist movie, carried by a solid script and an absolutely breathtaking performance from new star Jennifer Lawrence.

10. 127 Hours (dir: Danny Boyle) – Getting trapped in the mountains for days, and having to cut your own arm off in order to survive, has never been so much fun.

Come back in a couple of days (and this time it will be a couple of days, I promise :P), for my most anticipated movies of 2011.

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A year in TV shows: 2010

December 31, 2010 at 11:48 am (Tops, TV shows)

TV show of the year:

The Walking Dead (season 1)

This one’s a no brainer. AMC did it again, and Frank Darabont’s new series is a lot more than I was expecting. A spectacular, tense, intelligent zombie show, with believable characters, lots of drama, and some zombie action sprinkled throughout. Huge audience success brought an immediate renewal for season 2.

Runner-up:
Dexter (season 5)
Last year’s winner lost its place at the top, but is still going strong. Season 5 hasn’t been as memorable as season 4, maybe because it didn’t feature a character as great as John Lithgow’s was, or a mindblowing finale as last year. But Dexter is still exciting, very witty and very well written. And it has also been renewed for a new season.

Honorable mentions:
Breaking Bad (season 3) – as great as the first two seasons. Bryan Cranston is amazing in the lead role.
Fringe (season 3) – this show gets better every year. Season 3 is really amazing, too bad the audiences aren’t responding properly. I really hope it won’t be cancelled.
Nikita (season 1) – the new version of Nikita is surprisingly well done. It takes a few episodes to settle in, but once it does, you’re hooked for good.
Community (season 1-2) – my favorite new sitcom on tv. Totally hilarious, full of memorable moments, crazy episodes, and lots of movie references.
Justified (season 1) – awesome new show from FX, based on an Elmore Leonard story, with a great performance from Timothy Olyphant in the lead role.
Family Guy (season 8-9) – still the funniest animated show on tv. Although Futurama is really close.

Some other awards:

Best new show: The Walking Dead
Best sitcom: Community
Best animated show: Family Guy
Best crime drama: Southland
Best action: The Walking Dead
Best episode: The Walking Dead pilot.

Don’t forget to come back sometime this weekend, for my Top Ten movies of 2010.

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A year in video games: 2010

December 30, 2010 at 11:58 am (Games, Tops)

Just like last year, everything I’ve played was on PS3 and PC, that’s why there are no XBOX and WII titles in this list.

Game of the year:

Heavy Rain (PS3 exclusive)

The most spectacular, intense and revolutionary game ever, Heavy Rain is a breathtaking cinematic thriller in which every action you take influences the whole progress of the story and its outcome. A great story (that will soon be turned into a movie), and amazing visuals, make this the game of the year.

Runner-up:
Red Dead Redemption (PS3, XBOX360)
Another masterpiece from Rockstar Games, a truly engaging open-world western in the same class as the last GTA entries. Who thought riding horses and catching bad guys can be so much fun?

Honorable mentions:
MLB 10: The Show (PS3 exclusive) – Every year, this is the best MLB game out there. No exception in 2010.
DeathSpank (PS3, PC, XBOX360)  – The most fun (and funny) game of the year.
Hector: Badge of Carnage (iPhone) – First truly awesome iPhone adventure game.

Some other awards:

Biggest surprise: DeathSpank
Biggest disappointment: Gran Turismo 5
Best PS3 exclusive: Heavy Rain
Best sports game: MLB 10: The Show
Best visuals: Heavy Rain
Best scene: the mutilation trial from Heavy Rain (actually, almost any scene from HR is memorable and worth mentioning. This one, at least on an emotional and creepiness level, stood above others).

Most anticipated games of 2011

1. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (01.11)
2. inFamous 2 (TBA 2011)
3. Silent Hill 8 (TBA 2011)
4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (TBA 2011)
5. MLB 11: The Show (March)
6. L.A. Noire (TBA Q2)
7. Killzone 3  (22.02)
8. Resistance 3 (06.09)
9. Alice: Madness Returns (TBA 2011)
10. Batman: Arkham City (TBA Q3)

Come back tomorrow, for my fave TV shows, and then during the weekend, for my Top 10 movies of 2010.

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A year in music: 2010

December 29, 2010 at 2:59 pm (Music, Tops)

I’m kicking off my yearly tops with the one for music. However, just like last year, I will avoid doing a proper Top Ten for music, mostly because I didn’t listen to so many albums worth recommending.

Album of the year

Deftones – “Diamond Eyes”

It was a much closer call than last year, because the runner-up is also quite amazing. However, Deftones’ new album beats Oceansize mostly thanks to its better production quality and lack of filler songs. “Diamond Eyes”, despite Chi Cheng’s absence, is brilliant from start to finish.

Runner-up:
Oceansize – “Self Preserved While the Bodies Float Up”
Another great album from one of my all-time favorite bands. However, sound quality seems a bit lower, compared to their last release “Frames”; also the songs are shorter and lack the immense epic complexity they used to have. Not necessarily a bad thing, but a small step back from perfection.

Honorable mentions:
Stone Sour – “Audio Secrecy” – a couple of bad pop tracks keep this beast from being truly amazing
The National – “High Violet”  – same old amazing sound. Indie rock cannot get any better.
Korn – “Korn III” – Korn is back to their roots and back to their old-school sound.

Some other “awards”:

Best Romanian album: Alternative Quartet – “Linistea astupa goluri”
Biggest discovery: And So I Watch You From Afar
Biggest disappointment: Linkin Park – “A Thousand Suns”
Best artwork: Oceansize – “Self Preserved While the Bodies Float Up”
Best lyrics: Oceansize – “Self Preserved While the Bodies Float Up”
Best film about music: “Le concert”
Best soundtrack: Hans Zimmer – “Inception”
Hottest rock chick: Taylor Momsen – The Pretty Reckless

Most anticipated albums of 2011

Almost nothing is certain when it comes to future releases. However, 2011 promises new albums from: Radiohead, A Perfect Circle, Dredg, Glassjaw, Fightstar, Mogwai, The Mars Volta, Limp Bizkit, Thrice, Incubus, Evanescence, Cave In, Them Crooked Vultures, Foo Fighters, Staind, Seether, and many others. Should be a pretty good year for rock music – much better than the sub-par 2010, at least.

Come back tomorrow, for the best video games of 2010. 😉

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Top 10 new TV shows to look for this autumn

July 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm (Tops, TV shows)

With autumn fast approaching, the new TV season and a batch of brand new shows are just around the corner. This is my Top Ten on what’s on my radar for the rest of the year.
Note that it’s pretty much impossible to figure out what’s gonna be indeed really good – so take this list with a grain of salt. Also – this seems like a very weak autumn in terms of new shows, so some shows on this list might end up actually sucking pretty bad.

10. Running Wilde (trailer)
When: September 21st
Where: FOX
Why: Because it’s created, produced and stars the really funny Will Arnett, in his first recurring TV role since Arrested Development. Also, because I pretty much had nothing else to choose for number 10. As I said, it’s a really weak autumn.

9. The Event (trailer)
When: September 20th
Where: NBC
Why: Because it has a cool premise, it’s one of the few shows on network television that has a season-long story arc, and it’s run by Evan Katz, of 24 fame.

8. Outsourced (trailer)
When: September 23rd
Where: NBC
Why: Because of its concept: an office sitcom set in India. Also, the first trailers look really funny.

7. The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret
When: autumn 2010
Where: IFC Channel (where??)
Why: Because it’s the first time David Cross and Will Arnett show up together since Arrested Development. And because it’ll guest star Spike Jonze and Amber Tamblyn.

6. Lonestar (trailer)
When: September 20th
Where: FOX
Why: Because the concept is really cool and different than pretty much everything else on network television. And because the pilot is directed by Marc Webb.

5. Nikita (trailer)
When: September 9th
Where:
The CW
Why:
Because I loved both the original film and the ’90s TV show. And because I like lead actress Maggie Q.

4. Rubicon (trailer)
When: August 1st
Where:
AMC
Why:
Because it’s AMC. They have produced 2 tv shows so far, and both have been universally acclaimed. This one looks pretty good too.

3. Undercovers (trailer)
When: September 22nd
Where:
NBC
Why:
Because it’s created by J.J. Abrams, who also directed the pilot.

2. The Walking Dead
When: October
Where:
AMC
Why:
Because it’s a TV show with zombies! And it’s on AMC! And it’s created and produced by Frank Darabont, who also directed the pilot. Also – it looks freaking awesome.

1. Boardwalk Empire (trailer)
When: September 19th
Where:
HBO
Why:
Let’s see. It’s produced and has its pilot directed by Martin Scorsese. It’s written and produced by Terence Winter (of Sopranos fame). It has a fantastic cast, including Steve Buscemi, Kelly MacDonald, Michael Pitt and Michael Shannon. It’s on HBO – so they afford to be as realistic and violent as they want. The trailer looks absolutely amazing. Enough?

Looking even further down the road: here are some shows that will premiere in winter / spring 2011, that I’m highly anticipating:

Mind Hunters – HBO drama produced by David Fincher. What more can you ask for?
Terra Nova – any TV show produced by Steven Spielberg deserves attention. Especially when it’s a SF story set into the future.
Fallen Skies – Another Spielberg-produced SF drama, to air on TNT. And it’s got aliens!
Episodes – Matt LeBlanc moves to Showtime, in a sitcom that looks really different, and really funny. Check out the trailer and see for yourselves.
Spider and Son – HBO show about the early life of Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis.

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My most anticipated films of 2010

January 14, 2010 at 10:37 am (Movies, Tops)

After a surprisingly long delay, here’s the list with the films on my radar for 2010. Great, great stuff – this is shaping up to be yet another great year for movies. And number one – as mentioned before – is without any kind of doubt Nolan’s Inception. There are some other films that could have made the list, but it’s unsure whether they’ll be released in 2010 or pushed back to 2011.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my most anticipated films of 2010.

1. Inception (dir. Christopher Nolan)

2. Alice in Wonderland (dir. Tim Burton)

3. Black Swan (dir. Darren Aronofsky)

4. The Green Hornet (dir. Michel Gondry)

5. Machete (dir. Robert Rodriguez)

6. Shutter Island (dir. Martin Scorsese)

7. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (dir. Edgar Wright)

8. Never Let Me Go (dir. Mark Romanek)

9. Kick-Ass (dir. Matthew Vaughn)

10. The Social Network (dir. David Fincher)


Honorable mentions (random order):

The Expendables (dir. Sylvester Stallone)
The Last Airbender (dir. M. Night Shyamalan)
Wall Street 2 (dir. Oliver Stone)
Life During Wartime (dir. Todd Solondz)
Green Zone (dir. Paul Greengrass)
The Killer Inside Me (dir. Michael Winterbottom)
Somewhere (dir. Sofia Coppola)
The Tree of Life (dir. Terrence Malick)
Cop Out (dir. Kevin Smith)
The First Gun (dir. Zhang Yimou)
The American (dir. Anton Corbijn)
Biutiful (dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
Area 51 (dir. Oren Peli)
The Crazies (dir. Breck Eisner)
My Soul to Take (dir. Wes Craven)
Piranha 3D (dir. Alexandre Aja)
The Ward (dir. John Carpenter)

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A year in movies

December 28, 2009 at 12:59 pm (Movies, Tops)

2009 has been a great year for movies, at least for me. There were at least 6 films I really loved, more than in the previous year, plus many other very good films – most of them didn’t even make this list.

I have chosen the film of the year based on my current mood, but to be honest, any of these first 6 films could’ve been film of the year. They’re all outstanding and I recommend them to everyone.

I have taken into consideration only films that have been released in Romania (in theaters or in festivals). This is why some films I’ve seen and loved at Sitges, like The Road (to be released in 2010), Enter the Void or Mr. Nobody (still without a release date – not even for the States), are not on the list.

Anyway – here we go.

Film of the year:

Inglourious Basterds (dir: Quentin Tarantino)

After a fun film not to be taken very seriously (Death Proof), QT is back – and what a return! Basterds is thrilling, exciting, thoughtful, playful – a perfect proof of the mature-yet-not-really director Tarantino has become. It’s pure cinema entertainment, that contains some of the most memorable scenes of the year, and – by far – the most memorable character of 2009 (Hans Landa, obviously). It’s so good that, despite its unorthodox story and bloody violence, it snatched a bunch of noms for the Golden Globes – to be followed, hopefully, by some Academy love as well.

Rest of the Top Ten:

2. District 9 (dir. Neill Blomkamp) – part thriller, part SF, part political satire, part everything else you can think of, D9 is possibly 2009’s biggest revelation. Watch out for Blomkamp – something tells me there’s more to come.

3. Moon (dir. Duncan Jones) – a perfectly written story and an outstanding performance by Sam Rockwell in this surprising homage to SFs from the 80s. Big winner at Sitges & shown at the Iasi Festival in Romania.

4. The Wrestler (dir. Darren Aronofsky) – don’t get fooled by the title. This is a character drama, not a wrestling action film, with a great performance from Rourke.

5. Avatar 3D/IMAX (dir. James Cameron) – the 2D version of Avatar, despite being really good, wouldn’t have made the top ten. However, in 3D, this is a movie-going experience like nothing you’ve ever seen.

6. Zombieland (dir. Reuben Fleischer) – Harrelson hunting down Twinkies and Zombies, in the funniest film of 2009

7. Up (dir. Pete Docter) – I still think I like Wall-E better, but Up keeps the tradition of Pixar’s masterpieces. A lock-in for both Oscars and Golden Globes.

8. Watchmen (dir. Zack Snyder) – everything I ever wanted from a comic-book adaptation. Snyder’s visuals still amaze me.

9. Drag Me to Hell (dir. Sam Raimi) – what a joy for old-school horror fans! Raimi is back to his genre, with a great, fun flick that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

10. The Hurt Locker (dir. Kathryn Bigelow) – gripping, powerful Iraq war story.

For comments, well, use the comments. I will be back later, with my most anticipated films of 2010 list.

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A year in TV shows

December 26, 2009 at 6:12 pm (Tops, TV shows)

TV show of the year:

Dexter (season 4)

This is really a no-brainer. Four seasons, each better than the last. The fourth exceeded all expectations, offering a compelling storyline, a memorable villain and a shocking finale. Dexter is at a different level than everything else on TV, I cannot recommend it enough.

Runner-up:
Lost (season 5)
Ever since the producers decided to end the show after 6 seasons, Lost has been outstanding. Season 5 was as original and interesting as possible, while the final season is just around the corner.

Honorable mentions:
Breaking Bad (season 2) – fantastic little show from a small TV channel – very intriguing premise and great acting
Family Guy (seasons 7-8) – after all these years, still going strong. Passed South Park in my preferences as best animated show.
Fringe (seasons 1-2) – a modern version of the X-Files, with weird cases, conspiracy theories, and lots of action.
Weeds (season 5) – back in top shape after a disappointing fourth season
Curb Your Enthusiasm (season 7) – a really funny show, that became even funnier due to the Seinfeld reunion
True Blood (season 2) – vampire madness. Done right.

Some other awards:

Best new show: Flash Forward
Best sitcom: 30 Rock
Best animated show: Family Guy
Best crime drama: Flashpoint
Best action: 24
Best episode: The Dexter finale

I will not do a “most anticipated” list, because the new TV season is really far away (autumn 2010).

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow, for the most important list of them all: the best movies of 2009.

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A year in video games

December 25, 2009 at 2:52 pm (Games, Tops)

I know I rarely post about video games, but I do play them. These are my fave games of 2009 – with the note that I only play on the PS3 (and sometimes on the PC, mostly adventure games). This is why the list doesn’t contain any XBOX or Wii games.

Game of the year:

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3 exclusive)

With this sequel, developers Naughty Dog set the new standard for action-adventure games. Uncharted 2 is simply amazing – with a great story, great characters, breathtaking visuals, and the best campaign I’ve probably ever played. If I were to list the most memorable scenes I’ve played in 2009, I’m sure most of them would be from this game. 10/10

Runner-up:
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3, XBOX, PC)
A great sequel to an amazing series, featuring one of the most disturbing missions ever, and an awesome co-op and multiplayer campaign.

Honorable mentions:
Tales of Monkey Island (PC) – Telltale Games brought back the amazing adventures of Guybrush Threepwood – and they’re still great.
Brutal Legend (PS3, XBOX360) – Kicking ass with the power of heavy metal and a character based on Jack Black. Fun fun fun.
MLB 09: The Show (PS3 exclusive) – If you’re into baseball, this is the annual series you need.
Killzone 2 (PS3 exclusive) – great shooter, however miles behind the level of excellence set by COD.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
(PS3, XBOX, PC) – fantastic addition to the Batman universe.

Some other awards:

Biggest surprise: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Biggest disappointment: Football Manager Live
Best PS3 game: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Best sports game: MLB 09: The Show
Best visuals: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Best scene: the train sequence (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves)

Most anticipated games of 2010

1. Heavy Rain (PS3 exclusive) – february 2010
2. Bioshock 2 – 09.02.2010
3. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – march 2010
4. God of War 3 – march 2010
5. Thief 4 – TBA 2010
6. Red Dead Redemption – 27.04.2010
7. Gran Turismo 5 – march 2010
8. Mafia II – 03.05.2010
9. Postal 3 – TBA 2010
10. Guillermo Del Toro’s Sundown – TBA 2010

Just like with music, video games TBA releases aren’t certain. Some games on the list might be pushed back to 2011, some others might be announced during the year.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow – for my fave TV shows, and then on Sunday, for the best movies of 2009.

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A year in music

December 24, 2009 at 1:08 pm (Music, Tops)

Because, during this year, I have not listened to 10 new albums worth recommending, I will avoid doing a proper top ten for music. However, I will tell you this:

Album of the Year:

Rishloo – “Feathergun”.

I know most of you have never heard about this band. Well, you should change that. Rishloo’s third full-length album completely blew me away. It’s the perfect mix of alternative, progressive, metal and art-rock, with fantastic lyrics and extremely complex songwriting. An amazing concept album about escaping from reality inside one’s mind, through dreams, memories, hopes and fantasy. 10/10.

Runner-up:
Dredg – “The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion”.
Dredg is back to their conceptual roots after a somewhat lackluster third album. The new stuff, however, is fantastic.

Honorable mentions:
Alice in Chains – “Black Gives Way to Blue” – great return from one of my fave 90s bands.
Mastodon – “Crack the Skye” – best metal album of the year, hands down.
Thrice – “Beggars” – can this be Thrice’s “The Bends”? I love the direction in which this band is heading.
Chevelle – “Sci-Fi Crimes” – post-grunge at its finest.
Fightstar – “Be Human” – now with an orchestra and even more over-the-top hard-rockers
Isis – “Wavering Radiant” – more awesome stuff from the kings of post-metal

Best Romanian album:
Luna Amara – “Don’t Let Your Dreams Fall Asleep” – if you don’t mind their semi-acoustic side, you’ll love this. Great songwriting, lyrics and an all-round great effort

Some other “awards”: 🙂

Biggest discovery: Rishloo – “Feathergun”
Biggest disappointment: Muse – “The Resistance”
Best artwork: Dredg – “The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion”
Best lyrics: Rishloo – “Feathergun”
Best film about music: “The Boat that Rocked”
Best video game about music: “Guitar Hero: Metallica”
Hottest rock chick: Hayley Williams – Paramore

Most anticipated albums of 2010

This is hard to do, because, except for a few albums, most don’t have release dates, or names, or any other details – except for the fact that the respective band plans to release something new. This is why it’s possible many of the albums listed below will be pushed back to 2011.

Some of the possible bands that might release albums in 2010 (ordered by my level of anticipation):
Tool
Radiohead
Deftones (release date: April 27th)
Sigur Ros
Glassjaw
Oceansize (planned release: March)
Slipknot
Silverchair
Limp Bizkit
Linkin Park
Stone Sour

Come back tomorrow – for the best video games of 2009 😉

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