With 2011 almost over, it’s time for my third annual Top 10 Movies of the Year list. While not as strong as last year, we definitely had some gems. And this year more than any other year, the summer blockbusters out did the more Oscar friendly fare. In fact, the awards season kind of sucked. But don’t worry, we got a good mix of superheroes, comedy, and…silent films? Let’s get to it: The Best Movies of 2011.
10) Midnight in Paris
-Clever as hell, and a lot of fun. I didn’t really know anything about this before going in, and I’m glad I didn’t. This has to be Owen Wilson’s best work since 2001’s the Royal Tenenbaums. Everyone in the cast is fantastic, especially Marion Cotillard as Adriana, the woman of Owen Wilson’s character’s (Gil) desires when he enters the 1920’s literary world. Woody Allen hits this out of the park. We have no idea how this little fantasy world works, but we don’t care…its pure fun.
9) Captain America: The First Avenger
-A great start to a superhero franchise. Chris Evans really sells you on this character, especially when he’s skinny Steve Rogers. And this is one of the few superhero films that actually has a charismatic leading lady in Hayley Atwell. And how can you go wrong with Hugo Weaving as a villain? Great cast, great hero, great villain, and great score, this was one stellar ride.
8) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II
-While this is eighth on my list, it should have been one. This is the most disappointing film of the year. The last fifteen minutes (not including the epilogue) are a complete joke. The final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort, and everything going on around it was a huge misfire. It de-rails the entire movie. It’s really a shame, because everything leading up to it met my expectations. Alan Rickman was incredible as Snape, and this movie really does have some truly powerful moments, but the cartoonish and comedic final battle hinders it from reaching legendary status.
7) Rise of the Planet of the Apes
-Certainly the biggest surprise of the year. After Tim Burton’s 2001 re-make of the original, I completely wrote this franchise off. I could have cared less about this film. But when I started hearing about how great it was, I had to check it out, and wow, it was spectacular. I’m not going to sit here and say Andy Serkis should be nominated for an Oscar, but what he does as Caesar the Ape is impressive. And that’s the real heart of the movie. But the human characters are also strong. Even James Franco gives a good performance, and I normally don’t like him. But Caesar is the star of the show, and he’s one of the more compelling characters of the year.
-This is a really funny movie, but not in a laugh-out-loud kind of way, more of a chuckle to yourself kind of way. This is just four characters going at it in one setting for eighty minutes, that’s it. When the child of one pair of parents hits the child of another pair of parents, they meet and talk it out, but it just spins out of control as these people go ape shit towards each other, and it’s just hysterical to watch. Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz, and Kate Winslet are a winning ensemble.
5) The Artist
-This is a silent film, and I was very skeptical, thinking it was going to be nothing more than a gimmick with no real substance. I was dead wrong, as the way it uses silence to tell its story is just brilliant. Director Michel Hazanavicius is masterful as the tone shifts from light and happy to heavy and dark, but the transition is seamless. The two leads (Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo) really give this film its charisma though. Trust me, I could careless about silent films, but I loved this movie. Don’t be afraid, and check it out.
-The perfect blend of high octane action and character development. Director Kenneth Branagh went into this with a very serious approach, taking cartoonish and silly material, and turning it into compelling drama. Not only are the visuals glorious to look at, but the acting is top-notch, especially newcomer Chris Hemsworth as Thor, who just commands the screen.
-If you weren’t already excited about Tom Hardy’s upcoming performance as Bane in next summer’s the Dark Knight Rises, just go see Warrior. Not only does Hardy give one of the best performances of the year, but his fighting scenes are absolutely vicious. Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte are also equally impressive. This film takes the sports movie genre and turns it on its head. It’s packed with big time emotion. The final scene is my personal favorite from any movie this whole year. It’s been compared to the Fighter, but I say it’s ten times better.
2) X-Men: First Class
-It gave me Batman Begins vibes, and when you start throwing around those comparisons, you know you got something special. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr out-do Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. There had been four X-Men related films before this, and First Class is by far the best. There’s so much shit going on, including great performances by Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique and Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast. What impressed me about this film most of all is that you know the ending, but it’s still heartbreaking to watch. First Class is riveting from start to finish.
-I had no idea what to expect with this film, and when the credits rolled, I was in total awe. Ryan Gosling gives the best performance of the year with barely any dialogue. His facial expressions could cut through steel. He is absolutely fascinating. The supporting cast of Bryan Cranston, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, and Ron Perlman are also brilliant. The tone of this film is so intense, and I was just on the edge of my seat the entire time. The music is outstanding. This is the #1 film of the year with a bullet.
A great TV theme song can sometimes outlast the actual show in terms of legendary status. In some cases, the theme song is the best part of the show. When you’re watching an episode, maybe you’re disappointed the theme is over and everything else from there is just a let down. Well I’m here to bring you my personal top 10 TV themes. I’ve got a mix of no brainers and odd ones. I try not to let the actual opening credit sequence influence me and just focus on the music itself. Now, let me be very clear: I am no music expert. I can barely tell a guitar from a bass. I have no idea what’s going on in terms of actual notes. These are just the themes that for whatever reason hit me hard. Here we go…
Honorable Mentions: Ducktales, Cheers, Ren and Stimpy, and CHIPS.
10) The Simpsons Theme
-To be honest, I really had to shoe horn this one in. I think it’s a really good song, but it’s more so the show itself that got it on the list. But it ultimately makes the cut for the first five seconds of, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimpppppppppsons.”
9) The Saved by the Bell Theme
-When I hear that bell ring, I get all jittery. The lyrics in general are amazing, but it’s really the chorus that drives it home. “It’s allllright, because I’m Saved by the Bell.” It’s also got that rocking guitar going. I think of this song as an amalgam of post eighties/early nineties. I think the Saved by the Bell theme is a symbol, bridging the music between the two decades. But the song really goes crazy at the end where they repeat “It’s alright, because I’m saved by the…” three times before finally ending strong with “Bell.” Amazing.
8 – The early 90’s X-Men Theme
-What can I say? It’s just really bad ass, epic, and intense. This one is a lot better though when watching it with the opening theme sequence, especially towards the end when you see Professor X and Magneto lead their respective teams and run at one another.
7) The 60’s Batman Theme
-The lyrics consist of one word if you don’t count the “da-da-da-da-da” at the end, but it’s all you need. Even if you aren’t watching the opening sequence, you can imagine the “Bams” and “Pows” as you hear the music.
6) The Original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Theme
-First of all, more than any other TV theme in existence, it gives you the back story and character traits succinctly and flawlessly. Everyone knows that “Leonardo leads,” “Donatello does machines,” “Raphael is cool but crude,” and “Michelangelo is a party dude,” because the theme song was so damn good. They remixed it for the last three seasons, and it’s actually a solid rendition, but a little darker.
5) The NCAA March Madness Basketball Theme
-I have a love/hate relationship with this theme song. Sometimes I hear it and get pumped up because I know it means 55 different basketball games are about to be played at the same time. But other times it makes me want to rip up my terrible brackets. Nevertheless, it truly is an amazing piece of music. I can actually hear brackets being filled out as I hear it.
4) The Monday Night Football Theme
-It may be the most iconic theme on the list. When I hear those horns blast, I can’t tell you the adrenaline rush I get. And it just keeps building and building the intensity level as the theme goes on. But at the end, they circle back to how it begins. For some, the song may represent failed dreams and heartbreak, but one thing’s for sure; when you hear it, it’s time for football.
3) The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Theme
-This may be the best thing Will Smith has ever and will ever do. I fricking love this song. It’s sleek, funny, cool, and even suspenseful at times. When he’s singing “When a couple of guys, who were up to no good,” there’s almost this chilling beat to it. Now there’s both a long and short version. I think the shorter is superior. This one is enhanced a lot by watching the credit sequence, especially when he does that crazy head spin.
2) The People’s Court Theme
-I’m convinced this show was popular solely because of the theme. Look, Judge Wapner was awesome, but the theme…holy shit. This defines the word ‘intensity.’ I can’t put into words how awesome this song is. It’s called ‘the big one’ which you can download on iTunes. It’s over four minutes long, but honestly, it’s not long enough. The thing turns into a horror song at one point. But really, I consider this song all genres of music rolled into one super song. I can dance to it, run to it, listen to it while I work, and just get generally inspired by it. In fact, this theme inspired me to do the list. So if this isn’t number one, what on earth could be…
1) The Seinfeld Theme
-I think it’s the only choice. More than any other theme, you can instantly recall episodes, dialogue, character moments, just anything having to do with the show within the first two seconds of the song. Seinfeld just floods your brain when you hear that bass kick in. And let’s just think about the music in general. Would Seinfeld have been the phenomenon that it is if this iconic music didn’t exist? Probably…but it’s a legit question. I think it’s only fitting that we end on the best theme that represents the best TV show ever.
This was a damn good year for movies. There weren’t a lot of good movies, but there were a handful of great ones. It was truly a quality not quantity year. Especially my top six, which are all fantastic and they are films I will continue to watch over and over again. But let’s cut the crap and get into it…My Top 10 Movies of 2010.
10) The Kids Are All Right
-Great acting all around here, but most notably Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo. Dramedies are hard to do, but this blends the two elements perfectly. What I really love about this movie is the ending. The very last scene really hits hard. You get some intense shouting matches, and the tension between Bening and Ruffalo is truly the meat of the film.
9) I Love You Phillip Morris
-What’s amazing is this is based on a true story. Jim Carrey is such a damn good actor, and I hope someday he gets an Oscar. The movie starts out a little slow, but gets progressively better as Carrey plays Steven Russell, a gay con-man who is just fricking nuts. His schemes get crazier and crazier, but they also get funnier and funnier. But at the heart of this insane character there is a lot of drama playing out. Ewan McGregor as Phillip Morris is also up to par with Carrey’s acting.
8 – The Fighter
-The only reason this movie is on the list is because of Christian Bale who gives the best performance of the year as cracked out former boxer Dickie Eklund. Bale is so fricking good in this movie. He’s so good, poor Mark Wahlberg melts away when they’re on screen together. The scene towards the end where Dickie has to give Mickey Ward a pump up speech is delivered so well, I was shaking in the theater. Also, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams are great too, but this is all about Bale, Bale, Bale.
-If you had to describe Kick-Ass in one word it would be “fun.” Everyone talks about Chloe Grace Moretz as the little girl who slaughters a gazillion people, but Nicolas Cage’s one scene where he gets to fight as his alter ego “Big Daddy” was so bad ass, I can’t even put it into words. The movie goes on a little long and gets a little too crazy towards the end, but the best part about Kick-Ass is that it’s about five genres of film happening at once and they all work seamlessly.
6) Hot Tub Time Machine
-Let me tell you something; I haven’t laughed this hard at a movie in years. I’m a negative nelly when it comes to comedies today. I’m not a Steve Carell fan. I don’t like the Judd Apatow gang. Comedies to me are no where near where they were in the 80’s and 90’s. But for one glorious day, Hot Tub Time Machine really did take me back in time to the good ole days. It’s just a bunch of regular guys with hysterical dialogue. It didn’t need a Will Ferrell or Zach Galifianakis gimmick. The foursome of John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, and especially Rob Corddry just trusted the script and delivered with great comic timing. I’m saddened no one cared or saw this movie. The Hangover may be a better constructed story, but most of its jokes relied on shock value. Hot Tub Time Machine consistently made me laugh for ninety minutes.
5) Black Swan
-For years I didn’t know if Natalie Portman was a good actress. She’s terrible in the Star Wars Prequels and even in V for Vendetta I felt she was the weak link. But now I know…OMFG. Her acting at the end of this movie was frightening. Darren Aronofsky is one of the best directors in Hollywood today. He just unloads the most maddening and depressing images like they’re on sale at Wal-Mart. Mila Kunis is great also, but its Aronofsky and Portman who will have you reflecting on this one for days.
4) Toy Story 3
-This is Pixar’s best movie by far. I’ve never cried over a movie, but this fricking toy opus really tested my resolve. It’s clever, it’s funny, and it’s bitter sweet in the end. The other two Toy Story movies look like Caddyshack 2 by comparison. (Spoilers Next) The scene where the toys go through the garbage furnace was some of the most intense suspense I’ve ever experienced in a theater.
3) The Social Network
-I get so turned off by Aaron Sorkin’s pretentious and fast talking bull shit, but now I’m his biggest fan after the Social Network. There are like 95 unbelievable speeches and monologues in this movie. And I’ve never been a David Fincher fan either, but now I can’t wait to see what he does next. What’s so fascinating about his direction is that he had me siding with the biggest asshole of all time. But Jesse Eisenberg is so funny and direct when playing Mark Zuckerberg that I just had to root for him. But the man who steals the show is Justin Timberlake. Forget your music career Justin, go act more. He should be nominated for an Oscar, but he won’t. Bottom line though; this movie kicks ass and has great replay value.
2) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
-Don’t be fooled by its elaborate special effects and big budget…this is a character driven piece, and it’s a damn good one. Much like 2009’s Star Trek, there is so much flashiness surrounding everything, but you still care more about the characters rather than what’s around them. This is high on my list because there are so many great scenes that I can’t even decipher which ones are my favorites. I could go with Ron opening the horcrux…or maybe the terrifying Voldemort scene at Malfoy Manner where he basically makes twenty Dark Wizards shit their pants. Or how about the opening montage where Hermione erases her parents memories to protect them. That’s some serious shit. And the three main actors just aren’t getting enough credit. They are spectacular. This movie is well over 2 hours long, but it flies by for me. I love this film.
-When I read that there was a sci-fi movie in the works directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it was destined to be number one on my list. How much fun is it to talk about this movie? I could talk about it for days. This film is flawless. It’s original, it’s got great characters, the story is off the charts, and not to mention it may have the greatest fight in the history of cinema. It will be a crime if Hans Zimmer’s score doesn’t win an Oscar for Best Score. I really have nothing else to say about Inception that hasn’t already been said…it truly is the king of 2010 movies.
Whether it’s a movie, TV show, video game, or whatever, people seem to be more fascinated by villains and bad guys rather than the heroes. What makes a good villain is hard to say. For me personally, I like all kinds of villains. I like the ones that have the grandest of aspirations such as world domination. The psycho path villains are always fun too. And sometimes I just like the comedic villains.
Well I’d like to offer my personal favorite top 25 villains. And I’m not fucking around here. My bad guys come from all mediums in entertainment including movies, TV, comics, books, video games, or whatever tickles my fancy. Be prepared because I may spoil whatever series these guys are involved in. Also, there is a lot of Batman on here…deal with it.
25) Dark Helmet (Spaceballs)
-The feared Commander of Spaceball 1. Maybe his decisions were a little off at times, like going to ludicrous speed and not wearing a seat-belt. And he has a propensity to play with dolls. But trust me: you don’t want to be on this guy’s bad side. If anyone screwed up, Helmet would take his Schwartz ring and…you don’t want to know. He was also a skilled fighter despite getting the downside of the Schwartz.
24) Punch-Out’s Mike Tyson (Punch-Out!)
-This has nothing to do with the real Tyson. The Video Game version is a lot more frightening. Nearly impossible to beat, Tyson drove video gamers mad. The first 90 seconds of the Tyson fight is dodging punches. One hit and you’re down. That’s just not fair.
23) Judge Doom (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)
-A man consumed with hatred for toons, but who would have guessed he’s a toon himself! Who drew this psycho path? What really makes him villainous is that he actually created a liquid that kills his own kind – “the dip.” Not only that, he’s willing to wipe out his whole race in order to build a highway. Now that’s a villain.
22) Newman (Seinfeld)
-“I’ve looked into his eyes…he’s pure evil.” That’s a quote from Jerry Seinfeld on his arch-nemesis Newman. Not only was Newman a mail man who “controlled information,” he was a devious jackass who was more selfish than Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer put together. But he was always a thorn in Jerry’s side. How about the time he ratted him out to his barber that he was getting a haircut from someone else. Or how about when he told Jerry’s parents that he and his girlfriend were making out during Schindler’s List. Always be aware of Mr. Newman, especially when there are chunky wrappers around.
21) John Kreese (The Karate Kid)
-We all remember the line: “Sweep the leg.” This man wanted nothing more than to fuck with the lives of Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi. How can you not fear the man who’s leader of the Kobra Kai dojo? Although he gets humiliated by Miyagi on several occasions, he always comes back for more. “Kobra Kai…never die!”
20) Chong Li (Bloodsport)
-He’s notorious for killing an opponent in the previous Kumite. He holds numerous Kumite records. That is until Frank Dux comes to town. But what really made him scary were his last two fights before going up against Dux in the finals. He ripped off Ray Jackson’s Harley-Davidson head band and put him in the hospital. And then in the semi-finals, he kills his opponent and shouts at Dux, “You are next” while the entire room is still observing a moment of silence for the guy he just killed. Wow. What a dickbag.
19) Krang (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
-The Ruler of Dimension X. He’s literally the brains of the operation. Yes, Krang is actually a brain. Constantly surrounded by stupidity and always looking for an energy source to power his beloved Technodrome, Krang didn’t seem all that threatening. But whenever he personally fought the turtles, he was pretty bad ass. Whether it’s using his molecular enhancer chip to grow over 100 feet tall or morphing his hands into deadly weapons, Krang was one evil ruler you didn’t want to fuck with.
18) Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII)
-He’s just your ordinary everyday villain who was created with alien cells. But it’s not until the very last fight when you crap your pants and say “OMG.” Let me sum up Sephiroth with this: He has an attack where he summons a Super Nova.
17) Scarecrow (Batman)
-The Master of Fear. Probably one of the greatest weapons ever forged by a super villain: the fear gas. One spray sends anyone into a hallucinogenic state where everything around you is your greatest nightmare. Although I guess if you punch him before he sprays you, you’re fine.
16) Biff Tannen (Back to the Future)
-What a “butt-head.” In the first Back to the Future, he’s just kind of a jackass. But in Part II, he’s the evil corporate ruler of a deranged alternate timeline. This is all because Marty had to buy that stupid sports almanac. In this alternate timeline, not only does Biff kill Marty’s pop, but he marries his mother. It doesn’t get more evil than that.
15) Bane (Batman: Knightfall)
-Known famous in the Knightfall comic storyline, he’s the man who broke the bat. What other Batman villain can say, “I discovered Batman’s identity, broke into his Batcave, beat the shit out of him and then broke his back.” Not much else to say.
14) Ra’s Al Ghul (Batman)
-A man with good intentions, but his means are pure evil. Whether it’s the Batman Begins version where he wants to “tear Gotham apart with fear” or in the animated series in which he basically wants to erase the world and start again, Ra’s Al Ghul is one bad dude. You also have to give props to the guy for living for hundreds of years via Lazarus Pit.
13) Lex Luthor (Superman)
-I love this character because he just hates his enemy (Superman) so damn much. It’s “Mind over Matter” for Mr. Luthor. He’s very similar to Ra’s Al Ghul in that he wants to destroy and re-make the world. Gene Hackman played him to perfection in the first two Superman movies, but I have to say a close second is Michael Rosenbaum on Smallville. I’m not kidding.
12) Two-Face (Batman)
-He decides his victim’s fates by the flip of the coin. This is probably the first villain on the list who has a truly tragic story. When I think of Two-Face, I usually think of the Two-Face from the Dark Knight. Although he was overshadowed by the Joker in that film, make no mistake, he became pretty damn evil. Not even the Joker pointed a gun at a kid. Yikes.
11) Voldemort (Harry Potter)
-He doesn’t even know what the word remorse means. This guy is so evil that killing people is part of his plan to live forever. But what it all boils down to is that he was so feared, wizards couldn’t even speak his name even after he “died.” Now that’s respect.
10) Ivan Drago (Rocky IV)
-First of all, he kills Apollo Creed. That’s enough right there to get him on the top 10. But he basically only has 4 lines in Rocky IV, and this is what they are. “You will lose.” “If he dies, he dies.” “I must break you.” And then he shouts towards the Russian politburo, “I win for me…FOR ME.” Bad Ass.
9) Bowser (Mario Brothers)
-How many times has this guy survived? He’s been dropped in a lava pit. Then he falls off the ledge of his own castle in Mario 3. His clown-chopper goes out of control at high altitude. He’s been rammed into countless spiked bombs. He just keeps coming back, no matter how many times Mario kills him. Although his minions are morons, he is not. But I think his most devastating act was his most recent in Mario Galaxy when he attempted to create his own Galaxy that hovered directly over the Mushroom Kingdom. And make no mistake…he puts his enemy (Mario) through some pretty ridiculous puzzles and death traps.
8 – Big Boy Caprice (Dick Tracy)
-He may have been an eccentric crime lord, but he was a good one. Not many crime lords can say they consolidated all their rivals and made himself boss with virtually no challengers. He has a solid right hand man in Flattop and is very crafty in all his dealings. With a love for walnuts and the ability to always pull out a great historical quote, it’s no wonder Dick Tracy was obsessed with bringing him down.
7) The Riddler (Batman)
-Willing to kill people just to fuel his obsession with puzzles and games. He loved to play with Batman, claiming he was the only one worthy of his riddles. Ultimately he wanted all the knowledge in the world, and thrived on knowing answers to questions that no one else did. Not many of Batman’s villains tortured him with words, but the Riddler did.
6) Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
-Whether you follow the cartoon series or live-action movie or whatever else, Shredder was always a bad man. With an entire costume made up of spikes and needles, this ninja master caused so many problems for the ninja turtles. Although he could ultimately never defeat his rival Yoshi/Splinter, he always destroyed the turtles and even defeated them all at once. But by far his scariest moment came in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze when he drank an entire canister of ooze and became Super Shredder. I was 7 years old when I saw this, and I was scared out of my mind for the turtles.
5) Season 1 Sylar (Heroes)
-Yea, yea, I know everyone hates Heroes. Fine. Just forget the recent seasons where Sylar is trying to find himself and think back to Season 1 only. This was a villain no one had ever seen before. A mentally unstable psycho path who opened people’s brains and took their special abilities. His super power of “understanding how things worked” is to this day one of the most intriguing super human abilities ever introduced in any movie, TV or book. Although later in the series he dealt with mommy and daddy issues, and is even good at times, there is no denying this guy’s evil nature in the first season. His quest for power was fascinating to watch.
4) Magneto (X-Men)
-Some may even argue that he’s not even a true villain. Well he is. But he’s the only villain I know who works with his enemies from time to time. How can you not be interested in a villain who when his greatest enemy was killed, mourned him terribly. More than any other villain on this list, you understand his anger and frustration at the world. Although he is wrong for doing what he does and you want the X-Men to defeat him, he ultimately may be right about humans never accepting his kind.
3) Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars)
-Maybe the greatest master plan of all time. This Sith Lord was an evil genius 20 years in the making. He orchestrated the events of an entire galaxy for years. And when you think back to the prequels, he didn’t just win…he won with authority. The Jedi Council, supposedly this all knowing group of great warriors, were taken out in a matter of minutes because of his doing. Yoda and Mace Windu were 100% clueless. He makes the Galaxy his Empire. He steals the Jedi’s “Chosen One” in Anakin Skywalker. He ruled hundreds of star systems for decades. Out of all the villains on the list, he was the most successful.
2) The Joker (Batman)
-We’ve all seen the Dark Knight. We know the Joker is a very different kind of villain. He doesn’t care about World Domination. He doesn’t want to kill his enemy. In fact, he thrives on keeping Batman alive so he can torture him for all eternity. This is a villain who just wants the world to be as crazy as he is. Not only is he a raving lunatic, but his fighting style is unpredictable. Whether it’s an electric hand buzzer or knife in the shoe, Joker can never just kill his victim. He’s got to do it with style. I think to really break down this character we have to look at what he’s done in his villainous career. He paralyzed Commissioner’s Gordon’s daughter and then showed pictures of it to him in an attempt to drive him crazy. He beats the second Robin repeatedly with a crow bar and then blows him up. And he loves to kill people by means of gas, forcing them to laugh to death. Whether it’s Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Mark Hamill in the animated series or just the comic books, Joker is always demented and driving everyone he meets to the brink of insanity.
1) Darth Vader (Star Wars)
-He slices his son’s arm off. He destroys entire rooms with a single thought. He force chokes people from miles away while talking to them on a television monitor. And best of all…he’s voiced by James Earl Jones. And it’s not just the voice that cements him as the greatest villain of all time. He utilizes that voice with some bad ass lines. Check these out:
“All too easy”
“Impressive. Most Impressive”
“I find your lack of faith disturbing”
“Apology Accepted Captain Needa”
I’m kidding about the last one, but regardless, when I think of villains, Darth Vader is the first one that comes to mind. And even though he ultimately redeems himself at the end, this is one evil asshole who kills people with the greatest signature move of all time. But the voice truly makes him not only the most memorable bad guy, but one of the most memorable characters in any medium period. Even though you never see his face till the very end, you could always feel what his emotions were behind that mask because of that cool ass voice. His breathing will be iconic till the end of time. Darth Vader is the only choice for #1. His mask is a symbol for evildoers everywhere.
So that’s my list. How ironic that the list began with a parody of my #1 villain. As Neo would say, “Whoa.”
Okay, here it is; the 175th Top 10 Movies of the Decade list. To be honest, I did this very quickly. Yes, I had a large list in front of me, but I made cuts fast. I wanted to go on gut reaction, which I think is always the truest test of what you really think. So here it is: Ten years…just ten movies.
(2000 through 2009 are eligible)
Honorable Mentions: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Miracle, and Unbreakable.
10) Traffic (2000):
-Although now it seems like director Steven Soderbergh only makes Ocean’s 25 movies, 2000 was his time to shine. He released Erin Brockovich the same year as Traffic, another strong film. But Traffic is his crowning achievement. This movie has about 20 storylines going on from several points of view on the war on drugs, and they are all equally riveting. Also, let’s not forget an especially phenomenal performance from Benicio Del Toro.
9) Catch Me if You Can (2002):
-Talk about replay value. I can watch this movie all day. It’s very addicting. And every big scene is basically the same – Leonardo DiCaprio does something really bad ass to fake out Tom Hanks. You just couldn’t wait to see what con-artist Frank Abagnale did next. It’s a great performance by DiCaprio to keep the same shtick fresh throughout this 2 hour plus movie. Oh yea, and Christopher Walken is an added bonus.
8 – Batman Begins (2005):
-It revitalized a franchise that was on life support. After 1997’s Batman and Robin, considered one of the worst movies ever made, I had no expectations for this film. Yea, the trailers looked great, but I had no faith in Warner Brothers. I went to see it, and I left in total shock. Wow. (Spoilers Next) I also had never been more surprised when watching a movie when its revealed that Liam Neeson’s character turns out to be Ra’s Al Ghul. Great twist. And I was even more stunned when I saw a Joker card revealed at the end of the movie. Now that’s what I’m talking about!!! Great twists…Great movie.
7) The Wrestler (2008):
-Mickey Rourke…wow. Believe it or not, there are other things to talk about with this movie that are equal to Rourke’s performance. Darren Aronofsky’s direction is flawless from the opening credits to the chilling fade to black. Part of what makes a movie great are great scenes, and they come in bunches in the Wrestler. And no, you don’t have to know anything about wrestling to appreciate it.
6) Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005):
-Get over it. This is a phenomenal film. Let’s just think about this for a second. If Star Wars never existed and this was a movie that just came out under a different name, people would have gone ape shit over it. But because it holds the name Star Wars, people grudgingly accept the fact that Episode III is…not terrible. Not terrible! Yes, it has some dialogue and acting flaws here and there, but come on. People who say the duel on the lava planet was just ‘meh’ are in serious denial. Palpatine is a great villain, and wonderfully performed by Ian McDiarmid. This is one of the most entertaining films I’ve ever seen. What really grinds my gears is that people discredit the entire movie just because Darth Vader cries out “Nooooooooooooo,” at the end. Really? One word ruins the entire movie. Give me a break. Episodes I and II suck. But this movie has the emotional impact you crave. I will defend this as a great movie to the death.
5) The Departed (2006):
-Brilliantly acted and directed. It’s no surprise it’s a Martin Scorsese movie. There are so many memorable performances, but if I had to single out one, it would be Leonardo DiCaprio as Billy Costigan. This guy is just racked with pain and insecurities, yet he’s able to handle some serious pressure cooker situations. It’s the cops VS the mob, where the entire film centers on “rats” trying to fish out other “rats.” The tension in some of these scenes is some of the most intense I’ve ever experienced in a movie theatre. This is credit to the great actors, but its Scorsese who makes this film a classic.
4) The Aviator (2004):
-Hey, look at that, another Scorsese movie. Although as great as he is in the directing chair, this one is more DiCaprio’s show. He is holy shit good as genius/obsessive compulsive disorder victim Howard Hughes. For me it’s the second best performance of the entire decade. It’s hard to describe. The tone and control of his voice is nothing short of perfection of a man who is in control of everything but himself. The last few seconds of this movie sums up his performance in a nutshell. Please see this one if you haven’t.
3) Friday Night Lights (2004):
-Based on a true story. This is not some typical sports movie cliché bull shit. I am so fascinated with this film. We center on a high school football team in Texas, and although they are celebrities of the school and town, they are anything but happy. The entire weight of the world is on their shoulders. They don’t want to just “win the big one,” but they have to win it. Billy Bob Thornton as Coach Gary Gaines is outstanding, but I want to talk about Lucas Black as QB Mike Winchell. Whenever you see high school QB’s in a movie, they are on top of the world and loving life. This guy is the exact opposite and is just one giant ball of stress. It’s an outstanding performance. The line that really sums this film up though is when one of the characters asks, “Do you feel seventeen?” I guess a lot of the events in the movie I’ve read aren’t accurate. I don’t care. It makes for a great movie. Also, the score is flat out awesome.
2) The Royal Tenenbaums (2001):
-It’s depressing and hilarious at the same time, but unlike most dramedies, it works. Director Wes Anderson really does create his own little world around these eccentric, but insanely entertaining characters. It really feels like they are the only people who live on the planet. The performances here are second only to the Godfather movies. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson for crying out loud are fantastic. Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum is the most likable asshole I’ve ever seen in a movie. This really is like reading a book, but I mean that in a good way. Well, maybe more like listening to a book on tape because Alec Baldwin’s narration is damn good.
1) The Dark Knight (2008):
-As much as I love all the movies on this list, not only is the Dark Knight the best movie of the decade, it’s the best movie of the decade by far. Heath Ledger gives the single best performance of the decade. This is a movie that when I watched in the theatre, I really had no idea when or how it was going to end. This movie has been talked about to death, so I really have nothing more to say on the matter.
A record breaking box office. Countless blockbusters. Mediocre movies. 2009 was not a strong year for film. Although I think I’m being unfair considering it had to follow 2008, one of the best years of movies in my lifetime. But there were certainly some gems to be sure, and here they are….My top 10 movies of 2009.
10) The Hurt Locker
-A little repetitive, but the tension is directed so well by Kathryn Bigelow, I’ll forgive it. But the real star of the movie is Jeremy Renner as the lead William James. His character was really interesting, especially towards the end. In fact, this movie was just okay, but it’s the last third that really elevates it. A great ending. The Hurt Locker: A good movie, but a little overhyped.
-Liam Neeson=OMG. You know the movie. Guy’s daughter gets kidnapped. Guy was former government bad ass. Guy goes after kidnappers and kills a lot of people. Even though the heroes in these types of films are guys you don’t want to fuck with, they still have their difficult moments and some grind it out fights. What makes Taken so strange is that Liam Neeson just wrecks everyone in this. He’s never really challenged. It’s like the equivalent of the Yankees playing the Nationals…just devastating.
8 – Up in the Air
-Great beginning. Great ending. Okay middle. Unfortunately this one goes through some major lulls in the middle, but the performances really carry it. And it’s not just George Clooney. Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, and even some solid cameos from Jason Bateman and Danny McBride are all on the same playing field as Clooney. But make no mistake, this is his opus. Despite a slight twist at the end, it’s a very predictable movie, which hinders it from being higher on the list…but a nice little film to be sure.
7) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
-Certainly the surprise of the year. Not only did this one have a great story, but it was hysterical. And it wasn’t just funny for kids; it’s a legitimately funny film. I love the animation in this. Staring at the giant food was mesmerizing. Let’s not forget about the fantastic voice acting. Go see this one. It will put a smile on your face.
6) District 9
-A well crafted piece of sci-fi entertainment. I went in to this with so much negativity thinking it was going to be nothing but a gimmick. But what I got instead was a gripping story and two characters that drew me in emotionally ten times over. And this is how you do special effects; not drawing attention to them every two seconds, and in the background as an afterthought. Despite the third act dragging on and being plagued with too many character twists, there is no denying this film’s greatness. Also, Sharlto Copley as Wikus, the main character…best performance of the year.
5) Inglorious Bastards
-Every time I’m about to see a Quentin Tarantino movie, I think I’m going to hate it, but in the end, I love every minute. The trailer for this movie was obnoxious. Brad Pitt seemed annoying, and it just looked really unappealing. Although Tarantino’s big important scenes go on way too long, he always keeps you glued to the screen. The climax is extremely satisfying and in perfect parallel to how it begins. And I couldn’t have been more wrong about Brad Pitt’s character. Christoph Waltz is a brilliant villain who will probably get nominated for an Oscar. The best part about this movie is that it just has so many OMG moments that only Tarantino can deliver.
4) The Fantastic Mr. Fox
-This is a near perfect comedy. For me, this is one of George Clooney’s best performances ever, and it’s a voice over. The story is ‘meh’ but the characters are not. The relationships and conflicts in this movie are hilarious and sad at the same time, which is what Wes Anderson does best. The stop motion is fun to watch, but the voice talents are even better to listen to. Jason Schwartzman rules.
-Talk about being alone on an island. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one to have Watchmen on a Top 10 list, let alone number 3. Yes, the movie has its supporters, but many hate it. I don’t get it. Oh wait, yes I do. It didn’t live up to its unrealistic hype – therefore it sucked in the minds of many. If this wasn’t based on the greatest graphic novel ever written and it was just some random movie that came out, people would have loved it. Aside from Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II and Matthew Goode as Ozymandias, the acting was out of the park. Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach…brilliant. Every moment spent with Rorschach is memorable. It’s a cool film to look at. Dr. Manhattan was an extremely tragic figure. The Comedian was downright scary. Is this as good as the novel…no. Is it a great film…yes it is.
2) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
-I love this movie. It’s the best Harry Potter movie by far, and it’s probably got my favorite scene from any movie this year – The Cave. Wow. What an incredible sequence. Michael Gambon delivered big time. Damn. The acting is superb all around. Yea, they should have cut down the CW romance a bit and fit in more Voldemort back story, but I’ll let it slide. (Spoilers Next) Also, I’m sick of hearing the complaints that they left out the funeral from the book. I thought the choice to just have everyone raise their wands towards the sky was so much more powerful. It works for the movie, the funeral works for the book. Get over it. I don’t know what it is about this movie; it just really draws me in more every time. I think a lot of it is Daniel Radcliffe’s performance as Harry Potter. He really went above and beyond, which only gets me that much more excited for the two part finale.
1) Star Trek
-Honestly, it wasn’t even close. This movie kicks ass. Whenever you bring in time travel to a movie or television show, there is potential for disaster, but Star Trek nails it! J.J. Abrams is a genius. He rebooted a franchise and still kept it in the continuity of the original series at the same time. That is outstanding. There are only two words to describe Zachary Quinto’s performance as Spock: Bad Ass. But let’s not forget about Chris Pine as Kirk, that lovable jackass you still root for. This has sword fights. Planets imploding. People teleporting. Phaser battles. But what it also has is perfect character development beginning to end. Once again, the special effects are great, but they are background material. We are focused on the characters themselves, not the explosions happening around them. I really don’t have any complaints about this movie. I guess the music could have been a little better, but it’s fine. Star Trek is why I go to the movies. An amazing achievement that only gets better with each viewing. Star Trek 2 can’t come fast enough.
Video Games. They’ve made us all lazy, but we love em’ anyway. It’s hard to believe video games are more popular today then when they first hit our television screens in the mid-eighties. And yes, I know there were video games before then, like Atari and other random systems in which the power adaptor took up half the apartment. But I was introduced to video games through the Nintendo Entertainment System. For me, the last great game system was N64. Games today are nothing more than pretty colors and graphics. Where’s the heart! And they are so damn complicated. I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to invest myself in learning 75 different button combinations. I just want to jump on things. So here is my list of Top 10 All Time Favorite Video Games. Let the complaining begin!
10) Pac-Man (Arcade/Home Systems)
-Addicting. Intense. Maddening. These are all words you could use to describe Pac-Man. That little yellow ass bag causes quite a stir. But I love the simplicity. You eat pellets while being chased by ghosts. But it’s really all about the orbs. A real man goes for all the ghosts while they are still blue. Don’t be a whimp. Blinky (the red ghost) is by far the smartest of the bunch. He is clearly the leader and always tricks you. I hate him.
9) Goldeneye (N64)
-Does anyone remember the story mode? It was perfectly fine, but it’s all about the multi-player for this one. It was a pioneer for first person shooters and it was James Bond. How could you go wrong? With so many different modes and ways to kill people, it’s no wonder it garners a lot of respect in the gaming world. Everyone had their own personal favorite modes of play, but for me it was License to Kill with proxy mines. Tucking one of those babies under a floor ledge and watching someone’s screen go red was so satisfying.
8 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game (Nintendo)
-Based on the Arcade Classic and far superior to the original, this was an epic turtle adventure you couldn’t put down. Non turtle fans can appreciate the game itself, but true turtle followers know it’s the best ninja turtle game ever made. You fight everyone in this thing. After battling through countless foot soldiers and insane bosses, you finally make it to Shredder at the end only to find out that he can clone himself and kill you with one attack. Wow. This was a hard one.
7) Dick Tracy (Sega Genesis)
-This is probably the most obscure game on the list. And no, I’m not talking about that shitty Nintendo one that is literally impossible to play. The Sega version was a straight up side-scroller. Oh man, this was fun. You get a pistol which is cool, but the best part is using your tommy-gun to shoot enemies in the background. It was awesome. It also has a legendary bonus stage, which I have to say I’m pretty damn good at. This game also has the hardest level I ever played. I still have nightmares about Stage 6-B. It’s complete chaos. If you’ve played this one, you know what I’m talking about.
6) Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
-I’ve never been so emotionally involved in a video game then I was for Final Fantasy VII. I hate RPG games. I hate them. So it makes this game even that much more impressive for me. It’s 3 discs long, but once you start, you can’t stop.
5) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
-Everyone knows how good this is, so I don’t need to go into length. It’s everything you want in a video game. But fuck the Water Temple.
4) Street Fighter II (Sega Genesis)
-The best fighting game of all time. The cast of characters is amazing. I think Ryu is clearly the most talented. But the feature that really separates this game from many others is the group battle. Choosing a team, strategizing who to take and when, made it that much better. It was always nerve racking when it came down to that last Zangief/Dhalsim fight. What a battle…What a game.
3) Mario Kart Double Dash (Game Cube)
-All of the Mario Kart games are great, but this one really stands out for 2 reasons: 1) The special weapons. 2) The double character selection. My friends and I played with all light kart characters, how could you not? In retrospect, I played this game way to much during 4 years of college. We discovered strategies and playing styles that I didn’t even know were possible in a Mario Kart game…Dissecting for hours what the best special weapon was. Was it the 3 shells? The Bowser shell? The Super Mushroom? The Big Banana? The only drawback to this game was that it almost gave me multiple heart attacks. I just wish the blue shell could be outlawed.
2) Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! (Nintendo)
-The Rocky Balboa of video games. Little Mac was a lovabale underdog who continued to rise up the ranks against seemingly unbeatable opponents. Piston Honda. Soda Popinski. Bald Bull. Macho Man. You know the names. Everything about this game works, especially the music. This game gets your heart pumping from the opening screen. All you see is darkness with a bell and a cheering crowd heard in the background. It’s an epic game with the hardest video game boss of all time waiting for you at the end.
1) Super Mario Brothers 3 (Nintendo)
-It’s not only Mario’s greatest adventure, but it’s the greatest video game story ever told. 8 worlds, 7 kingdoms, countless power-ups, and of course the Koopa Kids, led by the biggest video game dick head of them all…Bowser. Let’s not forget all the secrets to uncover. This is a tough game to truly conquer. Pipe World was mind boggling. But nothing compares to the insanity that is Dark World. Fighting Bowser for the first time is hard, but once you figure out how to beat him, you can do it over and over again with ease. The game has fantastic replay value. This is truly the greatest video game ever made.