2010: The Year On Screen

Movies

Each year I am less inspired to go out to the movie theatres. The hassle and the hell of other movie-goers is rarely compensated by the big screen experience these days despite (or maybe because of) the move to go all 3D all the time. Seeing TRON: Legacy in the second row in IMAX 3D definitely didn’t help (but neither did the ridiculous script). Instead, I waited for many movies to hit the small screen (which in my case is 46 inches) and watch them there instead. This past summer, I caught up with 50 of those movies as part of a little summer project. I have to say, I enjoyed them more without the theatre-going bother (plus I could pause the movie whenever nature called). We’ll see what I actually make it out to see on the big screen in 2011.

Nevertheless, of the movies that came out in 2010, these were my favourites:

Kick Ass – I was surprised (in light of the Ebertean controversy) how much I enjoyed this movie. There was action, a clever script, and some good characters. I hope that Hollywood continues to adapt well-written graphic novels to the screen (I also discuss The Walking Dead below). (Oh, yeah, they did in the form of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which I also really enjoyed.) Chloe Moretz was excellent in Kick Ass as well as Let Me In. She definitely showed herself to be an up-and-comer this year.

Toy Story 3 was a great finale to the trilogy of Buzz, Woody, and company. Not only was the animation amazing (I loved the opening UFO train robbery sequence), but the story was poignant and well-constructed. If you aren’t distracted by all the toys, it’s an excellent jail-break movie too. I hope it wins the animation Oscar. However, I also really loved How To Train Your Dragon. I thought it was fresh, fun, and had a great soundtrack. Jay Baruchel was great as Hiccup, the hero, and I think this movie should be a classic. Which brings me also to Tangled, which kind of restored my faith in Disney a bit.

Of course, any time there’s a Potter film I’m happy, but Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 was excellent and I really enjoyed the beginning of the end for my magical friends. The actors have matured, the effects are top-notch, and the adapted story is really well-balanced. I’m sure that part 2 will be a highlight of 2011.

Lastly, two dramas really surprised me in the way I was captivated by them. First, Facebook movie The Social Network had some amazing performances (particularly from Jesse Eisenberg) and a crackling script (from Aaron Sorkin). I was intrigued the whole time. The King’s Speech had a similarly spell-binding effect on my attentions. Colin Firth has always been excellent, but he really made something from the halted stammering of his Prince Albert character. Plus, his interactions with Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter were natural, humourous, and lively. Good show!

The two no-less-surprising disappointments this year were remakes of beloved genre favourites: Clash of the Titans and TRON. I’m not sure how the big budgets and incredible effects resulted in such lame-duck movies, but neither was able to capture the imaginative spirit of the original. I guess the movie-makers were just interested in showing that they could make much better looking versions of the original cult hits without bothering to figure out what made them hits in the first place. Only a year after Avatar, both were sad testaments to the soullessness of CGI. (Oh, how could I forget the other disappointing remake: The Last Airbender — M. Night Shyamalan paying tribute to the wonderful animated series that he and his kids enjoyed by sucking the life out of it on screen.)

Television

The new shows in Fall 2010 were disastrously disappointing. The only one I consider good is Hawaii Five-O (and I watch it with only one eye on the TV most times). Shows like The Event, No Ordinary Family, and Nikita quickly faded from my must-watch list. Thankfully, I discovered new shows that debuted in the summer or other off seasons and from different sources. British imports continued to rock, including a modern-day Sherlock, as well as the second season of Misfits and the sixth season of the new Doctor Who. Canadian supernatural series Lost Girl was an unexpected new addition to my must-see list as well (thanks to all those subway ads).

Modern Family continued to up its game in season 2, being funny an touching as ever (I loved the episode where everyone’s racing in separate cars, and also the one with the earthquake. I loved Gloria competing with the girl Manny liked in school, as well as when the Dunphys waxed nostalgic about their old beat-up station wagon. I could go on for a while). Glee turned its focus away from Finn and Rachel onto Kurt, and gave us some very moving moments of drama amidst the comedy and music. Plus, didn’t Gwyneth Paltrow shock everyone with her off-the-hook Cee-Lo performance? (I must have watched it a dozen times.)

After Heroes crashed and burned (like a meteorite in an unknown cornfield), it didn’t bode well for superhero shows. As I said, I have no love for No Ordinary Family, but we’ll see how The Cape fares in 2011. Judging by the stupid title, I am not holding my breath. As for graphic novels, The Walking Dead was a huge hit this year, and while I wanted to love it, I can’t watch it. I see how it’s an excellent show, but I just can’t get past the zombies and the grossness of them all. I know it’s not about that, but still, there they are.

A number of lawyer shows appeared and quickly fizzled, trying to match the excellence of The Good Wife, but that show continued to up its game in season two (despite the stupidly cliche love triangle moments). I’m not crazy about any of the new characters introduced, but who knows…

The imminent end of Stargate: Universe rings the death knell for the last spaceship show on TV (I guess I’m not counting the TARDIS. Whatever.). What’s even more tragic was that I hated that series when it started, but forced myself to watch it like eating vegetables. In season two, I actually looked forward to it each week. Now it’s coming to an end. I’m really going to miss that genre which I have enjoyed consistently since Star Trek: The Next Generation in the early 80s. Good thing I’ve got my millions of DVDs.

After six magical, weird, mysterious, captivating, obsession-worthy seasons Lost finally came to a much-hyped conclusion. It was sad to say goodbye to those characters. Through the flashbacks, I’d come to know them so well that they kind of live on. I’m also going to miss Medium, which has been one of my favourite shows since season one. I’ve always hoped that more people would catch on to it. Though it had OK ratings with many viewers (none of which I knew personally, apparently), I am really sad to see this show go. So long Allison, and the rest of the Dubois clan. So long Jack, Kate, Hurley, Ben, Locke, Sayid, Sun, Jin, Desmond, Sawyer, Juliet, Charley, Claire, Boone (not you, Shannon). See you on the other side.

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