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Best Of, Reviews

Best Of 2011: It’s Aaron’s List

Since everyone else is writing their “Best Of” lists this month, I figured I’d put together a list of my own. Yeah yeah, I know. You’re welcome. Compiling my list of television, movie and music favorites, below is a rather diverse list. For user friendliness, I’ve narrowed the list down to 20 and have alphabetized it for you. How nice of me!

American Horror Story

Of all the television shows that premiered in 2011, I have got to say American Horror Story surprised me the most.  Never have I seen such an unpredictably unconventional creepy show grace the likes of basic cable.  Maybe Twin Peaks come close.  Maybe.  Over the span of this first Season, we’ve seen a show that splices together references from many from horror films’ past.  The writing, acting and direction push boundaries and left me scratching my head dumbfounded every week.  AHS is a ridiculous show that tends to habitually jump the shark.  But it does it in such a way that hypnotically gets under your skin and moves you to watch again week after week.  If that doesn’t intrigue you to watch, it also has one of the creepiest opening credit sequences I’ve ever seen for a television show.

Attack The Block

What is this movie Attack The Block you speak of Aaron?  Well, if you are unfamiliar, it really does suck to be you I suppose.  Released earlier this year to rave reviews on the festival circuit, Joe Cornish directed a movie that seeps 1980s monster movie nostalgia.  I went into the theater not knowing anything about the film and left with a hyper energy that moved me to tell everyone I knew to go see it.  With an amazing soundtrack by Basement Jaxx, solid acting and nightmarish aliens the likes of which you’ve never seen on screen, Attack The Block is probably one of the best movies you have not seen this year.  Last I checked, it’s available on Netflix Instant as well as VOD.  So you have no excuse now, do you?

Bad As Me – Tom Waits

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I’m a huge Tom Waits fan and the man, in my book, has never released a bad album.  Bad As Me is his first album of all original material since Real Gone.  The album, like most of Waits’ fairly recent works, runs the gamut from ballads to carnival barking blues.  He’s been making music for roughly four decades now so it seems like a no brainer at this point to pick up every thing he puts out.  The guy’s a legend.

Breaking Bad

God dammit, I still meet people who have never seen an episode of Breaking Bad.  I am thinking of one friend in particular who has never seen an episode of it or Dexter.  That just boggles my mind.  I can forgive him for the not seeing Dexter thing.  That show needs to end already (I’m a fan and I’m saying that!).  Breaking Bad, however, I cannot forgive him for not watching.  This show is, simply put, the best show on television.  It pushes boundaries in every way possible.  The acting, the writing, the directing, all of it is brilliant and comes together in such an honest gut twisting manner that leaves you begging for more.  And Season 4 pushed the show into new territory.  If Giancarlo Esposito does not get recognized for his work on the show this Season, the terrorists win.  That’s right.  I said it!

The Dreamer/The Believer – Common

I’m a pretty big fan of Common’s and was slightly let down by his last studio album Universal Mind Control.  Overall, it seemed to lack the insight and lyrical prowess that brought Common to where he is today in his career.  I’m sure it had something to do with his focus shifting more towards acting.  Well thankfully he had the time to create and release The Dreamer/The Believer while still performing in movies and television.  Released earlier this month, The Dreamer/The Believer shows Common back in top form. I’ve had this album on repeat for a few days now.  This is real Hip Hop.  Sweet.

El Camino – The Black Keys

I’ve been onto The Black Keys for a while now.  After randomly discovering Thickfreakness some years back, they have become one of my favorite musicians making music today.  Blending classic blues musicality with modern day rock, they’ve been compared to the likes of The White Stripes (which I don’t really agree with).  They have the hooks, their songs are catchy, and with their new album El Camino, have delivered more delicious goodness for your ears.

Fast Five

Everyone was raving over the Summer about which was the best blockbuster this year.  Well, hands down, my favorite movie that came out this Summer is Fast Five.  Hell, it’s one of my favorite films this year (obviously, it’s on this list!).  I wasn’t a huge fan of the previous Fast And Furious films.  I stopped watching after Part 2.  All they really had to do to get me back on board, it seems, was to bring back Vin Diesel and add The Rock to the mix.  Yeah, it was that easy.  The film is a powerhouse.  As long as Diesel and The Rock are involved, I’ll go see every sequel they put through the pipeline.  This type of mentality also applies to The Expendables 2 (I own a penis, thusly I must go see it).

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I’ve pretty much enjoyed every David Fincher movie in existence.  So it seemed like a no brainer I would enjoy The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  But much unlike most of you people, I’ve never read the books and I never watched the original.  I’m assuming if I had, I would probably have a different reaction to viewing this film.  Clocking in at almost 2 hours and 30 minutes, it can lean on some people’s patience.  The stand outs for me here are the music by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross and the performance of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander.  Seriously, who is this girl?  Obviously she was wasting her talent in that awful remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street.  Her performance here is simply amazing.

Hell On Wheels

Dare I say I think AMC’s Hell On Wheels is better than Deadwood?  Blasphemy!  Two brilliant shows that exist in The Old West.  It’s really too early to tell if Hell On Wheels could be better than David Milch’s brilliant HBO Western.  However, still in its first season and now even completed, Hell On Wheels is well worth your time.  By far, it’s my favorite new television show of the year.  AMC continues to push boundaries and raise the bar with its programming.  Both Anson Mount and Common deliver the goods every week.  Yes, Common.  He even surprises me in this role.  The man can truly act, given the subject matter he is given.

The Help

I knew nothing about The Help when I went to go see it. I knew it was based on a book and had some star power attached but the rest was beyond me. I’ll just go ahead and say this, of the films I listed here, The Help is probably my favorite film I’ve seen this year. It’s very very well done. Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis deliver way above par performances and both deserve recognition for their work here.

Hugo

The best 3D movie you’ll see this year, seriously. Martin Scorsese delivered a surprise with Hugo. While it is a long and sometimes slow moving film, it left me feeling like a kid. It’s the perfect children’s movie for every movie loving adult. Although, I’m not sure it’d suffice as being the perfect children’s movie for kids. Still, it’s a beautifully told love story dedicated to the art of film.

Insidious

Sadly, there aren’t many notable horror films that come to mind when I think about this past year. One that does is Insidious. I’ve spoken to enough people to realize you either love this movie or you hate it. I love it, if not for anything else, than the film’s ability to deliver scares without blood or gore in the most unexpected places. I will never hear Tiptoe Through The Tulips by Tiny Tim the same way again.

Justified

I have two words to describe the awesomeness of Season 2: Margo Martindale.

The Layover

I’m a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain. I’ve read Kitchen Confidential. I’ve seen every episode of No Reservations. I just received The Nasty Bits for Hannukah. So when he announced his new show The Layover, I was immediately sold. Unlike No Reservations in the sense that he showcases places the locals go, each episode of The Layover takes you to different parts of the world where Bourdain is stuck for roughly 24 to 48 hours. In that small amount of time, he takes the viewer on a tour to places they should visit if they too are stuck in the city in question with some time to spare.

Moneyball

Moneyball is a solid movie. As a fan of baseball and a good story, this film delivers everything I could have wanted. Brad Pitt is great here but the stand out performance, for me anyway, is given by Jonah Hill. The writing and acting here work beautifully. The nominations announced for the film are well deserved.

Sons Of Anarchy

It was a struggle to get through Season 3 of Sons Of Anarchy. With it’s detour to Ireland, the story suffered and my interest waned. Thankfully, Kurt Sutter and the gang got the message and brought the show back on track for Season 4. If AMC is raising the bar for television programming, than FX Networks is really their only competition on basic cable. I really don’t know what else to say here. If you haven’t watched Sons Of Anarchy, you really don’t know the brilliance you are missing.

The Killing

AMC’s The Killing sort of snuck up on me. Reminiscent of Twin Peaks mixed with the dark gruesomeness of Se7en, The Killing takes the viewer along on the investigation to find out who killed Rosie Larsen. Again, another AMC show. I’m sure you know what I’ll say here about how great the show is. So just watch it already! Season 2 is just around the corner.

The Walking Dead

God damn AMC, again!? Yeah, well, here we are with ANOTHER AMC TV show! Season 2 of AMC’s The Walking Dead really began with a bang. There were some really jaw dropping moments during the first half of Season 2. It doesn’t look like Frank Darabont’s departure has effected the show in a negative way. Straying from the original story in the comic books, the show still maintains important plot points. And after that Mid Season Finale (that Sofia story line was getting old anyway), I am damn sure excited and curious to see what will happen next.

Wasting Light – Foo Fighters

Maybe it’s due to my getting older, but it seems like there aren’t many solid rock bands delivering great work anymore. Everything has gone Indie or Folk or some shit. The Foo Fighers’ newest album Wasting Light was indeed a light a midst a bunch of the current rock crap. Full of honesty, energy and humor, Wasting Light marks another Grade A album from Dave Grohl and the gang. And if you’re not convinced, check out the below music video for Walk which takes a few pages from the film Falling Down. How could you not love them!?

Watch The Throne

One of the biggest albums of the year, Watch The Throne combines the talents of two of the biggest Hip Hop artists right now – Jay Z and Kanye West. While, in my opinion, this is not the best work either artist has released, the teamwork still delivers something special. P Diddy eat your heart out, this is Luxury Rap at its finest.

Well there you have it! To narrow down my list to 20, many items fell to the wayside. If I missed something you’re just stabbing yourself in frustration about, go ahead and shout it out at me in the comments below!

Oh! And just for the record, if you are viewing this list and scratching your head as to why movies like Drive, The Artist, The Descendants, Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy, The Muppets, or Martha Marcy May Marlene isn’t on here. Well it’s because for some reason or another, I haven’t seen them yet! I ain’t gonna list something I ain’t seen yet. The line to hand out smacks to my face starts to the right. Thanks for your patronage.

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About Aaron

I was born a poor black child.

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