Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Best of 2009

Best Movie – Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds

If only because it had the best fictional Nazi. Ever:

Honorable Mention: Avatar. This is the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen. Go and see it, and you’ll understand.

Dishonorable Mention: Watchmen. Listen, Zach Snyder, if you’re going to make me watch a midget cut off a convict’s arms with a buzzsaw, you’d better make me care about the characters and the plot somewhat. Epic fail.

Best Book – Relentless by Dean Koontz

Admittedly, I didn’t find the time to read many of 2009’s books, but this novel was simultaneously hilarious and horrifying. What else could you expect from a plot about a ruthless organization of postmodern book reviewers that goes around assassinating authors who still believe in truth and beauty?

Best quote from the best book (p. 265):

As long as I can remember, novelists and filmmakers and cult leaders have been depicting and predicting the end of the world by fire or ice, by asteroid or magnetic-pole shift, and they have always found a large audience for their visions.

In the hearts of modern men and women, there is an inescapable awareness that something is wrong with this slice of history they have inherited, that in spite of the towering cities and the mighty armies and the science-fiction technology made real, the moment is fragile, the foundation undermined.

...but if disaster came, it would be the collapse of civilization, not the end of the world. This blue transparent sky, the sea, the shore, the land, the dark evergreens ever rising – all would endure, unaffected by human misery.

...the modern world [has] thrown away the respect for tradition that can be rock under our feet; the certitude of our place in the universe and of our purpose, which allows peace of mind.

Fire, ice, asteroids, and pole shifts are bogeyman with which we distract ourselves from the real threat of our time. In an age when everyone invents his own truth, there is no community, only factions. Without community, there can be no consensus to resist the greedy, the envious, the power-mad narcissists who seize control and turn the institutions of civilization into a series of doom machines.

So good.

Best Album – The Long Fall Back to Earth by Jars of Clay

Holy buckets this album is good. Jars of Clay has been my favorite band since I was ten, and they will probably always be my favorite band for that reason, but this album is unlike anything they’ve ever done before. For lack of better categories, I’ll describe it as an incredibly bold hybrid of indie rock and 80s pop. The last four tracks must be listened to as a unit – they’re like an epic journey through love, loss, war and confusion. I will treasure this album forever.

Also, don’t miss four other fantastic albums from this year: The Decemberists’ fantasy rock opera The Hazards of Love, Regina Spektor’s masterpiece Far, Relient K’s Forget and Not Slow Down (especially “Savannah”), and Switchfoot’s Hello Hurricane.

Best TV Show - South Park

As always, South Park dominated any of this year’s new shows that I might have watched instead. Gut-wrenching humor combined with incisive commentary on American culture – what college student could ask for more? See especially the episodes "Margaritaville," "Fishsticks," "Dead Celebrities" and "Dances with Smurfs."

Happy new year!


  1. New Year time is one of my favorite blog moments. Everybody reveals there retrospects and prospects so interestingly.

    I applaud your liking for Avatar! A truly beautiful movie, you are correct --- and not just visually, I think, but even in its story and the allusions it makes to other things.

    Also, thanks for mentioning the Decembrists album. Last year I got into them, but then sort of forgot about them this year. Now I'll have to track down some of their new stuff...

  2. I've seen Avatar twice now - once in 3D Imax with my friends, and once in 2D with my family yesterday. In my humble opinion, it's equally visually beautiful in either form. I read your post about Avatar last week, and found it really interesting. The basic story isn't very original, but the movie employs it enthusiastically, and I think it's such a true story that as long as Cameron didn't screw it up, it was bound to provoke thought - and he didn't screw it up. The movie snobs will find ways to hate it, but it's so distinctly likable that they at least will have to make an effort to hate it.

    If you'd like to borrow the Decemberists' new CD, just let me know. It's a lot of fun. :)