Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Taking On 2011: Top Films (Final List)

All good things must come to an end, and now I am in a position where I feel like it's time to close the page on the previous year in cinema. Alright, that's a bit of a lie.

Many of you may know that Oscar nominations were just announced, but why deal with the stuffy Academy when we (remember, read this "we" as "me," my friends) have a list of the real Best Pictures right here at Processed Grass? We don't need some silly rule that says maybe there are 10 films worth recognizing except when there aren't, we'll give you ten. In fact, there are plenty more that deserve recognition! But I have to show some restraint people, life must be lived.

This goes beyond performances. This is not a game! Who will be left standing when the music stops? It's time to find out!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Taking On 2011: Lead Performances

As the previous year dovetails in to the ether, and we can all begin looking ahead to the year that will be rather than the year that was, I still find myself wandering down this old, dusty road. If there's one thing I can certainly say about 2011, it's that movies most certainly released. And in those movies, actors and actresses gave performances. Some of these individuals will even be nominated for Academy Awards. Others have even taken home the Golden Globes, so it's like the world is always looking back at them (or their house keepers I guess) each time they walk past that fireplace mantle. But sometimes the best awards are the ones without tangible counterparts, sometimes the best awards are right here on Processed Grass.

Eligibility requirements, because this is a super serious list that will probably effect the overall Academy Awards race if individuals happen to make the crossover, are discussed briefly in my Supporting Performances post. But we aren't supporting right now, now we're the stars, baby!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Taking On 2011: Supporting Performances

Now that I have finished up my music and video game coverage over the past couple of weeks, and with Oscar nominations right on the horizon, it seems fitting that I start focusing on the world of 2011 cinema. While I will withhold qualitative judgments until later, there are still plenty of films from last year that I want to see despite already watching a total of 67 2011 releases, as I was compiling these lists I realized that this year was pretty fantastic for actors (both male and female). The journey itself has been long, but that's the trip, baby. We are all along for the ride, and now it's time to start making sense of this crazy, mixed up world.

Before getting to the lists, I want to briefly outline my requirements for eligibility. Basically I needed to personally have some way to access a film in the year 2011 for it to make the list. That means films like Carnage and A Dangerous Method are going to be held off until next year's list. Similarly, because my unabridged list has some films that I included as 2010 movies, but didn't see theatrical distribution or DVD release until early 2011 I am going to include them one final time this year. So even if a performance made my list last year, if the film itself is on my 2011 Master List then it can win again, as the case may be.

And with that, on to the awards!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

We Can't Live This Way, No We Can't Live This Way Hey Hey

Frenemies (Mayer, 2011)

The latest Disney Channel Original Movie, Frenemies, starring Shake It Up starlets Bella Thorne and Zendaya Coleman was marketed as the second coming of Princess Protection Program, but in actuality is a much more disparate affair. While watching the opening credits I was surprised to see that multiple screenwriters were credited, in fact this sequence identified that the film was three acts (no shocker there) and each act was penned by different writers. Coleman and Thorne play two girls who start a fashion website, a plot line that is used as a framing device to explore three narratives that each involve friends turned enemies turned friends. In a way this takes a cue from the pages of Valentine's Day, but because the three stories all involve kids from the same town the characters occasionally intersect, basically providing new spins on traditional movie plot lines.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Taking On 2011: Video Game Positives

Despite some of the disappointments from 2011 that I wrote about earlier in the week, 2011 was a pretty good year for video games. Yeah, there was a bit of over-saturation, and we probably are on the precipice of a new console generation, but it is usually in these closing years that consoles tend to peak. And there were some mighty impressive peaks, even with the deluge of sequels. Again, as a refresher, I only played 17 games from 2011, so if you do not see a title on this list or the Negatives list just assume that I have not gotten around to it yet. I am not a machine.

Like with the other list I will say which console I played these games on, and even though this is a positives list, and a de facto Top Eleven, some of these games have problems. At times, I may not even call them all great games, but these are games I can certainly say I had a positive experience with during this year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Taking On 2011: Video Game Negatives

As much as I love games, I sadly only had the time to play a total of seventeen new games in the past year. Without a PC I missed out on The Witcher 2, I have not had the chance to dive in to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and I only purchased Rayman Origins yesterday. So I clearly cannot claim to be an expert on all things video games in 2011, and as such I present you a list of all the games I have played without claiming it to be a definitive list that represents my opinion of the medium's year in the same way that my Top Tracks, Top Albums, or upcoming Top Films do. Despite my love for this medium though, what I have experienced from the year, one marked by a console stagnation and a deluge of third entries in franchises, has varied greatly in terms of quality.

A caveat, my friends, for approaching this list. I'm not saying all of these games are 'bad' or without any sort of merit. In fact, in each case I can think of, and will write about, aspects of each game I enjoyed. However, these are meant to reflect games I played where the negatives outweighed the positives, and ultimately my time with these titles could probably have been better spent with other games. I'm also going to include the consoles I used to play these games, in the interest of fairness.

And with that warning, let us move on to the main event!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Taking On 2011: Top Albums (Final List)

Continuing my year end music coverage I decided to not undergo the crazy undertaking of my second quarterly review when writing about the sixty six albums that I have listened to from the previous year. Last year was a fantastic year for music, with just about every genre delivering top notch releases. I read an article on the AV Club a while ago that brought up the idea that 2011 was a year of many very good albums without any definitive "Important Album," and that's a sentiment that I can partially agree with; however, when I started compiling my list I couldn't help but wonder if some of the higher ranked albums will have a lasting impact on the industry. Hard to know without the ability to see the future, and despite nothing hitting quite as hard as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I hope this list demonstrates that 2011 was a great year in music.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Final Farewells: Thoughts About, Reflections On, and Saying Goodbye To Wizards Of Waverly Place

As some may know, about a year ago I wrote a post about the end of Hannah Montana and how that ushered in the beginning of the end of Disney's latest golden age. And now, only about an hour ago as I type this, Wizards of Waverly Place concluded its run as Disney's longest running original series. As a whole the episode really allowed every cast member time to shine as the writing was as sharp as ever. It all built to a fairly predictable, but still emotionally engaging, conclusion that results with everyone happy.

But I'm not here to discuss the episode, I'm here to pay my respects to what is likely the channel's most accomplished series and to look ahead.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Taking On 2011: Top Tracks (Final Review)

It's that time of the year again. Mostly everything has been released, certainly this is the case with music, and it's time to start putting the year into perspective. I found 2011 to be a fantastic year for music, perhaps without the highs or 'Important Albums' of years past, but still fantastic nonetheless. We saw dubstep rise (and fall?) in about the course of twelve months, Katy Perry reached insurmountable levels of annoying, and that Lulu atrocity even released. What more could you want? It's definitely been a year, and moving on from my previous three Quarterly Reviews, the final list of best tracks has risen. Moves have been made, shakes have been shook, and as usual all titles link to Youtube versions of the songs whenever possible, and for some that are not on Youtube, I put all the songs on Spotify into a playlist!

Monday, January 2, 2012

In The Courtroom Of Honor, The Judge Pounded His Gavel

Hot Coffee (Saladroff, 2011)

I was going to give Hot Coffee a full write up, but decided against it because I'm really not sure what I have to say analytically. It's hard to even call this post a review. There's a lot going on in this film, and as such it feels a bit unfocused throughout. The title itself is misleading, which I'm mostly glad about because it meant I didn't need too see a bunch of pictures of an old lady's burnt loins. That was traumatizing, which was the point. So that worked. But the larger point, so it seems, is that the legal system is quickly being framed in a way that ignores the common man in favor of big businesses. This is probably true.