Best of, Breaking Bad, Film, Music, Parks and Recreation, Television, Video Games

Best of 2011, Revisited

Alec Lindner:

Before we start our end of the year best of lists, I want to take a look back at my 2011 picks and see how they have held up in my mind.

Games:

5. Minecraft

4. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

3. Super Mario 3D Land

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

1. Portal 2

Wow, I had forgotten all about Super Mario 3D Land before I looked back at this. This isn’t a slight against the game, it’s just that there are so many Mario games that they all tend to blur together when they retreat to the back of the mind. They’re really all one big adventure. If I had to change anything about my list, I’d drop Skyward Sword. It didn’t really impress me and stick around in my mind as much as superior Zelda efforts like Wind Waker and A Link to the Past did. I pick up Minecraft occasionally when I want to relax, which is exactly how it should be. Minecraft was never going to be a huge game, just a really good diversion. I still love Skyrim and Portal, and I think they’re definitely going to be the big 2011 games that people talk about ten years from now.

Movies:

5. Winnie the Pooh

4. The Adventures of Tintin

3. The Artist

2. Hugo

1. The Tree of Life

Tintin? I really didn’t see anything last year. I stand by my choice of Winnie the Pooh though. It’s rare to find movies that are so understated and subtle, especially among kids’ movies, as the loud, aggressive style of Dreamworks and its ilk have dominated animated releases. If I watch any movie from my list again soon, it’ll be Winnie the Pooh. My top three choices were a bit generic, but I stand by them. And there’s really nothing more to say about them than that.

Music:

5. So Beautiful or So What

4. Helplessness Blues

3. Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

2. David Comes to Life

1. Wild Flag

Hot Sauce Committee got some heavy play from me in May, obviously. I was listening to the album a lot even before MCA’s death, though, and I still play it frequently. Now that we know that the Beastie Boys’ canon has been finalized, it’s clear that all their albums are really one long work. I don’t choose to listen to Licensed to Ill or Paul’s Boutique, I just choose to listen to the Beastie Boys as a whole. Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is just a part of that long groove. I haven’t listened to So Beautiful or So What in a while, but I’ve been meaning to play it again. With someone like Paul Simon, who has decades of music prior to this latest effort, it’s hard not to focus on the work he did in his younger days. I still love Helplessness Blues, but I don’t have anything more to say about it. The top two albums are tricky. There wasn’t one huge album that stood above the rest in 2011 like, for example, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy did in 2010. I remember I was pretty conflicted over which of these two albums to put at number one. If I were writing this list today, though, I’d put David Comes to Life at number one. I still play Wild Flag, but it’s merely a really good rock album. David Comes to Life is a hardcore punk masterpiece that is totally unlike anything else out there.

Television:

5. Curb Your Enthusiasm

4. Archer

3. Louie

2. Breaking Bad

1. Parks and Recreation

I should have curbed my enthusiasm over Curb Your Enthusiasm. I was really excited the show was back, and it was good, but season eight wasn’t the best season the show has ever done. Everything else is as it should be. What else is there to say?

Nathan:

I think that this year I absorbed a lot more entertainment than last; while Alec ranked video games, music, movies, and television shows, I only took on the middle two. While this year I’ve seen fewer movies in theaters, haven’t listened to tons of current music, and didn’t play any video games, I did watch a lot of television (catching up on shows like Louie, Parks and Rec, and Breaking Bad) and saw 200+ movies. Last year I only watched 175. So you can tell I’ve spent a lot of time inside this year. I also started actively (well, at least I try) listening to podcasts, so there should be a greater variety of items on our year-end lists for 2012. Unlike Alec, I suffer from the extreme inability to rank anything, so I prefer to list my choices out in alphabetical order, Roger Ebert-style. Anyway, here’s my revisiting of what I liked last year.

Movies:

The Artist

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

The Muppets

The Tree of Life

The Trip

To be honest, I haven’t revisited many of these films, besides The Muppets and Hugo. The Muppets was probably the film I enjoyed the most overall last year, and it still resonates with me. I rewatched Hugo recently as well, and found that my appreciation for it has grown considerably, most likely due to the fact that I’ve watched many of Melies’ short films between 2011 and today. I also rewatched Midnight in Paris earlier this year, and I still find it to be a good film. On an emotional level, The Tree of Life was probably the film that hit me hardest, so I’m a little afraid to watch it again, particularly if it’s not on a big screen, as I feel it’s a film made only to be consumed in the theater. To be honest, I’ve barely even thought about The Artist. I suppose I should watch it again. The last film I picked, The Trip, was a bit of a grab-bag choice; while I did find it hilarious, I don’t know if it was really worthy of the designation I gave it. Maybe I was looking to pick something a little less obvious than my other choices.

Music:

Bad As Me– Tom Waits

Camp- Childish Gambino

Drive Original Soundtrack

Hot Sauce Committee Part Two– Beastie Boys

Whokill- Tune-yards

The only albums on this list that I have actively listened to since writing it are Camp and Bad As Me, although I think I gave the Waits album a little too much praise. It’s a solid release, but unfortunately one year down the road just seems like a cobbling together of things he’s tried out before, a summation of his career, almost. I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking when I put the Drive soundtrack on this list; while it’s a good soundtrack and I love plenty of the tracks on it, it just doesn’t feel like something I absolutely love. The Beastie Boys record was a good one, but I haven’t given it another complete listen since, instead just nibbling at individual numbers. Tune-yards is an artist I totally forgot about; while her record is good as well, my choosing it felt a little force, like I didn’t know what else to pick. But it’s still cool, and I think I might have to revisit it.

Coming up soon: We’ve got big things in store for our end-of-year coverage, definitely a lot more than last year. Jack will proceed to rank a considerable number of the years releases, I talk about my least favorite things from 2012, and we tackle all the regular categories as well as some new additions. And who knows, maybe there will even be a surprise or two thrown in for good measure. I also have a number of reviews to catch up on, so expect some of those as well, in addition to regular posts. There are some good things ahead, so stick around!

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