Best and worst of 2013 in entertainment

I have been thinking about writing this blog entry for a while now but I have been putting it off. But as the award season continues and everything is being critiqued, I thought I would contribute to the discussion. Normally, during this time of the week I’m reading comic books and commenting on them. This week I decided to comment on my favorite( and least favorite) movies, tv shows, music, and books for last year. I know I’m not a critic but I spend a lot of time watching tv and reading and going to the movies so is think my opinion holds a certain weight because I represent the every day guy.

I’ll start with music. This year I had a chance to hear a lot of new music. There were some very cool releases and a few that were less than stellar. There were a lot of bands that got my attention from Bastille to Blue October to Shinedown but the band that captured my imagination the most is a band that has been around for over a decade Echoes from the Underground by Vertical Horizon combines the best in lyric writing and song writing to produce 57 minutes of the most well thought out music I’ve heard since I picked up Switchfoot’s Beautiful Letdown when it first came out.

I don’t normally like pop music but this CD has enough tap in your step to be a pop production while not containing the vapid lyrics of a Miley Cyrus or Justin Beiber CD. With lyrics like “Lost Causes turn you on so I’m the perfect one.”, and “part of me is certain that part of you is hurtin cuz I am hurting too” shows that the band is willing to be both thought provoking and self deprecating. This CD is pretty amazing. The music is not too complex but it is the perfect blend of guitar and keyboard to give listeners enough of both instruments to be happy and fulfilled. I have had this CD since it was released and it ends up in my player at least once or twice a week. Oh and if you are a fan of Rush Neal Peart appears on this CD too

So what is my most disappointing buy in music for 2013? All the Little Lights by Passenger. Why? Because it is completely unimaginative in its lyrical and musical creativity. Almost half of the songs have the same rhyme scheme and rhythm and at least 3 of the songs he rhymes pocket with something. After a while the cockney accent while singing gets annoying too.

First off I want to say, I had high hopes for this CD. Let her go is a great song. The music combines folk music and bluegrass and should be inventive but instead it’s extremely repetitive.

Just as there were great CD’s and not so great CD’s, the same is true of movies. Strangely enough, both of the movies in the best and worst category for me are movies that both were nominated for Best of the Year.

There are spoilers in this review

The movie that had the most profound impact on me was “her”. The story surrounds a young man who works for an online letter writing company where he’s had a modicum of success in saying things in letters to complete strangers that can’t come up with the words on their own. He is recently been handed his divorce papers but hasn’t signed them simply because he’s not ready to. One day, as he’s walking around, he sees an ad for a phone that has artificial intelligence and buys it. He plugs in the phone and is given the opportunity to choose whether he wants a male or female voice. He chooses female and they start talking. After a while his phone starts realizing it wants to be human and starts falling in love with it’s owner and vice versa.

The story is also about his friend Amy who is in an unhappy marriage and ends up creating a male version of the OS.

The movie is at times highly inappropriate but it is extremely thought provoking because it takes on the fact that something as small as a phone can usurp our lives to the point that we’d rather spend time with it than with human beings. If the premise seems absurd to you, try going to a bar and sit at a table where everyone is texting without saying a word to each other.

The acting in this movie is insanely good. Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant as a nerdy, insecure guy that finds absolutely nothing wrong with falling in love with a phone. I’m also convinced that Amy Adams can do anything. In most movies I’ve seen her in she plays a sultry woman that is sexy but in this she plays a computer nerd and plays it effortlessly. Scarlet Johannsen is also great as the voice of the phone. The writing in this movie is insightful and the direction is amazing.

Ironically, the most disappointing film of the year has some of the best acting of the year. American Hustle left me feeling disappointed and confused. The movie was billed as a comedy but apart from some very quirky characters, I thought that it was as unfunny as it gets. The few critics that hated the movie blamed the direction saying that it was a cheap imitation of Scorcese. I didn’t see it that way. In fact, I saw it as more of a cheap imitation of Get Shorty. Except Get Shorty was funny.

The biggest issue that I had was that the movie was supposed to be based in actual events but it’s so far removed from the truth that it wasn’t worth saying that some of it was true. The movie is about hustlers that are used by the FBI to uncover corruption during the birth of gambling in Atlantic city. The script is confusing and there are more swerves than a country back road. Some might enjoy it I didn’t.

Television had it’s share of new shows and old shows that were both good and terrible. One of the better shows on tv was Hostages. The story surrounded an FBI agent and his brother in law and two others who take a family hostage and promise to let them go as long as the wife in the family, who is a surgeon, kills the president of the United States. Throughout the season the audience learns the motives behind each of the characters.

This series is part of a trend that networks are trying where stories are told in one season instead of over the life time of an entire season. I don’t know that this series was as good as Last Resort but I do think it was a very interesting series. The writing was well done even if a tad cliche but I enjoyed watching it

As far as disappointing series go, the series I found the most disappointing, if you can call it a series, was WWE Monday Night Raw. To give you an idea of how bad WWE has gotten, earlier this year one of the major cable companies offered refunds on thee PPV because the ending was so bad. In addition, Vince, the CEO, refuses to listen to his fans, and at times it feels like he is raising his middle finger at them. It has gotten so bad that CM Punk has threatened to leave and it is rumored that at least one other wrestler has considered leaving as well. If the brand doesn’t get better I will quit watching as well.

I have spent a year reading comic books and a few months critiquing them. Rather than go through the books again, I’m just going to list my favorites and least favorite. My favorite comic this year for writing is The Wake. Horror comic with writing good enough to be a movie. My favorite artist: Greg Land. His eye for detail is incredible.

Best crossover event: Infinity. Great writing, pacing and art.

Most disappointing: Battle of the atom because the series never really ended even though it started well.

Those are my picks for the best of the year. I will get back to reviews if comics next week