And yes, Micronauts, we're all about to plunge head-first into the year top Mathematicians are already calling "2012", during which we're sure to discover if the Mayan calendar makers (along with subsequent conspiracy theorists and disaster film auteurs) were right and all of this is as meaningless as season four of Dear John or if, maybe, just maybe, the Mayans ran out of Tablet space and said "Hey, we'll fill out the rest of the dates after we find out what these here white boys in big-ass boats want!"
Geez, don't you people realize that Smilin' Harold Camping was right to begin with and the world actually ended back on October 21st? No, wait... May 21st! Yeah, that was it.
In a year dominated by GOP debates, it's clear as cedar that our "Worst" and "WTF" articles can practically write themselves (let's hope I can remember item 3 on either article)! Hell in a year with that Cadre of Clowns as well as Charlie Sheen, what's an Absurdist Humorist to do? We're all starting to look like Serious Newscasters when crap like this actually IS the legitimate news. Regardless, if you looked under a few rocks here and there, you'll find that there were actually a few good points in the year of 2011 Heaven (and not only in our uncommonly, transcendently brilliant April Fool's Day Article... though that surely didn't hurt matters either.
So, to hunt down "Ado", shoot it with rusty lawn darts and strap it onto the hoods of our Bentley Station Wagons, let's delve straight on into "The Best of 2011"!!!
1. The Arab Spring
and the Fall of Gaddafi, Bin Laden and Kim:
So what happens with the hands-off approach to the mid-East? You get a focus on the human rights violations, corruption absolute control by a tiny percentage of the populace and a resurgent and largely peaceful push for change.
Thus, we see civil uprisings and protests in Bahrain, Syria, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Lebanon, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Western Sahara. That's not even mentioning the fall of the Yemeni Prime Minister and the out and out revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya (the lst of which was hardly a model of "peace", of course).
After years of oppression and unrest, it's amazing that the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back was the release of once-classified United States Government documents by the clowns at Wikileaks. Wow... the man who put the ASS in Assange actually did something right amid his date rape and ridiculous double standards.
Far be it from me to celebrate the death of a fellow human being, no matter how complete in their douchebaggery... but if there were ever three clowns who deserved an express ride to Judgment Day, it's got to be Osama, Muammar and Jong-Il, man! The best part about this whole thing is that Osama Bin Laden and Muammar Gadaffi lived to see their ostensible visions of Islamic Republics and the subjugation of women fail in both theory and practice as the very people Osama Been Hidin' was working on radicalizing.
That is to the extent that he was able to work at all. At least Gaffe-Prone Moammar Gadhafi or Muammar Qaddafi or Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi or Muammar el-Qaddafi or Muammar Khaddafi or Muammar el-Qaddafi or Moammar Kadafi or however you spell his damned name, had a public profile before and after his country started slipping through his fingers, and when he was gunned down he died with his boots on. Bin Laden on the other hand died as a recluse in a walled in compound in a poor neighborhood (which should have been a clue in itself) having not gone outside or communicated directly with anyone since Bush was president. My guess is he was sitting on the Toilet before he realized the Americans (my fantasy is, most of them were proud Jews) were busting in without even a quick "Ding Dong, Avon Calling". True to form, the cowardly son of a millionaire who was surely seething over reports of how completely he has failed, used his wife as a human shield before being gunned down like the animal he once was. My last speculation is that he's spending eternity being sodomized by Pig Demons!
Including Kim Jong-Il in this number is, perhaps, just a bit of a stretch, especially as the man died of natural causes and had nothing (that we know of) to do with the Arab Spring. However, here's a guy who actually succeeded in subjugating his people, convincing them (at least publically) that he was Devine (that part I can see... he sort of looked like that drag queen actor Devine, if you really think about it) and allowing his people to starve while he kept a vast collection of incredibly expensive Hennessey Cognac. Further, the man himself was quite obviously NOT starving.
Nor is his successor, the probably genetic clone Kim Jong-un.
Really, the only thing separating Kim from Gaddafi were language, latitude, longitude and style of dress... oh and the differences in their respective downfalls. The only thing separating Bin Laden from those guys is the fact that Bin Laden made those two other complete wastes of space look like intelligent, courageous, well-spoken and less insane statesmen.
Thank you, Axis of Idiocy! I can honestly say that the Arab Spring could not possibly have happened without your invaluable help! Right now people in the Arab world are speaking their minds, throwing away the Burkas and even voting. If the continued protests and demands for change are any indication, this is only the beginning. I'm glad you lived to see it. Now burn in Hell!
2. Doctor Who:
You know what the best cure for missing David Tennant's 10th Doctor is? Matt Smith's 11th Doctor!
The story of "The Raggedy Doctor in the Blue Box" went from an initially comical continuation of Tennant's final appearance, with some trademark "Doctor" shenanigans leading to a huge temporal faux-pas. From there the Doctor's family expanded (in more ways than one, cousin), we saw the return and the continuing saga of River Song (Alex Kingston) and just when 2011 dawned we witnessed the unraveling of time and the explanation for just how all of these varied threads come together... and, perhaps, fall apart all over again (this is, after all, The Doctor).
Starting with the saga of The Doctor's death and Viking Funeral(!), along with the promise that THIS time he's not regenerating, but is really, really, really dead, we launch through time with the all-too-nerdy, yet now cool-as-hell Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and the super-hot Amy Pond (Karen Gillan [see inset]) facing off with truly terrifying (and unforgettably forgettable) villains and coming full circle to explain and expand the mystery that started the season!
This, coupled with yet another touching (and brilliantly well-done) Christmas Special, has made Doctor Who quite possibly the best TV show of 2011 (Note: Lost and The Venture Bros. didn't air new shows during calendar year 2011).
Under the talented guidance of Steven Moffat, the show has managed to keep its classic Ray Gun style cheesiness, hilarious comedic moments and real drama and horror, often kept just under the surface and behind the eyes.
And if you need any more reasons to watch the show, may I direct you, once again, to Karen Gillan? Good God, man, she's hotter than that super-babe from Return of the Killer Tomatoes... and twice as RED!
3. South Park and The Book of Mormon:
South Park's fifteenth season started out a bit rocky, with some obvious and overly-gross out moves that still succeeded in being pretty brilliant satire (and probably the only thing in the history of mankind that could get me to watch a piece of uninspired pig shit like The Human Fucking Centipede). The early episodes seemed to prove many of their detractors right with storylines about penis size, crack babies and the stuffing of dismembered body parts into certain one-way orifices. The satire was still funny as hell, but the show felt just a bit more tired than in Season 14.
You can hardly blame the guys, though... they were a little busy... with the Biggest Broadway Show of 2011, man!
However, just when it seemed like the show was about to burn out completely (the mid-season finale ended on a cliffhanger that seemed to suggest creator-fatigue and the beginning of the end), the show roared back with a vengeance, creating some of the most hilarious episodes in recent history. Subjects ranged from the immigration debate to autism to the Occupy movement to the WikiLeaks controversy to glossy revisionist history documentary shows. That's not to mention a sequel to the whole Lemmiwinks saga, a revelation about one of their most hilarious side characters, the much-anticipated return of the great superhero Mysterion and a hilariously dirty expose on the creators of Broadway Musicals.
Speaking of which, meanwhile back on Broadway, The Book of Mormon was racking up incredible box office numbers and managed to win six Drama Desk Awards, eight Tony Awards and a whole slew of other incredible recognitions. Most recently the soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy.
Not bad for a Day's Work, man, if you can get it! Throw in a "Making Of" documentary and one of the best streaming websites on the... um... web... and you might as well grind up both South Park and The Book of Mormon into a fine powder, snort it or inject it directly into your veins.
But you still can't watch "200" or "201", can you, dammit? You win this one again, Xenu!!!
4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes:
The jewel in 2011's crown was this critically acclaimed and successful new entry into the Planet of the Apes saga.
Like its fellow Prequel, 2011's The Thing (more later), Rise of the Planet of the Apes went back to its source (less the original novel than the series that started in 1968) and found a valid story thread to fill in for a solid prequel. Existing as something of a remake of parts of both Escape From and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes a prequel to 1968's Planet of the Apes and a stand-alone piece, Rise (re-)told the story of Caesar, how he obtained his super-intelligence and the conflict that leads to the next stage in Earth's Evolution.
However, far from being a silly symphony of style over substance (see the 2001 "re-imagining") or even a retelling of the core story that everyone seems to know by now, director Rupert Wyatt constructed a smart and canny Science Fiction film with a message that still never comes off as Preachy. It's hard to imagine a film of this kind working on so many levels, from action thriller to tear jerker! With a cast like this and effects like these, not to mention one hell of a great script, the film succeeds on every one of these levels and became an immediate must-see.
In short, sure mankind is doomed and we're all about to be replaced by our hairier primate brethren, but hell, it could be worse. Could be Republicans!
Now, however, I could (and many would argue, probably should) pack it in, call it quits and consider the job done, considering that there is now a site that writes exactly the way I want to read... and does it a lot better than I do!
And it came from a most unlikely source. Cracked.com.
With very few exceptions, it wasn't. Cracked.com (the "wesbite" [sic]) is remarkably funny.
After attempting to rebrand themselves as a Maxim or FHM style hottie magazine (and failing miserably), Cracked vanished from the shelves with the promise to become a fascinatingly funny web presence sooner than later. And it did prove to be MUCH later, considering the fact that nothing funny appeared online until well after the magazine (and the elastic peeking "Cracks") had vanished.
It may have been off to a rocky start, but I'll be damned if Cracked.com is among the funniest sites on the web. In fact, what the hell are you doing reading this list? Stop bothering and just hit Cracked.com.
Plus, unlike THIS website, their writers post new material more than once every four months. Hell. I give up!
6. The Thing (2011):
Yeah, I know, I don't give two shits, I'm sticking to this one. It deserves a second look.
Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s 2011 film The Thing is far from a masterpiece, it's true. You want to know what IS a masterpiece? John Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing, quite possibly my favorite movie! Want to know who else thought so? The writers, producers and director of 2011's The Thing.
That's right... Universal Studios invited Producers Marc Abraham and Eric Newman to remake The Thing and they refused, instead opting to create a prequel, to fill in the blanks of the story that came before Carpenter's film... parts that Carpenter hinted at but didn't really tell the tale of.
The resulting film doesn't hit the quality of Carpenter's great thriller, but does one hell of a job when it comes to working as a viable and exciting prequel. The dots are wonderfully connected. Watch the films concurrently, you'll see what I mean.
The main complaint critics and audiences reported about the 2011 film is that it wasn't the 1982 film. Well, duh! The next complaint is that it followed many of the same tropes as the 1982 film. So, what, you do a sequel or a prequel to this film and expect the title Thing to simply engage the Antarctic research teams in a Chess Match? Maybe, I don't know... NOT bother infecting people or shape shifting? Oh, that'd be beautiful. Imagine the reviews if they had gone a completely different way and NOT stuck with the mythology of The Thing, as started in John W. Campbell, Jr.'s 1938 novella "Who Goes There?"
How about The Thing losing interest in impersonating people and building flying saucers out of spare parts and instead just steals people's bus passes and morphs into common household appliances. OH, SCARY!
There is a fine line between completely remaking a film for a prequel or sequel and truly paying tribute to that film, working hard to create a logical bridge between the two films, avoiding direct repetition while still remaining firmly planted in the source film's mythos. The Thing is far from perfect, but for what it is, it manages to be a great companion piece to an even greater film... and it more than deserves a second look!
7. Captain America: The First Avenger:
While DC Comics (in my opinion, the superior company) has been represented this year by a moon load of Green Cheese known as Green Lantern, Marvel made it count with not one but two excellent Super Hero Action Movies (among several other films that were, at least, good)... and both, if you can believe this, were Period Pieces!!!
The shield-throwing top-of-the-heap was Captain America: The First Avenger!
Director Joe Johnston was uniquely qualified to bring Marvel's awesome action hero to the big screen. Here he blends some incredible special effects with a very earnest Steve Rogers (well-played by Chris Evans) and a very cool period piece setting in the 1940s to bring us the best and most representative Captain America yet.!
Sure the costume has had some tweaks to make it more believable for the day and the use of Hydra instead of the main Nazi forces adds just a bit of a surreal, non-Historical backdrop. However, the end result is a respectful and Patriotic tale without approaching spitting distance of that line between "Go Team" and Jingoism. Further, anybody who appreciates any form of retro-technology (from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics to Brazil and beyond) have no business complaining about the fun in Captain America!
8. X-Men: First Class:
Having used up most of the damned Mutant characters from the actual COMIC book X-Men: First Class in the first four X-Men films, Twentieth Century Fox and the X-Franchise had to mine the Comic Book page for just about every other character aside from that politically incorrect Native American guy Thunder Bird, Maggott, who has Superpowered Slugs at his command, Slipstream, the surfer goober who pops between dimensions, Longneck, who has a long neck and that one Strong Guy named... um Strong Guy.
Luckily they were mostly loathe to create new goofs like "Huge Whacker", "Black Dude", "Intestinal Parasite Hanging Out of your Nose", "Canadian Woman" or "Inter-Temporal Roller Skateboarding Jackass"!
Instead, with very few continuity exceptions, Matthew Vaughn and company collected a very fine group of Mutants rolling all the way back to the Cuban Missile Crisis and re-tells the origin of the X-Men against the backdrop of the Cold War!
With Kick-Ass Cameos, a great story and one of the best ensemble casts in the history of Mutantkind, X-Men: First Class is more than just a Superhero film, but a very good sci-fi action movie in its own right.
This one is not part of the so-called "Marvel Cinematic Universe" but it apparently cured Leprosy in a Belize commune, run by a former Bolivian Volleyball star. It's true, man. I read it on Cracked!
9. The Oscars reverse the 10 Best Picture Mandate:
You see, such 2008 films as The Dark Knight, Wall*E, Speed Racer, Max Payne and The Love Guru all, somehow, failed to garner Best Picture Nominations, so CLEARLY it was beyond necessary to... you know, lower the fucking STANDARDS of the Academy!
Thusly the last two years have given us Best Picture nominations for cartoons, remakes, Timberlake vehicles about Facebook, Matrix-esque dream sequences, Alien Invasion dramas, a few good movies here and there and even Avatar.
Might I suggest that a few of these were unquestionably "Forced" into the most prestigious of categories? Might I add, FUCK YES they were!
Luckily (or, perhaps, necessarily, in fear that Transformers: Dark of the Moon might get a necessity nod), that infinitely wise Academy has recently reversed that decision... or, at least, REVISED it. The rules now read something like "no less than five films, no more than 10"!
Sounds like a Cracked.com list. (Sorry to keep harping on that. I'm addicted to Cracked.)
This is the smartest thing the Academy has done since they had Jack Palance throw that Oscar Statuette at Marissa Tomei, but considering the whiny ass "Mainstream" press that got us into this fucked up mess in the first place, I have to predict that unless there are a full 10 nominations this year, every douche bag with a typewriter will be complaining about just why the eff-you-see-kay their precious little imaginary choice didn't get the nod.
Look, folks, there is a REASON that the best selling movies aren't usually nominated. It's because "The Masses" most often choose to watch crap. Not always, but VERY commonly. And, let's face it, all it takes to be a "Must See" is a fat-ass advertising budget! Seriously, people, do we really want to live in a world where future Blu-Rays of fucking Sucker Punch will have that iconic image of that little gold statue on it? Get a JOB, people! By that logic, Fucking Human Centipede (Full Sequence) should get a nomination... Lot's of STUPID IDIOTS paid to see that shit! (No, actually, fortunately that one was a meager earner too). And is there anybody out there, really, who is screaming in pain at the injustice that IS the Oscar Snubbing of The Hangover Part II??? What about such financial successes as Twilight: Breaking Dawn or Paranormal Activity 3?
By way of shining that light back on myself, if ANY one of The Thing, Captain America: The First Avenger or X-Men: First Class was included (and/ or, jimmied) into the list of Ten Nominees, I would respond with a big "What? REALLY? No WAY!" (Rise of the Planet of the Apes might be nice, though!)
Have I made my point yet? Damn, I hope so! Therefore, if the Academy has the balls to nominate something around SEVEN theoretically deserving films for the most coveted of Cinematic Prizes, feel free to bitch and moan that Conan the Barbarian and The Green Hornet didn't EVEN GET NOMINATED. Push and push all you want, say that the learned and discriminating Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is out of touch with the people who drove all the way from their trailer parks to the drive-in to watch The Zookeeper while drunk on cheap wine!
Okay, maybe five people! Including me.
10. The Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (and other advancements in American Rights):
What's it mean? It means D.A.D.T. is D.E.A.D., BABY!
In fact, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" was repealed by majority votes in both houses of Congress (and signed by President Barack Obama) back in December of 2010, but wasn't certified before Congress until July of this year and wasn't actually removed as Policy until September 20 of this year of our Lord, 2011!
Still, some people are busy protesting this move, much as they are Universal Healthcare, because, as everyone knows, people who are attracted to their same sex can neither handle guns, nor march in sequence, nor respond to direct orders. It's a GLANDULAR thing, you see.
Right... tell that to the homosexual Military members who marched in San Diego's gay pride parade this past July OPENLY and IN UNIFORM. No, really, go ahead and tell them that to their faces... I want to watch you do it, man! There were like two hundred of those dudes and chicks and very few of them were new to their branches of the Service! Meaning almost every one of them has not only years of service to the United States of America but are, incidentally, also trained to kill you in about seven seconds or less!
So tell 'em, they're not worthy of serving in the Military. I'll wait... laughing my ass off at you!
In other news, New York became the largest state, to date, to allow Same Sex Marriage and the Obama Administration is no longer supporting The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA... you know, the act that "Defends" marriage by preventing people who love each other from engaging in it). This leaves more states to make the decision themselves... and while twelve states have specifically outlawed Same Sex Marriage, it's noteworthy that, in addition to New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and even Iowa now allow Same Sex Marriage as a matter of law. You hear that, Californian Prop 8 supporters? Iowa... Fucking IOWA... is now more progressive than we are in the Sunshine State. Yes, man, Io-fucking-wa now allows Gay Marriage and the state that actually CONTAINS SAN FRANCISCO still has it outlawed.
Say, have you ever noticed that the same guys who are big, burly and afraid of nothing at all are homophobic? "Phobic", as in "fearful"? Wake up, children! Homophobia is for... well... Sissies!
11. A Better Life:
Still, one of the best films of the year is, unquestionably, Chris Weitz' A Better Life!
This well-shot, yet low budget drama about an illegal immigrant from Mexico, raising his son alone as he struggles to avoid detection by police and works to keep his son away from gangs and drugs... is probably the best-acted film of 2011!
The script by Roger L. Simon and Eric Eason is superb and pulls no punches as it shows the plight of many immigrants in Southern California. However, this is no sentimental, glossy and unrealistic account of completely innocent, downtrodden people. Instead Weitz shows us many facets, good and bad, about this life, never apologizes or makes excuses for it, but takes special care to show that these are very real and often very hard-working people.
And, pilgrims, that's tough to do without becoming Preachy... which A Better Life never does.
As good as the directing and writing is in this film, and it is, Demián Bichir deserves the lion's share of the credit for pushing this film from good to great! Filtered through Bichir, Carlos is no pastiche or caricature, but feels like a fully real and realized person, as multi-faceted as the film on the whole, right there on the screen. His performance is nothing less than Oscar-Worthy... and with any luck The Academy will feel the same way.
Speaking of which, this will probably be that one film of mine that I'll be bitching about not making the 10th Best Picture Ballot Spot if it's passed over. Yes, A Better Life is that good. The title says it all!
2011's Greasy Spoonfull of Honorable Mention gets slung at The Muppets, The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory, True Blood (which should have made the list, man!), Dick City's removal from the Dune project (he sucks and should be ashamed of himself!), Scream 4, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, Source Code, Super 8 and The Lion King 3-D! The only way that movie could be better was with More Dimensions.
Sock it to me!
The 2011 Retrospective keeps on Trucking on the FLIP side with...
and with the Uncanny and Surreal...
Coming very soon... Same Bat Website!
Was 2011 Heaven?