Welcome to Smugglivus 2011! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2011, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2012.
Who: Our movie-reviewing Smuggler, the awesome Lavanya Narasimhan, who reviewed Water for Elephants for us earlier this year and who will be doing more page-to-screen reviews for us in 2012!
Please give it up for Lavanya, people!
This was a strange year because I found myself not liking—or in some cases, hating—things that others were raving about. Cases in point: X-Men First Class, Drive, Like Crazy, Two Broke Girls, this season of Modern Family, etc.
But there was SO much to love this year. And so, my 10 favorite things I watched this year, in no particular order (except for the last one):
Every since Rock ‘n’ Rolla and then Inception, I’ve become a big Tom Hardy fan. But I wound up so involved in this slow-build, high-emotion, modern-day Rocky that by the end I was crying and rooting for him, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte.
I’m a sucker for superhero movies. And I really wasn’t expecting this one to be good. But it was; eschewing the “realistic” treatment of superheroes lately, director Kenneth Brannagh turned this into an intergalactic Shakespearean epic. And he could not have found a better God of Thunder than Chris Hemsworth, who oozed charm.
This movie made me feel like a kid again. Correction: it made me feel like my seven-year-old self, two feet away from my TV screen, watching E.T. for the thousandth time. Sweet, exciting and with the bonus of Kyle “Coach Taylor” Chandler, this was different and a throwback to the golden days of Spielberg.
Three words: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I will watch anything he’s in and this actually made me laugh while I cried. His performance was spot-on (particularly the scene in the car) and the understated romance between him and Anna Kendrick only made it better.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
After hearing rave reviews for Elizabeth Olsen’s performance, I didn’t expect it to live up to the hype. It did. She did, as the scared and quiet runaway from a cult in a movie that was so much like it’s main character. It made the viewer feel as trapped and terrified as she did and I still get chills thinking about it.
Misfits– Seasons 1 & 2 (Not 3)
This British show has been running for a couple of years, but I watched both Season One and Season Two in January and Season Three ran this fall. Here’s the thing: I thought Season Three sucked. No Robert Sheehan, no continuity, and the only redeeming factors were Kelly and Seth. But the first two seasons were irreverent, at times perverted, and hilarious. And the cast had great chemistry, even if the plotlines weren’t always completely solid.
Parks & Recreation
With the absence of 30 Rock, P&R was easily the funniest show on television. Amy Poehler is perfection as Leslie Knope, the go-getting, upbeat government worker, but it’s the ensemble, with literally everyone at their best (with special mention to Nick Offerman as government-hating, meat-loving reticent boss Ron Swanson), that really makes this show the most fun to watch. If I were to recommend one episode from this season, it would be The Treaty. Watch it. Model UN will never be that fun.
Friday Night Lights
I love this show. I love this show so much that I actually didn’t watch Seasons Four and Five because I didn’t want to run out of episodes, ever. But I manned up, and finished Season Four a few days ago and now, I’m going through five and this is still the best drama on TV; perfectly-acted and honestly felt. These are characters you can relate to, that you care about. And Coach/Mrs. Coach remains my One True Pairing. This is the closest thing you’ll find to a perfect—and real—marriage anywhere on screen.
This is one of those little-watched shows that gets compared to Friends because the premise is the same. Six friends hang out. And there are similarities, but Happy Endings is sillier, more modern and so much good fun. Like P&R, the characters are sweet and genuine but not cloying.
And that’s my list of ten. But honestly? My favorite thing that I watched this year is probably what my favorite thing that I’ll watch next year will be:
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. That’s right. It deserves all caps. I saw the prologue (without having to sit through Mission Impossible, score!) and it felt thoroughly Nolan-ian. The opening with the main villain, Bane, as opposed to the hero, the airplane stunt, that fantastic score; even with the garbled Bane voice (which is supposed to be dubbed), I was so excited. Then the second trailer debuted, and the whole theater and I went “oohhhhh” during the football field scene. And that cast! I’ll stop now because I could write pages about Nolan, TDK, BB or even the Batman lore respectively, but as awesome as 2011 was, I cannot wait till July 20th, 2012.