The Media Crunch
Taking a Bite of Entertainment….Daily

2008: The Best of Favorites

2008 was filled with a great array of music, film, television and new gadgets. Here’s my compilation of my favorites of the year.

This list is broken down into two categories. The best is what I believe to be the best in any given category, whereas my favorites are just that. The two can be completely different. All of these listings were released in 2008 and correspond to that year, unless duly noted.

Favorite Movie of ’08

The Wrestler

This was going to be the Dark Knight at first, and why shouldn’t it be? Heath Ledger gave a stunning last performance as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s follow up to 2005’s Batman Begins. A great script, great sets, great performances and movie making that pushed the boundaries of what exactly a comic book film adaptation could be. It was not only the highest grossing movie of the year, but one critically adored, sure to get a few Oscar nominations as well. However, my mind was changed after I saw Darren Aranofsky’s the Wrestler, and so my choice is that instead.

Darren Aranofsky (of Requiem For a Dream Fame) cast Mickey Rourke in what is sure to be his comeback performance, one that will definitely garner him an Oscar nom for Best Actor. Following the life and interpersonal relationships between him being Randy the Ram “Jam” and trying to fix the damage he made with his estranged daughter, and the career he put before everything else. It’s a moving portrait of a man trying to gain control of his life and a character study. At first glance it looks drab, but give it a chance and it may just be one of your favorites as well.

Best Album of the Year ’08

Didn’t listen to a lot of 2008 albums, but of those heard, my vote goes to Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III, which has already racked up 8 grammy nominations. Coldplay’s Viva La Vida is another one, as well as Duffy’s Rockferry.

My Favorite Album of ’08

It is Aimee Duffy’s album “Rockferry”. This Welsh export has new Dusty Springfield written all over her. She epitomizes the sound of the late 60’s soul music and packages it for the 2000’s. With a voice that sounds better live then on the record, and ten well crafted songs, this album was on a lot.

My other pick is Kanye West’s “808s & Heartbreak”, the fourth experimental album in which Kanye uses an auto-tune to sing about love and loss. He turned his tragedy into a catchy piece of innovation. I also listened to Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocketful of Sunshine” a lot, it’s a decent pop album that got a lot of play.

Favorite Musician of ’08

Besides those listed above, I’d like to add Taylor Swift as one to watch. This girl is a walking hit factory who plays guitar, sings and writes her hits. She’s already garnered millions in sales of her first two albums, and if she keeps it up she’s going to have lots of longevity in the business.

Best Gadget of ’08

The iPhone 3G

An iPod, a Phone, a GPS, a device with full on Wi-Fi where you can update your Facebook. All in one. This is a product that, like Steve Jobs said in his keynote, “would revolutionize the cell phone market.” It already has.

My Favorite Gadget of ’08

Playstation 3

Not only does the Playstation 3 allow you to watch Blu-ray’s, but it has a built in SD slot reader for you to pop in your card and watch your pictures on the big screen. Wi-Fi so you can use the browser, hook up a mouse and keyboard and surf the net. Yes, you can watch Youtube and update your Facebook from this device as well. Rent movies (including the Dark Knight) from the Playstation store, rip CD’s, save your movie files to the hard drive  to watch at any time or turn on Folding @ Home to aid Cancer research. It does something for everyone. Oh yeah, and it plays games too.

Favorite Television Show ’08

Breaking Bad

Emmy winning Bryan Cranston stars in this AMC original show as a High-school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with lung cancer. His chances of surviving it are grim, and so to support his family in case he dies, he teams up with a former student to make crystal meth. Across seven episodes the acting was on par with anything in a major Hollywood movie. How Bryan Cranston went from Malcolm in the Middle comedic to this amazes me.

Best Video Game of ’08

grand theft auto iv

This is a game that not only pushed the boundaries of what a video game could be, but also demonstrated what they could achieve in cinematic story telling as well. With a 30 hour storyline that was written as well as a Scorsese movie, involving a living, breathing world that most film makers couldn’t even accomplish, this was better then what most other entertainment mediums came up with this year. Niko Bellic, a Russian immigrant has to decide what is right or wrong at times, and moral choices are always a good thing. Modeled after New York City with realism in mind, this is a game people will still be talking about ten years down the line.

Favorite Game of the Year

Rock Band 2

I really like to drum, a lot. I can’t count how many hours I put into this thing, and I may just move up to the real drum kit soon. The soundtrack was phenomenal, Steely Dan, the Allman Brothers Band, AC/DC, Indie favorites like Modest Mouse and Silversun Pickups. Over 300+ songs to play, four instruments, it never gets old.

Favorite Person of ’08

Bill Maher

It takes serious balls to make a movie like Religulous, and Bill Maher has balls of steel. From comedian to social commentator, Bill Maher takes on Religious people’s beliefs and points out the flaws in their logic. Saying what other people are thinking but don’t, he proved what Religion is when viewed rationally.

Least Favorite Person of ’08

George Bush

Nobody else besides Sarah Palin deserved this spot. I’ll try and keep it short, so: Recession.

What I learned in ’08:

That I’m harder on myself then anyone could ever possibly be.

To disco dance. I do a lot of research for my writing and Boogie Down on Her was centered around the disco clubs of the 70’s, so I taught myself how to do it to assist with the character creation.

That my writing isn’t actually that bad, see number one.

Predictions for 2009

I think that electronically backed pop music is going to be the biggest thing in the music scene. So far the 2000’s went from Rap to Emo, and I think it will go to this next, as it’s already been progressing there for quite some time. Think Lady Ga Ga or Dragonette. Clubbing will be more common place, and an even bigger focus will be on technology and gadgets. Video gaming will become more mainstream and accepted due to the booming rhythm game genre and the casual titles offered by the Nintendo Wii.

Other Favorites (Non ’08 but within this year)

Favorite Movie: Magnolia, last year it was Garden State.

Favorite Musician: Fiona Apple (Three years and going)

Favorite Album: Either When the Pawn… from the artist listed above or Joel Plaskett Emergency’s Ashtray Rock.

Favorite Television Show: A tie between Freaks & Geeks, and ALIA[S].

New Year’s Resolution:

Besides some personal things that won’t be written down, I’d also like to finish some of the projects I was working on but never got around to finishing. After losing interest and taking a break from writing, I’d like to pick up a rhythm and complete these ideas, some of which are already almost done. It’d be nice to put a conclusive end to “Separating Sydney” and “’99 Hotshot.”

That’s my list, hopefully 2009 is a better year then the last.

Happy New Year everybody!

-KB-

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