The Media Crunch
Taking a Bite of Entertainment….Daily

2009: The Best of the Year

2009 marks the end of a decade filled with a cultural shift in terms of music, film and technology. Like other best of lists, this one compiles what TMC feels are the best releases in every category. Picks are selected on craftsmanship, ability and the potential they have to stand the test of time. All releases came out this year.

Best Films:

Inglorious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds is a French cinema film masquerading as an American war picture. Its two and a half hour run time flies by with performances that are some of the best of the year. Christoph Waltz’s turn as “the Jew Hunter” Hans Landa is certainly a contender for a Best Supporting Actor nom at the next Academy Awards in addition to the screenplay. Relying on his ability to write some of the most unique and captivating dialogue on the screen, Tarantino crafted a movie that works with lots of tension, slow building sequences and panning camera shots. Who knew a WWII pic with very little action could be so fun to watch?

UP

Pixar proves once again that they are ahead of the pack in the animation industry with a moving film about a widowed man who wants to live out his dreams. The nearly silent 10 minutes near the beginning showed that if done right, computer imagery can provide as large an emotional response to viewers as human actors can. Much more than what it initially seems, Pixar adds another classic to its growing list with superb direction and animation.

District 9

Director Neil Blomkamp’s and Producer Peter Jackson’s failed attempt at bringing a Halo movie to the screen gave way to this future sci-fi classic. Immediately separating itself from others in the genre with its documentary style presentation, D9 is gritty, futuristic and real look at an alien race told to move off its residence. The things that set the movie apart from others in its genre is the way it cleverly deals with xenophobia and social segregation; it manages to not only provide an entertaining and action packed thrill ride, but deliver it with a message that isn’t thrown in your face.

Best Music:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs: It’s Blitz

On the follow-up to 2006’s Show Your Bones, frontwoman Karen-O wanted to take the bands sound in a new direction. While adding sythns and pop hooks added a new flavor, it still retained that YYY’s sound. “Zero”, “Dull Life” and “Heads Will Roll” are the band at its finest.

Bob Dylan: Together Through Life

At 68 years old, it’s a wonder how Bob Dylan can still crank out albums like this, especially considering it’s his 33’rd studio release. His voice as harsh as ever with the lyrics just as sharp as in the past, Dylan rolls along with ten more bluesy songs that hook you right from the beginning.

Franz Ferdinand: Tonight Franz Ferdinand

Opening with foot thumper “Ulysses”, it seems as though Franz are still going for their main goal, “Making you dance”. While they shake things up a bit with more electronic bits than days past, they still deliver a focused and engaging effort. “No You Girls” may be a de facto dance song for years.

Others: U2: No Line on the Horizon, Joel Plaskett: Three!, Julian Casablancas: Phrazes For The Young

Best On Television:

Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston’s performance as High-School chemistry teacher/meth dealer Walter White earned him his second consecutive Emmy win for best actor. Truly deserved, he revealed this season that he may not be as nice as initially assumed. Covering up the bodies of dead drug dealers, allowing someone to overdose who was getting in the way of his partner’s work, he showed new sides of himself while the never ending tension and drama grew through these twelve episodes.

Dexter

Will Dexter ever again get to face such an opponent as the Trinity Killer? Maybe it’s just because John Lithgow plays him so believably well that there can be no other to match his cunning and wit, or maybe it’s because no, he can’t be matched. Arguably the best season yet, Dexter’s hunt for the biggest serial killer of his career provided viewers with nail biting suspense, huge twists and a shocking payoff. The most exhilarating show of 2009? Possibly. Lithgow should be a shoe in for awards at the next Emmy’s.

Others: Mad Men, 30 Rock

Best Video Games:

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Naughty Dog delivered a more than worthy sequel that has now placed the series as the Playstation 3’s killer app to beat. Gamers trekked across vast locations in search of the Cintamani stone, an ancient treasure hinted at by explorer Marco Polo. Playing out much like the virtual equivalent of a summer blockbuster, Uncharted 2 was a testament to how far games have come. Great writing, visuals, voice work, pacing and exciting action and design make U2 not only one of the best games of the year, but one of the best of all time.

COD: Modern Warfare 2

The juggernaut that grossed $550 million in just five days arrived with a thundering boom that had game companies clearing their release schedules for the entire month. Even with some of the controversies the game arose to be a massive critical and commercial success, moving 4.7 million units in its first 24 hours. With addictive multiplayer and a Michael Bay-esque campaign that involved Russia invading the USA, developer Infinity Ward delivered on their promise to one up everything from the first title.

The Beatles Rock Band

Finally the fab four’s music is available to play with plastic instruments. Spanning across their entire career, the game brings the music of the Beatles to a new generation of ears. Inciting a modern day Beatlemania upon release (it coincided with their album remasters) the game provided players with great visuals and art that complemented the timeless music of the band it was paying tribute to.

Others: grand theft auto: Episodes From Liberty City, grand theft auto: Chinatown Wars (DS), Assassins Creed II, Batman: Arkham Asylum

Best Gadgets:

The iPhone

The iPhone, as the advertisements always claim, is not just a phone but an iPod, an internet device, game player and a mini-PDA loaded with a seemingly endless stream of apps. Though some users gripe about the price, coverage and ATT’s service, it’s hard to deny just how capable and functional this device is. It’s ahead of the pack by quite a bit.

Playstation 3

Finally getting its much needed price cut and redesign this year, the Playstation 3 provides users with a multi-media device/mini-computer that functions on multiple levels. The ads weren’t kidding when they said it could do anything. Want to plug in your digital camera and save/play your photos off the hard drive? Check. Want to rent movies and tv shows or stream video? Check. Rip CD’s, have access to an internet browser and play Blu-ray’s? Check. It also plays games, but at this point its resume is so large that can be seen as an afterthought.

Other Categories:

Hottest Celebrity: Megan Fox

Best New Television Series: Modern Family

What will come in the new decade is just ahead, but for now, this is it for TMC’s list. Have a great New Year’s and feel free to voice your opinions in the comments section below.

Written By: Kyle Bulai
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