2010 will be over by the time you read this, most likely.
I won’t be sad to see the year go. It’s been a tough one, creatively and personally, and it’s taken a toll on me here in print, I believe. There are things I wish I’d done, things I’d like to have published, coverage I think I could have done better. I know the New Year is an arbitrary moment that we picked to signify the change from old to new, but I like that symbolism. Always have. I like packing a year away, putting a lid on it, and moving on.
One of the things that’s particularly nice about the end of the year is sifting out the things that really mattered to you, the pieces of pop culture that you want to keep. I’ve already published my ten best of the year and my ten runners-up, but there were a few other things that I leaned on this year for distraction and enrichment. Here, then, my short list of…
The Top Five Things That Weren’t Movies In 2010
“Red Dead Redemption” (PS3)
The single most satisfying entertainment experience I had this year was the time I spent playing every single square inch of Rock Star’s latest game, this exceptional Western simulation that finally gave me the feeling I’ve wanted from every other Wild West game I’ve ever played. The gunfights, the stagecoach robberies, the sunsets over the desert… the memories I have from the game aren’t about individual moments. They’re more like the memories I’d have from an actual physical vacation somewhere, and I suspect that as games become even more sophisticated, these memories will become even more tactile. The age of “Total Recall” is here, and losing myself in this particular story was deeply rewarding.
Yep. I’m glad I took the ride, and nothing changed that. I recapped the last two years of the show here at HitFix, and I’m glad I did. It forced me to really focus on the home stretch of one of the most confounding, frustrating, and intoxicating TV shows of my lifetime. I love the show for the entire journey I had with it, and when the Blu-ray set of the entire series showed up here at the house, I spent a weekend watching a few of my favorite episodes, a few of my favorite scenes. And no matter how I feel about this or that element of the way things wrapped up, there were so many high points along the way that “Lost” will always occupy a place on my shelf, and it will absolutely call me back for another trip through at some point.
Barbecue day before BNAT
If you watch any of the shows that the Travel Channel or the Food Network run about the various dives and roadhouses and burger joints around the country, then you might appreciate one of the most enjoyable afternoons I’ve spent this whole year, a day that took a group of 20 of us about an hour south of Austin to a town called Lockhart, Texas, where barbecue is serious business. We went from place to place, sampling the fare at each stop. The two restaurants that compete most directly are Smitty’s and Black’s, and at each of them, I had food so good it made me want to eat a vegetarian. The reason the day stood out is because of what a big and strange collection of friends and colleagues it ends up being each year, and it reminds me how very fortunate I am that the simple act of writing about movies could bring so many great people into my life. I am a blessed man, and when things aren’t going exactly the way you want, it’s easy to see yourself as a victim. Being reminded that the exact opposite of that is true, and that I am as lucky as any person could ever hope to be, is exactly what I needed to approach 2011 with my head held high. If you were part of that Lockhart run this year, thank you. I needed that.
“Eastbound and Down, Season Two”
I am so thankful that Jody Hill and Ben Best and David Gordon Green and Danny McBride are in this world and that they all got together to bring us the adventures of the one and only Kenny Fucking Powers. This entire season of episodes is the comedy equivalent of Kanye West’s toast to the douchebags, an exploration of a character so curdled and wrong that he swings back around to greatness. There is no one else like Powers on television, and we’re probably better for it, but I treasure every twisted second of his journey of self-discovery in Mexico this year. The entire cast was great, with Deep Roy unleashed in a way that I doubt we’ll ever see from him again and a special appearance by Don Johnson that was beautifully cast, but it’s McBride that reached deep and gave a performance that transcended comedy. Kenny Powers is something special.
The Making Of The Empire Strikes Back
I’ve never read a better book about the making of any movie, much less a film as iconic as “The Empire Strikes Back.” The materials that they gave to J. W. Rinzler to use in putting his book together were extraordinary, but he put them together in a way that illuminated just what a miracle the movie was in the first place. Whether it’s the suspense of whether or not Yoda will end up working or the amazing passage that details the genesis of the carbon freezing chamber sequence between Han and Leia, the book lays bare the myths that have long surrounded all things “Star Wars” and makes me admire and respect the effort that brought this exceptional fantasy to life all over again. More than that, though, it reconnected me to the reason that “Star Wars” ignited my love of the process and potential of filmmaking in general, and for that, I cannot possibly thank the people involved enough.
On that note, I’m off to celebrate the turn of the New Year, and when we speak again, I’ll start to lay out my plans for how to make 2011 the best year yet. I’ve got a surprise for you in mid-January that will introduce you to a new character of mine, and it’s going to be the beginning of what I hope will be an amazing 12 months both here at HitFix and in some fun new places as well.
I appreciate each and every one of you who has taken the time to read me here at HitFix this year, or at Ain’t It Cool before that, and just know… I take your readership seriously. You have a million options available to you, and I’m well aware of that. I hope to continue to earn that readership with all of my ongoing and new endeavors, and to reward you for your attention.
Be happy. Be safe. And definitely be here Sunday night for my interview with David Fincher.