I know, I've all but taken the month of December off. It was a combination of deadlines for Push #5 and #6, along with Genius #1 -- all three of which needed to be delivered before year's end, and were – craziness at the job (in case you hadn't heard, we had some severe layoffs at EW and, as a result, my workload has effectively doubled), and general holiday mania.
But it's the end of the year and, as such, time to reflect. And, because I'm an entertainment junkie, naturally I use pop culture as my lens. So, here's the shit that I loved this year:
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. Good God, if you haven't seen this you really should. A fable, to be sure, and an incredibly vibrant and moving one. Danny Boyle is giving Steven Soderbergh a run for his "I'm gonna make a film in every genre and make it well" money.
FALLOUT 3. Thoroughly realized post-apocalyptic setting + excellent role-playing engine = 40 hours happily spent at the Xbox.
CASANOVA. Someday I'll unhinge my comic writing so that it's as follow-your-bliss as Matt Fraction's. At times it feels like Casanova is the man's subconscious idea of what a spy movie ought to be – and that Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba have tapped right into that subconscious. And other times it's just brilliant.
THE DARK KNIGHT. Well, duh.
WALL*E. Just beautiful, heartfelt filmmaking. The purest romance I've seen all year. And that's counting Slumdog.
GRAND THEFT AUTO IV. So what, it's essentially the same open-sandbox crime game as the last three. I don't care. Rockstar does this kind of shooter better than anyone. Their recreation of the New York metropolitan area was scary in its verisimilitude. And fun to blow shit up in.
IRON MAN. Yes, I've got a problem with the second act – in that there isn't really a second act, just a dude working in his garage – but given that Iron Man is just a dude in a suit, Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. made sure that dude was interesting to watch.
DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-A-LONG BLOG. I want to be Joss Whedon's squire. And I had no idea I liked Neil Patrick Harris so much. Go figure.
IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA. Caught up with this show on Hulu. So wrong, in so many ways, that it's right.
FABLES & NORTHLANDERS. Brian Wood made me a believer: Vikings do rock. And Bill Willingham had a plan all along, and watching it play out was a joy to behold. Vertigo can still deliver the goods.
BURN NOTICE. Smart, funny, and educational…if you're looking for an education in pseudo-spycraft. Jeffrey Donovan is perfect as the ex-spook stranded in Miami and looking for a ticket back to the bigs – his off-kilter smile never extends to his eyes.
LEFT 4 DEAD. The multiplayer game of the year. Nothing is as thrilling as rolling through a zombie-occupied burg with three buddies, shooting everything that moves, watching each other's backs, and holding off the Horde while waiting for the chopper to lift all of you to safety.
DEATH RACE. Gives me hope that you can do a basic exploitation flick these days. Simple formula, pulpy execution. Nothing but fun.