Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Great performances in 2010: A few of my favorite things

I tried to write about my favorites in movies and TV this year to the tune of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music. After my first stanza,
Leo in Shutter Island and Inception
"Does the top stop spinning?" everyone questions
Tom Hardy so good as Eames in disguise
Will be nominated for Best Picture in the critics' eyes
things quickly went downhill with my rhyming attempts to fit all my ideas into a certain number of syllables per line. So instead I made a regular list, mostly limited to what is now out on DVD.What were your favorite things on TV and in the movies in 2010?

◊◊ "Teenage Dream" performed a cappella by Blaine (Darren Criss) and the Dalton Academy Warblers on Glee
I have no idea how many times I rewound my recording of the "Never Been Kissed" episode to watch this performance. I do know that "Teenage Dream" became the most downloaded Glee cover ever and that in his first guest appearance on the show, Darren Criss, known mostly for playing Harry Potter in "A Very Harry Potter Musical," became an instant heartthrob. I also think it made many people forget Katy Perry ever sang the song in the first place. The song was arranged, with background vocals performed by, Tuft University's male a cappella group The Beelzebubs (although they did not actually appear in the episode). Click here to read about their involvement on Glee. Watch the video:

Listen to the song on the CD Glee. The Music.Volume 4.

◊◊ The comedies She’s Out of My League and Going the Distance both had hilarious casts with wonderful chemistry. In She's Out of My League Jay Baruchel, T.J. Miller, Nate Torrence, and Mike Vogel have a very tight friendship. The other supporting actors are just as funny: Lindsay Sloane as Kirk's ex-girlfriend Marnie, Hayes MacArthur as Marnie's new boyfriend, Kyle Bornheimer as Kirk's brother Dylan, and Jessica St. Clair as Dylan's fiance. See my full review here.

I'm guessing many people did not go see Going the Distance due to how quickly it disappeared from theaters. Well, I recommend you check out a copy from the library. The chemistry between Justin Long and Drew Barrymore shouldn't be too much of a surprise, since they are a couple in real life, but I loved how director Nanette Burstein (American Teen) captured the moments between them. This is one of Drew Barrymore's best roles and the movie also made me a fan of Justin Long. Romantic comedies often feel so contrived and plastic, and this movie, about a couple trying to make their long distance relationship work, just felt real. Christina Applegate heads up a great supporting cast, including Jim Gaffigan, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day.

◊◊ Michael Shannon in The Runaways: Shannon steals the movie from Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart as Runaways manager Kim Fowley. I didn't even realize it was him until I read the closing credits.

◊◊ Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, directed by Edgar Wright, was one of the most entertaining, creative, and fun movies of the year. As Pilgrim, Michael Cera is quite soft-spoken and non-confrontational but turns into a different person playing bass as part of the band Sex Bob-Omb. Kieran Culkin, as Pilgrim's roommate, Wallace, steals all his scenes. Did I mention the awesome soundtrack?

◊◊ Troy and Abed's friendship on Community. The show, which features one of the strongest casts on TV, is currently in its second season on NBC. Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) are usually featured in the scene that plays while the credits roll at the end of each episode. My favorite one is the following "Anthropology Rap" featuring Betty White:

◊◊ Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon. I know I wasn't alone when I became emotional watching Andy drive away to college after having one last round of playtime with his beloved toys. And paying extra to see Dragon in 3D was definitely worth the money-- I felt like I was soaring through the air!

◊◊ The Kids are All Right features award-worthy performances from not only Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo, but the actors who play the teenage kids, Josh Hutcherson as Laser and Mia Wasikowska as Joni.

◊◊ Jimmy Fallon's opening number at the Emmys. This combined so many of my favorite things (Glee! Lost! Choreography! Jon Hamm!) I came close to spontaneously combusting:

◊◊ I thoroughly enjoyed watching Chloe Grace Moretz Kick Ass. Hollywood seems reluctant to allow anyone except handsome young men to don superhero tights, but here is a 13-year-old girl taking care of business.

◊◊ The funny and smart Easy A and its luminous star, Emma Stone, who even displays her singing talent in the film.

◊◊ Harry Shum, Jr. in Glee and Step Up 3. On Glee, Shum plays Mike Chang (jokingly referred to as "Other Asian"), who is usually in the background if he isn't dancing. Since he doesn't have that many lines, I always tend to watch his facial expressions and reactions in the group scenes, because I think he is quite a talented physical comedian. And though he doesn't have a lead role, you can't miss him when he dances toward the screen leading his crew in one of the battles in Step Up 3.
Glee: Season 1 on DVD: Find it in the catalog!

◊◊ The engrossing film The Town. Directed by and starring Ben Affleck, with another standout performance from Jeremy Renner, seen in last year's The Hurt Locker.

◊◊ The sixth and final season of Lost. I loved how the show ended and think it did the characters justice. Months after the airing of the finale, I'll still get teary-eyed thinking about Jack in that final scene. If you never caught the show, now's the perfect time to watch all the seasons back-to-back (and get your Lost on).