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2010 Features

The Best Films of 2010 - The best movie of 2010 was David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin's The Social Network.

The Best TV Series of 2010 - The best TV series of 2010 is NBC's brilliant and irreverent Community.

The Best Movie & TV Posters of 2010 - I don't believe that 2010 saw the release of many great movie posters. In fact, when compared to years past, the design of posters this year has been lackluster at best. It seems as if in 2010 many of the designers of mainstream movie posters relied on essentially the same "look;" a shot of one or more members of the cast from the knees up. It doesn't matter if the poster was for a romantic comedy like The Bounty Hunter, a post-apocalyptic thriller like The Book of Eli or the teen-friendly The Twilight Saga: Eclipse each of those posters were a few among many that used a variation on the "knees up" photo.

Aliens Ate My Neighbor - I've always loved the science fiction notion of intelligent aliens that come to the Earth to, simply put, eat people. It's a bizarre notion that an alien species would a) have some sort of culture of their own that's been around for thousands of years, b) develop space travel that allows them to roam (at the very least) the galaxy and c) also just happen to have a taste for man-flesh. Regardless of how preposterous this idea may be it's been turning up in sci-fi stories for the last 50+ years.

The Walking Dead - The only creature from the horror genere I can think of that's more tired and overused than vampires are zombies. Since the shambling undead came to back prominence a little more than eight years ago with 28 Days Later (2002), according to Wikipedia there's been more than 400 films released to date that have dealt in whole or in part with zombies. To put that number into perspective, also according to Wikipedia, in the 34 years between the release of the first modern zombie film Night of the Living Dead in 1968 and 28 Days Later there were only 210 zombie films released.

Never No More - On September 24th a TV anniversary quietly passed by that few took notice of. On that day back in 1995 the doomed series Space: Above and Beyond (S:AAB) premiered on Fox.

Define "Comic Con" - I've been a comic book nut going back as far as I can remember. I was the kid with a small tub of comics in the closet that over the years morphed into a couple of boxes of comics that finally became ten very large comic boxes that now take up a good portion of my bedroom closet. So, it's little surprise that my highlight of every summer the last 15 years has been my annual pilgrimage with friends to the second largest comic book convention in the US; what's now called the Chicago Comic Con.

Fall TV Preview - The 2009-10 TV season will probably be remembered as the year the network sitcom returned to top prominence. CBS had top rated sitcoms with Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory while Modern Family on ABC was a hit with the coveted 18-49 age demographic. And while sitcoms on NBC didn't do as well ratings-wise, 30 Rock, The Office and Community were all critical darlings.

You are not you. You are me. - The most talked about and critically acclaimed movie this summer is Christopher Nolan's Inception. While I greatly enjoyed that film, I was a bit disappointed that while Nolan injected the film with a lot of great ideas the overall story was none-the-less paper thin. But, regardless of what I thought of the movie, Inception is just the latest in a long line of movies to focus on dreams/dreaming.

Mad Men, Good or Great? - The fourth season of the most critically acclaimed drama on TV, Mad Men, returned to AMC a few weeks back. I've been a huge supporter of the series since it debuted and have consistently called it the one of the best series on TV. But the fourth season of any TV series is unusually important for the long-term viability of a show.

Movie Trailers - Did I Just See What I Think I Saw? - I had a conversation with a friend a few weeks back about his experience with the movie Splice (2010). He said that the trailer for the film made Splice out to be a combination of films like Alien (1979) and Frankenstein (1931) when in fact though the movie did share certain elements with those films Splice was something wholly different. 

The TV Drama Conundrum - Until very recently, I thought that all modern TV dramas should be in the Battlestar Galactica (BSG)/ The Shield/ Mad Men format. That is, the series is presented with one long overarching story that has a beginning, middle and end which is revealed over the run of the show. I believed that the "old" way of TV dramas, where the series has a beginning, lots and lots of meandering middle and only and ending when the ratings dictated it, was obsolete. These "old" types of shows don't follow a series long story and instead tend to rely on episodes with self contained stories that don't nearly interrelate like episodes from modern ones.

Click here to read my columns on the Mad Max movies (slightly edited) on one page, or you can read them separately in their original forms below:

Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves - This is my final column reviewing the three Mad Max movies. If the first Mad Max (1979) film was about a man lost in revenge and the second The Road Warrior (1981) was about redemption then the third Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) must've been about Tina Turner, her golden pipes and a band of roguish children.

Pray that he's still out there—somewhere - Last time we talked about the film Mad Max (1979). This time the focus is on The Road Warrior (1982). The Road Warrior picks up a few years after the events of Mad Max. If the world of Mad Max was teetering on the brink of collapse then the world of The Road Warrior has completely crumbled ruining whatever was left of civilization in the process.

…Remember, He's on Your Side - When I was in high school my favorite film was Road Warrior (1981). I think the reason that film appealed to me is that it presented a sort of nihilistic view of the near-future that I've always found interesting that was also being explored in films like Escape from New York (1981), The Terminator (1984) and Alien (1979). The main theme of these films seemed to be that the future might not be as great as we might have once imagined and that this bleak time could be here before we know it.

Lost is Over and I Feel Duped - I've been a fan of the TV series Lost since the first episode was broadcast on ABC back on September 22, 2004. Since then, I've devoted several columns to the series as well as too many blog posts to count. Lost was unlike anything I had ever seen on TV and seemed to be written and acted by some smart, funny and adept people.

Star Wars Memories - Like a lot of kids born between the mid-1960s and early 1980s the original three Star Wars films were a big part of my youth. So, it was with an odd sense of "holy-crud that was a long time ago!" that I recently read that The Empire Strikes Back (1980), was released 30 years ago May 21. Though I now believe that Empire is the strongest of the original trilogy, I didn't always think that way.

The Modern Comic Book Film - Comic book characters have had a long history with the movies. As far back as the early 1940s Superman, Batman and Captain Marvel were all fighting villains in movie serials and there were film versions of the 1950s Superman and 1960s Batman TV shows released in those respective decades. But it really wasn't until the late 1970s with the film Superman (1978) that comic characters really came to the forefront of the movies and were seen as a major audience draw.

Comics Worth Collecting - I've been collecting comic books in one form or another for as far back as I can remember. The early ones I recall having were a few issues of Spider-Man and Batman along with a oddities like Mad Magazine and the Star Trek comic from Gold Key all tucked away in a box in our toy closet. And though the height of my comic collecting craze (the three c's) was probably from 1992 to around 1999, to this day I still buy comics. The one major difference between then and now is that while I used to visit the comic shop each week looking for new issues of my favorite titles, now I tend to buy collected editions of comic titles.

What to Watch this Spring - As the TV season races towards its summer break and the multiplexes take a quick breath before the crush of the upcoming summer movie season, there are some interesting things to catch on TV and watch in theaters during this transitional time of year.

Summer Movie Preview - Each summer film season seems to have some sort of theme, be it a summer with a few films about asteroids about to smash into the planet or one chock full of films about future civilizations. Unfortunately, the last few years the theme has consistently been "remakes, comic books and TV adaptations" and this summer seems no different in that respect.

Underbelly: It's a Jungle Out There - I've been a big fan of the Australian crime series Underbelly for the last several years now. Unfortunately for most Americans, though, Underbelly has never officially aired anywhere in the US which means that no matter how many people I extolled the virtues of the series to didn't really matter since most couldn't easily see the show. Luckily, though, Underbelly just began airing here in the US on the DirecTV channel The 101.

The Best Films of 2009 - Admittedly, I am a big fan of writer/director Quentin Tarantino. There are very few films of his that I don't consider classics and I'm one of the few who found his last film Deathproof as part of Grindhouse (2007) brilliant. Needless to say, when Tarantino's latest film Inglourious Basterds about a Dirty Dozen-esque team of allied agents fighting Nazis during WWII was announced I found myself giddy with excitement.

Best TV Series of 2009 - To be honest, when I first heard of Modern Family last summer, I wasn't that much interested in the show. Everything I had read and seen about the series made it seem like it was yet another comedy meant to appeal to as wide a range of audience as possible. And when a comedy tries to appeal to, well, everyone it's almost never that funny. But when I actually started seeing promos and clips from the show online, I had a major attitude adjustment. In fact, Modern Family is one of the most unique and funny comedies that has aired in quite some time.