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The Weeksly Late Edition – 29/12/07

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Hi there Boys & Girls, and welcome to my variety of picks for 2007. I’ve gotta say, I read other people’s lists every year, and there’s always the preamble of “Oh, this year was shitty for this & that”, but I think there was some great stuff out this year on the big & small screen, so without further delay, here it is, Weeksy’s annual “Best Of” list:

Film

1). Knocked Up
I’ve said it before, “Knocked Up” is now firmly in my top 3 comedies of all time. At both times very sweet and brutally funny, this was another home run for Judd Apatow after “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, and the entire cast were extraordinary from start to finish. It only makes you wonder, if original lead Anne Hathaway had stayed on board, would this be anywhere near as good? I don’t think you could have gotten a better pairing than Seth Rogen & Katherine Heigl.

2). The Bourne Ultimatum
When it comes to any film trilogy in modern times, you’re always waiting for that third film to completely suck, so you can lump it in with “The Godfather”, “Star Wars”, and the like. The fact that Paul Greengrass managed to improve not only on Doug Liman’s “Identity”, but also his first attempt, “Supremacy”, goes to show what can be accomplished when not only are the films near nothing like the original books (and you still don’t care), but you take the time to make it good. Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Brian Cox, Clive Owen – hell, anyone that had anything to do with these films deserves a big round of applause. The closest thing to a perfect trilogy you’re likely to see.

3). Zodiac
Here’s a split decision for an audience if ever there was one. In 2007, could an audience sit through a marathon of procedural based drama? The answer is: Not really. Thankfully, most people knew what they were getting into when they walked into “Zodiac”, and for those people that did, they were treated to the best film of its type since “All The President’s Men”, or to add a favourite of my own – “JFK”. An amazing cast under brilliant Direction by David Fincher, “Zodiac” is riveting from start to finish, and a great representation of the fear that captured 1970’s San Francisco.

4). Hot Fuzz
I had big fears for the Wright / Pegg follow-up to “Shaun of the Dead”. Never being able to get into “Spaced” made me fear that the other shoe would drop at any moment, but “Hot Fuzz” was just brilliant. Such a funny film, again thanks to the pairing of Simon Pegg & Nick Frost, but with the great cameos and supporting characters, it was just such a great viewing experience that I have no trouble giving it my seal of approval.

5). The Simpsons Movie
Boo! Hiss! Yeah yeah, whatever – I still love “The Simpsons” just as much as ever, and I thought the movie was great. There was just so many of those randomly funny moments throughout it that I just loved it. Whether it was “Spider-Pig”, or just those little moments like the cops making out in the alley, the other “Wanted” family in the convenience store, or the epilogue with Tom Hanks, the long-awaited movie was everything I wanted it to be & more.

6). The Kingdom
Peter Berg is one of my favourite Directors working right now, and going from “Friday Night Lights” to “The Kingdom” is another affirmation of that in my eyes. Picking a great cast like Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, and the always great Chris Cooper certainly helps to make the film what it is, but again, Berg shows a great eye for pacing and understanding what holds an audience to full attention.

7). Superbad
I’m always a sucker for the High School “Big Party” type films, and “Superbad” definitely fills that bill for me – with the exception that it’s extraordinarily filthy, which I love by the way. Whether you liked it for Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen or plain old McLovin, “Superbad” is one extremely funny movie, no two ways about it.

8). 300
While it’s destined not to win any awards for “Best Screenplay” come Oscar night, “300” does what it sets out to do – entertain the living shit out of the action junkie that resides in us all. Part visual trip, part music-video, the story of the 300 Spartans kicks all kinds of ass .

9). 3:10 to Yuma
A lot has been made about the Western returning (again) to the big screen this year with “Jesse James” & “3:10 to Yuma”, and for good reason. While “Jesse” is also a fantastic movie, the onscreen pairing of Russell Crowe & Christian Bale was a brilliant move by James Mangold, and along with new “It Guy” Ben Foster, this story of Good vs. Bad is a great one, with a great cast.

10). American Gangster
Whether everything but the names & dates are bullshit, Ridley Scott has made a phenomenal flick with Denzel & Russell in the leads. Denzel makes a great Bad guy, and the period detail is spot on in the story of a petty street thug and his rise to the top of the Cocaine business in 1970’s Harlem. Featuring a funky as shit soundtrack (culminating in Public Enemy’s “Can’t Truss It” – a long time favourite of mine), this was definitely a good year for Russell Crowe – pun absolutely intended.

Worst Film Of The Year

“Bratz: The Movie”
Shockingly awful shite that may have done something for the kiddies of the world, but when I have to go along to see it as well, It’s a different story. I’d rather have a pencil kicked into my scrotum than sit through that horrible rubbish ever again.

Most Overrated Film Of The Year

“Once”
Yeah, yeah – Boo Hiss again. I’m sorry, but this was just another one of those airy-fairy flicks that I’d been told time & time again was brilliant, and so damn wonderful – bored me to tears. I’ll agree, the soundtrack was great, beautiful music – but just a big “So what” at the end of the day for me.

Most Underrated Film Of The Year

“Breach”
This was definitely downplayed by the local rep – but he knew I was a fan of the espionage genre, so he recommended it to me, and I’m bloody glad he did – Ryan Phillippe & Chris Cooper are both phenomenal in it – well worth the price of admission.

Best Documentary

“Sicko”
Had me riveted from beginning to end, which is starting to be a definite trend with Michael Moore. An absolutely fascinating look at the U.S. Health Care System as compared to some other countries around the world – the effect it has had on the latest batch of Presidential hopefuls is only too transparent.

Best Action Film

“Live Free Or Die Hard”
To be completely honest, it was a toss up between this and “Shoot ‘Em Up”, but c’mon – It’s John McClane for fuck’s sake. Even watered down Bruce is better than no Bruce – Plus, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is smokin’ hot.

Best Horror Film

“30 Days of Night”
Again, another toss up, this time coming in slightly ahead of the better than the original – “28 Weeks Later”, but I was incredibly impresses with how the translation from Graphic Novel to big screen was handled with this flick – The vampires were creepy as hell, and i think even the naysayers would have to agree that they don’t hate Josh Hartnett & Melissa George quite as much as they think they did after seeing this one.

Best Drama

“Eastern Promises”
After seeing this, I’m convinced that Viggo should only ever work with Peter Jackson or David Cronenberg for the rest of his career. Following on from their collaboration on “A History Of Violence”, “Eastern Promises” continues the great return to form of Cronenberg, and demonstrates once again what great cinema can mean.

Best Kids Film

“Transformers”
Is it a kids film? Probably not in the sense of a “Ratatouille”, but it’ll do just fine in my book. Giant robots beating the crap out of each other along with Shia & some more smokin’ hot chicks equals supper happy fun time in my book.

DVD Release Of The Year

“Blade Runner: Ultimate Collector’s Edition”
Sneaking in just under the time-line, this 5 disc exhaustive look at one of the best films of all time deserves a place on anyone’s shelf. Whether it’s Ridley’s “Final Cut”, the chance to see the original Theatrical Version (voice over & all), the rare Workprint version, or the incredible 3 and a half hour documentary on the making and release – this has it all.

TV

OK, it’s definitely been a rough year (at least in the second half) due to the writers strike, but there has still been some amazing TV this year, so here’s my picks for the small screen of 2007.

1). Friday Night Lights
Without a doubt, “Friday Night Lights” has been my favourite small screen pleasure this year. The continuing story of the Dillon Panther’s football team, and the surrounding members has grown week to week in my book, and the acting is simply some of the best you’re likely to see, especially when it comes to Kyle Chandler & Connie Britton.

2). Life On Mars
Here’s a show I got into a little bit late to really sing the praises of when it was on the air (the second and final season finished early 2007), but the story of a modern day London Detective being hit by a car and waking up in 1973 did it for me in a big way each and every episode. Some people were disappointed in the series finale, but I enjoyed the loose ends more than anything. For those missing it, the spin-off “Ashes to Ashes” is coming in 2008.

3). Dexter
Here’s another show that keeps getting better and better. The second season picked up & improved on the first (already excellent) run, and delivered many of the must-see moments of the year in the hunt for the “Bay Harbor Butcher”. I never really got into “Six Feet Under”, but I can’t imagine why after seeing Michael C. Hall in this show. The finale in particular was incredible – “Dexter” is the very definition of must-see TV.

4). Big Love
Another show that picked up and ran with the brilliance of its first season, and continued to improve as it went along. Bill Paxton has long been one of my favourite actors on the big screen, and along with the great supporting cast, I can’t wait for another season.

5). The Sopranos
Although I wasn’t terribly impressed with the first half of the final season of “The Sopranos”, the second half definitely got back to what made the show consistently great throughout its run. All the complaints about the ending seemed to fall on deaf ears to creator David Chase, but I happened to be a big fan of it – I kind of appreciated the ambiguity, even with some of the lacklustre tying up of loose ends (Phil Leotardo’s demise in particular wasn’t an exceptional event in the history of the show considering the massive build up), but I for one will definitely miss the show next year.

6). Scrubs
Still the most consistently funny show on TV in my book, it’s hard to believe that it is in its final season after 7 great years. This is one of those shows that has been badly affected by the Writer’s Strike, but the good news is that ABC have apparently re-affirmed their commitment to pick the show up for the remainder of the season if NBC pass, and Bill Lawrence has said he will ensure that the show gets a proper send-off. Zach Braff & John C. McGinley are gonna be missed big time on NBC’s Thursday night line-up when it ends.

7). Battlestar Galactica

Another show that’s just about to enter into its final season, and another show that I only got into late in the second season – but trust me, I totally get now why this show is so huge in the online community. I’ve tried to get other people into it, but with not much success. I just figure playing the last 4 episodes of season 3 should do it in the future – some of the best TV this year.

8). Lost
After the disappointing second season, I was really hoping that they would pull “Lost” back on track for Season 3. Then, for the first half – I was convinced the show was well & truly dead – it was moving slower than ever, the flashbacks were stretching to beyond ridiculous at times, and the previously background characters were getting more and more annoying as they became more prominent. Thank god for the second half, because it got back to some of the best episodes since the beginning of the show – the last two in particular were incredible, but I’m gonna miss Charlie.

9). Heroes
My number one pick last year has fallen just a touch in my picks only because of some truly lacklustre storylines during the first few episodes of Season 2. However, Tim Kring told the audience that things were going to get better, and get better they did. It’s a shame that it took quite as long as it did, but by the time Volume Two came to a close, and we got a glimpse of “Volume 3: Villains”, i was firmly back on board. Now, is it just me, or does anyone else get a real “Days Of Future Past” vibe from Peter’s forward travelling in time? If you don’t know what I’m talking about there – get onto Wikipedia.

10). Journeyman
More than likely 100% gone barring some miracle, I really enjoyed “Journeyman”, if only because of its resemblance to “Quantum Leap” mixed with a little bit of “Frequency”. It’s a shame that NBC have been so quick to bury this offering given the support they’ve shown to other shows as of late – so fingers crossed that the miracle happens and we get to see some more.

Worst Show Of 2007

“How I Met Your Mother”
Thank god that other people are also starting to get a little more vocal on this one as well throughout the web. I thought the show was horrible when it started, and I still feel that way now – I love Alyson Hannigan & Neil Patrick Harris, but please – for the love of Jeebus – give them something better to do on the small screen.

Greatest TV Moment Of The Year

“Lost” – Jack & Kate’s Final Moments
I personally though that the way the final episodes were handled in the typical flashback fashion was very well done (although opening up another bucket-load of questions – who the hell was in the coffin?). But the last revelation that the flashes were actually set in the not too distant future, and that at least Jack & Kate had gotten off the island was one of the best moments of the year.

Best Show That Didn’t Survive

Viva Laughlin (Kidding) – “Drive” (Serious)
I’m not counting “Journeyman” out quite yet, otherwise it would be here – but I was really digging where “Drive” was headed. Kind of like “Lost” crossed with “The Cannonball Run”, it was just great to see Nathan Fillion back on the box in a regular slot – but Fox in their usual trigger happy ways didn’t get 13 million viewers per episode, so apparently it had to go. A real pity.

Worst Pilot Of 2007

“The Sarah Connor Chronicles”
Speaking of Fox – trust me, there’s a reason that this hasn’t hit the air yet. Really, really, really, really, really, really, really horrible. I know the teasers and even the posters to some extent make it look all hip & cool, but this is a really shitty pilot in all ways from the premise on down. If you thought Fox axed “Drive” quickly, wait ‘til you see how long this lasts, especially considering the budget.

Best Show That Hasn’t Aired Yet

“Swingtown”
Kind of like a cross between “That 70’s Show”, “Big Love” & “Boogie Nights”, the return of former “Melrose Place” star Grant Show is a great show and the pilot is a good indication that this is going to be the anti “Desperate Houswives”. Not sure when this is finally going to start airing, but trust me – this is one to watch when it does.

Biggest Disappointment Of 2007

“Prison Break”
Well – my fears came true, and the part of Season 3 we got was pretty damn awful. It’s unfortunate that they really didn’t wrap things up at the end of the second run – because it has become painfully obvious that they’ve run out of material – other than rehashing the main parts of season one…… again. I know that it’s returning for something of a “3.5” season, but that will be it (from what I’ve been told) – and probably not a moment too soon.

Alright peoples, that’s me done for another year – I’ve enjoyed talking to you all once again in the Forums and through the e-mail, and look forward to getting back to something a little more regular in the new year – until then, be good dammit.

Cheers,
Adam Weeks.

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