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PopMatters Picks: The Best TV, Film, and DVD of 2010

The lack of clear consensus and the more personal nature of the picks makes PopMatters Picks for 2010’s media best both scattered… and decidedly personal.

Edited and Produced by Bill Gibron and Sarah Zupko

It’s been called the worst year in the history of cinema (a bit strong). It’s been heralded as the Year of the Mother (are you paying attention, Melissa Leo and Kim Hye-ja?), the year of Geek blowback (sorry, Scott Pilgrim), the year of the mainstream mindf*ck (Inception?, Black Swan? ) and the year of the nu-auteur (hmmm…). For many, the backloading of awards season material meant that January through November felt underwhelming at best, while mega-monster hits like Iron Man 2 and Toy Story 3 seemed to monopolize most of the Summer season discussion. To be fair, 2010 was kind of a letdown, a less than stellar motion picture year which needed the last four weeks to lighten its lame reputation. Granted, with greatness like The King’s Speech, True Grit, Rabbit Hole, and The Fighter, it’s hard to argue with such a strategy.

Of course, the bigger question surrounds the media in general. As the web takes over the distribution discussion, as iPads and laptops become the delivery system of choice for millions of moviegoers/TV fans, where does that leave the so-called “traditional” market? Will there be a time when shows like 30 Rock and Breaking Bad only exist as a download, when the latest celluloid release will actually be simultaneously available for instant streaming on Netflix while playing at your local Cineplex? Rumor has it that one company is about to introduce a home theater system that will allow you to see first run films as they are playing as part of a wide release. The cost? A mere $20,000. You just know that somewhere, some rich idiot with too much money and moxie on their hands is signing up.

One really shouldn’t worry about the temptation of technology. Movies and TV has been decrying each other since Ricky loved Lucy, and both have managed to survive with their aesthetic (and their bulging bank accounts) intact. Sure, the science may be different, but the communal confusion caused by the final shot of Christopher Nolan’s dreamscape thriller or the equally enigmatic finale to Darren Aronofksy’s ballet brain-buster require audience groupthink to work. Indeed, shows like The Walking Dead, Community, and Fringe feed the Web den fascination, merging the various formats in a way that signals the true shape of things to come. Forget 3D and its increased ticket price passivity. Like the baseball diamond in Field of Dreams, if you build a better movie or TV show, the masses will definitely come.

None of this makes rating the final results any easier, however. PopMatters’ staff were often split on where the accolades should go. From a boob tube perspective, there is as much broadcast as cable. Similarly, the film faction bounced around incessantly, celebrating titles both indie and obvious, obscure and as recognizable as a flaunted Facebook application. In the end, it’s safe to say that any of the many choices championed here could be sitting in the top spot. While consensus was close on a few of the efforts, the general feeling was one of personal, not public appreciation. So maybe it wasn’t the worst year in the entire 100 years of the artform (TV never seems to get such a strong sentiment). Maybe it would be best to call it 365 days of differing opinions and be done with it. It would definitely be more acceptable… and accurate.

—Bill Gibron

Thursday, January 13 2011

The Best Documentaries of 2010

A remarkable number of documentaries challenged basic assumptions about structure and representation, faith and truth.

Tuesday, January 11 2011

The Best Films of 2010

Among this year's winners include a fake documentary, a comedy about Jihad, a vampire story NOT dealing with tacky tween romance, a haunting hillbilly noir, and an elegant tale about clones. Not necessarily the usual cinematic suspects.

The Best TV Shows of 2010

Running the gamut from the ever-present to the new and novel, PopMatters' TV picks prove that, as a medium, the small screen challenges the big at every entertainment (and aesthetic) level.

Monday, January 10 2011

The Worst Films of 2010

When Hollywood delivers the stink bombs, they are strident in their creative stench. Need proof? Just check out the ten titles below.

Undead and Kicking: Zombies and Betty White Ruled TV in 2010

It was difficult to turn on your TV this past year without seeing the undead... make that the undead and Betty White.

Sunday, January 9 2011

Head Trips and Virtual Life in the Films of 2010

Many of 2010's best triumphed not by rejecting the artifice or fantasy of filmmaking or gaming or dreaming, but by hopping between worlds, ever beginning.

Thursday, January 6 2011

The Year in Television Conspiracies

Secret, usually evil, plots dominated TV drama in 2010, from Lost, Rubicon, and Persons Unknown to 24, V, Flashforward, and Terriers.

Wednesday, January 5 2011

The Best DVDs of 2010

As the medium continues to struggle with significance in the steady "streaming" of the 21st Century, here are PopMatters' picks for the best the format(s) have to offer.

Suffragette City’s Best of 2010 Cinema

What’s black and white and blue all over? 2010’s finest films. Suffragette City investigates all of the major awards categories, offering up choices that are about as far a field from the Hollywood/Oscar PR machine as one can get!

It Was a Very Good Year for Film

Now that the first decade of the new millennium is done with, despite what the snarking class might say, the state of film is very healthy indeed -- even considering atrocities like Sex and the City 2.

Mean Streets: Take a Closer Look at Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘Biutiful’

Alejandro González Iñárritu makes up for the lack of challenging cinematic adventures by looking at the microcosm of Barcelona's “dark side” through a magnifying glass in his latest film Biutiful. What he finds might shock you. PopMatters gets some insight into one of the year's most underrated films from director Iñárritu and star Javier Bardem.

Tuesday, January 4 2011

The Best Male Film Performances of 2010

Heroes and villains, criminals and crazed creative types: the 20 best male performances of 2010 definitely run the dramatic/comedic character topography... with a few unusual turns tossed in for good measure.

The Best Female Film Performances of 2010

The ladies really lit up the big screen, delivering the kind of brilliant acting work that makes picking a mere 20 that much more difficult, let alone unearthing a clear number one.

Monday, January 3 2011

The Guilty Pleasure Films of 2010

A collection of 10 films that make us feel bad for loving them so - though we can easily defend each and every one... we think.

The Guilty Pleasure Television of 2010

As if it wasn't already a lamentable leisure time suck, here are ten more reasons why TV rules our daily routine - perhaps more than it should.

Sunday, January 2 2011

The Best Independent / International Films of 2010

PopMatters launches our six-day look at 2010's best film, TV and DVDs by spotlighting the 25 best indie and international films of the year, highlighted by a host of superb documentaries, a stellar film from China and one of the finest works of "hillbilly noir" ever.

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