Film

PopMatters Picks: The Best Film, TV and DVD of 2009

No, no fancy or fun subtitles. No all encompassing phraseology meant to delineate the entire 12 months in a particular medium. It was that kind of year -- 2009, the end of the new millennium's first decade. It was not a year where one filmmaker or film stood out. It was not a time when TV reinvented itself. DVD remains a strong, if starting to struggle format.

Edited and Produced by Bill Gibron and Sarah Zupko

No, no fancy or fun subtitles. No all encompassing phraseology meant to delineate the entire 12 months in a particular medium. It was that kind of year -- 2009, the end of the new millennium's first decade. It was not a year where one filmmaker or film stood out. It was not a time when TV reinvented itself. DVD remains a strong, if starting to struggle format, and for every acceptable bit of entertainment, there's the standard guilty pleasures and undeniable duds to balance things out. So why gussy things up with unnecessary hype? After all, the Hollywood studio system and its broadcast/cable partners in crime do enough of that as it is. Let's not add fuel to a fire that, frankly, could always remain unlit for a little while longer.

Indeed, if you look over the lists of the top films, TV, and DVDs of 2009, you'll see many of the usual suspects. Heck, with just a few minor modifications, the boob tubes selections from the last two years could easily substitute for the small screen choices now. Of course, there are some obvious exclusions -- 24, South Park, The Simpsons, Top Chef, House -- programs that used to command consistent consideration among our writers are nowhere to be seen this year. It's the same with film. Many of the more celebrated entries (Precious, Up in the Air) aiming for statue satisfaction in the next few months are far down the list, while a new generation of viewers push the more mainstream entertainments (Star Trek, Zombieland) higher up the charts.

Oddly enough, it was the international and independent category that showed the most spark. There, complicated and challenging cinematic experiments (The White Ribbon, Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant "reimagining") effectively illustrated the kind of daring and audacity that Tinseltown lacks. And what does it say about DVD that almost half the entries are classic films from Hollywood's Golden Era, repackaged in amazing anniversary editions, or complete seasons of classic (and not so famous) TV shows? In fact, with Blu-ray maintaining its meddle as a viable HD solution, it looks like the technology that killed the VCR will be slowly sinking in the future. On the plus side, 2009 was an amazing year in performances. From abusive mothers to sly and slick SS officers, it was just one sensational acting turn after another.

Still, in an attempt to manufacture a year-ending Best Of, PopMatters staff was resolute. Almost all of the top choices in each category were by more than majority consensus. In some cases, the entire top ten of a particular medium was mandated by a vote of two-thirds or greater of the writers participating. That didn't mean that there weren't flukes, picks practically flying right under the radar and onto our charts. But in a survey where almost any title -- film, series, or digital package -- could argue for equal accolade, it was clearly not an easy process. Even more intriguing is where this final tally will land, once a decade wide poll is taken. Who knows -- maybe the Best of 2009 won't even rank. It wouldn't surprise us if they did or didn't. It was just that kind of year.

-- Bill Gibron

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image