Rachel Smachel (franlock) wrote,
Rachel Smachel

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Best of 2011

11. Les Miserables 25th Anniversary - "To love another person is to see the face of God."
Some things are so perfect they can be redone over and over again without ever getting old or losing their
original glory. Except, Anne Hathaway has already been cast as Fontaine in the film adaptation of the musical.

Yes, I am one of those saps whose heart soars and bursts into fireworks every time Eponine and Cosette sing Jean Valjean to his death. Nick Jonas was a sad Marius, who failed to vocally command the music as it should be, but everybody else was a dream. Every time I or a member of the household I was currently abiding flipped through the channels and saw this rerun on PBS we all had to stop and watch it, and sing along with the tone-deaf bravo only ever heard in the shower.

10. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I Soundtrack - "Feels years, leaves knots, bleeds burst, keeps an honest man."

The worst film saga continues to have a boss soundtrack.

I know, I know, guilty as charged. The whole romance disturbs me, most of the characters annoy me incessantly, the messages it sends to women and girls about love and relationships concerns me deeply, Bella is the worst romantic heroine MAYBE EVER, but yet...the wedding. THE WEDDING, guys. I felt things. And the honeymoon scene where she's shaving her legs and brushing her teeth? Also felt things there. Dare I say, there was momentary fondness? So yes, I enjoyed the film, especially the absurd-melodramatic elements I have found only in the greatest and crappiest of fanfiction. The film may be a guilty pleasure, but the soundtrack is not. It is a solid compilation of musical gems (minus Bruno Mars, who does not shine so brightly). I listened to "Endtapes" over and over again, full-blast, and head banging.  For a while, this soundtrack was my major jam music of 2011.

9. Contagion - "It's figuring us out faster than we're figuring it out."

Some say the world will end in fire. Some say in ice. Stephen Soderbergh says a contagious disease will

Some people love the horror of romantic ghouls and vampires equally attractive as they are deadly, other's the sadism of a little girl/doll/anything related to childhood including but not limited to clowns/serial killers. And then there are some who enjoy the absolute horror of not one but maybe four Alvin and the Chipmunks movies in the past ten years. Me? I am all for the biohorror. For this epidemiology-virology enthusiast, the premise of Contagion was irresistible. Casting Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Jennifer Ehle and Marion Cotillard to sort out this apocalyptic biological massacre was the chocolate-covered coating that made this film a real treat.

8. Arthur Christmas - "Dear Gwen: Do believe in Santa, he is real."

Finally, one of the world's greatest mysteries is answered and we get a glimpse into the life of one of
the most secretive families.

This holiday film infused my holidays with some much needed Britmas. They already had me at James McAvoy voicing the Rory Williams-esque Arthur Claus, but Hugh Laurie's Steve Claus's Georgio Armani santa suit, and the punk wrapping elf with the eyebrow piercing, and Gwen with her welly boots in Trelew, Cornwall? I was not expecting such utter delight.

7. Super 8 - "I know bad things happen, but you can still live."

J.J Abrams continues to sort out his daddy issues on screen.

A J.J Abrams written and directed film with all the kitschy fun of The Goonies about an alien-air force invasion of a small town in Ohio with Kyle Chandler and Elle Fanning, and at the center of it all  - a heart of gold shining through it all that only J.J and his team could pull off in a summer blockbuster.

6. Fringe - "Sometimes what we have in this world is not what we want, but we have our hearts and imaginations to
make up for it.

Fringe continues to delve into the ethical, social and political consequences that arise when science and
technology runs faster than we can keep up with it.

remains constant despite continually reinventing itself. Despite all the alternate realities, universes and futures, and the crazy-scary science, the characters and their relationships are what ground the show and remain the most compelling element.  I appreciate how the show embraces characters with mental disabilities, outcasts, eccentrics and proves that disabilities aren't necessarily disabilities. As Seth Gabel (Lincoln Lee) said, "All these eccentricities that people normally perceive as being off, or not being able to contribute in some way, they have an incredible purpose, you just need to have a greater context for it." The fact that John Noble has not won, let alone been nominated for his performance on Fringe goes down as one of the biggest snubs in Emmy history.

5. Merlin - "If this is meant to be I'm not afraid. I will gladly die knowing that one day Albion will live."

Colin Morgan and Bradley James star in this hip updated retelling of the Arthurian legend in this BBC series.

Discovered this show over the summer whilst counting down the days for Deathly Hallows Part II on my aunt's couch, browsing through her Netflix, and watched all three seasons in about three weeks. Highly entertaining,  I had to pause an episode sometimes for a moment and clutch my laptop because I was laughing so hard or  I had to pause and catch my breath because I was so enthralled in the rich storytelling, my breathing had gone shallow. Sometimes heartbreaking and unconsciously poignant, Merlin left me with twinkling eyes and a heavy heart that still managed to smile weakly despite the tragedy. The show perfectly balances the mythology, character development, humor, and drama beautifully like a well-executed yoga pose. And the cast! Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Katie McGrath, Angel Coulby, Richard Wilson, Anthony Head - What a talented, lovely bunch.  When Colin cries, I cry. It's like a sympathetic response or something, I can't control it. And the knights! Having them dressed like that in their Camelot Knight get-up with the chainmail and swords is dangerous to the heart. I definitely watch this show with the defibrillator nearby, I mean forget the knights - Shirtless Arthur and  Merlin's neckerchief are enough to send me into v-tach.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II - "He's still with us...in here."

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint brought us to the epic conclusion of the Harry Potter
series this year.

A beautiful last performance from everyone. There was a precision to their acting, a desire to do everything possible to hit every not perfectly. There was a much-deserved standing ovation as the curtain closed on this shared era side-by-side between the audience and the characters they grew up with. The film paced the action and emotion of the story skillfully, so that one did not overpower the other. Instead they coexisted, taking turns gracefully from each other like a waltz. The film managed to maintain the dark, gritty overtone necessary to establish the epic-scope of the story, but appropriately infuse a good sense of humor and minor side character interactions  to mitigate the tension, and echo the original whimsy of Harry Potter's earlier years. The Ron/Hermione kiss was passionate, and sweet. I COULD NOT FULLY APPRECIATE IT HOWEVER BECAUSE RUPERT'S HEAD WAS BLOCKING THE ACTION AND I WAS LIKE, "WHERE IS MY CLOSE UP?" Everything's got to end sometime otherwise nothing would ever get started. We don't want the things we love to end, but they do and they don't. Through love they continue to live on - a second life, a more passive life, but a life nonetheless. Once something is created it can never be destroyed, it can only be transformed from one state to another. The boy who lived left an impression on my childhood and adolescence, that neither time or age can erode. Harry Potter created something in me that will continue to thrive and shape the rest of my life. It's time to grow up, but never to forget, only to move forward.

3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - "The story is unfinished. The world is still waiting."

Karou is about to discover who she really is in a world of angels of demons, and which side she's on.

I started this book during Fall semester and pulled it out periodically, but whilst on my way to Munich for upcoming holiday festivities, my hands were glued to my Kindle. My eyes were tired, and strained, but I had to finish. I was possessed with that madness that only a really good book inspires. The story was mesmerizing in the depth of its creativity and imagination. The writing is lush, and vibrant with a distinct, unique personality like the heroine herself - Karou, a blue-haired, tattooed young adult with a taste for monastery-turned restaurants with coffin tabletops and gas -masked Marcus Aurelius statues. Like a Baz Luhrman film, the book sweeps you up into this enchanting, almost theatrical world, that's bold, bright, and brassy, but with romantic and subtle undertones, that somehow shine through the elaborate facade. And Laini, you had me at your pink hair. High five a new favorite author!

2. The Girl Who Waited, Doctor Who - "This is kindness."

Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) is stuck in a hostile, quarantined, two-streams planet, and waits rescue before
a lifetime flashes before her eyes.

THIS EPISODE. Cried like a champ in the hallway of my apartment, because that's where I could access the internet at the time. An unforgettable addition to the D-Who arsenal of amazing. Rory and Amy - OTP, much? This episode is possibly Doctor Who's finest hour. K-Gill, Ar-Darvill, and Mattie Smooch deserve an Emmy or a BAFTA  or both for this episode alone. The story hits on and develops major themes and character relationships of the series in such a compelling, creative, and ultimately inspiring way. I loved this episode, absolutely fell in love with it, and frankly became a little obsessed by it. It embodies everything that I hope to accomplish creatively someday in my artistic pursuits.

1. Once Upon a Time - "Believing even in the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing."

Jennifer Morrison is going to bring back the happy endings to our favorite fairytale characters trapped in
our world by a powerful curse.

This show was how I spent my birthday. It was me, kouign aman pumpkin bread pudding, and Hulu. It's like the TV gods got together and decided to bless us with a show created, produced and written  by a smorgasbord of Lost-Alias-Buffy alumni's.  I am so involved in this show my emotional range for certain episodes of this TV show could have become an amazing, epic roller coaster ride. In fact, "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" induced a cascade of tears not shed so dramatically  since seventh grade's traumatizing viewing of, "I Will Remember You." I am still not over Hipster Irish Sheriff Graham's death, but I have come to admire the absolute perfection of the storytelling and performances of that episode. My inherent romantic sensibilities just devours Snow and Charming like a pint of Ben & Jerry's. I completely own the girlish noises I make in the scenes that they are flirting together in. And my far-off, misty-eyed expression, with the open mouth and everything when they are together period. While watching one episode with a friend, he told me I reminded him of Mary Margaret Blanchard, and my heart practically soared out of my chest, partly because she's my favorite character, but also because that means I might be destined for a Josh Dallas Charming doppelganger. I am so excited by this show. It's a breath of creative fresh air for television, in a country where we either remake things, steal them from Britain, or try to be creative, but just end up remaking the same show with a different title and different actors, and a country where Dancing with the Stars continues to top the charts. The horror, guys! What it boils down to is this: There is no question as to my location on Sunday's at 7PM. So psyched  to figure out who Dr. Whale is! And Emma Caulfield next week!

Tags: best of the year, fringe, harry potter, once upon a time
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