06 January 2010

What Life was Like 6 Days Ago: 2009 in Review

Slightly late but without lacking any of the pizazz, I'd like now to welcome you, dear readers to Norwegian Morning Wood's Official Review of 2009. Now, admittedly the following lists are going to be 85 - 90% complete bullshit. This will become immediately apparent, but follow along with me anyway.

I will take you know through the greatest parts of our collective pop culture over the last year, going through the best songs, television shows and then movies. I'll admit really knowing next to nothing about modern music beyond Top 40, so do with the following what you will:

Top 3 Songs of 2009:

Consider these either the most popular, crazy songs that should serve zero purpose towards the advancement of our civilization:

#3: "Poker Face" by Man GaGa (#1 on Billboard Hot 100 April 25) - This shit was everywhere, gave GaGa a career and an incredible South Park appearance.
#2: "I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas (#1 on Billboard Hot 100 July 11) - Summer 2009's Champion Song certainly gets an automatic place here.
#1: Clearly "New Divide" by Linkin Park reached an unforeseen peak of artistic creativity for the music industry.

Honourable Mention: I will give kudos to "That's Not my Name" by the Ting Tings for being one of the most legitimately brilliantly catchy pop hits of the summer, one that was completely unavoidable during the week of July 11 - 18.

Top 3 Albums of 2009:

#3: Malice n Wonderland by Snoop Dogg (December 8). Doggfather at his best, heralding an era of rap that relied only on weed, rims and real gangsta shit, less autotone and candy innuendos. Yes, Snoop is not replete of those.
#2: Incredibad by The Lonely Island (February 10). Enough joke songs to become a legit great comedy album, including funding enough SNL skits to aid the production one of the show's greatest seasons ever (34).
#1: Backspacer by Pearl Jam (September 20). Because it was Pearl Jam and it was ok, best of the year.

Top 5 New Shows:

#5: Parks and Recreation (NBC), might as well be an Office spin-off but with enough original characters, ideas and their own gut-busting commentary on shitty local government to make it worth watching.
#4: Sit Down, Shut Up (FOX). I actually enjoyed the irrelevance of this show a lot during its five-week run in Primetime. The animation style, some character treatments and Miracle's boobs were pretty original, if not trite half the time.
#3: Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien (NBC) Despite some recent awkwardness, the first few weeks of this show was the greatest Late Night talk I've ever seen. Period.
#2: Secret Girlfriend (Comedy Central). 'Nuff said.
#1: Community (NBC). Clearly the best show of the lot, this is quickly gaining its footing to what it wants to be in the comedy world. Ranking already among some of the greatest Halloween and Christmas specials of definitely all time, I'd love to see this get picked up for a significant run. See Also.

Top 5 Returning Shows:

#5: Now since cancelled, Life on Mars (ABC) was just getting interesting during the earlier half of this year.
#4: I flatly don't believe this show deserves its three Emmys (and counting), but 30 Rock (NBC) is still one of the greatest shows of our time.
#3: LOST (ABC) somehow got more ridiculous, and probably made more threads than it tied up, but the way they handled time travel without skipping a beat and hardly a paradox was incredibly impressive last spring.
#2: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (F/X) keeps getting better, and its Fifth Season this fall was flat-out incredible. There isn't a funnier new show on television.
#1: Without a question, The Venture Bros (Cartoon Network) is alone at the top of great television shows today, and not simply for these reasons. No other show has able to sustain this much consistent character growth and consistency through four seasons while simultaneously maintaining a facsimile premise and constant nerdy shout outs.

Honourable Mention: How I Met Your Mother keeps getting better and has in its own found a great little niche avoiding normal sitcom conventions in storytelling, tone and narrative while maintaining the classic three-camera / laugh track system. It's how three-camera sitcoms should be these days.

Top 4 (6) Movies that will Influence Everybody:

#4: 500 Days of Summer (July 17): Romantic comedies don't have to be like this.
#3's: The Hangover (June 5) / Paranormal Activity (September 25) / District 9 (August 14): You don't need to pour money into a film to make a good film. Or to make your money back. With all this recession bullshit, studios will start finding more and more directors and films like this to make their money.
#2: AVABAR (December 18): Besides you know, the insane special effects, the way this thing is making money, almost solely on cool word of mouth and the name of its director should effect marketing, promotion, not to mention the simple fact that this is the highest-grossing WHOLLY ORIGINAL film in years.
#1: Taken (January 30): The same principle goes for Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Fast & Furious, and others. You can make money in the first quarter. What the hell?

Finally now, we get to my Personal Top 10 Picks of the Year. Without adieu:

#10: AVABAR. Shit story and characters really couldn't stop this movie from being the most beautiful I've ever seen.
#9: Observe and Report (April 10). I've never seen a film more sharply divide critics and audiences (half my friends nearly walked out, I loved it). Great dark, tortured comedy and Seth showing some range (scruffless).
#8: I Love You, Man (March 20). We need more bromances.
#7: The Great Buck Howard (March 20). Colin Hanks doing his Orange County (2002) schtick to better effect, Emily Blunt beyond gorgeous and a solid story about the perceived and unperceived failure of a great entertainer.
#6: Up in the Air (December 4). Clooney is the best at doing Clooney, here he's the best. A movie about ignoring little but significant problems, personal, social and spiritual and the shit that causes. Awesome.
#5: Funny People (July 31) is the best movie to take seriously the lives of funny people, a lot of personal identification here and Sandler's most un-sandler like Sandler role. That makes sense.
#4: Zombieland (October 2) was so fucking refreshing it should have just been called Cool Pepsi in Baghdad. Unwarranted product placement aside, this did everything from prove that Zombies will always be cooler than Vampires, give new life into the genre and provide one of the funnest theater experiences in years.
#3: A Serious Man (October 2) found an intimate version of the Coens and the year's single greatest trailer. Tough to beat in any year.
#2: Inglourious Basterds (August 21) among others will cement 2009 as return to form for many directors (see also: Sam Raimi). Every moment of Basterds is carefully pulled out and executed, and what could have been a mindless gore-pron flick turned into one of the most meditative thoughts on the appreciation of media violence this universe has ever seen. That and it's extreme historical accuracy make it spectacular.
#1: I already named District 9 one of the best films of the Millennium, looking over this list right now it's tough to even call it the best of the year. Nevertheless, there are no real winners with movies (except for that award show), but if the prize has to go somewhere it might as well go to Neill's freshman effort. Tiny budget, awesome effects, alien acting more real than we had seen before to that point, District 9 should stay with us a long time.

2009 was a pretty nutty year all in all. It was great to see the uncontrolled egos of a few celebrities topple (see tiger and kanye) as well as the resurgence of a few longstanding shows whose once high-quality had been on the decline (The Simpsons and SNL). I'll leave you with one of the most poignant SNL moments in years, the Season 34 Finale. It ultimately shows Will Ferrell's ability to still hold together a cast full of insane talent, a great feeling of community and personal connection to some of these actors and a high point in class, music and depth for the culture. Enjoy for yourself:


  1. I just saw Where the Wild Things are at the $1 theater, and it may be the most moving picture I've seen at the theater since Eternal Sunshine. I bet you may need to tweak your list if you haven't seen it yet, once you do check it out.

  2. ya i did want to see that one, it looked visually and stylistically spectacular, it's tough to file down some pics, but I'd say its possible it beats AVABAR easily.

  3. I do like Where the Wild Things are a lot, five years on lol


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