While most people spent the end of December and early January catching up with movies and music and compiling their top-10 (or 20 or 634) lists, I sat around doing what I always do: sitting around. I have at least ten films from last year to catch up on and probably about twenty albums, so I am in no position to rank anything (an unfortunate side effect of not having student loan money to blow on entertainment).
However, that's not stopping me from telling you what my favorite of each medium was as of now, long after everyone stopped caring. I'll preface this saying I thought it was a pretty crappy year for both film and music. Very little grabbed a hold of me and I felt as though I had to dig especially deep to find any albums that connected.
Music: Outside Love -- The Pink Mountaintops
I was very disappointed that not even Pitchork's giant year end music list listed my favorite album in their top-50. I've returned to this album time and again and it always makes me feel great (in fact, listening to it is what inspired me to write this post). It's just insanely beautiful and haunting. The Pink Mountaintops albums are all incredibly different from each other and I'd say that this is the most accessible, or at least the most uplifting and sentimental. Then again, I'm a sucker for Stephen McBean and his Black Mountain collective (In the Future was one of my favorites of 2008). This is one of the few albums that practically demands that I stop what I'm doing to listen (throwing unexpected hurdles into this writing).
Movies: Drag Me to Hell/Up
I saw these on the same day and it's only appropriate to include them together here. One day, I'll have to choose, but until then, they shall remain linked. Drag Me to Hell was one of the best times I've ever had in the theater. I never saw any of Raimi's horror films in the theater for my first viewing and the cartoon-y glee that fills this film is infectious. I also thoroughly enjoyed how willing Raimi is to treat Alison Lohman like she is Bruce Campbell by abusing her and covering her with goo. It's also great how willing she seems to go with it. My only qualm is the cheesy computer effects, most notably with the anvil scene, but it's so much fun that it's easy to forgive. (PS -- People complain about seeing the "twist" coming, but that's not the point. Everyone knows what's going to happen, it's voyage to the inevitable that makes it fun). Skip to 28 seconds to get the trailer.
Up actually caused me a great deal of anxiety with all the high-wire antics, and I didn't even see it in 3-D. It's an adult film with the heart of a child. I loved hearing the weeping in the audience after the first 10 minutes. It's a ballsy and brilliant move by Pixar. Without a word, they tell us everything we need to know about Carl. It's what animation should be: taking us to a fantasy world where anything is possible. No limits. While it's clearly a darkhorse for the Best Picture Oscar, it's obviously the film I'm backing (since I don't have to choose between it and the regretfully ignored Drag Me to Hell).