Category Archives: fave five
It’s a little bit wrong that I’d offer up my fave five list of 2010 sci-fi and fantasy movies, considering I have yet to watch Inception. So, cut me a little slack, please. This is just for shits and giggles.
There are a couple of movies I’ve yet to see that stand a good chance of being on this list (Inception and Never Let Me Go). Both are critically acclaimed, and one was the movie of 2010 in the box office, so just assume they’ll wind up on this list in time. In the meantime, here’s my five:
Robert Downey, Jr. makes a great Tony Stark. And Mickey Rourke would have made an amazing Whiplash if the character had been utilized better in this movie. Granted, Sam Rockwell in the role as the #2 baddie is a nice consolation, but the trailers for this movie had led me to believe that Whiplash was going to be a marquee supervillain. This was not a great movie, but I enjoyed it enough to include it among the five. But when I finally watch Inception, it’s gone–fair warning.
The first fifteen minutes of this movie had me wondering if I was setting myself up for disappointment, because despite the flashy animation and opening action sequence, the characters didn’t strike me as very interesting. Then, the relationship between Jay Baruchel’s character and the dragon he captures, Toothless, gets going. After that, I was hooked. Depending on how much I enjoyed Despicable Me, this could very well be my favorite animated movie of the year.
It’s not exactly fantasy and it’s not exactly sci-fi, but I think it can sneak its way on this list. It’s a damned good action movie, at any rate. What reservations I have about this movie stem from the misleading trailers that depicted this movie as a fun PG movie, when in reality it is a hard-nosed depiction of vigilantism with a comic book veneer–at least in the last half of the movie. It’s got everything an action movie needs to make it worth watching, including a campy homage to Adam West’s Batman by Nic Cage.
Comic book adaptations are dominating this list. And while I made fun of the fact that its target audience no-showed at theaters, I thought this was a fantastic homage to video-games of yesteryear. And the music was pretty good too. I’m one of those curmudgeonly types when it comes to popular music, but I really liked the songs played in this movie and could probably be swayed into buying the soundtrack. Cera does his usual schtick, which is fine, but it’s the supporting cast that really carries this movie–especially Keiran Culkin.
Not only is this my favorite sci-fi movie of 2010–it’s got a time machine so it counts–but it’s my favorite comedy of the last couple of years, squeaking by The Hangover. Given the absolutely ridiculous premise for this movie, about a bunch of guys reliving their youth at a ski lodge in the 80s, but the cast wound up being perfect. John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Crispin Glover, Clark Duke, and Chevy Chase in a movie that pokes fun at and revels in 80s goodness. Fantastic.
Now that you know what my faves are: What were your favorite sci-fi/fantasy films from 2010?
There’s nothing I love more than a truly good horror movie. That’s because they’re so rare. Maybe if I could be bothered with Netflix I’d have better access to horror films of merit, but I’m admittedly a bit of a Luddite, reluctant to bow at the altar of one more corporation. Or I’m just cheap.
As it stands, this list will reflect the movies I’ve seen. There are a couple of movies I’ve yet to see that stand a chance at breaking on this list, namely Let Me In, Paranormal Activity 2, and The Last Exorcism, while others I will likely never make an effort to watch–Piranha 3D, I’m looking in your direction.
This is why I never liked skiing: Frozen starring Sean Ashmore [review here]
Think Open Water, but on a mountain. I watched Open Water 2 earlier in the year, was getting kind of bored in the last half, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy a movie so similar in plot but based on a ski lift. The key to movies that take place predominantly in one tight setting, and revolve a very small cast, is strong dialogue and actors who can carry it off and convey the mounting tension. The trio in this did well, and whoever did the sound editing went out of their way to make me cringe during a key scene when something goes crunch.
I’m just happy they didn’t sparkle: Daybreakers starring Ethan Hawke [review here]
Maybe folks would rather classify this one as sci-fi, but there are enough ingredients in the film to make me comfortable in sticking it in the horror genre. Ethan Hawke does a real good job in this movie, which I was thankful for because when he’s mailing it in he has a knack of dragging a movie down. Pretty much all of the cast play to their respective strengths, maybe to a point of cliche. And considering this one has been swept under the rug for a lot of year-end lists, I just wanted to give it a positive mention.
Sarah Polley might be my favorite Canadian actor, at least from the past decade. And she, along with Adrien Brody, does a fantastic job of portraying a scientist with a wee bit more ambition than what could be considered safe. And Delphine Chaneac as Dren, the genetically engineered monster, is f-cking magnetic in just about every scene she’s in. What really helps the movie, especially her performance is the fact that the CGI is not distracting and most of the time I wasn’t overtly aware of it. I just got sucked into the story.
They’re not zombies, but they’ll do: The Crazies starring Timothy Olyphant [review here]
With so many horrible remakes, reboots, and sequels, I was relieved to sit down and watch this one and walk away thoroughly entertained. Maybe that’s because I never saw the original, or maybe it’s because this iteration of a movie about a town torn apart by some kind of infection that turns townsfolk crazy to a homicidal degree does more than offer a body count. Characters are sympathetic, the action seems plausible for the most part, and the pacing of the action is great the whole way through. It’s not quite as good as Dawn of the Dead or 28 Days Later, but it’s pretty close in my view.
Bad Boston accents not withstanding: Shutter Island starring Leonardo DiCaprio [review here]
Leo can’t carry a Beantown accent, but I’ll leave the final verdict to New Englanders. Other than that niggling detail, this movie was about as great as I could have wished for. After seeing the trailer for this in 2009, I went out and got the Dennis Lehane novel on which it was based. Loved the book and salivated at the chance to see the movie. It has a wonderful blend of Hitchcockian suspense that is amplified by Scorsese’s direction. This is one of those films that is shielded from the “horror” label in favor of “psychological thriller”, but regardless of how you want to classify it, it’s a damned good movie.
So there is my fave five in horror films. What were your favorite scary movies of 2010?
Last week, I offered up a fave five list of sorts dedicated to some of my favorite horror titles released in 2010. This week, I’m shining a light on some of the sci-fi and fantasy titles I read from the past year. Well, there’s only one book on this list that could be classified as science-fiction, so I decided to include it hear as I didn’t read enough from that genre to have a fave list for it.
There’s actually a lot of fantasy and sci-fi titles from this past year that are still on my wish list and to-be-read pile, much like with the horror genre. A couple of book with potential to have been on this list include Joe Hill’s Horns and Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made World, so bear in mind this list only reflects my opinion of a relatively limited pool of books.
Let’s call this one historical sci-fi: Voltaire’s Calligrapher by Pablo De Santis [review here]
This is a short novel and has a unique vibe to it. It’s historical fiction with some intriguing sci-fi ingredients thrown in. The book was originally published quite a few years ago in South America, but North America got its first taste of novel, translated of course, and was well worth the wait it would seem. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it’s worth giving a chance. Why should Swedish authors get all the love these days? Save some for the South Americans.
This one was originally published in ’09, but the paperback release came out in spring of last year, so that counts in my book. I’d read enough good reviews for this book that when I won my choice of books from Adventures with Cecelia Bedelia in April, I picked this one. It’s urban fantasy in so much that it takes place monstly in Los Angeles and has plenty of demons, magic, and fighting. But the protagonist and narrator, Sandman Slim, is easily the surliest sonofabitch in the genre. Like, if Mickey Rourke attended Hogwarts.
A music aficionado I am not, but I enjoy Neil Young’s tunes more often than not. So imagine my surprise to hear there’s a graphic novel out inspired by his album, Greendale. I wouldn’t have figured a comic book based on a folk rock singer’s baying-at-the-moon style of singing would work, but this was pretty darned good. George Bush and Sarah Palin might not care for it, but it’s not like they were the target audience anyway.
Zombies with a romantic side: The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan [review here]
This is the sequel to one of my favorite novels of 2009, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. It didn’t carry the same jaw-dropping impact as the first, but it was a very good followup and the daughter’s story wound up as intriguing and suspenseful as her mother’s in the first book. The third, and presumably final, book is due out sometime in 2011, and I’ll certainly be looking forward to it. Out of all the books that could be saddled with the YA romantic fantasy label, Ryan’s novels have been my favorites by far.
My favorite novel of any genre: Black Hills by Dan Simmons [review here]
My first opportunity to read a Dan Simmons novel turned out to be a showstopper of a book. When I read this book in the spring, I was reasonably sure I wouldn’t come across a better 2010 release. So far, I hold to that assertion. This was just a great sweeping story about a Native-American’s life from boyhood to old age, and his tribulations in holding onto his heritage, surviving love and revenge, and enduring the pernicious ghostly thoughts of General Custer in his head. Amazing book.
There you go, five books that you should consider reading if you want to dip into those genres. The past year looked like a very rich time for the two genres, so if you have any suggestions, by all means:
What were your favorite sci-fi/fantasy novels from 2010?
If I get to include novellas and graphic novels, I read over a hundred books in 2010. Excluding the comic books and the short novels, my number is closer to fifty. How many were horror novels? Surprisingly not as many as I’d have thought. Still, there are five books I would heartily recommend to anyone looking for some quality horror fiction.
Two Re-Released Novels: The Gentling Box by Lisa Mannetti [my review]
Originally published in 2008, Lisa’s debut novel wound up winning a Bram Stoker Award. Now, Shadowfall Publications has released a new edition of the novel with illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne, Lisa’s co-conspirator in the humor book, 51 Fiendish Ways to Leave Your Lover. If you have not read The Gentling Box, I can’t recommend it highly enough. A tragic piece of historical fiction about a father desperately trying to save his wife and daughter from a villainous witch of a mother-in-law.
Ouroboros by Michael Kelly & Carol Weekes [my review]
My favorite novel of 2009 got a second trade-paperback release through Dark Regions Press this past summer. It’s a short novel, clocking around 250 pages, but it packs a serious punch. And it’s a rare instance where most of the characters are elderly. That’s especially unheard of in the horror literature that I read. Peter Straub’s Ghost Story and Stephen King’s Insomnia are the only two other examples I can think of. But, again, I may be biased because the story is set in Nova Scotia.
An Anthology: The Best Horror of the Year Volume 2, edited by Ellen Datlow [my review]
Early in the year, Night Shade Books released this anthology which compiles some of the best short stories from 2009 that Ellen Datlow could find. There’s a diverse mix in styles and tone, and if you’re a fan of short fiction then this is definitely a book worth checking out.
Free Fiction: The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman [my review]
Over the summer, there was a bit of buzz swirling around the blogosphere about this novella from renowned author and editor, Brian James Freeman. Published by Cemetery Dance, a free electronic version was made available as a way to promote the book. Since free is in my price range, I downloaded a copy and was wowed just a little bit. I think it’s still available for download, but if you want something more tangible, you can find the hardcover edition here.
Guilty Pleasure of the Year: Draculas by Jack Kilborn, Black Crouch, Jeff Strand, & F. Paul Wilson [my review]
If Planet Terror was about vampires, chances are it would resemble the story in this book’s pages. The four authors collaborated for the first half of the year, coming up with the premise and characters for this story, then went about trying to one-up each other in the gore and mayhem departments. It was a relentless bloodbath of a book, so much so I felt like I needed a shower when I finished–but I liked it. Does that make me a bad person?
Favorite Novel of the Year … so far: Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon [my review]
Horror movies starring teen characters are invariably terrible nowadays. If there’s been a genuinely great horror film in the last ten years with a teenage or twenty-something ensemble cast, by all means tell me its title, because I’d like to watch it. So, leave it to books to provide me with what a good horror story would look like with teens as the main characters. There’s a strong element of B-movie horror, but it’s tackled in such a way that gives the characters depth and had me rooting for them the whole way. As opposed to the movies, when I can’t wait for the little bastards to die so the credits can roll and seethe at Hollywood.
So, there you have it. Five books. Three novels, a novella, and an anthology from the horror genre that deserve honorable mention. I’ve got more books I plan on discussing in the weeks to come, horror and otherwise, but for now I will leave things off with this question:
What was your favorite horror book of 2010?