The Carillon staff reviews arts democracy in action
John Cameron, Paul Bogdan, Mason Pitzel, Megan Narsing, Rhiannon Ward
Last issue, the staff of the Carillon submitted some best-of lists outlining their favourite artistic media stuff from 2010. That was all well and good, but we know we’re not the only people out there who make those lists; all kinds of magazines, websites, and individual critics put out their top lists in all sorts of media on an annual basis.
So we decided to take a look at those lists, and see what people are talking about for movies, music, television, and video games; we also took a look at what one publication called the worst songs of the year, and chose some lists that we personally like to read.
Year-end lists are a blast to read because they’re also really fun to talk about; you read a list, send it to a friend, get excited or cranky about what’s where – usually both, often in rapid succession – and then you talk about it. So that’s what we did: we talked about these lists.
The Metacritic lists are an aggregation of several top ten lists, the Eurogamer list is voted on by that site’s many readers, and the Village Voice’s worst songs of 2010 are chosen and written about by Christopher R. Weingarten and Maura Johnston; with the exception of the last one, we tried to see what the consensus was on the year’s best. And the consensus liked The Social Network, Mad Men, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Mass Effect 2. How good is democracy, hey?
Metacritic’s 2010 Film Critic Top Ten Lists List
John Cameron: It was a good year for the moody and the thrilling, apparently. Three of the top five films on this list are thrillers, and with 127 Hours and Dogtooth popping up lower down there’s a sense that a bunch of this year’s best films wanted to seriously stress their audience out. The only movie I managed to see on the list was Black Swan, which ranks below Winter’s Bone; I’ll have to check the latter film out to see if it’s even better at making my ass cheeks clench together for 90 consecutive minutes.
Paul Bogdan: I think I’d have to disagree with a few of the rankings on Metacritic’s list of top movies for 2010. There’s no doubt in my mind that The Social Network was a fantastic movie, but I don’t think I would have put it at number one. I would have liked to see Inception rank higher as well. The writing for that movie, in my mind, was brilliant, and the ambiguous ending also makes it my personal favourite movie of the year.
Mason Pitzel: I was kind of tardy this year when it came to seeing movies, especially decent ones. But I did eventually see both The Social Network and Black Swan. I’m surprised the latter didn’t take number one, actually. The Social Network is interesting enough, and it’s very well-scripted, but it didn’t leave me feeling numb and dazed the way Black Swan did. It didn’t leave me inexplicably terrified of the fishtank in the Dairy Queen we all went to afterwards like Black Swan did.
Megan Narsing: For the top 20 best movies of the year I haven’t even seen half the list that they had. Toy Story 3 and Inception hands down had to be in the Top 5, and I knew Scott Pilgrim wouldn’t be on there since a lot of people haven’t seen it yet. I disagree with The Social Network though. It wasn’t so spectacular as to be the year’s best film. Mother, on the other hand was very, very well done. I recommend watching it. Seriously.
Rhiannon Ward: Living in Regina, we miss theatre releases of a lot of great movies, so I’m always embittered by the year-end film lists. Seeing these round-ups of the year in great film is like a sad little counting game for us, but at least those I’ve seen are much-deserving of their spots here. You know what movie isn’t on this list? Ga’Hoole: Owl Movie (note: this is not the actual title). That’s because that movie was a bad movie. So I’m considering this list a success.
JC: Yeezy’s on top, hey? Maybe Twitter did it; Kanye suddenly realized he had the zeitgeist in the palm of his hand and he absolutely ran with it. Twenty-one first-place spots is a hell of a lot. There’s some nice surprises here, too – Janelle Monáe’s gonzo R&B opus The ArchAndroid got a lot of acclaim, as did Titus Andronicus’ excellent The Monitor. But who were the two people who thought Rick Ross had the record of the year?
PB: I agree and disagree again with Metacritic’s top albums of 2010. It’s nice to see Brothers by The Black Keys score so high, but I would have scored it higher on the list than eighth place. I was a bit surprised that Kanye West’s latest release scored so well, seeing as how it ventures down some different paths compared to previous releases such as The College Dropout, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some great Kanye songs on it.
MP: The little bit I’ve heard of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is pretty shit-hot, so it wasn’t jarring to see it at number one here. It seems like a lot of publications were playing it safe with that one, though. Anyway, I’m glad that Titus Andronicus placed so highly, and I’m ecstatic that Salem is ultimately nowhere to be found because I didn’t want to have to start 2011 by killing myself.
RW: Being an aggregated list, I take this to be a fairly accurate representation of the critics’ year in music. Perhaps predictably, I’m pretty much on board for most of its “choices.” Kanye West is on top, which was widely predicted by critics, Twitter, and Kanye West. I’m proud to see some Canadian acts (Arcade Fire, Caribou, and Drake I guess) doing well for themselves. The list provides a good snapshot for those without the time or patience to peruse countless year-end music lists. If you don’t care about such lists … well, you probably aren’t reading this.
JC: I thought Boardwalk Empire was supposed to be a bit disappointing; the first episode’s all I saw, and it was okay, but most of the stuff I’ve read since has said the series went downhill after the Martin Scorcese-directed premiere. HBO and AMC are all over this list, though, so I’m not surprised. AMC in particular can do no wrong – look at how many people love Mad Men. But can I say how nice it is to see two awesome FX things, Louie especially, tied for 7th? Okay, good: it’s very, very nice.
PB: One show that happily surprised me on this list was Community, especially for a newer series. Some TV series can take a few seasons to get into a groove, but while it’s only on its second season, it seems to have already found it. I would have to disagree with The Office not even making it on the list, because I think this season has had some of the most dramatic, awkward, and funniest moments in the series’ seven-season run.
MP: It’s nice to see 30 Rock and Friday Night Lights still hanging around the top (even though I’m one and three seasons behind, respectively, so I can’t really comment). But I’m not surprised to see Community getting the kind of acclaim 30 Rock used to get; clearly Donald Glover, former 30 Rock writer, is a key element. I’ll be picking Community up on DVD, as well as Louie, which I’d have watched religiously all year if I got FX at my place.
RW: I’m already having trouble talking about lists without just critiquing Metacritic’s layout (it will probably come to that, wait for it), so I’m just going to talk about my favourite shows on this list. Community comes in at number 4 and I’m pleased. It’s self-referential and cleverly so, an all-too-rare combination. Friday Night Lights (number 10) is a show that when I tell people I like it they say, “really?” Why? I can like shows about football. Besides, it’s barely about football. And 30 Rock is consistently amazing.
JC: A reader-chosen list was interesting to read; lovable oddities like the Twin Peaks-baiting Deadly Premonition and perceived commercial flops like Alpha Protocol rubbed shoulders with hits like Dead Rising 2 and Fallout: New Vegas. The top 10 was pretty safe, the top two picks especially so, but then again when games like Red Dead Redemption and Mass Effect 2 turn out to be as spectacular as their budgets, giving the player characters and worlds that can actually be invested in, why wouldn’t you want to see that rewarded? Plus, Red Dead Redemption is surely the best sunset simulator ever made.
PB: I was pleased to see that Call of Duty: Black Ops didn’t make the top ten on this list. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent game (shooting stuff in the face will never get old), but I think it was largely over-hyped. I was also pretty happy to see Red Dead Redemption score so high as well because that’s easily the best game that I’ve come across in a long time. It follows one of the most badass characters created for a video game, John Marston, and the downloadable “Undead Nightmare” add-on allows for an entirely different single player storyline as well as an awesome multiplayer feature.
RW: OK, now I’m really out of my element. But weren’t my co-contributors eloquent and well-informed in their responses to this list? The Carillon sure has some great staff. Speaking of which, you should join us! We’re always looking for contributors. Email us. Right then, video games. I was hoping that Kirby’s Epic Yarn would make an appearance, because I’ve actually played that one, but since it didn’t I’ve got nothing. I know, it was a long shot.
JC: Chris Weingarten and Maura Johnston are smart folks, and there are spots on this list – like Weingarten’s eloquent takedown of not only Salem but of everything that “witch house” stands for – where that really shines through. There are some embarrassingly easy targets, like post-Rock of Love Bret Michaels covering Sublime, and they chose a Santana cover other than the ear-fuckingly bad Nas-fronted waterboarding of AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, but on the other hand that goddamn Train song got absolutely ethered, so I’m happy.
PB: I have to agree with the Village Voice; there are some pretty horrendous songs on this list, but I’m baffled at how nothing by Ke$ha made this list. Oh wait, it’s just occurred to me now as I’m writing this; this list was the top twenty worst songs, and auto-tuned speaking about your nightly whoring fails to even qualify as a song. At least the cast of Glee had an actual piece of music to ruin.
MP: If more year-end lists were like this, I’d be much more interested in year-end lists. Hilarious and insightful. I think “Hey Soul Sister” should have ranked lower, though; it’s shitty, but not in an awe-inspiring way like Santana’s “Fortunate Son” featuring Scott Stapp. I’ll also take up Luda’s defense and point out earnestly that the lines “I fill her up / balloons!” rule. Meanwhile, my choice for worst song of 2010 is by Pomplamoose. Take your pick, there are like fifty hundred of them.
MN: I have to agree with most of The Village Voice’s list of 2010’s worst songs. “My Chick Bad” was pretty terrible but there are others that deserved a higher spot on the chart than that one. “Your Love Is My Drug” by Ke$ha should have made it up there along with “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. Maybe it’s harsh but personally anything by Ke$ha is horrible and I cannot stand the whiny, repetitive lyrics in “Need You Now”.
RW: It was my birthday over the break, and the not-chosen-by-me ambience music for the evening was a YouTube playlist of this list. Thus, I can honestly (and sadly) say that I have heard every song on the Village Voice’s 20 Worst Songs of 2010. I won’t say that we didn’t sing along to “Hey, Soul Sister” (because we did). And what is a NeverShoutNever? These songs are across-the-board awful. Happy birthday to me!
Wildcard Round: The Carillon Staff’s Favourite Lists
JC: I’m a bit of a longtime pop dweeb; along with a regular white-person dosage of indie rock, I listen to a lot of Top 40. So Pitchfork’s annual list of the year’s Top 100 Tracks is right up my alley. Among all the great album cuts are a ton of well-composed pop gems and killer singles, and although the top ten tracks are basically just ten of the biggest songs of the year (Kanye’s “Runaway”, for example), the rest of the list is full of great tunes that slipped past me. So it’s nice to catch up.
PB: I stumbled across a list of the top internet memes of 2010 on ranker.com. It was neat to see the stupid pictures/videos that were popular throughout the year. Some of the highlights include Antoine Dobson, Isaiah Mustafa (the Old Spice guy), Epic Beard Man, The Most Interesting Man in the World. However, a big one that I won’t be missing is the Forever Alone meme.
MP: I don’t check out too many year-end lists (it’s a combination of “I don’t care what every single magazine likes and it’s not my duty to anyway” and “I’m ultimately just embarrassed to see how many things I didn’t see or hear this year”). But I’m good about reading The A.V. Club’s recaps, and I always enjoy Tiny Mixtapes’ Top 25 Album Covers, which at this point should be renamed “Top 25 Psychedelic Collages”.
RW: At the end of the musical year, every true Reginan is thinking one thing: What were Lorie Lindsay’s favourite records this year? Well, the Leader-Post has you covered. In case you missed it, she loved releases from Bruno Mars, Mike Posner, Neon Trees, all acts I’ve shamefully never heard of. I’m not sure what the “Hollywood Edition” of Michael Buble’s Crazy Love is, but I’m with her on this choice. He’s so charming. Also featured: not one, but two albums of music from Glee.