Oh, Darling! - The Beatles
2011 was the year I was brought into the world of karaoke. A welcoming land that will have you practicing songs in your car and making a fool of yourself in front of people who don’t care. With an almost weekly routine, I went through lots and lots of songs, many of them duds, but this was one song I really enjoyed doing. It was even well received (and NOT kicked off stage) at a round of gong karaoke.
Cigarettes and Coffee - Otis Redding
I discovered the greatness of Otis Redding this year. I went through various favorite songs, but this was the first that I listened to on repeat. So sweet and simple.
It’s early in the morning
About a quarter till three
I’m sittin’ here talkin’ with my baby
Over cigarettes and coffee
Rolling in the Deep - Adele
Don’t you even pretend that you didn’t scream this song at the top of your lungs at least once this year. Personally? I did it about eighteen times.
Let Me Roll It - Paul McCartney
I also dove into the Post-Beatles-McCartney catalog this year. Listened to this track over and over.
Honorable McCartney Mentions: Another Day and Junk
Oh My God, This Weekend - Valentiger
Valentiger’s Oh, To Know! was on repeat in my car for the majority of March. It’s all sunny and smooth, fit perfectly with the melting snow.
The Black Keys - Tighten Up
I caught up with the rest of the world this summer when I discovered The Black Keys. They were the perfect energizing soundtrack at work. Also this video is hilarious.
Cheap Trick - How Are You?
I bought a record player of my very own this summer, and was thus left with the task of building my record collection. I found Heaven Tonight, brand new in shrink wrap at Vertigo in November. It’s been my go to, non-holiday album.
I Can’t Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt
This one started way back in February, when Alex was lying on the floor of the Hope House, singing along to this song. Both Bon Iver and Adele covered it this year. It had a couple appearances at karaoke. And, to be perfectly frank, it was the underlying theme of all of my romantic encounters this year.
Nick Cave - Into My Arms
Finally, the epitome of my musical discoveries this year, Nick Cave.
I’d be lying if I said Harry Potter didn’t have something to do with this. I had seen Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in Wings of Desire, but didn’t actually look them up until hearing O, Children in Deathly Hallows.
I listened to the entire discography and fell in love with three albums in particular: Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus, No More Shall We Part, and The Boatman’s Call. Cave’s lyrics are masterpieces of human experience and spiritual questioning.
This song, in particular, struck a chord. Definitely a contender for “First Wedding Dance”.
That’s all for my year-end compilations. Hope they were enjoyable.
Catch you on the flip side.
5. X-Men First Class
Just a straight-up good time. Fun 60s feel with just the right combination of kitsch and kicking ass. James McAvoy was a treat and Michael Fassbender, as always, was flawless. Made me wish this was the Magneto origin movie it was originally supposed to be. This film also wins the award for best cameo of the year. I won’t spoil it for you.
My one complaint: the entire portrayal of Emma Frost.
4. Midnight in Paris
Paris, literature, art, music, time travel, and lots of booze. This film was like crack cocaine for my inner nostalgia junkie. But at the same time, it emphasizes the fact that the past was never as good as we imagine it was.
From A. O. Scott’s review, “It is marvelously romantic, even though — or precisely because — it acknowledges the disappointment that shadows every genuine expression of romanticism.”
And finally, the absolute scene stealer: Hemingway.
3. Never Let Me Go
Ok, yes, technically this came out last year, but I saw it for the first time this spring and it blew my mind, or more accurately, my tear ducts.
A dystopian story that was actually shot with a very warm color pallet. The story was bleak, but the images were not. It was beautiful and simple and so sad. I cried so much, I had to change into a dry shirt after the film was over.
And the score, oh, what a lovely score by Rachel Portman. Haunting and delicate.
This one came out of left field. It was barely marketed. I saw a few people post about it, thought I’d give it a shot.
What. a. ride.
Ryan Gosling is the nameless, practically wordless (anti?) hero. The film oozes cool. It’s beautifully shot and the action hits hard. And in those long stretches of non-dialog, there’s always the driver to look at.
And just try to play Kavinsky’s Nightcall in your car at night and not feel swag. Impossible.
1. Tree of Life
I can’t even really do this film justice with my words. You should probably just watch the trailer and read what Roger Ebert had to say in it’s entirety.
"Many films diminish us. They cheapen us, masturbate our senses, hammer us with shabby thrills, diminish the value of life. Some few films evoke the wonderment of life’s experience, and those I consider a form of prayer. Not prayer "to" anyone or anything, but prayer "about" everyone and everything. I believe prayer that makes requests is pointless. What will be, will be. But I value the kind of prayer when you stand at the edge of the sea, or beneath a tree, or smell a flower, or love someone, or do a good thing. Those prayers validate existence and snatch it away from meaningless routine."
Overrated film of the year:
This film was extremely well-crafted. It was beautifully shot and the acting was top notch. Sadly, I could not escape the clutches of Lars Von Trier’s ego. It felt patronizingly artsy and left a bad taste in my mouth.
A lot of people have been comparing this to Tree of Life, and while I can see why you would compare them, I would call Melancholia the polar negative of Tree of Life.
Honorable Mentions - The Feel Gooders:
Funny. Clever. Nostalgic. Musical. Loved it.
The Adventures of Tintin
Swashbuckling. Witty. Non-Zemekis-y animation. Very Indiana Jonesy. A great time.
A couple more year end lists to come! Books and songs and things.