Posts Tagged ‘Firefly’

Oscarpalooza: The Hurt Locker

A few months ago, when The Hurt Locker was just a small, art-house movie with a limited release, and not an Oscar nominee, A.O. Scott, in his review for The New York Times, said, “If The Hurt Locker is not the best action movie of the summer, I’ll blow up my car.” He did not mean to damn the film with small praise—he was only highlighting how strong the visceral elements of the movie are. A few weeks later, he wondered why the movie—which he called the best feature of the year—was not marketed as an action movie meant for a wide audience.

Of all the films nominated for Best Picture, only An Education has made less money than The Hurt Locker, whose $19 million worldwide gross is over $2.5 billion less than Avatar’s haul. And yet unlike films like An Education, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, and A Serious Man, which generally had to be sold on the prestige of its directors/cast or the emotional complexity of its story, I don’t see why The Hurt Locker could not have found a broader audience. Kathryn Bigelow’s movie is certainly one of the most taut, tightly-packed, suspenseful films of the year; it’s the kind of movie that doesn’t take long to make an impact on the audience. Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: The Decade’s Top Ten Seasons of Television

Yesterday’s overview of the television of the Aughts made the claim that this was the Golden Age of television. Well, here’s the proof. These are the ten best seasons of TV to air from 2000 to 2009. The criteria are simple: The season had to begin and end between January 1st, 2000 and today (that rules out Season Four of Friday Night Lights). Also, I have to have seen it. (A person can only watch so much TV, so with apologies to fans of Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Rome, The Shield, and Breaking Bad Season Two–all of which I have yet to watch–I cannot include these seasons.) Finally, the list is not limited to one season per show, but it is heavily weighted against a show’s second-best (and third-best, etc.) seasons; I didn’t want to just make a list of seasons of The Wire and The Sopranos, but depth deserves some credit. Even within those parameters, though, several very good shows could not make the cut. Here is the illustrious “Honorable Mention” category:

All seasons of The Wire and The Sopranos not already included, Lost Season Four (2008), Mad Men Season One (2007), Breaking Bad Season One (2008), Heroes Season One (2006-07), The West Wing Season Two (2000-01), Dexter Season One (2006), Firefly Season One (2002-03)

And now, the Top Ten:

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Aught Lang Syne: The Golden Age of Television

Probably the best illustration of television’s place in the culture at the beginning of this decade are the routes taken by its most prominent auteurs to the field.

David Chase, the creator, head writer, and executive producer of The Sopranos, settled for a career in television when he was unable to break into film; when Fox didn’t pick up the pilot, Chase planned to re-edit it and release the first episode as a film. Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, was a screenwriter for plays and films; The West Wing was actually developed from unused plot elements from his script for 1995’s The American President. Joss Whedon, creator of cult hits Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and others, originally wrote Buffy as a film. Friday Night Lights, of course, was developed loosely from the film—and book—of the same name.

And, of course, David Simon and Ed Burns, the creative duo behind The Wire (as well as The Corner, Homicide, and Generation Kill) came directly from the subject matter they would be writing on: Simon as a crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun and Burns as a homicide detective, and later a school teacher, in Baltimore.

In short, good TV was something that seemed to happen by accident. Accidentally or not, though, the television produced during the Aughts was better than anything that came before it. Continue reading