Friday, December 16, 2011

Pop Culture Favorites of 2011 (a.k.a. "The Master List of Mini Reviews")

Hello, dear readers,

Just recently I promised a post on my non-beauty-related favorites of 2011, seeing as it's coming up to the end of the year. I bet you're shellshocked that I'm posting this so soon after I told you about it! I'll try to limit my descriptions to a sentence or two, but if you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you'll be shaking your head and rolling your eyes at me right now. So, if you can spare some time, sit back, grab a nice cup of tea, and start browsing!

[For the record, I've made the titles and headings pretty obvious, in case you don't want to read the descriptions. This is also very picture heavy to break up the content.]


Favorite Films [aka the majority of the films I saw in theaters this year]:
  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
         Two words: Alan. Rickman. His performance as Snape was as compelling as it was heartbreaking. I am ashamed to see I initially hated the film, simply because it was nothing like the book. The first of the Deathly Hallows movies was just like the book and equally slow-paced. Once I realized this part wouldn't be nearly as effective as a motion picture if it moved as slowly as the book, I fell in love. I saw this twice in theaters, and twice more on a big screen in my former university's auditorium before the film hit stores.

    2. Midnight in Paris

         First of all, I saw this four times. In theaters. After not wanting to see it at all. I'm not going to go into detail, for once, because you can read my review . For those of you uninterested in reading my ramblings, I can sum up by saying that the cast was incredible; the direction brilliant; the plot whimsical, charming, and [dare I say it?] innovative.      

    3. My Week with Marilyn

       As soon as I read the reviews of this film, I knew it would be great. It didn't disappoint. The cast was spectacular in this film as well, really a great ensemble, including the brilliant Michelle Williams, and hilariously overdramatic Kenneth Branagh, as well as an unknown to me, Eddie Redmayne, who plays the main character. For those of you who don't know what it's about, this is based on the diary of a young man named Colin who gets to work on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl with Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier. He chronicles the work there, as well as the week he spends with Marilyn while her husband Arthur Miller is away. 

    4. The Help

       With wonderful performances by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, and the recently unstoppable Emma Stone, this movie was poignant, touching, and deep. It takes place during the 1960s and centers around a wealthy college girl [Stone] who wants to write a novel from the point of view of the help, otherwise known as the African American maids in white households. Contrary to advertisements for the film, the book doesn't center on Stone's character, and that is as it should be.

    5. The Descendants

       I had a feeling I'd like this movie before I saw it as well. I only happened upon it in a magazine and an online trailer a few weeks ago, and it seemed to be getting a lot of buzz, particularly for the performances of George Clooney and Shailene Woodley. It's about Matt [Clooney] learning to cope with being a parent to his two daughters while his wife is in a coma, as well as spreading the news that she won't make it to those who knew her. He also has to reconcile with the news that the wife he loved, even throughout their imperfect marriage, cheated on him. Running alongside this plot is the subplot that deals with Matt's family owning a great deal of land in Hawaii and his attempts to decide whether to sell it. The only complaint I have about this movie is that the older daughter's [Woodley's] friend Sid really didn't need to be in the film. I'll leave it at that.

    6. Hugo

       A brilliantly directed film about a boy named Hugo [Asa Butterfield] who lives in the clock tower at a train station after his father [Jude Law, shown in flashbacks] passes away. He wants to fix the automaton that he and his father were working on, and, with the help of a new friend [Chloe Grace Moretz], discovers a connection between his father and the great filmmaker and pioneer of special effects, George Méliès [Ben Kingsley]. The use of 3D served to enhance the film and not dizzy the audience. A bonus for me was that the film showed clips from the earliest films ever made, by George Méliès and filmmakers, many of which I had seen and studied in my film class earlier this year.

Favorite TV Shows:
  1. New Girl
        Can you say "hilarious"? Zooey Deschanel's in this comedy about a quirky and awkward girl named Jess who moves into an apartment with three guys. Throw in Jess's model best friend and hilarity ensues. I don't think I can adequately describe this show and give it due credit. I'll just say it's my absolute favorite show and I honestly cannot stop laughing when I watch it. I'm surprised and thrilled that it got so popular.

2. Hart of Dixie

         After an anticlimactic first episode, this show, starring Rachel Bilson as Zoe Hart, slowly grew on me. It's about Zoe's attempts to fit into Bluebell, Alabama, after being told she couldn't do her medical residency in New York. Her task is to grow more of a heart when dealing with patients, and when she finds out she's inherited half of a medical practice in Bluebell, she tries to do just that. Of course there are impossible love triangles everywhere, and Zoe doesn't get a warm welcome. She's still trying to fit in, and the show grows more lovable with each passing episode.

    3.  Castle
       Oh, what fun a show this is! Nathan Fillion stars as author Richard Castle, who shadows Detective Kate Beckett [Stana Katic] on the job and helps her solve crimes. I think this year is the fourth season, and, though I've only seen the third season beforehand, it's getting unbelievably good. Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas costar as Detective Ryan and Detective Espinoza, providing just as many laughs as Fillion. This season, they actually have substantial roles. I really recommend this show to everyone, because even though I hate murder mysteries, I still love this show. Whether you like mysteries or not, I bet you'll like the show.

Favorite Songs/Albums:
  1. Forever if Ever by Jon Mclaughlin
         I was thrilled to hear that Jon Mclaughlin came out with a new album earlier this year, and even more thrilled when I fell in love with all but maybe one or two of the songs. Standouts include "Summer is Over," "What I Want," "Without You Now," and "A Little Too Hard (& A Little Too Fast)." Mclaughlin's voice is a good mix of soothing and soulful, even if he occasionally tries too hard to be raspy. Most of the songs deal with love, a subject not unheard of, but they're written in new ways with smart lyrics. The only really bad lyrics take place in the song "My Girl Tonight," a song that's pretty to listen to but not so brilliant. Also, the guy plays keys, tambo, guitar, and possibly another instrument, as well as writing all the songs and performing. Even if you hate him, you have to admit he has talent. This is starting to sound like a review now, so I'll stop.

     2.  "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You" by Adele

         Despite the fact that the first of the two was overplayed until I literally couldn't take the sound of it, it was one of my favorites of the year. Adele is just so talented. Enough said.

     3.  "In Your Arms" by Kina Grannis

         Incredibly cute song with an accompanying video made of stop motion with 288, 000 jelly beans. Look it up on YouTube. Grannis was discovered in some sort of competition but ultimately became popular through her YouTube channel. 

     4. "Gonna Get Over You" by Sara Bareilles [not a new song, but a new video was made for it]

         I love the amount of spunk that Bareilles continues to show in her songwriting, and the music video made for this catchy song is just so much fun.

     5. "Skyscraper" by Demi Lovato

         This song was written about the struggles Lovato went through over the past year, and all I can say is that I can relate.

Favorite Books:
I didn't actually read nearly as many books as I would have liked this year, but here they are:
  1. Harry Potter y la orden del fenix by J.K. Rowling, translated by Gemma Rovira Ortega
          You've got me; this is by no means a new book. However, I finally finished the fifth book in Spanish this year. You can read about my excitement here.

2. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
         I heard of this book years ago when it was made into a movie, but I never remembered to pick it up at the library until this year. Written from the perspective of Mary Boleyn, it makes for a compelling read about one of King Henry VIII's most famous wives. I wrote a review of it here.

    3. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

        After reading the aforementioned Boleyn book, I decided to pick up another novel by the same author, on the same subject. I plan to review this, so I won't elaborate too much, but essentially it's about two more of his wives, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard, and the lady who advised them, Jane Boleyn. It rotates among the three of them as they all tell their parts of the story in first person.

Favorite Websites:
  1. Beautypedia
         I've gone into great detail about this site before, right here, in fact. I reference it quite a bit for scientifically based product reviews.

     2.  Real Beauty
        I've mentioned this before, in this post, and I still enjoy reading about products and beauty tips.

     3.  Tumblr
        I talked about this in my last post, explaining that I've begun to appreciate the ease of posting pictures I enjoy without having to brainstorm ideas. It's highly entertaining, so have a peek at the link above, if you like.

     4. My Blog
        I don't feel the need to link to this, because, if you're reading this page, you're already on it. It's been loads of fun posting on here since I started it at the very end of last year.

Alas, we've come to an end. If you actually read this whole post, I am so proud of you and give you a hearty pat on the back and shake of the hand.

Those were my favorites of pop culture from 2011, and I imagine I shall continue to enjoy them!

Let me know what some of your favorites were!

Have a lovely weekend.


No comments:

Post a Comment