2008 was a crappy year. At least for me. Sure, we voted in the first democratic president in eight years, but we had to deal with soaring gas prices and layoffs in every industry from automotive to entertainment first. And let's face it, any year where I put Untraceable on my "Best Movies Of" list means it was slim pickin's! So, needless to say, I cannot wait for 2008 to end, but even for those of you who didn't have the sh*t fall down around them this year, there are some very worthwhile things to look forward to in 2009 (aside from the inauguration!). Here are the top three in the categories of movies, music, and television:
Fanboys is set to hit theaters nationwide on February 6 and is sure to becoming yet another hit from the "Geek Pack," featuring those who are less than typical Hollywood heros and the token hot girl who falls for them anyway. Sure enough, here we have the adorable Chris Marquette (The Girl Next Door, The Invisible), the awkward Jay Baruchel (Knocked Up, Tropic Thunder), the crass Dan Fogler (School for Scoundrels, Balls of Fury), and the goofy Sam Huntington (Cavemen, Veronica Mars), and the spunky Kristen Bell (also Veronica Mars, Heroes) on a road trip across the country in order to steal a print of Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace from Skywalker Ranch so their dying friend can see it before its world premiere. It may be a little dated in plot (making the period hair and wardrobe choices sure to be hilarious), but being that I just recently embraced my own inner fangirl, I couldn't imagine this film coming out at a better time.
March 13 sees only a limited release for Sunshine Cleaning-- the Amy Adams/Emily Blunt venture that has a single mother taking on the business venture of crime scene cleanup with her screw-up sister. Ironically, the self-deprecating humor in the film seems to greatly resemble that in Little Miss Sunshine, but the similarity in titles seems to be a coincidence.
Set for a January 16th theatrical release, Notorious is the true story of Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls,'s rise to fame from the hustling on the streets. Newcomer Jamal Woolard has the title role, and he really went method on this one, gaining about sixty pounds to truly look the part. Though he had no previous acting roles to his name, and his own rap career never took off, Wallace's real life mother took one look at him and just said "that's my son," which lends credit to the film.
The soundtrack (dropping January 13), featuring some of Wallace's demos, as well as a remix of "One More Chance," featuring guest vocals from Wallace's young son, C.J., is also one of my picks for best upcoming
Though the date is still TBA, and therefore not many are holding out hope that it will be within the next twelve months, I am personally looking forward to the return of Eminem with "Relapse." I never believe artists when they say they are going to retire-- mostly because the ones that do (Jay-Z, Stephen King) are never the ones that should. Though when his recent coffee table book was released, there was a wave of "Does anyone still care?" from the media, the last few years of Eminem's absence brought him great personal turmoil-- from another estrangement with his ex-wife and an addiction to pills-- and that is sure to bring forth the genius in his lyrics.
The last spot goes to both Mos Def, with "The Ecstatic" on February 9, and Jay-Z with "The Blueprint 3," which is still TBA. It appears that too much in the music industry is still unknown with our fledgling economy and the state of downloads and "leaks" taking precedence over any actual new discs, but I will eagerly await these because until then I am stuck bumping a year-old Mariah Carey CD (amazing as it may be), "Circus" from Britney Spears, and decades of random Christmas songs.
Okay, so new pilots won't be shot for another few months, so a good chunk of my options here were only mid-season replacements-- shows that the networks may not have thought good enough for their initial season lineup-- but their judgment has always been shotty at best, so even those should not be pre-judged too terribly. Thankfully, though, the alternative cable and reality show cycle scheduling has given us more quality options.
Showtime's The United States of Tara begins in January. Created by Juno's Diablo Cody and starring Toni Collette, this show about dissociative identity disorder is supposed to be a quirky comedy but has some very serious undertones. Collette is such an understated actress, though, it will be a pure pleasure to watch her transform into each and every one of Tara's multiple personalities, however odd or unexpected they may be.
Fox' Sit Down, Shut Up is yet another animated half-hour program, this time focusing on a few high school teachers at a small, blip-on-the-map, fishing town. My interest in this one came initially simply from the fact that Arrested Development alumns created the show and are voices (Mitchell Hurtwitz; Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Henry Winkler, respectively), and even after another sitcom I was interested in for the same reasons went under prematurely (but deservedly so-- Do Not Disturb), this one has the added aid of some favorite SNL players (Cheri Oteri, Will Forte, Kenan Thompson), not to mention the fact that the only thing more comically tragic than high school students are their teachers, so this is bound to be one self-deprecating gem!
Fox also has American Idol returning in January-- not a stand-by from September but reclaiming it's usual date(s), time(s), and ratings dominance. This season will see the addition of a fourth judge, which is sure to bring out the claws in Paula, who will not only have to fight for face time from the usual two goons, but also now a younger, hipper woman (Kara DioGuardi). Perhaps that is why she agreed to do Dancing With The Stars, even though it will overlap slightly, giving the viewers at home the ability to take their eyes off the train wreck at judges' table and instead focus on the one(s) on stage... at least in the early audition rounds anyway, and really, those are the best episodes!