We don’t need no stink’n top 10 when we have a top 5 “Best of 2011” List. Top 5 Music, Movies and TV shows of the year, in Miller’s humble opinion.
Best of 2011 by Miller
1. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’
This album is a throwback to a time that never existed. The former Tony! Toni! Tone! singer has gone from new jack swinger to 60’s sounding soul man, and to quote his former band’s biggest smash, “It Feels Good.” Stone Rollin’ is one good song after another. Saadiq makes retro sounds, but he does it in a way that is all new. Art appreciation is subjective, but this album is objectively awesome.
2. Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest
I love country music. That is just who I am and it ain’t never gonna change. Gillian Welch is one of the greatest country music singers alive today and “The Harrow & The Harvest” gives her a chance to showcase her talents. These songs sound as if they could have been written at the turn of the last century, but they make sense in the present as well.
3. Destroyer – Kaputt
So, Destroyer’s frontman, Dan Bejar (also a member of The New Pornographers), must have been REALLY into Al Stewart. “Kaputt” is an album that saunters and slithers into your eardrums and gently massages your heart and mind. I’m trying to sound like a guy who would wear a white linen shirt unbuttoned to his navel with a gold chain. “Kaputt” could truly be appreciated by a guy like that, and pretty much everyone else worth a damn.
4. The Train Wrecks – Saddle Up
The Train Wrecks are a four piece outlaw country group from Savannah, Georgia. This is a super independent album and one that probably can’t be found on the torrent sites. Somebody should really post this mofo on the torrent sites because people need to hear “Saddle Up.” I often imagine what it must have been like for Waylon Jennings’ touring bass player in the late seventies, drowning in a sea of quaaludes, whiskey, and feather haired groupies. That dude would have been all about the Train Wrecks. I’m all about the Train Wrecks. You should be all about The Train Wrecks too.
5. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
This was probably the album that I listened to the most this year. Sam Beam is a weird dude. He is a songwriter’s songwriter, yet he packs his lyrical and melodic genius into super palatable, easy to digest pop/soft rock container. This album is reminiscent of Prince’s favorite Joni Mitchell album, “The Hissing of Summer Lawns.” It is a one time singer of soft acoustic ballads recruiting a full band to flesh out the sound while retaining the intimacy of insightful lyrics that take a few listens to tuly appreciate.
I’m sick and tired of the sausage party that is modern comedy. Sure, the ladies got it going on in TV Land (30 Rock, Parks and Recreation) but when it comes to the big screen, moviegoers have to settle for Katherine Heigl, Jennifer Lopez, Kate Hudson, and Jennifer Aniston trying to do it with Gerard Butler or Josh Duhamel in this months garbage romantic comedy nonsense. I’m the kind of guy that likes to mix business with pleasure when it comes to combining two of my favorite things in this world, women and laughter. Bridesmaids is the funniest movie of the year.
2. The Tree of Life
Terence Malick stepped up to the plate and he swung for the fences. This movie is either the most pretentious strike out ever, or the best movie ever made summing up all of existence within a couple of hours. Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, and young Hunter McCracken should all three be nominated for Oscars this year for their performance in this strange movie. I couldn’t stop thinking about this movie after I left the theater and that is a rare occurrence these days.
3. Your Highness
I’m sure that if anybody reads this list (which they may or may not) they are going to see this entry and immediately disregard my opinion regarding anything and everything ever. However, I don’t give a @#$%. I love to laugh and “Your Highness” made me laugh. You know how, when you are at a wedding for someone you barely know and somebody makes the mistake of handing some drunken middle aged uncle the microphone during speech time, and you just sit back and watch the bizarre spectacle unfold. Some unfortunate studio executive got the bright idea of giving David Gordon Green, Ben Best, and Danny McBride a buttload of millions of dollars and let them run wild with it. The funniest thing about this movie is that it ever got made at all. Future cult classic.
4. Super 8
I was just about the age where one can first sit through an entire movie when “The Goonies” came out in 1985. I loved watching a movie about a group of kids running around and embarking on a wild adventure. They talked like kids talked and they walked like kids walked. Super 8 reminds me of that movie, and not just because it is set in the 80’s. J.J. Abrams’ homage to the 80’s is action packed, sweet, and funny. Kyle Chandler is great in a supporting role and all of the kids are spot on. Speilberg himself would have a hard time topping this one.
5. The Future
This is a film that some critics loved and some hated (Time Magazine called it and “Your Highness” two of the worst films of the year). I think that writer/director/star Miranda July should take that as a major compliment. Haters gonna hate. This is a heart breaking story of a quirky young couple living in America right here and now. They have jobs, but they don’t make any money. They have each other, but they aren’t sure if that is enough. They have plans to adopt a cat, but they feel like that might be too much of a commitment. In an ideal world Hamish Linklater would be a huge star and Miranda July would make one movie a year like Woody Allen. Time Magazine called her a “hipster” (basically the worst thing you could call someone these days), but really she is just a devastatingly talented iconoclast who made a really good film.
1. Parks and Recreation
Watching “Parks and Recreation” makes me happy. As a great man once said (really it was Jerry Maguire, but I’m not very smart so all of my quotes come from popular films) “we live in a cynical world.” Negativity reigns supreme. Everybody is a critic and we all log on to facebook just to laugh at how fat the people we went to high school got. Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson, Tom Haverford, April Ludgate, Andy Dwyer, Ben Wyatt, Chris Traeger, Anne Perkins, Donna Meagle, and Garry “Jerry” Gergich are better than all that. They look out for each other and they make decisions that aren’t always based on selfishness and nihilism like characters in every other well made sitcom on TV right now. It must be hard to write anything that can be as smart as “Parks and Recreation” and still stay so upbeat. I hope that the writers can keep it up and I hope that the show can attract more viewers before NBC replaces it with something as bad as “Whitney.”
2. The Good Wife
Alicia Florrick’s life is complicated. Her world is inhabited by really smart people who are really good at their jobs and clients who really need their help. This show is about politics. Not the kind of politics that you see on the news, but everyday politics; family politics, workplace politics, and sexual politics. It would be very limiting to call “The Good Wife” a feminist show, but it wouldn’t be completely inaccurate. Prime time network dramas are rarely this well written and Juliana Margulies is the best actress on TV.
3. Game of Thrones
“They would never cancel ‘Game of Thrones.’ It’s a crossover hit. It’s not just for fantasy enthusiasts, they’re telling human stories in a fantasy world.”
Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) from “Parks and Recreation”
4. Friday Night Lights
FNL did something really amazing in its 5 season run. It was a drama that was just as engaging and well crafted as any other on television (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Dexter), but without all of the darkness and negativity. Real life can be inspiring and uplifting, but really good TV shows rarely are. FNL ended its run on a high note and I feel sorry for those who haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying it. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!
This show is pretty much just a soap opera. I’m not going to get into how it is deep and meaningful, because it isn’t. The shelf life on the quality of enjoyment for this guilty pleasure is probably going to be pretty short, so watch it while you still can, before this thing jumps the shark higher than any other show has ever jumped before. Check out Emily Thorne and the gang before the plot gets too ludicrous to endure, and believe me, it’s coming.
Miller is suppose to be studying for the bar exam but instead wasted his precious time writing this summary of 2011. We hope you enjoyed it.