Favourites of 2012

Another year has come and gone, and with that, a look back on some of my personal favourites in music, movies, and television.

FAVOURITES IN MUSIC

  • Maroon 5 – Overexposed: Not gonna lie, M5 is kind of here by default. There was no way that I wasn’t going to include them, even though I have made it known that this album wasn’t exactly my favourite of theirs. However, with songs like One More Night, Lady Killer, and Tickets being standouts on the album, I can sort of justify picking it among my favourites of the year.
  • Tyler Hilton – Forget the Storm: It was a long-running thing between my friend and I, complaining that Tyler (alongside Justin Timberlake and Michelle Branch) was taking TOO DAMN LONG to release his sophomore album (his debut was released in 2004). This year, Tyler FINALLY made good on his promise to release new music, with him independently releasing the album. The outcome was a great mix of several musical influences.
  • Delta Goodrem – Child of the Universe: I’m still including this album, despite the fact that it hasn’t been officially released in North America. Delta returns with her fourth album, that plays with some different sounds for the singer-songwriter. The album features some piano-driven songs that Delta has been known for, but she also has some songs that very much play up the pop sound.
  • Kris Allen – Thank You Camellia: I kind of loved this album, and I find it a damn shame that Kris hasn’t found bigger success. I enjoyed his self-titled debut after his Idol win back in 2009, but Kris was able to really take his time with this record and personalize it. Camellia ended up being a very solid collection of songs, that found him collaborating with Jason Reeves on the first track “Better With You”, as well as rocking it out a little with “Monster.”
  • Dia Frampton – Red: Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit here. Dia’s album came out in December of last year, but because of my travels, I didn’t get a chance to listen to it until the beginning of the year. That being said, I think Dia made such a great album, really showing off all her musical tastes, with touches in everything from pop to dance to hip-hop to country.

FAVOURITES IN MOVIES

For the record, I am ridiculously behind on movies, particularly the movies with awards buzz, so this list is kind of lacking.

  • Pitch Perfect: When the movie was initially released, I didn’t think much of it, even though it has music and singing and I am such a sucker for it – but after watching it, I totally get it. The movie was fresh and funny, and the soundtrack (consisting of all the movie’s performances) was fantastic. And seriously, the riff-off in the movie was pure perfection (says the music geek who loves a good mash-up or…10)
  • The Hunger Games: I finished the entire series of books before watching this first adaptation, and it completely lived up to the books. Don’t dismiss it as a tween/teen thing, because fluff it is not.
  • The Avengers: I have never been a comic book geek, but I myself have to admit that I have a soft-spot for superhero movies. Give me a superhero that’s at least cool, with a decent storyline for a movie, and some cool looking special effects, and I am in. The Avengers is the culmination of several years’ worth of Marvel movies, featuring Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, as well as Black Widow and Hawkeye. With Joss Whedon at the helm, Avengers turned out to be every fanboy’s dream and a good time for all movie viewers.
  • 21 Jump Street: I was barely alive when the original TV series initially aired, but with most people, I knew this was the show that jump-started Johnny Depp’s career. This year, the show was adapted for the big screen starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, swapping the crime drama of the series for a buddy comedy movie. The result was pure hilariousness, and a great role for Channing to show off his comedic chops.
  • The Cabin in the Woods: Horror movies aren’t my thing, because for the most part, they kind of suck (I’m talking movies from the past decade). The more buzz that I heard about Cabin, the more intrigued I was by it. When I finally got around to watching it, as a movie fan, I must say I really liked it. It is not your atypical horror movie, at times playing up those cliches, and at times surprising you in its direction.

FAVOURITES IN TV

  • Let’s get this out of the way first – shows that I have loved/been a fan of and have continued to love over the past year: Nikita, Fringe, Happy Endings, So You Think You Can Dance, The Voice, How I Met Your Mother, Community, Hart of Dixie, Once Upon A Time
  • Arrow: Action, drama, good looking people, a little bit of humour. I’ve said it before and I will say it again until it becomes reality, this show is the perfect schedule companion to Nikita.
  • Nashville: I’ve said it before, I’m kind of a sucker for anything that includes music. Despite the fact that this is settled in the world of country music (granted, my tastes have been widening over the years), all involved have put together a great show that welcomes you in, regardless of whether you are a country music fan or not.
  • Suits: This year, in its second season, Suits really stepped up in their story-telling. Not to knock down the first season, which was good, but this year, they turned it up a whole other level. Gripping drama, with a great deal of charm, charisma, and humour, the show surpassed White Collar and Covert Affairs as my favourite show on the USA Network.
  • Parks and Recreation: I really hate to admit this, but this was the year I caught up with Parks. I had watched the first season when it aired, and wasn’t particularly impressed with it, so I didn’t continue on. Man, was that a mistake. After watching season 2 during my travels, I continued catching up on the show every chance I got, until I caught up to what was airing in S4. I am so happy I gave the show a second shot, because no other comedy on the air can be simultaneously so hilarious and so endearing.
  • Homeland: The plot about a war veteran suspected of being a terrorist, sparked very negative/eye-rolling responses in me. However, after hearing such great buzz about the first season, I sat down and watched it over the summer. When the show came back for its second season, I was committed to it. Fantastic writing, and without a doubt, award-worthy acting from Claire Danes, Damien Lewis, and Mandy Patinkin, the show breaks all the TV rules of you should tell a story. What most shows would’ve done in 5+ seasons, Homeland did it in under 2.

DISAPPOINTMENTS IN 2012

Just for a little bit of a change, I thought I would include some music, movies, and shows that disappointed me over the year.

  • Music in general has disappointed me this year. Looking back at the music I’ve collected this year, I bought a lot less than previous years. I’m almost certain that half of this year’s music that I have is all from The Voice (U.S., U.K., Australia).
  • Glee: The show continued its descent into ridiculousness and lazy writing/creative music ideas. What I’ve come to finally realize is that I much prefer when Glee covers older songs and when they re-arrange the songs. Over the past year (maybe even 2), Glee continues to cover songs that are currently on the radio, which irks me to no end because I already don’t like 3/4 of the stuff on the radio, and they don’t even do anything different to the songs. I feel like the final straw was them doing Gangnam Style for “Regionals” and that this was the song they gave lead vocal to Jenna Ushkowitz’s Tina – can you say racist much?
  • Smash: Continuing with the music theme, Smash did not remotely live up to its fantastic pilot. The plus that it had was that it featured original music for its musical. After that, it was just ridiculous. Characters like Ellis and Leo were downright annoying. We’re supposed to like Debra Messing’s character Julia, but she did some really stupid things (and wore a lot of scarves). Don’t even get me started on Uma Thurman’s arc on the show. There’s an overhaul for season 2, with a bunch of dispensable characters gone, and some fresh blood in both newcomers (Jeremy Jordan, Andy Mientus) and familiar faces (Jennifer Hudson, Sean Hayes). However with Joshua Safran (previous showrunner of Gossip Girl) taking over for Teresa Rebeck as showrunner, I still have my reservations.
  • True Blood: Speaking of ridiculous, season 5 of TB was pretty frickin’ bad. All that religion, cult, Lilith stuff that went down was terrible. I can’t even bring myself to remember anything else about that season.
  • Prometheus: Straight up, I didn’t like it, didn’t get it. For being scientists and stuff, these people were pretty stupid, doing the typical movie things you should never do (ex. NEVER split up from the group!) There was also, for me at least, a complete lack of character development – we never fully understand why any of these characters are doing what they’re doing.
  • Rock of Ages: I had VERY low expectations for this movie and somehow they managed to make it even worse than I thought. I watched the movie because I’m a fan of Julianne Hough, but you have to admit, the rest of the cast was so incredibly random – Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Malin Akerman, Mary J. Blige, Bryan Cranston, Catherine Zeta-Jones? Random. The movie was just all over-the-place.

So there you have it, some of my pop culture favourites and disappointments of the past year.

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2012 Emmy Nominations (and Snubs!)

This morning, nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced. As usual, for any TV fan, it was a mixed bag, with expected nods, some welcome (and unwelcome) surprises, and frustrating snubs. A rundown of the big categories, plus my thoughts.

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES

  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Girls
  • 30 Rock
  • Veep
  • Modern Family
  • The Big Bang Theory

What is normally a category where the network shows prevail, this year finds half of the nominees being cable shows, and I don’t watch a single one of those cable shows. I do however watch Parks and Recreation, Happy Endings, and Community (among other shows), all of which are smart, funny, creative, and downright incredible, which makes their snubs so wrong. Not to mention, P&R was nominated last year, so how did it get bumped out this year, when it was even funnier than last?

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES

  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Breaking Bad
  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • Mad Men

Not one single network show is nominated here. Really, it is times like this that I wish there were separate categories for cable and network shows because it’s not that network shows aren’t up to par with the cables (hello, The Good Wife and Fringe! And I don’t care what you think but Nikita deserves some recognition too!), but cable has more flexibility in what they can air. I’ll admit the only show nominated that I’ve watched is Game of Thrones, but I am determined to watch Homeland and catching up on Breaking Bad before the award show. I am surprised that some of the big network hits from this past season – Revenge, Once Upon A Time – didn’t sneak in there somehow (I suppose one is considered too soap-y, and the other is a fantasy, which obviously means you get no recognition unless you’re on HBO and you are GoT.)

LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

  • Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
  • Lena Dunham, Girls
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Tina Fey, 30 Rock
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
  • Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

I’m sure I’m in the minority when it comes to not liking New Girl, so please forgive me for saying that I don’t get all the love for Zooey Deschanel. As far as I’m concerned, Amy Poehler needs to win this! Though it would’ve been nice if Kaley Cuoco got nominated for The Big Bang Theory. Also, again, where is the love for Courtney Cox?!

LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

  • Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Louis C.K., Louie
  • Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
  • Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

It was a pleasant surprise to see Don Cheadle get in here for House of Lies. I admit to trying to watch the show when it debuted, but eventually felt that it just wasn’t for me. I, however, don’t understand how Jon Cryer keeps getting nominated. Really? Two and Half Men isn’t even that funny (to me anyways, and I am easily amused). Biggest snub here is that the ALWAYS funny Joel McHale isn’t nominated for Community. Unless Louis C.K. can pull out the win (which he has been getting rave reviews for), I seriously think Jim Parsons is going to earn his 3rd Emmy.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

  • Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
  • Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives
  • Julie Bowen, Modern Family
  • Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
  • Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie
  • Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live

I must say a big congrats to Mayim Bialik for being the first female castmember from Big Bang Theory to get a nod. However, it is a damn shame that the ladies from Happy Endings and Community did not get any recognition. And what’s this, Desperate Housewives was considered a comedy? Shows you how long it’s been since I paid attention to DH.

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY

  • Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
  • Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
  • Max Greenfield, New Girl
  • Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live

Arguably the most competitive category at the Emmys. It makes it all the more difficult when one show has a stranglehold on 4 of the nomination slots. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I love Modern Family and all the actors, I hardly think that ALL four of the MF men were funnier than all the actors that got snubbed. I’m talking the likes of Nick Offerman (he’s Ron freakin’ Swanson!), Danny Pudi, and Damon Wayans Jr., not to mention their other respective castmembers. And how about Neil Patrick Harris or even Jason Segel from How I Met Your Mother?

LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

  • Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
  • Glenn Close, Damages
  • Claire Danes, Homeland
  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
  • Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

Claire Danes was the absolute lock for a nomination here, and probably the favourite to win. That doesn’t mean it hurts any less to not see Anna Torv nominated for Fringe or even a longer shot, Maggie Q for Nikita (I dare you to watch 2×19 Wrath and not say that Maggie wasn’t absolutely incredible in that episode).

LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA

  • Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
  • Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
  • Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
  • Jon Hamm, Mad Men
  • Damian Lewis, Homeland
  • Michael C. Hall, Dexter

So now that Breaking Bad is back in the running this year, can we just assume that Bryan Cranston will probably win again? Although this year, he does have some major competition from Damian Lewis, who has been getting rave reviews for his role in Homeland. Surprising omission would have to be no Hugh Laurie for the final season on House. And would you look at that? All the actors nominated are for cable shows…

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

  • Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
  • Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
  • Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
  • Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
  • Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
  • Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

How is it that every year, once I get to this category, I have nothing to say? Maybe because I don’t/haven’t watched any of the shows these talented actresses are being nominated for. I have however, watched a few episodes of The Good Wife, while it’s been on re-runs this summer, and from what I’ve seen, it completely deserves all the accolades it gets. One actress who was snubbed in this category is, without a doubt, Madeleine Stowe for Revenge, who showed so many nuances to her character, not to mention she had some of the best passive-aggressive lines in the show.

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA

  • Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
  • Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad
  • Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey
  • Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
  • Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
  • Jared Harris, Mad Men

Let me get this out of the way first: HOW IS JOHN NOBLE NOT NOMINATED???!!!! I don’t understand how the Emmys continue to not recognize the amazing work that John Noble does on Fringe. I don’t get it! Moving on…I can only comment on Peter Dinklage’s nomination because that’s the only show I watch. But from what I’ve heard, Giancarlo Esposito was a great baddie on Breaking Bad.

BEST REALITY COMPETITION SHOW

  • The Amazing Race
  • Dancing with the Stars
  • Project Runway
  • So You Think You Can Dance
  • The Voice
  • Top Chef

Well, would you look at that? American Idol gets bumped out, making room for The Voice to get in on the competition. Will it have what it takes to beat out The Amazing Race? I’m not sure. TAR is coming off of 2 back-to-back ‘meh’ seasons so there’s a chance we might have a new winner (my hope is for SYTYCD after its amazing 8th season). But no one can do what TAR does, traveling around the world at such a quick pace and capturing it all, which is why it’s won 8 out of 9 times in the category.

BEST REALITY SHOW HOST

  • Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
  • Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
  • Betty White, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers
  • Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars
  • Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance

Here’s the real shocker: after winning all 4 Emmys in the category since its inception, Jeff Probst isn’t even nominated this year! I love Probst and what he does on Survivor, which makes me a little sad that he didn’t get nominated. But I kind of quickly got over it, when I realized that means someone else gets to win…GO CAT DEELEY!!

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY

  • Stacey Tookey, SYTYCD: In This Shirt / Turning Tables / Heart Asks For Pleasure First
  • Christopher Scott, SYTYCD: Misty Blue/ Velocity
  • Spencer Liff, SYTYCD: Whatever Lola Wants / Please Mr. Jailor / Where Do I Begin
  • Joshua Bergasse, Smash: National Pastime / Let’s Be Bad / Never Met A Wolf
  • Travis Wall & Teddy Forance, DWTS: Without You

I knew Travis was going to be nominated again this year, but I honestly had my bets on it being for SYTYCD (can we just marvel at the awesomeness that was “Turn to Stone”?), not DWTS for the Shaping Sound performance. Regardless, it was well deserved. Add to that however, I am little surprised it wasn’t an actual ballroom routine that was nominated for DWTS. I was kind of hoping that Derek Hough and Allison Holker’s flamenco/jazz/fusion routine from last fall would’ve been nominated, because that was just breathtakingly incredible. All the routines nominated are so great it’s hard to pick who should win, but I think I’m going to have to give the edge to Stacey Tookey.

Other notables:

  • Jason Ritter is nominated for Best Guest Actor in a Drama for Parenthood! Yay Parenthood!
  • Uma Thurman nominated for Best Guest Actress in a Drama for Smash? Ermm…
  • Community wasn’t completely shut out, as writer Chris McKenna received a nod for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy for the episode, Remedial Chaos Theory.
  • Can we also note how only one of the nominees in the Writing for a Comedy category is actually nominated for Best Comedy (Girls)? Not even Modern Family got nominated here! While Parks and Recreation (2x), Community, and Louie did.  How does that make sense?
  • Oh Glee…so promising in your first season, and now nominated for only 3 awards – Cinematography, Makeup, and Guest Actress (Dot-Marie Jones)
  • Ashley Judd got nominated in the Best Lead Actress in a Miniseries for Missing?
  • Once Upon A Time did get nods in a few technical categories – Costumes, Prosthetic Makeup, and Visual Effects. If it doesn’t win for at least Costumes, that’s a travesty.
  • Even Pan Am got nominated for a few technicals. What the heck?

That’s all folks. Overall, I’m a little disappointed in the nominees, if only because more of my favourites didn’t get nominated.  Such is the TV addict’s life.

This year’s Emmy Awards airs Sunday, September 23rd on ABC, and will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

For a complete list of all the nominees, head on over to the official Emmy website.