2003: Wha Happen?!?

Joel’s 2003 Year In Review

I suppose I should start reviewing the year by breaking it down into categories. You know, for organizational purposes. And I suppose like all Year In Review essays, this one should begin with the obvious: Our ubiquitous President.

This year has been a very headstrong year for the Prez. He has seen a war waged, another country torn asunder by our unfathomable military might, the capture of a madman, the lack of support from our conceited European comrades, and the repeated threats from a piddling Asian nation with a reckless dictator at the helm. All the while, pleasing the press with zillions of funny quotes, enough to fill up a sequel to the book George W. Bushisms. “The trouble with the French is that they don’t have a word for ‘entrepeneur’” and “By dethroning Saddam we have not only freed the American people, but have made it safer for our own people.” Anyhow, I still love him as a President, and considering that Howard Dean is the most prominent challenger in the upcoming election, no doubt Dubya will come out the victor once again.

Next up is my roundup of major catastrophes of the year. The spring and summer passed without so much as a massive earthquake or devastating hurricane. But in July a gargantuan super-cell thunderstorm shredded Northwest Ohio, reaching its peak fury while rushing through Bowling Green. A good chunk of one of the trees flanking the driveway to my house was torn off by winds reaching in excess of 90mph. The roof to the Moore Musical Arts center bit the dust, and a chunk of the Field House wall was blown in. The entire overhang at the Meijer Gas Station was blown away. Trees fell, houses were crushed, cars crumpled like tissue paper, and the city suffered a cumulative $147,000 worth of damage. Ouch. B.G. recovered though. The whole nation winced in August, when a power outage that began in my beloved Ohio rippled across eight states and put an estimated 50 million people out of power. I was in the midst of a Final Cut Pro class at the exact moment that the ripple tore through Bowling Green. Our computers flickered off and then auxiliary power took hold and we continued class. Gradually we began to notice the scope of the outage. Hurricane Isabel was the next big thing to beat us up and it turned parts of Maryland into an estuary.

Logically following my scatterbrained observations about catastrophes comes my critique of the popular culture. So far we saw gay tastes becoming very very very chic, even though gay lesbian bisexual and transsexual people comprise a very tiny fraction of our society, somehow they purport to have a far greater importance to the popular culture than anything else. Shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queer as Folk, even Surprise By Design have flaunted the gay element. New shows that grew in popularity included The O.C., a drama about a poor kid living with rich kids in California. Alias had another smashing season, according to its fans. The Sopranos continued on… who cares. Six Feet Under and Carnivalé on HBO garnered more attention. CSI spawned half a dozen other spinoff shows. But I don’t watch TV so I don’t really care about all that crap. In music Norah Jones became the new front-running musician by winning five Grammys while groups like Fountains of Wayne, Switchfoot, Good Charlotte and The Ataris broke into the mainstream. Johnny Cash died and that was enough to cause a fountain of re-releasing, tributes and biopics to spurt forth. Barry White died and that was enough for a lot of people to go out and promptly listen to his soothing voice over and over and tell themselves that he wasn’t dead… in fact he was still alive in binary on a silver disc and singing especially just for them. In films Chicago mopped up at the Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, while The Pianist made off with Best Director and Best Actor… a funny coincidence because Roman Polanski cannot get his award or he will be incarcerated on U.S. soil on charges of Statutory Rape. But everybody knew that already. The Two Towers was only nominated for 6 awards and it took home 2 of them… for technical achievements.

I will save up all of the rest of my movie opinions for Joel’s Oscar Preview edition later on in a month or so.

Now here come the lists! First off I have the top 10 movies that I saw IN THE THEATER this year:

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

2. Cidade de Deus (City of God)

3. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (Spirited Away)

4. Adaptation.

5. School of Rock

6. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

7. X2: X-Men United

8. L’homme du tren (Man on the Train)

9. 28 Days Later

10. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Next up is the top 10 movies that I saw ON VIDEO/DVD/TELEVISION (for the first time) this year:

1. Braveheart

2. In The Bedroom

3. The Elephant Man

4. About Schmidt

5. Ed Wood

6. The Man Who Wasn’t There

7. Braindead (Dead Alive)

8. Lost In la Mancha

9. GATTACA

10. Holes

Yeah so a few of those films are old I know and it probably comes as a shock to some of you that I had never seen them up to this year, but I swear on my honor that it was the very first time I’d seen these wonderful movies.

I’m also including the top 10 movies that I need to see in the next few weeks here so that my life can be complete:

1. The Last Samurai

2. Mystic River

3. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

4. Big Fish

5. Lost In Translation

6. Bubba Ho-Tep

7. Love Actually

8. Girl With a Pearl Earring

9. Capturing the Friedmans

10. The Matrix Revolutions

Notice that Cold Mountain is not the list, even though there are a number of actors in it that I would enjoy seeing (Giovanni Ribisi, Brendan Gleeson, Natalie Portman) who don’t have the big sappy roles that Jude Law and Nicole Kidman have.

Next up is (don’t forget!) the top 10 fricken’ worst movies that I saw this year anywhere, could have been in the theater, on video or DVD, and hopefully not on TV, because I don’t watch TV so I don’t care about all of that crap. The funny thing about crappy movies is that you can easily make fun of them. It is for this reason that I probably watched most of the movies on this list with Jeremy Cordy. Here goes:

1. Freddy Got Fingered (almost as bad as Dudley Do-Right)

2. Severed (A home movie starring Bono and some guy with make up on)

3. Coyote Ugly (lots of promiscuous sex)

4. Freddy Vs Jason (lots of naked girls and then two invincible monsters fighting each other forever and never winning or losing)

5. Saving Silverman (Jason Biggs is always funny in a stupid way… but the movie proved Neil Diamond lo be a moron)

6. Revolution (Al Pacino gave an intensely thankless performance in this movie about… painful accuracy paid to the revolutionary war recreation without any real thought given to a useful or entertaining story)

7. Scare Crow Slayer (a very entertaining story about a crazed living scarecrow)

8. Ravenous (Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle eat people in this movie… you should go rent it)

9. From Dusk Till Dawn (creative assets aside, I hated this movie)

10. Baby Watchers (I just had to find a way to put this on the list J)

Next up is the top 10 new bands that I have had the privilege of getting into this year. The criteria to be on this list doesn’t necessarily mean that the band itself is new or that I hadn’t heard of them before, just that I bought or otherwise obtained and got into music of theirs over the past calendar year. Here goes:

1. The Fire Theft

2. Kent

3. Folk Implosion

4. The Postal Service

5. Brian Eno

6. Luxury

7. Joe Christmas

8. Jets To Brazil

9. Radiohead

10. Hot Hot Heat

Next up is the top 10 songs for the year. I had to think long and hard about this one because there are so many songs that I freaking love. It has been a journey a year long to figure our which songs fit into the top 10, and there are quite a few omissions that I sadly had to make in order to get it down to 10, but nonetheless I feel good about this list. It is a good list. And here it is:

1. Heaven – THE FIRE THEFT

2. Saker Man Ser/Things She Said – KENT

3. One Part Lullaby – FOLK IMPLOSION

4. I Ruined It – JOE CHRISTMAS

5. Secret of the Easy Yoke – PEDRO THE LION

6. Johnny and Mary – THE NOTWIST

7. Black and White Film – THE GREAT FICTION

8. Brand New Colony – THE POSTAL SERVICE

9. Rocket Boy – JETS TO BRAZIL

10. An Ending (Ascent) – BRIAN ENO

Next up is the top 10 people who died this year. I rank these people according to the level of how much I will miss them, not on whatever the saps of the popular culture think. Here are the stiffs:

1. Mr. Rogers (I WILL miss this man and his tattooed arms indicating how many men he sniped in WWII)

2. Earl Hindman (Tim Allen’s faceless neighbor Wilson on Home Improvement)

3. Johnny Cash (famous singing man with the deep throaty voice)

4. Katharine Hepburn (super mega famous actress from a bygone era)

5. Gregory Hines (famous dancing man)

6. Al Hirschfeld (famous New York caricaturist)

7. Bob Hope (famous entertainer of the U.S. and Allied troops through many wars)

8. Gregory Peck (To Kill A Mockingbird)

9. John Ritter (he played a former fat kid in IT)

10. Rod Roddy (famous voice announcer for 30 years on the infamous show The Price Is Right)

Well I suppose that about does it for Joel’s 2003 Year In Review. Be on the lookout around January 17th for my Oscar blog entry, since that is the due date for the Academy voting ballots. Then on January 27th we’ll see if I was right in who would get nominated. Then I’ll make my predictions of who will win, and then we’ll see if Joel really understands the twisted and labyrinthine awards process of Hollywood once and for all!

Goodbye, and Auld Lang Syne everybody! Happy New Year (in a bit) J

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