Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Top Movies & TV Shows of 2006

This year there weren't too many really great movies that WOWed the socks off me. I do my best to try and see as many movies as I can in the theater because I am notoriously bad at renting videos/DVDs. When I was going back thru the year trying to figure out which movies really stuck out in my mind I kept thinking back on all the really horrible or disappointing movies that came out this year (like Basic Instinct 2, Lady in the Water and Superman Returns to name a few). But there were 10 stand-out films that I really enjoyed this year ... and here they are:

My 10th fave movie of the year is Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan:


When I first saw the trailer for this movie I thought, "Oh yeah, I'm gonna hate that movie." When I saw it again I kinda chuckled to myself and tried to ignore it. The third time I saw the trailer, I laughed out loud and figured it prolly wouldn't be that bad of a movie. Truth be told, I had an amazing time watching this movie. I can't think of another film that I've ever seen that had me laughing consistently thruout the duration of the film. Sure, it's dumb humor but so are gossip blogs and so ... there you go.

Coming in at #9 is Shortbus:


Director John Cameron Mitchell has a flair for the dramatic but an excellent head for crafting interesting stories and interesting characters that you can't help but come to love. This movie was way more graphic and way more sexual than I had anticipated but that wasn't even the point or the movie's draw. Honestly, I didn't even really focus on the graphic nudity much ... I was too bizzy caring about what was going on with the characters.

The #8 position belongs to the Russian Sci-Fi/Horror/??? movie Night Watch: Nochnoi Dozor:


I try and see as many art house films as I can because they make me feel like I'm smarter than the average movie go-er and 8 times out of the 10 I really enjoy them. This Russian movie looked interesting so I thought, "What the hell." It was truly a feast for the eyes. I still don't know exactly what the whole thing was about (even tho the movie was shown in its entirety all over again in high-speed as the credits rolled at the end) but I do know that I loved watching the images on the subtitled screen. Apparently this movie was released in Russia in 2004 so we Americans are a little slow on the uptake ... it is the first in a trilogy of films so I am very much looking forward to being further confused with the next 2 films.

#7 goes to Marie Antoinette:


If Night Watch was a feast for the eyes then Marie Antoinette was a dessert for the eyes. Sofia Coppola overindulges once again with this visually beautiful (if somewhat hollow) movie of the adult life of Queen Marie Antoinette. David and I got to see this movie in Paris, France before the movie opened in the US so it was extra special for me. I am a fan of Sofia Coppola's work ... I truly enjoyed this movie about as much as I enjoyed Lost in Translation ... and the soundtrack kicks ass!

My #6 favorite movie of the year is Hard Candy:


This movie was marketed perfectly ... you go in expecting one thing and something completely different, completely out of left field happens instead. I spent much of the movie gap-jawed and squirming in my seat. Ellen Page's performance was superb, I was completely blown away. The movie was very believable ... which made it all the more upsetting.

The #5 spot goes to Hostel:


While the Saw franchise can be credited with bringing back the blood and guts of gory horror films, Hostel takes that phenomenon a bit further. In Saw you kind of feel sorry for the victims ... in Hostel you kinda loathe the victims and then don't really feel sorry for them when they get their due (at least for me). There are some gross things that happen in this movie -- which is apparently just what I like to see.

In the #4 slot I chose Little Miss Sunshine:


It's all about the little girl in this movie. Abigail Breslin was amazing. This movie was both funny and poignant all at the same time. As dysfunctional as that family was, they really loved one another and isn't that pretty much what every family is like?

My third fave movie of the year is The Devil Wears Prada:


This is one of those rare instances where the movie is better than the book. The whole thing was just so well done, Meryl Streep just nailed that Anna Wintour-like character and I actually didn't hate Anne Hathaway. There are some movies that make you stop hating an actor or actress (Requiem for a Dream undid the hate I harbored for Jennifer Connelly ever since she starred in The Rocketeer) and this movie actually made me start liking Anne Hathaway. Even tho it's the typical "coming into your own" story chock full of morality at the end, I still bought it hook, line and sinker.

My #2 movie of the year is The Descent:


This is by far the best suspense/horror film of the year for me. This movie was so well done because it wasn't overdone. The scariness just creeps up on you and then all of the sudden you realize, "Oh shit ... I'm really scared." and then it's too late. Just the cave scenes were enough to freak me out ... once the creatures got introduced ... well ... I was a goner. I loved every single second of this movie ... even if they had to sanitize the ending for the American audience to make for a more hopeful ending. I've still yet to see the original ending from this British film -- I'm not even sure I want to.

And my favorite movie of the WHOLE year is Dreamgirls:


Even tho this movie only came out 3 days ago, it still ranks as my #1 movie of the year. I was very fortunate enough to get to see the movie last month and was just stunned by how much I enjoyed it. Director Bill Condon knows his way around a movie musical and Jennifer Hudson just KILLS the role of Effie. When she opens her mouth and that voice just comes booming out you get chills -- I got chills for reals. I predict that this movie will do very well come Awards Season and I'm sure that Jennifer Hudson will be going home with a few trophies over the coming months. I loved everything about this movie ... plus it's set in Detroit ... c'mon ... what more could you ask for?

The Top TV Shows of 2006:
  1. 24: Bar none, this was the best show of the year. The bumbling President who turned out to be the evil mastermind ... the loss of Edgar Stiles and Tony Almeida ... Chloe O'Brien gettin' ass from 2 guys in the same season (her boyfriend and then her ex-husband) ... this season had it all. I just love 24 more than any other show out there -- it's my new Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  2. Heroes: Finally, someone took the fancy of comic book heroes and applied it to everyday people. Not only are the heroes and their superpowers cool but the storyline is very rich and engaging and each episode promises a surprise ending. This is the best new show of the year and looks to continue its run into the new year.
  3. Prison Break: Many people, me included, were worried that once the prisoners broke out of prison that the show would lose its appeal but that turned out not to be the case. The story arc just got wider and more complicated and it's not even over yet. I contend that, so far, this season is better than the first ... tho we still have to see how it ends. All I know is that I'll be watching no matter how long the hiatus is.
  4. Project Runway: The best competitive reality show on TV, hands down. This year we got to watch 2 seasons of Project Runway and I just loved them both. This show has a great formula for keeping the audience coming back for more ... due in large part to the interesting challenges they keep coming up with. The contestants are interesting too but this show can just keep going for as long as they keep coming up with great challenges -- they will never run out of interesting contestants.
  5. Nip/Tuck: After taking a break from watching Nip/Tuck for a couple of seasons I got hooked again this season and made sure to be home every Tuesday night to catch a new episode. Scientology, little people and lobster claw baby hands ... yeah, there was a lot going on this season. The organ harvesting aspect was just the craziest thing. I don't know how this show makes the ridiculous sort of believable but they got me watching. I loved every outlandish minute.
  6. The Nine: Okay, so I know this show is already cancelled but I was really liking it. I loved the idea that the audience would only get tiny bits of new info in each episode of what really happened to the nine hostages. I think the problem was that they weren't giving enough of that info. Much like the failed Fox series Reunion (last year), I fell for this show and am now left holding the bag not knowing how the whole story ends up.
  7. Ugly Betty: Everybody loves this show ... and I like it. It's cute, it's predictable and Eric Mabius has his shirt off in almost every episode. I'll keep watching.
  8. Survivor - Cook Islands: Okay, I'm not weird for liking Survivor ... a lot of people like Survivor. Something about this season just grabbed me ... I liked that the smaller tribe ended up destroying the larger tribe and the nicest, smartest guy on the island walked away with a million bucks.
  9. Mile High/Kath & Kim: These two shows are not new but I loved watching them nonetheless. Mile High is a British sitcom that airs in repeats on BBC America and Kath & Kim is an Australian sitcom that airs on the Sundance Channel. I DVR every episode and make time each week to watch them both. Truth be told, both of these shows keep me more entertained than Lost did this season. They are both outrageously funny and make me wonder what other British and Aussie delights I might be missing here in the States.
  10. All of the various MTV Real World/Road Rules Challenges/Flavor Of Love: Yep, I'm still a sucker for MTV/VH1 programming. This year we got to watch The Gauntlet 2 and The Duel on MTV and 2 seasons of Flavor of Love on VH1. All the drama, all the bitching, all the fighting ... and even the gross poopy-ness on Flavor of Love all conspire to make for fun TV watching. What? I can't be reading all the time.

And So, We Soldier On

As all the jingle slowly seeps out of our bells we anxiously await something scintillating to sink our hungry teeth into ... until then, we'll just have to make do with what meager scraps of goss there is to be had. The week between Xmas and New Year's is always a quiet one but this year seems especially so ... ah well ... let's get to it.

Keith Urban, fresh from his stint at his rehab program in Palm Springs, CA, has reunited with his newish wife Nicole Kidman in her hometown of Sydney, Australia. Amid reports that he was fooling around on her with some other chick, the pair looked happy and smiled brightly for the cameras:


Celebrity couple Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban have been reunited in the Oscar-winning actress's home town of Sydney, Australia. It came after Ms Kidman's singer husband completed treatment in the United States for alcohol abuse, according to reports. Media cameras caught the couple holding hands as they left the United International Pictures office in the inner city. The couple said nothing to the media as they walked to a car and were driven away. New Zealand-born and Australian-raised Urban flew into Sydney on Tuesday after two months' treatment in a rehabilitation centre to battle a drinking relapse, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported ... He has not visited Australia since he married Kidman in a lavish Sydney wedding in June. Nicole looked very happy and very shiny as she welcomed her husband to her home. Keith looked happy as well ... but I suppose after spending 2 months in a treatment facility he would be thrilled to be anywhere but there. I really hope that these 2 can get over their problems and make a happy life for one another. Nicole really deserves a happy marriage and a happy new life. [Source]

Wentworth Miller is also down under in Sydney, Australia to do some promo work for his hit TV show Prison Break. But, Wentworth confesses that the trip is not just merely a working trip ... he also plans on spending time with his sister who has been living in Australia for the past year -- which will be a nice respite from having to endure the torture of "chiggers" on the Dallas set of Prison Break. Here are a couple "natural-looking" pictures of Wentworth in front of the Sydney Opera House:


Photo credit: Splash News

ONE OF Hollywood's hot young actors is escaping to Australia so he can throw a couple of shrimp on the barbie for Christmas lunch. Wentworth Miller, the star of the hit new American TV series, Prison Break, will be spending the holiday season in Australia. "My youngest sister is living down in Australia," Miller told AAP from the Dallas set of Prison Break. "I thought I'd kill three birds with one stone and get down to Australia. "I can spend some time with loved ones over the holidays, visit a place I've always wanted to visit and do a little press for the show" ... The first season of the show was shot in and around Chicago, but the second season has moved to Dallas where the cast and crew have been battling nature. Miller, while shooting in swamps and bushland, has become a victim of chiggers, a parasitic mite. If Australians see Miller relaxing on a beach over Christmas, they should not be concerned if his legs look in bad shape. Blame the chiggers. "Chiggers are a bug that bites you and then burrows underneath your skin and stays there," Miller explained. "There's no way of getting them out. You have to buy nail polish and cover the inflamed spot with a dab of the nail polish. That seals the pores of your skin, which denies the chiggers oxygen. They suffocate, die, eventually dissolve and disperse into your bloodstream. I have had about 20 of them up and down my legs. We were shooting out in the woods and I neglected to coat my ankles in sulphur which was the only thing that keeps them at bay. I went home looking like a pizza from the legs down." Miller will likely have his legs covered when he attends a cocktail Sydney Harbour cruise on December 27 to celebrate Foxtel's new long term deal with the Hollywood studio that makes Prison Break, Rupert Murdoch's 20th Century Fox. What a lovely and charming story ... blech! See, I told you that news would be light this week. [Source]

Nicole Richie has been spending a lot of time with family and friends, it would seem, since her arrest for DUI a few weeks ago. Here are a couple pictures of Nicole taking a stroll with a friend up Runyon Canyon in Hollywood yesterday afternoon:


Photo credit: Celebrity Babylon

I think it's great that Nicole is getting out there and working out her frustrations by walking them out. I can't imagine what the stress of a having a possible DUI conviction hanging over your head feels like but I'm sure it's been a very trying time for the Hollywood "It" Girl. [Source]

When she's not hiking in the canyons of LA, Nicole finds herself a little further down the California coast chilling with some of the girls of Laguna Beach. Interestingly enough, here is a picture of Nicole having lunch with a few friends in the OC ... and one of those friends just happens to be Lauren LC Conrad:


Photo credit: Flynet

Hmm ... I wonder what it is that they have in common to talk about. Oh, that's right ... ex(and/or current)boyfriends! Nicole dated Brody Jenner all summer long and then after the pair broke up, LC started dating Brody. While Nicole has been spending time with Joel Madden it's unclear if LC and Brody are still together. Perhaps the ladies were sharing war stories or comparing notes. Whatevs ... it's still a little weird to me. [Source]

Newly single (again) Kid Rock didn't spend his Xmas moping around the house lamenting the dissolution of his 4 marriages to Pamela Anderson ... instead, he packed up his guitar and headed out East ... way out East ... all the way to Iraq where he spent the weekend entertaining the troops. Here are a few pictures from his trip:


Kid Rock even blogged about his experience on his official website:

7:15am, Dec 26th, Iraq. Wow, what a Christmas. Christmas breakfast was pretty good. Toured some of Saddam's many palaces (money cannot buy taste still holds very true!) meeting more and more soldiers on the way. Things were pretty grim when we learned another IED bomb hit one of our hummers on a mission. I went with the captain immediately to the hospital in Baghdad and hung with two soldiers who were injured. One of the other soldiers I do not think made it. I said a prayer for him... We met another soldier who had been hit by a sniper the day before. He was doing well and one of the most amazing things about these guys who are injured is how quickly they want to get well and back in the field - incredible. Took pics and hung with alot of the hospital staff, great people. Took an hour nap and when nightfall came we jumped on another Blackhawk and headed to another camp (I apologize my memory sux) for another huge meet n greet Christmas night. All the soldiers were so thankful and expressed how much it meant to them that I chose to spend my Christmas in Iraq with them - but it's really the other way around - their smiles, stories, and will made me proud to be amongst them, proud to be American. This is definitely the most rewarding Christmas I have ever had and I am so happy and humbled to be here with them. I smoked a cigar and crashed!! (Did I mention this is a dry country?? It is, and that sux!!) Merry Christmas from Iraq.

Morning, Dec 27th. Last day here. Gonna tour Arifjan base in Kuwait and play my last show for our troops tonight, hit the American embassy then fly back to the D. Yesterday we toured some of Saddam's palaces, had lunch and hung with more soldiers. It was a sad flight back to Kuwait from Baghdad, as we had 3 more heroes riding with us in their coffins draped in American flags. What a sacrifice to make for your country. I was sadly, but proudly, a part of 9 salutes to our fallen brothers while in Iraq. 9 too many... I can't express how much it means to these men and women to have a slice of home come visit them. If you're in a position to do this, please really think about going to visit our soldiers. It will never be convenient, so just make time and do it. Not only does it mean so much to them, it is also one of the most rewarding and insightful moments you will have in your life. Remember, as people with talent and such good fortune in life, it is our military that allows us to express ourselves freely. Always hold them high in your heart and spirit.


This is pretty damn cool ... it is so easy to forget how difficult it still is for our soldiers in Iraq, especially during the holidays. Much props and much respect to Kid Rock for giving of himself this Xmas weekend so that the troops could get a little taste of home. He is such a good Detroit boy. [Source]

Corteney Cox-Arquette, David Arquette and their daughter Coco had themselves a slightly different Xmas this year. Here are pictures of the adorable family having a grand ol' time at Disneyland this week:


Photo credit: Celebrity Babylon

They really are a super freakin' cute family. Coco is getting so big ... she is just adorable. It looks like papa David was bizzy shooting the fam for some home movies to remember the occasion. It's nice to hear about celeb families having nice Xmas' together and not volatile, hateful ones. They even get hot for one another when they get traffic tickets -- now that's lurve. [Source]

Mary Kate Olsen apparently has no regrets over what she did to her hair late last week ... here are new pictures of MK takin' her new straw white hair out for a day of shopping:

Images Removed By Request
Photo credit: Flynet

Personally, I hate this new hair color ... but I rarely like anything that either Olsen twin does so who's really surprised? It just seems like they are always trying too hard. And, seriously, they are always shopping ... what is it that they are buying ... cuz it ain't new shoes. MK has been wearing the hell out of those fug-ass clompers for weeks now. I think it's about time she find another pair of ugly shoes to wear. [Source]

Mariah Carey has been holed up in Aspen, CO for the past week presumably for the holiday weekend. But, she's been snapped out and about doing a little shopping, drinking in public and attending events here and there. Here are a couple pictures of Mimi at an event hosted by Aspen Peak magazine:


I know, who cares, right? But hey ... it's Mimi and I guess it's worth talking about. It would seem that Mariah has been enjoying her time out of the spotlight for the past few months ... and it would appear that she thinks it's a good idea to wear that puffy vest out in public. Yeah, it is not doing her any favors ... at all. Whatevs, I still love her. [Source]

There are reports going around that Michael Jackson is ready to return to the US and is planning on taking up a residency in Las Vegas (a la Celine Dion) with his own show. Huh. Well anyways, here is a picture of the new pad he just acquired and should be occupying when he moves to Vegas:


Photo credit: Splash News

Yeah, it's not much to look at but I understand the playground in the backyard is stunning. Eh, if Las Vegas is big enough for Siegfried and Roy than I suppose it's big enough for Jacko as well. [Source]

Yesterday we saw the cover of Men's Vogue magazine featuring Kiefer Sutherland ... here are a few of the photos that accompany the cover story:


Yessiree ... Kiefer really does make a sexy cowboy. I'll forgo the Brokeback Mountain jokes and just say Woot! and be done with it. [Source]

Dita Von Teese, modern burlesque superstar and bride of Marilyn Manson, is featured in the new issue of Blender magazine ... here are a few pics:


I think it was a nice touch to incorporate the Marilyn Manson action figure into the photo shoot. It's funny how all I can focus on is the doll in her hands ;) [Source]

The teaser trailer for the new movie Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer which was showing "exclusively" in theaters showing Night at the Museum (but could be seen on You Tube at the same time) is now online and available for viewing in crisp streaming video:


The trailer looks good for just being a teaser and so far I'm impressed by how cool the Silver Surfer looks but ... I can't help but think that Spider-Man 3 is going to poop all over little sequel next year. [Source]

And finally, I must Peace the Spork Out our 38th President Gerald R. Ford ... at 93 years old, he was the oldest living ex-President when he passed away at his home yesterday:


Former U.S. President Gerald Ford, who took office after the Watergate scandal and later stunned the nation by pardoning a disgraced Richard Nixon, has died at his home in California, aged 93. Vowing that "our long national nightmare is over," Ford took over from Nixon, who on August 9, 1974, became the only U.S. president to resign his office. Nixon had been implicated in a cover-up of a break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington D.C. Ford defended his highly controversial pardon of Nixon until his death ... The oldest living U.S. president, Ford served for 2-1/2 years with a style often mocked as bumbling until he lost the 1976 U.S. presidential election to Democrat Jimmy Carter. Ford had been ailing and largely out of the public eye for several years. He died at 6:45 p.m. (0245 GMT) on Tuesday at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, his office said. No cause of death was given. Funeral services, expected to take place after his body lies in state, were to held in Washington and Grand Rapids, Michigan, his boyhood home. Plans will be made final on Wednesday, Ford's office said. The public may view the body in Palm Desert, California, Washington and Grand Rapids, it said. "My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, has passed away at 93 years of age," Betty Ford said in a statement. "His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country" ... Ford was the only U.S. president who was not elected to either the presidency or vice presidency. He was appointed vice president in 1973 after Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned to avoid prosecution on corruption charges. Ford became president when Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment in the scandal over a politically motivated burglary of Democratic Party offices in the Watergate complex. One month later, on September 8, 1974, Ford stirred enduring controversy by granting Nixon "a full, free and absolute pardon" for any crime he may have committed in office. Yeah, I wouldn't consider Gerald Ford among our best Presidents but, honestly, the 70s was not a good decade for any of our Presidents. I always found it fascinating that President Ford managed to gain the Vice Presidency and the Presidency without having been elected to either office ... and under such shady circumstances. He did many things that I absolutely do not agree with (pardoning Nixon chief among them) but in the end I'm sure he did his duty to his country as he saw fit. May he rest in peace. [Source]

Les News:
Last night, Ben and Sam hosted a Spoken Word party at their home in Ferndale. For some reason, I was under the impression that it was a pizza party and only found out about the spoken word theme as I was driving to the party. Had I known, I would've dusted off some of my old notebooks and came prepared. Because I was not prepared (and I am not capable of free styling) I ended up observing and taking pictures:


Adriana gave a reading from her 6th grade Diary (with music by The Wiz) which you can watch HERE and The Nieces did a performance of my favorite song of theirs called I Forgot to Wear Deodorant Today which you can watch HERE. I felt both performances were top notch!

Click HERE to see all the pix from last night's party.

Tonight I have a date with VLB who I haven't seen in ages ... we plan on getting martinis so that means we'll be at the Living Room in Berkley. Fun times!

I'll post my Top Movies and TV Shows of 2006 later on this afternoon.

That is all ... I am out.