Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Top 5 Ricardo Montalban Moments

Ricardo Montalban, one of the greatest bad actors ever, died today at the age of 88. As a tribute, I present to you my Top 5 Ricardo Montalban Moments, brought to you by our friends at YouTube.

5. "Welcome to Fantasy Island" - A gem of bad acting.

4. Rrrrrrich, Corrrrinthian Leather...

3. Spy Kids Grandpa! (Example used here: His wheelchair becomes a frakking robot!)

2. Ricardo Does Ricardo on Freakazoid

1. Montalban v. Shatner - First, "Space Seed" (TOS) Khan's first appearance, going toe to toe with Shatner in a battle for who is the best bad actor in Hollywood! Round One goes to Shatner. But next time...? Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan kicks it up a knotch, with the greatest bad acting showdown to date, and the infamous "KHAAAAAAAN!" scene which may very well be the greatest moment in bad acting history. Still, I gotta say, round two goes to Ricardo. Pity there was never a Round Three. We miss you, man.

Note: Sorry, hard as I tried I couldn't find a clip of the actual complete "KHAAAAAAN!" scene. This is the best I could do.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Top 5 Actors/Actresses I'd See in Anything

Having a favorite actor is different from a favorite author, or a favorite musician. Great acting can make a good movie great, but no single performance can make a bad movie good. Still, there are some actors (and actresses) who can excite me into seeing a film by the grace of their involvement alone. Here's my Top 5 Actors/Actresses I'd See in Anything.

5. Patrick Stewart - C'mon, he's Captain Picard. Sure, he's been in some stinkers, like Masterminds, but he's an excellent stage actor with film chops.

4. Samuel L. Jackson - Case and point: Snakes on a Plane. I mean, c'mon, it was a clearly terrible movie from the get-go, but just knowing that Sam Jackson would turn around and say: "That's it! I've had it with these motherf***ing snakes on this motherf***ing plane!" made it all worth it.

3. Natalie Portman - Star Wars prequels aside, Natalie Portman is a terrific actress. Her involvement in any movie inspires confidence in the quality of the script. No, she's not infallable, I mean, again, let's look at those Star Wars prequels again, but check out Garden State, or Closer or even V for Vendetta and see just how much range and depth she has as an actress. Also, a cutie.

2. Phillip Seymour Hoffman - In my opinion, our greatest living actor, Hoffman is a brilliant character actor with unbelievable flexibility. From leading roles like Capote to brilliant supporting pieces like Almost Famous, The Big Lebowski and witness just how well Hoffman can disappear into any role, dramatic or comedic.

1. Christian Bale - No, he's not the best actor in the world. But he is very good, and he seems to have a penchant for creating memorable roles in genre films. Putting aside Batman for a moment, how about his unique role in The Prestige or his masterful character piece in American Psycho? If not for the involvement of Christian Bale, there's no way I'd even think about going to see the upcoming Terminator: Salvation film, let alone be excited about it. Christian Bale is the thinking man's action hero.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Top 5 Star Trek: Voyager Episodes

I should start by saying this: I don't like Star Trek: Voyager. For years I tried to watch it, tried so hard to get into it, and couldn't entirely figure out why it didn't work. It just seemed barrel on, episode after episode without ever hitting any marks. Then I read an interview with Ron Moore about his brief tenure on the show, and suddenly it all made sense.
What I found on VOYAGER was suddenly it wasn’t about the work
anymore. It wasn’t about making the best show that we possibly could; it was
about all these other extraneous issues. It was about the politics of the show,
and the strange sort of competition of egos within the writing staff and the
producing staff and the management of the show...
"The fun factor dropped precipitously, and I think that shows on the screen,"
Moore continues. "I think that the product that you are getting now is also a
reflection of the way the show is produced.
DUH. I couldn't enjoy it because nobody who made the show enjoyed making it. There are a few exceptions, I think, cases where the series really shines. Here's my obligatory Top 5 Voyager episodes.

5. Scorpion - One of the advantages Voyager always had over the earlier shows was a nice, hefty effects budget. In addition to hindering storytelling by convincing the writing staff to work some stupid CG gimmick into every episode, it also provided some really impressive stupid CG gimmicks! Scorpion, the two-parter that bridged Seasons 3 and 4, is almost certainly my favorite effects-driven episode of Voyager, introducing the freaky three-legged purple whatsits called Species 8472 and their planet-busting bioships. 8472 became the kind of invincible treat villain for the show the way the Borg used to be in TNG, and you have to admit the best way to show an audience that there's a new big bad in town is to have them beat the ever-living crap out of the old big bad.

4. Dark Frontier - I know a bunch of you have heard me contend that Voyager ruined the Borg by making them a "baddie-of-the-week" instead of the ultimate, insurmountable enemy. This episode, I think, is a notable exception to the rule. Dark Frontier, a two-hour TV movie event, is one of the creepiest Borg episodes there ever was, and it was done by getting too close for comfort. Half the episode takes place virtually from the Borg's perspective as they assimilate a civilization. Plus, there were the flashbacks showing the ill-advised exposition of the Raven and the transformation of young Annika Hansen into Seven of Nine.

3. Tuvix - The best Treks of the past tend to present the audience with an arguable moral dillema. In TOS, the solution was usually for Kirk to step in and teach everyone a lesson. In TNG, Picard was often honor bound not to solve someone else's problem, even if his heart begged him to solve it. But then on DS9, and in this case on Voyager, there were some fun twists on that theme: what if the Captain chooses the inherently wrong choice, perhaps for some greater good, or perhaps out of blind emotion? In Tuvix, The least and most annoying characters on the show (Tuvok and Neelix, respectively) get merged together into one infinitely more likable character, who calls himself Tuvix. He is his own person, and he likes who he's become. But Janeway wants her old friends back, so once the problem's been analyzed, she tosses the guy back in the transporter and tears him in half against his will. And it's clearly wrong. That's what makes it great.

2. Year of Hell - My favorite episodes of Voyager tend to be the ones in which terrible things happen to the characters. I pretty much hate all of them. In the two-parter Year of Hell, an alien scientist begins erasing entire civilizations from time in an effort to correct a mistake he made using his device the first time. By the time the episode is over (and the reset button is hit) Tuvok's been scarred and blinded, the ship's had the shit kicked out of it and they're so short on redshirts that they've actually had to hand a commission to Neelix. The entire crew is pretty much completely miserable. I LOVE IT! Really, though, the story is fun and the villain Annorax is uncharactaristically deep and interesting for the show.

1. Timeless - Again, my favorite Voyagers tend to be the reset-button episodes, because they allow for *gasp* things actually happening! Timeless is an episodes with real heart - it opens with two unknown excavators searching through an icy terrain. What are they looking for? It's freaking Voyager! The episode takes place 20 years into an alternate future in which Harry Kim accidentally causes the deaths of the entire crew in a horrible accident that only he and Chakotay survive. They make it back home and Harry, in an unprecidented show of character, can't deal with it and commits himself to fixing his mistake through time travel. This is the one and only story in which Ensign Kim is remotely interesting. And it's a shame, because based on this one episode, he had a lot of potential. Plus - a cameo by LeVar Burton, who also directed the episode, as a now Captain Geordi LaForge.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Top 5 Best Managed Film Franchises

It's not always easy keeping a good film franchise good. Starting out strong isn't enough - a series has to endure creative changes, production issues, box office returns and critical reaction over extended periods of time. A change in director or or the loss of a cast member can change everything. Very few film franchises (this list defines franchise as a series of four or more films, preferably one has potential to be ongoing rather than finite) can stand the test of time not just as classics, such as The Godfather trilogy, but as a recurring reason to go to the movies. Here's my Top 5 Best Managed Film Franchises.

5. Star Trek - Most Trekkies would say that the Star Trek film series (currently ten films, the eleventh being released May 8th) is batting about .500 in terms of "good movies" vs. "bad movies," the odd even numbered ones being the winners. (Some fans swap III and Nemesis to keep the ratio even.) But of a series of ten films, five good ones isn't so awful. Plus, the movies have managed to re-light the flame of the franchise as a whole twice, going on three times, thanks to the media buzz J.J. Abrams's relaunch is getting. Now that the series has a future again, we may see Star Trek getting a little higher on this list.

4. James Bond - After 22 official films and two "unauthorized" installments, the Bond series is still going on strong. It's true that A Quantum of Solace didn't live up to expectations, but there's good reason to trust EON Productions to learn from their mistakes as they have in the past. When a Bond gets stale, he's replaced. When the series gets too campy, it reboots. It did this with Roger Moore and then again with Pierce Brosnan, when each of them started to stretch the boundaries of believability. (Or in the case of Die Another Day, watchability.) Casino Royale proved this 45-year-old franchise is still full of pleasant surprises.

3. Star Wars - How is it that after three (four, counting The Clone Wars) consecutive bad movies that Star Wars is still cool? How is it that even now I'm wearing a Boba Fett t-shirt? Despite awful production decision after awful production decision, Star Wars is still one of the most beloved film franchises of all time. I don't get it. But it's true. Maybe it's the merchandise or the colorful characters or the lightsabers - hell, I don't know. I can't explain it. That's just the way it is. So, more than likely, George Lucas will keep putting out shitty movies and people will still see them and hate them and wear Boba Fett t-shirts.

2. Saw - Here's a confession: I've never seen any of the Saw movies all the way through. Wait - confession's the wrong word. Confession implies guilt. I have no desire whatsoever to rectify this so-called "problem." I don't go for slasher flicks, they're just not for me. And I really doubt there's much intellectual stimulation to speak of that I'm missing. But think about this: the entire Saw series combined has cost a mere $36 million to produce. Worldwide, the five films have brought in over $655 million in box office returns. The last sequel still made marginally more money than the original, and the format of the series allows for an endless supply of new stories with new death traps and gimmicks. Basically, the creators of Saw have created a cheap, self-sustaining film series that can consistantly make money despite being a complete critical failure. It's so cheap that it doesn't have to expand its fanbase to survive; even if the next Saw movie flops, it will still probably make money. It may be a piece of crap - again, I can't judge because I've never sat through it, it could be a cinematic masterpiece for all I know - but it's a terrifically managed franchise.

1. X-Men - Bryan Singer's first X-Men movie was the true beginning of the superhero film movement that continues to grant us great genre cinema every summer. It got moviegoers to start taking superheroes seriously again. X2 was a box-office and critical success with the scope and polish of an Oscar film. (Pity nobody died while shooting it, maybe then it would have gotten the attention it deserved.) Yes, X-Men: The Last Stand was a disaster, but it was a disaster brought on by production calamities - namely the loss of guiding light Bryan Singer, and along with him James Marsden (Cyclops) to Superman Returns. Now, the X-Men film franchise is starting fresh with the X-Men Origins line, which has nearly infinite potential. The prequel will no doubt spawn at least one sequel of its own, plus its expected to sow the seeds for countless spin-offs. Deadpool and Gambit are already in the works. Plus, the long-awaited Magneto film has a lot of potential, too. The X-Men franchise has so much to work with that it can expand almost indefinitely, and maybe even stay cool and original.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Top 5 Choices for the Next Batman

So, you've all heard the news: Batman is dead. (Yeah, right, I'll believe it when there's a body. And then, you know, still not.) Whether or not we've really seen the last of Bruce Wayne, there will be a new Batman within the next twelve-to-eighteen months. So, who's it going to be? There are the obvious choices, and the writing and editing staff for DC and the Batman line have made some major hints as to the likely candidates. Who's deserving of the Mantle of the Bat? Here's my five cents.

5. Roy Harper - Here's my longshot candidate, if you'll forgive the pun. Roy Harper was once Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy, mastering the bow-and-arrow school of crimefighting. Over time, Harper proved his skill in using anything as a weapon, though remaining non-lethal like his mentor, and like the Batman. These days he goes by Red Arrow, and had a three-year stint with the Justice League alongside Bats. Harper's got the resourcefulness, the cunning, and the commitment to crime fighting. He's also a father, raising his daughter Lian alone. Batman must remain a paternal influence and a mentor - Roy Harper has the edge in this category.

4. Harvey Dent - During the legendary Hush storyline, Two-Face was restored his old sane, handsome self, Harvey Dent. Dent took over crimefighting in Gotham during the year Batman, Robin and Nightwing took off on a global training regimen, which I think was an amazing new thread for the character. Of course, after One Year Later, the new staff in Detective Comics decided it would be a good idea to completely undo it all and have him go nuts and make himself into Two-Face again. (Add it to the list of great changes from Hush that were undone within three years due to poor planning.) Think of Dent as protrayed in The Dark Knight, an honest committed man, "the best of us," as the new Batman. According to the teaser image from Battle for the Cowl (see above) this actually isn't an entirely unlikely possibility. I just hope they fix his mind first - and his face.

3. Terry McGinnis - Growing up on the DC Animated Universe, I'm quite partial to the character created for Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis, the young reformed delinquent whom an aging Bruce Wayne chooses to be the new Batman. Terry was introduced in the animated series, not in the comics, but has been appearing sporadically in alternate universes since 2003 or so. I'd love to see Terry McGinnis pop up on Earth-One, if not as the next Batman, but perhaps the one after that.

2. Dick Grayson - The first Robin, the original sidekick. Dick Grayson has honored the legacy of Batman for decades. As Nightwing, he's led the Titans, the Outsiders, even the Justice League on occasion. After Batman and Green Arrow, Dick Grayson is probably the best non-powered superhero alive. So why is he number two? Because Dick Grayson stopped being Robin for a reason. He's his own man - he's stepped out from his adoptive father's shadow. Put simply, Dick has never wanted to be Batman. It's been one of his defining characteristics. Why should that change now?

1. Tim Drake - Since the death of his own father in Identity Crisis and his adoption by Bruce Wayne, Tim Drake has accepted that he will someday take up the mantle of the Bat. For years, Tim thought his crimefighting career was something he'd eventually give up for a normal life, considering a future as an archetect or engineer. But in a matter of months, Tim lost his girlfriend, his father and his best friend, awakening in him the fury he used to see in Batman but thought he'd never feel himself. Since Infinite Crisis, Tim has been training specifically for the task of being the new Batman. The mantle is his - he deserves it, and he wants it. As of now, Tim Drake is Batman. He just doesn't have the mask yet.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Top 5 Starship Captains

It takes a special kind of person to lead a crew through space. Like in the open seas of old, space voyages are treacherous, demanding extreme mental discipline just to keep from going insane in the endless void. Unlike sea exploration, however, starships and their captains are 100% fictional. The advantage of this is that there are very few examples of qualified starship captains to choose from when constructing a Top 5 list. Here's the five men (not meaning to be sexist, it just happened that way) I've chosen as the greatest starship captains ever to sail the silver seven screens.

5. Han Solo, The Millenium Falcon (Star Wars) - Never tell him the odds. Han Solo may only command a crew of two or three (does Threepio count?) but he's the gutsiest starship captain you'll ever meet. Solo gets extra points for knowing how to pilot, repair, customize and defend his own ship. Han is basically a one-man starship crew. But where would he be without Chewie?

4. Malcolm Reynolds, Serenity (Firefly, Serenity) - Keeping a boat like Serenity in the air takes more than a little technical knowhow, it takes love. Mal may be a rogue and a tough guy on the outside, but deep down, he loves each member of his crew and each and every part of his ship like a member of his family. Also, try defending yourself from a tyrannical government and crazy zombie space pirates without any ship-to-ship weapons. That takes some serious skill. Most importantly, though, is Mal's dedication to his ship, which inspires its complete dedication to him.

3. James T. Kirk, USS Enterprise (Star Trek) - Jim Kirk, too, is a man in love with his starship. (His starship and two or three dozen space princesses.) Kirk has it all: guts, brains and a mean right cross. He is, after all, the archetypical starship captain. There would be no Malcolm Reynolds or Han Solo without James T. Kirk. Nobody can pull one out of the fire like Kirk and his skilled and extremely memorable crew of the Enterprise.

2. William Adama, Battlestar Galactica (Battlestar Galactica) - Except perhaps for Commander (later Admiral) Bill Adama, who actually turned his ship into a falling, burning airship and managed to jump it back into space from only about 500 feet above the ground. It's easy to have guts when you can count on the Enterprise's state-of-the-art futuretech. After all, there's nothing that ship can't do. Bill Adama's ship gets the crap beaten out of it year after year with no spacedock to go to for repairs and no relief on the way. In a scrap, the decrepit old Battlestar always hangs on by a thread thanks to the dedication and leadership of William "Husker" Adama. But more importantly, Adama inspires a paternal reverence in his crew, who all lovingly refer to him as "the old man." Like Solo, he'll "roll the hard six" for a gutsy, near-impossible plan to keep humanity alive just one more day. Like Mal, he knows that a crew and a ship can't stay intact without love and respect.

1. Jean-Luc Picard, USS Enterprise (Star Trek: The Next Generation) - What makes a great leader? First and foremost, a captain must inspire respect. Jean-Luc Picard knows the best way to gain respect is to give it. Captain Picard is the perfect starship captain because he is the perfect father figure. His crew doesn't just look to him for orders, but for personal guidance. And Picard, the intellectual, the diplomat, always has good advice for his people. Picard is accessable, compassionate, but also forceful. Officers aboard Picard's Enterprise don't question orders, not out of fear but out of absolute, unwaivering trust. This is the key to any sucessful leadership, and nowhere is this more important than in the cold outer reaches of space. The crew of the Enterprise may be far from homes and families, but they'll always have a father they can count on.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Top 5 Books I'm Sure I'd Love if I Read Books

It's my Achilles heel: I don't read enough. My attention span is not unlike much of the Facebook Generation, about thirty seconds long. Even as I study to become a writer, I still have trouble picking up a book and enjoying it unless I'm required to read it for a class. Often, I'll take a look at a novel and say, "wow, this looks great. I should read this." I may even buy it or ask for it as a gift, fully intending to plow through it in a day or two. I may start it and then forget about it or I may even just let it collect dust on my shelf, saying "I'll start it tomorrow" for weeks and weeks before finally admitting I'm just never going to read the damn thing. I honestly don't know what my problem is, and how the hell I expect to make in a medium even I don't appreciate.

In any case, there are a lot of books people recommend to me or I see for myself that are right up my alley, but still haven't read because I'm some kind of mutant. Here's my Top 5 on the subject. (Forgive my italicizing the titles, for some reason Blogger doesn't let me underline.)

5. Sideways - Rex Pickett. A lot of the ways I hear about books is when they get made into films. The general rule is that when a novel is adapted for the screen, it's never as good as the source material. (Exceptions: The Godfather, V for Vendetta.) Sideways (the film) has some great, memorable characters and a sense of humor that really speaks to me. I'd be willing to bet that the novel would have a similar, if not better, effect.

4. The Children of Men - P. D. James. What a premise: what happens to society when people can't have children? The film knocked my socks off, though I hear it took a lot of liberties from the book. Anyway, it sounds to me like a great piece of naturalist science fiction and I had ought to give it a try.

3. The Dark Tower Series - Stephen King. Described to me as a science-fantasy-horror-western odyssey, The Dark Tower sounds like an awesome example of great genre fiction that breaks rules and sets new standards.

2. High Fidelity - Nick Hornby. This British novel inspired one of my favorite films, though the movie took place in the United States. If John Cusack's fourth-wall-breaking narration in the movie is any indication, I would love the voice of this book. For frak's sake, the character's obsessive lists of five inspired this blog! It really does seem right up my alley, a lot like the way I want to write. I would certainly learn a lot from it. And there it is, in the next room, sitting on a shelf in my dad's study. Here's me, not reading it.

1. The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon. The story of a writer/artist comic creation team in the "Golden Age" of the forties. My junior year of high school, my writing teacher photocopied me the first chapter as a sort of "free sample." From that point on, I was determined to totally-for-real-maybe-eventually-someday-when-I-have-the-time read this book. Last Christmas I asked my sister to get me a copy and she did. That didn't help. Hell, I'm not even sure where it is right now.

I am a terrible person.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Top 5 TV Showrunners

Movie producers and directors get all the glory. Every television show has at least hundred people working on it, but there's always one creative force behind it all. This person is called the Showrunner, and is usually both a writer and a producer, if not executive producer. The showrunner's level of involvement varies from project to project, but it always has a huge impact on the overall quality of the show. Here's my list of the Top 5 Showrunners.

5. David Chase - As the showrunner of The Sopranos, arguably the finest-crafted television series of all time, David Chase wrote or co-wrote over a quarter of the series and created dozens of the most memorable characters this medium has ever seen. He was also a director, and guided the show through its maze of subtext and psychology.

4. Ronald D. Moore - Moore was a producer for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, contributing some of the best concepts and scripts for both shows. Then after a short spurt as showrunner on the HBO show Carnivãle Ron and collaborator David Eick started work on remaking a little show called Battlestar Galactica. Since then, it's been kudos abound for the new king of genre television. Now with BSG coming to a close, Ron Moore's working on a new genre pilot called Virtuality, as well as a remake of John Carpenter's The Thing.

3. Larry David - I'll tell you a secret: Jerry Seinfeld is in fact not that funny a guy. The real brains behind Seinfeld, the sitcom that owned the 90s, was Larry David, the tactless mastermind of mean humor. Seinfeld was hindered by the limits of broadcast television. With Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David got to put his complete lack of comedic conscience to the test with his very own semi-improvised HBO series. Larry David plots out every episode scene-by-scene, improvising the dialogue with his trusty co-stars Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin and more.

2. Joss Whedon - Buffy. Angel. Firefly. I mean, bloody hell. Joss Whedon is credited with writing 28 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directing 20, but in fact contributed to the script and/or story of every episode. The same goes for the spinoff Angel, which rose to become as much of a cult classic as its predecessor, though he shared showrunning duties with David Greenwalt. The cult hit parade continued with the space western Firefly, which only ran for 14 episodes (Joss wrote five) but spawned a critically successful film continuation, Serenity, which Whedon both wrote and directed. Joss Whedon is widely considered to be the sci-fi royalty, always taking care of his fans. He is, after all, just as obsessively geeky as they are.

1. Aaron Sorkin - Creator of The West Wing, the compelling political drama that's often praised for its snappy, witty dialogue and its Star Trek-like idealism, Aaron Sorkin wrote a whopping 87 episodes before leaving the show at the end of season 4. The series won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series all four years. After his departure, the show was never quite the same. Never before or since has one man had so much creative control over a weekly television series, and only a handful of dramas have approached The West Wing's greatness. Well done, sir.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Top 5 Things to Look Forward to in 2009

Happy New Year, everybody! It's 2009, and that means a clean slate and a fresh start. Well, actually, no, it means you're going to be writing the wrong dates on all your papers for a while and maybe going on some ill-advised diet for a few weeks and then promptly giving up. In fact, the new year means very little unless you decide it's going to mean something. For me, it's a benchmark for events seeming suddenly much, much sooner than they once were. Here's my Top 5 for things that seemed really far away yesterday, but today are happily much closer.

5. Dollhouse (February 13th) - Joss Whedon's (hopefully) triumphant return to television is Dollhouse, a genre epic called Dollhouse starring Eliza Dushku (Buffy) and Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica). Hot off his success with Dr. Horrible, Whedon hasn't produced a TV show since Angel ended in 2004, but he's batting a thousand so far in terms of quality. Buffy, Angel and Firefly are all terrific shows. The real question is whether or not the show (or any) can be financially sucessful enough to stay on the air. This writer damn well hopes so.

4. Watchmen (March 6th) - Here's another one that has the stain of potential undeserved disappointment written all over it. Watchmen, the most highly-anticipated movie of the year, may never come out. Should Fox win its lawsuit against Warner Bros., Watchmen may be significantly postponed or even pulled from release entirely. Still, the movie comic fans didn't think could ever be made right has been finished, and all signs point to "awesome." Hopefully, the folks at 20th Century Fox will have a heart and give us the movie. Otherwise, you can bet your last dollar there'll be a massive boycott of their summer release, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

3. Battlestar Galactica (January 16th) - Only ten episodes remain of BSG, one of this decade's best TV shows. With so many questions still unanswered, can the show possibly satisfy all the fans? And here's a better question: what the hell are we all going to do with ourselves once the show's finally over? Sure, there's the promise of TV movies and the prequel spin-off Caprica (coming 2010), but will those satisfy to the same extent as this show that's captured our hearts and minds since 2003?

2. The Obama Administration (January 21st) - I spoke a bit about this in my list on 2008, but it's worth repeating that America needs change. We need to regain our national pride and our standing in the world. An end to this recession and this shameful war would be nice, too. Is our new leader up to the challenge? We'd all better hope so.

1. Star Trek (May 8th) - Yes, I'm putting Star Trek ahead of America. Sue me. I can't imagine being more excited about this movie. Every new piece of information or promotional material Paramount releases whets my appetite that much more. Like America, Star Trek needs a fresh start. Sure, people's lives and jobs aren't on the line, but Star Trek means a lot to a lot of people, myself included. Trek is about peace and understanding, about acceptance and tolerance and compassion. These are things that America needs right now.