Sunday, December 30, 2007

Gotthammer's Best of 2007

I used to be Old Faithful when it came to compiling a top ten list of films I'd seen each year, as they were released in that year. I saw less than 10 films in a movie theater in 2007; I see them only occasionally on DVD as well. There are too many images I don't want my 2 year old son taking in at his age, and by the time he's gone to bed, the best Jenica and I can manage is to watch an episode of whatever television show we're wading through on DVD.

Because of my graduate studies, I do read a lot. And because, up until June, I was a pastor, I read a lot of books on Christianity, both practical and theoretical. Due to my volunteer work at the Gathering, I continue to read fresh works in this area. My scholarship freed me up to do some free reading as well, and my ever-present I-pod Nano and a subscription to provide me with the opportunity to read while I'm shoveling snow or mowing the lawn.

So this year, instead of a "best movies" list, I've compiled a general "best of" list. These are the things I obsessed, ranted, and raved about in 2007. Few were products of the year, but their criteria for the list is that I experienced them for the first time in 2007.

Favorite Films
Pan's Labyrinth. It was the movie I watched the most times over following that first viewing in February in theater. It was the major case study for my thesis on Fairy Tale Film. I've watched the film multiple times, both with and without director Guillermo Del Toro's commentary. I've watched all the special features. And yet strangely, when Jenica and I had time for a movie this past week, I chose to watch Pan's Labyrinth, yet again.
300. The source of both rants and raves. This was easily one of the topics most likely to set me off on a lengthy diatribe about nationalism, Orientalism, and academic snobbery. Equally likely was that I'd just gush like a fan-boy, depending on your inclination towards or against the film.
The Host. Godzilla with brains; this movie was a wonderful tale with multiple layers of meaning. Even as I write this out I want to go watch it again.
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. One of the strangest movies I've ever seen; simultaneously disturbing and enticing. The Czech New Wave is certainly an interesting film phenomenon.
Beowulf. An experience in 3D, and the film I'm most looking forward to using in lectures someday, since Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary created a screenplay that plays with both sides of the academic pissing match which surrounds the original poem.

Favorite Reads:
His Majesty's Dragon
by Naomi Novik- I don't think I can improve upon Time Magazine's review of this book: "Enthralling reading--it's like Jane Austen playing Dungeons and Dragons with Eragon's Christopher Paolini."
Velvet Elvis and Sex God by Rob Bell - I like the way this man thinks. I wish he was my pastor, but by reading his books, I get a little bit of that anyhow.
World War Z by Max Brooks - It's the end of the world as we know it, and Max Brooks weaves some rather intriguing social and political commentary into what is simply just a great book about zombies.
Baltimore by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. One part Dracula, one part Frankenstein, one part Creature from the Black Lagoon with Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales thrown in for good measure. An excellent piece of Gothic fiction.

Favorite Television
Avatar: the Last Airbender: This children's animated series kicks more ass than most of the adult live action fare out there. The story arc is epic, the characters are great, and the artwork is spectacular. It's just a solid work of fantasy, and utterly original in a sea of Sponge Bob and Naruto clones.
Battlestar Galactica: One of those series where I wish I'd had the idea. The reimagining of the 80's series was brilliant; the post Blade Runner Galactica is about more than just shooting Cylons in space. Its about asking what it means to be human.
Heroes: I like to consider this series the sequel to M. Night Shyamalan's "Unbreakable." What would happen if superheroes really existed? Favorite Hero? Hiro, without a doubt. Don't we all love Hiro?

Favorite Songs
Hall of Heroes by Battlelore
Tale of the Sea Maiden by Leaves' Eyes
Liam by In Extremo
Believer by Kill Hannah
Come by After Forever
Collapse and Rescue - Steve Jablonsky
Kyla Cries Cologne - Fair to Midland

Favorite Albums
Rival Factions: Project 86
Fables from a Mayfly: Fair to Midland
Year Zero - Nine Inch Nails

Pet Peeve of the Year: Zeitgeist. It's the number one search that Gotthammer gets hits from, but it still pisses me off (my monthly hits went from the hundreds to the thousands after I posted about it), especially given some of the reading I've done since my initial posting on the subject. That said, it did produce my favorite personal quote of the year, which is "Sheep and shitheads come in all shapes and sizes, and Christianity does not have the monopoly on either."

Things I did for the first time: Won a scholarship, appeared semi-regularly on a television show, wrote an article for a magazine other than Youthworker Journal, wrote a thesis, wired lighting and plug-ins, finished writing a book, and played with my band out of town in a bar in a hotel (which is where we stayed).

I'll be putting together another yearly update from the E-town Perschon's in the next week or so, but until then, a very Happy New Year to you all!

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