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December 3, 2009 9:02 AM   Subscribe

The A.V. Club's Best of the Decade: Films. Performances. Scenes. Bad Movies. Books. Short Story Collections. Comics. Video Games Music. Metal. Electronic Music. Comedy Albums. Television Series. Television Episodes. Reality Series/Competitions. Made-For-TV Movies/Miniseries. Late-Night Comedy/Talk Shows. One-Season Wonders. And the orphans.
posted by Navelgazer (68 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
But there's still a year left! Or is this one of those "the millennium/century/decade began in 2000 not 2001" things?
posted by Eideteker at 9:12 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


A great series. My only quibble is that House of Leaves didn't make the "Best Books" list, while Harry Potter did. Ugh.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:21 AM on December 3, 2009


The selections in the "comics" category is uniformly excellent, but I question the inclusion of comics from previous decades that have been reprinted in the '00s.

And the Electronic Music selections weigh heavily towards dance/club selections. Nothing wrong with that, but there was a lot of great electronic music in the past decade that doesn't fall under that heading.

Your favorite list of your favorite things sucks.
posted by lekvar at 9:22 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


And thus it begins in full, Best-Of-The-Decade-filter (following best commercials and worst films of the decade).

But there's still a year left!

From the beginning of 2000 to (almost) the end of 2009 is 10 years. Good enough for me.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:26 AM on December 3, 2009


I agree about House of Leaves, although for some reason I thought it was published in 1999 (Wikipedia says 2000-03-07). At least thematic cousin The Terror is on the list, what a great book.

The first Harry Potter is good, but the real trick is that the series gets better as it continues, like just about no other series I have ever read.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:28 AM on December 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


We could play best-of Madlibs!

____! They picked ______ instead of _____!?!? That is completely ______!!!
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:28 AM on December 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dreamcatcher is one of my favorite "bad" movies of all time, to the point of initially thinking it was an intentional comedy. From the "shit weasels" to Morgan Freeman's John Wayne gun, that movie is an absolute madhouse. I think I need to rewatch it.
posted by brundlefly at 9:32 AM on December 3, 2009


Their electronica list is garbage.
posted by empath at 9:33 AM on December 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Listen, I loved Spotless Mind. I really, really did. But Best Film of the Decade? Wow. Just... huh.
posted by Plutor at 9:37 AM on December 3, 2009


25th Hour at #2 - right on.

This is Spike's peak and I watch it monthly, it's a masterpiece. The credits which depict the Tribute in Light and the wounded, grieving city are almost too much to bear. Excellent soundtrack by Terence Blanchard, too.

Plus, I'm predisposed to love a film with a nightclub scene where the DJ mixes Liquid Liquid's "Cavern" into Grandmaster Flash's "White Lines (Don't Do It)." Something of a phenomenon, indeed.

My iPhone wallpaper is lifted from the end of this movie.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:40 AM on December 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Their electronica list is garbage.

So is the TV list. But who cares. It's some obscure blog someone's pushing here.
posted by Zambrano at 9:40 AM on December 3, 2009


Oh man, I'm so glad they included Boat Trip on the Best Bad Movie list. It's my favorite guilty pleasure. Everybody should watch it; Roger Moore is f'n amazing.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:42 AM on December 3, 2009


Listen, I loved Spotless Mind. I really, really did. But Best Film of the Decade? Wow. Just... huh.
posted by Plutor

Personally it's my "most likely to be said if someone asks me what my favorite movie is" film. So, I guess for me that qualifies as best of the decade?
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:44 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's some obscure blog someone's pushing here

"You keep using this word "obscure". I do not think it means what you think it means."
posted by Optamystic at 9:47 AM on December 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Zambrano: "So is the TV list. But who cares. It's some obscure blog someone's pushing here."

The AV Club has been around for like fifteen years. They're only obscure if you haven't been paying attention.
posted by octothorpe at 9:50 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


And the Electronic Music selections weigh heavily towards dance/club selections.

Dance? Club? Pole is no dancing music (heh heh). Garage and dubstep are/were club sounds in some scenes, but before I clicked on the link, I imagined more along the lines of PvD or Benny Benassi. Wholly incomplete, but an interesting glance at 10 years of electronic music from the western world.

Re: some obscure blog - maybe you're joking, but I'll pretend you aren't. The A.V. Club is an entertainment newspaper and website published by The Onion.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2009


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is definitely my favorite movie of the last 10 years.
posted by empath at 9:58 AM on December 3, 2009


Trivia: In the original screenplay, the ending reveals that Joel and Clementine keep erasing each other over and over again for the rest of their lives.
posted by empath at 10:00 AM on December 3, 2009


A request to posters: if you're going to disagree with the list, please mention something you enjoyed that didn't make it. That way, we can all make snarky comments about admire your taste.
posted by yaymukund at 10:17 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


some obscure blog

The AV Club has been around for like fifteen years. They're only obscure if you haven't been paying attention.

I think he was talking about Metafilter.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:24 AM on December 3, 2009


That guy's taste in metal only overlaps mine moderately (I was glad to see Meshuggah and Opeth on there; would have opted for Ensiferum over Amon Amarth, but whatever), but I was glad to see him start the article with something as affirmative as this:
Particularly in the last half of this decade, more and better metal has come from every corner of the globe than we’ve seen in three decades, to a degree that if you aren’t listening to some kind of metal on the regular, you just aren’t paying attention.
True, true, true.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:25 AM on December 3, 2009



Listen, I loved Spotless Mind. I really, really did. But Best Film of the Decade? Wow. Just... huh.
posted by Plutor at 9:37 AM on December 3 [+] [!]


Enough people feel it is the best film of the decade to warrant it's listing. And yes I am one of them.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 10:26 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think I've been crazy about any of these lists, like not one of them, but the movie list almost made my head explode when I saw it this morning. Eternal Sunshine is...totally fucking baffling, but I'm somehow more annoyed by Memento at #5. I realize Christopher Nolan gives nerds megaboners, but that's just ridiculous. I don't even like Oldboy all THAT much, and Oldboy (at #50!) is a better movie.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:30 AM on December 3, 2009


Also as far as general "They did what?!" on the list (which is all just, you know, personal opinion) I thought putting 25th Hour that high was pretty much just trying to make a point. You wont' find a bigger spike lee apologist than I, but I'll also be the first to admit that a lot of that movie was redundant for him and thus lost a lot of it's value. It really seemed forced, but more or less there's a good case for everything on there to be on there. I particularly appreciated the love they gave for The New World.

Notable admissions I'd have on there: The Wrestler, Once, Let The Right One In, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, Little Children, and Tarnation (an impossibly tiny movie, but still, it's heck of an experience if you haven't seen it). Also The Bourne Supremacy, for being a perfect action movie in every regard.

Also comedies are woefully unrepresented. Even obvious dramedy fare like Sideways. Shouldn't stuff like Anchorman or Knocked Up get a little love? It seems a little sucky to me.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 10:40 AM on December 3, 2009


But there's still a year left! Or is this one of those "the millennium/century/decade began in 2000 not 2001" things?

It's "best of the '00s," not "best of the 201st decade."
posted by decagon at 10:41 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


do they cover goth/symphonic metal, Celtic, and trance i need to know

cheers
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:43 AM on December 3, 2009


Not sure if Dan Simmons' Terror deserves to be on the "Best Fiction of the Decade" list. But it definitely deserves a "Most Frequent Use of the Word "Antiscorbutic" of the Decade" award.
posted by ErikaB at 10:43 AM on December 3, 2009


I was all ready to sneer at these lists until there at the bottom of the "best scenes" list was a quick blurb that managed to sum up why I love Wet, Hot American Summer, and I decided to relax and just enjoy it.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:05 AM on December 3, 2009


i thought the metal list has a few very weak choices.
posted by rainperimeter at 11:05 AM on December 3, 2009


But there's still a year left!

Please refer to the Asshole Laws.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:19 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have decided that making enumerated lists of things is, like, the dumbest thing ever. I'd much rather enjoy cultural artifacts as unto themselves rather than trying to figure out if they're 1/10th of a percent better than Volver or only 23 notches below City of Glass. I guess I really just don't see the point, and that makes me a crabby asshole, I know, but there it is. I also am wearied by the zeitgeisty best-of-the-decade shit going on. It all seems so arbitrarily delineated and oh god my dentures are sore.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:35 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Put me down as not getting what's so good about House of Leaves. Can someone explain to my why they liked it?
posted by hifiparasol at 11:37 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


hifiparasol: Put me down as not getting what's so good about House of Leaves. Can someone explain to my why they liked it?

Ooh, me too. I just read it last month after seeing all the recommendations everywhere (MeFi and elsewhere) and through the whole thing I kept expecting something to click in the book that would make it awesome, but it seemed like a fairly mediocre story with irregular formatting just because it could be irregular, most of which made no sense in the framing of the book (why the hell would Zampanò make the words shaped like ladder rungs when he's summarizing a scene in the film where Navidson climbs a ladder?) and before you ask yes I get that the labyrinth is the book just like Borges!!1! but there never really seemed to be any reasoning behind the metafictional story-literally-exists-on-the-page thing, unlike say The People of Paper, which I felt did successfully everything House of Leaves only sort of vaguely gestured at.

(feel free to piss on my corpse for this, by the way)
posted by shakespeherian at 11:45 AM on December 3, 2009


No Primer ? Bah.
posted by waraw at 11:59 AM on December 3, 2009


Not sure if Dan Simmons' Terror deserves to be on the "Best Fiction of the Decade" list. But it definitely deserves a "Most Frequent Use of the Word "Antiscorbutic" of the Decade" award.

Hey, hey. I still got four weeks.

Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic AntiscorbuticAntiscorbuticAntiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic AntiscorbuticAntiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Proscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic Antiscorbutic AntiscorbuticAntiscorbuticAntiscorbutic
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:00 PM on December 3, 2009


I was pretty happy to see Slasher (2004) in the orphans list. I enjoy docs, but that is one of the rare ones that I can watch over and over. Personally, I find every single minute of the doc to be completely engaging and riveting.

And it's about a used car salesman, I mean, what are the odds?
posted by paisley henosis at 12:14 PM on December 3, 2009


Do not watch Gerry, it f*cking blows. It's an hour and a half of Damon and Affleck walking. Seriously. I'm not exaggerating. People sometimes say Lord Of The Rings is three movies about some hobbits walking and we all chuckle, 'cuz it is, but with bunch of other shit happening. This is not like that. I think there may be ten minutes of dialogue interspersed throughout the movie. Really. Go watch it and have your mind blown by how numbingly boring it is, but don't say you weren't forewarned.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:19 PM on December 3, 2009


No Mythbusters on the reality tv list? Please.

And what about Frontier House and its sisters? Or Rough Science??

I actually thought the best movies list was pretty damn good as far as these lists go. I probably wouldn't have made the same list, but I also couldn't argue with much of it. The reality TV one is atrocious though. I love Bourdain, but Project Runway? Survivor? No.
posted by cmoj at 12:31 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm personally responsible for one of those titles listed in the Bad Movies list. Yay! I won't say which one but I will add that they only paid me 2 grand for a rewrite. So fuck them.
posted by cazoo at 12:36 PM on December 3, 2009


You know, I've wondered for a long time whether that poster is actually some kind of long-form performance piece, and that one comment just finally swayed me.
posted by box at 12:39 PM on December 3, 2009


In the spirit of this post, here's a list of my own:

THE WORST AV CLUB CHANGES OF THE 2000s
Throughout the 90s and up until around 2004, The AV Club was, without question, the single best pop culture website on the Internet. While other web reviewers used the freedom of the new medium to become lazy and self-indulgent, the AV Club's writers were straightforward, insightful, and discerning. After reading online review that were thinly-veiled 5,000 word memoirs only glancingly concerned with the matter being considered, the AV Club's short and perceptive reviews, written by professional writers who wouldn't dream of using a personal pronoun, were more than a nice change of pace: they were a revelation. For many fans of music, movies, and more, the site became an absolute bible. If the AV Club recommended a movie, they saw it. An album, they downloaded it. To a lot of readers in the "updated once weekly" era, Tuesday night was AV Club Night...they read the album reviews first, then read the rest of the site while Soulseek cranked away in the background.

However, beginning about five years ago, some significant changes began happening to the site, changes that diminishing the experience a bit for long-time AV Club readers. Make no mistake: here, at the end of the decade, the AV Club is still one of the best pop culture destinations on the web. The site has been successful, and successful sites have to grow, and the editorial staff has probably done the best job they could expanding the site without losing its essential charm. Having said that, here are the worst changes made to the website this decade, in no real order:

The Comment Section
Undoubtedly, this is what many of you were expecting when you saw the subject of this list. And, though blaming the comment section seems a little trite, I think that the appearance of the bulletin board was a true turning point for the AV Club, when the editorial focus shifted away from pop culture and towards the consumption (and consumers) of pop culture.

When the comment section debuted, many complained that the commenters on the site were clearly only auditioning for a position as AV Club writers--though maybe that's not a bad thing: any random commenter would surely be better for the site than Steven Hyden and his college newspaper scratchings--but, as the years have passed the commenters' embarrassing "pick me! pick me!" mini-reviews have gone away, even become frowned upon by other commenters, and replaced with a sort of free-floating snarkfest punctuated occasionally by isolated commentary on the topic.

But the problem isn't even the comments themselves, it's the community. Over here on Metafilter, there are frequent MetaTalk love-ins where everyone squees about how awesome MeFi is and how the quality of discussion here is miles above what you'd find on other sites. However, despite reservations some may feel about this sentiment, the AV Club's comment section actually bears this out: the commenters are intelligent, the conversations can be interesting, but unlike Metafilter there's no real sense of community or collective identity. It's just people saying things.

Reviewers As Personalities
Five years ago there were only a handful of Features, none of them updated that frequently: Commentary Tracks Of The Damned, Films That Time Forgot, and the occasional long-form essay. Throughout the last half-decade, numerous additional Features have been added, and some of them welcome additions. The Inventories, for example, are almost always solid, and head-and-shoulders above the list-based features appearing on other websites I won't bother to mention.

Many of the new Features are all-but-identical to each other, but the bigger problem--and frankly, the single worst change to the AV Club this decade--is that the focus is on the writer and their personalities as much as it is the pop culture artifacts being examined: I watched this thing on purpose, let me tell you how I felt about it! I'd never seen this thing then I watched it, let me tell you how I felt about it! I didn't listen to new music for an entire year, let me tell you how I felt about it! (One blog characterized this as "they want to start a cult of personality, but they all have terrible personalities.")

I understand the AV Club's desire to humanize their writing staff and have them interact with their readers, but this has had an unintended, and disastrous, consequence:

The Lack Of A Consistent Editorial Voice
Stephen Thompson, the founding editor-in-chief, left the AV Club exactly five years ago, in December 2004, and was ably replaced by long-time writer Keith Phipps. Their styles of editing, to this reader, seem very similar but not identical: Stephen Thompson's editorial hand was invisible but pervasive; Phipps' is just invisible. However, the real problem is that, in the last five years, as the site has highlighted the individual personalities of their writers, the consistent AV Club editorial voice has fractured. Once, each reviewer spoke as "The AV Club." Now the writers only speak as "somebody who writes for The AV Club."

I know that the concept of Critical Authority--the idea that critics should be somewhat faceless cultural arbiters, in the audience but not of the audience--doesn't get much love around these parts, but having a strong editorial voice can make a good site become more than just the sum of its parts. The AV Club moving away from this has done a great disservice to the site; when your reviewers have stopped being individual facets of a single voice and become known personalities with quirks and charms, you don't have a magazine; you have a blog.

Two writers have been responsible more than any other for this change to the site:

Nathan Rabin, That Wacky Kooky Funster
Before 2004, Nathan Rabin was known among AV Club fans as the hip-hop writer for the site. It almost became a running joke on the third-party message boards about the site: every week there was a Noel Murray review of an obscure alt-country album, an Andy Battaglia review of an obscure IDM album, and a Nathan Rabin review of an obscure backpacker album. Like every other reviewer for the site, his writing was solid, vibrant, and undistinguishable from his colleagues.

As the editorial voice at the site began to break up, though, Rabin's personality schtick became more apparent. It finally broke through completely in 2007, when he began writing My Year Of Flops, a series of reconsiderations of famously bad movies. This was genuinely intriguing premise. But as time went on, what started as a series of absorbing critical reappraisals turned into useless lazy riffing reminiscent of morning drive-time DJs and 90s standup comedians. It's not that Rabin isn't funny (though he's not), it's HOW he's not funny. There's no better example of this than in the series' last regular entry, a self-congratulatory farewell essay containing a veritable Strunk & White of bad bloggy writing, in which Rabin:

• Refers to telling an anecdote as a "perfect time to hop into the Wayback Machine."
• Makes a joke about a book critic/detective with a feline sidekick named Mr. Whiskers.
• Tells us that something is not just intense, but "curl-up-in-a-fetal-ball-with-a-bottle-of-whiskey-while-moaning-softly intense."
• Writes, of an earlier idea to watch a Criterion Collection film a day: "Oh, the zingers I had planned for Tokyo Olympiad! You’d never be able to look at Abebe Bikila or Ahamed Isa without pissing yourself with laughter once I was done with my hilarious takedown of the film." [This is also an extremely telling peek into what Rabin seems to think his job is.]
• Constantly self-deprecates, possibly the worst example of which is referring to two of his projects as "Siamese twins conceived and nurtured in the same tainted womb."
• Reminds us that Joyce Carol Oates is prolific. Makes a joke about sweatshops.
• References "you're the man now, dog." (The blogger in-joke, not the website.)
• Claims he has a parole officer; that acquaintances have called him "worse than Hitler."
• Goes on to claim that he "showed up outside [his parole officer's] bedroom window at three in the morning with an electric chainsaw and miles of duct tape."
• Does a "callback" of his already-unfunny Mr. Whiskers joke.
• Quotes 30 Rock's "mind grapes" line for what feels like the 300th time.
• Says "It’s a scene of fever-dream intensity, a hallucinatory setpiece of staggering hypnotic power. Also it’s awesome. And there are boobs."
• Tells us that the series will continue, explaining that "the black cosmic void at the core of my being where my soul should be would begin crying out 'They’re not laughing anymore, joke monkey! Make with the funny or you’ll recede back into the anonymity from whence you came!'"
• Adds "Same bat time, same bat channel."
• Ends with "Seacrest Out!"

Like many terrible things, My Year Of Flops became incredibly popular, and Rabin's star rose dramatically. His memoir The Big Rewind was published last year; a Flops compilation is forthcoming. Indeed, for his fellow writers, Rabin's recent career is not a tragedy, but a model of success they're clearly trying to emulate. (I'm looking at you, New Cult Canon.)

The problem is that Rabin can be a good writer when he tamps down his schtick and takes himself out of his prose, but his success has made it very difficult for him to do that. And difficult for others to do as well: his current writing for the site strikes me as being from a contributor Too Big To Edit. It's sad, in a way...good writers suffer from lack of encouragement every day; Rabin is that rare writer who suffers from TOO MUCH.

Amelie Gillette, or "Habitual contempt doesn't reflect a finer sensibility."
Gillette presence on the site is somewhat baffling, as her tone is discordant with the rest of the site, and her writing has exactly one setting: toothless snark. Her columns read like she would fit in better as part of Television Without Pity's empire of mediocrity, or perhaps on the dead-eyed staff of a Gawker site.

The issue is that the central thesis of her work--and, apparently, her life--is at complete odds with the AV Club's editorial stance. The single best thing about the AV Club is that, though their writers can be critical, even harsh, when they dislike something it isn't out of disdain but out of a genuine love for pop culture and a fierce desire to see better art being created by passionate and engaged artists. An AV Club column should never be called The Hater...it should be called The Disappointed.

Among critics of the AV Club, Gillette has become the poster girl for the "What are they DOING over there?" sentiment. However, though I agree that she's a graceless writer who hits the same clanging note again and again, I don't actually see her as that much of a threat to the site. She has her own corner of the AV Club where she updates her column, her podcast, and that Tolerability Index for her close-knit group of ardent fans, but by and large she leaves the rest of the site alone. She doesn't seem to do reviews or interviews, she doesn't post to the AV Club blog, and she doesn't write Newswire posts. As much I dislike her work, it's hard to make her a boogeyman as she's curiously easy to ignore. This even extends to her place in the site's community: her writing has attracted a group of zealous admirers, but there's not much overlap between them and the rest of the AV Club commenters, who seem apathetic towards Gillette and her coterie.


A FEW GOOD CHANGES
• The TV Club. There have long been TV discussions on the web, most notably the aforementioned TWoP, but these sites were a pale upper lip perpetually raised in a sneer. The TV Club gives true fans of the medium a place to go for intelligent and insightful commentary about favorite shows. Even the comment section can be good.
• Expanded coverage, particularly in the area of video games and comic books.
• A daily publishing schedule.
• The addition of Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Magical Negro to our critical lexicon. (Yes, I know MPDG is a Rabin invention...he can be a solid and even funny writer when he controls himself.)


AND ONE THING THAT THANKFULLY HASN'T CHANGED
• Consistently running interviews and reviews that are still clear-eyed, razor-sharp, and some of the best being published in any medium.

[Full disclosure: a few MeFites are fans of my YA novel, and they know that two AV Club writers have been kind enough to contribute blurbs to the book. Please let it be clear that his post in no way implies that they endorse (or even know about) my feelings towards some aspects of the AV Club. And finally, my comments here should be seen as emulating the best trait of the site itself: they come from a position of great respect and a desire to see it get better.]
posted by Ian A.T. at 1:10 PM on December 3, 2009 [23 favorites]


I just learned that Recent History will abreviate posts after a certain character length.

Too long, did read.
posted by paisley henosis at 1:34 PM on December 3, 2009


Nice, Ian. I've long been telling my friends and family that the AV club is one of the sharpest, smartest critical voices out there, and they always just look at me a little funny. It's seriously the best thing to come out of the Onion. And I say that as a huge fan of The Stranger.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:41 PM on December 3, 2009


Oh; and I can totally get behind the Sunshine pick here. It's a masterpiece.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:43 PM on December 3, 2009


For me the TV list was pretty good as well. I'd have given Arrested Development and The Wire a tie for number 1, but everything on that list that I've seen I'm a fan of generally.
posted by haveanicesummer at 3:02 PM on December 3, 2009


Eternal Sunshine is awful awful awful. It's like it was designed to be my least-favorite movie ever. I hate Michel Gondry's film direction and I hate Charlie Kaufman's screenwriting. Combine the two and it's my kryptonite. God, I hate surrealism. I'm serious.
posted by zsazsa at 3:03 PM on December 3, 2009


God, I hate surrealism.

Yeah, and I hate movies between 90 and 100 minutes long.
posted by cmoj at 3:21 PM on December 3, 2009


Sunshine isn't surreal. It's pretty straightforward science fiction. Almost a Platonic example of the genre, I'd say.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:34 PM on December 3, 2009


I hate Michel Gondry's film direction and I hate Charlie Kaufman's screenwriting.

Man, to me, that's like hating puppies and rainbows.
posted by empath at 3:41 PM on December 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


While I'm very appreciative that they selected a game I worked on for #1, it's kind of funny that my favorite game of the decade isn't anywhere on this list: Call of Duty 4. Hands-down the best single and multiplayer FPS experiences I've ever had. The sniper missions, the AC130, defending the hill from the Russian troops, and then the incredible unlock system in Multi.

While we can argue 'artistic merit' back and forth until we're blue in the face, I haven't had as much fun playing anything as I have COD4.
posted by Ryvar at 3:46 PM on December 3, 2009


Never have I stifled so much laughter during a movie as during Dreamcatcher. I dragged a friend to see it opening night, because they were showing Final Flight of the Osiris from Animatrix beforehand (this was before it came out on disc).

There were several unintentionally hilarious parts of that movie, but the single most hilarious aspect is the uncontrollable gas that the characters get when infected with an alien spore.
posted by autodidact at 3:50 PM on December 3, 2009


Yes! I opened the "short story collections" hoping that Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners would be on there (but figuring it wouldn't), and, lo and behold, there it is! Fuck yeah! That's the book I recommend any time anyone asks me about books, or tells me they're looking for a new book, or says anything that remotely sounds like "book." Hell yes, best of the decade!

(Seriously, though, you guy should read it. The author and her husband run their own publishing company, Small Beer Press, which is pretty cool, and she's a big fan of Creative Commons, even going so far as to put her first book, Stranger Things Happen, online for free when Magic For Beginners came out, then did the same thing with it when her third book came out, so you could totally go read it RIGHT NOW and FOR FREE, but you should still totally buy it because she deserves the money and it's totally worth it and anyway, you'll want to have your own copy so you can carry it around with you and read it over again.

Just sayin'.)
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 5:11 PM on December 3, 2009


Stupid games list is stupid.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:13 PM on December 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ian A.T., I love your comment but disagree with a lot of it. Your thoughts on Amelie Gillette match mine perfectly - the site is about positivity, generally, and it's critiques when something sucks usually try to find humor and sympathy about what the maker was going for and what made it suck. But Gillette is, indeed, n a small corner of the site easily ignored.

That said, I adore Rabin's writing, and the the year in which it was running twice-weekly, MYOF was the thing to look forward to every Tuesday and Thursday, just as xkcd was the thing to look forward to on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Tastes will vary, of course, but I think he's hilariously funny and strikes a very difficult balance between scathing and kind almost effortlessly.

Then again, I also loved Popless and Nashville or Bust is one of my favorite things going on the site right now. I really don't think they've lost anything with the sundering of the editorial voice. To me, if a site is about criticism, I'd rather know the character and personality of the person critiquing than have the style be monolithic. But again, tastes may vary.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:37 PM on December 3, 2009


I'll elaborate on stavrosthewonderchicken's comment.

The games list contained only one Nintendo game, and while it was a great one (and one that we played, according to the game timer, for hundreds of hours), is it one of the fifteen best? Elite Beat Agents, which I think is a much better game than something like Guitar Hero, is absent. Wind Waker is nowhere to be seen, but there Ninja Gaiden is, right in the middle of it. And Pikmin and DK: Jungle Beat are also missing (although that could be in order to avoid confusion with the lesser remakes Nintendo just released). Oh, and no Mario Galaxy.

More disappointingly, other than Braid indie games, which are by far the most exciting segment of the video game field, are unrepresented. That means no World of Goo, no La-Mulana and no Spelunky.
posted by JHarris at 5:50 PM on December 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dear god, how is Dragon Wars: D-War the best anything, even in the bad movie category?! About all I can say about it is that it inspired one of the very best Rifftraxes. That is the plural of Rifftrax. It IS.
posted by JHarris at 5:52 PM on December 3, 2009


speaking of xkcd... (opens new tab)
posted by inara at 6:13 PM on December 3, 2009


I'll go on to say that I had to write up a (much smaller and less comprehensive) list for my final content for the paper I was features-editor for a couple weeks ago. (That was an awesome sentence.) I eschewed rankings and definitive declarations pretty early on and instead just named a bunch of things that I tohught were some of the best of the decade, namely:

Eternal Sunshine (the first thing that came to my mind when writing the list)
Arrested Development
Bell & Sebastian: The Life Pursuit
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Lost
The Incredibles
The Kleptones: A Night at the Hip-Hopera
The Dark Knight

I was glad to see that most of my choices made the lists here.

Thinking about it, though, if I were to write out my top ten list for films, it would probably be:

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2. Almost Famous
3. The Incredibles
4. The Royal Tenenbaums
5. The Dark Knight
6. V for Vendetta (Yes, I know I'm the only one, but I love it and fuck all the haters)
7. Donnie Darko
8. No Country for Old Men
9. The Host
10. Wall*E

I could go on and on, and you know what? This wasn't even a very good decade for movies, really. For TV I'd need a novel to go into it all.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:32 PM on December 3, 2009


I usually enjoy reading best-of lists, even when I disagree with them, but that 'best books' list is embarrassing. There's not a single book there that's not by a Anglophone. Not even Bolaño, which I otherwise would've thought was a lock.
posted by Kattullus at 7:33 PM on December 3, 2009


AND ONE THING THAT THANKFULLY HASN'T CHANGED
• Consistently running interviews and reviews that are still clear-eyed, razor-sharp, and some of the best being published in any medium.


I was about to write an angry response to your essay, and then you said this, and I'm okay. Add the inventories to this and I'd agree %100.

But even though those is still the best part of the site, but I happen to like the more relaxed sections of the site a lot. I've found out of a lot of cool movies through New Cult Cannon and My Year of the Flops, and while I agree that they aren't as tight as the rest of the site I enjoy them.

Also, I think you need to give Amelie Gillette another chance. What you said about her:

The issue is that the central thesis of her work--and, apparently, her life--is at complete odds with the AV Club's editorial stance. The single best thing about the AV Club is that, though their writers can be critical, even harsh, when they dislike something it isn't out of disdain but out of a genuine love for pop culture and a fierce desire to see better art being created by passionate and engaged artists.

Is flat out wrong. This comes across a little more in her podcast than her blog, but she does have a kind of love for the Bravo reality shows and other silly celebrity stuff that she makes fun of even though she knows what's wrong with them and writes about it (the "hater" thing is slightly ironic). If what she writes about isn't your thing then of course don't read it, but it's not nearly as horrible as you make it out to be.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:39 PM on December 3, 2009


Ian nailed it, even though I find both Rabin and Gillette funny more often than he does.
posted by klangklangston at 7:58 PM on December 3, 2009


Kattallus: Even in what I called the Golden Age of the AV Club, I never cared much for their book review section, and I still don't. Not the reviews themselves, which are well-written and thoughtful as always, but their choice of reviewed books. They always run such a bizarro collection of also-ran or just plain random titles, like they're reviewing those sad discount aisles at the front of of every Barnes & Noble. Obviously they can review whatever they want, and there's a real joy in discovering overlooked gems, but if the Music section were run like the Book sections, the only reviews this week would be the new Pete Yorn disc, a label sampler, and the CD that came free with the current issue of Uncut magazine.

For example, they ran this wildly-effusive review of Name Of The Wind, calling it "quite simply the best fantasy novel of the past 10 years," and went on to crown it the best book of 2007. By most accounts, Name Of The Wind is fantastic, but is it really the best book that came out in 2007? The argument that AV Club defenders would make is that the list in question is actually named The Best Books We Read In 2007, but that's sort of what I'm saying: maybe the reviewers should reconsider what they're reading for the site. Case in point: take another look at that 2007 list...the four reviewers only came up with seven books. (And two years later, Name Of The Wind is nowhere to be found on the Best Of The Decade list.)
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:24 PM on December 3, 2009


I don't know if we're allowed to do this to our own comments, but nobody else has done it, so Metafilter: a pale upper lip perpetually raised in a sneer...

Navelgazer: I'd rather know the character and personality of the person critiquing than have the style be monolithic. But again, tastes may vary.

No! You will respect my Critical Authoritah!!!

Kidding. And, in fact, let me say here that I totally agree with you, and that tastes in this matter are completely subjective. I prefer more distant Voice Of God reviewers, you prefer more personal reviewers, and neither of us are right or wrong. In fact, I should have said that in my earlier comment, but I was doing my best impression of the Voice Of God. Heh.

The Devil Tesla: Add the inventories to this and I'd agree 100%.

I did, I did! "The Inventories, for example, are almost always solid, and head-and-shoulders above the list-based features appearing on other websites I won't bother to mention." Wait, you mean to tell me you didn't closely read every single word of my genius essay!?

she does have a kind of love for the Bravo reality shows and other silly celebrity stuff that she makes fun of

You know, I almost mentioned that in my word-dump up above. I usually agree with most of your comments here, so I guess we're just coming at this from different angles, because I see that as far more damning than you do. I don't find her affection for Top Chef or whatever to be genuine love...it's love with air-quotes around it. She sees everything in this world as odious and laughable, but it's okay because she secretly enjoys reality shows and gossip?

I see your larger point, though, and I'll admit that I'd probably be a lot more forgiving of her writing if she also penned, say, book reviews for the site and showed a sincere interest and enthusiasm for the work. I just don't think I should let her off the hook because she enjoys Project Runway half-ironically instead of entirely ironically.

I really do mean this, though, and I hope it doesn't come off as condescending: I'm glad that you enjoy her writing and it says something to you; it just doesn't speak to me. I know there's basically zero evidence of this in my comments today, and that's shameful, but I'm fundamentally very uncomfortable criticizing writers. I know how hard I work on my own stuff and how much getting it right means to me. Without even knowing them, I'm sure that Gillette and Rabin and Hyden work just as hard on their writing, and care just as much about being good, as I do. Though I don't care for their work, upon reflection I shouldn't have gone after them as ruthlessly as I did. I don't have the stomach or the taste of blood needed to keep up that level of disdain, and now that I've worked it out of my system I regret being as harsh as I was earlier today.

And in fact, with that, allow me to hang up my AV Club critiquing hat. I genuinely do love the site, and it's been responsible for enriching my life in numerous ways. One of the curious joys of writing that list up above was that even though I was criticizing the site it actually helped me reconnect with what I love so much about it, and realizing that it's far from ruined. When I originally began writing the comment, it was even harsher than it turned out: the website was overrun by idiot commentators, written by hacks and amateurs, and the only thing left was to mourn what it once was. But the longer I wrote, the more I realized that my grievances, though legitimate, were far from fatal flaws. The site I used to love so much was still there, more or less intact, and my years of low-key bitterness about the changes to the site were probably a bit misplaced.

So, to sum up for everyone: I begin the day complaining about how the AV Club's biggest mistake this decade was their move towards more personal and emotional writing; then I end the day sheepishly backpedaling (if not entirely retracting) my statements in an overlong comment all about me and how criticizing others eventually makes me feel frowny-faced.
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:42 PM on December 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've never thought much of the AV Club book section but that best-of list is still astoundingly terrible, especially given that the rest of their lists are all at least competent, with some genuinely good. While I may not agree with their best films list (wah wah wah where's The Fountain wah wah wah etc.) thought has clearly been put into it.
posted by Kattullus at 10:22 PM on December 3, 2009


Not to be an apologist for them as I have no disagreement that the book list is entirely lacking, but it's a lot easier to make a good film list than a good book list. As a film critic you could fairly easily watch just about every notable (and otherwise) film that came out in a year, or decade. Doing the same with the vast swaths of books that are released (and require significantly more time investment) is far more difficult.

I guess my point would be that if these lists work at all (which is obviously arguable to begin with), they work far better when it comes to film than books. Still, they also didn't pick ENOUGH books. A whole decade and only 30 books, non-fiction and fiction both?
posted by haveanicesummer at 7:13 AM on December 4, 2009


Wow, that video-games list is utter shit. I know lists are contentious by nature, but jeez-louise: I get the feeling that whoever put that hunk together didn't actually start playing any games until 2000 or so, giving them a terminal lack of perspective. No offense to Ryvar, though: Bioshock would probably make my "Top 15 of the Last Ten Years" as well.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:58 AM on December 4, 2009


That guy's taste in metal only overlaps mine moderately (I was glad to see Meshuggah and Opeth on there; would have opted for Ensiferum over Amon Amarth, but whatever), but I was glad to see him start the article with something as affirmative as this:

Particularly in the last half of this decade, more and better metal has come from every corner of the globe than we’ve seen in three decades, to a degree that if you aren’t listening to some kind of metal on the regular, you just aren’t paying attention.


It mostly made my metal tastes feel so... dated. I might try a few things on the list, but I never really got into death back when Cannibal Corpse were shiny and new, and most of its fellow travellers and descendants leave me cold. I have enjoyed some of the Scandanavian folk-metal I've heard in the last few years, but the number of bands in theat space that seem to be disturbingly close to white-power worldviews makes me a bit cautious...

I'm not surprised, but am dissapointed, not to see A Matter Of Life And Death on there, because it's the best Maiden album since Seventh Son, and is them really hitting their stride again, which ought to be of note, even if one is a too-cool-for-old-school modern metaller.

Also: Not a single RTS or MMO in the games list?
posted by rodgerd at 6:25 PM on December 4, 2009


World of Warcraft was on the list.
posted by JHarris at 8:36 PM on December 4, 2009


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