Wednesday, January 02, 2013

the 100 coolest things of 2011... 70 thru 41

Yes, its the 2nd of January.  That is 2013, I mean.  And yes, I'm still discussing 2011... but I feel like I can't very well discuss the coolest of 2012 without finishing up 2011... so, let's move quickly, and go through the 70th through 41st coolest things of 2011...

First, a recap...

The 100th to 91st Coolest Things of 2011... Auburn... The Spin Doctors... Friends with Benefits... The President of the Colin Firth Club Wins... "My Strange Addiction"... Edge retires... Fast Five... 50/50... The Aladdin Stage Show... Something Borrowed

The 90th to 81st Coolest Things of 2011... Coin Dozer... Superheroes... The Rainmaker... I Need a Dollar... Zookeeper... Mr. Toad's Wild Ride... The Help... Jersey Mike's... Thor... Brava Rotisserie Grill...

The 80th to 71st Coolest Things of 2011...  Transformers: Dark of the Moon... The Ides of March... The Mavs Win... Kent State... Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows... My Yard Goes Disney... The Civil Wars... Rise of the Planet of the Apes... Hot Coffee... Misery...

70... The Lion King Re-Released in 3D... Loved the movie when I saw it in the summer of 1993, loved the times I've seen it since... and watching in not only in 3D but also back in theaters was fantastic. 

69... Necessary Roughness... No, not the epic Scott Bakula movie, though I do love that one too.  This is a series on USA Network about a psychologist (Callie Thorne) who is hired to help out the athletes on a professional football team.  Its funny, its serious, its got great stories and great acting. 

68... Words with Friends... Another app that kills my time and distracts me from work.  And yes, I do get routinely beat by The Zach Attack, an 11 year old.

67... "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"... Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but like everyone, I'm a lover of the first one, and like most people, I didn't care for the 2nd and 3rd one--too long, too convoluted, too confusion... but this 4th one, with its straight story and new characters, I could dig. 

66... "X-Men: First Class"... Continuity be darned, this new entry into the X-Men franchise seems to be starting its own series of films.  James McAvoy as Professor X and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr, aka Magneto, lead this ensemble cast which includes... Kevin Bacon.  Wait, what?  Great film, great climax.

65... "Captain America: The First Avenger"... What's not to like about this final film before "Marvel's The Avengers" took the world by storm this year? Chris Evans is a great Steve Rogers, the puny soldier who volunteered to become a super soldier, a Weapon I if you will... in comic book history, Wolverine is Weapon X.  And Hugo Weaving is a great bad guy, as The Red Skull.

64... American Idol... After Phillip Phillips blew me away this past season, I had to look to see who won in 2011, because I had already forgotten... it was Deep Voiced Scotty McCreery, who edged out America's Darlin' Lauren Alaina. 

63... Mark Lowery... He came to Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) in January of 2011.  And I remember laughing very hard at his humor and enjoying his music very much.  He's a Christian music legend.

62... "Horrible Bosses"... Not for the faint of heart, but it does have heart as it tells the story of three losers--Jason Batemen, Charlie Day and Jason Sudekis--who hate their bosses so much, they want to help each other kill the bosses.  Lots and lots and lots of language, plus a scantily clad Jennifer Aniston, but if you can deal with that, Jamie Foxx as MF Jones and Colin Farrel completely against type (and having a ton of fun, you can tell) make it worth the watch.

61... "Once Upon a Time"... This might be a little cheating, because I really didn't get into this show until 2012, but I did see a few episodes of it, and I loved it from the beginning.  Its the story of Storybrooke, where all the residents are actually real life story characters--Snow White, the Dwarfs, Cinderella, Pinocchio, etc--who are cursed to live in the real world.  Reminds me a little of the comic book "Fables".  Oh, and Ginnifer Goodwin.  Love her.

60... She and Him... What can I say?  I dig their tunes.

59... Magic, Memories & You... This is the show presented on Cinderella's Castle prior to the fireworks at Magic Kingdom every night.  Using this advanced light technology, a constant stream of color and light and wonder flash onto every part of the castle, giving the impression that the turrets and columns are spinning or disappearing or on fire or flying or whatever... you know what, just watch this:

58... "The King's Speech"... Starring the president of The Lovely Steph Leann's fabled Colin Firth Club, here's the story of King George VI, his horrible stutter, an amazingly understated Geoffrey Rush as his speech therapist.

Set in 1939, Prince Albert (who becomes George VI), has what he thinks is an incurable stutter, which only hinders his leadership and future under his ailing father, King George V.  Albert's wife Elizabeth, persuades him to go visit Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist who is in London at the time.

Of course, they don't get along, at least at first, and added to Albert's pressures and woes is the antics of his older brother David (Guy Pearce, in one of the only flaws in the film, because he does not look older than Colin Firth) who is heir apparent to the crown, until he goofs it up... and its the speech he must give, addressing the people of London in a time of impending war that the title of the movie refers to.

"The King's Speech" is a magnificent movie all around, with all performances being stellar.  Helena Bonham Carter is especially subdued as Elizabeth, a break from her normally frantic and weird acting, while both Rush and Firth have wonderful chemistry in their lead roles.  It is Rated R, but its pretty much solely for language--there is a scene where Lionel tells Albert to use profanity to help his stutter, and he does, repeatedly, in a string of words that include several F-Bombs.  But in a world where crap like "Salt" can be PG-13, despite language and violence, then this should never be an R.  I'll be proud for Campbell Isaiah to see this movie when he's 12 or 13.

57... Outtakes... I was going to tell you about their awesome chicken salad, but not too long ago, The Lovely Steph Leann and I went there for lunch.  And they were closed.  As in, closed down.  So, never mind.

56... Catching Hell... One of the best documentaries I've ever, ever seen, and so far, by far, my favorite of the ESPN 30 for 30 series.  Directed by Alex Gibney, it takes the 2003 story of Steve Bartman... do you remember Bartman?

Eighth inning, Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, the Chicago Cubs are but a few outs away from their first World Series in over 100 years, they lead the Florida Marlins 3-0, their ace pitcher is rocking the hizzy, and the mojo was on their side.  And then, a pop fly into the stands, as Moises Alou goes to get a very catchable ball and suddenly... fan Steve Bartman reaches out for it.  The ball bobbles, Alou misses it, it falls into the grass, and the Marlins score.

The  guy in the Cubs hat
And suddenly, all hell breaks loose.  And the Cubbies, who were sooooo close... blew it.  And then they blew Game 7.  And the fans, instead of raging against the Cubs for blowing Game 6 and then screwing up Game 7 (and watching the Marlins, a franchise less than a decade old, win its 2nd World Series), they turned all their attention towards Bartman, who suddenly became a scapegoat for all the teams ills and shortcomings.  Death threats to him and his family, public shaming, humiliation all for a fan who reached out for a ball that a dozen other fans were reaching for--and had the fortune of not getting.

The film explores that night and such topics as... was the pitcher really clutch?  was the team's mojo really rolling?  and was that ball really catchable?  It also makes a great parallel to Bill Buckner, the Red Sox first baseman who's error in letting a ball slip past him, and in turn costing the Red Sox the game--and eventually leading them to blow the series vs the Mets, as it explores the whole concept of "scapegoating".

Using never before seen footage from inside the stadium during Game 6 of the Cubs/Marlins series, interviews with everyone from Moises Alou to nearby fans who didn't catch the ball, this film is captivating, and in a way, heartbreaking, as you see Steve Bartman sit solemnly at what has happened.

Its also a great study in human nature, as that night, guards had to escort him out of the stadium, and one even took him to her home for a few hours after the game to keep him safe.  Brilliant film.

55... The Winnie the Pooh Soundtrack... Yes, I loved the movie.  I love it more every time I watch it.  And the soundtrack is just as good... with vocals from Zooey Deschanel, plus a few Disney classic voices, its perfect for a peaceful drive or a happy afternoon.

54... Survivor... the show gets better and better every year. 

53... Shazaam... What's that song?  Who sings that tune in that commercial?  What's that music playing overhead?  Just plull up your Shazaam app, press the button and it will tell you its Edward Sharpe & the Zeroes... or its Colbie Caillet... or its some other tune that you will have to immediately buy in iTunes...

52... Moneyball... I do love this movie.  Its very close to making its way onto the famous The Dave100, a collection of my 100 favorite films of all time... Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, a former baseball superstar in high school who can't cut it in the majors and ends up being a general manager at Oakland, where he using a new system to put together a competitive team.  Pitt is like usual, that is, great, and Jonah Hill gives a strong supporting performance, based on the brilliant book by Michael Lewis (a book that will appear on the Coolest Things of 2012)

51... "Bridesmaids"... Hilarious.  Completely hilarious.  Kristen Wiig is great in the lead as Annie, who is watching her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) get married, and is all set to be the maid of honor... and is now battling Lillian's other friend Helen for the attention.  And thus the comedy ensues.  Supporting cast wins, including Jon Hamm as a complete d-bag, Chris O'Dowd as Annie's possible love interest, and Melissa McCarthy stealing the show (and earning an Supporting Role Oscar nod) as another bridesmaid.  The scene in the dress shop, after the Annie-led luncheon, is priceless.

This movie does bring up a problem though... there are some movies I enjoy immensely--like this one, ranking as high as it does on this list... but in subsequent viewings, it loses some magic.  Don't ask me why, or how.  I haven't seen it all the way through since this initial viewing.  Hmm.

50/49... Lil Sister Ashley Gets Married & The Good Reverend Ty Sharpton Coffey Gets Married... One was in the middle of Mississippi, one was all the way across Mississippi.  Both got married to their own soulmates, and I'm happy for both, and it was an honor to see both ceremonies.

48... Lunch with an Imagineer... For a fee, you can eat a fantastic lunch with a Cast Member at Walt Disney World... but not just any Cast Member, an actual Imagineer, someone who develops, plans, and does the behind-the-scenes work at the parks.  And The Lovely Steph Leann and I did just that in February of 2011, sitting with a dude who works at Hollywood Studios, and dining at The Brown Derby, which had me eating the best salad I've ever had in my life... the steak wasn't bad either.  Oh, and we sat right beside the guy, with a group of another 8 or so people, peppering him with questions like "Why is Stitch's Great Escape still around?" and "Is Disney going to answer Harry Potter?" and "Why is the big hat still up at Hollywood?" and "What other pavilions were planned for Epcot?".  Good times.

47... Super 8... Just an all around great movie, that, like "Bridesmaids", I found it not as enjoyable to watch the 2nd go round.  Read the full review here.

46...Cirque de Soleil: La Nouba... Got to watch this incredible show in Orlando on our Disney trip.  Would have been better had I not been feeling so rotten.  The little chicks with the spinning spools were the best.

45... "Brighter Than the Sun" by Colbie Caillet... 2011 was the year that you couldn't get away from this song... most movie trailers and a ton of commercials had it... "oooooh... this is how it starts... lightning strikes the heart..."  Good thing the song was so catchy and fun.

44... Osama bin Laden Caught... Yes, Obama was the president while bin Laden was captured.  Using Dubya's policies.  Go figure.  U-S-A!  U-S-A!

43... Beavis and Butthead... They made their return.  And it was darn funny.  And I miss them again.

42... "Cujo" by Stephen King... How can you take a story that has a mom and kid trapped in a car, being terrorized by a rabid dog into over 300 pages?  Stephen King can do it.  And its awesome.  Cujo, now a word used in our lexicon to mean a big, fierce creature, is a dog bitten by a bat and goes on a rampage.  And its scary.  And thrilling.  And awesome.

41... "Courageous"... What a great movie.  What a great, great movie about fatherhood, God's love and friendship.  The Kendrick Brothers, out of Georgia, have done a series of films, all unrelated in story except for God being an integral part of the story, and you can see the progression of their talents from early ("Facing the Giants") to this film.  Its a simple story of a group of officers in Georgia, plus a Hispanic day laborer, all with incredible faith that is tested severly when God throws a few curveballs their way.  Rated PG-13 for "gang violence", which is ridiculous, because this is more family friendly than 90% of the content I've seen on ABC Family and so on.

So there is more of the 100 Coolest Things of 2011... tomorrow, you get another installment as I take you to the Top Ten Coolest Things of 2011... and then, onto the Coolest Things of 2012!

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