Nerdy Heartbeat

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Nerdy Heartbeat 2009 Recap: The Best Movies of 2009 January 2, 2010

Holy crap 2009. It’s over and for the most part it was a pretty chaotic and insane year (not in a good way). Between the economy continuing plummeting down, Auto-tune plummeting up and Fox News hypocritically and ironically going jihad on Obama after 8 years of whining how bashing a president is anti-American, it was hard to escape from the real world. Good thing movies are still one of the best forms of escapism that doesn’t involve dying of overdose. 2009 was an amazing year for movies both of quality and from a commercial standpoint. The yearly gross is at the highest its ever been (so far at 10.5 BILLION) and with Avatar invading the box office it will only get even higher. The ticket sales were high too at about 1460 million tickets sold this year, the highest its been since 2004. It’s clear that the recession isn’t hurting the film industry at all, in fact it’s helping it. Also as far as quality movies were fantastic with a variety of different genres for something for everyone, not to mention a vast array of original films which is rare in a world of remakes and adaptations. It was a hard list to make; there were so many great films this year, the top 5 itself are easily some of my favorite films this decade.

10. Adventureland

Greg Molotta’s first film since Superbad may not be the Apatow-esque sex-romp everyone expected. In fact, it’s better. Adventureland deals with the post-college troubles that come when one has to deal with the real world in a truly powerful coming-of-age story. A perfect portrayal of all the ups and downs of growing up; not to mention proves to America that Kristen Stewart can acutally act.

9. The Princess and the Frog

The Disney films that we all grew up with are considered classics. Why? Because they kept them simple: renowned folklore reinvented as animated musicals for Western audiences. But after Mulan and experimenting with science fiction (resulting in a few decent but commercially disappointing efforts), Disney plummeted into mediocrity. For the entire decade, Disney had to hold on to Pixar and live-action hits to dear life to stay afloat. But in 2009, Disney decided to go back to their roots with The Princess and the Frog. At the core, it has the same premise of your average Disney Princess movie but beneath that is a great world and story they weave around the simple premise. It’s propelled even further with entertaining characters and jaw-dropping yet nostalgic 2D animation. The music is no Alan Menken but it’s still catchy and fun. It also reminds us how accessible Disney movies are; the film has plenty of humor, visual flare, charm and nods to 1920s New Orleans culture that even a group of full grown adults can enjoy it just as much kids. The Disney magic is back.

8. Zombieland

A 90 minute commercial for Twinkies? Probably but this is one of the most entertaining movies of the year and one of 2009’s best comedies and easily 2009’s best horror film. This year was great to horror with fantastic original horror films left and right, (Drag Me to Hell, Orphan, Paranormal Activity) it was really good that companies aren’t just using horror to cash in on mediocre remakes. Zombieland takes the traditional zombie apocalypse and turns its trademarks on its head with a hilariously engrossing story, dialog and characters. The last 10 or so minutes where the gang fight their way through an amusement park is one of the best fight scenes in a horror movie in a very long time. Sony should stick with this idea; it has strong potential of being a horror classic and can help revive the zombie movie in America.

7. Fantastic Mr. Fox

One of my favorite stories as a kid comes to life with witty Wes Anderson flair. Gorgeous visuals, sharp writing and great voice acting from an impressive ensemble cast make this shine above the rest of the animated films this year in what is ultimately, Ocean’s 11 meets The Royal Tenenbaums with animals. It’s a phenomenal work but a damn shame that this didn’t do as well as many hoped while G-Force and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel were enormously popular. Guess America prefers rodents making fart jokes and singing pop songs. That being said if you’re a fan of animation (particularly anything unconventional outside of the typical CGI affair) or just a huge fan of Wes Anderson’s work, you absolutely need to see this.

6. A Single Man

Visually and aesthetically, this is easily the year’s most phenomenal. Unconventional editing mashed with experimentations with color schemes and brilliant fashion design makes this an artistic gold mine. But underneath all the visual flair is a tragic tale of a man recovering from a lost love and dealing with depression. It is simply a cinematic marvel. That and I’m a sucker for Julianne Moore and Ginnifer Goodwin.

5. The Road

After the masterpiece that was Children of Men, I wasn’t sure if the post-apocalyptic thriller could get any better. Then when I scoffed through films like Babylon A.D., I was convinced that the genre was dead. When I first of The Road, I didn’t know what to think expect that it was just another fall thriller. Then after watching the first 10 or so minutes I knew this was going to be anything but run-of-the-mill. Viggo Mortensen has always been a cinematic badass but this film solidified him as a brilliant actor. The supporting cast, including Robert Duvall and Charlize Theron are pretty fantastic as well. The cinematography is visually staggering and the overall feel of the film is as intense as an post-apocalyptic world can be. Unlike other films this year like 2012 or Zombieland, there’s no over-the-top explosions, hard boiled action, humor or hope. This is the real deal. It’s gritty, bleak and simply tragic. However, the film still makes you feel for these characters despite the fact that hope is slim. It’s an aggressively marvelous tale about the struggle and tenacity of the human spirit and proves that movies about the end of the world can still send shivers down your spine.

4. Up in the Air

George Clooney is cool as f–k. You probably don’t want to admit it but even if you hate him (for whatever reason) you can’t help but realize that you desperately want to be him. Up in the Air proves that as Clooney plays as suave but severely flawed man who gets paid by firing people, lives in airports, believes marriage is a joke and emotionally distances himself from everyone. You don’t want to like him but alas you can’t help but root for the smug bastard. Add this with a fantastic script, brilliant supporting roles from Vera Farminga and Anna Kendrick (aka the “other girl” in the Twilight movies) and a twist that will make M. Night green with envy and you have something that’s very very special. Easily one of the year’s best offerings.

3. Up

Pixar, much like a famed balloon house in their summer hit Up, is flying high as one of the most prolific film companies right now. After the magnificent visual feast that was Wall-E, some (including me) believed Pixar couldn’t get any better. Boy were we wrong. The first 10 minutes of Up were more oscar-worthy than any of the scenes currently nominated for the Golden Globe for best picture and the rest of the movie has dozen of scenes that will either make burst into laughter, bring tears to your eye or give you chills. It’s a storytelling marvel, plain and simple. Arguably one of the best animated films this past decade.

2. District 9

We live in a world where a blockbuster must be based on a comic book/toy line/TV show/book. Then District 9 came along and proved that as long as the world and story is convincing enough and if you’ve got a great marketing campaign, a film can succeed despite of all of the things going against it (unknown cast, heavy R rating, film technique that’s hit/miss with audience, TriStar not releasing a hit since the late 90s). But the fact that it’s an original work or the genius marketing or how it was able to live up to all the hype is why this is so high on the list. Very few sci-films (at least in this day and age) were able to juxtapose sci-fi based mythology with real world social problems so flawlessly without preaching to the audience. The way to narrative unraveled underneath a magnificent yet terrifying setting was masterful. Combine this with visual effects that rival films with a $100+ budget, fantastic acting, an engrossing documentary style and brutally intense action and you have one of the best popcorn flicks in a long time. Not bad for a first-time director. Let’s just hope that with this movie, (as well as Avatar) film companies learned that you don’t need to remake/adapt a previous work to guarantee a hit.

1. (500) Days of Summer

The romantic comedy genre got its share of beatings over the past decade. Sure it got a few bones thrown to it in the shape of Love Actually, Eternal Sunshine and Garden State, but for the most part, romantic comedies were mediocre cliched romps. Especially this year where the romantic comedy went from mediocre (The Proposal) to bad (The Ugly Truth) to horrible (Bride Wars) to All About Steve. It seemed like the genre had its final nail in the coffin. Until this movie came along. However, while it’s a romantic boy meets girl story the film said it right in the beginning: “This is not a love story”. It’s a tale about fate and destiny; how it can shatter and rise again when you least expect it. It’s a story about how what one wants and what one gets can collide like a brutal car crash. It’s about how love, like everything else, is a cycle that grows, blossoms, withers, dies and becomes born again. All of these themes and the way the film presents them is what truly makes it a stand-out film. That and how often do you see a rom-com from a guys point of view? And how often are said guys not the stereotypical womanizer archetype? (500) Days truly is a relatable, realistic love story that feels real which ironically is rare in the genre. Which begs the question: between this, Slumdog, Wrestler, Juno, Little Miss Sunshine and Garden State, does Fox Searchlight EVER release something that isn’t brilliant?

Honorable Mentions:


Paper Heart

Funny People

Whatever Works

Star Trek

The Hangover


Where the Wild Things Are



Nerdy Heartbeat’s 09 Recap – Biggest Guilty Pleasures December 13, 2009

There’s some stuff out there, I just can’t own up to liking. Whether it be a song on the radio, a bad movie or something utterly childish/girly, I try really hard to not like it. But I can’t. This list features my biggest guilty pleasures this year of stuff I didn’t want to like but just couldn’t help myself.


I was wondering if I should even put this show on this list because frankly, this is a really REALLY good show especially when compared to other teen programs on TV. That being said, as a straight 20 year old man, it’s hard to talk about my deep love for this show. I mean imagine telling your friends, “I can’t hang out now… I’m watching Glee.” My guy friends just give me a look and vaguely smirk. It’s like freshman year all over again when I confessed to my friends my love for The OC. Additionally, when you think about it, the show has a very similar concept to High School Musical. That being said, it’s a fantastic show with a great sense of humor, eccentric cast of characters and amazing covers of classic songs. Even if it’s shifted a little too far in dramatic territory with recent episodes, it’s still one of the best new shows this season.

Lady Gaga

I may not listen to her on a regular basis but whenever she’s on the radio I can’t help but sing along. There’s something about her, (Maybe it’s her craziness? Yeah her craziness) that makes her an interesting pop icon. I mean let’s face it, when you compare her to the Britney Spearses and P!nks and Kelly Clarksons of the world, she is far better and something the pop scene kinda needs right now: a different face. Her music is catchy, her personality turns heads and is a person that you simply couldn’t run away from in 2009. That and the Bad Romance video is pretty damn fantastic.

Wearing Neon

It’s the choice attire for scene kids and crappy pseduo-electronic bands. That being said, I can’t help but adding a tid bit of neon to my wardrobe to brighten stuff up. Yeah it can look ridiculous at times but… okay there’s not much defending when it comes to neon but hey it looks kinda cool if you want the impression of being a karaoke singer in space or something…

Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus

So it’s an absolutely horrible movie. The acting is horrendous, the story is silly as hell and the “epic fight scene”  is the same poorly rendered CGI shot just with different effects layered on it. Asylum Entertainment is known for making some of the best worst movies out there and this is definitely no exception. It’s so bad that you can’t help but love the awfulness it reeks. It’s absolutely hilarious. However, while it may be a bad movie, below is probably the greatest scene in film history. Ever. I’m not kidding.

Boys Like Girls – Two Is Better Than One

I already wrote a blog about this. Click here


Nerdy Heartbeat’s 2009 Recap – The Top 10 Music Videos of 2009 December 1, 2009

Thanks to youtube, music videos may no longer have a place on television but they have been more accessible (and arguably more popular) on the internet. For the past year, artists have further experimented with this unique art form in plenty of effective ways. These are the top 10 Music Videos of 2009.

10. Every Time I Die – Wanderlust

For about four minutes, Keith Buckley walks in on some seriously grotesque yet psychedelic imagery while the rest of the bands rocks out like crazy. Not only was the video pretty cool, but it showed off some of the unbelievable album artwork before it was in stores.

9. Matt and Kim – Lessons Learned

Remember the hilarious shock value of Blink-182’s video of “What’s My Age Again”? Yeah, multiply that by 100. Matt and Kim streak in the middle of Times Square and right at the very last moment, Kim gets hit by a bus. It’s funny as all hell. I just want to know how they were able to get away with this.

8. Manchester Orchestra – I’ve Got Friends

The intentionally aged look gives the video a unique style many don’t see in the music video format. Plus the hilariously bizarre concept starring a guy in a bear suit and haunting apparitions of the band members makes it stand out even more.

7. Animal Collective- My Girls

Freak-folk pioneers, Animal Collective, blew up like crazy this past year thanks to a breakout album and the fantastic indie hit, “My Girls”. The video features grooving silhouettes of the band mixed with a slew of crazy psychedelic visuals. The result is something that feels both retro and slightly futuristic with a slam of hip eye candy. Hipsters love this band for a reason and this video shows why.

6. fun. – All The Pretty Girls

fun. (the side project featuring members of The Format, Anathallo, Steel Train) is arguably the best new band of 2009 and they’ve got a great video to prove it. This hilarious homage to The Beatles that closes with a trio of singing piniatas makes it one music video that’s nothing short of… well… fun.

5. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance

Okay. So she’s weird… really weird. But let’s face it she’s probably the most unique artist in the mainstream music scene. Compared to the other pop princesses, she’s pretty damn good. Her video for her latest single is well, indescribable at times with outrageous outfits, even more outrageous but mind-boggling choreography, a plot that doesn’t really make any sense and a conclusion featuring a pyrotechnic bra and skeletal corpse. Uh…. sure? Yeah it’s out there… really out there, but it’s so weird that in a way, it’s absolutely genius. Not to mention, the visuals are just plain unbelievable at times. It’s been a while since a mainstream artist has freaked anyone out through music video and isn’t that why we like this format in the first place?

4. WHY? – These Hands/January Twenty Something

Jonathan “Yoni” Wolf (aka WHY?) makes some of the most emotionally compelling hip-hop and folk rock around. The video deals with the scenes of a car accident juxtaposed with Wolf’s soothingly evocative voice. The image of the old man with arrows shot all over his back surrounded by fog carrying the boy will forever be ingrained in my mind. Powerful stuff.

3. Mastodon – Oblivion

Mastodon’s latest concept record deals with elements of space and time so what better way to introduce the album than having a music video that takes place in space. The visuals are nothing short of gorgeous with some of the best visual effects I’ve seen in a music video in a long long time and the video deals with the terror, mystery and suspense of being alone in outer space. They say in space no one can hear you scream, but shred? That’s a completely different story.

2. Fall Out Boy – What A Catch, Donnie

Folie A Deux is arguably FOB’s best release since Take This To Your Grave and “What a Catch, Donnie” was one of the best tracks off of their recent (and probably last) album. So when we heard there was going to be a video for this song, we all knew it would be sweep us off our feet. On the surface, its a tale about a ship’s captain (Patrick Stump) befriending and eventually bidding farewell to a seagull. It’s only until the captain sees a boat sinking on the distance when we see what the video is really about.   Ultimately, the video is a huge metaphor for the band’s unfortunate hiatus, but by george they went out with a bang. We’ll miss you guys but maybe you can ditch Wentz come the reunion.

1. All Time Low – Weightless

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Let’s face it. A lot of people don’t like All Time Low these days. Some people consider them sell-outs for being covered by MTV. Some people are turned off by the abundance of screaming teenage girls that swoon over Alex Gaskarth. Or frankly, some people just don’t like the punk-pop/powerpop scene. Well, ATL manages to get back at all the haters in the funniest way possible. In their video for their first single for Nothing Personal, the bands makes fun of pretty much everyone and everything from Twitter, to crazed teeny bopper fans and even themselves through bitterly frank statements followed by the ever-so appropriate phrase “Nothing Personal”. Top it off with a ridiculous over-the-top style and hilarious cameos by FOB’s Pete Wentz and Blink’s Mark Hoppus and you have one of the funniest vids in a while. Even if you hate ATL for whatever reasons you have, you can’t help but laugh at their complete mockery of the scene.