Best of 2012 - Brittany's Top 10 in TV, Film, Music and Other Entertainment
December 23rd, 2012 12:15pm EST
It's that time of year again: time to look back on the things we enjoyed the most in television, film, music and other entertainment. For your reading pleasure, here are my '10 in 2012' - ten categories of awards handed out to my personal favorite things and people from the last year.
- Brittany Frederick's 10 in 2012 -
Best Unscripted Entertainment: There was a lot of fun to be had in the world of unscripted TV this year. NBC ran not one, but two seasons of The Voice this year, and for the most part, the network's gamble paid off. We were introduced to plenty more great talents, including but not limited to winners Jermaine Paul and Cassadee Pope, and equally amazing contestants like Chris Mann, Katrina Parker, Juliet Simms, Tony Lucca, Terry McDermott, Trevin Hunte, Amanda Brown and Melanie Martinez.
There's also another unscripted show that I enjoy almost as much: History's Top Gear. It's set itself apart from the British original - still one of my favorite shows - with the unique chemistry between hosts Adam Ferrara, Tanner Foust and Rutledge Wood. Watching those three guys get into trouble has become a highlight of my Tuesday nights, not to mention the live tweets on Twitter where they provide commentary on all their miscues and pranks. I'm looking forward to new episodes in 2013.
Best TV Laughs of the Year: It's been years and many unfunny comedies since I've laughed as much as I do when watching TBS's Wedding Band. As previously mentioned a few weeks ago, this is a show that I just adore because it makes me laugh and it makes me feel better about life. It's funny but it's not mean, and it's inappropriate but never grossly so. Plus, it's got an ensemble full of folks that have quietly flown under the radar for awhile now, who have come together to form one heck of a supergroup. I never thought I'd miss Brian Austin Green on my television, but seeing him here, I'm really glad he's back.
FX's Archer remains another hilarious diversion. I often cringe at some of the things I'm laughing at, but I'm still laughing at them, often so hard that I'm crying. I'm still walking around quoting phrases like 'rolling probable cause' and I can't listen to Kenny Loggins anymore because it cracks me up. Just when I think the show couldn't possibly get any weirder or more funny, it usually does. Kudos to FX for letting Adam Reed get away with all this stuff, because the world would be a much sadder place without his insane genius.
Best TV Drama of the Year: There's nothing better on TV right now than USA's Suits. There are a lot of great dramas right now, but Suits is the one that keeps me talking well after it's over - not just because I enjoy the show, but because I want to discuss how it's written, how it's shot, what certain things mean, or what they might mean. It's one of the rare shows that I can write thousands of words about. For me, that's TV at its best: when it's not just entertainment, but something that inspires and affects the audience.
Another series that kept me on the edge of my seat this season was, yet again, FX's Justified. Season three stumbled in a few minor places, but was generally another great run - and it's impressive that this show has had three really outstanding seasons. Consistency is something that's underrated in the entertainment industry. Yet with great performances from Timothy Olyphant, Joelle Carter and Walton Goggins, plus Neal McDonough playing yet another wonderfully creepy bad guy, Justified remained one of those shows that when you turn it on, you can bet that you're not going to regret it.
Best New Show: This title goes to HBO's The Newsroom. It might be a bit maligned by other folks, but to me it was something special from the get-go. After the failure of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, it was great to see Aaron Sorkin come back to television with a series that was more like the writer behind Sports Night and The West Wing. Jeff Daniels is wonderful in the lead role of news anchor Will McAvoy, and I also want to single out Thomas Sadoski as Will's former EP Don Keefer, because Don started out as an unlikable character but grew to become legitimately interesting by season's end.
The Newsroom just edges out ABC's Last Resort, which has the dubious distinction of already having been cancelled by the Alphabet network. Shawn Ryan has turned out some well-written TV over the last two seasons (see: The Chicago Code, Terriers) but he can't seem to catch a break, even when he's got the likes of Andre Braugher and Robert Patrick reading his words. Last Resort was well-cast and ambitious, but if I had any issue with it, it's that it definitely wasn't an eight o'clock show. This was television for folks who love television, and I don't think we're going to see a combination of writers and cast like this again for awhile.
The honorable mention here is Wedding Band, which I certainly hope gets a second-season pickup at TBS, because I've already been over all the reasons I love that show.
Best Old Show I'm Still Watching: During a fit of post-hospital stay insomnia earlier this year, I went back and re-watched the pilot episode of Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night. Before I knew it I'd gone through the entire first season. It's probably the line on Sorkin's resume that is the least well-known, which is saddening to me because it is just as great as his later, more popular works. The show boasts Felicity Huffman before Desperate Housewives, Peter Krause before Parenthood, Joshua Malina before Scandal, and Josh Charles before The Good Wife.
It wasn't always great - I still don't get the point of Dana's 'dating plan' - but it was damn near close. The characters felt real, the writing was often compelling, and even the little things worked, down to W.G. Snuffy Walden's wonderful score. Every time I watch it, I forget everything else, and there's something magical about that.
The show might be more than a decade old now, but it hasn't lost anything; this is still always going to be one of those special TV series that never quite got its due.
Favorite Movies of the Year: 2012 was a great year at the cinema, with three fantastic films arriving at the box office: The Avengers, The Bourne Legacy and Skyfall. I enjoyed them all for different reasons, so I can't really pick a favorite among them.
Avengers was everything that's been great about the reinvigorated genre of superhero movies: it was big, it was breathtaking, yet it still had great characters and plot. Bourne Legacy mixed solid action with characters that weren't black and white, making me want to figure them out. And Skyfall came out as a combination of the two, with scenes that had me gasping in surprise, yet its biggest strength was in letting Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench show us the vulnerable, damaged sides of their characters.
I can't think of a year where I've gone to the movies more times than I did in 2012, and that's exciting, because with rising ticket costs there aren't a lot of flicks that are good enough to motivate me to go once, let alone multiple times. I haven't had the chance to see Zero Dark Thirty yet (it remains in limited release until January 11), so it's entirely possible that there could be four excellent major movies that debuted in 2012. Who'd have thought?
Favorite Music of the Year: Any year with a new Maroon 5 album is a good one, and Overexposed netted the band another two Grammy nominations. It's full of catchy songs that have been stuck in my head for the better part of the year. Admit it: you've been humming 'Payphone' too. There's nothing wrong with that.
However, there were a few other albums I heard this year that will rank among my favorites, including a pair from The Voice contestants. Chris Mann's Roads and Justin Hopkins' This Will Happen Anywhere are both keepers in my book, for different reasons. One's got serious vocal power behind it and the other is just simple, unencumbered great music. Both albums should garner these two plenty of new fans, and deservedly so. In their respective genres, they're both as good as it gets.
Group or Duo Achievement Awards: There have been quite a few casts and pairs that have done great work this season. When it comes to film, the cast of The Avengers was almost perfect. Marvel's superheroes all came together so well and Mark Ruffalo stepped into the lineup without missing a beat. I'm already excited for the sequel.
On television, it's a much more crowded field. One of the reasons USA's Suits is so great is because of its two leads, Patrick J. Adams and Gabriel Macht. Additionally, I'd call co-star Sarah Rafferty one of my favorite actresses working today. Watching any of those three, sometimes I just sit back and say, 'Wow, I wish I could do that.'
ABC's Scandal can get a bit crazy, but its core trio of Kerry Washington, Tony Goldwyn and Bellamy Young are always worth watching. They're the heart of the show, and it wouldn't work with anyone else in their parts. Along those same lines, over on The CW's Nikita, Maggie Q and Shane West have been a delight to watch together, even if the show's second season had its misfires. Those teams both elevate the material that they're given.
Comedy-wise, the ensemble from Wedding Band has been a pleasure to watch gel together. I would never in a million years have cast them all in the same series, but I'm glad somebody did. I was disappointed when Peter Cambor left NCIS: Los Angeles, but if he hadn't, then we wouldn't get to enjoy him rocking out on the bass now. So maybe everything happens for a reason.
Individual Achievement Awards: I must single out Jeremy Renner for starring in not one, but two of the biggest - and best - movies of the year. He's absolutely deserving of all the attention that's been heaped on him recently. I'll admit to having been a fan of his for most of his career, but he's been doing his best work for the last few years, starting with The Unusuals and continuing on through some fantastic films without a misstep. It makes me so happy to see him hit the 'A' list, because that's right where he belongs.
His co-star in Bourne Legacy, Edward Norton, has earned some recognition as well, because he made the most of his role as Eric Byer. He wasn't literally chasing Renner's Aaron Cross, but still felt like a worthy adversary, and moreso a character that had more layers than just what was explained on screen. I haven't been arguing this much about an antagonist since the T-1000 reared its head in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Actually, I'd love to see a Terminator 2-type Bourne film with Byer as a protagonist. Based on Norton's performance in Legacy, it's entirely plausible.
Over on the small screen, I stand by my assertion that Gabriel Macht should be an Emmy Award contender. There are a lot of TV actors I love to watch, but he's the one that makes my jaw drop on a fairly routine basis. There needs to be at least one Emmy on his mantel someday.
Deserving of More Attention Awards: The biggest reason that I'm sad USA's Fairly Legal got the axe is because it means that Michael Trucco won't be a series regular anymore. Here's an actor who quietly did great work in supporting parts, then came out and shined when he was in the lead. The writing on Fairly Legal sometimes let him down, but even when his character wasn't used as much in an episode, he was always memorable. When he had his own plot in the second season, we saw just how good he really is. Someone please get this man a leading role somewhere else, because he's earned it.
Along those same lines, can I get a little love for James Wolk, too? He broke out in a big way on the vastly underwatched Lone Star for FOX two years ago and it was a pleasure to see him as a regular again on USA's miniseries Political Animals. He's an actor with a lot of potential, and I would love to see him front and center again. As great as he's been, I don't think we've seen the entirety of what he can really do yet.
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my official website and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.
Photo Credits: NBC, TBS, USA, HBO, CBS, Universal