Because even I have an unoriginal idea, I've decided to dole out non-existent awards to stuff I found really cool this year.
So let's get started...
Best Movie I Saw in a Theater
In the Shadow of the Moon is easily one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. Not only is it about the Apollo astronauts that went to the Moon, but it features nothing but those astronauts as they discuss their adventures, their idiosyncrasies, their losses, and their feelings. No talking head experts or looming-voice narrators here; it was like sitting down in your living room for a couple of hours with some truly living legends.
Initially, I was a bit skeptical upon learning Ron Howard was involved. Thankfully, he just provided money for this British documentary to gain a limited theatrical release. The DVD comes out on February 12 if you want to think about adding this to your Netflix queue. I can't recommend it enough if you're even remotely interested in what has sadly passed as the Golden Age of the American space program.
Best Movie I Saw on DVD
Basing this purchase on a tip from the legend that is Siskoid, The Gamers tackles a number of role-playing game absurdities ranging from player behavior to gameplay and then turns them on their ear. This is a very low-budget production but you can definitely see the level of effort and love put into this project.
I bought the Director's Cut which has a ton of features not found in the initial DVD release. Aside from the usual trailers and commentary, a number of items from the fledgling Dead Gentlemen are also present, including their video podcasts from when they produced that sort of thing. Among the gags that never cease to make me laugh is something called Syphilitic Ninja Vampires—ninja vampires that have syphilis. It so damn random it hurts.
Best Comic Read
What began as a fill-in to document the year without the Big Three (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman) after the fairly stupid Infinite Crisis, became one of my most beloved comic series of all time. It all culminated with this final issue.
A number of C-listers (Booster Gold, the Question, Elongated Man, and Steel, to name a few) went from two-dimensional props of bigger superhero stories to being fully-rounded characters in their own right. We're able to witness this transformation slowly unfold on a weekly basis and the end result is more than satisfying.
The series has been collected into four trade paperback editions that are full of behind-the-scenes material ranging from unused covers to insight on the creative process. Unless you're already immersed in DC Universe, I'm not entirely sure if the first 15-20 issues would make a whole lot of sense but trust me, this is some good stuff.
Best Audio Performance Purchase
Sorry for the convoluted category but I didn't want to do both a CD and a music download category, and the best CD I bought wasn't a music compilation. No, the best CD bought was Lewis Black's The Carnegie Hall Performance. In fact, I purchased a few Lewis Black comedy CDs this year but this was the best of them all.
I'm often compared to Mr. Black both physically and psychologically. I can't say I blame folks for making such a comparison. When I'm not playing the part of court jester, I'm told my ranting walks the line between funny and "hope he's not armed." Great disc Lewis; hope to catch you in concert.