Tonawanda News

January 7, 2010

30 entertainment ideas for the new year

By Phil Dzikiy<br><a href="">E-mail Phil</a>

Enough with the reminiscing. It’s time to look ahead.

There will be many other worthwhile events, movies, shows and albums in 2010, but from what’s been confirmed thus far, this list — a mix of local events and national entertainment — should be a good starting point to get you ready for the new year. As always, dates are subject to change.

1. The return of HBO’s “Big Love” — Most of the great HBO dramas seem to get plenty of publicity, but “Big Love” still flies under the radar. This season, everyone’s favorite polygamist Mormon family gets deeper into the casino business while piling on the juicy familial subplots. (Jan. 10)

2. “Contra” by Vampire Weekend — Vampire Weekend’s 2008 debut ended up being one of the most discussed albums of the decade, garnering a large amount of both supporters and detractors. That’ll happen when the group’s made up of four Ivy Leaguers who use world music influences. But there’s no denying the debut had some catchy melodies. How will the group’s sound strike listeners now that the hype has subsided? (Jan. 12)

3. “The Big Lebowski” event at the Riviera Theatre — North Tonawanda’s crown jewel once again hosts an event dedicated to the Coen Brothers’ cult classic. (Jan. 16)

4. “In the Heights” at Shea’s — One of the hottest musicals in recent memory comes to Shea’s at the end of the month. The story is set in the New York City Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights. The Broadway production of “In the Heights” was nominated for 13 Tony awards in 2008 — it won Best Musical. (Jan. 26-31)

5. “Transference” by Spoon — The newest album from one of America’s best rock bands during the past decade. Spoon has been on a roll for years, and shouldn’t have any trouble continuing that momentum. (Jan. 19)

6. Dr. Dog at Mohawk Place — The Philadelphia quintet visited Buffalo’s Mohawk Place last year, but we missed it. Don’t want to make that same mistake again. Dr. Dog blends influences like The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Band into a warm, fuzzy, feel-good mix of tunes. (Feb. 1)

7. 2009 Oscar nomination announcements — Though the announcements will be made while most of us are still asleep (5:30 a.m.), there’s one major reason for increased interest in this year’s Academy Award nominations: 10 Best Picture nominees. We’ll see if voters are more willing to nominate “non-traditional” films. Will an animated film like “Up” get nominated? How about a documentary, like “Food, Inc.?” We’ll see. (Feb. 2)

8. “Lost” final season premiere — Here come all the answers. We’re not huge “Lost” fans here, but you have to respect a show that can be so “out there” for so long on primetime television. Hopefully, it all pays off. (Feb. 2)

9. “Alice in Wonderland” — Sure, it’s been done many times before, but even casual fans of “Alice” should be curious to check out the Tim Burton version, featuring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. If nothing else, it should provide moviegoers with some memorable imagery. (March 5)

10. “The Brutalist Bricks” by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists — Another of the last decade’s best bands, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists released the group’s arguably weakest album in 2007. Of course, weak is relative when dealing with a tremendous talent like Leo. The indie punk group’s debut on Matador Records will be much anticipated. (March 9)

11. “Hot Tub Time Machine” — An R-rated comedy that could be this year’s version of “The Hangover.” The title explains the concept. Four friends go back to the 1980s after traveling through time ... via hot tub. Stupid, sure, but also potentially very funny. (March 19)

12. “Volume Two” by She & Him — Actress Zooey Deschanel and singer-songwriter M. Ward made a new album that sounded classic — an ode to pop and soul records gone by. Here’s hoping the duo can continue the magic in March. (March 23)

13. “Clash of the Titans” — Sure, it’s a remake, but ... Ralph Fiennes? Liam Neeson? A summer-worthy blockbuster in March, with a few heavy hitters in starring roles. This exists somewhere between “300” and “The Lord of the Rings.” (March 26)

14. Buffalo Niagara Film Festival — It will be the fourth annual edition of the festival, which deserves more notice. The BNFF features independent films from around the country, and it usually features one or two special events, as well. (April 16-25)

15. “Jersey Boys” at Shea’s — Another recent Best Musical Tony winner (2006), “Jersey Boys” has been a phenomenon. As the story of the Four Seasons, this is a musical where you already know you’ll be hearing great songs. (April 21-May 9)

16. “Iron Man 2” — Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson joined the “Iron Man” world, which swaps out Terrence Howard for Don Cheadle. The key, however, is still the film’s star, Robert Downey Jr. A favorite for the biggest blockbuster of the year. (May 7)

17. “Robin Hood” — However, there may be competition from yet another remake of “Robin Hood,” starring Russell Crowe. (May 14)

18. “Congratulations” by MGMT — This young duo showed off a flair for innovation and melody on 2008’s “Oracular Spectacular” album. MGMT just might be the future of music, but even if it’s not, the group is still worth a listen. (Spring)

19. “The A-Team” — The summer of Neeson? Liam Neeson is Hannibal. MMA fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson takes over Mr. T’s role as B.A. Baracus. Aren’t you at least a little bit curious? (June 11)

20. Allentown Art Festival — An annual rite of summer in Western New York. (June 12-13)

21. “Toy Story 3” — It’s been a long time since we last saw Woody, Buzz and the rest of the crew, but no one’s complaining. The toys end up in a day-care center and must escape to find a new home. (June 18)

22. Taste of Buffalo — You know what to expect, but that doesn’t mean you won’t go. Yum. (July 10-11)

23. Lewiston Art Festival — Sure, you’ll visit Allentown, but Niagara County has its own hip art festival. Of course, most people know this by now. (It’s been growing for years.) (Aug. 14-15)

24. “The Expendables” — A throwback to the classic 80s blow-em-up action films, with as many muscle-bound superstars as could fit in one movie: Sylvester Stallone (who co-wrote and directed), Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Danny Trejo ... even appearances from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s the movie action fans have been waiting for, even if they didn’t know it. Why didn’t anyone else try this before? (Aug. 20)

25. Outdoor concerts — It’ll likely be months before we get word of just who will be visiting the area this year, but chances are, there will be something for everyone. (Summer)

26. Artpark schedule — Sure, the outdoor concert slate includes Artpark, but the Lewiston gem could bring a surprise or two along with its music and art events. (Summer)

27. “Inception” — The tagline intrigues: “Your mind is the scene of the crime.” The trailers look great. And Christopher Nolan hasn’t made a bad movie yet, so this Leonardo DiCaprio movie is firmly on this year’s must-see list. (Summer)

28. “Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows, Part One” — The beginning of the end. The “Harry Potter” saga’s final installment will be told in two parts. The films have been up-and-down in terms of quality, but it would be nice to see the movie series end on a high note. (November)

29. “Tron 2: Legacy” — Your eyes do not deceive you. “Tron” is coming back. Jeff Bridges reprises his role as Kevin Flynn in the sequel, in which his son finds himself pulled into Flynn’s world. (Dec. 17)

30. “The Green Hornet” — Seth Rogen as a superhero? Indeed. The Michel Gondry-directed film also starts Jay Chou as Kato, Christoph Waltz and Cameron Diaz. (Dec. 22)