Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2013

It's that time of year again; time to pick my ten favorite movies from the past year.  I have to make this list in March because most of the movies I watch are on DVD or Blu Ray and many movies aren't released on DVD until January or February.

Now, there are a couple movies that I still haven't seen that I think may make this list had I seen them. Those being "The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug" and "Saving Mr. Banks. Quite frankly, I am tired of waiting around to see these two and maybe I'll end up just annexing them in later.

Just as I said last year, many of these movies may not be for you.  Many have swearing and violence and a bunch of stuff that offends you.  That being said, I loved all these movies.  Please do not judge me if they do not meet your standards.  I am just being honest with what I liked, and I really liked all ten of these movies.

You can see my list from last year here. 

So, without further ado, I give you, from ten to one, my top ten favorite movies of 2013.

10. Warm Bodies 

Number ten was my most difficult decision as there were a number of above average movies that I could have included.  Ultimately, I went with Warm Bodies, what I thought was the best and most original of all the zombie movies that came out last year.  I enjoyed that the movie was shot from the perspective of the zombie and I thought the story was very sweet, at least as far as a zombie movie could be considered "sweet."

9. Fruitvale Station

I'm surprised that this movie didn't get any love from the Academy Awards, especially for Michael B. Jordan for best actor.  I thought he was amazing in this true story about a man trying to change his life and then has horrible luck.  My only complaint about this movie was that it was a little slow in the beginning, but the end was definitely moving.

8. The Way Way Back

This year's theme for great movies seemed to be "teenage boys, coming of age stories."  This is the first of three terrific ones this year.  This movie had great humor, albeit a little crude at times.  But the movie is full of heart, especially in the relationships that form between the main character and his newfound role model at the water park.

7. The Heat

I'm not a huge fan of Sandra Bullock, never have been.  The fact that she's in not one but two of my favorite movies this year is a little surprising to me.  This was the funniest movie I saw this year.  Just an FYI, it is full of swearing and crude remarks, but the laughs are definitely plentiful.  The scene at the end of the movie in the restaurant was perhaps the longest and loudest I laughed all year.

6. Mud

I was really, really surprised by how much I loved this movie.  The second of three coming-of-age teenage stories on this list, this one had the best story.  As a self described Reese Witherspoon hater, I thought she was actually bearable in this movie.  And perhaps Matthew McConaughey should have been nominated for best actor for THIS film instead of Dallas Buyer's Club.

5. Despicable Me 2



Forget Frozen (sorry ladies), this was the best animated film of the year.

4. Gravity

I put off watching this movie as it didn't seem like it would really interest me.  Boy was I wrong.  This movie is 90 minutes of jam packed intensity.  I don't think my eyes left the screen once.  I watched it a second time in two days with my sons and it was just as intense as the first.

3. Short Term 12 

I thought about making this movie my #1 this year, but ultimately the two ahead of it were just slightly better.  This movie is a touching tribute to those brave people that dedicate their lives to helping mentally ill teenagers.  The story is swift and the characters lovable, the ultimate payoff at the end very satisfying. (Lots of swearing in this one, folks.)

2. 12 Years a Slave

Like "Schindler's List", this is a movie I hope my kids will all see someday.  Yes, it was difficult to watch, but that ABSOLUTELY should not stop you from watching it!  It is an important movie that gives you just a glimpse into the brutal, horrible life of a slave.  But this is also a story of hope and love and never giving up.

1. The Kings of Summer



The last, and best, of the three coming-of-age teenage films, this quirky movie fit every qualification for a great movie for me. First of all, young Moises Moriarty's acting as the strange and lovable Biaggio was the most underrated acting job of the year.  This movie was absolutely hilarious (but again, often crude) and had moments of absolute genius.

I know, it seems a little strange to pick this movie over an instant classic like "12 Years a Slave", but this is my list and this movie was the one I liked the most.  Make your own dang list if you disagree.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Top 10 Favorite TV Shows of 2013

If you know my television tastes, you know I am not a big fan of dramas or reality shows. I pretty much stick to comedies and shows that don't completely annoy me (Real Housewives of Every County, The Bachelor, pretty much every show with a laugh track and every other brain-dead show they seamlessly crank out).

So, I watch a lot of comedy.  Hey, I like to laugh.  As a result, my list is pretty much entirely comedies. And the two shows that aren't comedies certainly have enough laughs in them to keep them interesting. Thus, without further ado, I give you my ten favorite TV shows of 2013...

Honorable Mentions: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Saturday Night Live, How I Met Your Mother, Ellen, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Soup

10. Gold Rush (Discovery)

Will these losers ever find enough gold to make a decent living? Probably not, but it won't stop me from tuning in every week to find out.  I actually do cheer for them to find gold, although deep in my heart, I know it's never going to happen for these idiot.

9. Shark Tank (ABC)

I watch this show religiously and by religiously, I feel that Mr. Wonderful may be some sort of prophet.  As a middle class zero, I've never had a chance to actually speak to a millionaire, let alone beg them for money.  However, I am creating a line of personal sawdust scented fragrances that I am working on pitching to the sharks.  I call it "Lumberjack Love."

8. Modern Family (ABC)

I'm probably not as big a Modern Family fan as you are (or maybe I am), but count me as a fan.  I just can't get past the fact that these people are supposedly allowing a camera crew into their house to film some of their most intimate moments.  Yet, there is no mention of why they are doing this or why this camera crew is there.  That being said, this show is at its absolute best when it is unbelievable and silly.  When it starts taking itself too seriously is when it bogs down.  That being said, Phil might be my second favorite character on television and one that I relate to the most.

7. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC)

Fallon is the most talented and funny late night host and it's not even close. His over exuberance for every guest just makes him more endearing. His musical numbers are legendary.  This is the only late night talk show I DVR. I'm excited that he'll be taking over for that bozo, Leno.

6. The New Girl (FOX)

This show seemed to take a slight step backward this year. The jokes aren't landing with as much power or frequency.  That being said, no comedy on television builds their characters better or has better chemistry within the cast.

5. The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)

I've always been a fan of Colbert, but I've always been a bigger fan of The Daily Show.  This year, they swapped and Colbert was simply a more funny show. (Although, I must admit, I loved the guest hosting job John Oliver did for Jon Stewert in the summer.)  I think this choice may give away some of my political leanings and may make me hated by some of my Facebook friends, but I am not sure there is any show that I laughed more at in 2013.

4. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)

I think your opinion of this show likely hinges on if you like or can stomach Andy Samberg's schtick or not.  Personally, I love the guy and can't get enough.  Thus, this show is super funny and a welcome addition to the fall schedule.

3. The Mindy Project (FOX)

I've been waiting for this show to get funny and this year it finally happened.  Not only did it finally break through, but it became one of my very favorites.  It's too bad too because ratings for this show seem to be slumping just as it is getting good.  The best change that the show made was adding the two funniest characters on the show, the male nurse, "Morgan" and the new doctor, "Peter."  In addition, the writing has thoroughly improved and the story lines have been clever.

2. Parks and Recreation (NBC)

For the past five years or so, this has been my favorite show on TV.  It's not so much that it has slipped, it's that my #1 choice has just dominated the comedy. Okay, I'll admit it, this show did slip just a bit this year, but it is still amazing.  Ron Swanson is the greatest, but let's not underestimate Tom Haverford and Andy Dwyer as being almost as equally hilarious. I know that this show doesn't get the best ratings, and that is a crying shame because it has been consistently been the funniest show on television.

1. The Goldbergs (ABC)

Okay, so this show caught my attention early with its 80's theme.  However, the 80's jokes are not what makes this show go.  From Patton Oswald as the Narrator to my new favorite TV character, "Barry Goldberg", this show is superb.  If you have not yet had the opportunity to watch this show, I implore you to do so.  I am not sure what implore means, but I think it is some sort of threat, I'm that serious about this. If I were you, I'd start with the last episode, the karate episode.  I have never laughed so hard for 30 minutes in my life.

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Top 40 Favorite Albums Of 2013

Hey everybody, this is my 5th year of counting down my top 40 favorite albums of the year.  I guess I must listen to a ton of music or something.  

Remember, I am not a professional music critic.  I like what I like and that's kinda the way it goes.  Also, this year was particularly difficult for me because just about every one of my favorite bands came out with new albums.  It was a great year for music.

So, here on this blog at this time, you will find my list.  Underneath, you will find the top ten of each year for the previous 4 years.

40. Brett Dennen - Smoke and Mirrors
Hip and poppy, hoppy and pip.  Brett reminds me of a young Tom Petty. 

39. Foals - Holy Fire
I've become a huge Foals fan through the years. This album might be my least favorite, but still worth a listen.

38. MGMT - MGMT 
I loved MGMT's first album, hated their second.  This third one lies somewhere in between. Some songs I love, some I hate.

37. Rogue Wave - Nightingale Floors
Rogue Wave is one of my favorite bands, so for the album to be down this far is a bit of a disappointment.  Again, still worth a listen but not near the top 3 Rogue Wave albums.

36. Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends
Not nearly as catchy or as fun as their last album "The Satanic Satanist", but some excellent songs on this one, to be sure.


35. The Besnard Lakes – Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO
I love their sound. The songs are slow and dreary, but they are awesome slow and dreary.

34. Kodaline – In A Perfect World
These guys sound so much like Coldplay.  I like Coldplay, I like these guys too. Impressed with their first album.

33. The Mary Onettes – Hit The Waves
They have such an 80's sound, but the cool 80's, not Wham!.  Great stuff here.

32. Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
CWK had such a breakthrough, amazing album last time out with "Mine Is Yours" it was hard to follow.  They did an alright job with this one, although it certainly does not measure up to their last one.

31.  The Airborne Toxic Event – Such Hot Blood 
Another band that I have grown to love that didn't quite measure up.  I still liked this album a lot, but it was missing some of the gusto of albums past.

30. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

Some truly terrific songs on this album, but too many forgettable ones.  Again, didn't like it as much as some of their past efforts.

29. Walk Off The Earth – R.E.V.O.

Some of the songs were a little too poppy for my taste, but a few of them knock it out of the park.

28. Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe
It surprised me how good this album was. It made me want to dance a lot and by dance, I mean sit on my couch and bob my head.

27. Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium
I've had been a little disappointed with the couple Okkervil albums, especially after their first two albums were so good.  This one, not so disappointed. The songs are more accessible and straight forward on this album. 

26. Atlas Genius – When It Was Now
This album had the one big hit "Trojans", but that was the worst song on the album.  As a result, it is being overlooked for being great.

25. Phosphorescent - Muchacho
This album was not at all what I was expecting, but in a good way.  This was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me.  I loved this album much more than I thought.  It is loaded with great tunes.

24. Phoenix – Bankrupt!
The last Phoenix album was their breakout hit, but this follow up is solid all the way through. It might not get the credit the last album did, but this one might be even better.

23. The Avett Brothers – Magpie And Dandelion
I'm a huge lover of The Avett Bros., and normally this album would rank much higher, but there are just so many great albums this year, I just couldn't move it up higher than 23.

22. Cloud Cult - Love
This is my new second favorite Cloud Cult album.  It rocks from beginning to end.

21. Generationals - Heza
This band is so chill and catchy.  This one does not measure up to their last one, but it still holds up in every way.

20. Gold Fields – Black Sun
Good songs.

19. The Strokes – Comedown Machine
This album is dominated by two or three really great Strokes songs and a bunch of average ones. However, average Strokes songs are still pretty dang great.

18. The Naked And Famous – In Rolling Waves
I was so excited for this album but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t initially a little disappointed. But the more I’ve listened, the more I’ve liked it. It’s nothing like their first album, but it still stands on its own.

17. The Lone Bellow – The Lone Bellow
The first of two folk albums in a row that I loved this year.  This album came out of nowhere and caught me off guard.  It’s pretty soft folk, but I really enjoyed it.

16. The Head And The Heart – Let’s Be Still
The second folk album I enjoyed and slightly more than The Lone Below’s album.  The first Head And The Heart album was fantastic, this one great, but not up to that level.

15. Bell X1 – Chop Chop
There are some truly moving songs on this album.  This might be my favorite British band of all time.  I love these guys more and more with every album they put out.

14. Empire Of The Sun – Ice On The Dune
I waited a long time for a new Empire of the Sun album and it turned out, it was pretty decent.  Like their first album, two or three AMAZING songs and then a bunch of mediocre ones.  This band is definitely the strangest band on the list.

13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.  – The Speed Of Things
This band is a newcomer for me and I loved them from the first listen.  If you like the band Passion Pit, and I know you do, then I know you’ll love this album.

12. Dr. Dog – B-Room
If you love music from the 60’s, you’ll love Dr. Dog and if you love Dr. Dog, you’ll love me because I love Dr. Dog and I’ll never stop loving Dr. Dog, no matter how much you want me to stop loving Dr. Dog.

11. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
This years my eyes were opened to the dance goodness that is Daft Punk and the goodness was good.

10. Little Green Cars – Absolute Zero
Another new band to my list.  This album was one of my most “listened to” of the year.  Absolutely fantastic from start to finish.

9. Tegan & Sara – Heartthrob
Besides sounding just like Wilson Philips to me, I really like these girls.  This album was packed and loaded with hits.

8. The Sounds – Weekend
This is absolutely, without a doubt, my favorite band in the world. So, the fact that they are way down here at #7, shows that this is not their best effort.  Certainly, it was not as good as their last album, which was an absolute gem. Still, they are The Sounds and I still love them and this is a decent album, so here they land.

7. Crystal Fighters – Cave Rave
This band has fast become one of my favorites and their mix of rock and pop is pretty infectious.  So many songs you can sing along with, or sing by yourself in the shower, or just sing on this album.

6. Shout Out Louds – Optica
This album is really good and has really good songs on it and stuff.  You guys should listen to it.

5. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
I was worried about this album before it came out because it represented a change of sound for the band.  That rarely goes well for any band.  But this album is the exception to the rule. It flat out rocks, like a very flat rock.

4. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
The National may have peaked with their genius last album “High Violet”, but this album is right there with it and is definitely their second best effort.  Plus, this album has my #1 favorite song of the year on it: Heavenfaced.

3. Twenty One Pilots - Vessel
Normally, when I hear rap and rock fusion bands, I think “Just another 311 knock off.”  This is NOT the case with this band.  They knocked my socks off, and I was wearing sandals at the time.  Well, socks with sandals.  This album was absolutely the biggest surprise for me.  I never thought I’d like it, but when I look at my plays in iTunes, it was my most listened to album by far.  The amount of energy this two-man-band brings is pretty amazing.  Also, my boys like to listen to and dance to this album more than any other this year, so right on, Twenty One Pilots!

2. Radical Face – Family Tree: The Branches
If you know anything about my musical tastes, you know that I hold Radical Face up as a god.  Not “the God”, but like a Amish god or something. This is the second album in a planned trilogy following the history of a fictional family that Ben has written about.  While not quite the same excellence as the first album, it is musical genius.  Radical Face, AKA, Ben Cooper is amazing.  His album last year reached #1 on my most favorite list.  This album would have been there too had it not been for #1…

1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City
Vampire Weekend fans such as myself have been waiting for an album like this one that separates them from a twee-pop novelty into a serious heavyweight of a rock band.  Their other albums were fun and light, but this album establishes them as a heavyweight to be reckoned with. Superb writing and lyrics delving into darker subjects.  And, in spite of all that, they still sound fun and catchy.  I’ve been waiting for a year to pick Vampire Weekend as my favorite album and that year has finally arrived.

THE PAST FOUR YEARS...

2012
1. Radical Face – The Family Tree: The Roots
2. Passion Pit - Gossamer
3. Mumford And Son – Babel
4. Miike Snow – Happy To You
5. Imagine Dragons – Night Visions
6. Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
7. Metric – Sythetica
8. Dr. Dog – Be The Void
9. Of Monsters And Men – My Head Is An Animal
10. The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter

2011
1. Death Cab For Cutie – Codes And Keys
2. The Sounds – Something To Die For
3. Architecture In Helsinki – Moment Bends
4. Decemberists – The King Is Dead
5. The Strokes – Angles
6. The Head And The Heart – The Head And The Heart
7. Brett Dennen – Loverboy
8. Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
9. I’m From Barcelona – Forever Today
10. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing

2010
1. The National – High Violet
2. Vampire Weekend – Contra
3. Shout Out Louds – Work
4. Mumford And Sons – Sigh No More
5. Mates Of State – Crushes
6. Dr. Dog – Shame Shame
7. Rogue Wave – Permalight
8. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
9. Matt & Kim – Sidewalks
10. Tokyo Police Club – Champ

2009
1. The Sounds – Crossing The Rubicon
2. Passion Pit – Manners
3. Metric – Fantasies
4. Animal Collective – Merryweather Post Pavilion
5. Empire Of The Sun – Walking On A Dream
6. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns
7. Silversun Pickups – Swoon
8. We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls
9. Islands – Vapours
10. Mew – No More Stories Are Told…