Monday, March 19, 2018

My Favorite Movies Released in 2017

Hi folks. Thanks for reading this. I am honored that you care what I think and my opinions and stuff. I still haven't finished watching all the movies released in 2017 that I'd like to, but I am tired of waiting for them to come out on video. As such, I will give you what I think now and update the list if I watch deserving movies. So, let's get to it, shall we?

Honorable Mentions

The following movies were all excellent, but just couldn't crack my top 20...

- Wind River
- Loving Vincent
- Colossal
- Spiderman Homecoming
- A Monster Calls
- Wonder Woman
- A Ghost Story
- A United Kingdom
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Darkest Hour (Best Picture Nominee)

Top 20

20. War of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13)

This was by far the best Planet of the Apes movies of an already impressive group of Planet of the Apes movies.

19. Marshall (PG-13)
Not sure how this movie flew under the Oscar radar. I felt that Chadwick Boseman deserved at least some consideration for his portrayal of a young Thurgood Marshall. I was captivated by this story and the feel-good ending had people in the theater clapping out loud. I know, I had to sit by those people.

18. Coco (PG)

The year’s best animated movie and it is not particularly close. I found this movie to be original, creative and funny. Everything you have come to expect in a Pixar movie.

17. Breathe (PG-13)

Andrew Garfield saved this movie. He proved his acting chops are no joke and he flat out saved this movie from suck-a-tage. As it turns out, this movie turns out to be a quite heartening and exalting journey through the life of a paralyzed man.

16. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ® (Best Picture nominee)

The most impressive part of this film was the acting. Every part, every scene; it was the most well acted film of the year. While I couldn’t get past certain plot points, not making sense, the whole of the movie overcame those weaknesses to make it a pretty decent movie. Warning though: more curse words than you’d ever expect in this one.

15. Baby Driver - R

The opening scene of Baby Driver was quite possibly the best scene in any movie of the entire year. Watching Baby Driver made me feel cooler than I really am.

14. Thor: Ragnarok (PG-13)

The funniest superhero movie ever made. (A close second is Ant-Man.) Also, it was quite the adventure.

13. The Greatest Showman (PG)

The story, plot and dialog of this movie were, shall we say, “below average.” However, the musical numbers are shockingly phenomenal. The choreography, dancing, singing, music, it’s all very catchy. The musical numbers far outweigh the negatives and true movie magic takes place.

12. The Florida Project ®

After 40 minutes of watching this film, I wondered to myself, “Why am I watching these obnoxious kids wander around the strip outside Disneyworld? Is this what the movie is? Is this the whole movie?” And then something magical happened: I started caring about these kids. I mean, I really cared about them and their horrible, horrible life circumstances. This movie felt real and raw, like watching an episode of Cops where you care deeply about the people that are being arrested.

11. Wonder (PG)

I went into attending this movie with the worst intentions, fully expecting to hate it. I left feeling uplifted and full of hope. I was impressed with the acting of young Jacob Tremblay, which I had last seen in “Room.” As an elementary school principal, I fully believe that every student in America should see this movie.

10. Dunkirk (PG-13) (Best Picture nominee)

Captivating action from beginning to end. It hardly allows you to breath. Stunning.

9. Star Wars: Episode VIII, The Last Jedi (PG-13)

I flat out don’t get the vocal group of haters for this film. I thought it was everything I wanted and needed Star Wars to be. The fact that there were strange scenes only endeared me to it more. People forget that the original trilogy was full of strange scenes and those became classic moments that folks still talk about. Anyway, I loved it. Best Star Wars since Empire.

8. The Shape of Water ® (Best Picture Winner)

Often, after I would watch a movie, I would rank it higher on my list than it actually deserved. Such was the case with “The Shape of Water.” Immediately after watching it, I ranked it #3 on this list. I then slept on it, woke up and decided the plot was just a too weird for it to be ranked that high. That is not to say that this was not a well made movie. It was! In almost every way. Perhaps I am just a little too old fashioned to find an old fashioned movie about a woman that falls in love with a fish good enough to be ranked in my top five.

7. Get Out ®

This was the first movie released in 2017 that I saw in 2017 and it was one of the best. It remained number one on my list for months and months. I know the movie has been praised for its’ social commentary and timeliness. But beyond that, I found it to be downright creepy with a dark comedy twist.

6. The Big Sick ®

Funny, charming and filled with magical moments, this movie was an absolute joyous surprise. All future romantic comedies should look to this film as an example of how to make a romantic comedy without it feeling too smatzy.

5. Logan Lucky (PG-13)

This movie has been described as a “redneck Oceans 11”, which is a great description, however, it denotes that it is somehow lesser than Oceans 11. In fact, it is better than the Oceans movies in almost every way. It certainly has the comedy angle mastered and I found the clever plot twists to be ever-so-entertaining.

4. Lady Bird ® (Best Picture Nominee)

Lady Bird was quite simply my favorite Academy Award Best Picture nominee in a relatively (in my opinion) weak crop of Best Picture nominees. I love a good coming-of-age story and Lady Bird was just that. The first half of the movie is quite hilarious, with clever line of dialog after clever line of dialog railing against your funny bone until you are in a fit of giggles. I guess of all the movies nominated for Best Picture, I would have picked this one, if I had had a vote. There was no clear winner of all the best picture nominees in my opinion this year.

3. It ®

I was not expecting to enjoy It as much as I did. It was a compelling, energetic and yes, scary movie with acting from kids that was actually good. Normally, I hate horror movies, but It was something more than a horror movie. It was filled with six different stories of kids overcoming their battles with their own demons. Conquering the It demon together is actually a secondary, less important story to the stories of each kids’ life. The pacing, the acting, the storytelling, the character building, all of it made It a terrific movie, even if the kids said a few swears.

2. Brigsby Bear (PG-13)

After watching two hours of Brigsby Bear, I am still left to wonder: was it a comedy? Was it meant to be a comedy? Was it meant to be a comedy/drama? I am still not sure, but this I do know: no movie all year made me laugh harder and no movie was made with more heart. As an added bonus, the entire thing was filmed in my home town of Salt Lake City! By the way, if you were wondering if Mark Hammil’s best role this past year was Star Wars, you’d be wrong. It’s his role in Brigsby Bear.

1. Only the Brave (PG-13)  

The first two-thirds of this movie move along quite nicely, with superb humor, solid acting and an interesting-enough storyline. It is during the film’s final third that it really starts to soar. The cutting, somber finale makes this one of the year’s best films. Certainly, this underrated film deserved to do much better at the box office and was even more deserving of at least a few Academy Award nominations. Alas, it was not meant to be, but that does not lessen my appreciation for it. This was the best movie I watched in 2017.

And now... in the spirit of keeping good records, here is the list of my favorite movies of the past 6 years...

2016: 10. 10 Cloverfield Lane 9. Sully
8. Eye In The Sky
7. La La Land
6. Life, Animated
5. Pete's Dragon
4. Hidden Figures
3. Hacksaw Ridge
2. Arrival
1. Lion 2015
10. Spotlight
9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
8. The Martian
7. The Revenant 
6. Ex Machina
5. Ant Man
4. Inside Out
3. The Walk
2. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
1. Room

10. The Hobbit
9. Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
8. The Theory of Everything
7. Joe
6. Big Hero 6
5. Boyhood
4. The Imitation Game
3. Big Eyes
2. Whiplash
1. St. Vincent

10. The Heat
9. Mud
8. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
7. Despicable Me 2
6. Gravity
5. Short Term 12
4. Nebraska
3. 12 Years a Slave
2. Philomena
1. The Kings of Summer

10. Premium Rush
9. Moonrise Kingdom
8. The Amazing Spiderman
7. Looper
6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
5. Argo
4. Frankenweenie
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
2. Sleepwalk With Me
1. Safety Not Guaranteed

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My Top 20 Favorite TV Shows I Watched in 2017

Hi folks. I have watched a lot of television this year. And once again, I have made a list of my favorite shows of the year. So, here we go...

My Top 20 Favorite Television Shows I Watched in 2017

Honorable Mentions
These shows were excellent, but quite not good enough to make my top 20.
- The Goldbergs - DVD (Season 4)
- The Crown - Netflix (Season 1-2)
- The Punisher - Netflix (Season 1)
- Big Little Lies - DVD (Season 1)
- Homeland - DVD (Season 5)
- The Good Place - Netflix (Season 1)

Top 20

20. Dr. Foster - Netflix (Season 1) This short little English drama packed a lot of punch in just a few episodes. Definitely worth just a few hours investment.

19. One Mississippi - Amazon (Season 2) - One of my favorite stand-up comedian's (Tig Nigaro) true to life story is powerful, touching and hilarious all at the same time. Season 1 is the better of the two seasons, but this was still a fabulous follow up.

18. Schitt's Creek - Netflix (Season 2-3) This show peaked in hilarity in season 2, and season 3 was a bit of a letdown. Even with the letdown, it was funnier than 95% of shows on television.

17. Call The Midwife - Netflix (Season 5-6) Go ahead and tease me, a manly man of manly sorts, for liking this show. But the fact remains that it is consistently one of the most well-done shows out there. It's not like the show makes me cry. Okay, sometimes it makes me cry. But it is a manly cry.

16. Broadchurch - Netflix (Season 3) - There are characters still on this show that you wonder, "What the heck is that character still doing on this show?!" And this season is clearly not as good as the previous two. However, the main story lines remain clever and filled with intrigue. 

15. Luke Cage - Netflix (Season 1) - This show took an episode or two to get going, but it quickly became the best Marvel show on Netflix. 

14. The Walking Dead - Netflix (Season 6) - This is the lowest I have ever ranked The Walking Dead on my list. I am not sure if I am just tiring of the show or if there was a clear drop in quality. I am going to say a combination of both. It makes me sad, I loved this show so, so much. Maybe things will get back on track this year?

13. Mindhunter - Netflix (Season 1) - Dark and intriguing. The bad guys on this show are ultimately creepy and their scenes stay with you and haunt your dreams. This show is an example of superior writing.

12. The Marvelous Mrs. Mabel - Amazon (Season 1) - A show about a housewife that becomes a stand up comedian? No, not Rosanne. Much better than Rosanne and as an added bonus, it's set in the 50's. Funny and heartfelt. 

11. Bates Motel - Netflix (Seasons 1-4) - Creepy prequel. 

10. Ozark - Netflix (Season 1) - Any show with Jason Bateman is bound to be good, but this show is great and it's not just because of Jason Bateman. 

9. Atypical - Netflix (Season 1) - I found this show about a high school kid on the spectrum to be insightful and at times laugh-out-loud funny. I'm sure parents of kids on the spectrum will find the show even more so.

8. Haters Back Off! - Netflix (Season 2) - Season 1 was funny. Season two was extremely, piss-your-pants funny. I know that many people hate this show because it is based on an annoying Youtube show. But I defy anyone to watch 2-3 episodes without laughing at least 20 times. I was disappointed to hear that season 2 is the last season. Farewell, funniest show on television.

7. Sherlock - Netflix (Season 4) - It feels odd picking a show for this list that was only three episodes. I guess that shows just how good those three episodes were!

6. Alias Grace - Netflix (Season 1) - Goose bump inducing creeps and perhaps the best acting job from any actress from any show on this list make for must see TV.

5. Godless - Netflix (Season 1) - Sometimes you need a good western with a huge battle scene at the end. This show fit the bill perfectly. 

4. Rectify - Netflix (Season 4) - The best show on TV that you have never watched. Start watching this show! After you've watched, read this again and then in the comments, you can thank me. Season 4 is the farewell season and the writers did a marvelous job making it great.

3. Fargo - DVD (Season 3) - This was my #1 show two years running before this. This is still my favorite show, perhaps of all time. That being said, season 3 was slightly disappointing and not up to the level of the first two. That being said, season 3 was still my third favorite show of the year and lesser episodes of Fargo are still better than almost everything else on TV.

2. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - Netflix (Season 1) - HILARITY! So many great one liners! This is the only show on this list that I watched twice through, just because I felt I missed so many funny lines. And it was even better the second time. 

1. Stranger Things - Netflix (Season 2) - 
My new #1 show. It might be cliche and trendy. I don't care. This show rocks and season 2 was even better than season 1. If you don't like my pick, fight me!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

My Top 20 Favorite Music Albums of 2017

Here is my annual list of my favorite music albums of the year 2017, followed by my top 10 picks from previous years.

20. Weezer - Pacific Daydream

19. Cloud Control - Zone 

18. Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up
17. Sylvan Esso - What Now
16. Minus The Bear - Voids
15. Ha Ha Tonka - Heart Shaped Mountain
14. Phoenix - Ti Amo
13. Stars - There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light
12. The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions
11. Spoon - Hot Thoughts
10. Arcade Fire - Everything Now
9. Shout Out Louds - Ease My Mind

8. The National - Sleep Well Beasts
7. Foster The People - Sacred Hearts Club
6. Portugal. The Man - Woodstock
5. The Shins - Heartworms
4. Alt-J - Relaxer
3. Mew - Visuals 
2. Future Islands - The Far Field
1. Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile To The Surface

1. Radical Face - The Leaves
2. Cloud Cult - The Seeker
3. Islands - Taste
4. The Strumbellas - Hope
5. Tegan and Sara - Love You To Death
6. The Head And The Heart - Signs Of Light
7. The Avett Brothers - True Sadness
8. The Lumineers - Cleopatra
9. Frightened Rabbit - Painting of a Panic Attack
10. Empire of the Sun - Two Vines

1. Mowgli's - Kids In Love
2. Twenty One Pilots - Blurry Face
3. Matt And Kim - New Glow
4. Metric - Pagans In Vegas
5. Death Cab For Cutie - Kintsugi 
6. Belle And Sabastian - Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance
7. Walk Off The Earth - Sing It All Away
8. Mew - + - 
9. Decemberists - What A Terrible World, What A Wonderful World
10. Chvurches - Every Open Eye

1. Future Islands - Singles
2. Passenger - Whispers
3. Bishop Allen - Lights Out
4. Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield
5. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Mended With Gold
6. Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow
7. Spoon - The Want My Soul
8. Foster the People - Supermodel
9. Broken Bells - After the Disco
10. Manchester Orchestra - Cope

1. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
2. Radical Face - Family Tree: The Branches
3. Twenty One Pilots - Vessel
4. The National - Trouble Will Find Me
5. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
6. Shout Out Louds - Optica
7. Crystal Fighters - Cave Rave
8. The Sounds - Weekend
9. Tegan & Sara - Heartthrob
10. Little Green Cars - Absolute Zero

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

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

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

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…

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Top 20 Songs of 2017

From 20 to 1, here is a list of my top 20 songs of 2017...

20. Elbow - Magnificent (She Says)

19. Fleet Foxes - Third of May

18. Ha Ha Tonka - Everything

17. Spoon - Can I Sit Next To You?

16. The Shins - Cherry Hearts

15. Stars - Fluorescent Light

14. The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions

13. Phoenix - J-Boy

12. AJR - Sober Up

11. Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers - Caroline

10. Foster The People - Pay The Man

9. Sylvan Esso - Die Young

8. Arcade Fire - Creature Comfort

7. Shout Out Louds - Paola 

6. Portugal. The Man - Feel It Still

5. Alt-J - Pleader

4. Mew - Candy Pieces All Smeared Out

3. The National - The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness

2. Future Islands - Ran

1. Manchester Orchestra - The Alien 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

My Top 20 Favorite Movies of 2016

                My Favorite Movies of 2016

Hi folks. You may notice that I only blog about four times a year now when I need to make lists of the year's best. That's just the way I am now. I am a changed man. Alas, it is time for me to finally write my yearly list of favorite movies from the previous year.  (List may change after I finally see a few more movies I want to see like Star Wars and Fences.)

                                                      Honorable Mentions
Don’t Breath
Deepwater Horizon
The Eagle Huntress
Dr. Strange
Midnight Special
The Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Star Trek
Captain America, Civil War
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Moana Moonlight*

                                                                   Top 20

Best Picture Nominees are noted with a *


An interesting look at the start of McDonalds.


Another best picture nominee. I loved the story and became wrapped into the lives of these two brothers. My wife commented that she didn't appreciate all the swearing, but if you can get past that, you will enjoy this modern western.

18 FENCES* (PG-13)

A late addition to the list. A slow movie that is sped up with amazing acting.

I'm surprised this was snubbed in the Oscars. Very thoughtful film that makes you think about your own religious beliefs and what you would be willing to do to protect them.


Perhaps I am undervaluing this movie. It was one of the first that I saw this year. This may sound sacri-movie-ous,  but I enjoyed the music in this flick more than in La La Land. The performances by the young folks are great. A fun movie for sure. And the music is fantastic.


If you read my Paul Rudd movie review above, you will know that I love me some Paul Rudd in a purely non-romantic way. Paul Rudd makes this movie. It is a heartfelt performance, but the comedy still is there in droves. It's on Netflix, so most of you can watch it right this second. Do it. Do it now. (FYI: My wife also complained about the cursing in this one.)


Alright, if you liked Juno, you'd like this movie. It is extremely Juno-esque. In a year that there weren't a lot of good comedies, this one was the best. My favorite part of the film was the relationship between Woody Harrelson's teacher character and the main character. (Again, there is a fair bit of swearing in this one. My wife still liked it, but she said she liked in in spite of the swearing.)


This wasn't a comedy, but I laughed more in this movie than any others this year, including Edge of Seventeen. Not five minutes pass in this movie that I did not have a good, hearty laugh. It's rather violent for young kids, but my 10-year-old absolutely loved it.


This was a bizarre film, but it rubbed me the right way. I think I was intrigued by the idea of raising my kids in the woods with no modern conveniences. I enjoyed the story and the performance by Viggo Mortensen. The kids in the movie also give terrific performances.


Another best picture nominee. Great humor in this film. And lots, lots, lots of swearing, FYI. Somewhat depressing film, but there is hope hidden in it that is infectious. Casey Affleck deserved the Oscar. For me, this film held the most dramatic scene of the year when Affleck's character is approached on the street by his ex-wife. You'll just have to see it to see what I'm talking about.


The ending. The ending sucked. It sucked so bad. ALMOST ruined the entire film for me. However, there was so much great in this movie prior to the stupid ending, it still lands at #10 on this list for me. The biggest travesty of the Oscars this year for me was that John Goodman was not nominated for this role. He gave the best acting performance of the year. It's a downright shame. Stupid ending.

9. SULLY (PG-13)

I vividly remember the story of Sully happening and I doubted that they could make a movie about the incident that I would find intriguing for two hours. Well, they did and it's superb. Just shows that the power of great storytelling can make up for a lackluster story.


This was the most intense movie I saw this year. I was on the edge of my seat and by seat I mean couch, for a fill one hour and 42 minutes. A little bit illogical, the movie makes up for it in its absolutely gripping drama.

7. LA LA LAND* (PG-13)

I would have been totally okay with La La Land winning best picture. After all, it was probably the movie I left with the biggest smile. My favorite movie scene of the year was the song/dance scene over Los Angeles. Tremendous.


This is a documentary about a young man that has used Disney animated movies throughout his life to make sense of the world and to deal with his autism. You fall in love with the young man and if you don't at least have tears in your eyes at the end of the movie, you don't have a soul.


For most of the year, I had Pete's Dragon as my favorite movie of the year. One person once told me, "But Abe, Pete's Dragon is the Coke Freestyle Machine of movies." I will vehemently defend this movie. This movie has such a sweet, simple message. It has an AMAZING performance by the young lead, completely opposite of the terrible performance by the young lead in Jungle Book. The story is so simple and sweet and it is perfectly executed. THIS IS THE BEST FAMILY FILM OF THE YEAR!  I am not admitting to crying during Pete's Dragon. I'm not going to admit to it.


I knew I'd love this movie from the second I saw the preview in theaters. And of course, most of you have seen it, so I don't need to sing its praises too much as you all know how great it is. I will add that during this movie I developed quite the crush on Janelle Monae. And then when I saw her in Moonlight, that crush grew stronger.


This is the first war movie I've ever seen that does not have a single swear word in it. Not one. My wife appreciated that greatly. The R rating is earned in the violence though. Even though the production was a little Disney-ish, I was deeply inspired by this true story.

2. ARRIVAL* (PG-13)

This movie may not be for everyone and I get that. I mean, if you hate being required to think during movies, this might not be your cup of tea. You may want to go watch the new Ghostbusters or Transformers movie. That might be more up your alley.  But if you like to be challenged and to think deeply, this movie is for you. In other words, smart people like this movie. I was just barely smart enough to really love it.

1. LION* (PG-13)

Best movie of the year. If you disagree, I will fight you. Not only the best movie of the year, perhaps the best movie I've ever seen. I WILL admit to crying during Lion. I WILL admit to crying a lot. Perhaps too much. I cried through the whole dang thing.

This movie should have won best picture. In the future, when we look back on 2016, this movie will be the most beloved of all the nominees. I like that it was nominated, but it ticks me off that it wasn't really in the running.  See Lion and then tell me you disagree and then we will fight.

And now... in the spirit of keeping good records, here is the list of my favorite movies of the past 5 years...

10. Spotlight
9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
8. The Martian
7. The Revenant 
6. Ex Machina
5. Ant Man
4. Inside Out
3. The Walk
2. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
1. Room

10. The Hobbit
9. Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
8. The Theory of Everything
7. Joe
6. Big Hero 6
5. Boyhood
4. The Imitation Game
3. Big Eyes
2. Whiplash
1. St. Vincent

10. The Heat
9. Mud
8. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
7. Despicable Me 2
6. Gravity
5. Short Term 12
4. Nebraska
3. 12 Years a Slave
2. Philomena
1. The Kings of Summer

10. Premium Rush
9. Moonrise Kingdom
8. The Amazing Spiderman
7. Looper
6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
5. Argo
4. Frankenweenie
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
2. Sleepwalk With Me
1. Safety Not Guaranteed