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
Snowden
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 *

20. THE FOUNDER (PG-13)

An interesting look at the start of McDonalds.

19. HELL OR HIGH WATER* (R)

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.

17. SILENCE (R)
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.

16. SING STREET (PG-13)

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.

15. THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING (NR)

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.)

14. THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN (R)

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.)

13. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (PG-13)

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.

12. CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (R)

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.

11. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA* (R)

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.

10. 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (PG-13)

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.

8. EYE IN THE SKY (R)

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.

6. LIFE, ANIMATED (PG)

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.

5. PETE'S DRAGON (PG)

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.

4. HIDDEN FIGURES* (PG)

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.

3. HACKSAW RIDGE* (R)

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...

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

2014
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

2013
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

2012
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



Thursday, December 22, 2016

My Top 40 Music Albums of 2016

Here is a list of my top 40 favorite albums of 2016, along with my top 10 favorite albums from the 7 years prior. 

2016
40. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
39. The Last Shadow Puppets - Everything You’ve Come To Expect
38. Chairlift - Moth
37. Yeasayer - Amen & Goodbye
36. Local Natives - Sunlit Youth
35. Animal Collective - Painting With
34. Bloc Party - Hymns
33. Little Green Cars - Ephemera=
32. Bastille - An Act Of Kindness
31. Islands - Should I Remain Here at Sea?
30. Wilco - Schmilco
29. Plants and Animals - Waltzed In From the Rumbling
28. Okkervil River - Away
27 Crystal Castles - Amnesty (I)
26. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
25. Rogue Wave - Delusions of Grand Fur
24. Band of Horses - Why Are You OK
23. The Naked and Famous - Simple Forms
22. Grouplove - Big Mess
21. Weezer - Weezer
20. The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep, for You are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It
19. The Temper Trap - Thick As Thieves
18. Two Door Cinema Club - Gameshow
17. Ra Ra Riot - Need Your Light
16. Passenger - Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea
15. Blind Pilot - And Then Like Lions
14. Miike Snow - iii
13. Dr. Dog - The Psychedelic Swamp
12. Andrew Bird - Are You Serious
11. Sia - This Is Acting

10. Empire Of The Sun - Two Vines















9. Frightened Rabbit - Painting Of A Panic Attack














8. The Lumineers - Cleopatra 














7. The Avett Brothers - True Sadness














6. The Head And The Heart - Signs Of Light














5. Tegan And Sara - Love You To Death














4. The Strumbellas - Hope














3. Islands - Taste














2. Cloud Cult - The Seeker 















1. Radical Face - The Leaves















2015
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

2014
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

2013
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



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…

Sunday, December 18, 2016

My Top 20 Favorite TV Shows I Watched In 2016

Hi everyone,

Here is the list of my top 20 favorite TV shows I watched during the year 2016, along with a small quip about each show. I wrote the quips. The quips are provided by me. I'm the quip guy. Here goes nothing.

Honorable Mentions -
These shows were good, just quite not good enough to make my top 20.
- Haters Back Off! - Netflix (Season 1)
- The Goldbergs – ABC.com (Season 3-4)
- Schitt’s Creek – Amazon (Season 1)
- Downton Abbey - Amazon (Season 6)
- The Grinder - Netflix (Season 1)
- Outlander – DVD (Season 1 - 2)

- The New Girl – Netflix (Season 4-5)

20. Happy Valley - Netflix - Season 1-2
For fans of modern mysteries that take place in England and have a funny female lead. The story seemed familiar, yet intense, but it was the female lead's performance that stole the show. I'll definitely catch season 3 when it comes out.

19. House of Cards - Netflix - Season 4
This show is still fantastic, but it lost a little steam for me this season. Every character in this entire show is evil and I think it drained on me a bit. Still very well written and acted and given this year's election, it may not be too far off reality now.

18. Vikings - Amazon Prime - Season 4
The show rebounded a bit this season with new story lines and characters. If you are a fan of violent Vikings that plunder and pillage and the drama that ensues, you'd like this show.

17. One Mississippi - Amazon Prime - Season 1
Can a show be considered a comedy, of you only laugh like 10 times the entire season? While this show is about a comedian, and only six short episodes, it is filled with love, life and heart. The story revolves around a female comedian that survived breast cancer, but loses her mom. It is packed with such powerful moments. I really liked this show.

16. Game Of Thrones - DVD - Season 5-6
I am not a huge GOT guy, but I would be doing it a huge disservice not to say it is a well crafted and fantastic show. There are far too many characters for me to follow and I don't have a clue what's going on half the time, but it still sucks me in and I still binge an entire season in just a few days. Plus, dragons!

15. Narcos - Netflix - Season 1-2
I'm a bit surprised I love this show so much, given that 3/4 of the dialog is in Spanish and I have to actually READ WORDS! Still, the entire story of Pablo Escobar and the cartel was fascinating. I look forward to seeing where the story goes now that he is [spoiler] dead.

14. The Missing - Amazon Prime - Season 1
This show reminded me a lot of Happy Valley (see #20), but it brought even more intensity and more drama to the table. The twists and turns throughout kept me dialed in the entire time. I couldn't wait to watch the next one.

13. Daredevil - Netflix - Season 2
While many of the characters in this show actually annoy me, including Daredevil himself, this is still the best superhero show on TV.

12. Family Tree - Amazon Prime - Season 1
So many laughs throughout this Christopher Guest project. There is not much to the plot, but the characters come alive and their various oddities had me cracking up. I wish there would be a season 2. Unfortunately, there won't be.

11. Crazy Ex Girlfriend - Netflix - Season 1
The songs in this show are hilarious. The songs have me rolling. The dialog is moderately funny and the characters likable enough. But the songs are absolutely what put this show over the top and into #11 on my list.

10. Black Mirror - Netflix - Season 1-4
No show has made me feel more uncomfortable, challenged my thinking and been just downright wrong than this show. Yet I couldn't stop watching. If you are curious how technology could change the world for both the better and the worse and you're not afraid to feel uncomfortable about it, this show is for you!

9. The Americans - Amazon Prime - Season 3
I feel bad only ranking this show at #9. Really, this show is near perfect. It might be the most well acted show on TV.

8. Justified - Amazon Prime - Season 6
The final season of what has become one of my all time favorite shows. I will miss the action, the drama and the fights. But most of all, I will miss the clever dialog between the characters that never missed a beat.

7. Rectify - Netflix - Season 3
Still the absolute best show on TV that no one is watching. This show will stretch your thinking, make you feel in new ways and bring you to tears. Basically, you should be watching. Why aren't you watching? Start watching.

6. The Walking Dead - Netflix - Season 6
Still a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, I am committed and hooked until the bitter end on this show. I can't stop Walking Dead.

5. The Detectorists - Netflix - Season 1-2
The biggest surprise for me on the list. I watched both seasons twice, I loved this show so much. I found it to be charming, I loved the scenery and I laughed large barrel laughs on several occasions. This small little show captured my attention and pulled me in. The best comedy I watched this year.

4. Better Call Saul - DVD - Season 2
I thought season 2 was better and more drama-filled than season 1, and I loved season 1.

3. Mr. Robot - Amazon Prime - Season 1
It got really strange on me at the end, and I normally am not able to keep up with that kind of strange, but I was able to follow this show and it made me feel smart. I like shows that make me feel smart for following. I am really smart. Mr. Robot!

2. Stranger Things - Netflix - Season 1
Not sure if it was because this show made me feel nostalgic or if it's just because it is just an incredible show, but this show rocked in every way it could rock.

1. Fargo - DVD - Season 2

Two years running and it is still my favorite show, hands down. I can not express how much I love this dark show. Season 2 surpassed an amazing season 1!