Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Best Music Albums of 2018

My Ten Favorite Albums of 2018

I have to admit, I haven't been listening to as many albums this year because I have discovered something called "Podcasts." That being said, here are my top ten favorite albums and underneath, my ten favorite albums from nine years past....

10. Belle and Sabastian - How to Solve Our Human Problems

9. Okkerville River - In the Rainbow Rain

8. The Rural Alberta Advantage - The Wild

7. Pale Waves - My Mind Makes Noises

6. The Decemberists - I'll Be Your Girl

5. Moon Taxi - Let the Record Play

4. Metric - Art of Doubt

3. Death Cab For Cutie - Thank You For Today

2. CHVURCHES - Love is Dead

1. Matt & Kim - Almost Everyday

1. Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile to the Surface
2. Future Islands - The Far Field
3. Mew - Visuals
4. Alt-J - Relaxer
5. The Shins - Heartworms
6. Portugal. The Man - Woodstock
7. Foster the People - The Sacred Hearts Club
8. The National - Sleep Well Beasts
9. Shout Out Louds - Ease My Mind
10. Arcade Fire - Everything Now

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…

Monday, December 24, 2018

The 20 Best TV Shows I Watched in 2018

Here it is... the moment you've all been waiting for...


Honorable Mentions

- Glow (Seasons 1-2) Netflix
- Atypical (Season 2) Netflix
- The Good Place (Season 2) Netflix
- Schitt's Creek (Season 4) Netflix
- The Goldbergs (Season 5) ABC

Top 20

20. This Is Us (Seasons 1-2) NBC 

I got suckered into watching this show by my wife and it sucked me in, but only to a degree. It is pure soap opera and it bothers me that EVERY SINGLE SCENE has to be so incredibly over dramatic. However, I must admit that it captured my attention and I had to find out what happens to these overly dramatic characters. Thus, it barely squeaks into my top 20.

19. Designated Survivor (Seasons 1-2) Netflix 

This show was so interesting, when it first began, about the Capital blowing up and the designated survivor taking over. About halfway through season 1 it turns into just another political presidential drama and loses steam. Still, worthy of watching.

18. The Walking Dead (Season 8) - Netflix

This is the lowest I have ever ranked The Walking Dead. I actually feel guilty about it, but at the same time, I feel like maybe it was just lucky to make my list. Season 8 dragged and fell prey to the same storyline cycles that show has recycled over and over. I have such a guilty pleasure for this show though and that forced it into the top 20.

17. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season 2) - Amazon 

When this show is good, it is really good. Great acting and characters make this show go.

16. Doctor Foster (Season 2) - Netflix 

If you want to watch a very underrated thriller, this is it. Probably the best show you've never heard of on my list. Definitely worth your time.

15. Homeland (Season 6) - DVD

I've been a dedicated viewer since season 1. No show on my list has changed more in its six seasons than Homeland. Each season seems to be its own show and the rollercoaster of up and down seasons leaves the viewer fatigued. That being said, this was still a decent season, but definitely not one of the show's finest.

14. Mr. Robot (Season 3) - Amazon

What used to be one of my top 5 favorite shows has slid to the bottom 10. Not because its quality, storylines or acting has slipped. Only because I have no clue what is going on most of the time. It's just too confusing. Kudos to you if you can follow it. You are smarter than I.

13. The Americans (Season 4) - Amazon 

What some have called, "The best season yet of the Americans," I was underwhelmed. I felt it slugged along in season 4. Still, probably the most underrated show on TV and I would not feel bad at all if it won some of the Emmys it so desperately deserves.

12. Game of Thrones (Season 6) - DVD

Season six. My least favorite season so far. Still awesome. And I say that as a non-Game of Thrones geek. 

11. Vikings (Season 4-5) - Amazon

I feel that this show peaked in season 4, the best season so far. Season 5 was a bit of a disappointment. If you love vikings or things that are viking-related, you will love this show about vikings.

10. Shameless (Season 8) - Netflix 

Warning: This show is NOT for everyone. It is crude, crass, offensive in every way. Also, it is pretty hilarious. 

9. Black Mirror (Season 4) - Netflix

I can't say I remember much from this season, as I watched it back in January. However, I can say that it was incredible because I ranked it #9. This show has not lost steam at all.

8. A Handmaid's Tale (Season 1) - DVD

This was the year I finally jumped on the A Handmaid's Tail train and I am glad I did.

7. Bates Motel (Season 5) - Netflix

This season is an example to other shows of how to end a series the right way.

6. Ozark (Season 2) - Netflix

This show reminds me so much of Breaking Bad. It's not quite as good as Breaking Bad, but it makes the case as being "nearly as good as Breaking Bad."

5. Detectorists (Season 3) - Netflix 

If you love dry, hilarious British comedy, you'll love this show. It might be the funniest show on TV. Well, I should say that it makes me laugh the hardest.

4. The Missing (Season 2) - Amazon

The twist and turns in this show will keep you riveted. 

3. The Haunting of Hill House (Season 1) - Netflix

This show scared me. Scared me bad. Scared me something real bad.

2. Better Call Saul (Season 3) - Netflix 

Could this show end up surpassing Breaking Bad?? It sure is trying and it just might.

1. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 2) - Netflix

This is the best show on TV and it is a shame it is not getting more recognition. The unique style, the hilarity of the dialog, the super acting and comedy of Neil Patrick Harris. This is a show that you should be watching with your kids and one that you will all enjoy.

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