Albums of the Month: the funk shall be within you

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Albums of the month is back! It’s been a little while since I’ve decided to do one of these and the other day I was on a 10 hour train ride which I thought would be the perfect opportunity to listen to a bunch of albums. While I did listen to a lot of my favorite albums, I also took a listen to a good amount that I never listened to but had always wanted to. This week has also been a surprisingly good week for new albums so I thought I just had to mention and recommend them. A good majority of what I’ve been listening to has been electronic funk so expect some of that one here, but knowing me there won’t just be one type of music on here, so don’t worry I have a little variety to talk about.

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7. You’re Dead! by Flying Lotus

We’ll start off with a jazz infused electronic masterpiece. Okay maybe not masterpiece, but it is really a great listen. To some there may be a little too much going on or it may be too loud, which is fine, but for me this album just makes me want to get up and dance. Before listening to this album, I really only knew about one or two songs by Flying Lotus but man do I miss not listening to this album sooner. The energy, sweat and tears you can feel were put into this album make it an even more enjoyable experience. The cover art alone should tell you that this album is going to be a roller coaster of music in the best way possible. Highlights for me include Never Catch Me, Tesla and Dead Man’s Tetris.

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6. Plastic Beach by Gorillaz

Gorillaz is a group (more like “group” actually), I’ve always been intrigued by and wanted to be fully invested in but never really took the full dive with. I knew them as a kid from the song Feel Good Inc., which even today I feel like is probably the song that everyone knows them from. Demon Days, the album from which Feel Good Inc. comes from, is a fantastic Gorillaz album that I would highly suggest as well, but when it really comes down to it Plastic Beach is the album that gives you the full Gorillaz experience in the best way possible. Gorillaz actually just released their new album, Humanz, a few weeks ago which is one that I haven’t gotten around to listening to. If I’m being completely honest, none of the singles (the many singles) that were released really intrigued or got me too excited for the album so I’ve been stalling with it a little bit, I will get around to it eventually though, I’ve promised myself. For now though, I want to discuss Plastic Beach. This album is unlike really anything else I’ve heard, it’s so uniquely interesting and fun. With a long list of collaborators, the album manages to give a good amount of content without it feeling bloated or messy. There’s nothing that I love more that an album with a theme (or even better a concept album), and this has the perfect use of that. Like always with Gorillaz, Plastic Beach continues and builds the story of these bandmates and their emotions. Some of my favorite tracks include Stylo, Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach, Empire Ants and On Melancholy Hill.

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5. Random Access Memories by Daft Punk

You could almost listen to these three albums that I’ve just listed in some sort of elctronic funk trilogy because they’re all perfectly unique representations of that genre of music. Daft Punk are yet another band similar to Gorillaz that I always knew about (mostly from One More Time and Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger), but never really stuck my nose into all their albums. I remember the build up to the release of this album with the single Get Lucky and how many times it was constantly playing at the cookie shop I was working at at the time, so going into the album I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that song. But luckily when I listened to the album as a whole (and Get Lucky in the format of the album), I kind of fell in love with the album. There’s a 70s funk vibe that kind of lingers throughout the playtime and it really adds a charm to Daft Punk. Random Access Memories is unlike anything else they’ve ever done before and I would suggest giving it a chance if you haven’t already. Highlights include Doin It Right, Instant Crush, Touch and Get Lucky.

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4. Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie by Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette is one of those artists that you either really like or you really can’t stand. Some find her voice shreaky and unlistenable while others find it unique and interesting. I fall into the group that actually quite enjoys her music (for the most part), 1994’s Jagged Little Pill is one of my all time favorite albums and I’ve listened to it back to back more times than I can count. The 1998 follow up to that album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, is the album I decided to include really just for the fact that I think it’s such an interesting and different experience. The album is no Jagged Little Pill, it has it’s problems with being maybe a little too bloated (17 songs on the tracklist when it could’ve been a little slimmer and effective with just 14), and doesn’t feel as tight as the previous album, but one thing it’s not is boring. This thing is a different creature on it’s own and in a way it allows Alanis to be even more vulnerable than she’d ever been before. I don’t mean to keep mentioning Jagged Little Pill but it’s almost impossible not to due to the fact that that album was so big in ’94 and the year following the release (I mean the album is practically a greatest hits catalogue on it’s own), that this album was being built up so much to the point that people wanted another version of that album. When Alanis finally did release this album in ’98, I think a good majority of fans were thrown off by how the themes in the album and just the altogether feel of it was different. With Thank U being the first single, Alanis had definitely changed herself a little (even though Jagged Little Pill really isn’t that angry album that everyone pins it to be). I will warn you, if you are going to give this album a listen it tends to be hard to get into because it is a lot. That may not sound like the best way to sell the album to you but it’s the honest thing to tell you. I really appreciate and enjoy the album now but it definitely took me some time to enjoy it as a whole, for a while I would just listen to the first 7 or 8 tracks and turn it off after that. Still, even after saying that I think this is a distinctly intricate album that you should check out. Highlights for me include Front Row, Baba, Thank U, Sympathetic Character, That I Would Be Good, Can’t Not and So Pure.

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3. After Laughter by Paramore

Paramore has always been one of those bands for me that I secretly kind of like but don’t want to admit it. Considering their music was always kind of just moody alternative rock for emo teenagers, I always thought Hayley Williams had a nice voice and their songs were catchy (especially ones like Misery Business, crushcrushcrush and Ignorance). But now fast forward to 5 years after their last self titled album, we get After Laughter, which takes on a whole new sound for the band. With this album the band has (mostly) shed their emo rocker image and become what feels kind of like a mix of 80s Talking Heads and early Blondie. There are a few songs in here that still feel a little sophomoric to me and could’ve used a little more umph to them, but for the most part I found this album a surprisingly really fun listen. Favorite tracks include Hard Times, Told You So, Forgiveness, Caught in the Middle and No Friend.

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2. Harry Styles by Harry Styles

I always find it interesting and somewhat exciting when a group/boy band/girl group/band decide to go their separate ways and some of them venture into their own musical careers. That’s exactly the case with Harry Styles here; not all that long ago, the boy band that he was in, One Direction, decided that they’d go their separate ways and here we have the first solo project from Styles. One of the other previous members who actually left the group before they legitimately decided to take some time apart, Zayn, released his solo album, Mind of Mine, some time last year and while I did enjoy it at the time it was released, I don’t think it’s really stood the test of time. To my complete surprise I really enjoyed Harry Styles’ solo album and would say that it’s a much better album than Zayn’s (I really have to stop with the comparing thing I’m doing on this list). While Zayn went for more of an airy R&B vibe, Harry goes more for a soft rock effort that results in a really personal album. With a tight 10 songs, this self titled record makes for an unexpectedly great album that feels timeless and like it could go down as one of the greats if you give it enough time. So if you’re on the fence about this album because the artist is from a boy band, I think you’ll be able to get past that feeling here because this is a mature album and artist that’s able to depart himself from his previous image. Favorite tracks include Sign Of the Times, Carolina, Sweet Creature, Only Angel and Kiwi.

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1. To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar

Before anyone says anything, yes I am aware that Kendrick just released a new album recently and this is not that album, but don’t worry we’ll get there. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Kendrick Lamar is one of the best rappers out there right now. He has a flow and a style unlike anyone else in the game at the moment and he’s able to stand out on his own. Like I mentioned above, Kendrick just released his latest album, DAMN., last month. While I really did enjoy that album (I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s mediocre or just not good, but I have to disagree I think it is a solid album), I still felt like in this moment and on this list, I couldn’t ignore Kendrick’s last effort, To Pimp a Butterfly. Now this album is another that is one of my all time favorites. Similar to what I said with Harry Styles’ album, I really think this album will go down in being an iconic rap album of the 2010’s. Every song has meaning and connect to each other in a way that is so seamless and beautiful, the story that is told here is heartbreaking while still being captivating. The album, similarly to how Flying Lotus’ album was, has a jazz infused swagger to it that’s undeniable and adds to the classic abilities of the album. So if you never gave this one a listen I couldn’t recommend it, and while you’re at it I would also suggest checking out DAMN., another worthy album in Kendrick’s catalogue of great albums. Favorite Tracks include Wesley’s Theory, King Kunta, These Walls, Complexion, Institutionalized and Alright.

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Thanks for checking out the post! Have a funky weekend and I’ll see ya next time!

Scarred for Life

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When you’re a kid, there are a lot of things that can leave an impression on you. From the youngest age I can always remember certain movies that would brand an image into my mind and scare the shit out of me. A perfect example would be when I was about 6 or 7 I sneaked in to my parents watching The Godfather and of course with my timing I walked in right on the iconic horse head scene, you can figure out what happened from there. When you’re so young like that there are so many things that you haven’t experienced in life, therefore you’re prone to having big reactions to unexpected things. Which brings us to today’s post. A while back I was talking to my friend and somehow Watership Down came up into the conversation. The second the name was brought up my mind took me back to vague memories of seeing it for the first time and being shocked and scared. That conversation led to thinking about plenty of other movies that fucked me up as a kid, hence the title of this post. So in some kind of clustered order that probably won’t make sense, here are some movies that for better or for worse left an impression on me.

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10. Pinocchio (1940)

It shouldn’t be surprising that this is on my list because this is one of the oddest and darkest animated movies around. In my eyes, Disney has always been that safe brand for animated movies, especially now. But I often overlook the small collection of weirdly dark and sinister Disney flicks. The image of some kids at a theme park (oh sorry I mean “theme park”), smoking cigars, drinking beer and suddenly transforming into donkeys or jackasses (as they refer to them in the film to really add to the mood of the moment), will forever be etched into my brain. But really when looking at the source material that this is adapted from, it’s not that surprising where the tone comes from. We definitely owned this on VHS and for some reason I would watch it multiple times as a really small kid even though it gave me a weird and kind of nasty feeling whenever I watched it. At the end of the day it’s still a Disney movie so nothing gets too insane, just don’t watch the 2002 Roberto Benigni live action version and you’ll be fine.

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9. Batman (1989)

Watching Batman again recently, I realized it’s not my favorite Batman movie and it’s pretty damn cheesy, but holy shit this movie got me as a kid. It didn’t scare me as much as some of the other movies on this list, but it still gave a pretty good fright. Particularly the first chunk of the movie involving the inception of Jack Nicholson’s The Joker. There was just something about Nicholson’s performance that really stuck with me and how each scene was lit with the use of shadows and just Nicholson’s voice. Like I said before, watching it now I don’t get the same type of scared feeling that I used to get, it just comes off as cheesy and over the top, but to it’s credit it still has some moments of greatness, mostly coming from Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton, sorry Kim Basinger.

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8. Bridge To Terabithia (2007)

Anyone who’s seen this movie or read the book knows exactly why this movie is on my list. In Bridge To Terabithia, somewhere around the third act a certain main character dies and let me just tell you, 11 year old me was crying his damn eyes out. I remember exactly how it felt when I saw it for the first time, it was like a bus of emotions had come and hit me right in the face. It didn’t help that it felt so out of nowhere in the context of the movie too and the fact that I hadn’t read the book it was adapted from. The only other movie I can think of that emotionally hit me like that when I was around that age was the death of Vesper in Casino Royale (guess the death of the female protagonist really brought out the emotions in me). When you’re at that age you’re already vulnerable as it is and still have so much to learn about everything in life that when you see or experience something like that in your own reality it really hits you and takes a toll on you. That’s exactly what happened to me with this movie, poor Leslie!

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7. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

When you think about it, this is just a really weird movie; you can thank Roald Dahl for that. I think there are a lot of bizarre moments that come to mind when people think of this movie but the tunnel scene is probably the most popular choice. It’s for a good reason, that is just such a strangely bonkers scene. I admire it now specifically for Gene Wilder’s out of this world performance, but seeing it back then with images of dying bugs being projected onto the tunnel was what nightmares were made of. But really there were more weird things that came out of this movie other than that scene, especially anything to come out of the first half hour. Slugworth used to make me feel uneasy and confused always, I could never understand what his deal was. This is a movie I still think about sometimes and just look back on it with strange thoughts.

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6. Jurassic Park (1993)

Let me just say, I loved Jurassic Park and it’s sequels, but there’s no doubt that those dinosaurs were the freakiest. The scene that I could never watch involved Newman from Seinfeld and a certain hissing dinosaur that sprayed black goo. I actually still can’t watch that scene without flinching a little and having the urge to cover my eyes. Of course, the famous T-Rex scene is gloriously horrifying as well while also being fascinating. I guess it’s also worth mentioning that the scene in Jurassic Park 3 with the Pterodactyls used to scare me a good amount as well, but it never gave me the thrill that this one did. It’s crazy to think how big of a role Steven Spielberg’s movies were in my childhood, from this to Hook or any Indiana Jones movies. Jurassic Park always will hold a big place in my heart though, it’s an iconic movie with some of the best dinosaur practical effects and will forever be a staple of the 90s blockbuster catalogue.

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5. Gremlins (1984)

I didn’t actually see this movie until a lot later in my life, probably due to the fact that the gremlins horrified me. The infamous green animatronic evil gremlins of course scared the daylights out of me but even Gismo, the main little white furry “cute” guy had something about him that freaked me out. Similarly to another movie that’s coming up later on this list, when I actually did sit down and watch Gremlins in it’s entirety I realized that it’s more funny than it is scary. It’s no secret that this was marketed towards kids (and maybe teenagers), but good god I did not see the appeal at all when I was a kid, I couldn’t even get myself to watch it I was so scared.

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4. The Shining (1980)

If you were to ask me about The Shining today I would tell you it’s a suspense/thriller/horror masterpiece that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. But if you had asked me anything about it when I was a little kid, I would’ve most likely told you it’s that movie where they’re in a big hotel with that guys head going through the door. This was THAT movie that every kid talked about (other than something like It maybe), everyone declared it as the scariest movie they had ever seen, that is if they’d actually seen it. Come to think of it, if I had actually watched this full movie when I was in elementary school I probably would’ve been partially bored and partially creeped out. The way The Shining was talked about within the circle of 8 or 9 year old boys was as if it was the scariest horror movie around, when really it’s much more than just that. Look, this movie is iconic so I highly doubt I need to go into a deep discussion about the themes of the film (especially since there’s already a strange documentary about it out there called Room 237, although I wouldn’t recommend it), but it’s definitely not a movie for kids. I mean, as a 20 year adult in the present day, it’s one of my favorite movies and I find it to be so unique and interesting. But as a young kid it was more horrifying for the idea of it alone. I didn’t actually sit down and watch it until I was in middle school; before that I had seen certain scenes when it played on tv, specifically a very creepy scene set in a bathroom.

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3. The Witches (1990)

It was hard not putting this at the very top of the list because seeing this for the first time is one of the most vivid memories for me. It was the scene where Anjelica Huston’s The High Witch decides to take off her human face and reveal her natural state that really sent chills down my spine. Truly if you want to scare any child for some reason, show them the performance that Anjelica Huston gives in this thing. It’s truly horrifying and magnificent to see what she does in this film, it just shows how great of an actress she is. I went back and watched this with a friend a few months back and we both agreed that it’s actually still horrifying, even when you’re an adult. Again, Anjelica Huston is the catalyst for this movie and she owns it, but I think it’s worth saying that Jim Henson’s practical effects in this are also wonderfully creepy and imaginative. Oddly I do think this is a great movie to show to kids, especially with ones that have big imaginations. There’s no doubt that that giant prosthetic nose and that hairy face of The High Witch will never leave my mind.

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2. Beetlejuice (1988)

The funny thing about most of these movies is that they’re actually legitimately good movies. Beetlejuice is no exception though for being something that made me shit myself anytime it was being watched. I had a friend who owned a VHS copy of this and he would always bring the copy over and we’d attempt to watch it, but I was never able to make it all the way through. Maybe it was the whole strange Tim Burton-y vibe of the whole thing or just Michael Keaton that freaked me out. Hell, even the cover art freaked me out. The scene I would usually get to and turn off directly afterwards would be the scene involving Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin stepping out their kitchen door into a giant sand dessert and a giant snake thing decides to chase them, it was too much for me. This is another film that is a comedy but I took it as a complete horror show as a kid. It’s funny watching it now because I see those scenes that I found scary and kind of just laugh at them, shows what growing up can do.

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1. Watership Down (1978)

Now let’s just talk about this cover art for a second. If you were a little kid and saw this you’d probably think it was some cute animated movie about rabbits and how they get along or something along that line, but oh no how misleading that DVD cover is. I probably saw this one when I was 7 or 8 and I’ve never been the same since. Sure that’s a little bit of an over exaggeration but truthfully, it fucked me up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the movie all the way through or more than just that one time. Like with Bridge To Terabithia, I was completely shocked and taken aback when I saw bloody rabbits and complete animated carnage. There are images of foamy mouthed rabbits and bloody rabbits that are forever engraved into my mind that will probably never go away, so thank you 70s!

So I think we’ll end it there! Those were just 10 movies from my childhood that really fucked me up, I’m sure everyone has their own movies they could name, if you feel obligated to share don’t be afraid to list them in the comments! And on that note I’ll leave you with this horrifying image from the beautiful Watership Down

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Being Gay on Film

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It’s no secret that in the span of American film there hasn’t been the best representation of anyone who isn’t white and straight. When it comes to big blockbusters, you’re main antagonist is usually a white male with a girlfriend or looking for one, all while fighting off something or in the midst of some explosions. The independent films, which there seem to be a lot more of these days, tend to have a mix of some films about LGBT characters but the main choice tends to go with the safe alternative. The reason why I’m bringing this up is because a few days ago I decided to watch Closet Monster, a highly regarded independent film that was released in 2015. This independent film happened to center around an LGBT character, sure he may not fully be out, but nonetheless he’s gay. Like I said, from what I’ve read this is a pretty well received and liked movie. I will be 100% honest and just tell you that this movie was not for me, I did not love it. Now, if we flashback to 16 year old me who is struggling with their sexuality and doesn’t really know who they are, I might’ve enjoyed this a little more. But at the point in my life where I am now, this just didn’t do it for me. It probably doesn’t help that a lot of stories about gay kids revolve around coming out and their parents not agreeing or understanding, which has been a trope since the 90s. And while it is a universal subject with any gay teenager that is struggling to come out, I don’t think it needs to be the same type of coming out story for what seems like every damn movie. I guess what I’m really trying to say is why does every movie about some who is gay or lesbian have to be so depressing? If anyone reads this blog and knows me than they know that I absolutely love movies like Moonlight or Brokeback Mountain or Carol, they’re some of my favorite movies, but I really think it would be nice to get a comedy starring some specifically gay characters. Another Birdcage if you will.

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Going back to Closet Monster, I didn’t dislike everything about it. There are little things like Isabella Rossellini voicing the hamster, Buffy, that were interesting and unique little touches. Our main character’s building relationship with his new coworker is interesting and intriguing. But unfortunately they couldn’t overpower my negatives for this movie. While I do understand what this movie is saying and what it’s doing, there are a lot of points in the movie that feel forced. There were certain stylistic choices for me that didn’t feel like they needed to be in the final cut and were almost distracting at times. And there were certain visual metaphors that felt so much like they were trying to be edgy that I was cringing to a certain degree. I completely understand why someone could like this movie, it’s not poorly made by any means; the writing isn’t necessarily bad even if it feels like it’s fueled by cliches at times, the characters are somewhat interesting even while being annoying, and there are little touches that don’t go unnoticed. It just makes me sad that we don’t have any gay comedies of quality that are being released today and I want more of that. Time after time we get big blockbusters and throwaway romantic comedies, I think it’s time we change that. I’m not completely sure why I decided to talk about this movie or this subject, but I do know that watching Closet Monster brought up the fact that there isn’t enough diversity in films today and it’s horrible.

Would I suggest Closet Monster? Probably not, but I wouldn’t completely dismiss it for the fact alone that I can understand someone emotionally connecting to it, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. If anything it’s worth watching for the Isabella Rossellini voiced Hamster. Thanks for checking out my briefly random post about gay movies?? Hope you enjoyed my brief rant and look out for what’s coming next!

To Bring an Animated Classic to Life

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite Disney movie ever since I was little and still is my favorite. There’s just something about it that makes me so happy, it has an atmosphere that’s undeniable. The songs, the characters, the animation ..it’s all great and it’s a classic. Judging from the latest trend in Disney of remaking every animated movie they’ve done into a live action version, it’s not surprising that they decided to tackle this one too. It feels like this whole thing has been under the works for so long that it’s hard to remember what my initial reaction was at first but there’s no doubt that I was intrigued. I saw the 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast the other day and I can gladly say that it’s a great time and is done beautifully. It was a little shocking to find how many negative reactions there have been to the film though. The main complaint for this movie seems to be that it’s somewhat of a copy and paste situation where it’s very similar to the 1991 original. That didn’t bother me as much in the sense that I went in expecting a lot of the same beats to be hit because that’s how it was marketed and I mean if we’re being honest, it’s Disney, they aren’t going to take too many risks. I mean even the one big “change” about a certain character being gay that was promised is barely touched on throughout the movie and could’ve really just not been mentioned in the first place. There are some subtle additions to the new film though and while they might not be such big changes they still, in my opinion, differed enough from the animated version. Also, I won’t lie to you and say that seeing the numbers that I loved so much in the original brought to life with so much spectacle didn’t put a giant smile on my face. It’s true, this movie put me under Disney’s spell right when the opening number Belle started. But isn’t that what these movies are meant to do? I can understand maybe being a little annoyed with the fact that it’s so similar to the original, but being so mad at a remake like this that is solely made to feed off of people’s nostalgia seems unnecessary. Surely  I don’t think this version is better than the ’91 version, but how could it be? I’ve loved that movie since I was 4 or 5, there’s nothing that could surpass it for me. That being said, for what this 2017 version is, I really loved it and enjoyed myself.

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Now let’s talk about the differences between the two movies whether they’re for better or for worse. I thought it would be best to break them down since the differences are so subtle.

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Characters

The biggest changes in this version of the film mostly come from the characters. The one character it seemed they added to most was Belle. In this version, she still reads but also invents/creates things (for one scene, but still it’s something) and is actually given somewhat of a backstory with her mother and her father. Nothing can beat the performance from the original but it’s still worth noting that Emma Watson is as charming as ever. The Beast has most of the same traits and backstory that he does in the animated version with the addition of a solo number that I actually found to be a highlight of the movie. Surprisingly, Gaston seems less antagonizing in this version than he does as a cartoon even though he technically does more menacing things in this one. There was just something about the way the Gaston in the ’91 version was animated and voiced that made him so much more threatening. I love Luke Evans and think he has a killer voice but I’m more drooling over him than intimidated or scared of him in this. Now let’s talk about the most talked about character in the lead up to the release of the movie, LeFou. Played by Josh Gad he was marketed as Disney’s first every gay character. This is another thing that I wasn’t really surprised by. People seemed angry by the fact that the character wasn’t actually gay but more that his sexuality is slightly questioned in a few scenes. I’ll say it again, this is Disney, a lot of the time it takes them a while to catch up and even then they don’t go all the way out of their comfort zones. Maurice is another character that got another layer added to him, instead of being “crazy old Maurice” he was a mourning father who loved his daughter and was maybe a little over protective of her. The rest of the characters are pretty much the same as they are in the animated version and while I do think they were all great performances, nothing can beat the voices from the original. I will give a shout out to Ian McKellan as the voice of Cogsworth, he was the one that stood out to me the most.

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Songs

Other than two or three added songs there isn’t a lot that is changed about the main songs from the original. All the ones you’ve heard before are still great and get stuck in your head, but the new additions aren’t bad either. The Beast’s solo song, Evermore, was surprisingly touching and a song that I found to be a great addition to the story. It does feel very much like it’s taken from Phantom of the Opera, it’s very grand and much more so a ballad than anything else. I will say that my least favorite song of the bunch was probably the title song. I love Emma Thompson and don’t think she did anything wrong in the song per say, but it’s near impossible to beat Angela Lansbury’s iconic version of the song.

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The Future of Disney Remakes

The last thing I wanted to touch on was what is to come of these live action remakes Disney has been hauling out. In the past we’ve had a good amount of them, none that I was particularly fond of, especially something like Maleficent (don’t even get me started on it). It’s already been confirmed that there will be remakes of The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. I’m not particularly excited for either of these but of the two Little Mermaid seems like the one that has the most potential to be unique and darker (especially if they’re thinking of leaning more in the direction of the original story). Lion King seems like a bad idea just from the mere fact that there are no humans involved in the story at all. My main complaint with The Jungle Book was the fact that everything in the movie except for the actor playing Mowgli is CGI and at that point, why even remake it? It’s not even live action at that point. But even in that we had a boy, in this it is all animals and no real people to be involved. Going back to Little Mermaid for a second, there was a time when Sofia Coppola was attached to direct before she eventually dropped out. I really think that could’ve been an interesting movie, especially with the way Coppola has been able to tell stories so well about females in the past, but I guess my dream of that happening won’t come true. What’s funny is that there are actually two live action Little Mermaid movies coming out, one that already has a trailer (which is cheese overload if you must know), but the one that’s non Disney isn’t attached to the animated version at all and seems like it’s taking the original story and watering it down for a younger audience. So that’s all I really have to say about this Disney mess, I’m curious to know what other people think about all of it, if you have thoughts feel free to share them below!

The Race to Best Picture

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The time has finally come, it’s here, tomorrow the Oscars are on. I’m aware it’s really not that big of a deal but for me it’s always something I look forward to when February rolls around every year. It’s somewhat of an event that I sit down and watch with my friends and scream at the screen about, you could even say it’s my super bowl if you want to reach that far. I feel as if the past few years of the Oscars have been good but nothing really surprising at all. Like last year, it was pretty obvious to most that Spotlight was going to take home the best picture Oscar, even though it was next to some pretty worthy competitors. This year is different. This year has a political wave that is expected to hit form most of the winners that take the stage and La La Land is expected to take home a lot of awards. Jimmy Kimmel will be hosting the big event this time around and while I don’t mind Kimmel by an means, I doubt he’ll be able to beat Ellen or Billy Crystal’s hosting jobs. He’ll be safe and offer a few jokes but I’m thinking it won’t be anything noteworthy. Now, I have talked about the Oscars in the past but I realized that I’ve never really talked about the nominations. I could sit down and discuss every person and movie nominated with you but I figured that would take too damn long (especially with the smaller categories that they whip through in the beginning of the show). So I thought it would be smartest to cut it down to specifically discussing the best picture nominees because really, isn’t that the category that everyone is waiting for?

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It’s a shame that Amy Adams didn’t get nominated for her performance in this because she truly does carry this movie magnificently. I actually saw this one for a second time last night and loved it even more than I did when I first saw it. The way I viewed this movie reminded me of Inception in the sense that you really can’t get everything out of it in one viewing, you have to see it multiple times to really get it all. I love a movie that can do that, that has layers to it. I think a this point it’s really a long shot that this will win best picture but I wouldn’t be mad if it did. It really is a great film that I don’t think will be forgotten soon, even if it does seem like it’s in this category just as a placeholder.

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Fences

I actually know a lot of people who don’t get this movie and they really didn’t like it. My sister being one of them, told me last weekend that “nothing happened, it was slow and there was too much talking”. I kind of shrugged at her and told her that she just didn’t get it because really you could look at it that way in a literal sense, but in a wider perspective it’s so much more than that. I’m not judging anyone who dislikes this movie at all, I’m just saying that it’s not that simple, this movie isn’t just a lot of talking with nothing happening, there’s so much more to it than that. The point of too much talking is exactly why I loved this movie, it was able to do so much with so little. Maybe it was because I knew walking into it that it was structured so similarly to August Wilson’s original play and I was prepared for it. Fences really reminded me a lot of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (another favorite of mine), in the sense that there was so little scenery/action and it was so focused on this family and their struggles. It’s really a force of a movie that won’t let you breathe until the second it ends. Like I’ll say with most of the films in this category, it won’t win best picture, but I’m sure that either Viola Davis or Denzel Washington (or both), will win for their performances, as they deserve to.

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Hacksaw Ridge

Look, war movies just aren’t for me. I don’t get them and I just don’t understand the love for them. I can and do acknowledge the fact that these events did actually happen and they’re tragic, but that doesn’t mean I want to watch over 2 hours of it. I say all of this because Hacksaw Ridge is the epitome of a violent, gnarly war movie. Not only is it that, but take away those elements and I really don’t think this is a great movie. It also probably doesn’t help with the fact that Mel Gibson’s name is stamped all over this and I’m not particularly his biggest fan for various reasons. With all that being said though, I find it hard to believe that this will win best picture or really much at all throughout the night. to me it feels like it’s included for the sole reason of the academy letting everyone know that they still appreciate a Mel Gibson movie.

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Hell or High Water

If you read my worst of 2016 list than you know that I didn’t really love it, but I acknowledged the fact that it’s a well made film. And to be fair, I’d much rather watch this again than Hacksaw Ridge for the mere fact that there is pieces of an interesting story here. I can see this maybe winning a few of the smaller awards but nothing big due to the fact that it’s so small and it’s up against so many others that have gotten more attention.

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Hidden Figures

 I enjoyed this movie but I did not love it. I find the story that it’s presenting to be much more interesting than the actual movie itself. The way Hidden Figures tells it’s story is in such a inspirational tropey way that I found myself wanting just a little bit more rawness and realness to it. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae  are the true stars and the glue of this movie, there’s a shockingly big cast that pops up here and there but they’re what really bring the movie to life. It’s bigger than Hell or High Water but I think it will be similar in winning some smaller awards. I think it has a bigger chance in winning best picture than any of the other films I’ve mentioned so far but it’s still slight.

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La La Land

This seems to be the obvious winner for best picture of this year. There’s a chance that just maybe Moonlight will steal it away (which as much as I loved La La Land, I’m really hoping will happen), but I have a feeling that won’t happen. Even though I will stand by the fact that I think Moonlight is actually a better movie and really has become an all time favorite for me, I do really love this movie. Similar to what I said on my best of 2016 list, it has a magic to it that brings me back to being a kid. It brings me back to the feeling of loving something for it just being magnificent and wonderful. People complain that it’s too simple of a movie and there isn’t much to it, but I don’t think it needs to be anything else. La La Land is simply a movie with musical and dance elements in it that wants you to have a good time and I really bought into that in the best way. It’s kind of set in stone at this point that Emma Stone is going to win best actress and I would really be fine with that because she was glorious, was it her performance in Birdman? No, but it’s worth mentioning. There’s a possibility that Ryan Gosling will also win but as much as I loved him I would really like to see Denzel win in that category.

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Lion

I didn’t see this one in time to put it on my best of list from last year, but if I did I surely would’ve put it on there. This is a fantastic movie that I really loved. The middle chunk of the movie is what keeps it from being perfect for me and I think is really the only bit of the movie that could’ve been worked on a little for me. I would love to see Dev Patel win for this but it’s highly doubtful just knowing that he’s in the category with a bunch of others that are more likely (Mahershala Ali especially). I don’t really know if this will win anything but I would love to see it get some sort of recognition.

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Manchester By the Sea

This is a tough movie for me to love because it’s just so dark and really hits you in the saddest ways. It’s one of those movies I would never watch again because it is just so depressing and has layers of sadness to it (there is a reveal halfway through that I was so shocked by I couldn’t catch my breath), and it’s hard to watch. As someone who has and still does suffer with depression, I do think this movie captures the feeling of being deeply depressed almost as perfectly as a movie can. Casey Affleck really gives his all in this and it’s definitely my favorite performance from him that I’ve seen. Michelle Williams is in it very briefly but she definitely leaves her mark, especially in one specific scene towards the end. I actually don’t think this one will win much. Both of the actors I mentioned have been nominated and while it looked like Casey Affleck was going to win for a while, his chances seem to be smaller now for some reason.

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Moonlight

I have beat readers in the head with how much I loved this movie in the past few posts, but I can’t help it, I just really am in love with this movie. I’ve seen it 4 times now and every time I watched it I saw something new and felt a new emotion for it. It’s art, it’s poetry, it’s a painting brought to life, it’s beautiful. It’s surprised me how much this movie has risen up in the past few months from being a small indie movie that wasn’t really playing anywhere to now being a lot of people’s favorite and choice for best picture. Like I said before, there’s a slight chance that this could steal the best picture award from La La Land but it’s a small on in my eyes. I do think that there is a definite chance that Mahershala Ali will win for supporting actor though because he was just so brilliant and amazing in his small yet effective role. Naomi Harris was also really great and is nominated for supporting actress, but I don’t really see her taking that one home unfortunately. I really hope Moonlight takes home some of the smaller awards too like cinematography and score because it really deserves it.

Thanks for reading! Hope you watch tomorrow night, let me know you’re thoughts down below.

 

Some anticipations for 2017 that are in no particular order.

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Hey there I’m back! And so soon after the last post, I know it’s shocking. But really I thought it would be fun to discuss some upcoming movies for 2017 that I think look promising! This is really just a quick little post so I’m going to try to keep my descriptions brief for each film. Anyway, let’s get to it!

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12. Get Out (February 24)

The trailer for this one dropped in October 2016 sometime I think, and it seemed way to early to release a trailer for a movie not coming until February of 2017. But putting that aside, I’m just as excited for this as I was when I first saw the trailer. I’m really hoping this is as good as I want it to be in my head, it’s a hard thing to live up to and it rarely is something that happens, but I’m holding out for this one because it looks chilling and just like it’s madness.

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11. Song to Song (March 17)

Originally titled Weightless, this is Terrence Malick’s newest film and I would be lying if I didn’t say that part of the charm for me was the insane cast because good god it’s big. You have Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Trevante Rhodes (from Moonlight), Benicio Del Toro, Holly Hunter and not to mention a bunch of musical artists. All I really know about this one is that it’s about the music scene in Austin, Texas and there’s some love triangle. I’m expecting numerous monologues set over beautiful cinematography of people walking around sadly and that’s exactly what I want from Terrence Malick.

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10. The Little Hours (TBD)

Aubrey Plaza and Molly Shannon as nuns, I’m already in. This is one of many films that premiered at Sundance just recently and this is one of a few that I gravitated towards. From what I’ve read it got some pretty good reviews and is supposed to be a good time. Like Song to Song, the cast in this one is also really great and I’m ready for Aubrey Plaza to yell at a mute Dave Franco.

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9. A Cure for Wellness (February 17)

This looks like Shutter Island on crack and I’m all for it. I’m still a little bit skeptical because we have a director who is subpar at best (most well known for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies so that should give you a clue right there), but I’m trying to be positive and hope for the best because the visuals in the trailer alone are outstanding. Like I said before, this looks like Shutter Island on crack plus a little Clockwork Orange and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest mixed in there, so let’s just hope that it lives up to the beautifully haunting trailers.

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8. Battle of the Sexes (TBD)

I am sold on this solely because of Emma Stone playing Billie Jean King, also I’m kind of a sucker for tennis movies for some reason. I’m not always the biggest fan of bio pics especially because they can turn out to be so by the numbers sometimes and just restating information we already know with A-list actors. It’s the ones that are unique and have a different perspective or try something new that stick out to me. So I’m hoping with Battle of the Sexes we get something good, even if Steve Carell seems a tad miscast as Bobby Riggs.

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7. The Discovery (March 31)

A movie about the science of the afterlife and people dying all over the place featuring Rooney Mara and Jason Segel? Yep, I’m in. I know it seems like all these movies I’m just excited for them because of who is going to be in them and that might be a little true but really The Discovery looks profoundly interesting. Like the case for some of the films being released later on in the year, there isn’t a whole lot to know about the film other than a brief synopsis on IMDb. But I really like not knowing much because it gives me a chance to go into it kind of blind.

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6. Call Me By Your Name (TBD)

This is that one film that I’ve heard non stop about that was at Sundance this year. People are calling it amazing and a fantastic addition to the LGBT film history or the next Carol. I Am Love was my favorite movie of 2009 and one of my all time favorites so when I discovered that Luca Guadagnino was the director it made me even more excited. Everyone is saying it could get a summer release because it’s set in Italy in the summertime but people are also saying around November or December so it can get a slot in the Oscars. Whatever the date may be, Call Me By Your Name seems like a promising one.

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5. It (September 8)

Usually I’m not a fan or remakes, as many know, but with It the case is different. Since the original overly long (it’s over 3 hours and just insanely slow), adaptation from the Stephen King novel wasn’t very good in the first place I’m hoping that this second go at it is a more successful one. Because really after all, the story of It and Pennywise is kind of freaky and could make for a good addition to the horror catalogue.

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4. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (December 15)

A remake and a sequel in the same list? This has to be a record for me. Yes it’s true, ever since the 2015 release of The Force Awakens I’ve kind of been interested in these newer Star Wars movies, especially knowing that they’ll actually be good movies. It will be a bittersweet affair knowing that this is Carrie Fisher’s final film (RIP), and that we won’t get anymore Leia after this. It’ll be truly interesting where they’ll go next with the series and how they’ll continue it.

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3. The Circle (April 28)

What really peaked my interest about this one is the fact that it looks like an extra long episode of Black Mirror. It looks dark and is has bad technology, which is always fun! Also, man if both of the movies turn out good, 2017 will be a good year for Emma Watson.

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2. A Ghost Story (TBD)

I do realize that this is the third movie with Rooney Mara on the list and you know what? I’m not even going to apologize for it! Not my fault if she’s choosing good projects! Anyway, this film reunites Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck (previously in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints), and it’s another that came to have pretty great reviews at Sundance. It doesn’t seem like the most complex of stories, but I don’t think it’s supposed to be and I’m all for it.

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1. Beauty and the Beast (March 16)

I’m really breaking new ground on this post because as people who have read my past posts, I’m not the biggest fan of these live action Disney remakes. I don’t know what it is though, I am filled with excitement for this one. Maybe it’s because I grew up with the original film and it was always one of my favorites so to see it brought to life on screen really brings me joy. All I have to say is that to anyone that has really loved the live action Disney remakes, I kind of understand now.

 

So here’s to hoping that the films of 2017 will be great and not as subpar as a lot of the 2016 anticipated releases were. There are many that I’m sure I have left out and as always there are a handful of movies that we don’t even know about yet. Thanks for reading and have a good rest of the week!

Those 10 Movies from 2016 that I really loved

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So here we are, it’s the last day of January 2017 and I’m just now getting my best of 2016 list out there. Yes, I know I’ve been really late with my lists this year and for those who read, it might be annoying, but I guess better late than never right? Anyway, let’s put my lateness aside and get to what I think are some of the best movies of 2016. 2016 was an interesting year for movies, it had a lot of surprisingly good ones, a lot of subpar ones and a lot of shit (which isn’t unusual for any year). I realize now that I probably say this at the end of every year and probably said the same kind of thing last year when I posted this list, but I think the world is growing and the world is changing so every year we have different experiences with movies and we have different emotions with them. Either way, I think maybe I should stop rambling and get to this list, here are my top 10 movies of 2016.

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10. Love & Friendship

Kate Beckinsale is a great actress and she rarely gets her time to shine. She’s in what seems to be an endless amount of Underworld movies, which are fine for what they are but aren’t really the best movies quality wise, and every now and then gets a smaller movie like Love & Friendship where she can really show her talent. Love & Friendship has my favorite type of Kate Beckinsale character in it which gossipy and witty with a slight touch of bitchiness mixed in there. There was a little bit of that in her last collaboration with Whit Stillman, Last Days of Disco, but it’s not nearly as great of a performance (or movie), as the one present. But let’s not shy away from all the other great performances in this movie, it’s filled with wit, class and funny little jabs that the characters throw at each other which I love. Love & Friendship was one of the best times I had watching a movie in 2016 and I would highly suggest to check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.

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9. Nocturnal Animals

Of the two Amy Adams movies to come out this year, this is the more dark and haunting one. With A Single Man in 2009 being his debut, Nocturnal Animals marks Tom Ford’s sophomore directing effort and I’d say it’s even better than his first. One of the things this movie does so beautifully and so effortlessly is the way it’s able to go back and forth from reality to this world of fiction. As we get to experience what Amy Adams’ character is reading we get to feel the dark pain along with her, especially as we come to see what has happened in her past with her ex husband. I wouldn’t say this is for everyone especially since it can be brutal at times just with how dark and menacing it can get, but man if it doesn’t hit you right in the gut. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon have to be my two favorite parts of this movie as the avenging husband the officer by his side, they add something to the movie that I don’t think could’ve been made as great without them in the parts. It’s not an easy watch, but it’s a dark affair and I ate up every second of it.

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8. De Palma

This is a documentary about a guy just talking about what he loves to do, and that’s why I love it so much. My dream is that in the future the same filmmakers get other directors to sit down and talk about their long spanning careers because I could watch movies like these 24/7. I knew a little about Brian De Palma before going into this. I knew the basics that he directed, stuff like Carrie, Mission Impossible, Dressed To Kill, Scarface but I never knew about most of his other films and how long his career has been going on for. One of the things I always loved about him as a director is the split screen effect of course but also how much he uses these long takes. There’s nothing more that bugs me in a movie than a bunch of quick cuts, I love long drawn out shots and that’s what De Palma did in a lot of his movies. I wouldn’t go into this movie expecting a full documentary about this director because that’s not what it is, it’s literally just this guy talking about his movies and the experiences he had while making them, along with some great editing of the footage from those movies. It’s a simple little movie and that’s why I loved it.

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7. Green Room

Nocturnal Animals may have been dark and brooding but this is the more brutal and tense side of things. The build in this movie is insane and unlike anything I’ve seen in a long time. It’s hard to put this movie in any specific box because I wouldn’t say it’s horror necessarily but I also wouldn’t just call it a thriller either, it’s a suspenseful movie with moments of intense insanity. Similarly to what I said with Nocturnal Animals, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. The deaths in this movie feel painfully real and don’t give you a second to catch your breath, it really adds to the brutalness of the movie. The late great Anton Yelchin is fantastic as what is pretty much the lead along with another great performance by Imogen Poots. Patrick Stewart is only in a few scenes but he also is amazing as always and will send shivers down your spine. This isn’t the easiest movie to sit through but I definitely think it’s an experience that’s worth your time.

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6. Arrival

Amy Adams has two great performances in 2016 and doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for either of them, that doesn’t make much sense. Yes, Amy Adams has been snubbed and it’s sad but at the same time it really isn’t what matters, what matters is that these movies are great and she is at the peak of her career right now. I do have to say that I think Arrival is the better movie of the two, even though I did love Nocturnal. Adams breathes and lives this movie, it’s her movie, it’s her platform. There’s something that happens in the last third of this movie which I guess you could call a twist that really changed this movie for me. Before it got to that point I was enjoying it and was genuinely interested in where it was going but wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of it. But once that thing happens towards the end the movie comes full circle and it’s really beautiful. I will say that there is one scene that just has some of the worst CGI on Adams but it’s nothing that will ruin the movie, it’s just something that I noticed and thought I should point out for some reason. Arrival is a beautiful and emotional experience of a movie and it’s definitely one of the better “alien movies” in the past decade or so, even if they’re not the sole point of the movie.

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5. Fences

Something that stuck out to me about Fences was how much it felt like a play, and that’s what drew me to it. Originally a stage play, Fences is adapted to the screen in this but still feels like it’s living it’s life on a stage, which maybe a turn off for some but it was a plus for me. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are the driving forces of this movie, with monologue after monologue they own this movie and are the reasons to see it. Like a lot of the movies on this list, it can be a tough movie to sit through at times and you don’t always get a lot of room to breathe, but that’s what this movie is, that’s what the writing is. August Wilson’s writing in the original stage play is so beautifully heartbreaking and it seamlessly transitions to the screen. Like I said before, Denzel and Viola are the sole reasons to see this movie and I think it’s an important one, especially considering the times we’re living in right now.

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4. 20th Century Women

This movie blew me away when I saw it and I’m actually still thinking about it. With Beginners and now this, Mike Mills might be one of my favorite directors in the last few years. I could make it simple and just tell you that Annette Benning is the star of this movie, which she is, but I just can’t do that because every performance in this movie is outstanding. With Greta Gerwig in all her lovliness, Elle Fanning in what’s probably my favorite performance by her to date, Billy Crudup as the cool kind of hippie dude and Lucas Jade Zumann in one of the better teenage roles in the past year or so, the cast is undeniable. The characters in this movie are insanely complex and they’re all so interesting to watch, none of them get thrown to the side or are forgotten about, they’re all present in the moment. 20th Century Women is definitely one I’ll be watching again and again.

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3. Blue Jay

I’ve seen Blue Jay twice now and fall in love with it more and more every time I see it. Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass are the leads and really the only people in this little black and white indie film. With themes of coming back to your hometown and rekindling old flames it all just works so well. You can tell every acting decision was thought out so well and even improvised some of the time, or a lot of the time who knows. As much as I do love Mark Duplass and think he’s amazing in this I do have to say that Sarah Paulson is a bright star for me and just brings an extra layer of emotion to this movie. I’ve loved her since her early days in American Horror Story and anything that she’s been in after, but this really put my love for her in stone. It’s a simple movie about love and longing that I would really suggest to anyone, it’s so so great.

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2. La La Land

I’m going to keep this short and simple, this is a magical film and it’s wonderful. I feel like this movie has become a victim of winning all the awards and therefore it becomes “overrated”. Sure, maybe it doesn’t deserve every award out there and others deserve it more but that doesn’t stop me from loving this movie. It seems like the second the oscars or any of the award shows come around a movie that gets any type of recognition or love in these awards is automatically not that great, but I just can’t and won’t let that happen to this movie. I had a giant smile on my face the whole way through this movie. Sure, it’s not the most complex movie ever and it’s not anything groundbreaking, but it’s fun and I think it knows that. Another complaint is the fact that the two leads can’t sing that well or don’t have strong enough of voices which is another thing I just won’t let happen. I really found nothing wrong with either Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone’s voices. Yeah neither of them have big voices for broadway, but that is not what this movie is trying to bring you, it’s bringing you a story about two dreamers in LA that fall in love and that’s that. So if you haven’t seen La La Land yet and are skeptical about it based on some of the negative things you’ve heard, I’d say fuck it. Go see this movie! It’s a spectacular time and it’s undeniably charming.

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1. Moonlight

This is the best movie of 2016 and is undoubtedly become one of my favorites of all time. Moonlight spoke to me in a way that I never thought it would. Now, it is true that I am not someone who is black or from Miami so I can’t relate on that level but I can relate to being gay and feeling like you are lost in the world because I am gay and I have felt that way. The way this movie chronicles Chiron’s life in three chapters is so seamless it’s something to see. All the actors who play Chiron in the differnt stages of his life (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes), are really great and somehow are able to make it feel like you’re watching the same person throughout the movie, which isn’t an easy task to feat. Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali and Andre Holland are three other people in this movie that are out of this world great. There’s not much else I can say about Moonlight other than that it’s a beautiful piece of art and that if you haven’t seen it, for god’s sake go watch it!

Thanks for sticking around for this list! Hope you enjoyed it and let me know what you thought below! Till next time!

A flashback to the worst films of 2016

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I am aware that we are well into 2017 at this point and that people usually will post these kind of lists either in the last few days of December or the first few days of January, but I just don’t roll that way. Yes, it is January 23rd and I am finally bringing to you my worst of list from 2016, what a joy! 2016 was an interesting year for movies because there was a sizeable chunk of pretty great movies and another sizeable chunk of just alright movies. Then there’s a whole other section with all the shit from 2016, and there is a good amount, as always. 2016 has probably been the best year for me as a movie goer in the sense that I actually went and saw a lot of them! Usually I’ll ignore a lot of the ones that I don’t care about or just haven’t been hyped for, but this year I went out of my comfort zone (for better and for worse), and watched a plethora of different things. Like I mentioned above, some were great, some were just alright and some were real stinkers. Today I’m here to talk about the stinkers, the ones that made me realize not everyone cares about making actual good movies and that some people just want money. So before I ramble anymore about the shit that has come out of 2016, let’s get to this list already!

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10. Hell or High Water

I know, you’re probably thinking that this was accidentally put onto the wrong list because everyone loved this movie, but in fact you are wrong, this movie was put on here very much with my knowing. This is one of those movies that everyone (and I mean everyone), loved with a passion and I just did not get anything out of it. I think at the end of the day it’s just not a movie for me, I didn’t get the appeal and I didn’t get the hype. I do think it’s a beautifully shot movie and a beautifully acted movie (although I’m not sure how much more of Jeff Bridges’ mumble acting I can take), and I do get why people love it. It’s possible that hype killed this movie for me too, as it does for so many. Everyone I know that saw it told me it was this amazing thing and that I’ll love it, therefore I built it up in my head and I was let down spectacularly. So really I’m not saying this is a bad movie at all, because it isn’t, I’m just saying I couldn’t find anything to love about it, hence it making this list.

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9. Little Men

Here we have another movie that was adored by everyone that saw it, except me of course. While I can admit that Hell or High Water is a legitimately good movie and has noteable things about it, I honestly really just don’t think this is that good of a movie. You can call me crazy or whatever, but I found this movie to be painfully dull. There’s a few scenes here and there with our two lead kids that are somewhat enjoyable but I couldn’t find a thing about this movie that really stood out to me or spoke to me. The story also just feels so recycled with the two kids becoming friends but their parents get in a fight which leads to them not letting the boys see each other, I saw it all coming. I may be alone again on this one, but I think Little Men is an indie drama that most will forget about a day or two after they see it.

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8. Tallulah

I should really love this movie for the fact alone that it has Allison Janney and Ellen Page in a movie again, but oh man this one is no good. Granted, it’s not so bad I want to turn it off immediately (which is why it’s so low on the list), but it’s just such a pointless and forgettable movie that there’s no use to even try and watch it. I don’t think it’s the worst plot of a movie, it’s somewhat unique and has unexpected actions, but there’s nothing that sticks out about this movie, nothing memorable. And while I did say that it’s somewhat unique it also has it’s generic cliches, girl’s boyfriend leaves her, she seeks out the boyfriend’s mom to get help and to bond with her …but the the worst of all is the trope of the “liar revealed” plot device, which if you know me is a personal dealbreaker. If you couldn’t tell from the name, a “liar revealed” is when a certain character lies to another pivotal character somewhere in the span of the film and eventually in one way or another that lie is revealed to our character that has been lied to and there’s a big dramatic scene that usually involves yelling or crying. And while Tallulah doesn’t have a “liar reveal” element to the likes of an Adam Sandler movie, it’s still there and used as a plot device in what I think is a lazy way. I don’t think I would suggest this one to many people, even ones who are fans of Janney or Page, I’d say you would be better off just re watching Juno.

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7. The Jungle Book

I should’ve made a separate part of this list just called “overrated” because I’m realizing now that I have a lot of movies on this list that were acclaimed by pretty much everyone but myself. It probably doesn’t help that I used to watch the original animated Disney film all the time when I was younger and will judge any other version from that one, but then again that shouldn’t matter if the movie was going to try to stand on it’s own. Again, like Hell or High Water, I think that it’s possible hype could’ve killed this one for me a little bit. Before I actually decided to sit down and watch it everyone was telling me it was so great and visually was stunning, but I just didn’t see it. Visually, sure it’s pretty great for the most part (there were a couple of scenes that I thought looked a little questionable), it’s truly amazing to think about the fact that literally everything in the movie, besides the boy, was made on a computer. But other than that the only thing that I found appealing about this movie and actually different than any of the other adaptations was Bill Murray. I thought he was the one that brought the most life to his character and was actually memorable. As far as the rest of the star studded voice cast goes, they’re alright but I didn’t love any of them or think they were amazing, Scar Jo is nice as the hypnotizing snake, Kaa, in her 5 minute scene and Ben Kingsley is always soothing to listen to, but there’s nothing to really write home about. My biggest problem with this movie is my problem with a lot of these Disney live action remakes (especially with something like Maleficent), what is the point? About halfway through this movie I was starting to get distracted because all I could think about was the fact that this whole movie is basically animated and so why even make this movie when there’s already an animated version that is much better? Clearly, I just did not enjoy this one, you can say I’m heartless but it’s a no go for me.

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6. The Forest

Poor Natalie Dormer, you deserved so much better than this. A horror movie released in January is always kind of bound to be shitty, but I always try to go in with high hopes, especially with ones like The Forest, that seem to have something interesting going for them. But by this stage in my life, I should know better because The Forest is as generic and cliche as a horror movie can get. Natalie Dormer is nice to look at and there’s no denying that she can act (doing the best that she can in this), but there’s just not much to this movie, the forest that we’re hauled into for most of the movie is something to look at (funnily enough is the second movie with the suicide forest in 2016 with Sea of Trees), but as far as our story goes, it’s pretty boring and for the most part predictable. This movie is also filled to the brim with endless jump scares that lead to nothing and stupid decisions. I completely forgot this movie was released in 2016 until I looked it up and most of the world probably doesn’t even know what this movie is or also forgot about it completely.

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5. Suicide Squad

I’m just gonna say it, this movie is really fucking stupid. As you’re gonna see with some of the remaining films on this list, I am sick of all these superhero movies. There was a simpler time when there were really only a few superhero movies every few years, think Iron Man or even before that with a really great Batman movie or a so-so Superman movie, either way there were less of them and they were easier to handle. Over the past few years or so it seems as though all we have are these big Marvel/DC comic book movies that get endless sequels and are all built up into these giant universes. I’ll admit, after the first few big Marvel movies (like Iron Man and Captain America) had come out and it was said that every movie would be connected and eventually they would join together in movies (hello Avengers), it sounded really cool and I was actually all in. But now once we’ve gotten some of this big universe and we’re right in the middle of it and more and more of these things are being released a sour taste is left in my mouth for some reason. There’s no denying that Marvel has perfected this formula at this point and that DC is trying to get that formula down but hasn’t quite gotten there yet. Suicide Squad is part of that DC family and it’s just a mess. Not to mention that these characters aren’t really fleshed out with anything other than a specific song choice (generally having something to do with their name or who they are), and a cool looking title card. So we’re left with these characters we don’t know much about or really care about for 2 hours and it makes for a grating watch. To it’s credit, it does try to have fun with what it has and is more exciting than some other certain DC movies that came out this year, but it isn’t done nearly well enough to be any good. Jared Leto was advertised like crazy for this movie and he’s only in it for a good 3 or 4 scenes. His performance is a copy of Jack Nicholson’s Joker and some whiny rich boy villain and it results in a mediocre performance, which is kind of surprising seeing that I know Leto is a legitimately good actor. I’d say the two highlights of this movie are Margot Robbie and Will Smith because you can tell that they’re both (especially Robbie), having a good time making this movie regardless of it’s quality. And I’ll just say that I am a little excited for the Harley solo movie just to see more of Robbie having a good time and really fleshing out the character way more than this movie did. Let’s just hope we get a better team behind it this time.

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4. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Suicide Squad may have been a shitty mess but at least it had a little glimmer of fun in it, this has none of that. I can’t say I was excited about this at all really but I was a little curious of what it would turn out to be like. I should’ve expected what I got because it was exactly what you’d think a Batman/Superman movie directed by Zac Snyder would be like. It’s dark (literally), emotionless and even kind of boring. I’m not really sure why I watched this, because I could give less of a fuck what Batman and Superman thought about each other, maybe it was in hopes to see them look hot? Who knows. I don’t have much to say about this one other than, it’s not very good and maybe just avoid it all together.

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3. Independence Day: Resurgence

Another trend that seemed to come about in 2016 was the idea of taking movies from the 90s (or early 2000s) that made a lot of money and making pointless sequels out of them. Independence Day: Resurgence is the perfect example of that trend, it’s pointless and it’s stupid. Look, I’m sure there were a lot of people who really enjoyed this movie for what it was, and I respect that, but I’m not one of those people. Like The Jungle Book, I kept thinking to myself while watching “why does this exist?”. Someone out there in the world thought it was a good idea to add a second part to the story of Independence Day but without Will Smith and without what made the original movie so appealing. When the original Independence Day came out it had groundbreaking effects, it looked like the white house was really being blown up, but this one doesn’t have that and it’s bland. End of story, goodbye.

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2. Me Before You

If you’ve read my review of this from last year when it came out, then you know how I feel about this one. Man, the actors from Game of Thrones just can’t get a break! With Emilia Clarke in this and Natalie Dormer in The Forest, maybe Game of Thrones is cursed for anyone trying to do movies, I don’t know. It surprised me too that Emilia Clarke decided to be in this due to the fact that she plays a strong, fierce leader in Game of Thrones and in this she’s a useless nothing that sort of just gets used and then left behind by the end (but oh no it’s okay because cheesy movie endings). And yeah, let’s talk about how our leading guy is kind of an asshole. Spoiler alert, he decided to fall for Emilia Clarke but then kind of just decides life isn’t worth it so he’s gonna decide to die anyway. It’s as cliche as a movie can get and hits every note you think it’s going to hit, has all the montages you think it’s going to have, Emilia Clarke’s eyebrows have a life of their own for some reason and her face never stops moving. It’s all just a huge mess that I would avoid altogether if I were you.

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1. The Choice

I know what you’re thinking, what could be worse than what I just said about the previous movie? Well, there’s always Nicholas Sparks to help with that. The tagline for this movie should’ve been “even Safe Haven wasn’t this bad” because my fucking god this has to be the worst of the Nicholas Sparks lot. I would watch The Last Song or Nights In Rodanthe 100 times each before having to watch this by the numbers snoozefest again. I’ll just start with the thing that bugged me the most about this whole experience, the fact that our main guy, the one we’re supposed to feel and root for, is a complete asshole and kind of just gets away with it. I knew from the first scene with him that I was going to hate him throughout and the movie didn’t let me down. The story isn’t worth mentioning because it’s laughably familiar and I get bored even trying to type it out. As expected with these movies that seem to come out every year (when are people going to run out of Nicholas Sparks books to adapt, seriously did he write that many?), and every time they seem to get worse and worse. Of all the ones I’ve seen/tolerated, this one has by far been the worst. And that is why this has made the #1 spot for the worst of 2016, it wholly deserved it and i wouldn’t put anything else in it’s place.

 

That’s about it for my worst of 2016! Hope you enjoyed it and thought it was readable (if not I am so sorry and don’t know why you came in the first place), and make sure to look out for the best of 2016 coming in the next few days!

Snowflakes and Christmas Trees: a personal holiday movie collection.

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Hey there! I know it’s been a little while since I last posted but don’t worry I’m back! I kind of thought I would take most of the holidays off from the blog because it’s such a busy time with family and presents and all that. But, I couldn’t let this year fly by anymore without my own Christmas movie list. And since I didn’t do one last year, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my favorites. Christmas time is that one month each year that I’ve always loved and looked forward to. I mean sure there’s Halloween and Thanksgiving which are also great in their own ways, but I’ve always had a love for Christmas the way I think a lot of people do. Do I wish I didn’t have to see family that grills me till I’m down about my life each holiday season? Well yeah, but even that is just family, that comes with the territory of someone like me having a big family. Once I can get past all the negativity and things I’m not happy about, Christmas can make me happy. The movies of the holidays are one of the things that get me into the spirit.  Now, all my choices may not be the most popular and I might not have all the “classics”, but I think that’s okay. There’s so many different types of Christmas movies (horror, rom com, comedy, drama, you name it), that you can kind of pick and choose to your taste, and that’s what I’ve done. So let’s get started!

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8. Last Holiday (2006)

Is this a great movie? No, no it isn’t. But is it enjoyable and have some heart? Yes. Look, Queen Latifah makes this whole experience and she makes it actually watchable. Putting Latifah aside, Last Holiday is filled to the rim with cliches and over the top situations but for me, it didn’t kill the movie for me. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a Christmas-y movie and I give it a pass for that, but I don’t know I really think this will be a worth addition to your Christmas movie watching list. It’s not for everyone, but it’ll definitely make you smile a few times.

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7. Sleepless In Seattle (1993) / You’ve Got Mail (1998)

I decided to put both these movies in one number slot because of how they’re almost kind of like (unrelated) sequels to each other and it just felt right. I’ll just list some things these movies have in common for you; they both star Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, they’re both directed by Nora Ephron and they have both of our stars having somewhat of a meet cute in the final act. A lot of people would probably say that Sleepless In Seattle is their favorite of these two and that it’s the better movie, but I kind of disagree with both of those statements. I’ve always liked Sleepless and I think it’s the more popular choice of the two because it’s known for being a better movie, but I think it’s just as flawed as You’ve Got Mail. Sure, You’ve Got Mail has more stupid moments and it doesn’t always work but similar to how I am with Last Holiday, there’s something about it that makes me smile and I find myself really enjoying it. So therefore I don’t think either one is better than the other, people have their preferences but I think they both go together, in a way I kind of see You’ve Got Mail as a spiritual sequel to Sleepless In Seattle (the characters aren’t the same and there’s not relation but they feel like they’re in the same world just in different times), and that’s why I think these two movies would be a pretty great Christmas double feature.

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6. The Holiday (2006)

I always find Nancy Meyers to be a very interesting director/writer because a lot of her movies have these formulaic stories and they’re commonly flawed but for the most part (excluding What Women Want), I find myself always enjoying what I’m watching, you see a theme starting to occur in this list? The Holiday definitely isn’t my favorite of the bunch (that either goes to Parent Trap or Something’s Gotta Give), it most definitely has it’s moments. If I had it my way, I would scratch the entire storyline having to do with Cameron Diaz and Jude Law because my god is it over the top cheesy and cringey! Everything having to do with Amanda (Cameron’s character), never really interested me all that much, but anything to do with Iris (a glowing Kate Winslet), I was head over heels for. Maybe it’s her chemistry with Jack Black (I know what you’re thinking, Jack Black in a holiday rom com? But hear me out, I thought he was really good), and just her character in general is so much more interesting. I mean, I could’ve done without the entire house exchange plot and just made it about Iris traveling to LA and staying at a friend’s house! But that’s just me, I’m sure plenty enjoy the whole Amanda storyline (don’t get me wrong Jude Law is nice to look at), it’s just not my cup of tea and brings the whole experience down a little. But regardless I would still recommend this one for a nice little holiday getaway.

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5. Love Actually (2003)

I re watched Love Actually a few nights ago and funnily enough found myself not loving it as much as I had in the past. It’s very similar to how I feel with The Holiday but this time with about 20 more little stories crammed in there, some of the stories/charactes I’m really into and others I found myself getting annoyed and just not caring. But let me just say this, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman make this movie for me. I could’ve watched their story for the whole movie, every time they would pop up I would immediately be sucked back in and then it would go to a different story. Surprisingly the issue with this movie isn’t how the stories are connected and the way they do it, I think that there are just too many. To it’s credit though, this is no Valentine’s Day or New Years Eve where the stories are strung together in a really lazy way, you can tell they took the time to figure out how to seamlessly connect all these characters and stories together. My least favorite chunks of this movie are anything having to do with Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson or Colin Firth and my favorites are anything to do with Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney or Martin Freeman. So I think like any movie with this many stories in one viewing not everyone is gonna love every single one but I think if you put aside the ones you may not love there’s still a good movie in there to watch for the holidays.

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4. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Okay okay I know this isn’t technically a Christmas movie, it’s more of a Thanksgiving one. But I really don’t think it matters because it still gives off that same feel that a Christmas one would, in fact you could almost mistake it for being taken place during December instead of November. I love John Hughes movies and everything about them. This seemed like it was his first movie legitimately about adults (whereas he’s usually writing about teenagers in the 80s), and like a lot of John Hughes’ work, it has laughs but it also has heart. Steve Martin and John Candy are the heart and soul of this movie and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The road trip movie with two people disliking each other but being stuck together anyway is usually my least favorite type of movie, but this one is an exception for some reason. Which after all these years I’m not sure why because it has just as much Steve Martin yelling at John Candy about being messy and crazy as any of these types of movies would have. I think it’s really the underlying heart that the movie has, throughout the whole movie you can tell that John Candy’s Del isn’t as happy as he comes off as and even Steve Martin’s Neal has some little things in his story where you can tell things aren’t always happy. Overall, I think this is a really good time and the two leads of this one are so fun to watch it’s hard to resist, so get ready for a whole lot of chaos and cameos! But seriously, there’s billions of cameos in this movie.

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3. The Family Stone (2003)

Yes, I put The Family Stone ahead of Planes, Trains and Automobiles … I did that. No, I don’t think it’s better than the previous entry on this list, but I do think it’s a perfectly dysfunctional look at a big family during the holidays. It could also be that Diane Keaton could literally sell anything to me that she’s in, whether it’s complete shit or not (maybe not Love The Coopers though, that’s a hard one to like). Or maybe it’s that this cast is a pretty perfect blend for me (besides Dermot Mulroney, sorry dude you whine a lot in this), I also think I see a piece of my family in there, in the sense that they’re loud and say what’s on their minds. I’d say the biggest downside of the movie for me is when you get to the last half of the movie there’s two different stories that we kind of teeter off into and I like one more than the other, but it never ruins the experience for me. So I’d say if you like big family Christmas movies starring Diane Keaton, skip Love the Coopers and check this one out.

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2. Nation Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

For me, this is one of those movies that comes to mind when I think of Christmas, it’s funny, has some fun wacky characters and makes for fun, silly time. Along with the original Vacation movie, this is my favorite of the bunch (European Vacation and Vegas Vacation aren’t really worth mentioning though), I think it has some of the best jokes and has a nice flow to it. It also has the best casting as far as the Griswold kids go (since they’re different every movie), with Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis playing Rusty and Audrey. Like I said before, slapstick comedy usually isn’t my favorite, but in this it somehow works, there’s a good balance of slapstick and satire to the point where I don’t mind the physical humor. So if you want a good ole wacky outing with the Griswolds then this is your Christmas movie.

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1. Elf (2003)

For years this has kind of been a tradition for my family to watch on Christmas Eve night, and it’s definitely my favorite Christmas movie. I’ve watched all the classics and for some reason this is always the one I come back to as my favorite, I just love it. Will Ferrell is perfect as Buddy the Elf and as always has spot on comedic timing and hilarious moments in this. Zooey Deschanel as Jovie is also a great counter part Ferrell’s crazy over the top happiness along with James Caan’s Walter. I’ll be honest, I don’t think there is really much I can complain about with this movie, I think it’s a really great time from beginning to end. I could say that the third act maybe isn’t my favorite? But even in that whole sequence there are things I love. For me, Elf is the perfect Christmas movie, it’s got heart, it’s got charm and it’s got lots of laughs, so if you haven’t seen it yet I would definitely recommend checking it out!

Well thanks for checking out this list and hope you enjoyed it! It’s crazy to say that this will be the last post on the blog for 2016! I promise I’ll be back in January and be posting away throughout 2017. Hope everyone has a great holiday and I’ll see ya next year!