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Saturday
Jan022016

Favorite Albums of 2015

I repeat: it was not a great year for music. Here's songs 8-12 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart for 2015.

With the possible exception of "Can't Feel My Face," don't all those songs seem like gimmicky summer hits that should be down around the 40-60 range? Yet we had nothing else this year. There was a period in time (around August, I think?) where it looked like Skrillex had saved music. These are dark days.

Favorite Albums of 2015:
15. Major Lazer, Peace Is The Mission
14. Slow Meadow, Slow Meadow
13. Good Old War, Broken Into Better Shape
12. Death Cab for Cutie, Kintsugi
11. David Ramirez, Fables
10. Andrew Ripp, Andrew Ripp
9. CHVRCHES, Every Open Eye
8. Ryan Adams, 1989
7. Ben Rector, Brand New
6. Adele, 25
5. Josh Garrels, Home
4. Matthew Perryman Jones, Cold Answer
3. Brandon Flowers, The Desired Effect
2. Grace Potter, Midnight
1. Tyler Lyle, The Native Genius of Desert Plants

 

Saturday
Jan022016

My Favorite Television of 2015

We are in what's been called TV's Silver Age (in reference to the supposed Golden Age we are just leaving), and the major story remains that TV shows are coming from everywhere, and there's so much good stuff that you can't possibly watch all of it.

Even my list here has shows I've still got major chunks I've missed, or have yet to finish (in fact, since I finished this list I watched the last couple episodes of "You're The Worst," and frankly that show should move up a couple notches).

I'd highly recommend all these shows, though with the caveat that television is now deeply personal, and what one person loves the other might truly despise. I probably know three people, total, who would love "Documentary Now!", but that doesn't mean it's not awesome at what it does.

Also of note: the decline of broadcast TV entirely. There is only one more broadcast show (there are 2, total, one of which went off the air this year) than there are shows from the Lifetime network, for pity's sake. Broadcast TV is a wasteland.


Favorite TV Shows of 2015:
25. Documentary Now! (IFC)
24. Drunk History (Comedy Central)
23. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
22. The Leftovers (HBO)
21. Casual (Hulu)
20. Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
19. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix)
18. Making A Murderer (Netflix)
17. Project Greenlight (HBO)
16. Master of None (Netflix)
15. Difficult People (Hulu)
14. Jessica Jones (Netflix)
13. Key and Peele (Comedy Central)
12. The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail (Comedy Central)
11. UnReal (Lifetime)
10. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
9. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
8. Better Call Saul (AMC)
7. Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)
6. You're The Worst (FXX)
5. Silicon Valley (HBO)
4. Veep (HBO)
3. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
2. Game of Thrones (HBO)
1. Mr. Robot (USA)


Friday
Jan012016

My Favorite Songs of 2015

2015 was a weird year for music. It was a year where I found myself saying things like, "man, this Justin Bieber album is really, really good," and "look, the fact is that Carly Rae Jepsen doesn't get enough respect."
   
On a most likely related note: Doesn't it feel like this was a really weak year for music? The most dominant albums were Taylor Swift's (released in 2014) and Adele's (released at the tail-end of 2015). J. Cole is nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Album. Slipknot is nominated for Best Rock Album. Pop radio was mostly dead.
    
So it will come as no surprise that this year's list is kind of all over the place, though probably no more than usual.
 
Favorite Songs of 2015
25. A$AP Rocky feat. Joe Fox, "Holy Ghost," At.Long.Last.A$ap

24. Beka, "Compass," Beka
23. Beach Slang, "Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas," The Things We Do To Find People Who Look Like Us
22. WALK THE MOON, "Shut Up and Dance," Talking Is Hard
21. Good Old War, "Don't Forget," Broken Into Better Shape
20. Caleb Lovely, "Into It," (unreleased)
19. Kendrick Lamar, "Alright," To Pimp A Butterfly
18. Ben Rector, "More Like Love," Brand New
17. Son Lux, "You Don't Know Me," Bones
16. For King & Country, "Long Live," Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.
15. Major Lazer feat. Wild Belle, "Be Together," Peace Is The Mission
14. CHVRCHES, "Never Ending Circles," Every Open Eye
13. Andrew Ripp, "Surviving," Andrew Ripp
12. Ryan Adams, "My Wrecking Ball," Live at Carnegie Hall
11. Adele, "When We Were Young," 25
10. Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, "Uptown Funk," Uptown Special
9. Brandon Flowers, "Between Me and You," The Desired Effect
8. Taylor Swift, "Wildest Dreams," 1989
7. David Ramirez, "How Do You Get 'Em Back," Fables
6. Jamie XX, "Good Times," In Colour
5. Matthew Perryman Jones, "Wresting Tigers," Cold Answer

4. Josh Garrels, "Born Again," Home
3. Grace Potter, "Your Girl," Midnight
2. Tyler Lyle, "Somebody's Someone," The Native Genius of Desert Plants
1. Vance Joy, "Georgia," Dream Your Life Away

Friday
Jan012016

A Return To Form: My Favorite Movies of 2015

Last year, I didn't do any "Best Of" lists, I think in large part because a lot of the critics I read and follow were all complaining about doing them. So I announced I wouldn't be doing any "Best Of" lists because I "didn't feel like it."

Someone immediately called me out on this. "That's ridiculous," they said. "You LOVE lists."

It's true. I really do.

So, without further ado, here's the first of a number of lists of my favorite things from this past year.


Favorite Movies of 2015

25. Paper Towns
24. The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
23. Ted 2
22. The Intern
21. Furious 7
20. Spy 
19. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
18. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
17. Dope
16. Sisters
15. Ant-Man
14. Jurassic World
13. Spectre
12. Avengers: Age of Ultron
11. Straight Outta Compton
10. Trainwreck
9. The Martian
8. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
7. Kingsman: The Secret Service
6. The Big Short
5. Spotlight
4. Inside Out
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Ex Machina
1. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

Monday
Jan192015

The Blockbuster That's Going Up On The Wall in 2014: Edge of Tomorrow

I don’t know if I liked this more than Guardians of the Galaxy or X-Men: Days of Future Past, but it’s very close, and since everybody saw Guardians and X-Men nobody saw this, this is the pick.

Which makes sense, since I spent a lot of time this year trying to get people to go and watch this movie. It didn’t work* - Edge of Tomorrow finished 29th in the box office this year, behind such memorable films as Ride Along, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, 300: Rise of An Empire, and The Equalizer. Don’t cry for Warner Brothers, though - the movie finished with $370 million worldwide, so they’re not hurting.

*To be fair, even if everyone I’d told to go see it had listened to me, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference on its domestic grosses.

A lot of people came up with theories for why the movie didn’t work here (Confusing Advertising! Complicated Premise! Strange Title! Tom Cruise Fatigue*!). I don’t care about any of those things. I just want you to watch it. Because it’s great.

*This sounds like a thing I made up. It’s not! It’s a real thing people wrote articles about!


It’s a smart, funny action thriller that handles the intricacies of its difficult premise perfectly. It’s paced in such a rapid-fire fashion that the possibilities for “Oh, this again?” dullness of its Groundhog Day plot are kept entirely at bay, even upon multiple viewings. It’s the rare science fiction movie that’s as interested in both keeping the plot sharp and taut as it is blowing things up in a gloriously exciting fashion. Most sci-fi opts for one or the other (and usually fails at both).

Its Metacritc score lists it at “Universal Acclaim” among movie goers, with a score that’s even slightly higher than likely Oscar winner Boyhood’s.

The people who saw thing movie loved it. Make yourself one of them.