Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bobs Top 5 Movies of 2014

Hello, yeah it's been a while. Not much, how about you? Lyrics from England Dan and John Ford Coley aside, it has been a while. I had what can only be considered a major computer issue followed by the paralyzing fear of losing data and purchasing a new computer consume the latter part of my 2014. That has rendered my contributions to this blog almost completely nil, but I am back.

And seeing as I am on the heels of some serious movie watching while off from work over the holidays, I had to put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keys for my best of list.

UPDATE: While writing this, it occurred to me that my list could only be taken seriously if I sampled enough movies to actually be able to rank them in any meaningful way. I decided that I would comb through every movie released in theaters this year and if I hadn't seen 20, I would not continue writing this post. Well, I just went through the list and I have seen 19. So I am deciding to post this intro to the list, while I attempt to watch at least one movie tomorrow. My goal is to watch any combination of Locke, Unbroken, The Skeleton Twins or The Drop and I will then complete this post.

I know, I know....you are all waiting. And by you all, I mean no one. Sadly, no one is waiting.

Okay, I am ready. Truth be told, I really needed to solidify a 5th and final movie for this list. I was locked in on 4, but I couldn't pull myself to put Wild, Unbroken, This is Where I Leave You, or Begin Again as my 5th so I needed to watch a few more to safely round out the list.

5. Chef - I very easily could've made a case for this to be higher on the list, because frankly I loved everything about this movie. Jon Favreau wrote, directed and starred in this feel good movie about a man who loses his restaurant and is on the verge of losing his family. Great casting of all the leads, including the young Percy (Emjay Anthony) and terrific supporting roles by Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman and Bobby Canavale make this one of the most well rounded casts I have seen in a while. Why this hasn't shown up on more "best of" lists is beyond me.

4. Locke - This was the movie I needed to see to complete my list. This is a clear top 5 for me, not just because of the incredible performance by Tom Hardy (essentially a one man show) but also because of the daring and innovative filmmaking. You feel the pressure building along with Ivan Locke throughout the 90 minute car ride.

3. Foxcatcher - Fantastic performances by Carell, Tatum, and Ruffalo put this movie on the list but some questionable storyline decisions by Bennett Miller keep this from being the best movie of the year. It's one of those stories that is actually weirder and more interesting in reality versus the onscreen depiction, which chooses to gloss over some very significant details.

2. Grand Budapest Hotel - For some reason, I was not excited about seeing this. I really enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom and consider Wes Anderson to be a top 3 director for me. But the setting and the casting made this not seem like an ordinary Anderson film, so stayed a way for a while. I shouldn't have. GPH has the standard cinematic beauty and deadpan wit that you've become accustomed to, but it also has a Tarantino like suspense that really lands. To me, it's a classic.

1. Whiplash - This should be on every top 10 list this season. While Carell, Ruffalo, Hardy and Fiennes all give tremendous performances, what J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller do in Whiplash is unmatched. Two tour de force performances in one movie is hard to come by, and Whiplash without question provides them. Miles Teller is getting overlooked with the awards discussion this year, but in my book this performance puts him in a new level of elite young actors.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Best of 2014 - Music

At the end of each year I read a lot of those "Best of The Year" lists.  At the end of each year I always feel like I've missed a lot.  In an effort to get ahead of that feeling, one of my New Year's resolutions was to listen to one album a week that was released in 2014.  Fifty-two(I think I'm actually at 54 now) albums is not nearly enough to make me an expert in this year's music but it was a goal.  So based on my modest pool of music I've heard this year, here are some of my favorites:

Top 10 Favorite Albums (No particular order):
Jack White - Lazeretto
New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers
Lydia Loveless - Somewhere Else
Jenny Lewis - The Voyager
Ages and Ages - Divisionary
Lake Street Dive - Bad Self Portraits
Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright In The End
Hozier - Hozier
The New Basement Tapes - Lost of the River
First Aid Kit - Stay Gold

Top 10 Favorite Songs (No particular order):
Slow Motion - PHOX
You Go Down Smooth - Lake Street Dive
Our Demons - Ages and Ages
Low Key - Tweedy
Take Me To Church - Hozier
Alone In My Home - Jack White
Blue Moon - Beck
Kansas City - The New Basement Tapes
Push It - Delta Spirit
Don't Leave Me Now - The Apache Relay

Some notes:

-My inclusion of The New Basement Tapes might not be totally fair.  I was going to own it no matter what because of Jim James' involvement but my enjoyment of the album has been greatly boosted by the documentary about the making of the album.  The documentary probably cost Delta Spirit's 'Into the Wide' a spot.

-Choosing an album a week was largely influenced by my preparation for the 2014 Newport Folk Festival.  I have to thank them for Ages and Ages and First Aid Kit, Lake Street Dive, The Apache Relay, Delta Spirit.

-I consider The New Pornographers to be my third favorite band.  Challengers and Together might not have cracked my Top 10 lists in the years that they were released.  Brill Bruisers is amazing and I hope it's on a lot more Best of 2014 than mine.

-I've long been a fan of Jenny Lewis' voice but I have not been a big fan of her solo stuff since Rilo Kiley broke up.  Voyager was one of the nice surprises of my year.

-I almost bumped 'Take Me To Church' off the list after hearing a remixed EDM verison on a Top 40 station.  It almost made my ears bleed.

-This didn't seem to be the best year of music releases.  I am able to really tell by the fact that I came dangerously close to putting a Taylor Swift song on my top 10 (and it's not Shake It Off).

-Here is a list of all the albums I've listened to this year.