Tops of 2023

I'm getting to the age, where my interest in new music has waned, as you'll see below.    


The Maddie Barker Honorary Top Ten Movies of 2023*

  1. Dream Scenario
  2. Oppenheimer
  3. Barbie
  4. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
  5. Elemental
  6. Beau is Afraid
  7. Killers of the Flower Moon
  8. Asteroid City
  9. M3GAN
  10. To Catch a Killer

The Logan Roy Honorary Top Ten TV Shows of 2023**

  1. Poker Face (S1)
  2. How To with John Wilson (S3)
  3. Beef (Limited Series)
  4. Ahsoka (S1)
  5. Succession (S5)
  6. Gen V (S1)
  7. Fargo (S5)
  8. The Last of Us (S1)
  9. Barry (S4)
  10. Full Swing (S1)

The Matt Skiba Honorary Top Ten Most Listened to Songs of 2023***

  1. Don't Lose Sight (2021) by Lawrence
  2. UNDERWATER BOI (2021) by Turnstile
  3. Dancing Days (1973) by Led Zeppelin
  4. Last Night (2023) by Morgan Wallen
  5. Into the Mystic (1970) by Van Morrison
  6. Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me (1974) by Elton John
  7. ONE MORE TIME (2023) by blink-182
  8. O Come to the Altar (2016) by Elevation Worship
  9. Hey Driver feat. The War and Treaty (2023) by Zach Bryan
  10. Shine (1994) by Collective Soul
* – These are the movies I'm still hoping to see: American Fiction, Anatomy of a Fall, The Holdovers, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, May December, Poor Things, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. 
** – These are the television shows I'm still hoping to see: The Curse, Loki (S2).
*** – These are my most listened to songs in 2023, but they were not all released in 2023. It's hard to stay current with a small child at home.


Tops of 2022

Here are my top ten lists for 2022. Enjoy!    


The Mike Shinoda Honorary Top Ten Songs of 2022

  1. Flower Shops [Acoustic] (feat. Morgan Wallen) by ERNEST
  2. U by Belle & millennium parade 
  3. Waste of Paint (Companion Version) by Bright Eyes
  4. Silent Hill (feat. Kodak Black) by Kendrick Lamar
  5. Runner by Alex G
  6. Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) by Kate Bush*
  7. These Are the Ways by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  8. What's Up? by Mom Jeans.
  9. Get Back - Rooftop Performance / Take 3 (2022 Mix) by The Beatles
  10. I'm Good (Blue) by Dave Guetta & Bebe Rexha

The NoHo Hank Honorary Top Ten TV Shows of 2022

  1. The Bear (S1)
  2. The Rehearsal (S1)
  3. Severance (S1)
  4. The White Lotus (S2)
  5. Wednesday (S1)
  6. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (S1)
  7. Stranger Things (S4)
  8. Better Call Saul (S6)
  9. The Watcher
  10. The Resort  

The Saul Tenser Honorary Top Ten Movies of 2022

  1. The Banshees of Inisherin
  2. Everything Everywhere All at Once
  3. Top Gun: Maverick
  4. NOPE
  5. Hustle
  6. Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers
  7. Belle
  8. Amsterdam
  9. Men
  10. Glass Onion

The Mark, Tom, & Travis Honorary Most Listened To Albums of 2022**

  1. Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers (2022) by Kendrick Lamar
  2. Sweet Tooth (2022) by Mom Jeans.
  3. God Save the Animals (2022) by Alex G
  4. Unlimited Love (2022) by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  5. LIFTED or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground: A Companion (2022) by Bright Eyes
  6. Let it Be (Super Deluxe) (2021) by The Beatles
  7. Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (2001) by blink-182
  8. Meteora (2003) by Linkin Park
  9. The Cars (1978) by The Cars
  10. I and Love and You (2009) by The Avett Brothers
* – Making an exception, because this song wasn't technically released in 2022, but it made a huge impact in pop culture and topped the Billboard charts. Closest thing we had to a song of the summer.
** – Listened to in 2022, but not necessarily released in 2022.


Tops of 2021

I don't have much new to say this year. Movie theaters are dying. Cinematic melodramas only exist on streaming platform which continue to be exceedingly segmented, and TV is still the best place to find great writing and acting. The cinema is dead, long live my couch!    


The Rick & Morty Season 5 Honorary Top Ten TV Shows of 2021

  1. Squid Game (S1)
  2. Mare of Easttown
  3. How To with John Wilson (S2)
  4. Midnight Mass 
  5. The White Lotus
  6. Only Murders in the Building (S1)
  7. Curb Your Enthusiasm (S11)
  8. Hawkeye (S1)
  9. Monsters at Work (S1)
  10. Dave (S2)

The Zeena the Seer Honorary Top Ten Movies of 2021*

  1. Dune
  2. The Lost Daughter
  3. The Green Knight
  4. Don't Look Up
  5. Spider-man: No Way Home
  6. Licorice Pizza
  7. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  8. No Time to Die
  9. Free Guy
  10. Zack Snyder's Justice League

The Fred Durst Honorary Top Ten Songs of 2021

  1. good 4 u by Olivia Rodrigo
  2. Dangerous by Morgan Wallen
  3. Drain You (Remastered 2021) by Nirvana
  4. Dad Vibes by Limp Bizkit
  5. Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile
  6. Today by Fruit Bats
  7. Back to Oz by Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine
  8. Pulk/Pull - True Love Waits Version / Untitled v2 by Radiohead
  9. Days Like These by Low
  10. U-Mass - Live from the Warfield by Pixies

The Tom DeLonge** Honorary Most Listened To Albums of 2021

  1. In the Key of Disney by Brian Wilson
  2. Baron Von Bullsh*t Rides Again by Modest Mouse
  3. Sublime by Sublime
  4. Thank You by Stone Temple Pilots
  5. Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water by Limp Bizkit
  6. Take Off Your Pants and Jacket by blink-182
  7. Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  8. Tenacious D by Tenacious D
  9. Significant Other by Limp Bizkit
  10. Them Crooked Vultures by Them Crooked Vultures
* – These are the movies I've still yet to see: CODA, Drive My Car, King Richard, The Hand of God, House of Gucci, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, The Worst Person in the World
** – I met Tom DeLonge at an airport this year, which is what kind of propelled me back into my pop-punk and rap-rock days.


Breaking the Atmosphere of Cynicism

The Importance of Damien Chazelle Being Earnest

On October 12, filmmaker Damien Chazelle released his third major motion picture release, the intimate space biopic First Man (starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong and Clare Foy, in another Oscar worthy performance, as Janet Armstrong). With First Man, Chazelle found himself at a crossroads – continue to work with what's working (movies immersed in the culture of music) or to push himself topically and stylistically into uncharted space. He chose the latter, and this departure from the musical realm provided us as viewers with an intimate story about two infinitely vast topics – outer space and a man’s inner life.

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong in First Man. Courtesy Universal Pictures.

During the 141 minute journey to the moon, Chazelle channels Kubrick, Spielberg, Howard, and Malick all in order to paint an unconventional story about a very private and somewhat reclusive American legend. The choice to render a story about space travel so intimately has been the topic of much discussion in analysis of the film. But something I think that has gone unmentioned is that by mixing together a hodge-podge of directorial references, Chazelle magically avoids a voiceless grey and creates something colorful and completely new. By doing so he solidified himself as the first great “post-postmodern director” and added pressure to film critics to start formally describing his style as Chazelleian.

Chazelle is a derivative director. Reading this, you may think I'm insulting the director, because for many, being derivative is anathema, and always a bad thing. However, if we’re being honest it's impossible to not be derivative, because no art is ever created in a vacuum, and all creators, whether unintentional or not are imitating and stealing from the other creative endeavors that whir past our senses. I believe Chazelle has not only realized this but he's embraced the notion that all film makers (past, present, and future) work in the shadows of those that created before them or alongside them. And he doesn't live in fear of it. He acknowledges it, pays homage to it, and somehow creates something totally new and original from source material. I think most people would agree, we did not need another movie about space, but by zooming in on Armstrong and his inner-life through this process we were given a totally new movie about space, because it's actually just a movie about a emotionally reticent man.

Watching First Man, I felt hope for the coming generation of young filmmakers that will soon be filling the voids that legends like Scorsese and Spielberg will be leaving behind, because I saw in the movie a 33 year old director rejecting cynicism and embracing sincerity as he told a story about a complicated mission in a complicated country during one of the most tumultuous decades we have in our history. This is why I describe Chazelle as a "post-postmodernist," because, while he gladly references and re-mixes movie-making technologies (mixing super 16mm with IMAX) and story-telling motifs (e.g. all of La La Land) he is not cynical or patronizing when he does it – he does it with full earnestness. This is nothing short of miraculous, because cynicism has become the de facto millieu from which much creative work is made and critiqued.

My hope is that more movie-makers and storytellers will move towards a post-post-modern way of thinking and embrace earnestness. Not that we can't be critical or should embrace being naïve, but rather, reject the exhaustion and hopelessness that cynicism brings with it. It’s a creative suppressant and I think this next generation of young filmmakers need to ardently fight against if we're going to continue to see innovation in the field. It’s an idea as ludicrous as landing on the moon – just the kind of idea I can see us accomplishing.


Tops for Twenty Twenty

The Best Diversions from the Worst Year

The year 2020 will be iconic for many reasons – the spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent shutdown of the world being the main one. Beyond that, one could argue that, in spite of (or because of) the coronavirus, 2020 was one of the greatest and most unifying years of television that we've had in recent memory. A truly iconic year of TV. Popular culture and media consumption over the past 20 years has become more and more fractured as people are now able to stream whatever they want to watch on their own terms and the societal bonds forged by appointment television are now relegated to sports. Streaming services have contributed greatly to this fracturing as they wage bidding wars for I.P. and sitcom reruns, resulting in the average viewer feeling lost and disillusioned as to why The Office is no longer on Netflix (I refuse to use Peacock...but that's another story). Most water-cooler conversations (via Zoom) are now are people pleading with their co-workers to not spoil the latest show, because they (a) didn't have time to binge it in one weekend or (b) are still trying to get a password for HBO Max from their father-in-law.   

Despite all this something interesting happened as stay-at-home orders spread through the country (and more passwords were shared). More and more people were watching their televisions, and they were watching it communally with friends and family as a way to connect through social distancing. By way of consequence Netflix and ESPN both capitalized on this and released two of the most unifying and polarizing documentaries – Tiger King and The Last Dance – and these both became cultural landmarks and meme-fodder for this new world of social distancing we were all grappling with. At their core, what was so special about these shows is that they captured American society on a large scale over a decent amount of time that helped the world feel a little bit smaller and more under control. The shows provided ways for us the cut the tensions amongst our friends and families as we argued about who to vote for, whether of not wear masks, and if we should cancel Christmas. Joe Exotic and Michael Jordan gave us a reprieve from the devastation surrounding us outside and provided more trivial things for families to argue about. Did Carole Baskins kill her husband? Will Michael Jordan take it personally? How will Joe Exotic dye his hair in prison?  Did Scottie Pippen have a good summer? 

As we gain more distance from the onset of the pandemic, I think Tiger King and The Last Dance will become historical media markers and provide for us and remind us of the little bit of light and reprieve TV was able to offer us during one of the most tragic years in generations.

As for movies, things are a little more confusing. Movie theaters were forced to shut-down and every major media company was forced to pivot and start experimenting with in-home releases. So, while movies were being watched, they were no longer being watched in theaters, and rather major Hollywood tentpoles were being imbibed on television screens, tablets, and phone screens all from the comfort of home. If COVID-19 showed us anything it's that seeing movies in the theater isn't as important for your average consumer and annually (as ticket prices continue to increase) it'll become harder and harder for the average family to justify a $75 trip to the theaters. 


That being said, I don't think the Hollywood studios will completely divest from the theater chains, and the cineplex will survive, but I wouldn't be surprised if it became less of a cultural gathering place that it has been up until now. We've all tasted the convenience of in-home premier access, and I can testify myself, that after having returned to a theater to see a movie, I did not miss it and at times felt very uncomfortable and regretful of leaving the house. The coming year is going to be a pivotal year for movies that prioritize a theatrical release and while I'm not fully doom and gloom I'm not feeling super optimistic about the fate of the cineplex. Maybe said another way, I'm buying stock in GameStop, not AMC.

The Carole Baskins Honorary Top Ten TV Shows of 2020

  1. The Queen’s Gambit (S1)
  2. Ted Lasso (S1)
  3. Better Call Saul (S5)
  4. Mandalorian (S2)
  5. Rick & Morty (S4)
  6. Ozark (S3)
  7. Tiger King 
  8. The Last Dance
  9. The Flight Attendant (S1)
  10. The Boys (S2)

Top Ten Movies of 2020 in Honor of Chadwick Boseman

  1. i'm thinking of ending things
  2. An American Pickle
  3. Da 5 Bloods
  4. The Invisible Man
  5. Mank
  6. Tenet
  7. Lovebirds
  8. Palm Springs
  9. Soul
  10. Onward

On to Music...

This was a weird year for music for me. COVID-19 was very challenging as we all adjusted to new rhythms and learning all the technical wonders of Zoom. So there were many moments after a long day of sitting in front of a screen where I just wanted to listen to the nü metal and alternative bands of my youth. So I spent a lot of time listening to System of a Down, TOOL, and blink-182. I didn't have the energy to seek out new music like I usually do, and I just wanted the comfort of Tom DeLonge and Serj Tankian. So I listened to a lot of music from my high school days and it was glorious. In honor of this I'm adding a "most listened to" list, because much of the music I listened to wasn't from this year (let alone this decade). I hope you'll check them out. I'm also including my normal Top Ten songs from the year, so please enjoy that as well.

The Billy Corgan Honorary Top Ten Songs of 2020

  1. Break My Heart by Dua Lipa
  2. Cool Again by Kane Brown
  3. Nah Nah Nah by Kanye West
  4. Never Really Over by Katy Perry
  5. Goodbye to All That by Sufjan Stevens
  6. Alone by Zzo
  7. All the Wine by Bartees Strange
  8. More Than My Hometown by Morgan Wallen
  9. He Will Hold Me Fast by The Ritual Kids
  10. Beautiful Boy - Ultimate Mix by John Lennon

The Maynard James Keenan Honorary Most Listened To Albums of 2020

  1. Songs for the Church (2020) by The Ritual Kids
  2. Until the End of the World (1991) by Various Artists
  3. Lateralus (2001) by Tool
  4. Temporary Bliss EP (2020) by Zzo
  5. The Ascension (2020) by Sufjan Stevens
  6. Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy EP (2020) by Bartees Strange
  7. Toxicity (2001) by System of a Down
  8. ...And Justice For All (1988) by Metallica
  9. Enema of the State (1999) by blink-182
  10. Siamese Dream (1993) by The Smashing Pumpkins


Nine for Nineteen

The final year of the decade was, once again, another year dominated by Disney as the company had eight of the top ten highest grossing movies of 2019. Of those eight movies, five were franchise sequels, two were remakes, and one was the origin story of a character for a larger cinematic universe (essentially a prequel). Despite Disney's dominance in the theaters, Netflix continued to invest in and digitally release a slew of prestige motion pictures. Movies like The Irishman, Marriage Story, The Two Popes, were eagerly watched and discussed by critics and the general public. And not just were these things watched, they were rewarded with awards and nominations.

So what do we make of all this? People are clearly still going to the theaters to watch I.P. infused special effects theme park ride extravaganzas, and (a lot of the same) people are still watching thoughtful and original motion pictures by independent storytellers. From my estimation, it seems like a film's genre is having a direct impact on the format in which people feel like they need to see it. Marriage Story may be a great film, but do I really want to put on real clothes, drive in the snow, pay 12 bucks, and then sit next to a mouth-breather who keeps asking their spouse about plot details – all in order to watch a really well-acted marriage fall apart? I'm not so sure anymore... Now, do I want to do all those things to watch Thanos evaporate? Absolutely. 


Excellents of Eighteen

This past year may go down as the hardest year for me to craft my top ten list. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is that there wasn't a clear number one movie for me. In year's past there has always been a single cinematic experience movie that jumped out, grabbed me and held on strong as I continued to watch other films. But in 2018, this never happened, and I never had that "singular moment." Despite this, I did force myself to rank my movies, but if I'm being completely honest, depending on my mood or the type of genre I'm looking for, any one of these ten movies could be my number one. There is horror, animation, super-hero, fictional biopic, semi-historical biopic, action, and a new genre I'm calling post-modernist mish-mash where director Steven Spielberg reflects on and actively processes the decades-long oeuvre of Steven Spielberg.

Ranking my favorite TV shows was a much simpler endeavor, mainly due to the fact that I had very clear emotional responses to certain TV shows. These feelings were conveniently elicited in such a way that they were was easily rankable. The year in television (and this has been the case for a while now) was once again the more exciting and interesting venue for compelling visual storytelling. Whether it was Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) brilliantly bumbling along as she chased a sociopathic assassin or Barry Block (Bill Hader) brilliantly bumbling along as he hid the fact that he was a sociopathic assassin (big year for assassins). Over on FX, Donald Glover continued to push the envelope for the 30-minute format as his Atlanta got weirder and more insightful while Glover continued to explore his voice as one of the most exciting and creative story-tellers working today (Teddy Perkins anyone?). And (unfortunately) it was on the small screen where we found the finest cinematography of any movie or TV show within Sam Esmail's Homecoming (yes even better than the master Alfonso Cuarón's ROMA*).


NFL Bandwagon Cheat Sheet 2018

Every fan needs a backup plan. Maybe it's mid-May and the ace starting pitcher of your favorite team falls prey to Tommy John surgery. Maybe it's Pre-season week 3, and your favorite wide-out (who also happens to be on your fantasy team) ruptures his achilles on a non-contact play. Or maybe your favorite point guard tears his ACL, right meniscus, and every other knee ligament over the course of 3 seasons. And that's just injuries – we haven't even mentioned incompetent owners, stressed out coaches, and Twitter.

That's why every sports fan needs a backup plan – an order of operations you can follow as your favorite team circles the drain. As fans we place large quantities of hope on very tiny ligaments, so it's only logical to have a Plan B (and C and D and E) just in case the worst happens. Injuries aside, the backup plan comes in extra handy during the playoffs, because you can easily deduce who you're going to cheer for in any playoff matchup.

With all that in mind, as a new season kicks off on September 6th, I wanted to share my backup plan for the National Football League – it's my Bandwagon Cheat Sheet. I rank all 32 teams in order of preference, and no matter what injuries, firings, or locker room implosions I'll have a team to root for. I hope my list can inspire your own list, and I'd love to read them in the comments. Two quick notes: (1) All rankings are subject to change depending on my mood, and (2) all rankings are deeply subjective.

NFL Bandwagon Cheat Sheet 2018

Group A: My Two Favorite Teams
1. Bears
1. Broncos
It's always good to have a favorite team from each conference (AFC/NFC). And ideally two teams with disparate "playoff windows." With the exception of possible Super Bowls, you'll only play this team once every 4 years, which means you'll only feel torn with the same frequency that you feel glee about the Olympics, World Cup, or Presidential Elections so it'll get cancelled out. My top two teams are the Chicago Bears and the Denver Broncos. Da Bears because I was born and raised in the streets of Chicago and was raised to root for the Monsters of the Midway. I cheer for the Broncos, because I jumped on their bandwagon when I was 10 (the year Elway and co. won the franchise's first Super Bowl), and I've felt obligated to stay a fan ever since (even though I'm still salty about Tebow). The best part about liking these two teams – they have similar color schemes. Easy for decorating my man-cave one day!

Group B: Teams I Enjoy Rooting For When the Bears/Broncos Are Bad
3. Bills
As a Cubs fan I can relate to the heartbreak that this franchise has gone through. I also love their uniforms. But most of all I just think Buffalo is a great city that invented the greatest food known to man (buffalo wings (specifically from Duff's)). I'm always happy to root for these underdogs.
4. Jaguars Jason Mendoza. Enough said right? I can elaborate. Team owner Shahid Khan is an alumni from the university I attended, the University of Illinois and he's been a great supporter of this campus. While he doesn't always have the best taste in uniforms, it does seem like he's righted the ship by hiring Tom Coughlin. He's also been a big contributor to my community, and I'm happy to support him and the Jags.
5. Rams 
I'm very recently on the Sean McVay bandwagon. I'm also very happy to root for any team that help contribute to the irrelevance of the Chargers and encourage that franchise back to San Diego (The Chargers have no fans! They're going to become the next Clippers!)
6. Seahawks
This one will annoy many of you, but I don't care. They have a beautiful city, a great ownership group, an amazing stadium, and annoying coach. To top it all of, the starting QB has an amazing first name. AND HUSTLES!
7. Dolphins
Any team that is confident enough to wear teal and bright orange has my support.
8. Raiders
I know they're a division rival, but man this franchise has got the coolest uniforms with a wild history and a legacy of odd-ball owners. I'm very excited for them to move to Vegas and I can't wait to see what it does for their team and the city. (More recently, I'm very thankful for Kahlil Mack.)
9. Saints
It's hard to root against good people like Drew Brees and Sean Payton. Plus Payton has a rich Illinois history – playing for Naperville Central and Eastern Illinois.
10. Vikings
Another division rival (sacrilegious I know) but they still haven't won a Super Bowl, and I'm always down for a team to win their first. 

Group C: The "I Generally Don't Like Them, But I'll Root for Them if They're Playing Against 22-32" Teams
11. Bengals
Their uniforms cover a multitude of sins.
12. Cardinals
Former Chicago franchise, and Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best to play the game.
13. Browns
Official diagnosis: "Hard Knocks recency bias."
14. Texans
Deshaun is such a fun young player, great defense led by Watt, and an amazing response from the whole organization after Hurricane Harvey.
15. Falcons
Any chance I get to watch Matty-Ice and Julio score touchdowns I will take.
16. Titans
Mariota runs fast!
17. Bucs
Jameis runs slow!
18. Panthers
I love watching Cam Newton get rocked when he acts like a running back. Stay in the pocket!!!
19. 49ers
I love the Bay Area, and with the addition of Jimmy G, they are a franchise on the rise. Amazing history and storied franchise. Easy to root for.
20. Steelers
Pittsburgh has some excellent bridges and interesting sandwiches.
21. Patriots ^
Even if I hate the diamond, I can still acknowledge it's brilliance. One of the best coached, managed, quaterbacked, and owned teams in NFL history. Especially for my era.

Group D: Teams I DO NOT Like
22. Lions*
Division rival with no redeeming qualities. Also home of the Red Wings. And the Detroit Tigers (who beat the Cubs in the World Series in '45).
23. Ravens
Just kind of a boring team to me. I have no connection to Baltimore. Not a fan of Ray Lewis.
24. Redskins
25. Eagles
26. Giants
27. Cowboys
The NFC East. I just hate it. Do I need to say more? 
28. Jets
Horrible uniforms, annoying fan-base, and the former home of Rex Ryan and Butt-Fumble.
29. Colts
Beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Never forget.
30. Chargers
This one is tough, because I have a lot of beloved family in San Diego. Unfortunately they did my second city so dirty I had to drop them down to almost the lowest. A purely emotional decision. (Fun fact: I got to witness the last game played in Qualcomm with my father-in-law. Pretty cool.)
31. Chiefs
Division rival. Thought I'm grateful for Andy Reid mentoring and raising up my guy Matt Nagy. Can't wait for him to lead the Bears to a Super Bowl!

Group E: The Packers
32. The Packers
My least favorite team in the whole NFL. Their uniforms hurt my eyeballs, their fanbase annoys the daylights out of me, and the games they play agains the Bears stress me out! Growing up so close to Wisconsin I had plenty of cheesehead friends, and man they get on my nerves. I'm very happy to say the Broncos beat them in Super Bowl XXXII, but sad to say that many times these days they end up beating up on the Bears. I hope the Bears days of dominance will return soon, but until then I'll always have the Seahawks to get my back! 
One redeeming quality: Aaron Rodgers' commercials and dating life.

^ – Bill Belichek is the greatest coach of all time
* – I’d root for them in the Super Bowl, just because I love seeing droughts end, and that means the Bears were already out. Even against the Broncos, because the Broncos have won so many.


Supremes of Seventeen

This may go down as one of the hardest years for me to rank my top movies of the year. The challenge wasn't that there weren't enough good movies – there were a lot of good movies this year. But there were few that I found to be great, and there wasn't a movie that I felt captured the country's imagination (like La La Land did last year ). All that to say there wasn't a real stand out to me, until I saw the Safdie Brother's Good Time. I wasn't able to see this until recently, and I'm so glad I did before I made my list, because the movie literally took my breath away (I think I breathed a total of 3 times during the whole film).

Good Time wastes very little of your time, as it economically paints a heartbreaking picture of mental illness, criminal recidivism, and the sickeningly clever (and stupid) manipulation tactics that desperate men succumb to as they drag those around them down with them.


Standouts of Sixteen

As I finalized my lists for 2016, I began to sense a backlash to loving La La Land. I'm beginning to notice more and more that within pop culture, once something surpasses a level of general acceptance (no matter it's merit), there is a certain type of person that feels an obligation to irrationally dislike something – simply for the sake of "balancing" the conversation. I don't feel like we should do this with La La Land. It was a sincerely audacious movie made by a 32-year-old millennial who actively rejected the cynicism of his peers and made something truly hopeful and beautiful. La La Land is the best movie of the year, because in the cynical, franchise-drenched cinematic landscape of 2016, it was a revolution, and it's worthy of its accolades.

Other things to note: this is the first time that my #1 movie and #1 album are from the same source. Damien Chazelle and his team have really created something special, and I'm proud to heartily endorse it. Had it not been for La La Land, Martin Scorsese's Silence would've been my #1. It was a beautiful portrayal of the struggle to hear God's voice, the challenge of doubt, and a very fair examination of the imperialist undertones of missionary work.


Favs of Fifteen

It seems that my blog has devolved from a semi-irregular accounting of spiritual thoughts and concepts to a yearly archive of my favorite media from a given year. Which maybe isn't DEvolution, but REvolution? This year brings along with it a change – I'll be including my favorite TV shows from the year as well, and I removed the singles list this year. (Btw, did you hear? The Beatles are streaming everywhere! That deserves a list unto itself.)

The John Hammond Honorary Top Eleven Movies
  1. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
  2. Room
  3. Ex Machina
  4. Mad Max: Fury Road
  5. It Follows
  6. The Hateful Eight
  7. Steve Jobs
  8. The Big Short
  9. Ant-Man
  10. Spotlight
  11. A Most Violent Year
The Grinder's Honorary Top Six TV Shows
  1. The Leftovers (Season 2)
  2. Mr. Robot (Season 1)
  3. Fargo (Season 2)
  4. Silicon Valley (Season 2)
  5. Better Call Saul (Season 1)
  6. Show Me a Hero (Mini-Series)
The Hotline Bling Honorary Five Albums
  1. To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
  2. Return to the Moon by EL VY
  3. Hop Along by Painted Shut
  4. Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes
  5. Join the Triumph by Citizens & Saints


Best of 2014

This year's list is a little different than year's past. Instead of doing a list for albums acquired, I'm going to share a list of favorite singles from the year. My love for bad pop music has never been represented (until now). Unfortunately, there weren't many "complete" albums this year that I enjoyed front to back – so I'm not super proud of my bottom three in my list of albums, but what are you going to do. Here are my lists.

The Star-Lord Honorary Top Five Movies of 2014
  1. The Lego Movie
  2. Birdman
  3. Nightcrawler
  4. Whiplash
  5. Gone Girl
The James Vincent McMorrow Honorary Top Five Albums of 2014
  1. The Bones of What You Believe by CHVRCHES*
  2. Becoming What You Are by Kings Kaleidoscope
  3. Everything Will Be Alright in the End by Weezer 
  4. LP1 by FKA Twigs
  5. Disgraceland by The Orwells
The Meghan Trainor Honorary Top Five Singles of 2014
  1. Summer by Calvin Harris
  2. Felix Culpa by Kings Kaleidescope
  3. Sleepless by CAZZETTE
  4. Don’t Tell ‘Em by Jeremiah
  5. Bang Bang by Jessie J (feat. Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj)
* - This album technically came out in 2013, but I had no idea, and didn't start listening to it until February of 2014. As well, it's definitely the only album of the year I liked from beginning to end. Thus it's making my list. Blame it on the fact that I'm 27, and it takes me a while to find out about cool music.


Tops of 2013

Welcome to the third annual edition of my tops list of the year. I'll be listing 3 lists for 2013: Favorite albums released in 2013, favorite albums acquired in 2013, and favorite movies released in 2013.

The Terrence Thornton Honorary Top Five Albums Released in 2013
  1. Bad Blood by BASTILLE
  2. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend 
  3. Acid Rap by Chance the Rapper
  4. Pure Heroine by Lorde
  5. Trouble Will Find Me by The National 
The North West Honorary Top Four Albums Acquired in 2013
  1. good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar 
  2. The Lumineers by The Lumineers
  3. The Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  4. Pitch Perfect Soundtrack by Various Artists
The Mike and Sulley Honorary Top Five Movies Viewed in 2013
  1. Gravity directed by Alfonso Cuarón
  2. Frances Ha directed by Noah Baumbach
  3. 12 Years a Slave directed by Steve McQueen
  4. Saving Mr. Banks directed by John Lee Hancock
  5. Her directed by Spike Jonze


Favorite Songs from a Favorite Band

Yesterday, while I was investing some time into my Facebook News Feed, I saw a post from the page of one of my favorite bands Bright Eyes. They were sharing that the music blog Stereogum had posted a list of The 10 Best Bright Eyes Songs. Now, I love Top Ten lists, I do one every year for movies and music, so I couldn't resist making my own Top 10 Best Bright Eyes Songs.

My list is very different than Stereogum's list and that's probably because I'm a fan, and they're more music critics (and we all know critics are "different" than the rest of us). So keep that in mind. One quick note: On iTunes you can see "play count" for a given song. This played heavily into my listing, as did "nostalgia" – what sort of connection did this song have to my past (esp. High School ha!)
  1. "We Are Free Men" on There is No Beginning to the Story EP
  2. "You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will." on LIFTED -or- The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
  3. "Land Locked Blues" on I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
  4. "Kathy with a K's Song" on Oh Holy Fools!
  5. "A Perfect Sonnet" on Every Day and Every Night
  6. "Middleman" on Cassadaga
  7. "A Scale, A Mirror, and Those Indifferent Clocks on Fevers and Mirrors
  8. "False Advertising" on LIFTED -or- The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
  9. "Jejune Stars" on The People's Key
  10. "June On the West Coast" on Letting Off the Happiness


The 2nd Annual Tops of Twenty Twelve

This is the second annual edition of this listing where I share my favorite albums from 2012. And for the first time ever I'm also including my top five movies as well. For last year's lists click here.

Here are my main criteria for the music rankings:
Repeatability: Can I listen to it multiple times and not get sick of it?
Listenability: Is it pleasant and intriguing to listen to?
Emotionability: Does it speak to my heart and soul?
Originalibity: It has to be somewhat original; subjectively.

The "Gangam-Style-Honorary" Top Five Albums Released in 2012
  1. My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men
  2. Other People's Heartache/Flaws EP by Bastille
  3. Silver & Gold by Sufjan Stevens 
  4. Making Mirrors by Gotye
  5. An Awesome Wave by alt-J
The "Temple-of-the-Dog-Honorary" Top Five Albums Acquired in 2012
  1. If Not Now, When? by Incubus
  2. Nickel Creek by Nickel Creek
  3. Vows by Kimbra
  4. Strange Mercy by St. Vincent
  5. Never Trust a Happy Song by Grouplove
Here are my main criteria for the movie rankings:
Emotionability: Does it speak to my heart and soul?
Attentability: Does it keep my attention?
Repeatability: Would I watch it again?

The "Star Wars: Episode VIII - Lucas Strikes Back" Honorary Top Six Movies Viewed in 2012
  1. Wreck-It Ralph
  2. The Dark Knight Rises
  3. Silver Linings Playbook
  4. Django Unchained
  5. End of Watch
  6. Zero Dark Thirty


Top Five + Top Five = Top Ten of Twenty Eleven

Well, it looks like I'll break my blog silence with a post that ranks the music I've listened to this past year (I got big plans to write a real post in the near future, and I hope to write more regularly). Until then though, this will have to do.

Here are my main criteria for the rankings:
Repeatability: Can I listen to it over and over again and not get sick of it?
Listenability: Is it pleasant and intriguing to listen to?
Emotionability: Does it speak to my heart and soul?
Originalibity: It has to be somewhat original; subjectively.

The "Lady Gaga I Was Born This Way Baby" Honorary Top Five Albums of 2011
  1. Nine Types of Light by TV on the Radio 
  2. The People's Key by Bright Eyes
  3. The Sounds of Daniel Bashta by Daniel Bashta
  4. Bon Iver by Bon Iver
  5. The Soundtrack to Drive by Various Artists
The "Katy Perry, Yeah She Has Good Pop Music/One of the Boys/Teenage Dream" Honorary Top Five Albums Acquired in 2011
  1. Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons
  2. Only By The Night by Kings of Leon
  3. Dusk and Summer by Dashboard Confessional
  4. Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers by The National
  5. Odd Blood by Yeasayer 
Note: If I had no shame I would've included Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, because I spent a decent amount of time listening to them (more than I'd care to admit). But I do have shame, so they only get an honorable mention. Florence + the Machine might've made the list, but I just got their Lungs album, so I couldn't in good conscience.