Category Archives: Best of the Year

The 2018 Edgars!

Now that the dust has cleared from those other awards, and we all can rest happy knowing Vladimir Guerrero will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame – the main event of this week can come to fruition!

That’s right, the 18th Annual Edgar Awards are here! I’m sure you were wondering what Cory and I would think of this past year, even beyond that impressive three-hour dialogue on the best of 2017. Here you’ll find our version of the awards show season, and we’d love for you to participate!

Three films are tied for most nominations, with Baby DriverBlade Runner 2049 and I, Tonya all getting 10 nods apiece. Alongside the Edgar Wright-helmed action comedy, the four other films chosen for Best Film are DunkirkGet OutLogan and The Lost City of Z.

Click through below to take a look for yourself and we hope you enjoy!

 

The 2018 Edgar Awards

 

Thank you for voting!

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Five Films to Watch After Happy Death Day

If you know me, you know I absolutely loved Happy Death Day, a slasher film that came out this past October. You also probably know how much the film was inspired by the 1984 comedy classic Groundhog Day, and that I simply love that premise when it’s used in other films and entertainment. Happy Death Day is out on Blu-ray and DVD today, so I couldn’t help but to revisit the film and others like it.

Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek: The Next Generation used the premise to incredibly great effect, bringing us two of the finest episodes during the ’90s. In fact, the time loop episode of TNG – “Cause and Effect” – aired a year before Groundhog Day hit theatres. Maybe I’ll end up stuck in my own time loop until I figure out the origin of this premise.

Anyway, before my day runs out, here are the five films that best utilize this classic trope:

1) Source Code – 2011

Army pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) awakens to find himself part of a top secret project being experimented now – the day a commuter train into Chicago exploded inexplicably, killing everyone aboard. We follow him as he is forced to relive the increasingly brief window of the past in order to discover the culprit and where they planted the bomb on the train. Stevens finds himself in someone else’s body with partial amnesia. His only contact from home is Colleen (Vera Farmiga), a voice in his head he can only see when he returns from each “leap to the past”. Setting right things which once went wrong, Stevens leaps back to the beginning of the day, hoping each time that he will figure out their problem, as well as his own. Why is he stuck in this experiment? Can he save the people aboard this train, including Sean Fentress, the man he’s leapt into? While this may sound familiar just because of the Groundhog Day situation, it also sounds eerily reminiscent of another favorite show of mine, Quantum Leap. Director Duncan Jones even finds the chance to sneak a Scott Bakula cameo in there, so keep an ear out for him. Including incredible supporting work from Jeffrey Wright as the scientist bent on manipulating the Source Code machine he’s developed, as well as Michelle Monaghan as Sean’s love interest (who Stevens of course romances), this is one of the sharpest sci-fi films of the last decade, let alone one of my favorites of all time. You’re in for a treat of the senses if you rent this next.

Continue reading Five Films to Watch After Happy Death Day

This Will Be Televised – Best Shows of 2017

Just as it has been and always shall be in this platinum age of television, it’s nearly impossible to see all the great programs being broadcast out into our great lands. Heck, it’s often we get stuck picking the wrong show and realizing we’ve wasted precious viewing years on Grey’s Anatomy or NCIS: Los Angeles. Not all of us realized The Leftovers was going to be that good!

Anyway, here’s the definitive list of my favorite television programs of 2017:

10) Master of None and Mr. Robot

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Sure, I know I’m cheating a bit by having these two shows – but there’s a good reason, I haven’t officially finished their most recent seasons. Netflix shows are meant to binge, but for Master of None it’s like a sweet Italian wine you want to savor and contemplate. Given that Aziz Ansari flew the whole production to Modena and Pienza in northern Italy for the first few episodes of the second season, that’s an apt descriptor. Ansari also utilized his knowledge and love of Italian cinema to frame some of the scenes, so it’s a cinephile’s dream right off the bat. I preferred to wait and let the flavor of this beautiful little treat of a show waft around me, and will likely finish it off when there’s a slow period in 2018. As for Mr. Robot, I’ve been watching that with my mother this whole time – and despite my obvious love and extensive word-count on the subject – we’ve fallen behind with her teaching and my other work, as well as catching up on our number 4 show, only recently wrapping up with that. The actual show seems to be reaching another high point, as they’ve gotten past the growing pains of realizing what to do with an imaginary Christian Slater. The stones that were laid for that character are paying off heavy dividends as Slater is giving a master class on sinister bipolar reactions, and Rami Malek is able to mimic his father/ghost/mentor/enemy with such succinct detail that it’s no wonder this show is getting rave reminders that it’s on the upswing this season. Once we’ve caught up, there’s no doubt I’ll set to work on a third edition of my now-famous “Is Mr. Robot better than Gotham” series.

9) Santa Clarita Diet

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Who would have thought a zombie comedy could be so heartfelt? Reminding one of Showtime hits like The United States of Tara and Weeds but with a gross-out twist, Drew Barrymore stars as a no-nonsense realtor who finds herself one day turning into a zombie. The mystery of how she’s technically undead is half the fun, while rest is taken up by the wickedly hilarious turn by Timothy Olyphant, who plays her obliviously sincere husband. At times completely disgusting, you’ll be surprised to find that the little family formed by this tragic event are endearing despite the bloodshed. Throw in some inane plots that even Nancy Botwin couldn’t pull herself out of, and you have yourself the next underrated hit comedy.

8) Crashing

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I first heard of Pete Holmes from the Badman shorts on Funny or Die. His straightforward take on how ridiculous Christian Bale’s gruff vocals were in The Dark Knight trilogy were such a delight that I was hoping he’d break out somewhere else. Lucky for us, he got his own HBO show this past spring, where he showcased some of his stand-up talents. Stemming from his personal life, as all good slice-of-life comedian shows have the past few years, this tells of his sudden divorce and subsequent misadventures around New York City as he tries to find himself emotionally and monetarily – especially given that he has to bounce around friends’ apartments until he can afford a new locale of his own. It’s pretty standard fare these days, but Pete Holmes adds that extra special sincerity that I’ve loved from day one.

7) Rick and Morty

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Yes, I tried to get some of that stupid delicious szechuan sauce. No, it probably was never going to be worth it. We’re all going to have some disappointments in life, and the third season of Rick and Morty hedges its bets on that motif. From Rick’s daughter Beth discovering her imaginary playland was a Jumanji-esque rainbow trap where her childhood friend lived for twenty years to Jerry’s ongoing struggles as deadbeat dad living in slum apartments, we saw several episodes that push our heroes to their limits – all the while questioning whether any of it was worth it. The true highlight of the season was ‘Rick-lantis’, where we step away from our adventurers to take a look back in on The Citadel, the fortress planet that houses virtually every other Rick and Morty that exists in the multiverse. Through several storylines that reference everything from Willy Wonka to Training Day (in a much better way than Bright ever could) we learn that an old villain from season one (a rogue Morty) has re-emerged and taken over the planet. Will this set up an arc for season four, or is it merely a brilliant bottle episode that posits the meaning of life for a lowly janitor, even if he happens to be the smartest man on the planet, just the same as everyone else? True disappointment would be missing out on one of the great modern animated programs.

6) The Good Place

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Phew! For a while during the charmingly saccharine first season of Kristen Bell’s new NBC sitcom, we thought it would be a one-and-done blip of a show. The idea behind a woman finding herself in ‘heaven’ even though she’s meant for ‘hell’ is a good Twilight Zone episode, but would it work over several seasons? The true test was the finale of that first season, when it was revealed that Ted Danson’s guardian angel was actual a demon architect named Michael that was trying out some new torture methods and had pitted four denizens against each other in an attempt to drive them all insane. It backfired, as Kristen Bell’s Eleanor genuinely befriended her fake soulmate Chidi (a great William Jackson Harper) as they hope to end Michael’s reign of terror. In the end, Michael was unable to continue the torture, and a novel approach to the situation finds all of the humans teaming up with the demon to overthrow his mutinous employees. The third best part of this show? I truly don’t know where this plot will take us, and I’m thrilled that this turned out so surprisingly ingenious. The second best part? The show-writers are utilizing so much philosophy, and really diving deep into what it truly means to be human, even if you’re a demon. The actual best part? Ted Danson’s incredibly dextrous performance as the conflicted otherworldly creature, which may just be a career best.

5) Future Man

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Just like that, Josh Futterman became the most important person in history. It’s a shame no one will really know, but that’s the brilliant result from this clever time-bending Hulu comedy. Josh Hutcherson plays the titular ‘Future Man’ who beats an impossible video game and pulls two time-traveling soldiers from their apocalyptic 2162. What they expect is to find an elite fighter who’s trained on their most difficult program available, but Futterman clearly thought it was merely a trifle. He becomes swept up in a zany world of machismo, portals, racial tension and references to movies like Back to the Future and The Last Starfighter and shows like Quantum Leap. Naturally I was going to love something so referential – and it doesn’t hurt that Hutcherson nails his role as the everyman janitor thrust into unspeakably strange situations. The true standouts though are Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings) and Derek Wilson (Preacher) who play the inane mercenaries Tiger and Wolf respectively. Jimmy and I binged this in one sitting and it’s well worth it – sometimes you need to just absorb something all at once to truly appreciate it, and this falls on that side of the argument.

4) Twin Peaks

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One thing you must say about David Lynch’s work – it’s always unexpected. It’s also usually surprisingly delightful. After twenty-five years in hiding, Kyle Maclachlan’s Agent Cooper and the good citizens of his favorite little town in northern Washington state are back to entertain us. In the convening years, plenty has changed those wholesome yokels, as well as the FBI agents that invaded their town in the early 1990s. Something devious blossomed in the heart of Cooper, forcing a duality between the innocent Dale (now reincarnated from the White Lodge into a sort of deadbeat brother-in-law named Dougie) and a nefarious Bob-infested original Agent Cooper. Leather and Laura Dern spell the dark side, while goofiness and Mulholland Drive‘s Naomi Watts pervade the light side. While we attempt to decipher the labryinthian storylines, David Lynch delights in weirding us out. For those that are fans, it’s clear what his methods have developed, especially if they were able to sit through the intense moodpiece Inland Empire. Some of stated that this is a metaphor for Lynch rediscovering his own mojo in directing, but I don’t think it ever went away. If you didn’t like what he’s doing, it’s not like he was never for you – it’s just you might not appreciate latter-day existentialism. You also don’t have to like it, and there are several reasons why – not enough of the old crew (half are dead, though, aren’t they?) – not enough explanation (where is Audrey, really? Why is James bald?) and really, why did we waste an entire episode in the desert in the 1950s? My guess is that Lynch loves to let you interpret art however you’d like, and he’s just giving us the vessel.

3) Search Party

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This show creeped into my mind so much over the past year that it was the mostly hotly anticipated show for me, easily. Alia Shawkat showcases her skills in her eyes, and John Early subverts his acerbic humor into a brilliant defense mechanism. John Paul Reynolds’ uses his mopey and dopey aw shucks demeanor to underwhelm everyone around him into ignoring any devious antics, and Meredith Hanger’s innocence makes her the perfect foil for all of their obliviou shenanigans. Beyond the four of them, the plot is so tight a mystery that you can’t look away at the trainwreck they’ve gotten themselves into. If you know what happened at the end of season one, then you know the writers were in for a difficult fix for season two – and after leaving the Scooby-Doo mission behind, it becomes a Hitchockian alternation. The cinematography reflects this beautifully, as there’s even reference to VertigoRear Window and The Man Who Knew Too Much. If you’re a fan of Fellini from Master of None, you’ll love the Kubrck in Search Party.

2) Big Little Lies

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Jean-Marc Vallee perfects a view from the periphery: in the show’s climactic moment, he even mutes the dialogue so that we don’t know the main characters’ sides of events, something we’d been waiting for the entire series. Even the follow-up scene, where the investigating detective shows up at a funeral, still suspecting one of the leads, we don’t go through the stereotypical motions of accusing them from a distance – instead we hear their pen click – a subtle clue we were given in each episode as we were getting closer to the investigator figuring out the truth. Sound was integral to this show, as was the impeccable soundtrack. Michael Kiwanuka’s melodiuous intro “Cold Little Heart” is a perfect aural entryway into the mood of the show. You’re never quite sure what anyone’s motivation is – from calculating Renata Klein (Laura Dern) to put-upon housewife play producer Madeline Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon) to knife-sharp former lawyer Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman). When newcomer Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) upends their affluent microcosm, all hell breaks loose. The adult drama is reflected in their younger counterparts, played by particularly brilliant child actors Iain Armitage (Young Sheldon) and Darby Camp. It’s as much a show about growing up as finally accepting that you’re an adult, and the lies that we tell ourselves along the way. It’s simply brilliant, and it has five stellar women to anchor the proceedings.

1) GLOW

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Speaking of incredible women, this Netflix offering has a dozen gorgeous women that end up falling into the strangest job of their lives – lady wrestling. Alison Brie plays down-and-out actress Ruth, who – at the end of her ropes – signs on to the pseudo-sport as a last resort project hoping to revitalize her resume. Little does she realize that she’ll be the one to galvanize the other girls into action and prove that the “pseudo” part doesn’t really apply. Alongside her are Cherry Bang (Sydelle Noel), Rhonda (Kate Nash) and Carmen Wade (Britney Young) and multiple other colorful characters that populate the arena. Their “director” is played with caddish charm by Marc Maron, and the scenes between he and Brie are some of the year’s best. The way they can share an entire conversation with just their eyes speaks volumes in a year where some of the best stuff was in silence. The last component to make this show spark is Betty Gilpin, playing Debbie, Ruth’s only friend. The show begins with Ruth destroying Debbie’s marriage, and the subsequent episodes attempt to repair their reluctant friendship by forcing them to lift up girl power (and each other in finisher moves). A true surprise, let this eat at your soul as you contemplate what it means to truly relate to each other when friends and coworkers are all you have.

Ones to Catch Up on: Godless, The Leftovers, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Sinner, Get Shorty

Honorable Mentions: Ghosted, The Orville, Legion, White Famous


That’s all, folks! We’re off until next week when Cory and I will be discussing our most anticipated films of 2018, and I’ll likely launch back into Music to Your Ears. We’re looking forward to revamping the look of our little podcast website, as well as figuring out what direction we want to take everything in. We ope you have a happy new year, from all of us – Cory, Tristan, Jimmy, Jeff, Brad, et al – at Interjections!

Podcast Dec 29 – Best and Worst of 2017

Oh boy, are you in for some fun – Cory and Tristan have compiled several lists to commemorate the closing of one of the craziest years in cinema, 2017.

The biggest Interjections podcast to date is so big I’m breaking it down for you this way:

00:00 – First, the pair goes through a handful of films they saw this week, including I, Tonya, Last Flag Flying, The Trip to Spain, Downsizing and Mudbound. Basically the pair did their weekly podcast before diving into the categorical subject matter of this end of the year review.

1:04:30 – Now that they finally get past this week, they start off with the bottom ten – Cory begins with a few dishonorable mentions, and they swap the worst ten back and forth.

1:54:25 – Cory runs through his lists of biggest disappointments and largest surprises (2:00:05).

2:06:40 – Tristan goes over the films he missed this year that he wishes he could have gotten to before this podcast (Cory’s always better at finding his way through everything).

2:12:30 – Just to prolong this even further, both share their favorite performances of the year, back and forth like the worst films. Cory starts off with his worst, naturally. Tristan follows up with his favorites.

2:22:22 – Cory goes on and on about his own favorite performances of the year.

2:29:13 – At long last, Cory and Tristan trade their top ten back and forth. Tristan has some honorable mentions!

3:26:54 – Last but not least, the Interjections duo decides to revisit their most anticipated lists from back in January, double checking whether they were right about anything, or unabashedly imprecise in their predictions.


All in all, it was one of our best, and we hope you enjoy it. Listen in below, and remember: comment responsibly!

Music to Your Ears – Music Bracket Finals and Top Five Albums

Here you go, it all comes down to this:  and are the two best tracks from 2017, according to our readers. Which one will come out on top? That’s up to you to decide, faithful followers!

Our final showdown of the year involves one of the lowest seeds, a rarity in brackets – but for good reason, it’s the hit single “Want You Back” from Haim. The sister trio out of California faces off against their neighbors from Nevada – The Killers, with their big return in “Run for Cover”.

Take a listen once again, to refresh your memory:

 


Now, for additional reading pleasure, are my top five albums of 2017:

5) Spoon – Hot Thoughts

As is often the case with bands you’ve loved for a decade or more, it’s difficult to continue loving each and every album they put out. It’s usually lightning in a bottle when you capture their sound for the first time, and a battle for quality in your mind spreads over their subsequent work. Spoon has generally been good for me, but their last two albums, 2010’s Transference and 2014’s They Want My Soul were lackluster to say the least. What a relief that Britt Daniel and company got back on their game with this album, a fresh funky dance groove that wants you to shake off the dust of your bad feelings. There’s nothing wrong with that, right?

What I Said Then (3/22): “I love when an album comes together like this, reminding you of all their best moments, while still imagining new adventures for the crew. This is likely my favorite album this year so far.”

Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Music Bracket Finals and Top Five Albums

Music to Your Ears – Best of the Year: Final Four plus Albums

The underdogs keep rolling as literally all four match-ups had upset defeats – that leaves us with a final four of:

The boys from Vegas are inviting the Englishman for a duel for the ages:

Take a listen again to refresh your memory:

The sister trio is facing off against the New Zealand import:

Hear them again to finalize your vote:

 

Now, for some additional enjoyment, here’s the first five of my favorite albums of the year:

Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Best of the Year: Final Four plus Albums

Music to Your Ears – Best of the Year: Elite Eight and Honorable Mentions

Well, there’s already been some surprising upsets in our first bracket music challenge! Both our 1st and 2nd seeds were knocked out (some may say our voters have no heart) as Selena Gomez fell to Liam Gallagher and Carly Rae Jepsen fell to Haim. Without further adieu, here’s the elite eight:

First, we have the British invading the States again as Liam Gallagher takes on St. Vincent:

It’s all about cardio in our second match-up as Cold War Kids try to unseat the racing Killers single:

Underrated Jidenna pops up in our third face-off, where he tries to fend of the sister trio Haim:

Kesha continues strong, but faces fierce competition from similar songstress Lorde:

Now, as for those songs that didn’t make the cut – some were victims of overexposure (Feel It Still, Portugal. the Man) and some were simply a victim of my strict sixteen limits. Anyway, here’s six extra songs for your enjoyment:

Honorable Mentions:

Edge of Town – Middle Kids

Early this year, a new band emerged out of Australia with a three-song EP. This snappy garage rocker earwormed its way into my head, and positioned this band as one of the artists I’m most excited about in the coming year. Eagerly anticipating their full release, we can live inside this for now – a mix of Yeah Yeah Yeahs tremble from vocalist Alex Lahey and guitar work that feels straight out of tour mates Cold War Kids. Elton John has lauded this tune, and now so am I.

Forgiveness – Paramore

The best song off After Laughter, the crisp follow-up to their best and self-titled 2013 album, ‘Forgiveness’ is a somber look at how heartbreak affects us. Take a look at this section – ‘Cause your voice is a gun / Every word is a bullet hole / Shot a hole in the sun / If I never look up maybe I’ll never notice. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but Hayley Williams has never written anything so poignant and relatable.

Sky Musings – Wolf Alice

As tremulous as the vocals were in Sleigh Bells’ great track ‘And Saints’, singer Ellie Roswell outdoes Alexis Krauss here in the best track off Wolf Alice’s latest album. Almost whipsering, Roswell searches her way under your skin with one of the darkest yet hopeful tracks you’ll hear all year. When you’re young you think your life is over when something drastic happens, but Wolf Alice is here to remind you that there’s plenty of time left to make sure you get it right.

I’m Stuck – Noah Cyrus

Miley’s younger sister nearly stole the show this summer with this catchy love tune that popped up in commercials and trailers all over the place. I hesitate to say it’s better, because I clearly placed ‘Malibu’ in the bracket, but I have higher hopes for where Noah’s future lies. She’s already got the knack for irresistible hooks, and I gather she’ll have the chance to win us over for many songs of the summer to come.

Lay It On Me – Vance Joy

A late entry in this – literally, I heard this again yesterday and realized I knew the lyrics only after a second listen. I’m already a big fan of Vance Joy’s 2013 hit ‘Riptide’ and that song worked its way into my heart over a year. This time it was clearly much faster, and Joy’s infectious vocals are just what we need as the year wraps up. Apparently this developed from a voicemail Joy kept on his phone for some time, and this is the quaint response.

Savage – Lights

I had limited my expectations of Lights singer Valerie Poxleitner after being underwhelmed by her previous efforts. Luckily this year’s Skin&Earth is a brilliant concept album that lives in a fantasy world, something that’s definitely up my weird alley. Somehow nerdier Lights became better Lights, and the best example of that improvement is ‘Savage’. A raucous declaration of unrequited love, Lights has truly outdone herself.

Here’s a full playlist of my top thirty-five songs from 2017: