Category Archives: Movies

My Own Damn Movie Awards for 2019

Another year of overkill time spent on movie consumption. Here’s my own damn list of favorites for 2019…

Best Pictures of 2019

  1. Avengers: Endgame (Best Picture, Best Visuals)
  2. The Irishman (Best Screenplay, Best Director)
  3. The Lighthouse
  4. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  5. The Farewell
  6. Honey Boy
  7. Parasite
  8. Ford v Ferrari (Best Sound)
  9. Us
  10. Dolemite Is My Name

Honorable Mentions: Apollo 11, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, 1917, The Peanut Butter Falcon, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Booksmart, Ad Astra, Knives Out, Toy Story 4

Best Actresses of 2019

  1. Lupita Nyong’o – Us
  2. Awkwafina – The Farewell
  3. Ana de Armas – Knives Out
  4. Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story
  5. Saoirse Ronan – Little Women
  6. Beanie Feldstein – Booksmart

Best Actors of 2019

  1. Adam Driver – Marriage Story
  2. Noah Jupe – Honey Boy
  3. Willem Dafoe – The Lighthouse
  4. Kang-Ho Song – Parasite
  5. Jimmie Fails – The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  6. Christian Bale – Ford v Ferrari

Considering how much happened, I’m actually pretty surprised I was able to see as much as I did this last year. Of course, I didn’t get to see everything and there was some stuff I just refused to watch, but I got around to most of it, without a doubt. Let’s go through the top five from 2019.

I connected with The Farewell on far too many personal levels that triggered a bunch of negative emotions. At the end, I was left angry, confused, and ready to move on. I know that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but it was therapy to feel like there was someone or something out there that empathized with me.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco lets you stew in the suffering from the painful affects of gentrification. Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails have made quite the ode to a city they clearly love. It’s gorgeously shot, wonderfully acted, and I can’t wait to see more.

Want to take a ride into madness? Well The Lighthouse has you covered. It starts you off right with some laughs before you descend down this bleak, disgusting, black and white horror show. When you do eventually pop out, you’ll be happy you did so with your sanity.

Scorsese just makes it look too easy now, creating a three and a half hour movie with not a single minute of waste. De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci continuously and effortlessly prove they’re masters of their art. The Irishman a colossal piece of cinema that is, hands down, the best single move of the year.

Yet, there’s something that deserves more accolades…

Look, imagine a nine-year-old Richie. He endlessly escapes to his room reading funny books about people with super powers who save humanity from the forces of evil. If you would have told that kid in 30 years, all of those stories were going to come to life on the big screen, the joy would have been so unimaginable that he simply wouldn’t have believed it… but they did come to life.

This acclaim isn’t for a single flick, but a 22 film odyssey that started more than 10 years ago. The grand adventure that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been an absolute delight to be a part of. Entirely unrivaled in cinematic storytelling, there’s no words that could ever underscore its achievement. But part of the journey is the end and that’s what we get with Avengers: Endgame.

Starting with tragedy and loss and how all of these broken characters have chose to grieve from the events of Infinity War, we move onto what is essentially a heist flick with all of the heart and humor you’d expect from a Marvel Studio movie. At the very climax, finally, our Avengers Assemble in an epic battle with thousands on screen. It’s a testament to the MCU that every person in the audience could call out the names of every single one of those thousands. There was the monumental challenge of effectively and thoughtfully closing the arcs for some of the most loved characters. Tony is finally given the chance to prove he can be a selfless hero. Thor, with all of his loss and grief, crawls out of the mud and finds an identity. And Cap, the guy who’s given everything for the things he’s believed and has shown time and time again he’d die for others finally goes and does something for himself; the man out of time finds his way home.

I’m in awe this film could exist at all and astonished the most anticipated flick of all time could still smash my expectations. It sets the bar so high that I can’t see there ever being another superhero movie to stand with it. Endgame was cathartic and satisfying and everything we deserved. I’m heartbroken it’s over, but overjoyed it happened.

My Own Damn Movie Awards for 2017

Here’s my own damn list of favorites for 2017…

Best Pictures of 2017

  1. Logan (Best Picture)
  2. Wind River (Best Screenplay)
  3. Dunkirk (Best Visuals & Sound)
  4. Get Out
  5. Coco (Best Director)
  6. Lady Bird
  7. Colossal
  8. Thor: Ragnarok
  9. John Wick: Chapter 2
  10. A Ghost Story

Honorable Mentions: War for the Planet of the Apes, Baby Driver, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, T2 Trainspotting, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Florida Project, It Comes at Night, The Shape of Water, Stronger

Best Actresses of 2017

  1. Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
  2. Elizabeth Olsen – Wind River
  3. Anne Hathaway – Colossal
  4. Rooney Mara – A Ghost Story
  5. Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
  6. Brooklynn Prince – The Florida Project
  7. Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  8. Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
  9. Dafne Keen – Logan

Best Actors of 2017

  1. Jeremy Renner – Wind River
  2. Hugh Jackman – Logan
  3. Colin Farrell – The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  4. Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
  5. Jake Gyllenhaal – Stronger
  6. Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  7. Ewan McGregor – T2 Trainspotting
  8. Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

I feel like every year gets harder for me to get the list under twenty and this year was no exception. It was a fun year, for sure.

In my opinion, Pixar has been way off its narrative game ever since Toy Story 3, but boy did they deliver big time with Coco. It’s about family and their role in supporting you and your dreams. It’s about the want to create music or any kind of art and not compromise in that creation. And it’s about not having to choose between the thing you love and the people you love. It’s a beautiful movie.

If Get Out was just a psychological thriller, it would be a very competent one, but there’s so much more. It’s a very sharp, very in your face social satire wrapped in a genre movie. Writer/director, Jordan Peele, cleverly illustrates how casual suburban, middle-upper class racism, despite contradictory assertion, is just as vile as blatant hatred. He criticizes white liberal hyperbole and speaks to people who believe they’re of a common cause against racism, but unknowingly make things harder for black people. The writing is tight, there’s a ton a lighthearted laughs and scares to break up the deliberately uncomfortable moments, and the lead, Daniel Kaluuya, is perfect.

Dunkirk is a flick that begs to be seen big and loud. It’s a horror movie at its core in that you’re watching all of these people and you know that it’s probably not going to end well for them. Nolan has never been a good director of human emotions, but he’s an amazing technical director and this one proves once again he’s a master of his art.

Wind River is the third movie in Taylor Sheridan’s “American frontier trilogy” and the first one he’s directed. It continues on the theme set by the previous two movies, Sicario and Hell or High Water, in that it’s about of the death of the Native American population and how people and companies don’t give two shits about it. The film is icy and bleak, but still richly textured due to Sheridan’s characterizations of its people and places. Jeremy Renner isn’t an actor I would say has a ton of range, but his performance here goes to show you how good anyone can be in the right director’s hands. Elizabeth Olsen has done amazing performances in the past and this one was definitely a return to form. It’s a remarkable movie all around.

I could have easily made Wind River my favorite of the year and been perfectly happy, but kept going back to one over and over again.

We’ve lived with Hugh Jackman and his character for so long through good movies and bad movies. We’ve watch the Wolverine do great things and horrible things and we’ve watched him age through it all. Logan is the send off we needed. This was about a cowboy going on his one last ride. A father’s love for their child. The last good thing Logan ever does in his life and it end exactly the way it should end… with triumph and heartbreak. Logan is a proper eulogy for this great character played by an amazing actor and that’s why it’s my favorite movie of 2017.

My Own Damn Movie Awards for 2016

Here’s my own damn list of favorites for 2016…

Best Pictures of 2016

  1. Hell or High Water (Best Picture, Best Screenplay)
  2. Arrival (Best Sound)
  3. Moonlight (Best Director)
  4. Moana
  5. The Handmaiden
  6. Manchester by the Sea
  7. Rogue One (Best Visuals)
  8. Captain America: Civil War
  9. Swiss Army Man
  10. The Nice Guys

Notable others include Silence, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Deadpool, Doctor Strange, The Edge of Seventeen, Don’t Breathe, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Witch, Nocturnal Animals, and Midnight Special.

Best Actresses of 2016

  1. Amy Adams – Arrival
  2. Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures
  3. Kim Tae-Ri – The Handmaiden
  4. Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen
  5. Naomie Harris – Moonlight
  6. Anya Taylor-Joy – The Witch
  7. Kim Min-Hee – The Handmaiden
  8. Viola Davis – Fences

Best Actors of 2016

  1. Chris Pine – Hell or High Water
  2. Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
  3. Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
  4. Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
  5. Ryan Gosling – The Nice Guys
  6. Andrew Garfield – Silence
  7. Paul Dano – Swiss Army Man
  8. Jake Gyllenhaal – Nocturnal Animals

Lots of great flicks this year. I honestly had a hard time getting the list under twenty. Some, though, were incredibly easy to push to the top. Let’s quickly go through some of the best.

The Handmaiden is just this wonderful puzzle box where every 20 minutes after you open a new part, it changes in positively surprising ways. A complex tale, for sure, but laid out in a most entertaining way. Sometimes gross, but always beautiful, it’s a must-see.

Moana starts somewhat procedurally and with typical archetypes, but then flips the script entirely. Everything about this movie makes me giddy. The story, the music, and the visual feast that Disney serves you, along with one mighty girl as the centerpiece, combine to make one of their best animated outtings of all time.

Considering the silence of Moonlight and the subtlety of its main character, Chiron, everything about this film is absolutely deafening. It’s lyrical, as if you’re watching a song. Directed so deliberately, there is just no way to ignore any moment. You will, without a doubt, walk away from the end with hope, smiling ear to ear, and soaked in its generous humanity.

Arrival is a very small, poignant, and touching story told on a very large stage. It’s also an outstanding movie. More importantly, though, it about finding common ground and embracing benevolence while rejecting fear. Sounds like lessons I’d hope we’d all love to master.

Just amazing stories all around, but one did shine brighter than the rest.

Hell or High Water is a contemporary Western, through and through. The horses are cars, the settings are desperate, and the cowboys are dying. Parallels are easily drawn between the past when the white man ripped away the Comanche’s homeland and the present with banks taking away farms, stores, and homes. It is truly a story of the 99 and the 1 and what happens when you put someone in the corner of a tight cage. Those someones, brothers who are wholly portrayed by Chris Pine and Ben Foster, are you anti-heroes and even with all of their flaws, you easily fall in love with them. This is a perfect screenplay about moral complexity, family, and survival. Entirely rich with detail and masterfully implemented, Hell or High Water is the best movie of 2016.

My Own Damn Movie Awards for 2015

Another year, another list of my favorites…

10 Best Pictures of 2015

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Best Picture, Best Sound)
  2. Ex Machina (Best Screenplay)
  3. The Revenant (Best Director, Best Visuals)
  4. Straight Outta Compton
  5. Sicario
  6. Slow West
  7. Brooklyn
  8. It Follows
  9. The Lobster
  10. Mad Max: Fury Road

Notable others include The Hateful Eight, The Martian, Creed, Spotlight, Bridge of Spies, Dope, Room, White God, The Big Short, and Carol.

Best Actress

  1. Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
  2. Brie Larson – Room
  3. Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
  4. Emily Blunt – Sicario
  5. Daisy Ridley – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  6. Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road
  7. Rachel Weisz – The Lobster
  8. Rooney Mara – Carol

Best Actor

  1. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
  2. Oscar Isaac – Ex Machina
  3. Colin Farrell – The Lobster
  4. Corey Hawkins – Straight Outta Compton
  5. Domhnall Gleeson – Ex Machina
  6. Michael B. Jordan – Creed
  7. Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation
  8. Michael Fassbender – Slow West

I thought Ex Machina was the movie to beat for a while, but there were a fair amount of flicks that caught me off guard in 2015. Dope was dope. Creed surprised. The Hateful Eight were a likable bunch. The good kind of strange could be found in The Lobster. Straight Outta Compton was a vital watch that’s full of substance. And every frame of The Revenant was shockingly breathtaking. Only one could come out on top, though.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens may be an obvious choice for anyone who knows me, but that shouldn’t take any weight away from this flick. Movies like this are why I go to the theater. Films are not an escape for me. I watch these to gain a clearer, more focus understanding of reality. They help me explore emotions and trigger thoughts that I might have forgotten about. I can watch movies and relive a joyful moment or reflect on something more critical. The Force Awakens lets me walk in an adult and walk out a child, infused with The Force, and boasting the biggest smile on my face. That’s worth something.

In a greater sense, the story of Star Wars is bigger than any one movie. It’s an event or a celebration. It’s a universe that bridges so many generations and together, now possibly with my own kid, we can explore that galaxy all over again. From my perspective, if a movie is able to do that, it’s a pretty damn good movie.

My Own Damn Movie Awards for 2014

Another year, another list of my favorites…

10 Best Pictures of 2014

  1. Nightcrawler (Best Picture, Best Screenplay)Nightcrawler Movie Poster
  2. Snowpiercer
  3. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Best Director)
  4. Joe
  5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  6. Whiplash
  7. The LEGO Movie
  8. Interstellar (Best Visual, Best Sound)
  9. The One I Love
  10. Babadook

Notable others include American SniperThe DoubleEdge of TomorrowEnemyGone GirlGuardians of the GalaxyThe Imitation Game, Inherent ViceLocke, A Most Violet YearObvious ChildSelmaThe Theory of Everything, and Under the Skin.

Best Actress

  1. Rosamund Pike – Gone GirlNightcrawler Movie Poster
  2. Elisabeth Moss – The One I Love
  3. Essie Davis – Babadook
  4. Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer
  5. Jessica Chastain – Interstellar & A Most Violet Year
  6. Julianne Moore – Still Alice
  7. Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
  8. Jenny Slate – Obvious Child

Best Actor

  1. Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler & EnemyNightcrawler Movie Poster
  2. Nicholas Cage – Joe
  3. J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
  4. Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  5. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
  6. Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
  7. Christ Evans – Snowpiercer
  8. Oscar Isaac – A Most Violet Year

Early 2014 brought some great movies like Joe and The LEGO Movie. I was certain Snowpiercer was going to be the flick to beat. Blockbusters like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Edge of Tomorrow surprised me how good they could be. Smaller films were out in force again with The Double, Enemy, and The One I Love, which was just such a treat. For me, though, one did stand above them all.

Nightcrawler immerses you into a dark and thrilling Los Angeles nightscape that’s threatening, yet hard to leave. Gyllenhaal’s transformative performance guides you through the shadowy and dangerous alleyways, proving again why he’s the most under appreciated actor today. It’s neo-noir that, unlike most modern noir, you watch for more than just the styling. Although lightless, it’s never dreary or grueling, and when it’s done, Nightcrawler is a world you’ll want to revisit again and again.


Universal acclaim, this movie got. I’m wondering if I just watched the same thing everyone else did. I mean it wasn’t bad, but hearing about the concept was far more interesting than what you actually see on screen. Maybe I’ll try it out again in a couple of months.

Robin Williams

He was the uncle that just wouldn’t stop talking. You’d get annoyed after a while, but knew you still loved him and would always make you laugh again. As funny as he was, it’s his more dramatic roles that are etched in my memory. Good Will Hunting, Insomnia, Dead Poets Society, and even One Hour Photo. But, hell, who doesn’t love a little Good Morning Vietnam? Robin Williams is one of those people you don’t know how much you’ll miss until he’s gone. RIP