It’s hard for me to fully describe why I like this movie as much as I do other than simply acknowledging that it leaves a huge and growing mark every time I see it. And its two co-leads, J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller, are amazing. Plus it has just a killer ending. Read the review >>
Hard-Boiled is pretty much the definition of Hong Kong action in all of its glory (and for all of its faults [which are few and easy to ignore]), and it’s the movie that taught me that very often violence is the best and only answer.
I know it’s kind of a cheat to include two movies as one of my top ten picks, but my appreciation of each at this high of a level is contingent on the existence of the other. I think Rocky is a better movie (and Rocky a better character) when you acknowledge what comes after his boxing career, and Rocky Balboa, a movie nearing the end of everything for him, is incredibly heartfelt but doesn’t mean much without seeing its predecessor(s).
More than any movie I’ve ever seen, I felt the emotionality and weight of the onscreen relationship in Her, and I genuinely felt like a different person after seeing it. In a good way. Read the review >>
6. Man of Steel
Man of Steel says a lot about humanity in general and the place the superhero concept can still have in a too-often fearful, hateful, cynical modern world by reminding us that we still, deep down at our cores, wish to be better. So no wonder you all hated it. Read the review >>
This is that one childhood relic (I saw it in the early ’90s though, I was only recently born in 1986) that I refuse to believe isn’t as good as I thought it was the first time I saw it. Epic, exciting, and the final work of Orson Welles, anyone who tells you that Transformers is just a toy commercial can go straight to the Hell of Uninformed Critics. Read the review >>
Back to the Future is the kind of movie you can stand by as a near-perfect example of everything you could ever want in a movie no matter how many years it’s been since its release. Read the review >>
3. Die Hard
Probably the most perfect action movie I’ve ever seen. So, so good and the kind of movie that can show almost any viewer of any taste or age and they’ll understand why it’s so universally beloved. Read the review >>
2. Pacific Rim
My love for this movie is so all-consuming that I fully recognize that it borders on the irrational. It struck me as a movie that everyone involved, from the creators to the cast to the crew, knew exactly what they were getting away with (giant robots fighting monsters) and bought in with complete sincerity, and it only gets better the more times I watch it. This is my Star Wars. Read the review >>
Just pure cinematic gold on every level. The fact that it’s completely and utterly an ‘80s movie only serves to make it better. Just don’t listen to anything Grace says about it. Read the review >>
Favourite TV Series
10. The Flash (2014)
The Flash isn’t necessarily a great show in its individual parts and it’s not something I always feel compelled to watch as soon as I can after the release of every new weekly episode, but it’s profoundly affecting and meaningful thanks to the sum of a lot of things — casting, acting, overarching storylines — adding up to something much better than it should be.
Scrubs is an wildly uneven show when viewed in its entirety, but at its best it’s a smart, funny show that will touch you and stay with you in a way few shows can. I dare you to watch this scene and not cry, even if (or maybe because?) it stars Brendan Fraser.
Along with watching Arrested Development in its original run and seeing Office Space while it was still in theatres, I’m proud to be among the first true fans of Flight of the Conchords, at a time well before their TV show. Also, their song, “Albi”, singlehandedly solved my previously horrendous, unremitting racism.
A nihilist’s dream and a story so confident and well told that we still talk about it even though there were no deeper meanings or secrets to be found. Forget about season two though, totally different (and massively inferior) story.
Externally The Venture Bros. is a silly, irreverently comedic take on classic ‘60s adventure cartoons like Jonny Quest and Scooby Doo, but it’s also a show that rewards viewers who pay attention with ongoing mysteries and a deep backstory. Might rank higher if it didn’t take two to three years between seasons.
5. Home Movies
Though Home Movies is a very funny, well-told show, for me Home Movies has gone well beyond a show I like and graduated to a show that’s almost a part of my life. I can draw contentment simply from thinking about it, take guidance from remembering its themes, and soothe myself to sleep by playing it on restless nights.
Incredibly sharp, hard-edged science fiction told in an extremely mean-spirited manner, and yet it still somehow retains that deep-down spirit of caring, understanding, and need for acceptance at the heart of all of creator Dan Harmon’s works.
I was cautiously optimistic initially going into Bob’s Burgers back during its 2011 debut since it was created by Home Movies’ (see my #4 pick) Loren Bouchard and involved many of the same talents, but it’s surpassed every expectation I could have for it and has quickly become a show with many jokes rivalling (though rarely surpassing) those of the good years of The Simpsons.
A work of meta-innovative genius and one of the smartest, quickest, funniest, most emotionally resonant things I’m proud to call myself a devotee of (that’s right I ended a sentence with a preposition). Read the reviews >>
1. The Simpsons
The Simpsons is a cultural icon of such import that I can appreciate the show even now, more than fifteen years after the show was any good. In its prime it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen on any and every level and nothing I’ve seen since then has surpassed those golden years (seasons 3 to 8). As a society, we are in its debt, and it will indeed be a sorrowful day when we learn of its demise (or the time the show becomes unprofitable).
10. Glory — writer Joe Keatinge; artist Ross Campbell
Finally a take on Wonder Woman of actual consequence and impactful. Gritty and brutal and a standout in feminist storytelling. I think. As a man, I’m probably somewhat defined by my inability to really understand feminism.
9. New X-Men — writer Grant Morrison; artists Frank Quitely, Ethan Van Sciver, Phil Jimenez, et al.
Morrison’s X-Men run was so progressive and forward-thinking that every writer that followed pretty much had to ignore it in order to continue the franchise. These are the ultimate versions of the X-Men characters for all their strengths and weaknesses in a fully self-aware series of stories.
8. Preacher — writer Garth Ennis; artist Steve Dillon
A powerful story about life, relationships, religion, the supernatural, and what it really means to be pals… until one of them totally betrays the other in every way that matters.
7. Powers — writer Brian Michael Bendis; artist Michael Avon Oeming
A really smart, modernist take on what it would be like if superheroes (or at least people with powers) existed in the real world. Just ignore that awful TV show.
6. Saga — writer Brian K. Vaughan; artist Fiona Staples
Staggeringly strong sci-fi storytelling. Awful and sadistic, but also somehow heart-warming and almost family friendly.
5. All-Star Superman — writer Grant Morrison; artist Frank Quitely
I dare you to read this story and still say you don’t like or don’t get Superman. Big when it should be, small when it needs to be, and a galaxy-spanning storyline that’s also incredibly intimate.
Hickman’s entire run of two very different teams of Avengers separately and concurrently trying to prevent the end of the world (and failing) is the most astonishing long-form superhero story I’ve ever read. Not for people who want their comics to be silly and inconsequential.
3. Hawkeye — writer Matt Fraction; artist David Aja
It’s books like Hawkeye that I would show to people who don’t understand the sophistication possible in the superhero comicbook format. Completely blows away the movie version while adding to your overall appreciation of the character. Read my early review >>
2. JLA — writer Grant Morrison; artist Howard Porter
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that this is the third Grant-Morrison-written series on my top ten list. He’s just that good, and JLA, Morrison’s Justice League from all the way back to the last years of the 20th century, is just that good. Everything you need to know about the superhero concept as myth, starring all of the DC big guns — Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter. Read my early review >>
1. Planetary — writer Warren Ellis; artist John Cassaday
Easily and singularly the best thing I’ve ever read. An exploration of the pulp superheroes of the 20th century and how they’ve affected us on a cultural and societal level. I am in awe of it and constantly stealing ideas from it even this many years after its 2009 final date of publication.