10 Best Films of 2017

Honorable Mentions:  November Criminals, Berlin Syndrome, Gifted, Sleight, Get Out, American Made, I, Tonya, The Founder, Logan, Phantom Thread


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10. I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore

This is probably the most bizarre film I’ve seen this year.  I had no idea where it was going, and it took me by complete surprise.  At first you think the film is a movie just about a girl who’s home gets robbed as she tries to find the robber.  It comes off like a comedy as she is helped by a stranger Tony (Elijah Wood)….and then we go down the rabbit hole.

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9. The Big Sick

The very strange and hilarious true story of Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani.  Stand-up comedy is hard.  Trying to be famous as a stand up comic is harder, and also just trying to avoid being in an arranged marriage and living in America can be the hardest thing to do.  Hilarious.

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8. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

I think it’s very hard to make an original action film nowadays without succumbing to most of the tropes that come with them.  I was a huge fan of the first Kingsman film, and part two amps it up with more characters, more action, and more violence.  It’s borderline a Quentin Tarantino film, without being a complete rip off one.

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7. Brawl in Cell Block 99

Talk about hyper violence.  Cell Block is a quick decent in to hell and death and doesn’t pull any punches.  It’s the story of a man (Vince Vaughn) hell bent on saving his family at all costs.  And he will stop at nothing in order to do so.

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6. Lady Macbeth

This is one messed up film that borders on being a straight horror film.  We follow the marriage of a woman to a man twice here age who she finds no love for.  She soon begins having an affair with a local boy Sebastian.  They’re affair turns deadly, super messed up, and the whole film turns in to one big mind – f$#k.

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5. John Wick: Chapter 2

Probably the first great film I saw this year.  I am HUGE fan of this series so far, and also a huge fan of Keanu Reeves at this point.  This seems to be the year for great action films, great revenge action films that is.  Some of the best fighting scenes I’ve ever seen are packed in this sequel.

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4. Stronger

How did this fly under the radar?  I’ve been a fan of director David Gordon Green for years.  Stronger is one man’s true story of recovering from the Boston Marathon bombings, and unlike Patriot’s Day which feels like American propaganda surrounding the bombings, we learn about one man’s true struggle of how to deal with what happened.  The effects on his life vs. what those around him see and do and sensationalize things on their own are quite profound.

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3. Baby Driver

More action!  Who doesn’t love bank robberies, and cars going fast, and people getting killed.  Probably the best bank heist movie since Reservoir Dogs, and also Edgar Wright’s masterpiece along with Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World now that I think of it.  Completely original, complete fun.

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2. The Disaster Artist

This is easily one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, yet some James Franco is able to make a truly touching film as well based on the true events of the making of the worst film every, The Room.  Franco is some sort of idiot savant as he directs and stars in one of the best films of the year.  He’s got his finger firmly on the pulse of one of the most bizarre stories ever.

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1. Blade Runner 2049

This film is if anything completely gorgeous, and completely like anything else that has come out this year.  It does the original Blade Runner complete justice, which in my mind is one of the 5 best Sci-Fi films of all time.  I’d put the sequel up there as well.  Man what a year for sequel’s!  Ryan Gosling is amazing as a replicant who hunts down Harrison Ford, and meantime tries to grapple with what it truly means to be human, and understand his place within humanity.

25 Best Albums of 2017

Oh my disclaimer again.  These are MY favorite albums of 2017.  Music is so subjective so it’s hard to even make these types of lists.  I will say this, I believe this year was one of the greatest years of music in a the past decade+.  So here we go….

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25. The Speedbumps – When the Darkness Comes

My Akron native friends have been slowly creating better and better works over the years. Their latest showcases all of that.  It’s a polished strong work that showcases all of the time that they’ve put on the road ironing out all the intricate details.

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24.  Kendrick Lamar – Damn

Not sure what else you can say about Kendrick Lamar.  He, along with Kanye, are the greatest rap (if that’s even what it should be called anymore) artists of this generation.  He continues to pump out perfect album after perfect albums.  He is a voice.

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23. Slowdive – Slowdive

20 plus years from their last release, Slowdive shows that they may have created their best release to date.  I’m a sucker for 90s dreampop, and these guys just know exactly how to push the right buttons.

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22. The Church – Man Woman Life Death Infinity

This is album number 25 or 26 or whatever for the Australian band.  They continue to push on, and continue to create original works of art that are inherently their’s.  They’re one of the few bands that continue to focus on the art of making an album.

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21.  St. Vincent – Masseducation

I used to not understand the hype surrounding St. Vincent, and now I’m sold on her.  Which is funny, because my Bring Tha Noize podcast partner Ngandu said he didn’t get this album.  This is where music gets sticky and tricky and divides, but that’s the point isn’t it?

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20. Elbow – Little Fictions

First off, these guys are unbelievable live.  One of the most polished bands I’ve ever seen.  They constantly come correct with their music and their newest is actually the tightest version of their music that they’ve ever produced.  Airy and balanced.


19.  Toro Y Moi – Boo Boo

I feel like Toro is always on my radar.  He’s been turning out some great albums pretty much every single year for almost a decade.  Boo Boo might be his best.  It’s certainly his most etherial and focused album so far.

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18. Stars – There is No Love in Flourescent Light

I’ve been following this duo for quite some time and their album The Five Ghosts made my top list a few years ago.  They constantly come out with solid work.  Their newest is tight pop gems, bursting on wax.


17. Jessie Ware – Glass House

She’s about as polished as they come.  Normally I don’t like the sheen that comes with an artist like her, but there’s something about her music that contains soul and honesty that makes her so original that she’s can’t miss.

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16. Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder

I’ve always shrugged my shoulders at these guys as almost a novelty act, working to get every artist they can to collaborate with them, but man….what a great album.  This is the point of longevity, and why you should stick with some artists.

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15. Tyler the Creator – Flower Boy

This dude is on something different man.  I have no idea how to categorize him.  He’s way out there, but on his newest he’s able to real it all in and create the most focused version of him to date.  If anything he’s the most original rapper out there today.

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14. The World is a Beautiful Place, and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – Always Foreign

Punk is alive!  I’ve never really liked punk music unless it has some vein of belief in it.  These guys have finally brought everything together and created a truly incredible album with venom and hooks as well.


13. Beck – Colors

I mean it’s Beck.  He’s a true artist.  He’s one of the rare few in the industry that does pretty much everything from start to finish.  He gives us a little more on the production side pushing more towards dance magic, and it works.


12. The Horrors – V

This is an example of a band that I half-heartedly followed throughout the years, and all of sudden was like….wow.  They’re doing an amazing thing on their newest album.  This is the sound ofa band who polishes and polishes.


11. Noel Gallagher – Who Built the Moon?

For all the potato war nonsense that has been going on between Noel and his brother Liam, Noel continues to move forward with his music.  He gets a fresh twist on his newest album with the album of production by David Holmes, mostly known for his soundtrack work.


10. Ryan Adams – Prisoner

Again, I’m late to the love party on Ryan Adams, but since I’ve jumped on board a few years ago I think he’s doing the best work of his career.  If I could have anyone produce an album for me right now it would either Ryan Adams or Butch Walker.  They have the ability to bring their music directly to you.

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9. Juliana Hatfield – Pussycat

Talk about a resurrection.  Juliana Hatfield comes from the heart of the late 90’s female alternative scene and creates a heart-wrenching honest album better than she’s ever been.

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8. Spoon – Hot Thoughts

Consistency is what Spoon is known for.  Everything they release is critically acclaimed.  They don’t stop here with once again an amazing collection of songs that create an amazing album.

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7. Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun

I had the chance to see Mogwai a few weeks back.  I wasn’t that impressed.  However, they’re the perfect example of a band who knows exactly what they’re doing in the studio.  They know how to work the board and create something amazing.  That’s evident by all the soundtrack work they do.  And they do it here as well.


6. Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound

Cloud Nothings are a band that continues to take punk into a different direction.  Molding it, redefining it like musical clay.  The true good punk bands such as The Clash where able to go loud quiet loud while still pushing all the hooks throughout their music.  Cloud Nothings do that here.

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5. Lorde – Melodrama

Lorde shows she’s not a one trick pony on her sophomore release.  And she’s smart about it too.  Melodrama is a mostly stripped back collection of songs that takes some serious balls to release after her smash debut.  You can feel how personal these songs are to her.

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4. Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile to Surface

Mad props to my buddy Kyle Cowgill for turning me on to these guys 6-7 years ago.  I wasn’t a fan of their last album, but I feel they come back strong here.  They’re also probably getting the most air play they’ve ever gotten on their new release as well.  I’m a sucker for those loud, quiet, loud structures of songs, and they do it perfect here.

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3. War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

These guys are operating on another level.  I was so upset that I didn’t get to see them live because I was on my death bed.  They sound like a new version of Bob Dylan meets Dire Straits, but they’re album to put their own spin on everything they do.  No one sounds like them especially on their new release.

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2. Charlotte Gainsbourg – Rest

Talk about being late to the party.  I thought Charlotte was just an actress who is amazing in all of Lars Von Triers really fucked up movies.  Of course I knew of her father Seirge, but wow!  She is something amazing on her own.  The most interesting part of her new album is jumping in and out of French and American.  It creates this strange feeling album that makes you feel part of it, yet distant at the same time.


1. Brand New – Science Fiction

I wrestled with this for a while for a number of reasons.  First can we just put the transgressions of front man Jesse Lacy out of the way?  This has nothing to do with his private issues.  That being said, as a piece of music he’s created Brand New’s masterpiece. It’s heavy.  It’s soft.  It’s beautiful.  It’s terrifying, and it fucking rocks from beginning to end.  It’s the perfect album.



Continuing with my Christopher Nolan theme, Insomnia is the story of a top of the line LA detective that is called upon to solve a homicide in Alaska of a high school girl.

Insomnia is a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film of the same name.  I haven’t actually seen the original, which I need to do, but the main unwritten character is the daytime that never ends.  There’s no darkness.  These characters live in eternal daylight.  They’re sleep-deprived and can’t escape the sun, and it affects them deeply.  It affects their actions and compounds the lives they have been dealing with, especially in the case of Al Pacino’s character Will Dormer.

Will is a world renowned detective, but he’s not always on the up and up.  He’s running from a few demons of his own in LA, and has Internal Affairs on his back for certain misconduct in past cases.  He’s a man who knows what needs to get done to solve a case.  That doesn’t mean his actions are always right.

Will gets more in the thick of things as the case goes on, and he starts to hone in on a suspect, Walter Finch (Robin Williams).  Finch is a hometown loner that has always been a little strange, and local’s know is a little off.  Will focuses on him, but things start to go awry within his task force, and then he finds himself in a whole different mess.

A lot of talk involves The Prestige as the one Nolan standout that never got enough credit, but I think Insomnia is the really that film.  It’s suspenseful, it’s dark, it sits in Nolan’s world so well.  It also has the feel that we will see in his future films.

Grade: A-

The Prestige

Christopher Nolan is easily one of the greatest filmmakers out there today.  That is a fact and is uncontested.  I’m taking a look at how he got there.

The Prestige is a film that I thought was “ok” on first viewing .  10+ years later….I think it’s still “ok”.

The film follows the lives of two magicians played by Christian Bale, and Hugh Jackman.  They are rivals that are trying to cement their names as the greatest magician ever.  They attempt to one up each other with a new and daring trick.  The newest trick they are both trying to perfect is “The Transported Man”  Each magician sets out to disappear through one door, and re-appear immediately through an adjacent door.

The magicians trick is one between slight of hand, tricky, and somewhere between true magic as well.  Christian Bale’s character, Fallon, seems to perfect The Transported Man trick, and Hugh Jackman, The Great Danton, sets out to find out exactly how he is doing it.  It must be a double he thinks, but he, nor his assistant Olivia (Scarlett Johansson) are able to confirm this.

It’s only when The Great Danton comes upon Nikola Tesla (David Bowie), that he realizes real, TRUE magic may actually exist, and he may hold the key to that magic.  The thing is though…if real magic exists, is it actually better than the smoke and mirrors that is presented to the public, and also at what cost.

This is Christopher Nolan, so it’s not like you’re watching an amateur behind the lens, and the acting is obviously top notch.  My only real problem is with the script of the film.  At times it drags on and feels disjointed.  This is Nolan we are talking about as well, so we’re talking about the highest caliber of talent.  The Prestige is entertaining, no doubt, but it doesn’t show the talent that he’s capable of.  It plays to him as Panic Room plays to David Fincher.

Grade: B