Wednesday, May 16, 2018

M Review

"Just you wait, it won't be long, the man in black will soon be here, with his cleaver's blade so true, he'll make mincemeat out of you!"

87 years after its release and yet remarkably not a second of Fritz Lang's M feels dated. It's a cold, expertly crafted serial killer thriller and sits right along side another Lang masterpiece Metropolis as quintessential examples of cinema far ahead of its time. With some films it can be difficult to appreciate how influential they proved to be for elements of modern filmmaking because unfair or not, having already seen the future, going back to the past later on can feel redundant. M is not one of those films. Having fallen in love with cinematic serial killer storytelling thanks to the work of artists like Fincher, Demme and Hitchcock, I am able to soak in all that they clearly learned from a master like Lang, whom upon reflecting on his own career declared that M was his favorite of all his work. I can see why. 


Friday, April 20, 2018

On Our Anniversary - Miracles, My Wife, and The Tree of Life

"The only way to be happy is to love. Unless you love, your life will flash by."

It's really hard to determine the moment you actually fall in love. On February 14th, 2005, I was sitting at a friend's house when she walked in, and there was something about her that immediately grabbed my attention. That she was stunningly gorgeous, sure, but it was more than that. This was the first time I had ever been to that house and nothing else about those few hours proved to be all that memorable or interesting, but I couldn't wait to go back the next day. We barely even said a word to each other that first night and I carried zero assurances with me that I would ever see her again, but it's the only reason I went back. I had to go back.

Whenever I ponder when I first knew I was in love, I always come back to one specific night. It was way too early to actually say those three words. We weren't even a couple yet, so it's safe to say I kept my mouth shut regarding my feelings, but it was a night where her and I just drove around and talked. She shared so much of herself with me and one thing that was made abundantly clear was that when it came to her previous relationships, no one had treated her the way she deserved to be treated. I felt the weight of sadness crashing down on my shoulders and a thought kept running through my mind, not one that merely belonged to that singular moment but one that felt like more of a long term goal.

I need to make her smile.

"I will be true to you. Whatever comes."

It's sort of ironic that I'm using a film right now as the template to express the love I have for my wife on our 12 year wedding anniversary because the medium played a role in a period of time where I lost sight of my goal. My focus was on other, far less important things when it should have always been on her and our incredible daughter. At the start of this year, I woke up from the time I spent sleepwalking through life and love, recognizing that everything that made me feel whole was right in front of me in the form of two people whom I am blessed enough to share my name with. These few months since have been the best of my 34 years of existence because I have never felt more loved. I can only hope they feel the same.

So you might be wondering, what the hell does this have to do with Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life? It's simple, really. I chose the most beautiful piece of art that I have ever witnessed because my wife is the most beautiful human being I have ever and will ever know. For 12 years of marriage and over 13 years overall now, Megan has always been there for me. She brings just the right amount of energy and fun when things are too mundane but also is the perfect calming presence for when my mind tries to steer me the wrong way. She makes me laugh every day, and every night I look at her and think about how lucky I am that she is the first thing I will see when I wake up. I will never be able to thank her enough for her kindness, not only towards me but more importantly towards our daughter. Taking a step back and actually recognizing her grace and compassion as a mother is a gift that I constantly treasure. She is my best friend, the love of my life, and the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

"Love is smiling through all things."

I have previously wrote about The Tree of Life and my main focus was centered on the idea that what Terrence Malick had created was proof that miracles exist. The film sets out to prove that existence itself is a miracle. The amount of moments throughout history that had to happen exactly as they did in order for you or I or anyone else to have even been born is astounding and something no one should take for granted. Deciding to go over to that house for the first time on February 14th, 2005 was a miracle because she walked in and gave me the life I have now and a love that I didn't think was possible. She walked in and because of that our daughter now has the chance to exist, and I hope someday she gets to experience the kind of love I feel for her mother. I will tell her to stay focused on what matters most and never take it for granted, not even for a single day. 

For years now I thought The Tree of Life was proof that miracles exist. What I didn't understand was that the proof was right in front of me all along. My wife is a miracle. My daughter is a miracle. The love I feel now is a miracle. 

For the rest of my life, until I take my final breath, I will do everything I can to make her smile. She's so beautiful when she smiles.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

My 50 Favorite Films of 2017 - #10 through #1

Took my sweet ass time getting here but it is time for my top ten favorite films from 2017. The best of the best.

10. Logan

Big fan of a large portion of the X-Men cinematic franchise but it has never been better than Logan, James Mangold's R rated film that takes us into the future to see an older, broken down former superhero having to drive a limo as a job while taking care of his mentor, Charles Xavier. With a terrific supporting performance from young newcomer Dafne Keen, Logan is terrific.

9. Lady Bird

So many positive things can be said about Lady Bird, like that it is directed expertly by Greta Gerwig, performed beautifully by every single member of the cast, and features an extremely funny script that also knows when to wipe the smile off your face. My favorite thing about this film though is how honest it is and how it channels that honesty into an extremely real portrayal of growing up, yet it also shines a light on what it's like to raise a child only to watch them desperately strive to leave home and get as far away from you as they can.

8. The Big Sick

A romantic comedy about the real life courtship of the film's writer and star Kumail Nanjiani and his now wife Emily (played terrifically by Zoe Kazan), The Big Sick is a warm, funny yet at times hard hitting treasure. I expected to really enjoy this film given that I didn't get a chance to see it until it was on Amazon Prime (which it still is, go watch it now if you haven't seen it), so I was already well aware of the critical and audience praise, but I was still stunned by how much I connected with this picture. 

7. Thor: Ragnarok

Listen, I love Marvel films. I own almost all of them, I rewatch them endlessly, they are a ton of fun, but it's rare when one ends up in my top ten of the year. Thor: Ragnarok is so damn entertaining it was impossible for me not to include it, as this easily joins the ranks of the first Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier as the best the cinematic universe has offered up thus far. Despite being a huge fan of Taika Waititi prior to this, I had reservations whether his style would translate to such big budget studio fair, if they would let him utilize his style at all that is. Thor: Ragnarok is very much a Waititi film and in the best ways possible.

6. The Florida Project

I knew this film would make me cry. I had been warned, but vaguely, with no specifics offered as to what would get me. Sean Baker's entire film is brilliant but for the first 98 percent of it I had not received that gut punch I was waiting for, and then the ending happened. Good lord. The Florida Project isn't always an easy watch but a lot of remarkable cinema isn't. See this damn film (and while you're at it, see Sean Baker's previous work Tangerine as well. It's amazing). 

5. Get Out

A horror film released in February written and directed by Jordan Peele? No chance it ends up a top 5 film. Then I saw Get Out and knew instantly it would appear way up on my 2017 list. What a completely brilliant debut film from Peele.

4. Personal Shopper

Writer/director Olivier Assayas and Kristen Stewart form quite the team, first showing the world what kinda performances Stewart was capable of with her superb supporting work in Clouds of Sils Maria, and then coming back with her in the lead role of Personal Shopper, one of my biggest surprises of the year. This is a thoughtful, layered, chilling, fascinating work, telling the story of a young woman who recently lost her twin brother, and she seemingly has the ability to communicate with his spirit. What a film.

3. Dunkirk

Some films, like the previously listed Personal Shopper above, come out of nowhere and knock your socks off. Others are totally expected, with months of hype leading up to release and then the finished film lives up to those lofty expectations. That's what happened with Dunkirk, as I knew I had to see a 90 some minute Christopher Nolan war film as soon as possible. This is so wonderfully edited and realized as a cinematic experience, and seeing it on the biggest IMAX screen in the area didn't hurt.

2. A Ghost Story

Back to another huge surprise from the year, easily the biggest one (considering my favorite film was one I truly expected to love completely), David Lowery's A Ghost Story is a work that many people likely will dislike as it features no traditional narrative of any kind. We see a young couple (Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara) experience a great night together quietly in bed, the kind of happiness you hope to find in life from a significant other, and then it cuts ahead to a car accident. The husband (Affleck) dead, his head on the steering wheel. His wife must move on tragically without him, but we painfully witness his return as a ghost as he watches everything he knew and the woman he loves move on without him and there isn't anything he can do about it.

I was hit emotionally by this film in a very deep and profound way and have watched it two more times since the initial viewing. Perhaps because right now I am focusing a lot of my attention and energy on making sure I am the best husband and father I can be and the idea of losing it all in an instant is especially horrifying as I prioritize what matters most, but A Ghost Story has found a way into my soul and devastates me. This low budget film is a unique, moving achievement.

1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

God it feels so lazy for me to rank a Star Wars film number 1, seeing as how since very early in my adolescent years the franchise has always been deeply personally important to me. Despite my love for The Force Awakens, it actually wasn't my favorite film from 2015 (nothing was stopping Mad Max: Fury Road). Upon my first viewing, The Last Jedi actually wasn't at the top of this list (although I still loved it) but it took a revisit to fall in love. In my humble opinion Rian Johnson crafted a tremendous film here, one that was willing to take some bold risks rather than just pander for nostalgia. So yeah, it's expected for me and a lot of people who know me would roll their eyes at this and say "Of course" when they see it, but I can't deny it, The Last Jedi was my favorite film of 2017.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

My 50 Favorite Films of 2017 - #20 through #11

My list of my 50 favorite films of 2017 now heads into the top 20, which always feels like the moment when the list transforms from great recommendations to the best of the best that the year had to offer.

20. Gerald's Game

I've never read the Stephen King novel so I had no idea what the premise was going into the film Gerald's Game, and normally I wouldn't get very hyped about a Netflix original adaptation just because, let's face it, with their constant stream of originals being released, they have had more misses than hits. However, director Mike Flanagan has a pretty good track record when it comes to horror cinema and this is easily his best film yet. I must warn you, there is one scene in particular that is extremely graphic and I had a hard time watching. Outside of that though, impossible to look away from this movie.

Gerald's Game is streaming on Netflix now.

19. Split

Speaking of films with little personal hype or expectations prior to seeing them, Split was not something I anticipated being on my list at all, let alone this high. As an early fan of M. Night Shyamalan (who wasn't?), I found myself completely losing interest in the filmmaker over the years with picture after picture doing absolutely nothing for me, so a January release date of his newest work felt like a disaster waiting to happen. Holy shit was I wrong. Split is outstanding cinema and just like that I am eagerly awaiting his follow up, Glass, which is due out next January.

18. Icarus

On Sunday night I was rooting for Icarus to win the Best Documentary Oscar, as it was my favorite released in 2017. Sure enough it took home the trophy, and the honor is well deserved. A brilliant film that starts as a man trying to prove he can get away with doping while competing in professional cycling, but the film takes a very dark and fascinating turn when the man he enlisted to help him beat the drug tests becomes the whistle-blower that tells the world just how intricate and comprehensive the program was that Russia was using to cheat the Olympics. 

Icarus is streaming on Netflix now.

17. Wind River

Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye...oh wait, sorry, Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner star in this drama/mystery from writer/director Taylor Sheridan who comes in with a strong resume, writer of Sicario and writer/director of Hell or High Water. This is another superb film by him, this one telling the story of the murder of an 18 year old girl on an Indian reservation in Wyoming and the investigation into finding the killer. 

16. Phantom Thread

Paul Thomas Anderson. Daniel Day Lewis. Jonny Greenwood. These things alone, without even factoring in the rest of the incredible cast, the lush cinematography, everything, leads me to think of one word: exquisite. Phantom Thread is just an exquisite, wonderful film, and if this does turn out to be the final work from DDL, godspeed sir. What an actor, what a career.

15. The Disaster Artist

What makes The Disaster Artist so great is just how well it understands the following of the absolutely terrible cult classic The Room. James Franco, along with screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber fully embrace what makes The Room such an atrocity to cinema, but also why people love it so much, and while I have only seen The Room once I totally get it. It's an awful film, but one I have quoted ever since and one that I have considered watching again because I can't help but smile when I think about it. 

14. It
Maybe it isn't a coincidence that some of the biggest pleasant surprises for me from 2017 happen to rank among the best films of the year. Maybe it's because I was so excited to see such good films when I expected so much less that they made a bigger impact than other films I always expected to be good and they met expectations. When I heard they were making a new It film from the director of Mama, which I didn't care much for, I expected something really unimpressive. Instead what we got was a tremendous, terrifying, beautifully made horror film. Bring on part two.

13. Blade Runner 2049

Roger Deakins finally won his first Oscar. He has deserved it multiple times before, but had he not gotten it for his photography of Blade Runner 2049, I would have assumed it may never happen. What a gorgeous, amazing film this is. 

12. Wonder Woman

Just a quick little thought to all of those people out there who waste their time on the internet claiming Disney pays critics to love Marvel films and hate anything by DC, perhaps it isn't a coincidence that the only great thing the DCEU has produced thus far got rave reviews and the other bullshit they have released like Suicide Squad and Justice League hasn't? Wonder Woman is by far the best thing to come out of that extended universe thus far.

11. Baby Driver

If you are looking for fun, fucking great cinema and you haven't seen much of Edgar Wright's work, go find what he has done and just start watching. Baby Driver is phenomenal, fast paced electric filmmaking, a movie filled with action, music and plenty of that Wright wit that makes his screenplays pop. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

My 50 Favorite Films of 2017 - #30 through #21

My list continues, now into the top 30 films of 2017. The more I look at my list, both what I have already posted and what is to come, it occurs to me just how strong 2017 was in film despite the fact that it was the year I awarded the least amount of perfect scores in recent memory. Maybe I am just getting tougher on things or maybe I just found minor flaws in a lot of different work, but the key word there is minor. So many great movies here, some that fly very far under the radar and deserve to be seen.

30. City of Ghosts

The first of three documentaries among this group of ten films, and none of them are particularly easy to watch, but you kinda expect that from a lot of documentary filmmaking that goes behind the scenes to show parts of our world we don't see and luckily for many of us cannot fully understand. City of Ghosts, directed by Matthew Heineman whom previously made the doc Cartel Land, tells the extremely behind the scenes story of a group of journalists/activists known as "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently", men living under ISIS rule that are willing to tell the world what is really happening with the terrorist group, hoping to become a louder voice than the ISIS propaganda they distribute to recruit. A great doc filled with vital stakes and honest danger, as if any of these men are caught they will certainly be killed.

City of Ghosts is available on Amazon Prime now.

29. John Wick: Chapter 2

I fucking love John Wick, both the original film and the character, so I will follow him through the trilogy with great interest. The second chapter doesn't disappoint, the same high quality, brutally violent action, great supporting characters and terrific sets and locations, and an ending that sets up a very interesting final film coming next year.

28. The Meyerowitz Stories

Outside of a few blips on the radar throughout his now very long career, the idea of putting a film starring Adam Sandler on a best of the year list seems improbable. Now what if I tell you that he is the best actor in a film that comes in my top 30 of the year? Yep, Sandler is terrific in The Meyerowitz Stories, a Noah Baumbach comedy/drama that you should watch, especially if you are like me and have very little interest in Sandler so you can marvel over his talent when he actually gives real work a go.

The Meyerowitz Stories is available on Netflix now.

27. Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis

Early last year HBO debuted their original documentary about the horrific shooting that took place at a concert in Paris on November 13th, 2015 titled Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis, and I turned it on because I am drawn to documentary filmmaking that covers challenging subjects. What I didn't realize in that moment is that I would be watching one of the better overall films of 2017 and one of the 3 best docs of the year. Directed by Colin Hanks, this is a tremendously heartbreaking, gut wrenching, but in the end inspiring and uplifting story.

26. It Comes At Night

I know a common theme is emerging among horror films that come from A24, and that is the reaction of audiences after they see the film and feel they were mislead by the trailers and marketing in general. It happened with The Witch (which is a stone cold masterpiece) and it happened again here with It Comes At Night. My response to this? Whatever. I hold they keep putting out great work whether it meets the demands of the masses or not. Writer/director Trey Edward Shults sophomore effort after his really promising debut Krisha is another winner.

It Comes At Night is available on Amazon Prime now.

25. Landline

Speaking of really impressive sophomore films, writer/director Gillian Robespierre really created something special here with Landline, a step forward after her already very good debut Obvious Child. Clearly she likes working with Jenny Slate and who can blame her? They suit each other beautifully, and this story of relationships, family, and the damage that infidelity can do to everyone around you is touching, funny and always feels real.

Landline is available on Amazon Prime now.

24. Strong Island

Yet another documentary, this one being the second best that I saw from 2017. Strong Island comes from director Yance Ford, and as if the topic of investigating the 1992 murder of an unarmed 24 year old black man wasn't enough to engage an audience, factor in that the victim was Ford's brother. A powerful, deeply personal journey through information and pain and coping with loss.

Strong Island is available on Netflix now.

23. Molly's Game

The directorial debut from the brilliant acclaimed writer Aaron Sorkin, starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba? I was never going to miss this film. I'm glad I didn't. Molly's Game is, as expected, tightly written and beautifully performed, telling the true story of Molly Bloom, a woman who ran an exclusive high stakes poker game for years until she was arrested by the FBI.

22. The Beguiled

I am going to be upfront about this because I know this will be deemed sacrilegious by many film fans, but I have always been lukewarm at best regarding the work of Sofia Coppola. I often find the pacing of her films to be languid, leaving me unable to connect to what she is trying to achieve. The Beguiled, however, is a different story, a film that does move at a methodical pace but it feels right for this story, and at only 90 minutes the tension and unsettling vibes inside the all-female boarding school during the Civil War ramp up before you know it. This is a film that stuck with me for days after seeing it.

21. Princess Cyd

This is one that came out of nowhere for me, as I wasn't even aware it existed a month ago AFTER 2017 was already over. I saw a post on Twitter about one of the best films of the year being available to stream so I looked more into it, and sure enough Princess Cyd was an outstanding recommendation to get. The story of a 16 year old girl named Cyd who spends the summer with her Aunt in Chicago, she explores her sexuality with a girl she meets there named Katie and it results in a very natural, honest piece of cinema. 

Princess Cyd is available on Netflix now.

My 50 Favorite Films of 2017 - #40 through #31

Alright, on to the next 10 films of my 50 favorites from 2017, this time those ranked between 40 and 31.

40. Long Shot

A Netflix original documentary that is only 40 minutes long, so you have no excuse not to watch it, and trust me, after you learn about this compelling, unbelievable true story you absolutely will appreciate that you spent the 40 minutes on it. I will say no more. Just watch it.

Long Shot is available now on Netflix.

39. I, Tonya

Terrific performances and the story of the insane reality of Tonya Harding, I, Tonya was definitely a memorable film experience from 2017, and while it may not have stuck the landing (sorry, had to) enough to be among the very best of the year, it's still a highly entertaining movie.

38. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

It was always going to be damn near impossible for writer/director James Gunn to duplicate the magic that was the first Guardians of the Galaxy, and sure enough it didn't happen, but this film is still an absolute blast and extremely well done.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is available now on Netflix.

37. Last Flag Flying

I have a soft spot in my heart for Richard Linklater so perhaps I am merely looking past some of the flaws of this film, but I can't help but consider Last Flag Flying one of the most overlooked and surely missed pictures of 2017. Great cast delivering some nuanced performances utilizing a touching screenplay, I was moved and completely enjoyed this film.

36. Alien: Covenant

I'm one of those crazy people who absolutely loved (check that, loves, still love it) Prometheus, so my excitement for Alien: Covenant was through the roof, and while perhaps this didn't quite delivery the same atmosphere and sense of dread that I got from the previous film, it still did more than enough to be a really satisfying entry into the franchise.

35. Atomic Blonde

A fun, thrilling, dizzying action showcase directed by David Leitch and lead by the great Charlize Theron, in a world of John Wick I had my doubts that a totally different film would be able to deliver a similar style and such brutal action but this delivers. Also, the single take staircase sequence was one of the best cinematic treasures of 2017.

34. War for the Planet of the Apes

A terrific conclusion to a really impressive trilogy of films, War for the Planet of the Apes has heart, drama, action, outstanding (and likely Oscar winning) visual effects and the usual top notch performances, especially from the motion-capture genius Andy Serkis. 

33. Okja

As soon as I heard Netflix had acquired a Bong Joon-ho film and I would be able to stream it immediately from the comfort of my couch, I knew I had to see it ASAP. That film is Okja and it did not disappoint, the story of a young girl named Mija and her super pig. Carried by a great story, huge amounts of heart and a social commentary that packs a punch, check out this one on Netflix if you haven't already.

32. Good Time

It's a challenge, being original with cinema these days considering it feels like everything has been done before in some way. Good Time, a crime film by brothers Benny and Joshua Safdie, is one hell of an original, exciting treat about a bank robbery gone wrong and a man desperately trying to figure out a way to get his brother out of jail. Lead by an outstanding lead performance by Robert Pattinson, give Good Time the chance it deserves.

Good Time is available now on Amazon Prime.

31. The Breadwinner

Unfortunately my 2017 list will not feature any more animation as I saw far less of it last year. The fact that my daughter is now 10 and is far more excited by Marvel then she is animation probably isn't a coincidence. That isn't to say animated movies are strictly kids movies, that is absolutely untrue, but finding the time to go see them all just wasn't in the cards anymore with a child that is growing up. There is one excellent film that you can watch right now at home that is nominated for the Best Animated Oscar, The Breadwinner, a picture about a young girl and her family living under the rule of the Taliban.

The Breadwinner is available now on Netflix.

Friday, February 23, 2018

My 50 Favorite Films of 2017 - #50 through #41

It's about damn time I publish this list. I had been holding off waiting for the opportunity to see a few of the films I never got a chance to, including some Oscar favorites, but damn it it's time to move on. Luckily, it isn't as if I didn't watch enough films from 2017 for this list to be comprehensive, with 177 releases from the year logged and 50 worthy of being declared my favorites.

So let's get on with it, these are my 50 favorite films of 2017, 10 at a time:

50. Berlin Syndrome

My list will clearly demonstrate that I appreciate a wide range of different genres and tones when it comes to film, and Berlin Syndrome will not be the only disturbing, difficult watch of the bunch. The film tells the story of a young tourist from Australian finding herself caught up in a romance while in Berlin, only to discover that she entered the man's apartment but isn't allowed to leave. Teresa Palmer is fantastic. 

Berlin Syndrome is available on Netflix.

49. Stronger

Stronger is based on the true story of Jeff Bauman, a man who lost both of his legs while attending the Boston Marathon when it was bombed back in 2013, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany give strong performances in this heartfelt, painful and ultimately inspiring picture. 

48. Casting JonBenet

A documentary about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey and the way it impacted the people around the family and area they lived. What makes this documentary unique and fascinating is that it documents the casting of a fictional film about the JonBenet story, and through testing actors that live in the area they get different perspectives of what they think happened and how the tragedy hurt each of them in different ways.

Casting JonBenet is available on Netflix. 

47. Columbus

Columbus is such a beautiful film. I mean that in more ways than just on a narrative level. It has this quiet, calming, tone soaked in realism, utilizing camera angles to show us both the human characters and the architecture they observe all around Columbus, Indiana, with the buildings almost feeling like characters themselves. The story revolves around a man born in Korea, raised in the United States, stuck in this town while his father is there in a coma. He encounters a young woman who is choosing to stay there to help take care of her addict mother rather then follow her own dreams. 

Columbus is available on Hulu.

46. Wonder

Wonder sure did feel like a film that would be way too syrupy based on the story and the trailers and all that, and sure, it has its share of sap to it, but director Stephen Chbosky found a way to manage the material in a truly heartfelt, moving manner. 

45. Brawl in Cell Block 99

I had a feeling this one would be a pretty vicious picture. I was right. Directed by S. Craig Zahler, who previously unleashed the brutal western Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99 has a disturbing concept and it delivers on it. It isn't loaded with violence or action, but when it hits, it hits really fucking hard. Vince Vaughn is outstanding here, which is not a thing I have said very often over the years.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 is available on Amazon Prime.

44. After the Storm

Having seen and absolutely loved his previous film Like Father, Like Son, I knew what to expect stylistically from the new Hirokazu Kore-eda film After the Storm and I get everything I had hoped for. He presents such insightful observations about relationships and forgiveness through a careful, perfect balance of funny, honest, and real dialogue. 

43. Mudbound

A historical drama set during World War II, Mudbound is so well assembled and acted that nothing at all feels manipulative about the way racism is captured during this period of time. Telling the story of two families living side by side yet they feel worlds apart in the way they live and are treated by society, director Dee Rees manages to deliver something significant from material that on paper sounds as if it would be a familiar cinematic story. 

Mudbound is available on Netflix.

42. Pearl Jam: Let's Play Two

If you combine one of my favorite bands of all time and them playing at my single favorite venue in the world, Wrigley Field, and you make a really well done documentary about the experience, I am probably going to fall in love with it. That's what happened here, a combination of the music and the ballpark and the appreciation of the history of the Chicago Cubs all culminates in a joyous picture to watch. Also, just a week ago my wife surprised me by buying tickets to Pearl Jam's return to Wrigley this August, so a rewatch is definitely in order.

Pearl Jam: Let's Play Two is available on Amazon Prime.

41. Spider-Man: Homecoming

I had limited expectations for Spider-Man: Homecoming, if I am being honest. Just a whole lot of Spider-Man films over the years, with now three different actors depicting the character, so it was hard to get my juices flowing with excitement over another take, but my best case scenario turned out to come true in that I simply hoped for a really fun, well written and entertaining film, and that's what we got.