The Best Movies of 2018 Scaled New Heights

13 Dec

We’re definitely living in a time of resistance (political and otherwise), so it feels like my favorite films of 2018 arrived at the perfect time. Indeed, this year, the best movies I saw pushed back in their own ways against the forces that have been trying to minimize, marginalize, silence, and reduce the impact of those who actually make us great. They are a collection that celebrates diversity, inclusion, truth, familial bonds, our obligations to the world around us, risk-taking, and great storytelling. They are films that will stay with us. And their influence will be felt long after the calendar turns the page to another year.

Which is not to say that every one of this year’s releases had the state-of-the-state on their minds. After all, 2018 was also the year of movies like Game Night, Uncle Drew, and, especially, Tag, three comedies that were better than they had any right to be. It was the year that Michael Myers (the silent killer), the Incredibles, and Mary Poppins all returned to the big screen after long absences, as if not a day (or subpar sequel) had gone by. Yes, of course, Mike Myers the actor was back, too, in Bohemian Rhapsody. There were plenty of superhero movies this year, and that includes not one but two movies about Ruth Bader Ginsberg. In fact, speaking of RBG, documentaries about a variety of subjects were legit box-office hits. And one movie, A Quiet Place, even got people in theaters to stop talking and eating popcorn for two hours. A miracle!

Suffice it to say, 2018 was a memorable year for the movies. Of the more than 80 films I saw (see below for a full list), these are the ones that had the biggest impact on me and left the most lasting impression. Continue reading

Giving Thanks for What Makes My Life Better

20 Nov

Fun fact: Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s right up there with the Fourth of July, Patriots Day, and yes, my birthday. I love the good times with family and friends, the Macy’s parade, the big football games, and the turkey and gravy — especially the turkey and gravy. I still love Adam Sandler’s “Thanksgiving Song.” And yes, I also have a soft spot for that corny Nicole Westbrook song, “It’s Thanksgiving.”

But in all seriousness, I appreciate that Thanksgiving gives us the chance to hit the pause button on all that’s going wrong in our country and the daily annoyances and obligations, and to reflect on what we’re thankful for. With so much going on in the world, it’s easy to overlook the people, places, and things that make life better — the aspects of life that make us happy. Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to give them some much deserved attention.

When asked “What are you thankful for?” most people probably cite their family and friends, and their health. I know that’s what I say. But if we take a step back to think about it, there’s so much more to mention.

So in that spirit, here is a partial (and definitely incomplete) list, in no particular order, of some of the other people, places, and things I’m giving thanks for this year.

Continue reading

Let’s Not Forget These Early Days of 2018 (The Good Ones, Anyway)

29 Jun

It’s hard to believe, but it was just last week that James Corden shared his awesome “Carpool Karaoke” video with Paul McCartney with the world.

Less than a month and a half ago, we were all fighting about whether we heard “Laurel” or “Yanny.” (It’s Yanny. No question.)

Two and a half months ago, Desiree Linden won the Boston Marathon women’s race, by more than four minutes — even after stopping just over an hour into the race to wait while Shalane Flanagan went to the bathroom.

Less than three weeks before that, Brandon Victor Dixon’s performance blew us away in the live TV production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Black Panther, easily the best movie so far this year, came out just four months ago.

And a month before that, we were all cheering when the Minnesota Vikings staged an incredible comeback in the last minute of an NFL playoff game. (Unless you were a New Orleans Saints fan, that is.)

Yes, all of that happened this year. Continue reading

Happy Birthday to Me. Now It’s Time to Go.

7 Jun

Photo by Warren Wong / Unsplash

I’ve had the song “The Only Way to Get There” on repeat pretty much from the first moment I heard Jake Etheridge sing it on the TV show Nashville earlier this year. It’s a song about coming back after a difficult time, and it’s centered around this hook: “The only way to get there is to go.”

I fully acknowledge that I have a pretty good life (“A Life That’s Good,” to reference another Nashville song), and generally, I’m a pretty lucky guy, so unlike Jake’s character, there’ve been no significant hardships for me to overcome. And indeed, there have been many highlights to look back on over the past year, not to mention plenty to look forward to in the near future.

But that lyric, simple though it is, keeps playing over and over in my head.

Continue reading

My Niece Is Turning 10 Years Old Today. Why Can’t She Stay Young Forever?

4 May

On a recent visit to New York, it got to be that time, and my sister asked my niece, Abby, who she wanted to put her to sleep that night. With minimal hesitation, Abby responded, “Uncle.”

So up we went, and after a bit of her customary procrastination — she had to rearrange her stuff, she had to check out her fish, she had to put stuff away, she had to change from shorts into pants, then change back again, etc. etc. etc. — she got into bed. Continue reading

3 Mistakes You’re Making with Your Personal Brand on Social Media, and What to Do Instead

20 Feb

Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

Fact: Everybody has a personal brand, whether they want one or not.

Of course, “personal brand” is just a fancier, buzzword-ier way of saying “identity.” (Thank Fast Company magazine, which is largely credited with coining the term in the summer of 1997.) When people think about you, what do they think of you? What makes you you? That’s your personal brand. Continue reading

In a Meh Year for Movies, These Releases Won the Battle

7 Jan

So, 2017 was a funny year for the movies.

Not funny ha ha, but more like, it was just a meh year overall. With few exceptions, many of the movies I saw were good, not great. And it wasn’t just me: There appears to be little consensus across critics groups and award nominations so far because of it.

To that end, movies like Get Out and Call Me By Your Name I liked but didn’t love. (In the latter case, I thought Armie Hammer was miscast.) Same with Wonder Woman, which I liked but didn’t think was even the best superhero movie of the year. And on the flip side, movies I did really like, you won’t necessarily see on other top 10 lists. And some would never make my list in another, better year. Continue reading