10 Things To Be Grateful For in 2018
Happy New Year from Ryan Charles at Nitty Gritty Studios!
Now, admittedly, I didn't consume as much content as I normally do this past year--(check out 2016 and 2017)-- but I am thoroughly enjoying this industry roller-coaster we are on-- both in terms of how content is created and consumed. There is just SO MUCH happening and it's all happening faster and faster.
So with yet another year in the rear-view I wanted to take a moment and look back at 10 things that I was grateful for having in 2018
1. Pickle Rick (RICK AND MORTY S3E3)
I know what you're thinking. Wasn't that from 2017? Technically, yes. But I didn't get around to it till 2018 and RICK AND MORTY had an off-year in 2018 so I'm giving it a pass. Don't like it? Get your own blog!
Now, you either know what I'm talking about-- burp-- or have NO IDEA. RICK AND MORTY keeps getting better and better with it being a family sitcom, sci-fi adventure and philosophical treatise all wrapped up in some of the funniest-- and smartest-- writing you'll find on TV-- animated or not.
Perhaps the only thing greater than the action packed sequences of Pickle Rick traversing the sewer system, fighting for his survival amidst sludge and rats, is the final take-down the therapist (voiced by Susan Sarandon) delivers to Rick in the latter part of the episode. It's something we all need to hear so do yourselves a favor and check it out.
Available on: HULU
2. WESTWORLD (Season 2)
Now we ARE in 2018. Or are we? Maybe it's actually 70 years in the future but you have no way of knowing because I'm a robot who doesn't age? WESTWORLD continues to bend plots and minds to deliver some of the most "thinking"-provoking show on TV with enough Easter eggs inherent to keep the nerdiest fanboy up all night. Thankfully its also taking care to inject just the right amount of pulse-pounding action and philosophical pondering to remain interesting after two seasons inside the park.
As the story clearly begins to expand beyond just WESTWORLD itself we'll see if they had an ending in mind all along or bit off more story than they could chew. I have faith in the brain-trust at HBO but the Nolan brothers aren't exactly known for their neat and tidy endings so don't be surprised if this narrative starts to unspool one or two more seasons down the road if they aren't careful.
Available on: HBO
Not only was VICE a great movie-- with a near sure-fire Oscar winning performance from Christian Bale-- but it again proves that Adam McCay is good for more than just Will Ferrel movies. With THE BIG SHORT and now VICE McCay has created a distinct and creative voice that straddles many modes of cinema including scripted narrative, documentary and even historical/educational. I don't know about you but I am personally looking forward to the world according to McCay for years to come.
4. THE DEATH OF STALIN (2018 U.S. release)
Between THE DEATH OF STALIN, THE FAVOURITE (Yorgos Lanthimos' followup to last year's super creepy KILLING OF A SACRED DEER) and the aforementioned VICE it seemed to be a year rife for historical satire-- and nobody did it better than the creator of VEEP (Armando Iannucci) with STALIN.
Seeing the film in a small theater in Manhattan (IFC Center) I found the experience to be as fascinating as the film itself in that for the first 40 minutes or so people were unsure whether they should be laughing or not; this eventually gave way to snickers and side-remarks until eventually by the last half-hour or so the entire audience, myself included, were on the floor-- UNTIL the film begins to wrap up at which point we once again take a tonal turn that one really needs to see the film to fully understand or appreciate.
The movie features too many "scene-stealing" performances to mention but I'll have to go with Steve Buscemi playing Nikita Krushchev. Need I say more?
Available on: SHOWTIME
It wasn't all fun and laughs for me though. Horror is something I'm not really into but generally find one or two a year I can appreciate. After all, horror can sometimes come with a low-bar attached to it; if the story stinks it gets a mulligan if the scares are good etc. HEREDITARY is one of those horror films that will stay with you long afterwards. It is paced in the way classic horror is. Think THE SHINING, THE THING, THE EXORCIST. Horror that focuses just as much on the psychological as the paranormal. The horror not from without-- but from within.
HEREDITARY apparently left a few people scratching their heads but that's only because of that low-bar I mentioned before. A lot of horror movies don't require you to think and so audiences get lazy but rest assured if you sit down with this one and give it your due attention it is going to scare the bejeezus out of you.
Available on: AMAZON
6. ER Comes To HULU
That's right, folks. You can now watch all 331 episodes of the landmark series that launched the careers of many a people-- George Clooney, Julianna Margulies and Eriq La Salle to name a few.-- and apparently 35,000 people did just that. Now it would take you about 12 days or so to binge the whole series non-stop-- and I don't have that kind of time-- but after getting hooked into bingeing long stretches of some of the best seasons over the holiday break it's easy to see this show surviving in the current landscape if it were to air today-- not an easy task to achieve for a show that first aired in 1994.
Available on: HULU
7. Mac Finds His Pride (IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA S13E10)
The thing about IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY this past season was that it didn't seem to concerned with being funny-- just with being great. Over 13 seasons of some of the most crass, obnoxious, offensive and inappropriate humor on TV since SOUTH PARK, IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY has been building and developing some fairly layered characters with immense arcs for a "sitcom" and Mac's journey out of the closet-- in tandem with Rob McElhenney's incredible body transformations throughout the years-- is certainly the meatiest of them all.
In the season 13 finale Mac finally fully confronts his convict father about his homosexuality-- by way of an incredibly intricate, erotic, difficult and beautiful dance with professional ballerina Kylie Shea. It lasts a full 5 minutes and is the definition of show-stopping-- and yet again proves that IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA is more than just Seinfeld on steroids and meth but has fully evolved and developed into something wholly its own.
Available on: FX & HULU
And speaking of long running TV comedies...
8. Unfulfilled (SOUTH PARK S22E09)
Maybe it's just cause I live in NYC and Amazon is coming for us that this episode struck so perfectly close to home. For those not caught up this episode features the newest Amazon fulfillment center coming to South Park and the repercussions it has on the community at large. With 22 seasons in the bag-- and no sign of stopping in sight-- you're either watching SOUTH PARK or you are an idiot so I'm not going to bother going into any details here.
Available on: HULU
9. RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2
Haha. Just kidding. I haven't played a video game since the original TOMB RAIDER for PC but man was there a craze for this game this past year. Video games becoming more cinematic (and cinema becoming more video-game like) is certainly not a new conversation and admittedly one I have very little experience in order to discuss competently. SOUTH PARK did an episode on RDR2 as well if you still needed another reason to watch.
10. Streamers, Streamers Everywhere...
Not Just was there great content out there in 2018 but we really are living in a spoiled age where we can have our cake and eat it too. Complain all you like about having too many options to choose from but there's really no excuse anymore as movie lovers. Close your eyes and spin the wheel, you could watch something new every day.
AND IN FACT this is exactly what I'm going to do. Starting February 1st, 2019 I am going to attempt to watch 219 NEW movies in 2019. I'll post just short reactions after viewing and even post my schedule ahead of time in some cases if you want to watch along,