Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Streaming Revolutionizes Television

 I've seen a lot of technological advancements with our television viewing habits over the years, from remote controls and VCRs to the explosion of cable channels and digital video recorders. But I think streaming may be the biggest change yet. 
Not only can you watch dozens, if not hundreds, of traditional TV shows, both old and new, at whatever pace you like, but much of the best television content comes from original programs airing for the first time - sometimes dumped all at once for immediate binging or doled out slowly, one per week, just like old times. 

Here are the shows that I have watched all available episodes so far...

Stranger Things
Luke Cage
Jessica Jones
Iron Fist
The Defenders
The Mandalorian
Only Murders in the Building

Umbrella Academy
The Rings of Power
Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The Book of Boba Fett
Obi Wan Kenobi
Moon Knight
Ms Marvel
She Hulk
Star Trek: Lower Decks
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Slow Horses
Outer Range
The Old Man
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Tulsa King
The Good Place

And streaming shows I am not finished with

His Dark Materials
A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Crown
Ted Lasso
The Witcher
Star Trek: Discovery
Star Trek: Picard
Better Call Saul
The Chosen
Alaska Daily
Abbott Elementary

Older TV series I am watching

Downton Abbey
Walking Dead
Boston Legal

And a few I have finished

West Wing
White Collar
Lie To Me

2022 Movies I've Seen

 It's getting harder and harder to compile this list every year. I used to be able to go to one website listing all the Hollywood Box Office stats and come up with my list. But now I have to also go to half a dozen other sites and find all the original streaming movies that I might have seen during the year. So here is my best effort at compiling my list for this year...

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
Minions: Rise of Gru
The Batman
Thor: Love and Thunder
The Lost City
Ticket to Paradise
Bullet Train
The Bad Guys
Turning Red
Sing 2
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
Death on the Nile
Don't Worry Darling
Marry Me
The King's Man
The 355
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The Adam Project
The Sea Beast
The Gray Man
The Princess
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
Enola Holmes 2
Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Hocus Pocus 2

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Avatar: The Way of Water
Top Gun: Maverick
Strange World
The Fabelmans
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

And now the movies that I still plan to see at some point...

Black Adam
Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Menu
She Said
Triangle of Sadness

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Oscar Gripes

 I'm not even sure where to start with my Oscar gripes this year.
The snub of Lady Gaga for Best Actress is galling. House of Gucci was one of the few Oscar-hyped films I made a point of seeing this year - along with Being the Ricardos - and both were shut out of the Best Picture category. But I really thought Lady Gaga was a lock for another Oscar nod this year. 

Then there is the Original Song category where you could have just picked every song from Encanto and left it at that. But while Encanto is filled with wonderful songs that are tearing up the pop charts like the sensational "We Don't Talk About Bruno" and "Surface Pressure," what song does the tone-deaf Academy nominate? - the Spanish language "Dos Oruguitas," which is a wonderful song, but nowhere near the best song in the movie. 

And then there is the Best Director category where it seems we are setting up for the 12th year in a row where a non-American director will win the statue. The last American director to win an Oscar was Kathryn Bigelow in 2009 for The Hurt Locker. This year there are only two American directors nominated - Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson - while the Oscar is likely to go to New Zealand's Jane Campion.

And we also seem to have a new requirement where the Academy has to nominate a foreign language film every year for Best Picture. This is the fourth year in a row where one of the precious Best Picture slots goes to a foreign language film - in 2018 it was Roma, in 2019 it was Parasite (which even won the Oscar that year), in 2020 it was Minari, and this year it is Drive My Car.

Meanwhile, the Academy continues its long-standing policy of ignoring movies that are popular with people who actually spend money going to the movies. If a film earns more than $100 million at the domestic box office it is guaranteed to be ignored by the snooty voters of the Academy. This year it is Spider Man No Way Home that got snubbed after raking in an incredible $572 million in a Covid year! 
The whole point of expanding the Oscar nominations from 5 to 10 was to make more room for popular films like SpiderMan to get some recognition and maybe attract more viewers to watch the annual shindig. Instead, Academy voters now just fill all 10 slots with art-house cinema that few people have (or will) see. The most popular nominee this year is Dune which earned just under $100 million at the box office which seems to be the Academy's cutoff point. Any film making over $100 million is only eligible for the Best Visual Effects trophy. 

Dune is also the only nominated film that I have seen so far. I may get around to seeing a few others at some point like King Richard, Don't Look Up and Nightmare Alley. But most of the other films just aren't all that appealing. They are not "popcorn" films that you would want to see again and again. They are more like "eat your vegetables" films. You know they are good for you, but you still don't like it. I've seen a lot of Oscar-winning films that are like that - where the reaction is 'Yes, this was a very good film. Please don't make me watch it again."

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Rock Hall of Fame nominees 2022

And here are the 17 nominees....

-Pat Benatar
-Kate Bush
-Duran Duran
-Judas Priest
-Fela Kuti
-New York Dolls
-Dolly Parton
-Rage Against The Machine
-Lionel Richie
-Carly Simon
-A Tribe Called Quest
-Dionne Warwick 

I should just accept that all of my favorite rock bands are never going to make it into the Rock Hall of Fame.

I'm sure you could make an argument that each of the 17 nominated artists this year deserve induction, but none of them would have made my personal top 5.
I bought albums by Devo and Duran Duran when I was in high school. I bought CDs by Beck and Rage Against the Machine post-college. Pat Benatar and Eurythmics were MTV staples. And Lionel Richie was everywhere when I was in college. And, of course, who doesn't love Dolly Parton? I would be happy to see any or all of them in the Hall of Fame. Even Eminem, who I came to appreciate later on.
I don't have anything against the others on the list, just indifferent. I am least familiar with the music of Kate Bush and A Tribe Called Quest. I know who Carly Simon and Dionne Warwick are, but I don't listen to their music enough to have a fair opinion of it. Same with Fela Kuti, MC5 and New York Dolls. And I was never a big metal fan so I am kind of indifferent to Judas Priest.
I would rather listen to albums by Boston, Foreigner, J. Geils Band, Los Lobos and Peter Frampton. And what about Styx, Bachman Turner Overdrive, REO Speedwagon, Kansas and B-52s? I would also like to go back further and honor some great passed-over artists like The Monkees and Paul Revere and The Raiders.
Maybe some day....