Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2014

The new year is less than two days old, so once again, it’s time to look back to our favorites of last year. As always, lists are imperfect, incomplete, and totally subject to change upon reflection and the passage of time.

We’ll start with Paul; he remains skeptical of this whole top 10 business, so this year, his contributions to our lists (including comics, albums, and TV shows) will be presented without comment.

(Mine, of course, will probably say too much.)

~ AJ

PAUL’S FAVORITE (NOT BEST) FILMS OF 2014
10. Boyhood (dir. Richard Linklater)
9. Interstellar (dir. Christopher Nolan)
8. Maleficent (dir. Robert Stromberg)
7. Only Lovers Left Alive (dir. Jim Jarmusch)
6. The LEGO Movie (dirs. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller)
5. Guardians of the Galaxy (dir. James Gunn)
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (dirs. Joe & Anthony Russo)
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (dir. Matt Reeves)
2. Big Hero 6 (dirs. Don Hall & Chris Williams)
1. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (dir. Dean DeBlois)

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon-ho)
Edge of Tomorrow (dir. Doug Liman)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (dir. Francis Lawrence)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (dir. Bryan Singer)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (dir. Marc Webb)

DIDN’T SEE
Birdman (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Force Majeure (dir. Ruben Ostlund)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (dir. Peter Jackson)

AJ’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2014

10. BIRDMAN (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)

Film Review Birdman

“A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing,” reads the quote (sometimes attributed to Susan Sontag) stuck to Riggan Thomson’s mirror. One imagines the former superhero actor, played by a back-and-swinging-for-the-fences Michael Keaton, clings to that mantra as he negotiates a shot at artistic integrity with his paranoid need to be loved. It also serves as a warning to anyone trying to dissect the film or Iñárritu’s intentions. After making a career out of overwhelmingly somber dramas, Iñárritu has made a frenzied comedy propelled by a furious drum score from Antonio Sanchez. He also peppers the film with flights of insanity, in which Riggan has telekinetic powers or takes to the skies just like his old alter ego. How much of this is real? What does the film’s beautiful final shot mean? There’s a lot to be said, but you can also take Birdman for the absurd, chaotic, hilarious thing it is.

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Listen to Episode 117, “I Been Bit, Y’all”

Gobbledygeek episode 117, “I Been Bit, Y’all,” is available for listening or download right here.

For the penultimate episode of Gobbledyween 2012, Paul and AJ take a break from being all reflective and whatnot for the zombie antics of Community‘s “Epidemiology.” There’s a whole lotta zombies, a whole lotta ABBA, and a whole lotta hilarity. Highlights include Troy’s Sexy Dracula costume, Chang being the “racist prover,” and Chiquita M.D. It’s a good time. Plus, Paul talks about loyal listener Valerie’s trip to Alabama and AJ gives brief thoughts on Seven Psychopaths and Argo. There’s also a VERY SPECIAL guest on this week’s episode, even if you have to listen to these two blathering idiots to get to the specialness.

Next: Gobbledyween 2012 comes to a close with Psych‘s “This Episode Sucks.”

(Show notes for “I Been Bit, Y’all.”)

Listen to Episode 98, “What’s Eating Royal Tenenbaum”

Gobbledygeek episode 98, “What’s Eating Royal Tenenbaum,” is available for listening or download right here.

Hoo boy. Memorial Day musta done something to the boys; they barely remember how to run the show (if they ever knew). But they’ve lazed and stumbled through another episode, all for your listening pleasure! This week, they face another Geek Challenge: Paul has challenged AJ to watch What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and in turn, AJ has challenged Paul to watch The Royal Tenenbaums. Both films are about dysfunctional families trying to reach beyond their ways, which they are very much set in. They’re different films, but it kind of works. One finds ennui in a small rural town; the other, in the sprawling New York home of a special family. One has Johnny Depp back when he was still trying, the other Gene Hackman pre-retirement. At more than one point during the show, one of the boys threatens a throwdown. Plus, AJ talks about Dan Harmon’s firing from Community and his first-ever camping trip; and Paul speaks on Snow White and the Huntsman and the first annual Alabama Phoenix Fest.

Next: John Carter. Prepare for bloodshed.

(Show notes for “What’s Eating Royal Tenenbaum.”) 

‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ Review: Mc9/11

The Ultimate Gift is the worst movie I’ve ever seen. You probably haven’t heard of it. Good for you. I don’t want to imply that it’s well-made, because it’s not, but there are certainly worse-made movies out there. Little ManDate MovieSpace Mutiny, etc. But The Ultimate Gift is a special brand of awful because it takes a little girl’s cancer and uses it as nothing more than a plot point with which to forward the main character’s journey of self-discovery. Once the main character has supposedly become a better person, the little girl dies and no one really cares. Not sure about you, but to me, that is offensive. Now imagine a movie which does the same, only instead of using a cancer-stricken child, it uses a national tragedy the scope of which is still too large for many Americans to comprehend. Thanks to director Stephen Daldry, screenwriter Eric Roth, and a passel of others, you don’t have to imagine it. They’ve made it. And it’s called Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

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Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2011

Paul and I rambled on and on about our favorites of 2011 in our second season finale, but that isn’t gonna stop us from rambling some more. This is the first in a series of top 10s that will be spread out over the next couple weeks; the rest will concern television, albums, and comic books.

But first, a word about lists. Paul has described my obsession with list-making as a “sickness,” and that’s probably close to the truth. However, even one such as I, beholden to rating and ranking everything known to man, know that these kinds of things are imperfect, to put it lightly. For one, no matter how all-inclusive you try to be, there’s always going to be a movie (or show, or comic, etc.) that you somehow missed; for example, as of this writing, neither Paul nor I have seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Shame, or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, just to name a few. And more importantly, lists are always subject to how their makers feel at the moment they’re making them. Each of our top 10s represent the movies we love right now, and with the exception of our #1 choices, their order could be fluid, changing from day to day, mood to mood.

Right now, though? These are the films we adore, and which we feel exemplify 2011.

~ AJ

PAUL: 10. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (dir. Rupert Wyatt)

The summer blockbuster that was better than any of us had any right to expect. Not only a remarkably capable relaunch/reboot of a beloved but dated franchise, but also just a damned good popcorn flick in its own right. Andy Serkis brings heart and humanity (pun intended) to the “inhuman” protagonist. It’s Pinocchio and Moses and Che Guevara.

AJ: 10. GEORGE HARRISON: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD (dir. Martin Scorsese)

It has been lazy shorthand for decades to refer to George Harrison as the “quiet Beatle,” and though that might have a kernel of truth to it, the man himself was far more complex. Publicly, he was quiet because he desperately hated fame; professionally, he was quiet during the Beatle years because John and Paul vetoed his material, and later, because he was content with tending to his family and to his garden. Martin Scorsese’s Bob Dylan documentary No Direction Home definitively captured that 60s icon’s brilliance and enigma, and while Living in the Material World doesn’t quite do the same for this 60s icon, it comes close enough. In the first part of this two-part doc, the entire life cycle of The Beatles is rehashed yet again, though considering it’s Scorsese at the helm, it remains of interest. It’s in the second part, however, when things truly come alive. By telling of his unsung career as a film producer, enticing candid stories from a number of those closest to him, and showing private home movies, Scorsese paints a portrait of Harrison as a man perpetually struggling to reconcile his spirituality with his materialism, caught between divinity and mortality.

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Gobbledygeek Gift Guide 2011

On the new episode of Gobbledygeek, Paul and AJ told you about all the things you should buy this Christmas season, and now here’s a comprehensive guide! (Including a few items that weren’t even mentioned on the show.)

Note: Most links and prices are from Amazon.

BOOKS/COMICS

READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline
$14.33

Hands down one of the best science fiction books I’ve read in recent memory. It’s like my admittedly overdeveloped nostalgia gland were milked and distilled onto the page. This book is my geeky, pop-culture DNA printed in ink. ~ Paul

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Listen to Episode 66, “TV Party”

Gobbledygeek episode 66, “TV Party,” is available for listening or download right here.

Paul and AJ have already told you what movies you’re going to watch this fall, but what about those nights when you feel like staying in and staring slack-jawed at your television screen? Well, ladies and germs,we’ve got you covered! The boys discuss a number of new shows–sci-fi dramas like Terra Nova and comedies like New Girl, starring the glorious angel that is Zooey Deschanel–and returning ones–from Community to Boardwalk Empire. Now you have no excuse not to be as anti-social as humanly possible. You can thank us later! Plus: Paul reviews more DC New 52 books; AJ tells you why you need Spotify in your life; we’ve got the second half of last week’s Formspring question; and a listener e-mail!

(Show notes for “TV Party.”)