June has arrived, and also it’s about to end, the month-long worldwide celebrations of my birthday winding down* as I settle into my new age-number and look ahead to the rest of the year**. Thus, this, my Best Things halftime report, expanded once more from merely a ranking of film and TV to include music, because that’s how much I care about you guys***. Also: Please enjoy a preambulatory blurb about my feelings on each of these in 2018 to date****.
Guys: Movies suck. I realize this might persuade you to glance at my best-of-so-far picks charitably, perhaps incredulously. Allow me a preemptive two-pronged rebuttal: One, hey, shut up; two, these movies don’t suck, but man, the rest really aren’t doing it for me. I blame the top three in particular, but that blame extends to the other 7, plus my cheat picks (because anything in the “honorable mention” ballpark is cheating when your list is supposed to go to 10). The greats of 2018 aren’t great in a vacuum – no movie is – but they do serve the unintended function of showing up every other movie released on this annual slate, because lord, the movies just aren’t even half-trying anymore. I’m at a point where I’m convinced pop filmmaking is about to die, and the only movies worth your time are the small scale or off-radar movies made by talented artists with something to say that happens to be worth saying (even if what they’re saying is, in short, “Taxi Driver is a really great and enduring picture”).
- You Were Never Really Here
- First Reformed
- The Rider
- Madeline’s Madeline
- Hale County This Morning, This Evening
- Never Goin’ Back
- Eighth Grade
(Honorable Mentions: Black Panther, Paddington 2, The Endless, The Death of Stalin)
(Wild Card, AKA” The Film I Will Repeatedly Reevaluate For The Rest Of The Year”: Sorry to Bother You)
Guys: TV sucks, too. “Golden age of television” my ass. Granted, I fell behind on The Americans years ago and never caught up, so that one is very conspicuously absent from my list, but there’s so much TV, and so much of it is just not good – even the stuff The Culture™ insists on as Important™ and Relevant™ – that I’m having a hard time buying that we’re in TV’s golden age anymore*****. But maybe you don’t need everything to be good in order for the good things to shine, and in point of fact, the more content is homogenized, middling, boring, or just straight-up bad, the more that the best merits of the genuinely good series out there become obvious. That doesn’t mean I’m happy sitting through hours and hours of television just to suss out the good from the bad, but it does mean that the shows I like, I really like.
- Dear White People
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine
- Sharp Objects
- The Terrorx
- The Last Man on Earth
- The Magicians
- American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Hey! Music’s pretty good, dudes and dudettes. I have two particular biases here: One, music, rather than film, is my first love, being a foundational part of my upbringing******, and two, music’s time investment is much less taxing than film’s (and especially television’s). I can walk around the house, or the city, or walk to the train, or ride the train, or go for a jog, or drive my car, or work on non-music stuff, and I can still listen to music and lose myself in it. Maybe that’s not a substantive reason to embrace one art form over others, but when you’ve spent as much time killing yourself writing about movies without commensurate payoff as I have, time investment becomes a deciding factor in how much you enjoy each individual form. So there you go, kids.
- Young Fathers, Cocoa Sugar
- Hinds, I Don’t Run
- Shame, Songs of Praise
- Courtney Barnett, Tell Me How You Really Feel
- Parquet Courts, Wide Awake!
- Erin Rae, Putting On Airs
- Pusha-T, Daytona
- Leon Bridges, Good Things
- The Decemberists, I’ll Be Your Girl
- Janelle Monae, Dirty Computer
*My birthday is the 25th of June. I like to imagine that all across the globe, peoples of different cultures have their own unique traditions for marking the day I arrived on this dumb planet. Never let it be said I am not vain.
**In my mind, it’s already almost December, which is why I hate ranking things (and yet I can’t stop myself).
***Don’t expect me to start ranking beers, because that would require me to drink way more than I already do, and I like my liver the way it is just fine thank you very much.
****Again: It’s June. This list is therefore bullshit.
*****The Handmaid’s Tale is the exact kind of self-assertive art I loathe; Riverdale is trashy trash trash; Our Cartoon President goes full-Family Guy on subject matter that doesn’t deserve it; LA to Vegas forgets to write jokes into its scripts; the list goes on. Don’t tell me there’s too much good TV. There’s just too much TV.
******I played, and this list is only partial (based on memory): Piano, guitar, trumpet, baritone horn, bass guitar, didgeridoo (really), bongos, keyboards. I also listened to Oldies 103.3, because that’s what my dad had on in the Oldsmobile during my childhood.