The Year in TV – 2019

Rated Greg’s Top 10 Shows Of The Year

  1. Fleabag (Amazon)
  2. Succession (HBO)
  3. Mindhunter (Netflix)
  4. Euphoria (HBO)
  5. Cobra Kai (Youtube)
  6. The Crown (Netflix)
  7. Southern Charm (Bravo)
  8. Friends From College (Netflix)
  9. Derry Girls (Netflix)
  10. What We Do In The Shadows (FX)

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): The Mandalorian (Disney+), Watchmen (HBO), Mrs. Fletcher (HBO), I Love You Now Die (HBO), Barry (HBO), Dating Around (Netflix), Dark (Netflix), Crashing (HBO), The Loudest Voice (Showtime)

Fleabag (Amazon) – Season 2:  You check out Fleabag Season 1 because Season 2 has been socially publicized with a 100% approval rating this year.  You’re a little confused at first.  Why is she occasionally talking directly to the camera, breaking the fourth wall ala Zack Morris?  Actually not just occasionally, but seemingly once every 35 seconds?   It’s a unique avenue of perspective, but isn’t that overkill?  Maybe this just isn’t for you, like a lot of British shows that others love (Peaky Blinders is fucking dumb and I’ll say it to your face). But you stick it out because its only 6 episodes at 22-25 minutes a piece.  The end of each chapter leaves juuuuust enough intrigue to keep going.  By the end of season 1 Fleabag has grown on you, but not so much that you feel compelled to bring her up in conversation.   

Then you finally throw on Episode 1 of Season 2 and it ALL MAKES SENSE.  Of course people are raving about this show!  The Season 1 homework was all worth it.  You’re compelled to eat up the next 5 episodes consecutively but also consider savoring this masterpiece of television over the course of a week or two.  Each episode becomes more and more satisfying while painting a whole new light on the fourth wall structure.  Rated Greg thrives on hyperbole and he won’t disappoint here.  Fleabag Season 2 is the best rom-com this decade.

Best episode: The one at the restaurant

Succession (HBO) – Season 2:    Last year’s champion is sadly no longer my number one boy.  I wish I had the skill to talk like these assholes.  The Roy family saga is still just as good as the first season and remains the best written show on television, but Fleabag is the new, shiny thing thus gets the slight edge. 

Best episode: The one on the yacht

Mindhunter (Netflix) – Season 2:    After taking a year off, David Fincher’s Mindhunter made significant improvement in Season 2.  Netflix billed 2017’s first season as another cops vs serial killers show from the director of Seven, but viewers quickly learned it wasn’t exactly that.  There weren’t any cases to solve.  Instead the premise was rather about the onset of a real life FBI program in which they psychoanalyzed already captured deviants to improve their profiling capabilities and the toll this took on the personal lives of the FBI agents involved.  I still found it quite compelling but understand if it wasn’t what you were looking for.  

That said, if you are looking for a show about cops investigating shit, you should really check out Season 2.  It begins with a similar structure to the first season but soon a new, WILD real life case is introduced that I had never heard of before.  The agents now use what they learned about criminal profiling in the first season to investigate a string of mysterious Atlanta killings in the mid 80’s.  You’re still not going to see any car chases or shootouts, but it is remains thrilling filmmaking from Fincher. 

Best episode: The one with the stakeout

Euphoria (HBO) – Season 1:    I’ve heard secondhand that this was a really tough watch for the older generations.  The pilot for Euphoria is basically, I have to assume, the worst case scenario for what it’s like to be in high school in 2019 (drug addiction, social media driven depression, sexual assault, rampant glitter eye shadow).  It’s not like the 80’s and 90’s representations for high school life weren’t also angst filled, but there were definitely highs to go along with those lows.  Meanwhile, each of the kids at Euphoria High are doomed from the start. 

I will say that the pilot episode is without a doubt the most disturbing episode of the season and if you can make it past that you will likely find it rewarding, but if you can’t handle it I won’t blame you.  Nonetheless I found Euphoria to be absolutely captivating.  From a cinematography standpoint it’s the best looking show on TV, peaking with a carnival episode that’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. 

Best episode: The one with the carnival

Cobra Kai (Youtube) – Season 2:   You know what’s a really fun high school show?  Cobra fucking Kai. The biggest setback of watching Cobra Kai was that you needed a Youtube Red account, however the company has already dissolved their premium service and all episodes will be made available for free very soon.  You can read more about my enthusiasm for this reboot of the ultimate underdog story here.  

Best episode: The one with the first day of school

The Crown (Netflix) – Season 3:    BY GOD THIS IS JUST GOOD SHIT. I fancy The Crown.

Best episode: The one with the moon landing

Southern Charm (Bravo) – Season 6:    These idiots take the title from Vanderpump Rules as the best reality show on TV. 

Best episode: The one with the ski trip

Friends From College (Netflix) – Season 2:    The most underappreciated comedy since Happy Endings.  Much like Happy Endings, this show about messy adult assholes was cancelled way too soon.  At first I blamed misleading bad reviews from critics for the cancellation, but perhaps the cast is just too busy/expensive to all keep together (most notably Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, and Billy Eichner).   

Best episode: The one with the wedding

Derry Girls (Netflix) – Season 2:    This past summer the movie Booksmart was billed as “the female Superbad.” It’s a fair comparison and Booksmart is a good time.  However an even better version of “the female Superbad” is Netflix’s Derry Girls, about five friends acting a fool in early 90’s Northern Ireland.  You’ll likely need to watch this with subtitles because of the accents. 

Best episode: The one with the concert

What We Do In The Shadows (FX) – Season 1:    Based on Taiki Waititi’s movie of the same name, this comedy about vampires in modern day Staten Island seems stupid on paper, but I guarantee you will chuckle multiple times each episode. Just watch the clip below if you don’t believe me.

Best episode: The one with the trial

A Few Rated Greg Superlatives

Rated Greg’s Top 5 Lead Performances

  1. Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag)
  2. Russell Crowe (The Loudest Voice)
  3. Holt McCallany (Mindhunter)
  4. Kathryn Hahn (Mrs. Fletcher)
  5. Craig Conover (Southern Charm)*

*Never change, Craig

Rated Greg’s Top 5 Supporting Characters

  1. Tom (Matthew Macfayden) – Succession
  2. Hot Priest (Andrew Scott) – Fleabag
  3. Baby Yoda (A puppeteer) – The Mandalorian
  4. Jules Vaughn (Hunter Schafer) – Euphoria
  5. Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) – What We Do In The Shadows

Waves

Moonlight meets Euphoria

You don’t need me to tell you to see Once Upon A Time in Hollywood or Ford vs Ferrari or The Irishman.  Big movies with bigger movie stars that were all over social media and you saw ads for constantly.  They’re each 90+ on Rotten Tomatoes and are absolute shoe-ins for Best Picture nominations.  I mean, all you need to see are these posters and say no more, you’re ready to rock.

But how about this poster for the movie Waves below? 

Does that look like something you want to sign up for?  The actors listed aren’t even in legible font.  Only cinephiles have heard of the director and there aren’t any TV ads.  The picture advertisement alone probably isn’t going to cut it with all the shiny movies to the left and right of it at the theater.  You need to know more, right?  Well have no fear, that’s what Rated Greg is here for.  But before we get to that lets hop in a time machine and go back 3 years.

The movie Moonlight was released wide by A24 on November 18th, 2016.  Similar to Waves it lacked a descriptive poster and I do not recall seeing any TV ads.  But when did YOU first become aware of Moonlight or feel compelled to see it?  According to Box Office Mojo I’m guessing it wasn’t before Thanksgiving.  Despite coming out over two months prior, the highest grossing day for Moonlight was actually January 28th, 2017 with $637K.  It merely floated around among only the most devoted cinema fans until the Oscar nominations gave the general public the added context they needed to purchase a ticket.  Placing that much weight on the opinion of Academy is a bit silly given their track record, but I guess it’s better that Moonlight eventually got the amounts of eyes it deserved than never at all.  What’s that got to do with Waves?  Well, I have a feeling something similar is going to happen this year.    

It’s easy to see lots of parallels between Waves and the Best Picture winner three years prior.  An A24 release in mid November.  Features black characters in South Florida.   A stylishly shot drama that will empty out your emotional fuel tank.  But that’s about it.  Waves isn’t a copycat situation trying to capitalize on the fondness of another classic.  It’s a one of a kind, TOUR DE FORCE that will leave you out of breath by the credits.  No joke, it seems strange to portray a suburban family drama as an edge of your seat experience, but you’ll understand when you see it.  The way this film is shot is just as exhilarating as any of the excellent car races in Ford vs Ferrari. 

I’m not going to dive into much about the plot.  This story and even the format as it is presented is far better off seen knowing nothing beforehand.  One thing I did find interesting and worth mentioning is that Waves is a film about a black family that was written by a white person (writer/director Trey Edward Schultz).  This is a situation otherwise known as “The Green Book conundrum” but is handled far more delicately than last year’s shitshow campaign.

Apparently Waves is a semi-autobiographical take on a tumultuous time in Schultz’s Florida upbringing and the first person he cast was Kelvin Harrison Jr. as the teenage son, thinking it didn’t make a difference to the story what race the family was.  Which seems true on the surface.  Most of the shit that happens in this film could be about any modern day family and Harrison simply had the best audition.  However what’s cool is that once Sterling K. Brown (shoutout This Is Us) came on board to play the Dad he met with Schultz several times to alter the script and add specifically black perspectives to certain areas.  Brown felt strongly that the struggles each member of this family deals with would lead to slightly different experiences if it were a black family vs a white family, no matter if they were in the same tax bracket.  Schultz wisely obliged and Waves is clearly a far better movie for it.  Don’t be surprised if you see this at the top of my report card come December 31st. Grade A+

Ad Astra

Rated Greg’s Top 5 Movie Dads

  1. Nicolas Cage (Raising Arizona)
  2. Alec Baldwin (Outside Providence)
  3. Sean Connery (Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade)
  4. Gary Cole (Talladega Nights)
  5. Bruce Willis (Armageddon)

Last week a friend was going on a movie date and asked me whether they should see Joker or Ad Astra.  I told her neither and to go see Hustlers.  My oh so stubborn friend, let’s just call her “Deesh”, disregarded my advice, chose Ad Astra, and then had THE AUDACITY to give me shit when she hated the movie.  I’m sorry, what?  She yelled at me for liking Ad Astra and giving it a B+, which is a grade I stand by, but I also knew two things.  1.  I knew this particular friend wouldn’t like Ad Astra.  It’s just not her type of movie.  2.  Even if she was someone that I would recommend Ad Astra to, it is a TERRIBLE choice for a date movie!  And so is Joker!  Joker and Ad Astra are honestly probably tied for the second worst date movie of the year, with Midsommer for sure being number one in that category.  You know what is a fun date movie though?  Fucking Hustlers is, that’s what (A+ btw). 

So Ad Astra.  It’s not just that jerk Deesh, I wouldn’t recommend Ad Astra to the majority of my friends.  Believe it or not the Brad Pitt space epic is not meant for the general public, despite the studio including two pretty cool action sequences for trailer purposes.  First off this film is just much more likely to resonate with men more than women (Sure, women will enjoy looking at hot Brad Pitt, but unlike Once Upon A Time in Hollywood he does not take his shirt off).  Not only that, but it will only be particularly affecting for men from a certain age that are sentimental about their fathers.   Ad Astra is introspection about a man dedicating his life to a career that would make his father proud, to the detriment of developing any substantial connection with another person.  It’s a mostly quiet, fairly artsy film that asks the question whether human beings might be better off living a lifestyle devoid of any real emotional capital invested in another.  There is an answer to that question at the end, but obviously you can discover that for yourself. 

One more thing.  I didn’t know Brad Pitt had this in him.  Obviously he’s great at playing weirdos (Snatch, Fight Club), great at comic roles (Burn After Reading, Inglorious Basterds), and great at being the coolest motherfucker in the room (Oceans 11, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood), but he’s never stirred up emotions quite like this in a dramatic role.  He’s clearly poured himself into his craft after a tumultuous period in his personal life and it shows.  Grade: B+

Triple Frontier

Rated Greg’s Top 5 Most Handsome Movies

  1. Triple Frontier
  2. Heat
  3. Ocean’s Eleven
  4. The Outsiders
  5. The Departed

How many actors do you think fired their agents because they didn’t get offered Triple Frontier?  I’m guessing there was a lot of movement among the clientele of 35 to 45 year olds around Hollywood after Netflix released this back in March.  Who do you think was most pissed off?  John Krasinski?  Channing Tatum?  Chris Evans?  It was probably Chris Evans.  The script of Triple Frontier is a dream for anyone looking to flex some muscles and brood on ‘em, harkening back to the action glory days of the 1980’s.      

Five broke, down on their luck former marines decide to rob a South American drug lord and make all of their problems go away.  What ensues is one half heist movie, one half survival movie, and two halves tough guy train.  All Aboard! 

The reviews that panned this Netflix original all had the same vibe.  They claimed that Triple Frontier was pretty clearly constructed as content, not as “art.”  I don’t disagree.  If you made a bot watch every Stallone, Arnold, and Swayze movie from 20th century, then locked that bot in a room and made it write a screenplay, it would come up with Triple Frontier.  This film isn’t concerned about saying something original or eliciting an academic think-piece.  It’s basically an action cliché algorithm. 

Even the cast of Triple Frontier appears to have been compiled not based on who fit which role, but which actors had a very precise level of a cult following.  Oscar Isaac, Garret Hedlund, Pedro Pascal, and Charlie Hunnam.  I promise you out of 100 tweets about any of those actors, at least 99 will be positive.  Within the movie, you could switch any of the roles among the four and it wouldn’t add or subtract from the story. 

Obviously this list excludes Affleck.  You can find a lot of negative things said about Benjamin Geza Affleck, 2002’s Sexiest Man Alive, on the internet.  Trying to log onto your homepage and NOT seeing someone talking crap about Affleck is like NOT seeing inappropriate t-shirt slogans on the Ocean City boardwalk.  Everyone wants a piece of him.  But here’s the thing.  Fuck those people.  Ben Affleck is a treasure to the film industry and is often the best ingredient in any movie he’s in, whether the movie is good or not.   If Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were hanging off of a cliff Good Son style and I could only save one, I’m saving Ben every time (It’s not your fault, Matt).  True to form, he’s is the best part of Triple Frontier.

Unlike the other four characters, no one else could have played Affleck’s role as Tom ‘Redfly’ Davis.  You see, the filming of Triple Frontier took place as Affleck was going through a divorce and on the brink of rehab in 2018 (you can tell because he looks like shit).  Typically the most charismatic member of an ensemble, his performance of a downtrodden veteran is quite jarring.  It’s impossible to watch without thinking about what demons must have been going on in his head, as both his marriage and Batman franchise crashed and burned.  Whatever the case, he’s REALLY good in this and nails the part.

As for the movie on the whole, Triple Frontier is damn entertaining.  Who the hell cares if it was seemingly created in a lab? So is every Marvel movie and this is exponentially more interesting than those.  Plus, it’s an R Rated, stand alone action movie not affiliated with any other franchises.  How often does that happen these days?  Once a year maybe?  Den of Thieves took that title last year.  Atomic Blonde the year before.  2019 is all about Triple Frontier.  Grade: A+

The Beach Bum

Rated Greg’s Top 5 Florida Movies

  1. Bad Boys
  2. Miami Vice
  3. The Beach Bum
  4. Ace Ventura
  5. Moonlight

I’m fairly certain that no lead actor ever had more fun filming a movie than Matthew McConaughey did during the shoot of Harmony Korine’s The Beach Bum.  Playing a fictional poet/wild man named Moondog, all McConaughey does throughout this comedy is gallivant back and forth between Miami and Key West while drinking PBR, having sex, doing drugs, and otherwise paling around with the great hangs of Snoop Dogg, Jonah Hill, Isla Fisher, Zac Efron, and Martin Lawrence.  That’s the movie. There’s no real conflict, no personal growth, and no lesson other than life’s too short to sweat the bullshit.  I loved every second of it.  L-I-V-I-N. 

It’s a good message.  It’s not a remotely realistic message, but I appreciate the sentiment.   Most people can’t do literally WHATEVER they want WHENEVER they want without a care in the world.  But Moondog can and I’m happy for him.  He’s basically the human version of a golden retriever that never got fixed.  Still not sold?  Watch the trailer below.  I mean, doesn’t that look like a good time! 

Apparently Gary Oldman was Korine’s first choice to play Moondog, but this is perfect casting with McConaughey, a man who was once arrested for playing the bongos naked in real life.  Same goes for the rest of the co-stars, all one upping each other in outlandishness every ten minutes or so, especially Martin back after an 8 year big screen sabbatical.  If Big Mamma’s House 3 is Tiger Woods’ DUI, this cameo is his Masters victory.

They don’t happen often, but I tend to be really drawn to movies where the majority of the runtime is just people having fun without much plot.  It’s a nice break from the Chicken Little stratosphere constantly glowing from our phones.  My favorite film of 2016 was Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some, which circles the low stakes of a party heavy weekend at a college baseball house.  While these are stylishly two VERY different films, they left me with the same laid back chuckles.  I actually have a hard time even calling The Beach Bum an actual film given the lack of cohesiveness, it’s more just a collection of really funny encounters between Moondog and the people of South Florida.  But it’s my favorite THING thus far that I’ve seen this year (well….that or Jordan Peele’s Us). 

Before I go, I should warn you that Korine’s movies apparently aren’t for everyone (just look at the Rotten Tomato scores).   The first half of 2013’s Spring Breakers is really hard to get through and I know multiple people that turned it off during the first act, but if you stuck around until Gucci Mane shows up you realize how special that film is, not to mention the incredible Britney Spears homage toward the end.  Luckily The Beach Bum doesn’t have that problem. It gets going right from the jump.  Moondog’s escapades might not move you to any meaningful emotions whatsoever, but goddammit you will be entertained.   Oh yes, you will be entertained. 

Grade: A+

Cold Pursuit

Rated Greg’s Top 5 Snow Movies

  1. The Grey
  2. Wind River
  3. Cliffhanger
  4. The Hateful Eight
  5. Fargo

There’s a version of a Cold Pursuit review that praises the film for its creativity within an already established business model, that of a Liam Neeson revenge thriller.  Since the mightily successful Taken in 2008, Neeson has been making this movie practically on an annual basis.  It’s a formula not just in terms of the “one simple man takes on a bunch of thugs” plot, but even in release date given that they all seem to come out in the time of year where competition is light. Taken came out in January 2008.  Unknown (Taken but with amnesia) came out in February 2011. The Grey (Taken but against wolves) came out in January 2012*.  Non-Stop (Taken but on a plane) came out in February 2014.  Taken 3 (Taken but now he’s the one that has been Taken) came out in January 2015. The Commuter (Taken but on a train) came out in January 2018.  This is clearly counter programming for those that don’t care about catching up with the Oscar nominated movies before the late February ceremony. 

*The Grey is actually an ensemble survival masterpiece with little in common with the others (see top 5 above), but it was marketed as Taken against wolves so I included it here.  

With Cold Pursuit (aka Taken but this time he drives a snow plow) coming out the weekend before Valentine’s Day, its easy to assume this as another seasonal Liam Neeson punch-em up.  Which this film absolutely is by the way, but with one caveat.  Cold Pursuit has jokes.  Not corny, Fast and Furious type jokes (sit down Tyrese), but legitimate chuckle-inducing LOL’s, along with a quite clever narrative structure that pokes fun at the various tropes of crime films and gangster films collectively.  Cold Pursuit is by no means a parody, but it is most certainly self aware of the type of story it is telling.  It’s kind of like Boondock Saints in that manner.  The 118 minutes is politically incorrect, but it knows it’s politically incorrect (please note these jokes are not for everyone).  Even the main bad guy, “Viking,” who at first appeared to be a terrible actor (Why is he so forcibly talking in that asshole, whispery tenor? And why is his nickname Viking?  He has no facial hair and wears a goddamn suit), I came to think he must be doing some sort of send up to the villains of a 90’s Van Damme movie like Hard Target**.  Or he might still simply be a really bad actor, either way it works for the film. 

**Remember Hard Target? With the greatest haircut in cinematic history?

Liam Neeson claims that Cold Pursuit will be his last action movie role and this is a fitting bookend to his tough guy decade.  For one thing, Cold Pursuit is probably the best of the bunch since ‘08’s Taken and because it also hints at how ridiculous a movie like Taken or Non-Stop is, it would have been weird to nonchalantly go back to his normal bread and butter next Winter (kind of like trying to find fun in Apples to Apples after playing Cards Against Humanity).  Also, it can’t go unmentioned that Neeson probably wouldn’t have been given another opportunity anyways.  His recent PR disaster (google it) coupled with the fact that Cold Pursuit performed well below expectations at the box office means that there will not be any tallies added to the actor’s epic body count anytime soon.

Does this guy look like a Viking to you?

Here’s the thing though, Cold Pursuit actually isn’t as innovative as it may seem to 99% of the American audience that sees it.  They’ll likely find the conceit low key interesting for a Neeson action film without realizing that this product is directly imported from Europe.  Confused?  I’ll explain.  Cold Pursuit is a remake of the 2014 Swedish film “Kraftidioten” starring Stellan Skarsgard.  And it’s not a remake in the same fashion that A Star is Born or The Departed is a remake.  Cold Pursuit is literally a frame by frame, line by line remake of the Swedish version, aside from switching a few pop culture references*** and changing the Serbian gangsters that end up caught in the middle of Neeson’s vendetta to a group of Native Americans.

***One of the references has two Denver residents debating whether John Elway or Peyton Manning was the best Denver Bronco quarterback.  Seriously?  Any casual football fan over the age of 25 knows that this would never be up for debate in a real life conversation.  Here’s an idea, why don’t movie studios hire one sports fan to review the feasibility all such sports details in their scripts.  You could save yourself a lot of embarrassment.   Shit, Rated Greg would do it for free.

Admittedly I don’t see a ton of foreign films, but I had seen Kraftidioten (billed as “In Order of Disappearance” to America) when I noticed the press release about Neeson making a “vengeance snow plow film” and just knew they’d be one and the same.  But I’m not gonna be one of those people that advises you to see the original instead here.  This isn’t like when Vince Vaughn remade Psycho frame for frame.  Unlike Psycho, Kraftidioten isn’t canon.  Rather, just check out Cold Pursuit (if you like revenge thrillers that is).  Neeson is much more convincing at punching people in the face than the professor from Goodwill Hunting is and also you won’t have to deal with subtitles.  Grade: B+

Fyre & Fyre Fraud

fyre poster

Armageddon > Deep Impact.  Dante’s Peak > Volcano (confession, I’ve never actually seen Dante’s Peak).  Tombstone > Wyatt Earp.   Olympus Has Fallen > White House Down.  The Prestige > The Illusionist.  No Strings Attached > Friends With Benefits (I think?).  Patriot’s Day > Stronger.  A Quiet Place > Bird Box (Yo, FUCK Bird Box).

It’s quite common for Hollywood to produce two competing projects about the same concept or event in the same year.  Two stubborn studios are in a race to get their version released before the other and almost always the first one to come out is significantly better.  No one ever remembers the second movie or frankly cares about it at all.  It’s like when you and your friend take a great pic and there’s a quick draw to see who can post it faster to Instagram.  Whoever posts it second is forever deemed a fraud by mutual followers, or something.

fyre

So all of these movies above came out in the same year, but what I haven’t seen before is two such projects coming out within a week of each other like Hulu’s Fyre Fraud and Netflix’s Fyre.  This was just a masterfully orchestrated move in deception on Hulu’s part. I have to assume both projects were aware of each other during production, but Netflix had their release date on the books (Friday, January 18th) for at least a couple months. Hulu, on the other hand, kept their cards close to the chest and surprise released their documentary the Monday before Netflix’s dropped, without even any advertisement. How cunning.  Now, Hulu’s footprint on streaming commerce will not eclipse Netflix anytime soon, but this small victory should at least feel good for them.

fyre-fraud-hulu-reviewfyre tentfyre 4

For those who don’t know what Fyre Fest is (Hi Mom!), Fyre Fest was a lavish music festival marketed towards wealthy, party hungry 20-somethings slated to take place in the Bahamas in April 2017, however turned out to be one giant scam that created a lord of the flies type situation at the abroad concert venue for 24 hours.  Because many victims of this crime were the type of assholes that would pay $10,000+ to see Major Lazer, it was mostly regarded as a hilarious occurrence on Twitter when the news broke.  While both of these documentaries ARE very funny when looking at it from that perspective, each film also takes a step back does a good job of shedding light on the real victims of the scam, the people of the Bahamas that were never compensated for their time and materials (The Netflix version is particularly heartbreaking in a few scenes).  Since the release of the films there’s actually been a GoFundMe created to help these people if you want to help out.

Both of these movies are good and I would recommend either depending on what subscription you have, but there are no ties on Rated Greg.  So which one is better?

fyre8

I strongly believe that Hulu’s Fyre Fraud is the superior film.  I’ll admit I did see the Hulu doc before Netflix’s and viewers are obviously inclined to like the one they saw first in these situations, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here.  There are two main reasons why Hulu’s Fyre Fraud is better.

1. Netflix’s Fyre is fairly straightforward when it comes to this story.  It examines the creation of Fyre Media, the bonkers planning of the April 2017 event, and the aftermath of the festival failure.  Hulu covers all of this just as well, but also does a better job at looking at the bigger picture.  There’s a great section that assesses how Instagram influencer culture came to be and it’s consequential effects on a FOMO-ridden millennial generation.  It explains why Billy McFarland, the villain at the center of this debacle, was able to sell ridiculously priced tickets to a fantasy festival in the first place.

fyr

2.  Speaking of that villain, Hulu’s doc has a sit down with McFarland whereas Netflix does not and it turns out to be a crucial aspect in fully absorbing the story.  Remember HBO’s The Jinx?  Imagine watching The Jinx without the interviews with Robert Durst.  It might still work, but definitely not as well.  Apparently Netflix also tried to get a sit down with McFarland but they failed to meet his compensation demands.  Now, it is a little fucked up that McFarland is still profiting off of this scam, but the optimist in me hopes that the Hulu money is going directly to his victims and not his lawyers.  I understand if people are hesitant of Hulu giving McFarland a platform to explain himself, but in no way does the sit down paint him in a positive light.  For such a criminal mastermind, the guy is sort of a doofus and repeatedly shoots himself in the foot (kinda like The Jinx). Hulu also has an interview with McFarland’s current girlfriend who’s quite strange herself, but she’s never mentioned in the Netflix doc.

fyrefraud2

Anyways, you really can’t go wrong with either, but if you have access to a Hulu log in, I would go with the Hulu doc before Netflix.

Hulu’s Fyre Fraud: A-

Netflix’s Fyre: B+

The Year in Movies – 2018

BeFunky Collage2

There were 146 movies released in some form or another in 2018 that I wanted to see.   As someone who doesn’t watch trailers, here are the various reasons how something gets added to that watchlist.

  1. A great director (First Man worked out, Buster Scruggs didn’t)
  2. A great cast (Widows worked out, Tag didn’t)
  3. A high rotten tomatoes score (Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse worked out, Bumblebee didn’t)
  4. Friend recommendation (Private Life worked out (thanks Juan), Bird Box didn’t (I take it back Juan))
  5. Passing praise on a blog or podcast (Minding The Gap worked out (thanks Sean Fennessey)), First Reformed didn’t (fuck you Sean Fennessey))
  6. Blind obligation because it’s a sequel to something I loved (The Predator and Creed II are both ok, but they did fail to reach the hype in varying degrees)
  7. Only because my mom won’t stop asking if I saw it (RBG worked out, Green Book is TBD).

Unfortunately nothing is foolproof, as each of these avenues will let you down occasionally.  Of the 114 movies that I’ve seen thus far from that list, I only liked 69 of them (Grade C or above).  Yes, I’m fully aware how ridiculous that sounds to watch 100+ movies, who has the time, blah blah blah.  Look, some people go to church on Sunday mornings, I go to the movie theater.  Can I live?

But anyways, 114 movies in 2018.  69 for 114 isn’t a terrible shooting percentage I guess.  If you watched 100 basketball games over the same span, a similar % would be considered “good” games.  But I have a hard time assessing the overall current year compared to prior years as it takes a full 12 months post premiere, at the very least, for a film to become fully appreciated.  For instance, I can’t believe I rated Get Out behind Atomic Blonde and I, Tonya last December.  That is absurd, given that I now view Get Out as perhaps THE film of the decade.

I count eight A+’s in 2018 at the moment, but who knows what movies might actually be gems a year from now.  Upon re-assessing 2016, I moved American Honey and Popstar up into the top tier. But upon reassessing 2017, I also moved Baby Driver, Apes, and Logan down into the second tier.  It’s all relative.  It’s possible that The Favourite might turn out to be a masterpiece, it’s possible that The Predator (bonkers as it is) might be a cult classic, and it’s certainly possible that my bullish stance on Sicario 2 was skewed by my BAC on that Friday night viewing.

Nonetheless, you’ll find below the highlights of 2018 along with a complete ranking of the 114 as I see it today.  But before I get to that, one more thing.  It’s hard to say how much I’ll keep up with this blog in 2019.  I’m sure I will still see plenty of movies and continue to catalog them like the dork that I am, but as far as actual posts go I might be running out of takes.  We’ll see what inspires Rated Greg.  Nonetheless, thank you for your continued support of this hobby, whether feigned or genuine.  I always appreciate the feedback, and formally apologize if Rated Greg led you towards a terrible movie night decision.  If that happens please let me make it up to you and I bet I can redeem myself.

Official 2018 Report Card and further Superlatives are below:

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For the record, Tag is still better than The Shape of Water.

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And now, The Rated Greg Superlatives:

Best Lead Actor

  1. Christian Bale* – Vice
  2. Ryan Gosling – First Man
  3. Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
  4. Benicio Del Toro – Sicario: Day of the Soldado
  5. Alden Ehreneich** – Solo: A Star Wars Story

*I think I enjoyed Vice less than others, just kinda seemed like a mess, but I will say that the best part about it is Bale’s incredible performance.

**Taking on the role of Han Solo is an impossible task and the fact that Alden pulled it off, at least in my opinion, deserves some praise.  Granted, this is a VERY shallow field outside of the top 3.

Best Lead Actress

  1. Carey Mulligan – Wildlife
  2. Emily Blunt – A Quiet Place
  3. Toni Collette – Hereditary
  4. Viola Davis – Widows
  5. Elsie Fisher* – Eighth Grade

*On the other hand, Lead Actress is extremely deep.  It pains me to leave Natalie Portman (Annihilation) and Lady Gaga (Star Is Born) out, but there’s just nowhere to go.  I thought about removing Elsie Fisher given that she’s very likely just playing herself, but that movie doesn’t work nearly as well without her very authentic performance.

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Colman Domingo* – If Beale Street Could Talk
  2. Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born
  3. Jake Gyllenhaal – Wildlife
  4. Josh Hamilton – Eighth Grade
  5. Shia LaBeouf** – Borg vs McEnroe

*This could easily go to Brian Tyree Henry as well, but I’m trying to limit to one per movie.  Domingo gets the nod since he has more screen time.

**This is a MUCH better movie if it’s just a McEnroe biopic starring Shia.

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Emma Stone* – The Favourite
  2. Claire Foy – First Man
  3. Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
  4. Anne Hathaway – Ocean’s 8
  5. Rachel McAdams – Game Night

*I wasn’t sure who’s the lead and who’s supporting in Favourite, so this may be cheating.  But whatever the case Stone is en fuego this entire movie.

 

Best Villain

  1. Jatemme Manning (Daniel Kaluuya) – Widows
  2. Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) – Black Panther
  3. Ray Merriman (Pablo Schreiber) – Den of Thieves
  4. Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) – Mute
  5. The Screaming Bear – Annihilation

Best Sidekick/Comic Relief

  1. Drug Dealer Tim (Anton Yelchin) – Thoroughbreds
  2. Luis (Michael Pena) – Ant-Man and the Wasp
  3. Kevin (Lamorne Harris) – Game Night
  4. L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) – Solo: A Star Wars Story
  5. Drax (Dave Bautista) – Avengers: Infinity War

Worst Character and/or Performance

  1. Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman)* – Black Panther
  2. Halliday (Mark Rylance) – Ready Player One
  3. Detective Vick (Debra Messing) – Searching
  4. Duncan (Pete Davidson) – Set It Up
  5. King Orn (Patrick Wilson) – Aquaman

*Why the F is he in this movie?  Is Martin Freeman the first ever token white guy?

Best Ridiculous Performance

  1. Gerard Butler* – Den of Thieves
  2. Chris Hemsworth – Bad Times at the El Royale
  3. Olivia Munn- The Predator
  4. Tom Hardy – Venom
  5. Mark Wahlberg – Mile 22

*Sure Christian Bale is incredible in Vice, but THE MOST ENTERTAINING performance of the year is whatever the hell Butler is doing in Den of Thieves.  He’s chewing up and spitting out every scene he’s in.

 

Best Volume Year**

  1. Brian Tyree Henry (Widows, Beale Street, Spiderverse, Atlanta)
  2. Olivia the dog* (Game Night, Widows)
  3. Michael B Jordan (Black Panther, Creed II)
  4. Kathryn Hahn (Private Life, Spiderverse)
  5. Skateboarding (Mid90’s, Minding The Gap)

*Shout out to the three year old, 15 pound, West Highland white terrier.  Her Mom and Dad must be so proud.

** Lucas Hedges could also be on here with Mid90’s, Ben is Back, and Boy Erased, but I haven’t seen the latter two yet.

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Most LOL’s

  1. Game Night
  2. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  3. The Favourite
  4. Deadpool 2
  5. Blockers

Most Frightening

  1. Eighth Grade
  2. Hereditary
  3. Ralph Breaks The Internet*
  4. Annihilation
  5. A Quiet Place

*The parents who took their young children to the Wreck-It-Ralph sequel were likely thanked with a week’s worth nightmares from the kids.  The movie starts off pretty straight forward but the third act has some legitimately creepy, yet profound metaphors on the correlation between social media, neediness, and depression.

Most Feelings

  1. If Beale Street Could Talk*
  2. A Star Is Born
  3. Minding The Gap
  4. First Man
  5. Mid 90’s

I didn’t get the chance to write about it, but If Beale Street Could Talk is a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL work of art.  Barry Jenkins follow up to Moonlight is a must see.

Best Looking/Cinemetography*

  1. Sicario: Day of the Soldado
  2. Widows
  3. If Beale Street Could Talk
  4. A Star is Born
  5. Isle of Dogs/Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse**

*Another very deep field.  Is it just me, or has cinematography evolved exponentially in the past few years?  I’m not just talking about high definition, but it seems like experimental angles, wide frames, and tracking shots are used more and more to cool effect each year.  Wildlife, Hereditary, The Favourite, First Man, Minding The Gap, MI6, and A Quiet Place all also look amazing.

**I generally wouldn’t include animated here, but these two both look like nothing else I have ever seen.

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Best Action Scene

  1. The Paris Chase – Mission Impossible: Fallout
  2. Training Montage – Creed II
  3. The Ambush – Sicario: Day of the Soldado
  4. The Stampede – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  5. The Highway Shootout – Den of Thieves

Best Non-Action Scene (I’ll be vague going down)

  1. The Duet – A Star Is Born
  2. The Freestyle – Widows
  3. Old Friends Catching Up – If Beale Street Could Talk
  4. The Drug Deal – Hot Summer Nights
  5. The Incident – Hereditary

Best Fight

  1. The Bathroom – Mission Impossible: Fallout
  2. Creed v Drago – Creed II
  3. The Butcher Shop – The Night Comes for Us
  4. Elastagirl vs The Screenslaver – Incredibles II
  5. The Final Battle – Outlaw King

Best Use of a Song (Non-Star Is Born)

  1. Whitey on the Moon (Gil Scott-Heron) – First Man
  2. Helplessly Hoping (Crosby, Stills, and Nash) – Annihilation
  3. Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler)* – The Strangers: Prey At Night
  4. Liquid Swords (GZA) – Mid90’s
  5. Too Late To Turn Back Now (The Cornelius Brothers) – BlacKkKlansman

*The Strangers 2 is a REALLY bad movie.  I do not recommend it.  Except is does have this fantastic motel pool kill scene set to the tune of Bonnie Tyler.  I know it seems sacrilegious for a film to use Total Eclipse of the Heart after Wedding Crashers, but this really works.

Best Film Score*

  1. If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell)
  2. Sweet Virginia (Brooke Blair and Will Blair)
  3. Mid90’s (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
  4. First Man (Justin Hurwitz)
  5. Hereditary (Colin Stetson)

*One of my go to’s when I really need to concentrate on something is to throw on a film scores playlist.  There were some GREAT one’s added to the playlist this year.

Five Random Quotes

  1. “Gucci!” – Eighth Grade
  2. “On my planet I’m kind of a loser, like you” – Venom
  3. “What is this, some kind of pervert hotel?” – Bad Times at the El Royale
  4. “That’s not a predator, that’s a sports hunter. A predator kills it’s prey to survive.  What your describing is a bass fisherman.” – The Predator
  5. “Fuck, shit, that was dope” – Mid90’s

Twenty-Two Other Things That Made Me Feel Some Type of Way (in no particular order)

  1. The pool party in Eighth Grade
  2. The Disney Princesses in Ralph 2
  3. Killmonger and T’Challa’s heart to heart in Black Panther
  4. Beni Hana in Den of Thieves
  5. Invisible Drax in Avengers
  6. The pizza in Set It Up
  7. The beach sequence in The Meg
  8. Bradley Cooper wrestling his dog in Star Is Born
  9. The high five in Momentum Generation
  10. The mid credits scene in May It Last
  11. Naughty Marco Polo in Blockers
  12. The bowling alley in Widows
  13. The very end of A Quiet Place
  14. Lando’s diary in Solo
  15. The ocean in Roma
  16. The diner in Wildlife
  17. The credits of Mid90’s
  18. The flare sequence in Aquaman
  19. Emma Stone roughhousing in The Favorite
  20. The rushed origin stories in Spiderverse
  21. Packing in First Man
  22. The shootout in Hold The Dark

Most Anticipated in 2019

  1. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
  2. The Irishman
  3. Us
  4. Joker
  5. The Beach Bum
  6. Ford v. Ferrari
  7. Triple Frontier
  8. The Lion King
  9. It: Chapter 2
  10. Zombieland 2