Top 10 Television Series’ of 2018

Here are my Top 10 Television Series’ of 2018:

10. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Season 13)

What a return to form. There are some hiccups in this season, but overall the franchise took a huge leap in incorporating social and political commentary into its usual debauchery. After many lukewarm seasons Rob McElhenney and his gang decided to take more risks this season, and it paid off.

9. Barry (Season 1)

What a bizarre season of television. Interweaving comedy into one of the most tragic characters on television. Bill Hader, Henry Winkler and the rest of the cast bring their A-game not to mention some expert direction from Hiro Murai. “Barry” is tonally unique and hypnotic in its execution.

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The toxicity of Oscar blogging

I don’t know what it was.

I just remember in the early 2000s staring at the nominations in my local newspaper. I circled the nominees that I thought could win, and come Oscar night I did really well. It was euphoric. It’s the reason people play fantasy sports (besides the gambling aspect of course), the feeling of successfully predicting something.

It’s not for everyone. Some people don’t feel the same euphoria, or they feel it for other things in their life. I found myself reading all the popular blogs just trying to consolidate my predictions. I’d see the favorite, and if it was close, I’d predict an upset. Getting an upset correct feels really good.

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How BoJack Horseman Season 5 shines an ugly mirror on itself

I’m back!

Sorry for the layoff. Was recovering from the annual crippling depression incurred by “BoJack Horseman,” Netflix’s greatest show.

Comedy compliments drama and animation is a comfort zone for many. BoJack Horseman takes advantage of this comfort. The show is a comedy, and has some of the funniest gags around, but it comes with a blistering caveat – the show’s relentless dread.

It’s no mystery to my friends and family that I love this show, but it’s a tough sell. No one I know (away from the internet of course) likes this show. They either haven’t seen it, or couldn’t get into it. The complex weaving in between emotions is often jarring, but to me, it feels all too real.

Show-runner Raphael Bob Waksberg and his team have created their opus with season four and five. They never let loose their grip on these complex themes as they introduce ideas of nuance and compliment it with beautiful animation and a hysterical variety of jokes ranging from puns to callbacks.

There are so many great video essays of this show on Youtube though, and I’m not going to be able to add much more to the discussion. I don’t want to dive too much into the show’s philosophies, but I do want to talk about Season 5, specifically the subplot of BoJack starring in a new show.

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Why I left MoviePass

Those close to me know that I was a huge advocate for what MoviePass was doing.

Summer attendance was as low as it has been since the 90s last summer. After reading several articles behind the ‘$10 a month rationale’ it seemed like a move that was crazy enough to work – except it didn’t work.

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Happy Endings – Comfort Food Sitcoms

Happy Endings, like many sitcoms, features a rag-tag band of dysfunctional misfits. Their primary goal? Well, sometimes just existing presents layers of complications.

You may not be familiar with the long canceled ABC sitcom, but you are familiar with the plot. It’s an age old classic perfected by the likes of Friends or, in my overstated opinion, Community.

It’s an overbaked formula in television, especially these days in “network tv.” But it absolutely still works when the characters are interesting.

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Oscars – 2018 “Popular Film” Predictions

Yep, this sucks.

In the extended history of the Academy Awards we may be looking at the first category that doesn’t revolve around being the “best” at, well, anything. Except for maybe making money.

I am starting to doubt that these imposed changes will take effect however. The backlash is rightfully strong. There are also several variables and amendments that could still be made.

IF there is a “Popular Film” category, what is the criteria? Does it need to make X amount of dollars to qualify? Once we have our nominations does the Academy vote on the “best” of the bunch? Or the most financially impactful?

What a mess. For these predictions we’ll look at the Top of 2018’s box office and sort of predict the box office successes throughout the year.

Here they are:

Popular Film (08/09/18)
Black Panther
A Quiet Place
Mission Impossible: Fallout
Paddington 2
Avengers: Infinity War

Alternates
Deadpool 2
Mary Poppins Returns
Crazy Rich Asians
Ocean’s 8
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Dark Horses
Ant-Man and The Wasp
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Venom
Bumblebee
Mamma Mia! Here We Ho Again
Aquaman
Creed II
Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time

Video Games and the Dopamine-driven Reward System

I’m reading a book right now titled “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World” by Jane McGonigal. I’m not too far into it, but I’m already learning so much about the intensive psychological research surrounding games.

One of the most important elements of a great video game is a great reward system. If our busywork is shrouded with rewards whether that be cosmetics, player capabilities, or the next chapter to the story.

It’s fascinating.

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75th Venice Film Festival releases strong slate of Award hopefuls

So many potentially great films are set to premiere at the 75th annual Venice Film Festival. It was announced in February that Guillermo del Toro will be the jury president. His film “The Shape of Water” won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director last year, but before that it was awarded the coveted Golden Lion by the festival’s jury.

Our future Best Picture winner may be among the list, lead by one of our most predicted films: “First Man” directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash).

Other festivals openers include: Downsizing, Everest, Birdman, Gravity, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Ides of March, and Black Swan. So as you can see, “opening film” doesn’t mean much from an award-prognostication standpoint.

Anyway, here’s that list:

Beach Bum (Harmony Korine)
Destroyer (Karyn Kasuma)
Death and Life of John F. Donovan (Xavier Dolan)
Domino (Brian de Palma)
First Man (Damien Chazelle)
The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos)
High Life (Claire Denis)
Maya (Mia Hansen-Love)
The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent)
Non-Fiction (Olivier Assayas)
Norway (Paul Greengrass)
Old Man and the Gun (David Lowery)
Other Side of the Wind
Outlaw King (David Mackenzie)
Peterloo (Mike Leigh)
Radegund (Terrence Malick)
Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)
Share (Pippa Bianco)
Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard)
Star is Born (Bradley Cooper)
Wendy (Benh Zeitlin)
Widows (Steve McQueen)

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Emmy Winner Predictions – July 2018

As far as surprising nominations come – there weren’t many.

The Emmys can be frustratingly safe as they reluctantly bring in new shows. It appears that “The Handmaid’s Tale” feels pretty safe in most categories, but in the comedy categories it was hard for me to figure out if they’d lean toward “Atlanta” or “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

I may flip flop a few times…

Anyway here’s the predictions and as always keep here for the most up-to-date predictions:


Outstanding Drama Series (07/13/18)
The Handmaid’s Tale
This is Us
Game of Thrones
The Crown
The Americans
Stranger Things
Westworld


Outstanding Comedy Series (07/13/18)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Atlanta
Black-ish
Barry
GLOW
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Silicon Valley
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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MoviePass and the innovation it inspires

I had an interesting conversation once about the illegal downloading of movies, shows and music.

This person was applying the generalized stereotype that all young people today want everything for free. In political discussion I’ve given myself a rule to avoid generalizations: I believe grouping people together lacks the nuance of the stereotype to begin with. Also, had the ability to download movies illegal happened 100 years ago, the result would’ve likely remained the same.

I try to avoid generalizations the same way I try to avoid absolutisms. I aim to remove “always” and “never” from my vocabulary since they are always exaggerations. If I were to engage a republican citizen by saying “All republicans want…” then I endanger my potential connection to this person with varying opinions.

 

People don’t appreciate being lumped into categories because we all believe we are complex individuals. So when the topic of “MoviePass” comes up I’ll avoid saying “It will never succeed” even as their stock prices plummet and the keep hemorrhaging money.

I’m a huge supporter of MoviePass and I believe their business model is incredibly risky, but has the potential to succeed. I’m eagerly anticipating the numbers in movie theater attendance when compared to last year when summer films had the lowest box office since 2006.

AMC announced their new premium plan recently at $20 a month. For those of us closer to an AMC theater and don’t like MoviePass’ new restrictions on re-viewings or multiple viewings, this may be enough to unsubscribe from MoviePass and try this new plan.

For this rest of us, MoviePass is still the most affordable option and the new restrictions aren’t nearly enough to urge us to leave them.

As I mentioned before, things aren’t looking good for MoviePass. But now, when/if they fall, we already have an alternative plan to subscribe to. If it holds out long enough, we may see Regal and other theater chains roll out competitive plans as well.

When music started being stolen regularly on the internet with the inventions of Napster and sharing programs like Limewire, we soon saw the music industry partner with Apple to find a more accessible way for users to buy music.

Now it’s much easier to just like a button in the iTunes app and pay $1.29 for a song you enjoy, than it is to download illegal copies. Not that illegally downloading music ever really had a significant impact on the music industry, but what it did do was encourage and inspire innovation in already established industries.

If MoviePass’ new plan had never existed, would we have got this new AMC deal?

Competition is the key ingredient in a capitalist society, right? However our movie, TV, and music industries become more and more monopolized each year and the lack of competition discourages this innovation.

Competition = Innovation.

MoviePass started competitive market in theater subscriptions services, they took a bold risk and I will likely fail, but it’s lasting impact will be worth so much to your average movie-goer for decades to come.