Ocean waves break on the shore. It’s a regular occurrence, a state of tranquility, nature’s way of passing time. However, any period of time can feel like an eternity. Hunched in the bushes, two priests watch as that act of nature slowly becomes an unthinkable act of torture, a commonality becoming an atrocity as their foundation of faith is questioned. And at its core, this is the purpose of Silence. It questions. It challenges. It wades into the contradictions and the dualities and turns inward on itself. It is a director’s musings, a self reflection on one’s life and career. It is an extension of and an overt expression of the moral quandaries of the director’s previous epics. Crime, transgression, repentance.
*Note: This is not a true top 100 because I tried to limit each artist/band to, at the very most, 3 songs. There is no rhyme or reason as to why some get 2, some get 1, and a select few get 3. Variety was my ultimate goal here.
100. Lucius – “Almost Makes Me Wish For Rain” – Was trying to decide between this and “Black Beatles” for the #100 spot, but “Black Beatles” lost because Rae Sremmurd is a stupid name. Just spell it in the right direction.
99. Julia Jacklin – “Pool Party”
98. YG – “Still Brazy”
97. PUP – “DVP”
96. Lydia Loveless – “Same To You”
95. Hiss Golden Messenger – “Heart Like A Levee”
This is Conventional Oscar Storytelling 101, a nicely packaged inspirational story that doesn’t take many risks because it has no intention of doing so. There’s your usual irritatingly on-the-nose dialogue, your usual character stereotypes, your usual hokey scenes complete with a gradually swelling score as the walls of prejudice crumble. It’s all very nice and well made, but it has the makings of an extremely bland movie. Thankfully, Hidden Figures manages to still take that formula and turn it into something worth watching.
Don’t usually write about music, but thought I’d still make a few year end posts.
Rules: EPs included. Soundtracks/scores not. I’ll be making a separate list for those, but just know that the “La La Land” soundtrack would easily be in the top 10 if it was included here. Also, keep in mind that being low on this list is still indicative of a good album; after all, there’s a behemoth of an honorable mentions/others considered section down there, and lots of those are great as well. Test: if you recognize at least 15-20 of these 51, you’re on my list of favorite people already.
51. Kanye West, “The Life of Pablo”- And just barely making it into the top 51 (possibly due to me adding a spot) is one of 2016’s biggest releases. Though it doesn’t feel all that cohesive and is far from peak Kanye, it’s still a good album. When it’s good, it’s very, very good: case in point, the incredible opener “Ultralight Beam”. It’s most definitely not the best hip hop had to offer in 2016, though.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Search Party, Westworld, Atlanta, You’re the Worst, The Night Of, Narcos, Game of Thrones, Mr. Robot, Stranger Things, Better Call Saul
OTHERS CONSIDERED: Shameless, The Crown, New Girl, Masters of Sex, Transparent, UnREAL, Angie Tribeca, Silicon Valley, Penny Dreadful, OITNB, Orphan Black, Archer, Lady Dynamite, Banshee, The Night Manager, Girls, Childrens Hospital, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Togetherness, iZombie, Billions, Hap and Leonard, 11.22.63, Daredevil, IASIP, Love, The X-Files, The Affair, And Then There Were None, The Path, The Last Man on Earth
15. Fleabag – At only six episodes long, season one of this dark comedy still packed a big punch. Phoebe Waller-Bridge was terrific, turning what could’ve been an annoyance (fourth wall breaking) into an asset for the show.
The opening sequence of Fences is a propulsive blend of various themes, characters, and exposition. It’s a high-wire act that shifts tones and topics with ease, and it sets up the situation skillfully while Denzel talks as if his mouth just took a shot of adrenaline. It’s energetic and entertaining, and it has you wondering if this energy can sustain itself throughout the entire 138-minute runtime.