Thursday, July 11, 2024

Ray Romano Ranked

Welcome to "Ranked", a weekly series where I rank a franchise or filmography from worst to best and hand out assorted related superlatives. This week, I'm profiling the work of Ray Romano-whose latest project "Fly Me to the Moon" arrives in theaters today. 

Ray Romano's Filmography Ranked:

9.Welcome to Mooseport (D-)

8.Ice Age: The Meltdown (C-)

7.Rob the Mob (B-)

6.Ice Age (B-)

5.Paddleton (B)

4.Somewhere in Queens (B)

3.Bad Education (B+)

2.The Irishman (B+)

1.The Big Sick (A-)

Top Dog: The Big Sick (2017)

The Big Sick marks the sad end of an era in a way as it was one of the final films to get picked up by a studio following its Sundance debut and go on to find commercial success. Thankfully, it's more than deserving of this bittersweet honor. Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon's dramatized retelling of their own unique love story does a great job of blending sweet, hilarious romantic comedy with some pretty heavy dramatic elements without ever feeling disjointed or emotionally manipulative.      

Bottom Feeder: Welcome to Mooseport (2004)

Many of the all-time greats stick around for long enough where they end up going out on a low note. Tom Brady got blown out by the Dallas Cowboys on his own home field in his last NFL game. Michael Jordan was part of a sub.500 Washington Wizards that didn't qualify for the playoffs in his final NBA Season. Sean Connery said au revoir to movies after starring in blockbuster flop The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  

Gene Hackman followed this path when he ended up finishing off his acting career in Welcome to Mooseport. Odds are if you're reading this, you probably haven't seen this film (or even heard of it), so let me provide a quick synopsis. Welcome to Mooseport is a political comedy from Donald Petrie (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Miss Congeniality) about a heated small town Maine mayoral election between a former United States President (Hackman) and local hardware store owner (Romano). The whole affair feels like an overlong sitcom episode and not even a good one like the one Romano was in at the time of Mooseport's release. The jokes are hokey as shit, the pacing is brutal for the genre and every actor (especially Hackman) looks embarrassed to be there. Tough way to end a career Mr. Hackman, but at least you solidified your greatness by going out with a HOF dud.            

Most Underrated: Bad Education (2020)

A true crime movie this entertaining getting relegated to a quiet linear cable/streaming release in the spring of 2020 is really unfortunate. Bad Education tells the story of how a superintendent (Hugh Jackman) and assistant superintendent (Allison Janney) successfully stole millions from their wealthy Long Island school district in the early 2000's, only to get caught by a student journalist (Geraldine Viswanathan) assigned to write a piece on the high school's proposal to build a new skywalk for the school newspaper. It's a crazy, often very funny story of greed and corruption that takes several unexpected turns and features one of the best performances that Jackman has ever turned in. Check it out on Max if you haven't seen it.          

Most Overrated: Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)

While not completely unwatchable, Ice Age: The Meltdown showed early on that these characters and the slapstick antics of side character/franchise mascot Scrat the Squirrel weren't strong enough for this film to make the jump from good movie to good franchise.    

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Stray Observations and Takes on 2024 NBA Free Agency

Typically, I do an annual piece profiling my picks for the 10 best players available in NBA Free Agency. I'd planned to do that again on the Friday (June 28th) after the Draft wrapped up, but after OG Anunoby and Nic Claxton signed their new deals ahead of the start of the Draft on that Wednesday, I basically panicked and expected that all of the heavy hitters were going to be off the market within the following 24 hours. That ended up not being the case, but by the time I realized that it was too late to move forward with the piece.

Now, we arrive at my solution to this self-imposed misstep: Offering some analysis on the biggest moves of free agency and where certain teams stand now that most of the action has come to an end. I hope you enjoy this loosely structured piece and sincerely apologize for the boneheaded screwup that I made a couple weeks back.

-High trade price point aside, Mikal Bridges is a perfect fit on the Knicks. Adding an elite 3-and-D wing to one of the best defensive teams in the NBA is almost unfair and his rapport with Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo is obviously elite since they all played together at Villanova. Playing under Thibs is definitely going to fuck up his absurd consecutive games played streak, but that won't be a big deal unless it gets broken due to a major injury.

-The Sixers pushing all their chips on Paul George is just hilarious. Yes, George represents a huge upgrade over Tobias Harris at the 3 on both ends of the floor and is coming off his best season in ages with the Clippers. But the reality is that George just turned 34 in May, is one of the most injury-prone players in the league and hasn't even come close to sniffing a title in the NBA. How is a player like this going to change the Joel Embiid-era Sixers track record of underachieving and/or having their playoff runs derailed by injuries? Quite simply, it won't. If anybody is going to change the Sixers culture, it's going to be the young gun Tyrese Maxey, not George.

-A lot of people that know much more basketball about me are lamenting Demar DeRozan going to the Kings. The common theme among these critiques is questioning how he fits next to De'Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Malik Monk and Keegan Murray. While I have no clue how he'll fit with their established core, bringing in DeRozan should still be a net positive for this team that is trying to establish itself in a deep Western Conference. He plays his ass off every night, scores at a high clip with remarkable efficiency and is one of the best locker room guys in the league. How could having him around for the next few years be a bad thing for a mostly young team that hasn't quite figured out to put it all together yet? 

-The Thunder's two big moves this offseason sit at complete opposite ends of the spectrum for me. On the positive end, landing Alex Caruso is huge for them. He's one of the best defenders at the guard position in the league and his ability to hit 3's at a high clip should bolster the effectiveness of an offense that regularly struggled to make outside shots last season. Only having to part with Josh Giddey to make the deal happen makes it even sweeter (I could write a whole lot about what the Bulls have been doing this offseason, but that's probably not necessary given their current status in the league). 

On the other end, lies the signing of Isaiah Hartenstein. The journeyman center was a nice story for the Knicks last season given how he admirably filled-in as a starter following the injuries to Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson and his status as a physical 7-footer who can rebound and has a soft touch around the rim should provide the Thunder with something they haven't had since they traded Steven Adams to the Pelicans following the 2019-20 season, but were his contributions to the Knicks valuable enough to make him worth a 3 year/$87 mil deal? He was basically just a 10th or 11th man before 2023-24 and he wasn't good enough this past season to quell the fears that he could regress back to being that level of player in the future. This deal kind of reminds of when Evan Turner got a huge deal from the Blazers after he served as a solid role player for the Celtics for a couple of seasons and pretty much immediately fizzled out when he was thrust into a heightened role. While there's clearly enough ascending young talent on the Thunder for him to not be asked to be a top-tier contributor, he's still going to be high enough in the rotation to be playing big minutes every night and I'm just not convinced he's cut out to do that in the long-term.        

-Given all their asset mismanagement in recent years, the Warriors being able to land Kyle Anderson and Buddy Hield is a noble effort to make the most out of a bad situation. Anderson brings some grit, toughness and leadership to the floor every night while Hield is a productive enough outside shooter to allow them to retain the floor spacing they're losing with Klay Thompson leaving. These moves might not make them contenders again per say, but their presence might help emerge.

-Klay Thompson heading to the Mavericks really is ideal. Playing next to Luka and Kyrie ensures that all he'll be asked to do is hit a few spot-up 3's per game and his deteriorating defensive effort will fit right in alongside the aforementioned stars in the backcourt.

-Congrats to Tobias Harris for finally fulfilling his dream of getting to pad stats on one of the worst teams in the league. He might even become a fan favorite during his second stint in Detroit considering how dire the shooting is on the Pistons roster!         

-What is currently happening to Brandon Ingram is a perfect early example of how this new CBA is going to make teams more gun shy than ever. Under a climate with more cap flexibility and/or less strict financial penalties for hitting luxury tax thresholds, Ingram would've been dealt out of New Orleans weeks ago. Wings that are right in the middle of their primes (he turns 27 in September) who can score in a variety of ways, shoot almost 50% from the floor and facilitate when called upon are among the most valuable players an NBA team can have. The problem is that Ingram is entering the last year of his current contract and is eligible for a 200+ mil max deal, which dampens his appeal considerably especially since he has minimal playoff experience and is coming off a dud of a series against the Thunder (to be fair, he was dealing with a bone bruise on his knee at the time). The only two possible outcomes at this point appear to be that he remains with the Pelicans for the final year of his deal or agrees to take less than max money and/or a shorter-term deal to help facilitate a trade to a wing-needy team like the Magic, Blazers or Cavaliers. This is probably the most interesting storyline to watch for the remainder of the offseason and I'm very curious to see how it concludes.

-Kentavious Caldwell-Pope going to the Magic has to be my favorite move of the offseason. This is exactly the kind of player Orlando needed to take their next step forward. KCP immediately gives them a real outside shooting threat and pairing him with Jalen Suggs basically guarantees that they're going to have the most tenacious defensive backcourt in the league outside of the Celtics. If KCP stays healthy and their young guys (Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Suggs) take another step forward, the Magic should be competing to finish in the top 3 in the East.

-Speaking of KCP, the Nuggets allowing him and Bruce Brown to walk in back-to-back seasons is very bold. While they clearly have confidence in Christian Braun and Peyton Watson's ability to handle the increase in workload, these guys have logged a combined 16 career starts and have only played 18-21 minutes per night during their first two seasons in the league. And even if they do acclimate well to their increased roles, that doesn't change the Nuggets depth issues once you get past the 6th man role (which would presumably be filled by Watson if they make no further signings). If the Nuggets fall short of the Finals again this year with a fully loaded roster, don't be surprised if turning the keys over to Braun and Watson is a big reason why.  

-Pat Riley's insistence on standing pat is fucking nuts to me. Everybody knows that the Heat are a tough, well-coached team and that Jimmy Butler turns it on in the playoffs in a way that very few guys in the league today can. But at what point is running it back with the trio of Butler/Adebayo/Herro and saying that your issues are related to health, not talent going to be unacceptable. This scrappy little engine that could has indeed reached the Finals twice during this decade so far, but they got dusted in both those series and have refused to match everybody from the Celtics to the Bucks to the f'n Pacers in the ongoing Eastern Conference arms race following either of those losses. Swapping out Caleb Martin for Alec Burks, getting Terry Rozier back from injury and re-signing Haywood Highsmith and Kevin Love isn't going to bring this team any closer to winning another title this season and it's kind of embarrassing that they refuse to seriously pursue bringing in additional top-end talent while their leader Butler-who turns 35 in September- inches closer to no longer being a viable star player by the day.

-Tossing aside the drama of the J.J. Redick hiring and drafting of Bronny James for a second, the Lakers more or less running it back after their ugly finish to the 2023-24 season makes zero sense. The entirety of Rob Pelinka's offseason plan was to re-sign Max Christie and sort of try to make a run at Klay Thompson? Seriously? There were no other discussions about adding other players before LeBron re-signed to a max deal? Are they aware that D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves don't appear to have much trade value? Are they even considering making any additional moves? It really is shocking to see just how dysfunctional and dumb this team has become and they're going to be trying to undo the wrongs of this era for a long, long time after LeBron retires.                                              

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

2024 NFL Position Rankings: Full Series Recap

 Quarterbacks:

25.Gardner Minshew (Raiders)

24.Joe Flacco (Colts)

23.Deshaun Watson (Browns)

22.Justin Fields (Steelers)

21.Russell Wilson (Steelers)

20.Derek Carr (Saints)

19.Kyler Murray (Cardinals)

18.Geno Smith (Seahawks)

17.Aaron Rodgers (Jets)

16.Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars)

15.Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins)

14.Jordan Love (Packers)

13.Baker Mayfield (Buccaneers)

12.Brock Purdy (49ers)

11.C.J. Stroud (Texans)

10.Jared Goff (Lions)

9.Kirk Cousins (Falcons)

8.Justin Herbert (Chargers)

7.Dak Prescott (Cowboys)

6.Jalen Hurts (Eagles)

5.Matthew Stafford (Rams)

4.Joe Burrow (Bengals)

3.Josh Allen (Bills)

2.Lamar Jackson (Ravens)

1.Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs)

Running Backs:

50.Ty Chandler (Vikings)

49.Zach Charbonnet (Seahawks)

48.Tyjae Spears (Titans)

47.Antonio Gibson (Patriots)

46.Miles Sanders (Panthers)

45.Alexander Mattison (Raiders)

44.Jaleel McLaughlin (Broncos)

43.Kareem Hunt (Free Agent)

42.Justice Hill (Ravens)

41.Javonte Williams (Broncos)

40.D'Onta Foreman (Browns)

39.Keaton Mitchell (Ravens)

38.Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys)

37.Khalil Herbert (Bears)

36.Tyler Allgeier (Falcons)

35.Jerome Ford (Browns)

34.Zack Moss (Bengals)

33.Austin Ekeler (Commanders)

32.Rachaad White (Buccaneers)

31.Jaylen Warren (Steelers)

30.Chuba Hubbard (Panthers)

29.AJ Dillon (Packers)

28.Devin Singletary (Giants)

27.Bijan Robinson (Falcons)

26.Gus Edwards (Chargers)

25.Rhamondre Stevenson (Patriots)

24.Alvin Kamara (Saints)

23.D'Andre Swift (Bears)

22.Brian Robinson Jr. (Commanders)

21.Jahmyr Gibbs (Lions)

20.De'Von Achane (Dolphins)

19.Joe Mixon (Texans)

18.Najee Harris (Steelers)

17.Breece Hall (Jets)

16.Travis Etienne Jr. (Jaguars)

15.Isiah Pacheco (Chiefs)

14.James Cook (Bills)

13.Josh Jacobs (Packers)

12.Tony Pollard (Titans)

11.Jonathan Taylor (Colts)

10.Raheem Mostert (Dolphins)

9.David Montgomery (Lions)

8.Kenneth Walker III (Seahawks)

7.Kyren Williams (Rams)

6.Aaron Jones (Vikings)

5.James Conner (Cardinals)

4.Nick Chubb (Browns)

3.Saquon Barkley (Eagles)

2.Derrick Henry (Ravens)

1.Christian McCaffery (49ers)

Wide Receivers:

50.Odell Beckham Jr. (Dolphins)

49.Khalil Shakir (Bills)

48.Josh Downs (Colts)
47.Christian Watson (Packers)

46.Jordan Addison (Vikings)

45.Jayden Reed (Packers)

44.Marquise Brown (Chiefs)

43.Jerry Jeudy (Browns)

42.Gabe Davis (Jaguars)

41.Brandin Cooks (Cowboys)

40.Jakobi Meyers (Raiders)

39.Adam Thielen (Panthers)

38.Tank Dell (Texans)

37.Zay Flowers (Ravens)

36.Mike Williams (Jets)

35.Rashee Rice (Chiefs)

34.Courtland Sutton (Broncos)

33.Calvin Ridley (Titans)

32.Diontae Johnson (Panthers)

31.Drake London (Falcons)

30.Christian Kirk (Jaguars)

29.Tyler Lockett (Seahawks)

28.George Pickens (Steelers)

27.Terry McLaurin (Commanders)

26.Tee Higgins (Bengals)

25.DeVonta Smith (Eagles)

24.Amari Cooper (Browns)

23.Deebo Samuel (49ers)

22.Chris Godwin (Buccaneers)

21.DeAndre Hopkins (Titans)

20.D.K. Metcalf (Seahawks)

19.Nico Collins (Texans)

18.Garrett Wilson (Jets)

17.Michael Pittman Jr. (Colts)

16.Cooper Kupp (Rams)

15.Chris Olave (Saints)

14.Stefon Diggs (Texans)

13.Keenan Allen (Bears)

12.Mike Evans (Buccaneers)

11.Puka Nacua (Rams)

10.D.J. Moore (Bears)

9.Jaylen Waddle (Dolphins)

8.Brandon Aiyuk (49ers)

7.Davante Adams (Raiders)

6.Amon-Ra St. Brown (Lions)

5.Ja'Marr Chase (Bengals)

4.A.J. Brown (Eagles)

3.CeeDee Lamb (Cowboys)

2.Tyreek Hill (Dolphins)

1.Justin Jefferson (Vikings)

Tight Ends:

20.Noah Fant (Seahawks)

19.Chigoziem Okonkwo (Titans)

18.Isaiah Likely (Ravens)

17.Pat Friermuth (Steelers)

16.Tyler Conklin (Jets)

15.Dalton Kincaid (Bills)

14.Hunter Henry (Patriots)

13.Kyle Pitts (Falcons)

12.Trey McBride (Cardinals)

11.Jake Ferguson (Cowboys)

10.Cole Kmet (Bears)

9.David Njoku (Browns)

8.Dalton Schultz (Texans)

7.Evan Engram (Jaguars)

6.Sam LaPorta (Lions)

5.Dallas Goedert (Eagles)

4.Mark Andrews (Ravens)

3.T.J. Hockenson (Vikings)

2.Travis Kelce (Chiefs)

1.George Kittle (49ers)  

Tackles:

30.Luke Goedeke (Buccaneers)

29.Trent Brown (Bengals)

28.Zach Tom (Packers)

27.Bernhard Raimann (Colts)

26.Mike McGlinchey (Broncos)

25.Ronnie Stanley (Ravens)

24.Orlando Brown Jr. (Bengals)

23.Terron Armstead (Dolphins)

22.Braden Smith (Colts)

21.Mike Onwenu (Patriots)

20.Taylor Moton (Panthers)

19.Kaleb McGary (Falcons)

18.Morgan Moses (Jets)

17.Dion Dawkins (Bills)

16.Jake Matthews (Falcons)

15.Garett Boles (Broncos)

14.Brian O'Neill (Vikings)

13.Rob Havenstein (Rams)

12.Laremy Tunsil (Texans)

11.Rashawn Slater (Chargers)

10.Taylor Decker (Lions)

9.Tyron Smith (Jets)

8.Andrew Thomas (Giants)

7.Kolton Miller (Raiders)

6.Jordan Mailata (Eagles)

5.Tristian Wirfs (Buccaneers)

4.Christian Darrisaw (Vikings)

3.Penei Sewell (Lions)

2.Lane Johnson (Eagles)

1.Trent Williams (49ers)

Guards:

30.Dylan Parham (Raiders)

29.Sidy Sow (Patriots)

28.Alijah Vera-Tucker (Jets)

27.Ben Powers (Broncos)

26.Daniel Brunskill (Titans)

25.Jon Feliciano (49ers)

24.Ezra Cleveland (Jaguars)

23.James Daniels (Steelers)

22.Will Hernandez (Cardinals)

21.Alex Cappa (Bengals)

20.Landon Dickerson (Eagles)

19.Elgton Jenkins (Packers)

18.Teven Jenkins (Bears)

17.Graham Glasgow (Lions)

16.Sam Cosmi (Commanders)

15.Shaq Mason (Texans)

14.Brandon Scherff (Jaguars)

13.Trey Smith (Chiefs)

12.Quinn Meinerz (Broncos)

11.Robert Hunt (Panthers)

10.Tyler Smith (Cowboys)

9.Kevin Zeitler (Lions)

8.Issac Seumalo (Steelers)

7.Kevin Dotson (Rams)

6.Wyatt Teller (Browns)

5.Quenton Nelson (Colts)

4.Zack Martin (Cowboys)

3.Joel Bitonio (Browns)

2.Joe Thuney (Chiefs)

1.Chris Lindstrom (Falcons)

Centers:

20.Bradley Bozeman (Chargers)

19.Jake Brendel (49ers)

18.Hjalte Froholdt (Cardinals)

17.Garrett Bradbury (Vikings)

16.Coleman Shelton (Bears)

15.Mitch Morse (Jaguars)

14.Ted Karras (Bengals)

13.Aaron Brewer (Dolphins)

12.Lloyd Cushenberry III (Titans)

11.Tyler Biadasz (Commanders)

10.Andre James (Raiders)

9.Ethan Pocic (Browns)

8.Connor Williams (Free Agent)

7.David Andrews (Patriots)

6.Erik McCoy (Saints)

5.Ryan Kelly (Colts)

4.Drew Dalman (Falcons)

3.Tyler Linderbaum (Ravens)

2.Creed Humphrey (Chiefs)

1.Frank Ragnow (Lions)

Defensive Ends:

35.A.J. Epenesa (Bills)

34.George Karlaftis (Chiefs)

33.Mike Danna (Chiefs)

32.Kayvon Thibodeaux (Giants)

31.Leonard Floyd (49ers)

30.Dorance Armstrong (Commanders)

29.Zach Allen (Broncos)

28.Chase Young (Saints)

27.Kwity Paye (Colts)

26.John Franklin-Myers (Broncos)

25.Preston Smith (Packers)

24.Carl Granderson (Saints)

23.Greg Rousseau (Bills)

22.Jermaine Johnson (Jets)

21.Malcolm Koonce (Raiders)

20.Calias Campbell (Dolphins)

19.Cameron Jordan (Saints)

18.Leonard Williams (Seahawks)

17.Samson Ebukam (Colts)

16.Rashan Gary (Packers)

15.Will Anderson Jr. (Texans)

14.Brian Burns (Giants)

13.Za'Darius Smith (Browns)

12.Montez Sweat (Bears)

11.Haason Reddick (Jets)

10.DeMarcus Lawrence (Cowboys)

9.Danielle Hunter (Texans)

8.Derrick Brown (Panthers)

7.Aidan Hutchinson (Lions)

6.Trey Hendrickson (Bengals)

5.Josh Allen (Jaguars)

4.Maxx Crosby (Raiders)

3.Micah Parsons (Cowboys)

2.Nick Bosa (49ers)

1.Myles Garrett (Browns)

Defensive Tackles:

35.Jarran Reed (Seahawks)

34.Jalen Carter (Eagles)

33.Dalvin Tomlinson (Browns)

32.Maliek Collins (49ers)

31.Da'Ron Payne (Commanders)

30.Sheldon Rankins (Bengals)

29.Denico Autry (Texans))

28.Shelby Harris (Browns)

27.Keeanu Benton (Steelers)

26.B.J. Hill (Bengals)

25.Ed Oliver (Bills)

24.Jordan Davis (Eagles)

23.Kobie Turner (Rams)

22.DaQuan Jones (Bills)

21.Grover Stewart (Colts)

20.Michael Pierce (Ravens)

19.Grady Jarrett (Falcons)

18.Jonathan Allen (Commanders)

17.Osa Odighizuwa (Cowboys)

16.Kenny Clark (Packers)

15.Alim McNeill (Lions)

14.Justin Madubuike (Ravens)

13.David Onyemata (Falcons)

12.Christian Barmore (Patriots)

11.Javon Hargrave (49ers)

10.Jeffrey Simmons (Titans)

9.Arik Armstead (Jaguars)

8.Vita Vea (Buccaneers)

7.Cameron Hayward (Steelers)

6.D.J. Reader (Lions)

5.Christian Wilkins (Raiders)

4.DeForest Buckner (Colts)

3.Quinnen Williams (Jets)

2.Dexter Lawrence (Giants)

1.Chris Jones (Chiefs)

Outside Linebackers:

35.Lorenzo Carter (Falcons)

34.Byron Young (Rams)

33.Yaya Diaby (Buccaneers)

32.Zaven Collins (Cardinals)

31.Tuli Tuipulotu (Chargers)

30.Pete Werner (Saints)

29.Arden Key (Titans)

28.Baron Browning (Broncos)

27.Leo Chenal (Chiefs)

26.Christian Harris (Texans)

25.Uchena Nwosu (Seahawks)

24.De'Vondre Campbell (49ers)

23.Drue Tranquill (Chiefs)

22.Boye Mafe (Seahawks)

21.Harold Landry (Titans)

20.Dre Greenlaw (49ers)

19.Kyle Van Noy (Ravens)

18.Shaq Barrett (Dolphins)

17.Brandon Graham (Eagles)

16.Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Browns)

15.Odafe Oweh (Ravens)

14.Josh Sweat (Eagles)

13.Bryce Huff (Eagles)

12.Jahlani Tavai (Patriots)

11.Jadeveon Clowney (Panthers)

10.Andrew Van Ginkel (Vikings)

9.Jonathan Greenard (Vikings)

8.TJ Edwards (Bears)

7.Jaelan Phillips (Dolphins)

6.Joey Bosa (Chargers)

5.Bradley Chubb (Dolphins)

4.Matthew Judon (Patriots)

3.Alex Highsmith (Steelers)

2.Khalil Mack (Chargers)

1.T.J. Watt (Steelers)

Inside Linebackers:

35.Zaire Franklin (Colts)

34.Germaine Pratt (Bengals)

33.Azeez Al-Shaair (Texans)

32.E.J. Speed (Colts)

31.Micah McFadden (Giants)

30.Alex Anazalone (Lions)

29.Jack Gibbens (Titans)

28.Jerome Baker (Seahawks)

27.Josey Jewell (Panthers)

26.Elandon Roberts (Steelers)

25.Eric Kendricks (Cowboys)

24.Tyrel Dodson (Seahawks)

23.Ivan Pace Jr. (Vikings)

22.Devin Lloyd (Jaguars)

21.Logan Wilson (Bengals)

20.Robert Spillane (Raiders)

19.Blake Cashman (Vikings)

18.Jordan Hicks (Browns)

17.Ja'Whaun Bentley (Patriots)

16.David Long Jr. (Dolphins)

15.Patrick Queen (Steelers)

14.Frankie Luvu (Commanders)

13.Kaden Elliss (Falcons)

12.Quincy Williams (Jets)

11.Foyesade Oluokun (Jaguars)

10.Ernest Jones (Rams)

9.C.J. Mosley (Jets)

8.Bobby Okereke (Giants)

7.Nick Bolton (Chiefs)

6.Lavonte David (Buccaneers)

5.Matt Milano (Bills)

4.Bobby Wagner (Commanders)

3.Demario Davis (Saints)

2.Roquan Smith (Ravens)

1.Fred Warner (49ers)

Cornerbacks:

50.Tyson Campbell (Jaguars)

49.Ronald Darby (Jaguars)

48.Arthur Maulet (Ravens)

47.Kader Kohou (Dolphins)

46.Martin Emerson Jr. (Browns)

45.Tariq Woolen (Seahawks)

44.Josh Metellus (Vikings)

43.Dee Alford (Falcons)

42.Tre'Davious White (Rams)

41.Greg Newsome II (Browns)

40.Marcus Peters (Free Agent)

39.Asante Samuel Jr. (Chargers)

38.Jaycee Horn (Panthers)

37.James Bradberry (Eagles)

36.Chidobe Awuzie (Titans)

35.Nate Hobbs (Raiders)

34.Derek Stingley Jr. (Texans)

33.Carlton Davis (Lions)

32.Brandon Stephens (Ravens)

31.Jonathan Jones (Patriots)

30.Michael Carter II (Jets)

29.Brian Branch (Lions)

28.Christian Benford (Bills)

27.Darius Slay (Eagles)

26.Paulson Adebo (Saints)

25.Decommodore Lenoir (49ers)

24.Taron Johnson (Bills)

23.Devon Witherspoon (Seahawks)

22.Stephon Gilmore (Free Agent)

21.Marlon Humphrey (Ravens)

20.Marshon Lattimore (Saints)

19.Denzel Ward (Browns)

18.Trevon Diggs (Cowboys)

17.Jamel Dean (Buccaneers)

16.Darious Williams (Rams)

15.L'Jarius Sneed (Titans)

14.Mike Hilton (Bengals)

13.A.J. Terrell (Falcons)

12.Rasul Douglas (Bills)

11.Kenny Moore (Colts)

10.D.J. Reed (Jets)

9.Kendall Fuller (Dolphins)

8.Trent McDuffie (Chiefs)

7.DaRon Bland (Cowboys)

6.Jaylon Johnson (Bears)

5.Patrick Surtain II (Broncos)

4.Jalen Ramsey (Dolphins)

3.Jaire Alexander (Packers)

2.Charvarius Ward (49ers)

1.Sauce Gardner (Jets)

Safeties:

50.Micah Hyde (Free Agent)

49.Eddie Jackson (Free Agent)

48.Malik Hooker (Cowboys)

47.Brandon Jones (Broncos)

46.Marcus Epps (Raiders)

45.Jason Pinnock (Giants)

44.Tony Adams (Jets)

43.Vonn Bell (Bengals)

42.Justin Reid (Chiefs)

41.Jimmie Ward (Texans)

40.Juan Thornhill (Browns)

39.DeShon Elliott (Steelers)

38.Jaquan Brisker (Bears)

37.Donovan Wilson (Cowboys)

36.Jordan Fuller (Panthers)

35.Jordan Battle (Bengals)

34.Ifeatu Melifonwu (Lions)

33.Tashaun Gibson (Free Agent)

32.Amani Hooker (Titans)

31.Julian Blackmon (Colts)

30.Harrison Smith (Vikings)

29.Grant Delpit (Browns)

28.Tre'Von Moehrig (Raiders)

27.Camrn Bynum (Vikings)

26.Jalen Thompson (Cardinals)

25.Xavier Woods (Panthers)

24.Alohi Gilman (Chargers)

23.Reed Blankenship (Eagles)

22.Geno Stone (Bengals)

21.Talanoa Hufanga (49ers)

20.Kyle Dugger (Patriots)

19.Justin Simmons (Free Agent)

18.Budda Baker (Cardinals)

17.Jordan Whitehead (Buccaneers)

16.Kamren Curl (Rams)

15.Andre Cisco (Jaguars)

14.C.J. Gardner-Johnson (Eagles)

13.Julian Love (Seahawks)

12.Derwin James (Chargers)

11.Jordan Poyer (Dolphins)

10.Marcus Williams (Ravens)

9.Kevin Byard (Bears)

8.Xavier McKinney (Packers)

7.Jevon Holland (Dolphins)

6.Jabrill Peppers (Patriots)

5.Kyle Hamilton (Ravens)

4.Minkah Fitzpatrick (Steelers)

3.Tyrann Mathieu (Saints)

2.Jessie Bates III (Falcons)

1.Antoine Winfield Jr. (Buccaneers)

Kickers:

20.Matt Prater (Cardinals)

19.Tyler Bass (Bills)

18.Wil Lutz (Broncos)

17.Jason Sanders (Dolphins)

16.Dustin Hopkins (Browns)

15.Ka'imi Fairbairn (Texans)

14.Jason Myers (Seahawks)

13.Evan McPherson (Bengals)

12.Greg Zuerlein (Jets)

11.Younghoe Koo (Falcons)

10.Cairo Santos (Bears)

9.Daniel Carlson (Raiders)

8.Chase McLaughlin (Buccaneers)

7.Chris Boswell (Steelers)

6.Jake Elliott (Eagles)

5.Nick Folk (Titans)

4.Brandon Aubrey (Cowboys)

3.Cameron Dicker (Chargers)

2.Harrison Butker (Chiefs)

1.Justin Tucker (Ravens)

Punters:

20.J.K. Scott (Chargers)

19.Ethan Evans (Rams)

18.Jack Fox (Lions)

17.Tress Way (Commanders)

16.Johnny Hekker (Panthers)

15.Ryan Wright (Vikings)

14.Mitch Wishnowsky (49ers)

13.Tommy Townsend (Texans)

12.Thomas Morstead (Jets)

11.Rigoberto Sanchez (Colts)

10.Logan Cooke (Jaguars)

9.Cameron Johnston (Steelers)

8.Jake Camarda (Buccaneers)

7.Corey Bojorquez (Browns)

6.Braden Mann (Eagles)

5.Blake Gillikin (Cardinals)

4.Ryan Stonehouse (Titans)

3.Michael Dickson (Seahawks)

2.Bryan Anger (Cowboys)

1.A.J. Cole (Raiders)

Top 10 Appearances by Team:

Detroit Lions: 10 (Taylor Decker, Jared Goff, Aidan Hutchinson, Sam LaPorta, David Montgomery, Frank Ragnow, D.J. Reader, Penei Sewell, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kevin Zeitler)

Dallas Cowboys: 9 (Bryan Anger, Brandon Aubrey, DaRon Bland, CeeDee Lamb, DeMarcus Lawrence, Zack Martin, Micah Parsons, Dak Prescott, Tyler Smith)

Baltimore Ravens: 8 (Mark Andrews, Kyle Hamilton, Derrick Henry, Lamar Jackson, Tyler Linderbaum, Roquan Smith, Justin Tucker, Marcus Williams)

Kansas City Chiefs: 8 (Nick Bolton, Harrison Butker, Creed Humphrey, Chris Jones, Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, Trent McDuffie, Joe Thuney)

Miami Dolphins: 8 (Bradley Chubb, Kendall Fuller, Tyreek Hill, Jevon Holland, Raheem Mostert, Jalean Phillips, Jalen Ramsey, Jaylen Waddle)

Philadelphia Eagles: 8 (Saquon Barkley, A.J. Brown, Jake Elliott, Dallas Goedert, Jalen Hurts, Lane Johnson, Jordan Mailata, Braden Mann)

Cleveland Browns: 7 (Joel Bitonio, Corey Bojorquez, Nick Chubb, Myles Garrett, David Njoku, Ethan Pocic, Wyatt Teller)

Las Vegas Raiders: 7 (Davante Adams, Daniel Carlson, A.J. Cole, Maxx Crosby, Andre James, Kolton Miller, Christian Wilkins)

Pittsburgh Steelers: 7 (Chris Boswell, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Cameron Heyward, Alex Highsmith, Cameron Johnston, Isaac Seumalo, T.J. Watt)

San Francisco 49ers: 7 (Brandon Aiyuk, Nick Bosa, George Kittle, Christian McCaffery, Charvarius Ward, Fred Warner, Trent Williams)

Chicago Bears: 6 (Kevin Byard, T.J. Edwards, Jaylon Johnson, Cole Kmet, D.J. Moore, Cairo Santos)

Minnesota Vikings: 6 (Christian Darrisaw, Jonathan Greenard, T.J. Hockenson, Justin Jefferson, Aaron Jones, Andrew Van Ginkel)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6 (Jake Camarda, Lavonte David, Chase McLaughlin, Vita Vea, Antoine Winfield Jr., Tristan Wirfs)

New York Jets: 5 (Sauce Gardner, C.J. Mosley, D.J. Reed, Tyron Smith, Quinnen Williams)

Jacksonville Jaguars: 4 (Josh Allen, Arik Armstead, Logan Cooke, Evan Engram)

Los Angeles Chargers: 4 (Joey Bosa, Cameron Dicker, Justin Herbert, Khalil Mack)

Los Angeles Rams: 4 (Kevin Dotson, Ernest Jones, Matthew Stafford, Kyren Williams)

Atlanta Falcons: 3 (Jessie Bates III, Kirk Cousins, Drew Dalman)

Cincinnati Bengals: 3 (Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, Trey Hendrickson)

Indianapolis Colts: 3 (DeForest Buckner, Ryan Kelly, Quenton Nelson)

New England Patriots: 3 (David Andrews, Matthew Judon, Jabrill Peppers)

New Orleans Saints: 3 (Demario Davis, Tyrann Mathieu, Erik McCoy)

New York Giants: 3 (Dexter Lawrence, Bobby Okereke, Andrew Thomas)

Tennessee Titans: 3 (Nick Folk, Jeffrey Simmons, Ryan Stonehouse)

Arizona Cardinals: 2 (James Conner, Blake Gillikin)

Buffalo Bills: 2 (Josh Allen, Matt Milano)

Green Bay Packers: 2 (Jaire Alexander, Xavier McKinney)

Houston Texans: 2 (Danielle Hunter, Dalton Schultz)

Seattle Seahawks: 2 (Michael Dickson, Kenneth Walker III)

Carolina Panthers: 1 (Derrick Brown)

Denver Broncos: 1 (Patrick Surtain II)

Free Agents: 1 (Connor Williams)

Washington Commanders: 1 (Bobby Wagner)

Monday, July 8, 2024

Quick Movie Reviews: Kinds of Kindness, A Quiet Place: Day One, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, MaXXXine

Kinds of Kindness: Any fears of Yorgos Lanthimos selling out have been squashed with his latest Kinds of Kindness. This three-part anthology film is arguably the bleakest, strangest project the Greek auteur has made since he made the jump over to English language cinema with The Lobster, which may even have been by design considering his recent career trajectory. While it's not his finest work by any stretch, it's a treat to see him tap back into his surrealist/absurdist pitch black comedy roots with a stable of stars (Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Mamadou Athie, Joe Alwyn, Hunter Schafer-although she's only limited to one very memorable sequence early on in the final chapter) that are eager to play around in such a depraved world and there are several bits in this thing that feature knockout punchlines that had me cackling in the theater. Many viewers are going to be disgusted and/or confused by the content of this film to the point where they probably won't even bother finishing it, but some sickos out there going to have a blast with it and that's who Kinds of Kindness is really for.            

Grade: B

A Quiet Place: Day One: Further building out the world of A Quiet Place continues to prove to be richly rewarding excercise. Michael Sarnoski's (Pig) prequel Day One takes viewers back to wait for it... the first day of the alien invasion in New York City. While it effectively handles its obligatory prequel business by showing off the disorienting chaos of the initial attack with some of the biggest, most harrowing setpieces of the series and providing some answers to unanswered questions from the previews (how the survivors figured out the aliens were only alerted by sound and can't swim or hear through the sound of running water in the natural world, what the government did as a response, the establishment of the island community that got introduced in Part II), it's really an intimate story about two strangers (Lupita Ny'ongo, Joseph Quinn) who grow to establish an unlikely bond as they attempt to escape the city at its core.

Pairing a contained human story with gripping monster action interludes that feature incredible sound design and clever use of lighting isn't a departure at all for this series, it's just that the focus on the center of the apocalypse has been elevated with Sarnoski at the helm. Heightening the human portion of the series formula could've backfired if Sarnoski hadn't cast the perfect pairing to play the protagonists. Ny'ongo and Quinn are magnificent together as their easy connection that grows stronger with each scene really sells the trust that builds between these characters who have no one else to turn to during this sudden apocalypse. The progression of their relationship culminates in a powerful third act that shows how the power of human connection and simple pleasures can provide a beacon of light even in the darkest times. While I'm unsure of how longer this streak of finding inspired spins on humans vs. powerful blind aliens can last, I'll be delighted to keep returning to this universe until that unfortunate day comes.           

Grade: B+ 

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F: Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is this summer's answer to Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny: A game veteran actor (Eddie Murphy) returns to the franchise that played a huge role in making him a star in a film that looks and feels like the classic installments, but since everybody is a few steps slower than they used to be, fails to hit with the same impact. The only real victories to be had here is that Murphy effortlessly slips back into the role of the relentless rebel cop Axel Foley, Joseph Gordon-Levitt proves to be a great hardass foil for Murphy as his latest partner in the Beverly Hills police force and Netflix put some actual effort into the production value here with its big, largely practical action sequences and cinematography that matched, if not exceeded the quality of the median recent studio blockbusters. Other than that, it's really nothing more than a serviceable 80's nostalgia piece for the people that didn't want Beverly Hills Cop III to be the last time Axel Foley raised hell on screen.           

Grade: B-

MaXXXine: The (presumably) last stop on Ti West's era-hopping slasher franchise is none other than the 80's. At the start of MaXXXine, we catch up with X's sole survivor Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) in Los Angeles in 1985 as she seeks to make the jump from porn to mainstream films by auditioning for a key role in the upcoming horror sequel The Puritan II. Minx crushes the audition and ultimately gets the part, but her adulation is short-lived as the arrival of a sleazy private investigator (Kevin Bacon) who has incriminating information about her past and continued reign of terror by the serial killer known as the Night Stalker threaten to derail her opportunity to finally become the star she's always wanted to be.

What has and will continue to make MaXXXine the most divisive entry in the franchise is how exactly West elected the spirit of 80's horror cinema to manifest here. To put it as succinctly as possible, MaXXXine is pure, unapologetic slasher camp. The color pallet is exaggerated, every actor here (particularly Bacon, Bobby Cannavale as a dickhead homicide detective and Giancarlo Esposito as Maxine's motormouthed agent) is chewing the fuck out of the scenery and the reveal of who is after Maxine kicks off a schlocky final act that will likely be what ultimately shapes each viewer's feelings towards the film. Personally, I would've liked to see West go even further into B-movie territory-particularly with the gore and plot twists, but what he delivers here is a fun, well-crafted film that honors the films of the period its set in while also deftly introducing a new yet complementary flavor to this scrappy little trilogy.               

Grade: B

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Ranked

Welcome to "Ranked", a weekly series where I rank a franchise or filmography from worst to best and hand out assorted related superlatives. This week, I'm profiling the work of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose latest project "Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F" is now streaming on Netflix.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Filmography Ranked:

23.Shadowboxer (D-)

22.Havoc (D+)

21.Brick (C)

20.7500 (C+)

19.Don Jon (C+)

18.Angels in the Outfield (C+)

17.Treasure Planet (B-)

16.G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (B-)

15.The Walk (B-)

14.10 Things I Hate About You (B-)

13.(500) Days of Summer (B)

12.Hesher (B)

11.Snowden (B)

10.Premium Rush (B)

9.Project Power (B)

8.Looper (B)

7.The Lookout (B+)

6.The Trial of the Chicago 7 (B+)

5.The Dark Knight Rises (A-)

4.The Night Before (A)

3.Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (A)

2.Inception (A)

1.50/50 (A)

Top Dog: 50/50 (2011)

Threading the needle between comedy and drama is so difficult to do and 50/50 is a prime example of a film that's able to pull off this tricky balance masterfully. Dealing with all of the fear, pain and uncertainty that surrounds a cancer diagnosis isn't the most obviously fertile ground for laughs, but courtesy of a sharp script from Will Reiser and the authentically human performances of its cast (Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Angelica Houston, Phillip Baker Hall), the film displays how humor is able to organically coexist with all these serious emotions that an experience like this brings out and that goes in a long way in giving the film the massive heart and emotional connectivity to the characters that makes it so special.      

Bottom Feeder: Shadowboxer (2006)

How Lee Daniels was able to get another opportunity to direct again after delivering such an off-putting mess of a debut is one of the greatest unsolved Hollywood mysteries of the 21st Century. Shadowboxer isn't just a needlessly melodramatic and questionably acted film, it's easily among the most bizarre films I've ever seen. Nothing about its protagonist's (Cuba Gooding Jr., Helen Mirren) journey or their dynamic makes a lick of sense, and its incoherence quickly expands as it continues to add subplots and supporting characters to its nonsensical trophy room until it's damn near over. There are some people out there that would probably enjoy this as a hate watch, but I was mostly just bored and confused by what I was witnessing.         

Most Underrated: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Riding for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is one of the things I was put on Earth to do. While it's not quite on the level of its singularly brilliant predecessor, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller authored another stylish, compelling trio of stories that further fleshes out the dangerous world of Sin City and sees a collection of both new (Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Gordon-Levitt, Ray Liotta, Dennis Haysbert, Christopher Meloni) and returning cast (Power Boothe, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba) have a blast playing around in this sleazy noir wonderland.      

Most Overrated: 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

I actually just rewatched this a couple weeks ago for the first time since I was a teenager and it's a lot better than I remember it being! This is a pretty charming, amusing high school romcom that's bolstered by the off-the-charts charisma of Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles doing some pretty great deadpan comedy work. However, I still don't understand why it's hailed as a teen movie classic-especially since it came out the same year as American Pie, Varsity Blues and Drop Dead Gorgeous-and that's why it's being profiled here.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

2024 in Music: Mid-Year Review

Unlike their peers in the world of film, the music industry has delivered a pretty constant wave of splashy releases to start 2024. Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Billie Eillish, Vampire Weekend, Dua Lipa, Charli XCX, Kacey Musgraves, MGMT, Future, The Smile, Megan Thee Stallion, Kali Uchis, Kid Cudi, Usher, Vince Staples, ScHoolboy Q and Twenty One Pilots are just some of the heavy hitters that dropped new records in the past six months. And with the likes of Childish Gambino, Eminem, Sabrina Carpenter, Lana Del Rey and Zach Bryan all set to release records in the coming months, this industry-wide fireworks show doesn't appear to have an imminent conclusion.

Now, has all this starpower on the marquee led to a great musical year? Not at all. In fact, a pretty sizable number of these artists put forth complete mixed bag efforts that didn't live up to the prerelease hype and one of them put out a record that is easily the most half-hearted effort I've heard all year (scroll down a bit to see who I'm refering to). To be fair, some of these stars showed really well (particularly Charli XCX, Billie Eillish and ScHoolboy Q), but it wasn't enough to overcome the overall feeling that these big names failed to deliver works that lived up to their talent level.     

Carrying the bulk of the weight in the quality department so far this year has been the artists that don't quite have this level of profile. There's the Kentucky metalcore outfit (Knocked Loose) that has remarkably continued to gain popularity despite their music becoming progressively heavier with each subsequent release. The Cleveland death metal outfit (200 Stab Wounds) that has put a modern spin on the genre's classic gritty, riff-driven sound. The art rock icon (St. Vincent) who put out her harshest, most endearingly experimental release in quite some time. And lastly, a recently reunited band (Job for a Cowboy) picking up right where they left off before they disappeared into the abyss for damn near 10 years. May all of these torchbearers for the fringes of modern music receive the level of exposure they deserve moving forward.

Below, you'll find a list of every record I've heard this year ranked from worst to best (w/grades) along with some superlatives/awards and my picks for the top 25 songs of the year. Hope you enjoy. 

EP's:

2.Tove Lo and SG Lewis-Heat (B)

1.Greyhaven-Stereo Grief (B+)

LP's:

34.Taylor Swift-The Tortured Poets Department (D+)

33.The Ghost Inside-Searching for Solace (C)

32.21 Savage-american dream (C+)

31.Neck Deep-Neck Deep (B-)

30.Ariana Grande-Eternal Sunshine (B-)

29.Kacey Musgraves-Deeper Well (B-)

28.IDLES-TANGK (B-)

27.While She Sleeps-Self Hell (B-)

26.Beyonce-Cowboy Carter (B-)

25.Darkest Hour-Perpetual|Terminal (B)

24.Vampire Weekend-Only God Was Above Us (B)

23.Kali Uchis-Orquideas (B)

22.Future and Metro Boomin-WE DON'T TRUST YOU (B)

21.Intervals-Memory Palace (B)

20.Underneath-From the Gut of Gaia (B)

19.Vale of Pnath-Between the Worlds of Life and Death (B)

18.Bring Me the Horizon-Post Human: NeX Gen (B)

17.Dua Lipa-Radical Optimism (B)

16.Foreign Hands-What's Left Unsaid (B)

15.Candy-It's Inside You (B)

14.The Smile-Wall of Eyes (B)

13.Wristmeetrazor-Degeneration (B)

12.Charli XCX-Brat (B)

11.Alpha Wolf-Half Living Things (B)

10.Billie Eilish-HIT ME HARD AND SOFT (B)

9.ScHoolboy Q-Blue Lips (B)

8.Boundaries-Death is Little More (B+)

7.High on Fire-Cometh the Storm (B+)

6.SeeYouSpaceCowboy...-Coup de grace (B+)

5.Judas Priest-Invincible Shield (B+)

4.St.Vincent-All Born Screaming (B+)

3.200 Stab Wounds-Manual Manic Procedures (B+)

2.Job for a Cowboy-Moon Healer (B+)

1.Knocked Loose-You Won't Go Before You're Supposed To (A)

Awards:

Biggest Surprises:

1.Judas Priest-Invincible Shield 

2.High on Fire-Cometh the Storm

3.ScHoolboy Q-Blue Lips 

Biggest Letdowns:

1.21 Savage-american dream 

2.While She Sleeps-Self Hell

3.Ariana Grande-Eternal Sunshine

Most Underrated:

1.SeeYouSpaceCowboy...-Coup de Grace

2.Alpha Wolf-Half Living Things

3.Wristmeetrazor-Degeneration

Most Overrated:

1.Taylor Swift-The Tortured Poets Department

2.Kacey Musgraves-Deeper Well

3.Beyonce-Cowboy Carter 

Top 25 Songs (in alphabetical order by artist):

200 Stab Wounds-Manual Manic Procedures

Alpha Wolf-Bring Back the Noise

Better Lovers-The Flowering

Billie Eillish-Wildflower

Born of Osiris-Elevate

Boundaries-Scars on a Soul

Bring Me the Horizon-Kool-Aid

Charli XCX-Sympathy is a Knife

Dua Lipa-Illusion

Future and Metro Boomin-Like That (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Greyhaven-Confined Collapse

Job for a Cowboy-Into the Crystaline Crypts

Job for a Cowboy-The Sun Gave Me Ashes So I Sought Out the Moon

Judas Priest-Invincible Shield

Kacey Musgraves-Jade Green

Knocked Loose-Blinding Faith

Knocked Loose-Suffocate (feat. Poppy)

Knocked Loose-Thirst

Megan Thee Stallion-BOA

Remi Wolf-Toro

SeeYouSpaceCowboy...-And the Two Slipped into the Shadows

St. Vincent-Broken Man

SZA-Saturn

The Black Dahlia Murder-Aftermath

Tommy Richman-Million Dollar Baby

Monday, July 1, 2024

2024 in Movies: Mid-Year Review

2024 was almost bound to be a weird year for the movies. The disruptions from last year's strikes leaving huge gaps in the calendar (particularly during the winter/spring) along with some completed titles that were originally set to release last fall (Challengers, Drive-Away Dolls, Dune: Part Two, The Bikeriders) finally getting released led to the first six months of the year being a hodgepodge of failed presumptive awards contenders, genre movies and relatively big blockbusters designed to hold the industry over until the big guns are ready to be pulled out in July-December. While this approach certainly led to some depressing dry spells with no overly noteworthy movies being released, it did create this unique atmosphere that was kind of exciting to bask in for a bit.

Would a livelier marketplace have allowed Challengers to receive the spotlight it so richly deserves? How about for a comparatively modest blockbuster in The Fall Guy to fill the summer slate kickoff slot that has been reserved for superhero movies for 20+ years now and do a better job than nearly all of those films at delivering pure escapist fun? Or a classic mid budget January movie in The Beekeeper that saw Jason Statham step into his finest smoldering hardass role in ages all while having access to IMAX screens for multiple weeks? The answers to all of these are a resounding no. I'm not suggesting that the studio disrespect and devalue creatives to the point where they have to strike to have their completely reasonable demands met again in the near futre, but this one-off shakeup to the release calendar has been cool and is an experience that I'll reflect on fondly as we enter what at least appears to be a more traditional back half of the calendar.

Below, you'll find a ranking of every 2024 film I've seen (with grades) so far along with a whole host of midyear accolades/superlatives/awards and a little bit of looking ahead at what the final stretch of the year could bring. Hope you enjoy.                  


January-June Titles I've Yet to See, but Intend to Watch in the Future:

AGGRO DR1FT

Am I OK?

Arcadian

The Bricklayer

Ezra

Femme

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Ghostlight

The Greatest Hits

Hate to Love: Nickelback

Housekeeping for Beginners

Hundreds of Beavers

I Used to Be Funny

Knox Goes Away

Land of Bad

The Last Stop in Yuma County

Late Bloomers

Life After Fighting

The Listener

Mayhem!  

One Life

Parachute

The People's Joker

Problemista

Red Right Hand

Sasquatch Sunset

Scrambled

Shirley

Sleeping Dogs

Spaceman

Stress Positions

Suncoast

Thelma

Trigger Warning

Tuesday

Turtles All the Way Down

The Underdoggs 

Unfrosted

Wicked Little Letters


50.Bob Marley: One Love (D)

49.Miller's Girl (D)

48.Atlas (D)

47.Night Swim (D+)

46.Rebel Moon: Part Two-The Scargiver (D+)

45.Players (C-)

44.Madame Web (C-)

43.Lift (C)

42 The Book of Clarence (C)

41.The Watchers (C)

40.Lisa Frankenstein (C+)

39.Arthur the King (B-)

38.Boy Kills World (B-)

37.The Strangers: Chapter 1 (B-)

36.Mean Girls (B-)

35.I.S.S. (B-)

34.Kung Fu Panda 4 (B-)

33.Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (B-)

32.The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (B-)

31.The American Society of Magical Negroes (B-)

30.Late Night with the Devil (B-)

29.The Bikeriders (B-)

28.Immaculate (B-)

27.Self Reliance (B)

26.The Idea of You (B)

25.Ricky Stanicky (B)

24.Road House (B)

23.Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (B)

22.Argylle (B)

21.Inside Out 2 (B)

20.The Beekeeper (B)

19.The First Omen (B)

18.Love Lies Bleeding (B)

17.Kinds of Kindness (B)

16.Drive-Away Dolls (B)

15.Dune: Part Two (B)

14.IF (B+)

13.Hit Man (B+)

12.Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (B+)

11.A Quiet Place: Day One (B+)

10.Daddio (B+)

9.Snack Shack (B+)

8.Bad Boys: Ride or Die (B+)

7.Babes (B+)

6.I Saw the TV Glow (B+)

5.Monkey Man (B+)

4.Civil War (B+)

3.Abigail (B+)

2.The Fall Guy (A)

1.Challengers (A)

Awards:

Top Movie: Challengers

Top Director: Luca Guadagnino, Challengers

Top Lead Performance (Male): Josh O'Connor, Challengers 

Top Lead Performance (Female): Zendaya, Challengers 

Top Supporting Performance (Male): Javier Bardem, Dune: Part Two

Top Supporting Performance (Female): Cailee Spaeny, Civil War

Top Breakthrough Performance: Katy O'Brian, Love Lies Bleeding

Top Script: Justin Kuritzkes, Challengers 

Top Cinematography: Eric K. Yue, I Saw the TV Glow 

Top Score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Challengers 

Top Editing: Marco Costa, Challengers 

Top Visual Effects: Dune: Part Two

Top Sound: Dune: Part Two 

Top Villain: Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga 

Worst Villain: Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), Madame Web

Best Performance in a Bad Movie: Dakota Johnson, Madame Web 

Worst Performance in a Good Movie: Christopher Walken, Dune: Part Two 

Top Piece of Overacting: Dan Stevens, Abigail 

Worst Piece of Overacting: Brett Gelman, Boy Kills World

Top Action Sequence: "Alligator Park Showdown", Bad Boys: Ride or Die

Worst Action Sequence: The entire second half of Rebel Moon: Part Two-The Scargiver where at least 90% of the action sequences are overflowing with sudden, awkward cuts to hide all of the blood/gore that will be in the R-rated director's cut. Good job on mandating those PG-13 cuts to feed the algorithm Netflix!  

Top Performances: 

1.Zendaya, Challengers 

2.Josh O'Connor, Challengers 

3.Katy O'Brian, Love Lies Bleeding 

4.Javier Bardem, Dune: Part Two 

5.John Cena, Ricky Stanicky 

6.Sean Penn, Daddio

7.Ryan Gosling, The Fall Guy 

8.Chris Hemsworth, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga 

9.Dakota Johnson, Daddio

10.Dan Stevens, Abigail 

Most Underrated:

1.Abigail 

2.Snack Shack

3.Daddio

Most Overrated: 

1.Dune: Part Two

2.Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes 

3.Late Night with the Devil 

Biggest Surprises:

1.Monkey Man

2.The First Omen 

3.The Idea of You 

Biggest Letdowns:

1.The Bikeriders 

2.The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare 

3.The Book of Clarence 

Top Acting Ensembles:

1.Challengers 

2.Abigail 

3.The Fall Guy

4.Civil War 

5.Hit Man 

Top Movies I'm Most Excited to See in the Second Half of 2024:

1.MaXXXine

2.Nosferatu

3.Anora 

4.Gladiator II 

5.Kill  

Top Miscellaneous Great Things That I Didn't Praise Above:

1.The gloriously demented, beautifully chaotic blocking, editing and camerawork of the action sequences in Bad Boys: Ride or Die.

2.The nuclear chemistry between Glen Powell and Adria Arjona in Hit Man.

3.Just how fucking cool and innovative the "Follow the Ball" scene in Challengers is. 

4.Disney footing the bill for a really gnarly horror movie (The First Omen) and Yorgos Lanthimos' return to making bizarre, off-putting dark comedies (Kinds of Kindness).

5.John Cena delivering one of the greatest comedic performances in recent memory in Ricky Stanicky  

6.Civil War's ability to the make the sounds of explosions and gunfire completely horrifying.

7.Dev Patel making Monkey Man one of the most visceral, visually striking and dynamically choreographed action movies of the decade thus far despite operating on a shoestring budget ($10 mil) and enduring a slew of disruptions to the production (issues with funding, equipment, logistics due to shooting in Indonesia in the midst of the COVID lockdown in early 2021).

8.Babes being the return to elite comedic form that Ilana Glazer needed after a rough run of projects following the end of Broad City.

9.The bittersweet feeling of seeing the late Angus Cloud crush the final role of his career in Abigail.

10.The perfect final act of Immaculate that largely atones for the tonally confused mixed bag of a film it is the rest of the way.