I used to love putting lists like these out. It has been a while since I’ve done a proper one. Movies and music have always been my favorite things to write about. This may be premature since I’m still waiting for one movie to drop (ahem, The Last Jedi), but here it goes. My top five favorite movies and albums that dropped in 2017. In no particular order of course…
I could probably write a whole piece on this film alone.
Hands down, probably the best film I’ve seen in years. I haven’t sat in a theater after a movie had finished…with my mind blown like that. It was such an emotional rollercoaster…making me cry like a baby. It’s about an aging superhero who’s the last one left. It marks the end of an era.
The character development is phenomenal. There were so many new characters that they just introduced…that you actually felt for. Where their deaths meant something…where you felt the loss. Something you don’t get from typical superhero movies.
It was directed by James Mangold, the same guy who did Walk the Line. So, of course the soundtrack is made up of Johnny Cash songs. And of course, it’s Rated R, which means it’s as real as it gets. It’s extremely gritty, dark, and emotional…just the way I like my movies.
If Hugh Jackman does not get an Oscar nod for this, I will sue the Academy! It’s his best performance to date. The perfect way to end playing one of the best Marvel characters of all time. It’s his swan song. The line that will forever stay with me…. “So, this is what it feels like”… Man, I’m tearing up just thinking about it.
2. Spiderman: Homecoming
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this movie. No, it’s not because of Tom Holland (lying/not lying?), but it really became my happy place. I don’t know if I should make this public, but I saw it three times in the theater. It’s just such a happy, fun movie.
There was this day where I was so sad about someone (yes, the person who looks like Tom! Probably the reason why I even began liking him in the first place) and took a day to just see it alone. Lol, it’s interesting the people you meet when sitting in a theater solo. And yes, it was such an escape from that situation.
All those nights I’ve been down, this is the movie that has played in the background. And, the music is pretty great. Spoon, The Ramones, Alt-J…it’s the best. Sigh, and the diversity in this film…love!
So many movies trying to depict high school or city life are all pretty white washed. It was really refreshing seeing characters that look like me and my friends and the high school I went to. Cannot wait for Infinity War! May 2018 can’t come soon enough.
3. The Big Sick
This movie really took me by surprise. There was a day where I called in from work feeling completely depressed and defeated. I didn’t want to be home but still wanted to be alone. So, I went to the movies solo that day. Kumail Nanjiani is one of my favorite people I follow on Twitter. If you don’t already follow him, do it. You will thank me! He should get an award for his tweets…they are gold.
Anyway, considering the fact that I’m a minority (if you didn’t already know lol), this film kinda hits home. We’re not the same ethnicity, but watching his immigrant parents scold him, brought me this weird comfort. And of course, being a minority means a lot of interracial dating. Which is basically the only dating I’ve ever done in my life, lol. It was pretty relatable.
If you’ve never experienced it, there is so much culture clash. It really brought me back to this time I was seeing this guy. I was 17 at the time, and he introduced me to his parents. I remember we spoke afterward and I was so eager to know what they thought of me.
The first thing he said, which I will never forget is…”They were so surprised you weren’t white. They didn’t understand why I didn’t tell them.” That was the moment it hit me…race will always play a factor in who I date or fall in love with. And sadly, looking back, it really has in a lot of different ways.
But seriously, go see this film. It’s funny, sad, smart, and everything you would want in an indie. Kumail Nanjiani deserves all the praise he’s getting! Absolutely love him!
4. Blade Runner 2049
Certain films are not for everyone. There are box office movies that are catered to the masses….and then there’s Blade Runner. It’s considered an Avant-garde and I’m sure this attracts a certain audience. People who really appreciate films –cinematography, character development, scores and soundtracks, complexities. Yes, it sounds pretentious, but this film is pretty brilliant.
I came into it not knowing much about the original film (shame on me right?). I was expecting a typical action/sci-fi type movie with little dialogue, but I was wrong. This was the kind of movie that left me thinking for days after. It really explores humanity. The beauty of it, the longing, the emotional connections, the need to know the purpose of existence –all of the things that make us human.
Not to get all deep and philosophical, but what I took from it, is that life really is this miracle. We get 60-90 years average of building relationships, experiencing and longing for love, feeling these incredible emotions like joy, pure happiness…to depression, and darkness. You may not think it, but after seeing this movie, you realize that we take the capability to feel…for granted.
Instead of embracing the raw emotion, we’re so accustomed to repressing feelings. We have such a small amount of time, and then that chapter is closed forever. This movie is pretty bleak, but just like any art house film, it leaves a lasting impression…it stays with you for a while.
The holidays have been tough. It just feels draped with the sadness that was there last December and how hard it was for my family. It’s still there, and you feel it the hardest during the holidays. But after seeing this movie, I felt this comfort that I didn’t know I needed.
If you’ve lost someone, and are feeling it the hardest during this time of the year, I recommend this movie so much. As hard as it is to explain, I promise you’ll leave the theater with some kind of reassurance.
There is so much to take away from it. It’s about a little boy whose one passion is music (he’s basically me), and following his dream of being a musician despite his family being completely against it. It’s a love letter to life and death, the power of music, family, and remembering.
It’s such a beautiful film that I was not emotionally prepared for. Just know, that I cried like a baby throughout. The animation is so vivid and this kid with his guitar…ugh, completely sucked me in.
I’ve never seen a movie tackle the meaning of life and death like Coco has. When we lost a loved one last October, my five year old nephew would always randomly ask my sister and I, where “Tito Spanky” was (he was nicknamed after a Little Rascal). The conversation normally goes:
Sammy: Where did Tito Spanky go?
Me: He’s in heaven.
Sammy: Where’s heaven?
Me: In outer space…
Lol, I seriously don’t know what to tell him and he’ll ask at the most random moments…even if he’s heard it a million times from us. It’s like it gives him this weird comfort, even though he’s only five. One of the saddest times, is when he told me he wanted to be a spaceman and we all knew exactly why.
Sigh, this kid… It feels like this movie was kind of made for those moments. So, the next time he asks, I’ll reference this film and say…”he’s waiting for us…just like Coco.”
- Lady Bird –a love letter to the city I hate the most. Sacramento. She’s basically me at 17. So desperate to get out of her hometown…thinking that she’s too cool for school. Love!
- Get Out –capturing liberal racism at its finest. I was so conflicted the first time I saw it. But the second…damn, this movie is too real.
- Dunkirk –Christopher Nolan. Enough said. Oh, and Harry Styles! He will surprise you!
- Baby Driver –I don’t know if it’s because it features my dream car, the WRX…or because I resonate so well with the characters need for music (the only way he survives)…but it is well done. Minus Kevin Spacey! Fuck Kevin Spacey!
- Thor: Ragnorak –Not the best Marvel movie…but it made my top five (lol, sitting at the number 5 spot. Barely made the cut!).
Also, aside from The Last Jedi…there’s still a few I need to see. The Disaster Artist and Call Me by Your Name…hopefully I’ll get to squeeze these in before December ends.
This list is gonna seem soooo out of character for me. But again, these albums are ones that came out this year…so it doesn’t really represent the only music I listened to in 2017. Also, to be fair, I had the weirdest year ever. So many ups and downs, transitions…just whirlwind. So, the music on this list is kind of random for me. Also, to be even more fair…there were a lot of new releases I didn’t really give an honest listen to. If I had, maybe this list would be different.
- Damn – Kendrick Lamar
This album blew me away. It took a few listens for me to really get into it, but after falling in love, I’ve been hooked. I’m not really into the hip hop that’s out these days –I feel like a lot of it is just so stupid. Random ass words strewn together to a beat, that mean absolutely nothing. Sure, I’ll listen to that type of music with my family or on my way to work sometimes…but it’s all just mindless fun. Nothing deep.
That’s definitely the opposite of Damn. Kendrick is such a lyrical genius. His music is pretty poetic and jeez, it gave me so much life this year. It’s filled with so much truth.
Everything from the political climate, hardships, love, the struggle…it’s real life. I think this album has the ability to be one of the best rap albums of all time. That is saying sooo much, but damn it is good. And, I got to see him perform in New Orleans. Such a moment.
2. Lust For Life – Lana Del Rey
Lana has always been my kindred spirit. She seems to come out with a new album every time I need it the most. Love her or hate her, she gets me. This album is no different than her others, apart from her collaborations…which is a new thing. But damn, ‘Love’ and ‘Lust for Life’ ft. The Weeknd became the anthems of the year.
Sigh, and her collaboration with Sean Lennon, ‘Tomorrow Never Came‘…so good. Probably my favorite song off the whole album. He sounds so much like his dad, John. They reference ‘Lay Lady Lady’ (Bob Dylan) and ‘Tiny Dancer’ (Elton John), which are two songs I adore. It’s about waiting for someone in the pouring rain, wanting things to be the same, telling them to stay. But of course, as I’m sure most of you know…they never do.
As weird as this sounds, I listened to this a lot during the end of the summer. It wasn’t really my song for anyone in particular…but more so, my song for those beautiful feelings I felt during those summer nights. If you’ve ever dealt with depression, you know happiness is fleeting. Once it’s there, you pray for it to stay. But as you and I know, sadness is always around the corner.
This song pretty much captured those moments in September…when things started going downhill again. When all those feelings I had began to fade, people pulled away, and the nights got longer. When I was desperate for the summer to stay. Desperate to stay that happy. Oh, Lana…
3. Sleep Well Beast – The National
God, what to even say about this album. They are one of those rare bands that age with grace. Most bands begin to lose their sound after their second or third album is released, but with them, every album they come out with is just as good as the last one.
I went through a lot of downs after the summer ended…if I’m honest, I’m going through one right now…but yeah, this is the album I’ve gravitated toward during long car rides, sitting at my work desk desperate to leave, not wanting to get out of bed. Every song they released before dropping the full album, just got to me.
Have you ever heard a song for the first time, and automatically, you think, “Wow, this is it. This is the song I’ve been looking for. These are the lyrics I need…” Yeah, that’s how it was upon hearing, “Carin at the Liquor Store,” “Nobody Else Will Be There,” and “Guilty Party.” Just songs that I needed at those very moments my heart was breaking.
I was supposed to see them in Berkeley a few months ago, but their show was cancelled due to the fires that were happening. They’ve postponed it to 2018, and God, I am so glad that they are something I have to look forward to next year. I’m pretty sure there will be all sorts of emotions going on the night I see them.
4. Painting of a Panic Attack – Frightened Rabbit
Yes, this is cheating. This album technically came out in the Spring of 2016, but to be fair, it didn’t gain a lot of traction until this year. It was the first time I had ever heard of the band.
But God, this album played so frequently during the year. The first song I heard off this album was, “I Wish I was Sober.” If you’ve followed this blog for a while, I’m sure you’ve read a lot of those now deleted entries from the beginning of the year.
Like I said, I started the year off in a rough place. Dealing with a major loss… and yeah, starting to talk to someone again. Not the smartest thing considering how vulnerable I was at the time. Anyway, as I’m sure you remember, it went into the new year, and completely ended in the worst way possible…in February…a week or two after my birthday.
It was the saddest thing. I finally saw all of it for what it was. It was devastating for me, and all I did was listen to this album day and night. Man, just writing about it is making me sad. But, it was what it was. It still is what it is.
This person broke my heart for the millionth time, but the difference is…it really truly felt like the final page of an incredibly heartbreaking book. It really was the end…
5. Melodrama – Lorde (She’s taken the honor! This is my album of the year!)
God, this album. How to even begin describing it? It’s beautiful. It captured my summer so perfectly. As many of you know, my last two summers were extremely shitty. The worst times of my life. But 2017, a complete 180. Probably one of the best summers I’ve had since…I’ll say it…the summer I worked at AIDS Walk SF.
It’s hard to pinpoint what changed, but it became this turning point for me. I really let my hair down and actually enjoyed Sacramento. I became sooo open to things, and places…and people. I spent a lot of nights just walking around the city with friends, acting like we were 21 again, and feeling so carefree. It was the first time in a very long time that I felt beautiful.
And…of course…meeting someone. Even though that didn’t end too well, he brought out this side of me that I thought was forever gone. I felt those butterflies I thought were dead. And of course, Melodrama became the soundtrack for all of that. Especially her song, ‘The Louvre.’ Let’s just say that summer began with ‘The Louvre,’ to making me feel like a ‘Liability’ (God, this is one of the very few songs that describes me and my life to a tee), to sadly ending with ‘Writer in the Dark.’ She wrote this album for me.
I cant get myself to listen to this album at the moment, just because all of those memories flood back, and yeah, I’m still pretty sad about it. It hasn’t really been that long.
I guess I’m still not quite over it…but just like Adele’s “19,” makes me smile and think of someone in London fondly…I’ll one day listen to Melodrama with a smile on my face and think… “That was the summer that changed it all. And he was the guy that helped me get there…”
So, Nick, if you ever stumble on this, thanks for the summer. I never got the chance to tell you this, but you really made me feel beautiful and worthwhile…something I haven’t felt in a very long time. I never thought I’d ever feel those feelings again, but you really helped show me that it is still possible. Even though you’ll probably never realize it, let alone read this, you helped put me back together after being broken for so long. So, for that, I really truly thank you. It means more than you’ll ever know…
- Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples –’Bagbak’ is my “beasting/ I’m going to punch someone in the face” song. Every time I run, this album is it.
- Harry Styles – Yes, he almost made it up there. What can I say?…it’s the sign of the times…
- Science Fiction, Brand New -I know, it shouldn’t be mentioned at all. So sad about it still. As much as I don’t want to acknowledge it, this album was pretty good. It really brought me back to my roots. If it weren’t for Jesse Lacey, this album would have definitely made it to my top five. Such a waste. Sadness…
(*Also, side note: I don’t have any of these albums on vinyl except The National’s, ‘Sleep Well Beast.’ Hint Hint!)
So, there you have it. There are still a few movies I need to see…but for now, this is it. If you want me to love you, watch these movies…then email/call me and we will discuss! Lol, my favorite thing to do…talk and debate about films. I would say the same for the albums on this list…but unlike film, music is very subjective. But if you want, give them a shot. It might take a few listens to truly appreciate them…but very well worth it.