My Favorite 30 Movies of 2016

You don’t go to movies almost every week for a year NOT to write up a list like this. With hours before the Oscars begin, here are my 30 favorite films of 2016.

30. Don’t Breathe

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Stephen Lang, Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette

What I love about Don’t Breathe is how much it values suspense more than shock (although it will shock you in some ways). From the minute three young thieves break into a blind war veteran’s home, to the end of the film, you do exactly as the title of the film suggests.

29. Pete’s Dragon

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Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford and Karl Urban

I’ll go ahead and say it, when comparing Bryce Dallas Howard films…

Pete’s Dragon > Jurassic World 

Many of us know the trippy live-action/animated film from the 70’s, but this one has more heart and makes you want to believe in a kid’s pet dragon. Robert Redford’s narration is a warm touch as well.

28. Doctor Strange

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Benedict Cumberbatch, Mads Mikkelson and Tilda Swinton

Just because I have several films ranked ahead of it doesn’t mean I didn’t thoroughly enjoy Doctor Strange. It was a very different Marvel film, with influences from both The Matrix and Inception.  The supporting cast was as impressive as any among standalone Marvel films (Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Stuhlbarg) and Mikkelson played a villain as memorable as any the MCU has produced.

27. Kubo and the Two Strings

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Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey and Rooney Mara

The action and animation were incredible. The adventure and the story were even better. Rooney Mara’s voice still haunts my dreams though.

26. Everybody Wants Some

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Blake Jenner, Glen Powell and Zoey Deutch 

Like most of Richard Linklater’s films, Everybody Wants Some doesn’t really have much of a story but it’s fun and stays consistent with the theme of “living in the moment”. Good comedies are hard to come by these days, and what makes this movie, about college baseball players in Texas, good is how natural the humor is.

25. Nocturnal Animals

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Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon

Tom Ford’s literal story-within-a-story is actually way better than whatever is going on in the depressing reality of the film’s universe. Michael Shannon certainly earned his nomination for Best Supporting Actor, which is a testament to the excellent year he had on the big screen. Count Jake Gyllenhaal as someone who is well overdue for a Best Actor win as well.

24. 10 Cloverfield Lane

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Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher

The Cloverfield sequel was one of the best kept secrets by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and thankfully NOTHING like the original. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an up-and-coming star, John Goodman is scarier than any monster the franchise has nightmare’d up, and John Gallagher (Mr. Indie film) provides the charm and relief a film this intense desperately needs. So when do we get the 3rd?

23. The Accountant

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Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick and Jon Bernthal

I didn’t expect this to be Ben Affleck’s best movie this past year (not sorry, BvS), but I’m very glad it was. In terms of one-man-wrecking-crew films, Affleck’s Christian Wolf can definitely give John Wick a run for his money. I also appreciated every reference to Chicago’s west suburbs that get a shoutout throughout the movie.

22. The Nice Guys

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Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling and Matt Bomer

I’m not sure if I ever stopped laughing when Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling were on screen together. Shane Black gave us everything we liked about Lethal Weapon, set it in the 70’s, and did it better (in my opinion).

21. Zootopia

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Jason Bateman, Ginnifer Goodwin and Idris Elba

On top of great humor, awesome animation, and a very necessary social message…the references to The Godfather, Chinatown, Breaking Bad, LA Confidential and Speed were too good to ignore.

20. Arrival

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Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker

When I left the theater after seeing Arrival, I thought it was one of the best films I had seen in 2016. It did a better job explaining the parallels of time than Interstellar and took a unique approach to the idea of communicating with aliens. It may not have left the impression that the films I ranked after it did,  but it belongs among the nominated Oscar pictures.

19. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell and Dan Fogler

Don’t hurt me but, I had more fun watching Fantastic Beasts than any of the previous Harry Potter films. It helped knowing a few thing and some of the lingo, but I was captivated by Redmayne’s weirdness, Fogler’s “aw shucks” awkwardness, and every magical thing that came out of that suitcase.

18. Loving

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Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton and Nick Kroll

This movie couldn’t have come at a better time and the story is beautifully told. Something I have noticed with Jeff Nichols’ films (and there is another one on the list, a few sports down) is their value of silence. There are few things more powerful than letting a moment overcome an audience without sound, script or music to dictate it.

17. The Jungle Book

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Bill Murray, Idris Elba and Ben Kingsly 

Some of the best CGI work you’ll ever see in a movie. And with a cast full of stars, like the one Jon Favreau assembled, everyone seemed to buy-in for their voice work. Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, even Gus from Breaking Bad (Giancarlo Esposito), all made the experience as intense and fun as it was.

16. Moana

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Auli’i Cravalho, Dwyane Johnson and Jermaine Clement

As someone who loves going to see animated movies in the theater, 2016 was a great year for them. However, the film that moved and impressed me the most was Moana. Amazing music, incredible animation, and a story that keeps you invested all the way through. If someone told you it was “the new Frozen”, it was better than that.

15. Edge of Seventeen

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Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson and Blake Jenner

The ‘Young Adult’ genre has been miraculously on point as of late. One of my favorite films a year ago was Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, and while Edge of Seventeen wasn’t quite as good, it still had an honest perspective and the kind of dialogue that most comedies in recent years wish they had. What Edge of Seventeen does beat Earl and the Dying Girl in a surprisingly cooler student-teacher combo in Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson. The start of the film establishes this very quickly.

14. Midnight Special

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Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton and Adam Driver

This is the 3rd Michael Shannon flick to make this list and it’s definitely my favorite of the three. Midnight Special was released before Stranger Things and I think the mysterious sci-fi storytelling of the former made me appreciate the latter even more. The father-son angle and the dilemma of “how far would you go to keep your child safe” made the film especially gripping.

13. Fences 

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Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and Stephen Henderson

The performances that Denzel Washington and Viola Davis give are too great to deny acclaim for this film. They carry a movie, whose story becomes more and more tedious and difficult to find hope in.

12. Don’t Think Twice

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Gillian Jacobs, Keegan-Michael Key and Mike Birbiglia

It’s a film about an improv troupe and how a group is effected when one of its members is selected to join a ‘Saturday Night Live’ type show. The interaction between the members and the improv scenes are so well-written, that they feel real and spontaneous.

11. When a Monster Calls

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Lewis MacDougall, Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones

Prepare for one of the hardest cries of your life when you see this movie. Tear ducts weren’t prepared for how this film develops, as if Inside Out was live-action…with a monstrous giant tree-being that talks like Liam Neeson.

10. Captain America: Civil War

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Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. and Sebastian Stan

After many of us were disappointed by how Batman v. Superman turned out, Marvel came to the rescue to show geeks how it’s done again. The Russo brothers did such a good job presenting the sides of both Captain America and Iron Man that you didn’t really want to pick a side. And for a film full of so many heroes, including the the introduction of the new Spider-Man, it exceeded all expectations. Can’t wait for what’s next.

9. Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures Day 25

Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae

If you didn’t know the story already, you sure were interested to learn more about the women who helped send John Glenn and many others into space. Great performances by all involved and it was just as relevant as anything released this past year.

8. Deadpool

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Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin and T.J. Miller

The fact that people considered Deadpool potentially Oscar-worthy should say enough about how good it turned out. It was one of the biggest surprises at the box office and probably the best comedy of the year as well.

7. Lion

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Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara

It’s a story that seems too incredible to be real…but it is. Nicole Kidman’s performance also hit very close to home for me personally, and they payoff at the end is as good as any film from the last year.

6. Sing Street

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Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Jack Reynor and Aiden Gillen

For the first half of 2016, Sing Street was my favorite movie. The original music is as good as any from John Carney’s catalog of soundtracks. The analysis of UK 80’s music is fascinating. And I became a big Jack Reynor fan after.

5. Hell or High Water

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Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges

For anyone that was looking for an instant-classic in the modern-western genre, here you go.

4. Moonlight

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Trevante Rhodes, Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monae

When it comes to Moonlight, I won’t forget where I was and when I saw it. I didn’t want to watch ANY election coverage so I went to the Clark Cinema past Wrigleyville. And it turned out to be the perfect film to see that evening. In any other year, especially with its subject matter and storytelling, this film would probably win Best Picture at the Oscars.

3. Rogue One

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Felicity Jones, Diego Luna and Alan Tudyk

After taking a few months to look back and reflect on Rogue One, it’s still my all-time favorite Star Wars story and makes me hopeful for what’s to come in the franchise, with the new generation of innovators and storytellers in film.

2. La La Land

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Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and John Legend

The music, the choreography, the story, the performances…It’s almost a perfect film and it should be my favorite of 2016 but…

1. Manchester by the Sea

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Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler

Manchester by the Sea did more than than any film could to my emotions. It was so devastating, but the writing and interaction between Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges gave it the best balance possible.

Where did your favorite movie rank on the list?

Let me know on Twitter

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Favorite 35 TV Shows of 2016

The Golden Age of Television lives on, even after Walter White and Don Draper. Storytellers and innovators are finding new and exciting ways to keep us at the edge of our seats, wanting more after the closing credits of every episode. Sometimes we have to wait a week. Sometimes we just hit “next episode” until we’re met with the disappointment of the season being over.

I listed out every TV show I watched in the last year and it came out to being upwards of 50 (yes I watch a lot of television). It wasn’t easy cutting the list to only 35. I also say “Favorite” instead of “Top” because I’m just not that full of myself…I

t also may come as a surprise, but I haven’t watched EVERY TV show that aired this past year. So recommendations are more than welcome on the Facebooks or Twitters.

35. The OA

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Netflix – Brit Marling, Emory Cohen and Jason Isaacs

The OA is a very weird show. It’s complicated, hard to follow, strange, and sometimes fights you when you want to keep spending time on it. Somehow, someway though, every episode gives you a reason to continue binge-watching. The last 5 minutes of the first season make it all worth it, on an emotional level. Emory Cohen also gives a performance that makes you wonder why he wasn’t chosen to be “Young Han Solo”, with an excellent follow up to his part in Brooklyn.

34. Banshee

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Cinemax – Antony Starr, Ivana Milicevic and Ulrich Thomsen

I have to admit, I was pretty late to Banshee but I did binge watch the entire series in nearly a month’s time. I wouldn’t call it a “good show” but it’s so absurd that you can’t look away. Banshee is like a lovechild of True Blood and Into The Badlands, and it’s supremely more fun than both.

33. Orange is the New Black

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Netflix – Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew and Taylor Schilling

So far I’ve felt that OITNB’s best season was their 2nd, but their latest certainly knew how to throw the haymakers to your emotions. Some of your favorite characters became easy to turn on. Others became more important than the original stars, including Piper. And then there was the one that completely tore your heart out…

32. Ash vs. Evil Dead

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STARZ – Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago

This show is gross, cheesy, and kinda REALLY dumb…but that’s also why it’s so much fun. It’s hard to deny that when Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi team up on either big or small screen. Warning: There is blood…LOTS OF BLOOD (That’s for the kids who didn’t like how gory The Walking Dead premiere was).

31. Supergirl

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The CW – Melissa Benoist, David Harewood and Mehcad Brooks

If there was a Most Improved Player category for TV shows, Supergirl could be at the top of the list. The move from CBS to CW was more than necessary for its tone and overall quality.  The show hasn’t held back on it’s commentary of topical social issues and it did something that the DC films have failed to as of late…make Superman likable.

30. Vice Principals

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HBO – Danny McBride, Walton Goggins and Kimberly Hebert Gregory

It should be noted that our two stars play absolutely terrible people on this show. Danny McBride is an expert at making bad guys almost worth rooting for (i.e. Kenny Powers) and Walton Goggins is simply one of the best actors in television today (watch Justified, if you don’t believe me). The under-the-radar sweetness of Shea Whigham, which is a complete opposite of McBride’s character, is reason enough alone to watch this show.

29. House of Cards

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Netflix – Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Michael Kelly

House of Cards lost a bit of mojo once Frank Underwood made it to the oval office. Once he became president, he was no longer hunter but rather playing survivor instead. Robin Wright carries the 4th season much more than her male counterpart and Joel Kinnaman makes for an awesome heel as the adversary candidate in their race for reelection. What makes me hopeful for the 5th season is how scary both Francis and Claire are by the end of 4th.

28. Preacher

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AMC – Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga and Jackie Earle Haley

Preacher had of the best pilots of the year, written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. It matched the crazy and action that’s packed in the comic series, and set the tone for what should be a wild ride of a series. The season itself had its ups and downs, sometimes standing in place and other times with the pedal to metal. It never lacked suspense or humor though, due to the unpredictable nature and writing of the characters.

27. The Crown

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Netflix – Claire Foy, Matt Smith and John Lithgow

The Crown is absolutely stunning. The cinematography, the costumes, the pageantry, and the acting are all top notch. The real life story of Queen Elizabeth and her royal family are fascinating too but there was a disconnect for me…It’s hard to be emotionally invested and sympathetic in the problems of British Hierarchy. But Lithgow as Winston Churchill is inspiring.

26. Black Mirror

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Netflix – Bryce Dallas Howard and Michael Kelly

This British anthology series is the modern Twilight Zone, with technology, and it’s terrifying. Excellent and recognizable actors in each story/episode and themes that make you question your own behavior when it comes to, well, everything…

25. The Flash

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The CW – Grant Gustin, Candice Patton and Tom Cavanaugh

Everyday I wonder why Warner Bros. doesn’t just let the TV DC universe carry over to their film universe…Grant Gustin belongs there and they are making a big mistake by not capitalizing on the charm, fun and popularity he has brought with Barry Allen.

24. Insecure

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HBO – Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji and Jay Ellis

Issa Rae is awesome. The show is comfortable and honest. It doesn’t try hard to speak on behalf of its audience yet is still relatable. It was also refreshing after every half hour following Westworld episode trying to blow your mind.

23. Grace and Frankie

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Netflix – Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterson and Martin Sheen

I love Grace and Frankie. Ever since Sam Waterson and Martin Sheen chose to come out to their wives (Fonda and Tomlin) in the show’s first episode, it’s been an absolute delight. Can’t wait for the third season.

22. Veep

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HBO – Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale and Anna Chlumsky

It shouldn’t be news to anyone at this point that Veep is really good, and will probably be especially relevant in the next couple years. When you have Gary Cole, Kevin Dunn, Diedrich Bader and HUGH LAURIE as recurring supporting characters, what’s not to love?

21. BoJack Horseman

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Netflix – Will Arnett, Alison Brie and Aaron Paul

BoJack is Netflix’s best comedy and that’s really saying a lot. All I have to do is point to the episode that was set in 2007 (WOW, TEN YEARS AGO NOW) and how effective every episode specific to that year was.

20. Last Chance U

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Netflix

It’s the one docu-series that I have listed here but it’s a great one. Following a junior college school of student athletes trying to overcome their personal and academic issues and catch the eye of D1 programs (while also dealing with their egotistical head coach) is some of the most compelling television you’ll find in the last year.

19. Bosch

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Amazon – Titus Welliver, Jamie Hector and Lance Reddick

Related to the Lincoln Lawyer universe of novels, Bosch is an adapted Michael Connelly detective series that plays like a modern noir. Titus Welliver has always been “that guy” on TV shows, usually a supporting or guest villain, but shines when given the spotlight as the title character. If you were a fan of The Wire, then you are going to LOVE all the alums who star and appear on the show.

18. Mozart in the Jungle

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Amazon – Gael Garcia Bernal, Malcolm McDowell and Lola Kirke

How this series hasn’t received love from the Emmys is beyond me (at least on thing the Golden Globes gets right). One of the easiest binge watches you could ask for, with great writing and soul-searching music. Bernal is also one of the best actors you’ll find on television today and makes you feel as romantic the maestro he portrays.

17. Ray Donovan

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Showtime – Liev Schreiber, John Voight and Steven Bauer

Now that we’re moved on from Bryan Cranston’s Walter White and Jon Hamm’s Don Draper, it’s time to start recognizing Liev Schreiber’s Ray Donovan as one of the most complex and well-acted characters on current running series. It took a few years, but the show is now hitting its stride in writing, acting, and casting…while the soundtrack to Season 4 could be pound-for-pound as good as any.

16. Billions

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Showtime – Damian Lewis, Paul Giamati and Maggie Siff

Maggie Siff is the x-factor to a show that already features two heavyweight lead actors. Don’t get me wrong, Lewis and Giamati definitely fit the bill. But Siff goes well beyond what we remember from her character, Tara, on Sons of Anarchy, and deserves as many nominations as she can get. The show itself is like if The Big Short didn’t treat its audience like a bunch of idiots and faster paced. Great Metallica appearance too.

15. The Americans

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FX – Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich

I’ll be honest, I’m still catching up on The Americans. It’s well-regarded as being one of the best shows today, if not THEE BEST, but it took me a while to get interested enough to check it out. I’m sure by next year it will be significantly higher on the list.

14. Silicon Valley

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HBO – Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller and Kumail Nanjiani

I don’t know if there is a show that has a better sense of humor than Silicon Valley. Every episode oozes with Mike Judge’s cynicism, nature and experience in the industry and it’s fantastic. Is it a little exhausting that guys of Pied Piper continue to get crapped on after they find success? Yes…but that’s the heart of its story: overcoming the continuous struggle.

13. The People vs. OJ Simpson

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FX – Cuba Gooding Jr., John Travolta and Courtney B. Vance 

The very first episode of American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson reminded us how great Ryan Murphy can be as a director and storyteller. You knew what was going to happen, but the suspense was absolutely killer and he let the evidence tell the story. The acting was superb by a great cast, but then Murphy couldn’t get out of his own way. Yes, Robert Kardashian’s friendship was significant to Simpson, but did they have to be so gratuitous with the attention to his ex wife and daughters? And why was every extra or background actor more annoying and awful than the next? Courtney B. Vance, Sterling K. Brown and John Travolta made the miniseries every bit as compelling as it was though.

12. Daredevil

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Netflix – Charlie Cox, Jon Bernthal and Deborah Ann Woll

Season 1 of Daredevil was an absolute adrenaline rush that was capable of doing what the Marvel Cinematic Universe hadn’t accomplished yet: like give us a memorable and even sympathetic villain (Vincent D’onofrio). This time, it was an antihero that took The Defenders series to the next level…Jon Bernthal’s variation of The Punisher is dark, brooding, heartbreaking, badass, and even more interesting than the title character.

11. This Is Us

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NBC – Sterling K. Brown, Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia

One of the best new shows on television, This Is Us has this uncanny ability to make you laugh, cry and repeat over and over every episode. It’s honest, it’s smart, and it’s one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. The show also never ceases to keep you on your toes.

10. The Night Manager

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AMC – Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Elizabeth Debicki

Sexy, suspenseful and super unpredictable, The Night Manager was unbelievably good, even by AMC’s standards. If it was an audition for Tom Hiddleston to play James Bond, he passed. If Hugh Laurie was trying out to be a Bond villain, he’d be way better than most…Rather than go with the obvious Bond girl comp, I’ll just say Elizabeth Debicki is my new TV crush and I feared for her life the entire miniseries.

9. Narcos

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Netflix – Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal

The best way I can describe how good Narcos S2 was, I literally couldn’t close my laptop while streaming it…I actually let it play on top of my washer while I did my laundry because I couldn’t hit pause on the action that was cranked to 11, compared to season 1. Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar is more than award worthy as well.

8. Atlanta

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FX – Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry and Keith Stanfield

Donald Glover is making a really strong case for coolest dude on the planet. Even cooler might be Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12, Straight Outta Compton) and everything his character does on Atlanta. Every episode is different in its own way but they are all consistently real and also surreal at the same time.

7. Better Call Saul

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AMC – Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks and Michael McKean

Better Call Saul is proof of 2 things: Vince Gilligan is a genius and comedic actors are brilliant in dramatic settings. It’s incredible to see how enthralling the stories can be of Breaking Bad’s supporting characters. The shows are very different in tone, but the suspense, cinematography and classic Gilligan wit are all there…sometimes better. Oh, and it look’s like Gus is coming next season.

6. Luke Cage

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Netflix – Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson and Theo Rossi

While watching Luke Cage, I couldn’t help but think it was my favorite of The Defenders  series. Mike Colter’s Luke Cage isn’t afraid to be the hero, nor does he hide behind an alias and that avoids the unnecessary drama that you find in Daredevil. The show doesn’t hold back on facing social issues and the women on the show are all complete badasses in their own way. Also love the music and how Harlem is treated like a character itself.

5. Westworld

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HBO – Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins

The mystery of Westworld’s end game throughout the first season was so enthralling that you couldn’t help but keep watching until it came to fruition. Every twist kept you on your toes, the setting was gorgeous, and the music was haunting. Almost every character was dynamic, man or machine, and whom you were rooting for was entirely up to you.

4. Stranger Things

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Netflix – David Harbour, Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown

Stranger Things was the new show that many of us geeks needed over the summer. Sci-fi, horror, 80’s references, adventure, action and all the wonderment through the eyes of kids of that era made this show worth binge watching over an entire weekend.

3. Game of Thrones

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HBO – Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke and Lena Headey

Television’s most talked about show gave us its biggest payoff of a season. Every episode gave fans a win, whether it was characters being reunited, the advancement of a few others, or the death of a few hated ones…Don’t forget, I had Power Rankings for the entire season too.

2. The Night Of

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HBO – Riz Ahmed, John Turturro and Bill Camp

After every episode, week to week, I couldn’t help but say that The Night Of was the best show of the summer. It was. From the premiere, which made you scream “NO NO NO NO NO!” with everything Riz Ahmed did, to John Turturro’s amazing performance, to the back-and-forth “Serial Podcast” style guessing of who-done-it…every episode was worth the wait. Would have loved to see what the first one would have been like with James Gandolfini in Turturro’s role.

1. Goliath

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Amazon – Billy Bob Thornton, William Hurt and Maria Bello

I haven’t seen it on many year-end lists, but here I have it as my #1. Why? If you’re a Billy Bob Thornton fan, everything you like about him is on display in Goliath. He’s funny, commanding, and unbelievably easy to root for. The battle between a giant corporation and the “little guy” victims was too good to pause during a weekend to myself. It was also the most fulfilling of any series I have listed above. It’s the first thing I suggest to anyone who asks for a recommendation too.

 

If you have any thoughts or recommendations for next year’s list, let me know on Twitter or Facebook. Stay tuned for the Favorites of 2016 Movie List. 

Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 15

In 3 less games played, Le’Veon Bell is just 98 yards behind Ezekiel Elliott for being the league leader in yardage. He’s actually leading league in yards-from-scrimmage on a per-game basis and it’s not even close. And be honest…he totally won your Week 14 single-handedly, right? He is the only player to ever out-gain an entire opposing team by himself.

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If you’ve got him, ride Le’Veon to your Fantasy League’s championship.

 

Mail Time!

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Seahawks defense, for starters. The Rams are team asking to get their butts whipped and that’s going to happen in Seattle.

QB – I answered this one for you a week ago and I think it’s safe to stand pat on Carson Palmer. The last time he played the Saints, he lit them up for 307 yards and 3 TDs. That game also has a lot of potential to be a high-scoring affair.

TE – Tough call, as both TEs are playing tough matchups. However, Delanie Walker is the one who has a better nose for the end zone and he’s gotten there in 3 of his last 4 road games.

 

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I don’t trust Kenneth Farrow yet, but really like both Falcons RBs against the Niners. Did you see what Bilal Powell did to them? Go with Tevin Coleman. 

Pick 3 – Not Kelvin Benjamin.

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QB – I don’t like either one, but I would take Russell over Alex – if those are your best options. I hate depending on a quarterback on Thursday night but I also wouldn’t let your playoff game be decided by Alex Smith.

FLEX – While I like the volume that Kyle Rudolph gets from Sam Bradford, Michael Crabtree is Derek Carr’s favorite target. He’s getting 9.5 looks over his last 4 games, compared to the 6.5 that Amari Cooper has.

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Quoting Russell Crowe in Gladiator: “IS THERE NO ONE ELSE?!”

I’m seriously asking. I like D-Jax’s matchup better, but Golden Tate is averaging 6.5 catches in each of his last 5 games. Go with consistency.

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DEF – Atlanta is facing a Niners offense that just doesn’t belong in professional football. They’ll get out to a big lead and force San Fran to press and turn the ball over.

WR – Tyreek Hill and Jamison Crowder. Reek has 5 TDs in his last 4 weeks (more than anyone over that span) and Crowder has the best matchup.

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RB – Gotta go Mark Ingram for the fact that I do not trust Farrow enough to play him in a week this crucial yet.

WR – It’s weird even to consider not playing Julio, but here are you are waiting for him to play a 3:30 PM game. If you’re not willing to wait on him, roll with Sammy Watkins against Cleveland.

QB – I don’t like how limited Stafford looked last week, despite gutting out the win against my beloved Bears. Based on that, Dak Prescott is the safer play.

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Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 14

Did you have Jordan Howard against the Niners last week? He accomplished something that hadn’t been done by a Bears running back since Gale Sayers. Not too shabby company to have in the 3 TD club.

A better question is, have you had ANY running backs against the Niners? They are allowing 148 yards per game against the run and don’t appear to be catching anyone anytime soon. Jets RBs should be encouraged by that this week.

Mail Time!

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RB 1 – Melvin Gordon. Carolina without Luke Kuechly is exactly what a defense would look like without Luke Kuechly, as they allowed 240 yards to a Seahawks team that had been STRUGGLING on the ground. Gordon also hasn’t been held under 65 yards rushing or 20 touches in his last 7 games. Solid play.

RB2 – Speaking of the Seahawks run game, I do love Thomas Rawls this week against the Packers. Green Bay has allowed more rushing touchdowns than anyone in the last 5 weeks and Rawls is back to Rawl’n. Safer bet would be Shady McCoy for his volume in the pass game, but he does play against the 5th ranked run defense…

TE – Tyler Eifert. He is either catching touchdowns or going over 90 yards receiving in 4 of his past 5 games and is heavily relied on with AJ Green out.

 

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I don’t like either one this week, but Rashad Jennings is the lesser of two evils with starter volume. Darren Sproles should never be relied on as an RB2.

 

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I’m not a meteorologist, Scott, but I do know that the Bills secondary is struggling with Ronald Darby hurt. 13 QB TDs (air and ground) in the last 5 games makes Ben Roethlisberger an attractive play, despite some inconsistencies on the road.

 

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QB – Can I choose someone else? Probably nerve-racking that Cam was benched last week but he’s still the safer play when you’re going up against either the Chargers or the Broncos. Joey Bosa is going to chase him, but you have to play Cam Newton when your alternative QB is going against the #1 pass defense.

 

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QB – Am I betting against Aaron Rodgers this late in the game? Yep. Philip Rivers has multiple TDs in 5 straight games and faces one of the worst secondaries in football (Carolina). If you’re in a win-or-go-home spot, you don’t want to leave your chances against the Seahawks in December.

RB – Not Darren Sproles

 

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You have to play Jay Ajayi against a Cardinals defense that looks like San Francisco’s when they play on the road. And as much as I hate picking against Pryor, Jamison Crowder has the better matchup.

 

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CARSON PALMER, Alli! I always read all-caps as yelling. As mentioned earlier, you don’t want to leave your game up to Super Mariota having to beat the #1 ranked pass defense in football. The Dolphins defense, on the other hand, is allowing 334 pass yards and 3 touchdowns in the last month (minus Jard Goff’s first start). Go with Carson and be glad.

 

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Goodness, Kirk! You know the rules!

Carlos Hyde. Sit Carlos Hyde. The pass-catching backs for San Fran are better built for playing the J-E-T-Sucks. You have stronger matchups across the board otherwise.

 

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Oh those are ugly options for an RB2. The theme of today is NOT DARREN SPROLES, so we’ll stick with that. And as we led off talking about the Niners defense, Bilal Powell has by far the best matchup. So there you go.

Have more Fantasy lineup questions? Don’t hesitate to ask on Facebook or Twitter

Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 13

Tyreek Hill highlight? Tyreek Hill highlight.

Some of his success can be attributed to Special Teams coach Dave Toub (who helped make Devin Hester a household name), but the dude is pure speed. Expect him to be a consistent weapon as you (and the Chiefs) make the playoff push.

Mail Time!

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I’ll start with Thomas Rawls. I think it’s time the Seahawks let him off his leash, because you can’t trust anyone else on that side of the ball. The Panthers are also allowing nearly 400 yards rushing in their past 2 games…

Then I would start Todd Gurley due to the fact that Jay Ajayi has crashed to Earth faster than the first asteroid in Armageddon.

 

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Diggs is likely to play tonight. So Crabtree. 

 

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Dak is indeed the realness, but I would have a hard time sitting Matthew Stafford. Think about it this way. The Lions DON’T run the ball. Volume should be astronomical for him. I’m not really afraid of the Vikings entirely as a defense, but I do worry about Dez Bryant paired with Xavier Rhodes.

 

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It’s C.J. Fiedorowicz Time. He’s the 2nd most targeted receiver for the dreadful Brock Osweiler.

 

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Woof – Steve Sr. 

 

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See my response to Donald’s question. Stafford. You also don’t want to leave your do or die game to a Thursday Nighter.

 

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This will help you out better than any stats I can give you. It’s unlikely that Jordan Reed will play this weekend, per Adam Schefter.

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Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 12 (Thanksgiving Edition)

Rather than write something elaborate about what I’m thankful for in Fantasy Football this year, I’ll just leave this here…

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…and say Happy Thanksgiving.

Mail Time!

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TE – Have you seen how bad the Packers defense is? They are allowing the 5th most yards to TEs per game (72) and have allowed at least 60 yards and a TD to the position in each of the last 3 games. Trust in Ertz!

Flex – Tough call. The Mariota-Matthews combo is almost too hot to pass up. Despite the Bears being a dreadful football team, Tracy Porter just shut down Odell Beckham Jr. and has similar results against most #1 WRs. That, and the fact the Dolphins play the Niners, is why I would go with Jarvis Landry.

 

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First off, that is a really silly flex situation. Why not just have 2 QBs in your lineup? Regardless, you should play Kirk Cousins, because he’s thrown multiple TDs in 5 straight games.

Luck was officially ruled out yesterday. So there you go. And talk to your commissioner about that flex position. If you’re the commissioner, shame on you.

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I feel like your gut is telling Julian Edelman, and that’s what you should trust. The #TomBradyRevengeTour is clicking on all cylinders and with Gronk out, J-Edel is reeping all the benefits. Ya know, like 17 targets last weekend…

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RB – Especially in a PPR, Devonta Freeman. Even with Coleman returning, Freeman was getting the same amount of touches when his backfield-mate was and wasn’t in the lineup.

Flex – Kyle Rudolph has 2 TDs in his last 3 weeks and he’s basically the only Vikings red zone option. He’s the safer pick.

 

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Carr.

 

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1st – Jennings and I would say leave Benjamin in your flex. While the Raiders have improved in their secondary, that will still be the Panthers best shot at beating them. Start him for the potential of shootout.

2nd – Unless one of the guys is an absolute scoring stud, I’m always going to suggest taking the full-time bell-cow back over one that splits carries. Have to go with Jordan Howard’s volume this weekend.

3rd – While I like Jameis better overall, I like Carson Palmer’s matchup way more.

 

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Eli is playing Cleveland. That is all.

 

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WR – Crowder

RB1 – Shady

RB2 – Ware

 

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Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 11

A common question I have received this week has been, “Prosise or Rawls?” My question to those asking is, “Do you need wins now, or later?”

CJ Prosise provides a skill-set that is similar to Tevin Coleman. He runs very well in open space and is terrific pass catcher. As Thomas Rawls re-acclimates himself to being an early down running back, the confidence should be there for Prosise to take over on 3rd downs and passing situations. When Rawls is right, he’s an absolute beast and we saw that last season. But how sure are you that he is going to stay healthy, especially with an offensive line as bad as Seattle’s.

I would wait and see on Rawls and feel better about Prosise in the short term. If Rawls shows you something this weekend, by all means ride him down the playoff stretch.

Mail Time! 

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I don’t think either of your running back options are great, but you’ll want to go with Duke Johnson for the likelihood that the Browns will be playing from behind against Ben Roethlisberger, who has more wins against the Browns than any Cleveland starter has had since 1999. Wow, they suck…

As for Miller, it’s not a bad idea to keep Alfred Blue hand-cuffed. Running the ball and defense are the only things keeping the Texans ahead of their competition, because it sure isn’t their quarterback.

 

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I can’t pick against Tyler Eifert right now, as he is averaging 6 catches, 99 yards and a touchdown in each of his last 2 games.

 

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Flex: Against the dreadful Packers secondary, go with Jamison Crowder. He has also topped 100 in his last 4 games. This is where we are. Jamison Crowder is a viable Top-20 option now.

 

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Flex: Martysaurus Rex. Dislike him as a person, love him as a football player. He went over 100 yards in the 2 starts that Gronk missed early on and he is second among TEs in touchdowns. Without Gronk, he’ll be a target machine this weekend.

Pick 3: Kelley, Prosise, Riddick – it’s the Magic Number.

 

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Go with Kenneth Dixon. He seems to have finally separated himself as the #1 back in Baltimore. The competition going forward will be tough and his o-line sucks, but he’ll get better volume than most of the other options.

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Gio. Ryan Matthews is going to continue getting back most of the opportunities to score, and overall work for that matter.

 

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Rough doesn’t even begin to describe it…The heat check makes me really like Rishard Matthews (6 TDs in his last 6 games) and Mark Ingram simply for the fact he’s out-touching Hightower again.

 

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Houston defense makes me a little weary, but you have to go with the potential MVP candidate Derek Carr. Both QBs are going against strong defenses, which makes me lean toward the one with more firepower.

 

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I go with Michael Crabtree in Mexico City this weekend. He’s averaging 2 more targets than Amari Cooper per his last 3 games and topped 90 yards twice more than Cooper in that span as well.

 

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Cam Newton plays Tight End? – I’m just going to say Martysaurus Rex this weekend, unless you meant Greg, Son of Olsen. Which in that case, go with Greg, Son of Olsen.

 

Have more Fantasy lineup questions? Don’t hesitate to ask on Facebook or Twitter