Category Archives: Various and Sundry

2020, but still Boldy Going

As will surprise no one who’s read my exhaustive ranking of all the Star Trek series, I’ve been watching all the new stuff. And it’s not just because those are going into the sort soon enough. A lot of it has been darn enjoyable in a 4th season Enterprise kind of way. They’re making connections and widening the Star Trek universe into quite the multiverse.

(via CBS)

Ryan Britt over on SyFy Wire details some of the things that we say last year.

Video

A Short Guide to Successful Traits

I’m working on some longer pieces on New Year’s and resolutions, but in the meantime, while “success” might be a long journey, this TED video about traits researchers have found in successful people is under four minutes.

I mean, granted, that means there’s no time for nuance, but if you’re raring to jump into your New Year goal planning, this might help motivate you.

Video

Our Robot Overlords can Boogie

This video burst onto the Internet yesterday and is already over 5 million views. A lot of people have reacted in horror of the robot revolution they feel sure this heralds, but I’m thinking the more dancing, the less machinations.

My 50 Favorite Films, 2020 Edition

It’s an even year, although the nicest thing you can say about 2020 is that it was odd. But, in any case, even years mean it’s time for my Favorite Films sort, something I have done offline for about 30 years and have done online for the past eight years. You can see my previous entries here (including how I do the sort by pairwise comparison).

You’ll have to read on to determine if The Godfather was deemed better or worse.

This year, the total of films sorted was a little over 400. Two years ago, it was around 570, but I was able to do a deeper culling as I added cards for the newly watched films for this year.

Just as with two years ago, there was some major shakeup in the top 10, along with 15 additions to the top 50 that were either new or sorted lower on a previous year. Some of the results are shocking. Why, Die Hard isn’t even my favorite Christmas film any more!

What?!? How does Smeerensburg replace Nakatomi Plaza?

Hush, you. One Christmas movie delivered because it clearly had correct postage.

Anyway, here are the ground rules:

  1. These must be feature films (narrative or documentary). Short films aren’t included.
  2. Film series or franchises do not count as one entry. Each must fend for itself.
  3. TV movies can be included (I don’t think any are in the top 50)
  4. TV mini-series are not included.
  5. Regular TV series are right out.
  6. These are my favorite films, not a “best of.” If anyone else entirely agrees with my list, one of the two of us is an evil doppelganger/replicant/host.
  7. There is no rule # 7.

So, without further ado, counting down from 50:

50) The Hunt for Red October
49) Tangled
48) A Few Good Men
47) Casino Royale
46) The Court Jester
45) Koyaanisqatsi
44) Inception
43) Gattaca
42) Black Panther
41) Arrival
40) Hamilton
39) Big Fish
38) Ghostbusters
37) Das Boot
36) Amelie
35) The Godfather
34) Midnight Run
33) Minority Report
32) Never Cry Wolf
31) Breaker Morant
30) Rob Roy
29) The Godfather, Part II
28) The Count of Monte Cristo
27) North by Northwest
26) The Namesake
25) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
24) Schindler’s List
23) Citizen Kane
22) 2010
21) Children of Men
20) The Princess Bride
19) Singin’ in the Rain
18) Galaxy Quest
17) Once Upon a Time in the West
16) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
15) Guardians of the Galaxy
14) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
13) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
12) The Little Prince
11) Spotlight
10) Black Hawk Down
9) Field of Dreams
8) The Empire Strikes Back
7) Casablanca
6) The Lives of Others
5) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
4) Ran   
3) The Shawshank Redemption
2) Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
1) Raiders of the Lost Ark   

And, as before, here are some…

Basic Stats (note: genres overlap, based on IMDb genres)

  • Total Comedies: 7
  • Total Dramas: 30
  • Total Action-Adventure Films: 27
  • Total Sci-Fi/Fantasy Films: 23
  • Total Westerns: 1
  • Total War Movies: 13
  • Total Musicals: 4
  • Total Animated Films: 3
  • Total films with Liam Neeson: 2
  • Mean average year of the 50 films (rounded up): 1992
  • Decade with the most favorites: 2000s (13 films), followed closely by the 1980s (12 films)
  • The film at #51 which at least one reader will insist should rank higher: Sense & Sensibility (1995)

All right, here’s some other thoughts…

What a lot of war

Okay, I guess it’s not the majority of films, but 13 is “nontrivial.” You pair that with all the dramas, and it does seem heavier. I’ve also noted that, in general, though I inhale TV shows these days — thanks to the omnipresent streaming services — really none of them are sitcoms. Evidently I get my comedy in the ‘quippiness’ inherent to many an action-adventure (the majority of the films in the 50).

Perhaps I should revisit a few more comedies for next time.

No Trek and Star Wars goes Rogue

In perhaps a strange turn of events, considering my epic Star Trek TV sorting earlier this year (whose sorting methodology I adapted from here) no Star Trek film is in the top 50.

Trek films 2, 4, 6, and 8 are all in the sort and “Wrath of Khan” has been in the Favorite 50 frequently. I guess the familiar is no longer the favorite.

Similarly, The Empire Strikes Back, perhaps always in my favorite list, has retired to a lower place behind young upstart Rogue One.

As with other longstanding films on the list, I guess the personal resonance only goes so far and I’m ready for new things, which may explain why…

Hamilton did have the votes

Because I maintained a strict personal blackout on the play, I didn’t know most of the details or any of the music about Hamilton (musicals not being my thing anyway, despite working on dozens of them in a former life). And then it came to Disney+ and blew us all away.

But Hamilton was a damn fine musical and if “concert films” like The Last Waltz and Woodstock are eligible for the sort (which they are), then Hamilton certainly was. And I watched it several more times after my wife and my initial watch just to be sure. I wasn’t going to throw away its shot.

Besides Hamilton and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse being brand new entries to the sort that also got in the top 50, I also noticed the average age of the top 50 went from ‘1986’ in the 2018 sort to ‘1992’ now. I suspect that average will continue to rise in 2022.

As with the comedies, should I delve into the deeper trove of classic films? Maybe.

No Christmas in the Favorite 50

There’s always a few films that are undoubtedly favorites that, nevertheless, fail to break the top 50 — and that seems frequently the case with both spy-fi and holiday films.

While a Bond film actually broke into the top 50 this year (Daniel Craig’s debut in Casino Royale), Die Hard, which supplanted the 1947 Miracle on 34th Street as my favorite Christmas film, was itself supplanted.

The interloper, Klaus, narrowly missed out by coming in at #54, so perhaps it’ll get in next time, as The Little Prince did this time. Die Hard is still in the overall 100 at #80. You really should check out Klaus though. It’s delightful.


So there you have it. Another sort in an altogether too long two year interval, this year being at least 14 years long. Here’s hoping there’s more joy in 2022, and if I’ve inspired anyone to check out some films, my job here is done.

2020 Additions to the National Film Registry

Apropos of the Laurel and Hardy post earlier this week, and the fact that Christmas with the extended Munsons always involves receiving and watching films on Christmas Day, the recent inductees into the National Film Registry include the 1927 classic “Battle of the Century.”

Back when Mutually Assured Destruction was less lethal and more delectable.

Dave McNary over at Variety details the other inductees.

Bidding 2020 Adieu

Julie Nolke’s four-part time-travel series documenting 2020 has been great (links to part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 here). And Turner Classic Movies’ remembrances are great (even though they often make me verklempt).

This year, I’ve delved into the briar patch that can be Reddit — and I have to admit, their video is pretty good:

UPDATE: After debuting on their Twitter feed and via Facebook, TCM has finally put their annual remembrance on YouTube:

Keeping COVID Safe on Set

For my colleagues who are going back into production, stay safe.

Aimee La Joie has your back.

Stan Lee: Animated… and with a little Salt

As longtime perusers of the site may know, I count myself among the legion of Stan Lee fans. Being introduced to “The Man” at an early age helps.

So I was delighted to see this animated rendition of an outtake made by Stan Lee about what has been termed “the Queen Mother of dirty words.”

So, yeah, this is not safe for most workplaces or kids’ ears. But it’s delightful in a @#$%ing wrong way.

Raise the Fungal Radiation Shields!

I’d heard earlier that a particular radiation-loving fungus had been observed near Chernobyl, but this article by Stephen Johnson in Big Think explains how they’ve been testing it for SPAAACE TRAVEL.

Specifically, they’ve been testing it on the International Space Station with the idea that some form of this radiotrophic fungus could help shield astronauts bound for Mars.

So, in other words: really, really cool.

And will I work this into some future episode of Rogue Tyger? Yes. Yes, I will.

2020: The Year We… What’s With the Monolith?!?

I saw this last week, but decided to hold off, because I didn’t want to dwell on it, but here it is: a metal monolith was accidentally discovered in the middle of the Utah wilderness and although it’s probably made by humans, the level of effort to get it and “install” it like it’s some weird “think-piece” in the middle of nowhere is deeply weird.

In other words, it’s peak 2020.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen as more people venture out to look at it –despite its exact location not being public knowledge– but Stephen Colbert already has a film idea.

UPDATE: This is what I get for trying to do my posts in advance. As of Sunday, it disappeared!

SECOND UPDATE: Now a another monolith (or is it the same one?) has appeared in Romania!

THIRD UPDATE: Okay, so space elves did not abscond with the Utah monolith (Probably).

FOURTH UPDATE: And now there’s a monolith in California?!? COME ON, 2020!

FIFTH UPDATE: I don’t know if I can keep up with this…

Oh, and also as of 12/7/20, there’s a slightly different cousin monolith on the Isle of Wight.