Favorite Movies of All Time: 240-231

Over the past few years I’ve made a concerted effort to watch lots of movies considered to be among the best of all time.  Now, for the first time, I’ve made my own list of favorite movies of all time.  Every other Wednesday throughout 2022, I will be revealing ten movies in my list of 250 Favorite Movies of All Time.


Title: A Grand Day Out
Director: Nick Park
Cast: Peter Sallis, Peter Hawkins
Year: 1990
When did I first watch this movie?: At an animation festival at the Williamsburg Theater in Virginia, circa 1991.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This was my introduction to Wallace & Gromit and the greatness of Nick Park and Aardman Animations. Besides, I love cheese and I love travel, so a movie about “cheese tourism” was targeted at me.


Title: Lewis & Clark – The Journey of the Corps of Discovery
Director: Ken Burns
Cast: Hal Holbrook, Sam Waterston, Adam Arkin, Murphy Guyer, Matthew Broderick, Kevin Conway, Gene Jones, Tantoo Cardinal
Year: 1997
When did I first watch this movie?: I watched this when it premiered on PBS on November 4-5, 1997.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: As someone who is passionate for history and for films, it’s not surprising that I’ve long been impressed by Ken Burns many historical documentaries.  I watched many, but not all, of Burns’ works and I think this one is emblematic of how he explores historical events while also embracing the possibilities of beauty in film.  I’m also fond of The Civil War (1990),  Baseball (1994), Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2005), The War (2007), The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (2009), and Prohibition (2011).


Title: Beauty and the Beast
Director: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
Cast: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury
Year: 1991
When did I first watch this movie?: When I was in college in the early 90s, I think?
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Many people consider this the all-time best animated feature from the Disney studios, and with good reason. First, there is the music created by lyricist Howard Ashman (who tragically died before the movie’s completion and composer Alan Menken.  Then there’s the seamless blend of classic Disney animation styles with new digital effects.  And Belle was really a new type of character for women in Disney, escaping patriarchal stereotypes to be her own her with her own identity.



Title: Adaptation
Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep,  Chris Cooper, Cara Seymour, Brian Cox, Tilda Swinton, Ron Livingston, and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Year: 2002
When did I first watch this movie?: 2007, although I saw it in a movie theatre so it must’ve been re-released at Brattle Theatre or someplace like that.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Charlie Kaufman’s work as a screenwriter and director has produced some of the most inventive and just plain weird movies of the past few decades.  We’ll be seeing several of his works on this list. Adaptation is great because it shows the writing process and inner life of an introverted person. It also deconstructs and questions the “truth” of fiction.


Title: The Saddest Music in the World
Director: Guy Maddin
Cast: Isabella Rossellini, Mark McKinney, Maria de Medeiros, David Fox, Ross McMillan, Louis Negin
Year: 2003
When did I first watch this movie?: I watched this on DVD in 2007.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Speaking of makers of weird movies, Canada’s Guy Maddin gives Charlie Kaufman a run for his money.  Frequent Maddin collaborator Isabella Rossellini stars as baroness in Great Depression-era Canada who holds a contest for the saddest music in the world to promote her family’s brewery. As Lady Helen Port-Huntley says “f you are sad and like beer, I’m your lady.”  As weird as this movie is, it may be the most accessible of Maddin’s oeuvre that I have seen.


Title: Intermission
Director: John Crowley
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kelly Macdonald, Cillian Murphy, Colm Meaney, Shirley Henderson, David Wilmot, Deirdre O’Kane, Michael McElhatton, Tomás Ó Súilleabháin, Brían F. O’Byrne, Ger Ryan, Jane Brennan
Year: 2003
When did I first watch this movie?: At the theaters in 2003.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This is a movie I found myself thinking about and quoting years after I first saw it – especially the parts about brown sauce and Celtic Mysticism.  This movie stars some of the biggest Irish actors of its time, but it eschews movie stereotypes of Ireland. Instead it’s a comedy and crime caper with an ensemble cast set in Dublin’s residential neighborhoods that focuses on extraordinary moments in the lives of very ordinary people.


Title: Zootopia
Director: Byron Howard and Rich Moore
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J. K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, and Shakira
Year: 2016
When did I first watch this movie?: June 2016
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: It’s a very clever comedy that revels in creating a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, all while being a critique of systemic racism.


Title: Dreams
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Cast: Akira Terao, Mitsuko Baisho, Martin Scorsese, Chishū Ryū, Mieko Harada, Yoshitaka Zushi, Toshie Negishi, Hisashi Igawa, Chosuke Ikariya
Year: 1990
When did I first watch this movie?: At Williamsburg Theatre, circa 1991
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I remember being entranced by the visual splendor and imagination in the eight vignettes, which were based on Kurosawa’s actual dreams.  The images of walking inside Van Gogh paintings and the platoon of ghostly soldiers have stuck with me.  This was the first Kurosawa film I ever saw and I need to revisit it to see how it holds up.


Title: Airplane! 
Director: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Cast: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Lorna Patterson
Year: 1980
When did I first watch this movie?:
Why is this one of my all time favorites?:


Title: WALL-E
Director: Andrew Stanton
Cast: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver, and Fred Willard
Year: 2008
When did I first watch this movie?: Summer 2009
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Another movie that has light comedy and romance with an underlying story of environmental catastrophe.  I like that it shows humans at our worst and yet still has hope for humanity.

Favorite Albums of All Time: 250-241

Having listened to every album on the Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I’m making my own list.  This list will be only 250 albums, although I had to make some tough cuts.  The list includes a mix of works of musical genius with the pure nostalgia of some albums I’ve loved throughout my life.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these albums and what your favorite albums are.

Going forward I will be counting down ten more albums every other Wednesday (I wasn’t ready to start on Wednesday this week since it took time to rank my list!).


Artist: Happy Mondays
Title: Pills ‘N’ Thrills And Bellyaches
Year:  1990
Favorite Tracks:

  • God’s Cop
  • Loose Fit
  • Bob’s Yer Uncle
  • Step On
  • Harmony

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Happy Mondays were on heavy rotation on the local modern rock station, WERS, so I’d heard many of the songs and wanted the album. I went to a new record shop and the clerk thought I was buying the soundtrack to “Happy Days.” I guess he wasn’t all too hip.
Thoughts: Before grunge, alternative music was “baggy” or the “Madchester sound” from the UK.  And maddest of those bands was Happy Mondays.  Get this, they had a member of the band named Bez who didn’t sing or play an instrument, he just danced manically around the stage. I wasn’t a recreational drug user, but the thoroughly stoned vibe of this music resonated with me all the same.  The lyrics aren’t so great, so it’s good they’re hard to understand.

Bonus Sounds: Fellow Madchester act, The Charlatans had a hit with “The Only One I Know.”  Except I always heard my own name in the song (“Liam, the one I know”, and I wasn’t the only one.


Artist: The Nields
Title: Gotta Get Over Greta
Year :1997
Favorite Tracks:

  • Taxi Girl
  • Gotta Get Over Gretta
  • Best Black Dress
  • I Know What Kind of Love This Is
  • Cowards
  • Lovely Rita

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I probably first became aware of The Nields at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in 1999 and I also was gifted a mixtape with “Lovely Rita” (a rare cover that is better than the original) at the same time.  I probably acquired the album sometime later that year.
Thoughts: This folk pop band from Western Massachusetts was big on the folk music circuit when I was following it in the late 90s/early 00s. At the time the band was sisters Katryna and Nerissa Nields and three guys named David. This album goes to some dark places and the songwriting does a great job of capturing the women’s voice in various situations.

Bonus Sounds: I went through a time when The Nields were one of my favorite bands and enjoyed their albums PlayIf You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now, and Live from Northampton among others.  The sisters Nields ditched the Daves in the early 00s and are still performing to this day.


Artist: The Paperboys
Title: Molinos
Favorite Tracks:

  • Molinos
  • Waste Some Time
  • I’ve Just Seen a Face (the second straight album with a great interpretation of a Beatles’ tune)
  • Same for Everyone
  • After the First Time
  • Ray’s Ukrainian Wine Cellar Polka/Nelli’s Afterthought

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I’m guessing I also learned of The Paperboys at a folk festival or maybe they opened for another artist I liked sometime around 1999-2000.  And then I bought the CD.
Thoughts: The Paperboys are a Western Canadian band lead by Tom Landa that play a Celtic Rock sound mixed with other forms of roots and world music. Their music has an earnest quality to it with a lot of musical virtuosity.

Bonus Sounds: While Molinos is the best album by The Paperboys that I’m aware of, I also liked Postcards (2000) which contains the great track “Still the Night,” and there 2002 “greatest hits” compilation Tenure. I haven’t kept up with the band but apparently they’re still active, although the lineup has turned over with only Landa remaining in place.


ArtistThe Pinker Tones
Title: Wild Animals
Year: 2008
Favorite Tracks:

  • S.E.X.Y.R.O.B.O.T
  • On Se Promenait
  • The Whistling Song
  • Happy Everywhere
  • Working Bees

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I’m pretty sure I was introduced to The Pinker Tones by NPR’s All Songs Considered and soon became obsessed with “S.E.X.Y.R.O.B.O.T” and eventually acquired the whole album.
Thoughts: The Pinker Tones are a duo of Mister Furia and Professor Manso from Barcelona. The Pinker Tones sound is eclectic, listed as indie pop and alternative on Wikipedia, but there’s also a lot of funk and electronic dance in their sound mixed with lounge music and traditional European pop.

I love this video for “Fugaz.”  They just want their dance back so much.

Bonus Sounds: The Pinker Tones are apparently still active, but don’t seem to have released a new studio album in a decade.  I remember trying to listen to some of their other albums and not finding I liked anything as much as Wild Animals.



Artist: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Title: Fever to Tell
Year: 2003
Favorite Tracks:

  • Date With the Night
  • Black Tongue
  • Pin
  • Maps
  • Y Control

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I discovered the debut album by New York City’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs by randomly browsing through the CDs at the public library, maybe a year or two after the album was released.
Thoughts: I immediately came to like the “dance punk” tunes with Karen O’s unique vocal stylings and it was in heavy rotation back when I had an iPod and listened to it a lot.  I became reacquainted with the album last year when I listened to it for the Rolling Stone 500 project and realized it had stood the test of time.

Bonus Sounds: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs released three more albums after Fever to Tell, but I haven’t listened to any of them.  They appear to be still together but have been quiet for the past decade. Another album I found at the library by a band from NYC that I really liked (but didn’t make this list) is Turn on the Bright Lights by Interpol.


Artist: The Shins
Title: Chutes Too Narrow
Year: 2003
Favorite Tracks:

  • Mine’s Not a High Horse
  • So Says I
  • Saint Simon
  • Pink Bullets

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Round about 2004 I was looking for new bands to listen to and I didn’t always find them at the library.  Natalie Portman could’ve told me that The Shins “will change your life” but I didn’t hear that from her until a few years later so I think it was actually an online magazine like Pitchfork or Paste.
Thoughts: The Shins are a band from New Mexico that play a bright style of indie pop that masks deeper introspection in the lyrics.  This is another album that was in high rotation during my iPod Era (ca. 2004-2012), which is apropos since The Shins music probably could’ve been used in an ad for Apple products (that may sound like a dig, but it isn’t).  It was nice to revisit this album after a long time.

Bonus Sounds: The Shins have a lot of turnover over the years with only James Mercer remaining from the original lineup. The success of Chutes Too Narrow seemed to negatively affect him and the handful of albums by The Shins since then haven’t measured up in my ears.


Artist: Various
Title: Channel 1 – A Compilation Of Output Recordings
Year: 2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • Fridge – “Anglepoised”
  • Four Tet – “Calamine (Radio Version)”
  • Sonovac – “High-On-Tech”
  • Gramme – “Like U”
  • LB – “Superbad” (yes, it’s a cover of the James Brown track)
  • Soft Verge  – “Microbial”


The First Time I Heard This Album …: So I have picked out albums randomly from the library shelves and downloaded the from iTunes, but how about buying an album from a store unheard? That’s how I acquired this collection of electronic music from the now defunct Twisted Village in Harvard Square, a store that specialized in esoteric music with no commercial potential.
Thoughts: Output Recordings was a British label that focused on various forms of electronic music and only existed from 1996 to 2006.  This compilations contains tracks you can dance to and tracks you can meditate to, and is a really good representation of electronic music circa 2000.

Bonus Sounds: At some point, I returned to Twisted Village and picked up Channel 2 – A Compilation Of Output Recordings (2003) but it didn’t have the same magic, although I did love the retro 80’s soul sound of “Ice Skating Girl” by Rekindle.  I have kept up with the output of Four Tet over the years, but I have no idea what happened to any of the artists on either of these compilations.


Artist: Hothouse Flowers
Title: Songs From The Rain
Favorite Tracks:

  • An Emotional Time
  • Be Good
  • Isn’t It Amazing
  • Thing of Beauty
  • Stand Beside Me

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I participated in the Boston –> New York AIDSRide as a rider in 1999 and 2000 and there was this great song that played at the end of the orientation video.  Finally, as the 2000 ride was ending I finally was able to find out from someone that the song was “Thing of Beauty” by Hothouse Flowers.
Thoughts: Hothouse Flowers are a band from Dublin, Ireland who had some success in the late 80s in the wake of U2.  I hadn’t given them much thought until I learned that they were the band behind “Thing of Beauty” (which was actually a Top 40 hit for them in 1993, but I missed it at the time). Songs from the Rain is full of the bands rock tunes with soul and gospel flourishes, many of them raving up into great singalongs.

Bonus Sounds: I still never warmed up to Hothouse Flowers’ other works, although I really love the track “Christchurch Bells” from their 1990 album Home.  I saw the band’s leader Liam Ó Maonlaí perform solo at Club Passim in Cambridge in 2005.  He is very tall and plays the didgeridoo, an indigenous Australian instrument.  I got a copy of his solo album Rian that night but didn’t listen to it much. As for the Boston –> New York AIDSRide, there is one other song that alway brings back memories of those events.


Artist: Jim’s Big Ego
Title: Noplace Like Nowhere
Year: 2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • Stress
  • Concrete
  • Prince Charming
  • Boston Band
  • She’s Dead
  • Slow

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Probably picked it up at a Jim’s Big Ego show when it was released in 2000.
Thoughts: I first Boston folk rock band Jim’s Big Ego play at First Night 1999 when their set included songs like “Stress” and “She’s Dead.” I got a couple of their albums that night and would see Jim Infantino and co several times over the next 5+ years.  Noplace Like Nowhere was their first release after I’d been seeing them for a while and it had higher production values than their earlier releases, including new recordings of “Stress” and “She’s Dead.”  But it was new songs like “Concrete” and “Prince Charming” that one me over, both by being less sarcastic and just being plain great pop songs.

Bonus Sounds: I had the albums Titanic (1996), Don’t Get Smart (1998), and They’re Everywhere (2003) which all have some great tracks, plus there were always some great songs I heard in concert that weren’t on any album.  I kind of drifted away from JBE circa 2005.  The band is still out there, though, although like many of the bands in this post they haven’t released any new recordings for a decade.


Artist: The Go! Team
Title: The Scene Between
Year:  2015
Favorite Tracks:

  • “The Scene Between”
  • “Blowtorch”
  • “Catch Me on the Rebound”
  • “The Art of Getting By (Song For Heaven’s Gate)”

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Not to be a stereotype, but this is another band I learned about through NPR’s All Songs Considered.  I had heard songs from their previous albums but the title song of this album really won me over.
Thoughts: The Go! Team are an outfit from the UK who mix performances of upbeat indie pop with samples of things like cheerleader chants, hip hop, space-age bachelor pad music, and obscure movie soundtracks.  It’s something called plunderphonics.  “The Scene Between” sounds like a gospel choir gone psychedelic with a suitably trippy video to accompany it.

Bonus Sounds: I’ve kept up with The Go! Team since 2015 and written about them on this blog.  While nothing quite measures up to The Scene Between, they’re always good if you’re looking for something different and upbeat.


Favorite Movies of All Time: 250-241

Over the past few years I’ve made a concerted effort to watch lots of movies considered to be among the best of all time.  Now, for the first time, I’ve made my own list of favorite movies of all time.  Every other Wednesday throughout 2022, I will be revealing ten movies in my list of 250 Favorite Movies of All Time.

Favorite movies are a subjective thing, and my list will take into consideration the artistry and pioneering aspects of filmmaking, but also more personal and nostalgic factors that make a movie special to me.  I initially wasn’t going to make a ranked list because a) ranking is hard, and b) I hate the type of arguments that result from ranked lists where people say things like “How can you possibly think Film A is better than Film B?”  But then I figured making a ranked list would be a fun challenge, and it also will make it more interesting for a series of blog posts over the course of a year.

So, keep in mind that I live each of the movies in this list in some way or another.  I hope I’ll be able to explain why each movie deserves a spot on my favorites list.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on movies I’ve included, positive or negative, as well as movies you love that I didn’t include. Just don’t get to tetchy about increments in the ranking of particular films.

Let’s get the film rolling with our first ten!


Title: Time After Time
Director: Nicholas Meyer
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, David Warner, Mary Steenburgen
Year: 1979
When did I first watch this movie?: Early 80s, on TV
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This move is a science-fiction/thriller/romantic comedy in which H.G. Wells uses his time machine to chase Jack the Ripper to San Francisco in 1979, where he also falls in love with the modern day woman Amy Robbins.  I haven’t watched this movie in ages, but I’m putting it here as kind of a placeholder for the movies I watched when I was very young with my mother and sister whenever they came on TV.  Other movies include Love at First Bite, Murder By Death, and the Pink Panther movies, among others. Some of these movies are problematic and some are probably just not as good as I remember them, but I give them a spot for inspiring my early love of watching movies.


Title: Late Spring
Director: Yasujirō Ozu
Cast: Chishū Ryū, Setsuko Hara, Haruko Sugimura
Year: 1949
When did I first watch this movie?: January 2021 for the Classic Movies Project II
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I never heard of Ozu before I started focusing on Classic Movies a few years ago, but I was won over by his simple style of cutting between lots of shots where the camera rarely moves. His stories are restrained and capture deep emotions in simple gestures as seen in this heartbreaking story of father and daughter.


Title: The Gods Must Be Crazy
Director: Jamie Uys
Cast: Nǃxau ǂToma, Sandra Prinsloo, Marius Weyers, Nic de Jager, Michael Thys, Louw Verwey, Ken Gampu, Simon Sabela
Year: 1980
When did I first watch this movie?: Around 1984, in a brand new arthouse cinema that had replaced a notorious porno theater.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I was 10 when I first saw this movie set primarily in Botswana.  Part documentary, part political satire, and part slapstick comedy, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. It stars Nǃxau ǂToma, a member of the San (Bushmen) people, who must take a cursed object to the end of the earth – the ultimate symbol of Western civilization, the Coke bottle.  I have good memories of this movie although I’ve learned in more recent years that it is controversial in its portrayal of the San people and for whitewashing Apartheid, so I’ve been hesitant about rewatching it.


Title: The Godfather
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, Diane Keaton
Year: 1972
When did I first watch this movie?: March 2020, for my Classic Movie Project.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This is one of those movies that I failed to watch for decades before finally getting around to it and I ended up feeling a little underwhelmed.  But I cannot deny that this is a powerful and influential movie, and I find myself thinking about it a lot more than I expected.


Title: Hillsborough
Director: Daniel Gordon
Cast: Documentary footage and interviews
Year: 2014
When did I first watch this movie?: July 2014, as part of ESPN’s 30 for 30: Soccer Stories series
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I have an unhealthy fear of crowd disasters and the story of Hillsborough Stadium disaster is one reason why.  This documentary breaks down the cascade of errors the lead to the deaths of 96 Liverpool F.C. supporters, the failures of the police and authorities that compounded the misery, and the decades-long search for justice.


Title: Gimme Shelter
Director: Albert and David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
Cast: The Rolling Stones
Year: 1970
When did I first watch this movie?: Watched on DVD in 2007.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: It’s a weird coincidence to have two “crowd disaster” documentaries back-to-back on this list, but the centerpiece of this movie is the ill-fated Altamont Speedway Free Festival which became emblematic of the end of the utopian feel in 60s counterculture. Among other deaths and violence, this film captures the murder of Meredith Hunter by the Hells Angels right in front of the stage as the Rolling Stones perform. Of course, this movie wasn’t supposed to be about a murder, it was a concert film.  So you get to watch a lot of excellent live performance footage of the Stones at their peak with the ominous sense of Altamont coming at the movie’s conclusion.


Title: The Flowers of St. Francis
Director: Roberto Rossellini
Cast: Brother Nazario Gerardi, Brother Severino Pisacane, Esposito Bonaventura,  Aldo Fabrizi, Arabella Lemaître
Year: 1950
When did I first watch this movie?: Circa 2005, at a Brattle Theatre retrospective on Roberto Rossellini
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Arthouse cinemas are a great place to make discoveries, and somehow I found myself in the balcony of Brattle Theatre watching this Italian neorealist film about St. Francis and the Franciscan Brothers and St. Clare.  Francis may be the most fascinating of saints where the true stories are even more impressive than the myths.  This movie does an excellent job at depicting a simple faith that is hard to embrace in a cynical world.


Title: The Mystery of Picasso
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Cast: Pablo Picasso
Year: 1956
When did I first watch this movie?: May 2001 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Part of why I love this movie is that I saw it while on vacation in San Francisco with Susan at the Castro Theatre, a classic movie palace where an organist entertained us before the film rolled.  The movie itself shows Picasso creating unique works of art for the movie, many of them painted on glass so that they look like they’re being painted right on to the camera lens.


Title:  Aladdin
Director: John Musker, Ron Clements
Cast: Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Frank Welker, Gilbert Gottfried, Douglas Seale
Year: 1992
When did I first watch this movie?: In a theater in Virginia shortly after the movie’s release in 1992
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This is one of the great films of the Disney Renaissance Era and one of  the first times a celebrity voiced a character in Disney animation.  That celebrity was Robin Williams whose manic performance as Genie made this movie an instant classic.  Plus there’s some great music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman with Tim Rice.


Title: La Jetée
Director: Chris Marker
Cast: Hélène Châtelain, Davos Hanich, Jacques Ledoux
Year: 1962
When did I first watch this movie?: February 2021, for my Classic Movies Project II
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This is one of the strangest films on this list as it is only 28 minutes long and filmed almost entirely as a series of still shots.  It’s a science fiction story set in a post-apocalyptic world with time travel and romance.  And it’s totally the inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, just much more economical.

2021 Year in Review: Favorite Books

Here’s my annual list of my ten favorite books read for the first time in the year.  As always, this is merely the best books I read this year for the first time and not necessarily books published in 2021. For previous years see 2020, 2019, 2018,  2017,   2016,   2015,   2014,   2013,   2012,   2011,   2010,   2009,   2008,  2007 and 2006. You may also want to check out My Favorite Books of All Time or see Every Book I’ve Ever Read cataloged in Library Thing. Books published in 2021 are in bold.

Books Read in 2020

The books are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 stars with links to summary reviews. (A) is for audiobook. Here’s a thumbnail of what the ratings mean:

  • 5 stars – all-time classic (I’m very stingy with these)
  • 4 stars – a particularly interesting, well-written, or important book
  • 3 stars – a good book from start to finish
  • 2 stars – not a good book on the whole but has some good parts
  • 1 star or less – basically a bad book with no redeeming values















2021 Year in Review: Favorite Albums

I’ve reviewed 23 albums on this blog in 2021, and probably listened to just as many that I didn’t feel compelled to write about. From this list I’ve selected six of my favorite albums that I recommend you give a listen.

Check out my lists of favorite albums from 2014201620172018, 2019, and 2020 as well.

Afrique Victime by Mdou Moctar

The Beginning, the Medium, the End and the Infinite by IKOQWE

Jubilee by Japanese Breakfast

Menneskekollektivet by Lost Girls

Really From by Really From

They’re Calling Me Home by Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi

2021 Year in Review: Favorite Songs

Below are 15 of my favorite songs from 2021. Also check out my more expansive playlist of 60 great songs from the past year on Tidal and Spotify!




Frances Forever – “space girl”

Anna B Savage – “Baby Grand”


Danz CM – “Something More”

Dominique Fils-Aimé – “While We Wait”

Robin Foster · Ed Dowie – “Dear Florence”

Emily Scott Robinson – “Let ’em Burn”

Freedom Fry – “Le Point Zéro”

Japanese Breakfast – “Be Sweet”

Olivia Rodrigo – “good 4 u”

Orla Gartland – You’re Not Special, Babe

Ric Wilson – “Fight Like Ida B & Marsha P”

Snail Mail – “Valentine”

Tamar Aphek – “CROSSBOW”

Valerie June – Call Me A Fool [feat. Carla Thomas]

Favorite Songs by Year, 1973-2020

1973 1974 1975 1976
1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992
1993 1994 1995 1996
1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014 2015 2016
2017 2018 2019 2020


100 Favorite Books of All Time (2021 Edition)

Today I achieve the age of four-dozen years and as is my recent tradition, I post my updated list of favorite books of all time.

Do you have a favorite book you think I would like to read? Let me know in the comments!

Title Author
1939: Lost World of Fair Gelernter, David
A Clearing In The Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the 19th Century Rybczynski, Witold
A history of Boston in 50 artifacts Bagley, Joseph M.
A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher
A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present Zinn, Howard
A Prayer for Owen Meany Irving, John
Alice’s adventure in Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass Carroll, Lewis
Amphigorey Gorey, Edward
Ball Four Bouton, Jim
Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Garrow, David
Between the World and Me Coates, Ta-Nehisi
Book of Ages : The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin Lepore, Jill
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West Brown, Dee
Caste : The Origins of Our Discontents Wilkerson, Isabel
Charlotte’s Web White, E.B.
Code Name Verity Wein, Elizabeth
Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War Horwitz, Tony
Dead Certainties: (Unwarranted Speculations) Schama, Simon
Doomsday Book Willis, Connie
Fast Food Nation Schlosser, Eric
Five Points: The Nineteenth-Century New York City Neighborhood That Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections and Became the World’s Most Notorious Slum Anbinder, Tyler
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Bechdel, Alison
Gregor the Overlander series Collins, Suzanne
Holy spokes : the search for urban spirituality on two wheels Everett, Laura
Hotel New Hampshire Irving, John
How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built Brand, Stewart
How the Beatles destroyed rock ‘n’ roll : an alternative history of American popular music Wald, Elijah.
How the Irish Became White Ignatiev, Noel
In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life Deetz, James
In Watermelon Sugar Brautigan, Richard
Irish America: Coming Into Clover Dezell, Maureen
Iron and Silk Salzman, Mark
Jazz Morrison, Toni
Johnny Tremain Forbes, Esther
Keeping Score Park, Linda Sue
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City Mahler, Jonathan
Les Miserables Hugo, Victor
Let the Great World Spin McCann, Colum
Life of Pi Martel, Yann
Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness Shenk, Joshua Wolf
Living Buddha, Living Christ Hanh, Thich Nhat
Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World Kidder, Tracy
Mrs. Dalloway Woolf, Virginia
Nickel and Dimed On (Not) Getting By in America Ehrenreich, Barbara
Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond Hill, Marc Lamont
Persepolis series Satrapi, Marjane
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Dillard, Annie
Reign of Error : The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools Ravitch, Diane
Round Ireland with a Fridge Hawks, Tony
Seeing Things Heaney, Seamus
Shoeless Joe Kinsella, W. P.
Song of Solomon Morrison, Toni
Sophie’s Choice Styron, William
Stalemate Meras, Icchokas
Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream Stevens, Jay
Tales of the City series Maupin, Armistead
Talking to Girls about Duran Duran : One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut Sheffield, Rob
Tattoos on the heart : the power of boundless compassion Boyle, Greg
The 99% Invisible City : A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design Mars, Roman
The Appalachian Trail Reader Emblidge, David
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation series Anderson, M. T.
The Baroque Cycle Stephenson, Neal
The Catcher in the Rye Salinger, J.D.
The Color Purple WALKER, ALICE
The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan
The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things Glassner, Barry
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Haddon, Mark
The day I swapped my dad for two goldfish Gaiman, Neil
The Devil in the White City : Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America Larson, Erik
The Diary of a Young Girl Frank, Anne
The End of Elsewhere: Travels Among the Tourists Grescoe, Taras
The Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck, John
The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage Elie, Paul
The Lord of the Rings series Tolkien, J. R. R.
The New History in an Old Museum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg Handler, Richard
The New Jim Crow : Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness Alexander, Michelle
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals Pollan, Michael
The Once and Future King White, T. H.
The Portable Door Holt, Tom
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York Caro, Robert A.
The Radicalism of the American Revolution Wood, Gordon S.
The Right Stuff Wolfe, Tom
The Silent Traveller series Yee, Chiang
The Time Traveler’s Wife Niffenegger, Audrey
The Warmth of Other Suns : The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration Wilkerson, Isabel
The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap Coontz, Stephanie
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Baum, L. Frank
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible Jacobs, A. J.
Their Eyes Were Watching God Hurston, Zora Neale
This is an uprising : how nonviolent revolt is shaping the twenty-first century Engler, Mark
Thursday Next series Fforde, Jasper
Time and Again Finney, Jack
To Kill a Mockingbird Lee, Harper
To Say Nothing of the Dog Willis, Connie
To the Lighthouse Woolf, Virginia
Under the Net Murdoch, Iris
Watership Down Adams, Richard
We Can’t Eat Prestige: The Women Who Organized Harvard Hoerr, John
Winnie The Pooh Milne, A A
You Gotta Have Wa Whiting, Robert

2020 Year in Review: Favorite Movies

I hesitate to publish a list of favorite movies from 2020, because I have only watched 15 movies released in 2020, so far. And some of these movies are arguably not 2020 releases, with one arguably not even a movie. Nevertheless, for the record I’ve decided to just post every movie I’ve watched in descending order from most favorite to least favorite, with links to reviews. I’m sure I’ll be adding to my 2020 film viewing as time goes on.

First Cow
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Ham on Rye
Blow the Man Down
The Vast of Night
Vampires vs the Bronx
Enola Holmes
Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special
Yes, God, Yes

What movies from 2020 did you love and what should I try to watch next?

2020 Year in Review: Favorite Books

Here’s my annual list of my ten favorite books read in the year.  As always, this is merely the best books I read this year for the first time and not necessarily books published in 20202. For previous years see 2019, 2018,  2017,   2016,   2015,   2014,   2013,   2012,   2011,   2010,   2009,   2008,  2007 and 2006. You may also want to check out My Favorite Books of All Time or see Every Book I’ve Ever Read cataloged in Library Thing.

Books published in 2020 are in bold.

Books Read in 2020

The books are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 stars with links to summary reviews. (A) is for audiobook.

Here’s a thumbnail of what the ratings mean:

  • 5 stars – all-time classic (I’m very stingy with these)
  • 4 stars – a particularly interesting, well-written, or important book
  • 3 stars – a good book from start to finish
  • 2 stars – not a good book on the whole but has some good parts
  • 1 star or less – basically a bad book with no redeeming values













2020 Year in Review: Favorite Songs

There aren’t a lot of good things to say about the year 2020, but it was nevertheless a year filled with great music. Here are 20 of my favorite songs for 2020. Please use the comments box to add your favorites. And check out the end of the post for links to my favorite songs lists of previous years.

“Antifa Dance” by Ana Tijoux

“Be” by Mourning [A] BLKstar

“Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa

“Ferris Wheel” by Sylvan Esso

“Hapi feat. Big Rube” by Spillage Village

“Is There Something in the Movies?” by Samia

“Lifetime” by Romy

“Los Angeles” by HAIM

“The Low” by Jonah Mutono

“Mansplain” by Thick

“Phenom” by Thao & the Get Down Stay Down

“Shameika” by Fiona Apple

“Sing Gently” by Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6

“Siyabuela” by Asher Gamedze

“Take a Piece” by The Big Moon

“Take What You Can Carry” (Scientist Dub One) by Mia Doi Todd

“Tenebrist” by The Ballroom Thieves

“walking in the snow” by Run the Jewels

Favorite Songs by Year, 1973-2019