The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

End of the Year Grading

You know the drill.

Agent Carter - After the tremendous disappointment that shall not be spoken of, I went into this with a horrible chip on my shoulder. I needn't have been worried. It was everything I could have hoped for. Hayley Atwell is talented and delicious. A solid A.

Ant-Man - If you would have told me in April that I would like this movie more than "Age of Ultron", I would have laughed in your face. But it turned out to be better. There was a lot more heart to it, with a lead that was very endearing. However, they never explained to me why Hope couldn't have worn the suit. I give it a B.

Avengers: Age of Ultron - This was a tough one for me, it was definitely the biggest disappointment of the year. I had problems with the editing, Ultron's characterization, too many hands in the stew, and it was too bloated. It succeeded in lowering my expectations for future movies, and sadly is a sign that Marvel Studios might be getting too cocky for their own good. It wasn't awful, it just wasn't great. I didn't grade it in my initial review, but now I give it a solid C.

Better Call Saul - My favorite TV series of the last year. I wrote about it quite a bit earlier, and I can't wait for the second season. My grade: A+.

Daredevil - Agent Carter was great, but I still had that chip on my shoulder. But there was nothing to worry about, this show was terrific. The casting was great, the action was brutal and real. And Vincent D'Onofrio was perfect as Wilson Fisk. I look forward to season two. A.

Downton Abbey - Still a very enjoyable show, but beginning to show its age. Most of the ideas are gone, and even I'm wondering what's left to be done. The final season has started airing, and we'll soon see. B.

Game of Thrones - Yes, season five was easily the weakest season of the series so far, no it was not an abomination. And I'm not touching certain controversies with a ten foot pole, so don't ask me to. Okay, the plot arc with the Sand Snakes in Dorne was awful, but this is still good TV. I still look forward to the next season and will give this one a solid B.

The Hateful Eight - Just reviewed it, my favorite movie of the year. A+.

House of Cards - The weakest season yet, and I can't quite put my finger on why. It's got another season coming, and I hope this is the end because I have no idea just how much longer Frank Underwood can keep getting away with his crap. B-

Jessica Jones - The chip on my shoulder was gone by this point, and we ended up with a show that, in my opinion, far exceeded Brian Michael Bendis' comic book. The show was bold, exciting, and offered one of TV's most chilling villains. More than that, it was one of the most honest and straight forward depictions of what a rape victim goes through (at least, that's what I've been told by several sources). There are a lot of think pieces out there, so I'll just say it's an A.

Jurassic World - I watched this one OnDemand in a hotel while on the road. Glad I skipped it, because it was horrible. Horrible looking dinosaurs, weak CGI, and as much as I love Chris Pratt, his character was an archetype that needs to go. I also thought the notion that Bryce Dallas Howard's character arc of being a bad career woman who learned that children and family is better was sexist and offensive. F.

Mad Max: Fury Road - Now this was more like it. It's a lot of people's favorite movie of 2015 and I can't blame them. Great characters across the board, beautiful effects, the wonderful use of color. It was a pleasure from beginning to end. I found no fault with it. A+

South Park - Loved this season. Best season in ages. P.C. Principal is the best new character since Detective Yates. I'm glad he's sticking around, he's the perfect anti-Cartman. A.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Just reviewed it. Loved it. A-.

Star Wars Rebels - I was rough on this show when it started, and I know why... chips on the shoulder. I've since re-watched the first season and I've been keeping up with the second season. I really enjoy it. B+.

Supernatural - It's funny, when season ten ended, it ended on one of the lowest points the series had. To quote my friend's podcasting partner, it was trash. Yes, season ten introduced Rowena (who was the best new character since season five), but the season sucked. Now we're in season eleven and it's almost a completely different show. While not perfect, thus far it has been consistently the best the show's been since the fifth season. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it hasn't happened. Is this a return to form? I hope so. I want to give the latter half of season ten a and the first half of season eleven a B+ so I'll just average them both to a solid C.

The Venture Bros: All That And Gargantua 2 - Wrote a longer review at the beginning of the year. But it was the best animated anything I watched all year. Funny, action packed, cleared the board while setting up a new status quo. I can't wait for season six. A+

Special mentions. Really enjoyed the final run of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and I miss it and him. I'm not digging Trevor Noah's tenure, thus far. Larry Wilmore's Nightly Show has grown on me. I like Stephen Colbert's new Late Show, but miss the teeth he had on the Report. And my heart now belongs to John Oliver.


  1. Sorry you were disappointed by Avengers: Age of Ultron.

    I really enjoyed it-- but I will admit the storyline did feel a bit bloated in between.

    Personally, I don't think the MCU is slipping after Avengers: AOU. If anything, Ant-Man was a really nice save and a sign that they'll continue to pump out more good films. That's not to suggest that every film after Ant-Man will be good (I'm personally skeptical about Doctor Strange), but that we'll still have some good movies created by really good filmmakers (specifically, the Russo Brothers).

    Honestly, I'm more wary about what DC's Cinematic Universe planning, on account of what some of the writers/directors are saying in interviews.

    1. I don't even consider the DCCU worth any kind of discussion. Everything we've seen is a joke.

    2. No doubt about it.

      It seems as though the creative team over there has caught a bad case of "Rick McCallum/George Lucas" syndrome where they over emphasize the importance of their movies to the point where it feels silly.

  2. As always, you surprise me with one movie you decided to see. This year, it's Jurassic World. Anyway, great post. For film, I'd also recommend Room and Spotlight. They both cover disturbing but powerful stories. The Martian was also a pleasant surprise and one of Ridley Scott's best in years. I could say the same for Bridge of Spies and Steven Spielberg or Steve Jobs and Danny Boyle.

  3. Ah, Jurassic World. Yeah, let's just say I'm happy I made the decision to see Spy after watching that movie. Perfect antidote considering the sexist shit with that movie.

    Plus, I trust Paul Feig anyway so bring on the Ghostbusters remake.

  4. I'm in complete agreement with almost all of this except that I'm easier on "Age Of Ultron" and harder of "Game Of Thrones" Season 5 than you are. The latter isn't an abomination to TV or humanity or anything, but as a fan of George RR Martin's work, I feel that a season that spends most of it's time doing literally the complete opposite of what he depicted in his writing (with some exceptions like Cersei's plot) and in some cases spits in it's face (the North and Dorne plots) is at most an abomination to the source material.

    I do look forward to this year's season and the following one because we no longer know what's from Martin and what's from D & D anymore, so it should be easier to swallow on it's own merits in addition to being interesting to watch.

  5. I thought season 2 of daredevil was alright but that it had too many variables. We have the punisher...than we have elektra....than we have the guy who caused the death of punisher's family. It just got too convoluted. Either we should have focused on Punisher or Elektra. We could have had Matt becoming Isolated (what the main arc of the season was) without getting bloated