Category Archives: Movies

The Best Movies of 2018

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Our list of the best movies of 2018 didn’t have to be 15 titles. It could have been 20, or 25, or 30, because all four of the core SportsAlcohol.com movie-watchers had plenty of choices for our individual lists from a year with no shortage of smart, entertaining, galvanizing, beautiful, traumatizing, exciting, and otherwise distinctive 2018 releases. But these choices for the 15 best movies of 2018 are the ones that found a kinda-sorta consensus among the four of us. They aren’t all on every list, but they’re still the 2018 movies that some portion of us, occasionally of us, bonded over in some way. So grab a friend and check out these particularly unifying pictures.
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Sorry, Pop Fans: ‘A Star Is Born’ Thinks Ally’s ‘Why Did You Do That?’ Is Bad

Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

I feel like I have to correct the record on something. Ever since A Star Is Born came out, there’s been a lot of analysis about the soundtrack, especially one song on it in particular: “Why Did You Do That?”

“Why Did You Do That?” is the song that a post-fame, pop-repackaged Ally performs on Saturday Night Live. A sampling of its lyrics: “Why do you look so good in those jeans? Why’d you come around me with an ass like that? You’re makin’ all my thoughts obscene.” Later, Jack derides her for these words.

The analysis I’ve seen around the song usually takes the form of two questions: 1) Is “Why Did You Do That” a bad song outside of the universe of the movie? 2) Within the world of the movie, does the movie believe it’s a bad song, or is it just Jack who doesn’t like it? The first question can’t have one definitive response. Either that type of music works for you, or it doesn’t and that’s fine.

But the second question has a concrete answer, and yet the conclusion I arrived at isn’t really the one drawn unanimously, much to my confusion. But  A Star Is Born really, truly thinks that “Why Did You Do That?” is bad. My proof:

It’s So Different From Ally’s Other Songs

Ally is so talented that Jackson can’t help but be taken in by her. He falls in love with her through her songwriting. But “Why Did You Do That?” sounds nothing like the tunes that kick-started their romance. Before her big pop-career launch, even the catchier songs she wrote, like “Look What I Found” (which I personally like a lot better than “Why Did You Do That?”), come rooted in a much more singer/songwritery place. If we’re supposed to believe in the transformative power of Ally and Jack’s love, and they express that feeling through music, how are we supposed to see the change in her sound as anything but a betrayal of that love?

She Refuses the Dancers

Okay, artists evolve. Things change. If you believe A Star Is Born is about Jackson’s desire to manage Ally’s artistic work and stifle her creativity, I think that’s a truly cynical reading of the movie, but you can read his dismissal of “Why Did You Do That?” through that lens. But my big question to you: Why did she refuse to have backup dancers at her first performance? 

The answer is she turned the dancers away because that’s not how she sees herself as an artist. This, to me, is the biggest clue into what Ally thinks of her pop image. If those songs truly came from her developing sense of self, she  would’ve embraced the dancers at her debut and in her SNL performance. Instead, she said she didn’t think she needed them.

And Jack had nothing to do with that. She doesn’t get rid of them because she’s afraid Jack won’t like it. It’s because, in her heart, she knows she’s a songwriter and  not a pop product.

Diane Warren Co-Wrote It

Actually, this probably runs counter to my point. Warren has written some of the most successful songs ever.

Jackson Hates It

This is where we veer into a bit of subjectivity: If the hero of our romantic story says mean things about the song, does that look bad for him, or for the song? This time, I think it’s both. His criticisms come at a point in the movie where it’s clear he’s on a downslide, and could potentially take Ally down with him. But he’s also heralded by the movie as a musical genius, and he knows what he’s talking about.

For what it’s worth, I think this is a departure from the other versions of A Star Is Born. (The biggest departure after changing her name from Esther Blodgett, which I’m gutted they did. Esther 4-Eva!) You’re supposed to think Judy Garland is an acting tour de force. You’re supposed to think Barbra Streisand is a consummate performer. I don’t think you’re supposed to think Janet Gaynor is untalented. James Mason, Kris Kristofferson, and Fredric March never impugn Esther’s talent. I kind of like that Bradley Cooper does.

You Only Get a Sideways Glance at It

When Ally does perform “Why Did You Do That?” on Saturday Night Live — with dancers — the performance isn’t really the focus of the scene. It’s something happening in the background. If A Star Is Born was really behind this evolution in Ally’s career, and really thought the audience should consider it an unambiguously good song,  it would’ve had a moment as powerful as “The Shallow.”

There is no moment for “Why Did You Do That?” The movie doesn’t want you to consider it a triumph. Whether you do or not is up to you, but the movie’s thoughts on it are pretty clear to me.

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Spider-Man Movies, Ranked

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Longtime readers and listeners of the SportsAlcohol.com World Wide Web Brand may have noticed that we kinda dig on Spider-Man. In fact, one of our most popular pieces ever, and the site of our only (so far) bona fide comment war is about Spider-Man 3; our first-ever podcast episode was about The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and we’ve recorded on related films since then; Rob has written about Betty Brant while Marisa has written about the songs of Spider-Man.

So yeah, we dig on this.

To celebrate the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, we did something different: Marisa, Rob, and Jesse threw together a straw poll to rank out every major Spider-Man and Spider-Man-adjacent movie of the past 20 years. That’s right: In this podcast, we talk about them all. The animated highs! The amazing lows! The venomous middles! It’s all here, in a compact hour-long episode with multiple post-credit scenes! Basically, it’s a Spider-Man extravaganza for our new age of superhero abundance. It’s the next best thing to what I know you’ve all been craving: PICTURES OF SPIDER-MAN. While you wait for your photographer to come back with those, have a listen to us!

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The SportsAlcohol.com MiniPodcast: Second Act

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Typically, the SportsAlcohol.com podcast does overviews: of directors, of stars, of full TV seasons, of a year or decade’s worth of pop culture. But as part of our miniseries look at business movies, Jesse and Ben decided to rush into the studio right after watching a screening of the new Jennifer Lopez movie Second Act and discuss it, just like we discussed Pretty Woman and The Secret of My Success, among others. Only this time, there’s no science fiction… except that which this Jennifer Lopez vehicle provides.

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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Creed II and the Rocky Series

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

The Rocky series was unexpectedly revived in 2015 with the release of Ryan Coogler’s terrific movie Creed, which was followed last month by the sequel Creed II. Nathaniel, a lifelong Rocky fan, and Jesse, a relative newbie, both saw the new Creed movie and got together to discuss the latest sequel and how it fits into the Rocky series in general, as well as the often-confounding career of one Mr. Sylvester Stallone. Our Rocky podcast has several FLAMING HOT TAKES, including our weirdly mutual opinion of certain internet-beloved Rocky sequels as well as certain universally reviled Rocky sequels.

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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts, and the Wizarding World

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

The new Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opened this past weekend, with a critical/fan reception prompting some questions about the state of the Wizarding World. Marisa, Jesse, and Nathaniel all saw the new movie and formed some podcast-ready thoughts about what this Fantastic Beasts series is doing wrong, what it’s doing right (?!), and how a Potter spinoff works (or doesn’t) at all. Accio hot takes?!

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Widows cooks like a heist picture and sprawls like an epic drama

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

In the Saturday Night Live-based comedy MacGruber, Will Forte’s would-be action her assembles a kickass team of he-men during a stirring montage, packs them into a truck for a mission, and accidentally blows them all to hell. That’s not exactly what happens at the opening of Steve McQueen’s Widows, and probably drawing the comparison is a little bit insulting. But hear me out: McQueen dispatches an entire B-movie’s worth of tough guys with similar (if non-comic) efficiency, and precision-cut style. He toggles between a man and wife nuzzling in bed together and a brutal robbery turned car chase turned armed showdown. Back and forth it goes, quiet and loud, until the crew (including Liam Neeson and Jon Bernthal) is consumed in an explosion and, in the final pre-title image, the pillow next to Veronica (Viola Davis) lingers, empty. Her husband Harry (Neeson) isn’t coming back.
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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Indie Movies of Summer 2018

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Every summer for four years, Marisa, Sara, Nathaniel, and Jesse have gotten together to discuss the wealth of indie movies released between the beginning of May and the end of August, offering an alternative to the onslaught of summer blockbusters as well as a bunch of rental recommendations for the fall. (Here are the past episodes for 2015, 2016, and 2017.)

Our discussion of this year’s crop of summer indie movies covers over 15 different titles: Blindspotting! Eighth Grade! Madeline’s Madeline! Hereditary! Sorry to Bother You! Tully! First Reformed! BlacKkKlansman! And more!

Just listen to what the critics have to say!

“It’s not that I don’t trust this filmmaker, where they’re going to take me. But I don’t know that they have a handle on the effect of this movie, moment to moment.” – Nathaniel

“It did still feel very real to me, just the level of anxiety that you feel on a daily basis on just about every social interaction that you have. And it’s by some YouTube guy!” – Sara

“I feel like it’s about something never really put to screen: Trying to reconcile the woman you were before you were a mother, and the woman you are after.” – Marisa

“That was a movie I admired, and never ever want to see again. And would not be inspired to check out previous films by this director. The next one, yes, but there’s no turning back.” – Jesse

What do these quotes mean in context? Listen and find out!

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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: The Mission: Impossible Franchise

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

From its less-than-humble beginnings as a major event movie in 1996, it’s still remarkable that the Mission: Impossible movies have become the longest-running same-continuity reboot-free franchise going, with six films in 22 years. The SportsAlcohol.com crew is made up of a lot of Mission: Impossible fans, so on the occasion of the newest release, Fallout, Nathaniel, Marisa, Jesse, and Jon got together to go over what we liked, loved, and hmmmm’d about the newest entry, followed by a discussion of the first five movies. Glory to our deep dive into Cruise-ology, Ilsa Faust fandom, auteur analysis, a major movie star’s unwillingness to delivery quips, the coolness of Ving Rhames, and so much more!

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The Happytime Murders: Kid Stuff for Adults

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

An early pilot for The Muppet Show was subtitled Sex & Violence. This title was not included when Jim Henson’s puppet variety show became a star-studded five-season sensation in international syndication, and in general The Muppet Show proceeded as something families could watch together. A toddler could comfortably watch most of the show’s segments; many have, and will. But the reason toddlers might still watch The Muppet Show is because it has long appealed to adults, both now (when those adults may have nostalgic memories of watching it as children) and when it aired (when a show would need more than just some children’s eyeballs to become a five-season international-syndication sensation).

At the risk of sounding like that guy, the notion of affable and adorable puppets doing comedy for adults is not counter to the Muppets; in a large part, it is the Muppets. Granted, the Muppets never indulged in salty language or explicit sex scenes. But if the supposed incongruity of those actions constitute a cheap laugh, what kind of laugh is a puppet pig karate-chopping a puppet frog? Isn’t funny in part because the pig puppet is acting like an angry human? And isn’t there an enormous cult of appreciation around Team America: World Police in part because it does feature puppets doing things we don’t expect puppets to do?
Continue reading The Happytime Murders: Kid Stuff for Adults