Friday Favorites

It’s Black Friday, which for most people means they are out storming the stores. Luckily, I have most of my Christmas shopping already completed. So that means I get to stay home, relax, go get my nails done around noon, and then come home and play games for the rest of the day. Maybe we’ll even pop in one of my all-time favorite movies!

Since I talked about books last week I decided to make a return to movies this week. But instead of discussing series, I thought I would take a look at stand-alone movies. A few might be part of series or franchise, but you could watch any one of them and not be confused by their plot on its own.

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Special Mentions: Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show

These two movies are both fantastic, but they do not make my list of favorites. Instead, they are the mister’s all-time favorite movies. He couldn’t decide between them. I love that my husband enjoys musicals as much as I do!

A great many songs on our playlists come from movies that we both enjoy. And yes, we have songs from both of these soundtracks. Favorite songs from these include Time Warp and Dentist!

5. Moana

Favorite Movies

This movie also made my list of movies we saw in 2016. It is a fantastically made tale of a Polynesian princess who must return the stolen heart of a goddess in order to save her people. I’ve noticed that there is a shift lately. A lot of movies coming out are relying more on their story than a forced love story. This is SO encouraging. So many of the love stories out there feel contrived. Not having a romance in this movie made it that much more enjoyable. Other movies that have done this lately are Thor: Ragnarok and Sing. If you really think about it, it is very difficult to find a movie out there that doesn’t have some kind of romance angle.

Moana doesn’t just make me happy with its lack of a romance. Its visuals are stunning, and the music. Oh, the music! Some of the best songs from a Disney movie I’ve ever heard.

4. The Princess Bride

Favorite Movies

Who doesn’t love The Princess Bride? Seriously, tell me, because I’ve never met anyone who didn’t. We recently went to see this movie in the theater for its 30th Anniversary. Damn does that make me feel old. I remember when it came out in theaters the first time!

It was so neat to watch it on the big screen with a bunch of other people who could recite it line for line. You know we were all chanting along to “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya..”

True love, sword fights, giants, betrayal, miracles, and RoUS’s. What more could you want in a movie?

3.  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Favorite Movies

Another movie from the 2016 list. What can I say? 2016 was a great year for movies! You all know by now that I have an obsession with the Harry Potter universe. So it goes without saying that I would want to see Fantastic Beasts. What I didn’t expect was to have it become one of my favorite movies ever. I know that it will eventually be a part of a series, but for the moment, it remains a stand-alone movie, so I don’t mind including it here.

The scenes in the suitcase where you get to see all the animals are just amazing, and  Jacob is such a sweet, and tragic figure. I always cry my eyes out during the umbrella scene!

2. Wonder Woman

Favorite Movies

OMG. Wonder Woman. This movie took my breath away! It very nearly displaced my all-time favorite movie. The only thing keeping my number one in its spot is nostalgia, I think. Because this movie just crushed it. And to see Robin Wright (from Princess Bride above) again was really cool. I loved that they put in an easter egg regarding Chief. Look it up! This movie renewed my love of comic book movies and made me excited for Justice League. I really hope she gets a sequel.

1. The Fifth Element

Favorite Movies

I can’t believe this movie turned 20 this year. I watch it a lot, and it has held up really well over the years. A space epic set in a future where we finally have flying cars, but also immense amounts of pollution and incredibly tall buildings, the story follows a retired military man who is pulled back into service to save the world by rescuing a set of stones. The cast is phenomenal, and it is both action-packed and hilarious.

This is one of Bruce Willis’ finest films. As for the writer and director, Luc Besson, this was definitely his best work in my opinion. I had such high hopes for Valerian after finding out he was the writer and director, only to be severely disappointed (I actually fell asleep at one point during that movie. In the theater.) Still, The Fifth Element stands head and shoulders above any other movie for me, excepting the other four on this list.

What are your all-time favorite movies? Comment below!


Daily Dose of Music

Friday Favorites

Woohoo! It’s Friday! Last week I talked movies, but who is ready to celebrate the arrival of the weekend with a good book? That’s right, I’m going to be talking about books today. My list of favorites this week is not just about my favorite books, it’s about my favorite fiction book series.

Book Series

What do I mean by book series?

To clarify, I consider a series to be three or more books written by the same author and following the story of the same set of characters. There are a lot of great series out there, and some truly fantastic authors. Some of the books on my list might be familiar, as they are wildly popular. Others are not as well known and might give you the chance to read something interesting and new.

Special Mention: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book Series

Available here: http://amzn.to/2zN5t6R

I can’t talk about my favorite fiction series without including these wonderful books. They are incredibly rich in storytelling and world building. They barely miss getting onto my list of top five series. The reason for this is that they tend to be a bit dry in reading. That’s not to say they are not enjoyable! They are the epitome of high fantasy, and they will always have a place on my bookshelf.

Books in this series: The Hobbit (standalone), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. There are a few other works by J.R.R. Tolkien that pertain to the series as well, but they are companions of the world, rather than strictly part of the tale told in the series.

5. The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell

Book Series

These books follow the tale of Uthred, son of Uthred. He is a Saxon kidnapped and raised by the Danes and these books follow his life, his loves, and his battles as he tries to regain the land stolen from him by his uncle. In the telling of Uthred’s story, Bernard Cornwell also tells the story of Alfred the Great, who succeeded in uniting a previously fractured England. Classed as historical fiction, these books immerse you in a world from long ago, when pagans were clawing to retain their hold in an increasingly Christian world. Cornwell paints vivid pictures of the battles he describes and leaves his readers eager for the next story every time a book is completed.

Books in this series: The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, The Lords of the North, Sword Song, The Burning Land, Death of Kings, The Pagan Lord, The Empty Throne, Warriors of the Storm, and The Flame Bearer

4. The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris

Book Series

The Sookie Stackhouse Series are the books that True Blood was (loosely) based off. Well, the first season or two stayed pretty close, but the show quickly veered off the books. Not that the show wasn’t great. I did love it! But I had to treat the books as separate because they just became so different.

These books are supernatural and detective stories. They aren’t difficult reading, but they are a lot of fun. They follow the life and adventures of Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic barmaid in Lousiana, and her entanglements with vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies, and witches. What’s not to love?

Books in this series: Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Dead and Gone, Dead in the Family, Dead Reckoning, Deadlocked, and Dead Ever After. There is also an alphabetically ordered farewell to all of the characters in After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse, and a guide to the universe with The Sookie Stackhouse Companion.

3.  The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

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I put off reading the Wheel of Time for a long time. This was mostly because I could never find all of them at any library. And I certainly wasn’t going to buy them, if I couldn’t tell if I would like them! Enter Audible.com. Instead of reading these books, I have listened to them and am still listening to them. They are just incredible. The story is difficult to describe, it is very intricate. The stories mostly follow a young farm boy and two other boys from his village, as well as several strong and stubborn women as they attempt to save the world. That was another reason I was hesitant to get into these books because no one I asked could really tell me a concrete idea of what they were about. “You just have to read them.” Well, now I understand why.

Books in this series: New Spring (Prequel), The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, Winter’s Heart, Crossroads of Twilight, Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light.

2. The Dragoncrown War Cycle by Michael A. Stackpole

Book Series

I still remember when my brother lent me these books. I just recently got my own copies of each of them to put on my bookshelf, though I’ve read them all several times. This series is beautifully written high fantasy that invests you in all of the characters in the very first book. Like most fantasy, there is an evil villain bent on ruling the world, but this nasty character uses the reanimated dead in whole new ways to work her plans. I also really enjoyed the different take on elves that Michael Stackpole introduces with these books.

Books in this series: The Dark Glory War, Fortress Draconis, When Dragons Rage, and The Grand Crusade.

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Book Series

Oh, Harry Potter. You had to know this would be on the list. I am such a Potterhead. Always wishing that the Wizarding World was a real thing. I like to think if it was, then I would have been a witch.  Though most everyone knows the premise, in case you don’t, I’ll summarize.

This series follows young Harry Potter as he is thrust into a world of magic where he attends a school for witches and wizards, makes friends, and saves the world from He Who Must Not Be Named. I don’t care if these books are supposed to be for kids. Hate on me if you like, but I’ll never stop loving these books. Ever.

Books in this series: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

What is your favorite book series? Comment below!


Daily Dose of Music

Mimi’s Friday Favorites

The mister and I love to go see a movie. It’s one of our favorite things to do on the weekend. We go to the movies a lot. However, we have a pretty limited type of movie that we enjoy. For instance, horror movies are out for me. Romance is out for him (and for me most of the time). We both enjoy comedy, sci-fi, fantasy, and some comic book movies. And Disney. Don’t even get me started on Disney.

2016 Movie List

Why 2016?

We’re getting close to the end of 2017, but there are still two months of blockbusters coming out that we are planning to see. No joke, we have a movie planned for every weekend between now and Christmas. I don’t want to make a 2017 list until we’ve seen all the movies we are going to between now and New Years.

So I decided to take a look at the movies we saw last year. Wow, there were some great ones! We saw 19 movies that came out last year, 18 of them in the theater. Looking back over the list, I realized that there wasn’t a single one on there that I hated. Spoilers: There will be a list of disliked movies of 2017. But for 2016, all 20 movies ranged from unbelievably fantastic to fun and enjoyable.

It was actually difficult to make a list of my favorites! So I’m going to make this list a little bit different, and break them down into categories, with commentary on my favorites in each. I’ve also included their scores from Rotten Tomatoes.

2016 Movie List

Family Fun and Re-watch Worthy

Sing

2016 Movie List

We actually bought this one on DVD to rewatch several times. This movie is fun, the music is fantastic, and the cast is stellar. We went to see this one on Christmas Day. Big mistake. But we went to see it a second time a few weeks later when the crowds had died down so we could watch it without screaming babies and children who couldn’t stay in their seats in a sold-out theater. Kids at a kids movie? Unbelievable! That was sarcasm, btw.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

Zootopia

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Finding Dory 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

Stupid Funny Movies

The mister and I enjoy movies stupid funny movies. It’s a guilty pleasure, I suppose. These are movies that you definitely don’t want your kids to see, but they are great if you have a sense of humor and don’t mind occasional gross jokes.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

2016 Movie List

I am a sucker for The Lonely Island. The mister and I have most of their songs downloaded on our playlists. This movie was classic Lonely Island. If you are a fan of them, you’ll love it. If you don’t like them, you’ll probably hate it.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%

Sausage Party

2016 Movie List

What can I say about Sausage Party? Yes, it was gross. Oh god was it offensive. A little disturbing? Yes. It was epic. Incredibly crude, the debauchery of this movie is NO joke. Do not let your kids watch this unless you want to answer some seriously uncomfortable questions. But if you don’t have little ones running about…indulge.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 35%

Central Intelligence 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%

Zoolander No.2

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%

Keanu

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%

Chick Flicks that Made the Mister Laugh

I do enjoy an occasional chick flick. And occasionally I drag the mister along to one with me! These are the ones we saw last year that we both enjoyed.

Bad Moms

2016 Movie List

More like Bad Ass Moms. I love this movie so hard. We actually went and saw the sequel last weekend. I was stoked, the original came on Showtime the night before we went. And when we bought tickets, we got a free digital copy from Fandango. Score!

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%

The Boss

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%

Super Heroes, Super Action

This is a class of movies that can be very hit and miss for me. I like action, and I like superhero movies. I don’t like ALL superhero movies, and I don’t like ALL action movies. Three of the four movies below almost made the top of my list for 2016.

Suicide Squad

2016 Movie List

Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie a dismal score, but the viewer score is more than twice as high. I liked it so much that we went to the theater to see it twice. Once in our regular theater, and the second at a nearby dinner theater. And then we bought it on DVD. We also bought the soundtrack. So. Good.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26% (Audience 61%)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

2016 Movie List

Another poorly reviewed movie that the audience had something different to say. Truth be told, I didn’t want to see this movie. The mister wanted to see it, so I insisted that we go to the good theater. The one with the bar. I wasn’t sitting through two and a half hours of Ben Affleck Batman and (gag) Superman, unless I had a drink in my hand. Wow. I was SO wrong. I really enjoyed this movie! And it got me super stoked to see Wonder Woman this year. This was another movie that we ended up getting on DVD. To put this in perspective, we see 20 some movies in the theater a year, but we only buy maybe 2 or three a year. 2016 was a good year for DVD purchases.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 27% (Audience 63%)

Rogue One

2016 Movie List

I really went back and forth on whether this should be in my top three. This movie just tore me up. I loved that it gave some backstory. Even if the main character was a little bland, the rest of them make this story an immersive backdrop to A New Hope.

2016 Movie List

On the back of our nerdmobile.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Doctor Strange

This wasn’t my favorite superhero movie of 2016, but I still really enjoyed it! Two words: Benedict Cumberbatch. Mmmm…

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Top 3 Movies of 2016

Deadpool

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Oh man. The first rated R superhero movie. This movie earned every bit of that R. Rakish Rascal. Rejecting Redemption. Ruthless Revenge. Oh yeah…and Ryan Reynolds. Yum. Hilarious, irreverent, gory. Also, another one to hit our DVD shelf.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84% (Audience 90%)

Moana 

2016 Movie List

This movie goes down as one of my all-time favorites. And it is definitely my favorite Disney. The songs were definitely worth purchasing the soundtrack. This DVD hit our shelf the day it came out. I can’t play some of the songs in the car because they make me cry they are so beautiful. I loved that there was no love interest in this story. The story itself was just incredible. I love everything about this movie.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

2016 Movie List

Anyone who knows me, knows what a huge Potterhead I am. We bought tickets for the opening night as soon as they were available. Of course, that night turned out to also be our first major snowstorm of the season. I’m not just talking a few flakes and slushy roads. I’m talking full-on blizzard conditions. Ice. Snow. Wind. Accidents! We went anyway. We crawled up I-25 and we crawled back down after it was over. Worth it. Worth every single white-knuckled mile we had to drive to get to the good theater in Highlands Ranch. I was transported back to the Wizarding World that I wish so hard was real. Fucking Queenie and Jacob…they stole that movie! So good. SOOOOO Good. Number one movie of 2016 on my list.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

What’s the Take-Away?

The point is, we saw 20 movies that came out last year. They ranged from a score of 98% down to a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet, if we had listened to critics about every movie we went to see, we would have missed out on so many good films!

Were they all life-changing masterpieces or thought-provoking social commentaries? Not even close, but they were fun. We had a great time sitting down in a dark theater with our popcorn and candy and pretzel bites and Icees and escaping into another world that could make us laugh, cry, and think. Sometimes, it’s perfectly okay to enjoy a movie just for what it is, instead of what critics think it should be.

Did you see any of these movies? Did you like them? Hate them? Let me know in the comments!


Daily Dose of Music