The Top Ten Movies of 2013

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Honorable Mentions:
12 Years A Slave
Gravity
Lords of Salem
Prisoners
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

*It should be noted that, while not a great movie, The Bling Ring gave us this .gif and we should ALL be thankful for it.

ZkzPvslNow, on to the Top Ten.

1010. Spring Breakers

I’ve never been particularly drawn to anything about Harmony Korine, but fell in love with Spring Breakers. Putting an entire generation of the self-entitled, it’s-never-enough on blast, this film delivered on looks and substance. SO many people that I’ve talked to completely missed the point of the movie and I’ve found a surprising number of women that found it misogynistic, but I choose to believe the Jeff Jarrett cameo is enough to keep everybody happy. I feel like Selena Gomez wanted to have her cake and eat it too while making this movie, but her effort was sincere. And, bah gawd, James Franco. Dude, James Franco in this movie! Look at his shit! Scarface! On repeat! Constant, y’all!

99. Short Term 12

I’ve been riding the Brie Larson train since Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, so it’s good to see everyone else start to hop on. It’s difficult to tell someone you’ll love Short Term 12 as it doesn’t deal with the most positive of subject matters but the narrative and the moral of the film leaves the viewer with hope and optimism. The world can be a sick place at times, but there’s always hope for another day and there are people to help you see it. As great as Larson was, Lakeith Lee Stanfield stole the show. Quite the launching pad. Director Destin Cretton’s next project will star Jennifer Lawrence; guaranteeing that it will get the award buzz many felt this deserved.

PLACE BEYOND THE PINES8. The Place Beyond The Pines

It’s long, yes. Deal with it. Telling this tale of destiny couldn’t have been done in 90 minutes. Ryan Gosling was magnetic (I hate using that word). Eva Mendes was surprisingly good. Bradley Cooper gave the best performance of his career thus far (Fuck outta here with that Silver Linings Playbook nonsense). Also, that Ben Mendelsohn dude was awesome and Tom Hardy didn’t even break his neck! This was an incredibly polarizing movie, but I found it gripping and engaging. Continue reading

Top Ten (Mainstream) Rasslin’ Matches of 2013

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Again, I’m sticking to the American mainstream (WWE, TNA, ROH) for my 2013 honors and awards. And, again, I’m just doing this for fun. I’m sharing my opinions and would love to hear all others! Let’s do it!

Honorable Mention:
Kevin Steen Vs. Jay Lethal (3/2), Bully Ray Vs. Jeff Hardy (3/10), Smackdown Money in the Bank Ladder Match (7/14), Sami Zayn Vs. Antonio Cesaro (8/22), Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Kofi Kingston, Justin Gabriel, The Usos & The Prime Time Players Vs. The Shield (9/23)

1010. Jay Briscoe Vs. Davey Richards
(6/1 – ROH Honor In The Heart Of Texas)

Wrestling is supposed to be fun, guys. If Davey Richards can acknowledge that, you sure as hell should be able to. With that said, this really was a great match. There’s tremendous back-and-forth, constant action, and the “What will it take?!” dynamic (Davey using the DR Driver went over 90% of viewers heads) that made this a great ROH world title match. Jay’s title run unfortunately fell a bit flat (Who’d have known gay bashing and a shoulder injury would be bad for a career?), but this match solidified his short reign. Two great pro wrestlers had a match unlike any they’d ever had and probably ever will. Cerish this match, people. Davey doesn’t have fun often. TEST OF STRENGTH!

99. Kaitlyn Vs. AJ Lee
(6/16 – WWE Payback)

It’s quite breathtaking was two women can do in a wrestling ring when they have the slightest of clues as to what the hell they’re doing. I realize that saying this match was the ninth best of the entire year may be a stretch, but I’m ok with. The Trish Stratus-Lita Raw main event from a decade ago was the last time I saw a women’s match that I enjoyed as much as this. These two told an engaging story and brought in physicality that the division had missed, like, forever. The post-match reaction from AJ was genuine and touching. The shit with Kaitlyn was borderline sexist, but it kind of worked. It’s a bummer Kaitlyn said deuces to the E as she had a ton to offer, but at least we go this match. Honest to God, if you want to break down stats, the Divas Championship was the most prestigious belt the E had in 2013 and this match made it seem relevant.

88. The Rhodes Brothers Vs. The Shield
(10/6 – WWE Battleground)

The true feel good moments in wrestling come lesser each year. When one occurs, it’s so damn awesome. The Rhodes’ entrance was one THE mark out moment of the year for myself (shades of the Road Warriors and Ahmed Johnson!!!!). The match was absolutely fantastic and made the already-infamous Battleground PPV worthwhile. Goldust’s unlikely career revival was the crux of the match, and story, but all involved brought their best and gave one of the most memorable tag matches of the past few years. Bonus: Dean Ambrose took a bionic elbow and sold it like he had been shot. It was glorious. Continue reading

The 2013 (Mainstream) Rasslin’ Awards

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Welcome to the 2nd annual Alex Mattis Mainstream Rasslin’ Awards blog. Just like last year, there will be the same nine awards. And just like last year, I will be sticking to the American mainstream of professional wrestling (WWE, TNA, ROH). These things can get complicated when one begins factoring in the underground and the international.

I’m not here to tell you what is good and what is bad. Like all art, pro wrestling is subjective. I’m here to tell you what I thought was the best, and the worst, in the wild world of rasslin’ in 2013. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy.

Let’s get to it!

The Punk Award for Wrestler of the Year

RAW_1055_Photo_13511. Daniel Bryan

You’d have to be a fucking idiot to argue this. Is Bryan the most popular star the E has had since 2000? One word: Yes. …Yes! …YES! …YES! YES! YES!

normal_TLC13_Photo_2942. Randy Orton

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but it’s true. Randy Orton started the year by losing to Wade Barrett clean on Raw (and it was incredible) and ended the year as the first undisputed champion the E has had in over a decade. He won Money in the Bank, he won the WWE title at the 2nd biggest show of the year, he *finally* got back to the bad guy role he loves so dear, and he won the aforementioned undisputed title in THEBIGGESTMATCHINWWEHISTORYOMG. What’s most important is that Ravishing Randy appears to be having fun again; enjoying himself in the ring. I can only assume he was as bored with his work as we were. Continue reading

The Five Worst Movies of 2013

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“It was an up and down year for film” and all that shit. It was what it was and I’m writing these blogs to tell you what I liked and what I didn’t. I hope you enjoy it and that we can get into some spirited debates!

I’ve really adopted this mantra and feel we should approach all art as Maffew has perfectly put it:

“Enjoy it when it’s good and laugh at it when it’s bad.”

Quick note: This is a list of movies that had potential but were offensively bad. Things like Movie 43 and Grown Ups 2 won’t rank here as there was no hope or good intentions behind them in the first place.

Dishonorable Mentions:
21 & Over
Anchorman 2
The Heat
Identity Thief
Monsters University

w55. Only God Forgives
What Only God Forgives is, is an exercise in hubris. It is not “ambitious”, it is a filmmaker buying into his own hype. Nicolas Winding Refn directed  Drive, the best movie of 2011, and that’s something no one can ever take away from him, but he also made this explosion of misogyny, brutality, and neon lights. Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas may have been in on the joke the whole time, though, as they gave memorably disastrous performances. The saving grace of Only God Forgives is that it teeters on the line of so-bad-it-could-gain-cult-status. It is the only movie on this list that I would watch again… With a case of beer and few buddies to point and laugh with.

MAN OF STEEL4. Man of Steel
The most elaborate, expensive commercial for IHOP, 7-11, or Sears in history. Zack Snyder got away from the slow-motion (presumably because he was preoccupied getting historical bad performances out of Amy Adams and Diane Lane) and replaced it with close-ups and hilariously pointless descrution that nailed it with the 11 to 16 demographic. There are so many “Huh?”, “Wait a minute…”, and “But I thought…” moments in the movie that it’s best to throw up your arms and just let it all happen. Henry Cavill is a robot. Also, watch 300, Watchmen, and Man of Steel and try to argue that Zack Snyder is NOT clearly a homosexual. Continue reading

The Top Ten Episodes of The Office (US)

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Well, the finale of The Office is tonight. It’s really a bittersweet feeling for me. While The Office has already staked its spot as one of my favorite shows ever, I’m ready for it to end as it has become less than a shell of its former self. Everything since “Niagara” has been overwhelmingly cynical and distrustful towards its audience. I’m sure they’ll deliver tonight, however, and give the fans a worthy finale. At its best, The Office was relentless with its writing, laced with fantastic acting, and probably the best television comedy since Seinfeld. All things have to come to an end, but it’ll still be sad to see the lights turned off at Dunder Mifflin.

Honorable Mentions:
“Test The Store” – Season 8
“Branch Wars” – Season 4
“The Return” – Season 3
“The Deposition” – Season 4

office-secret-santajpg-d59d548514963e11_large 10. “Secret Santa” – Season 6

Viewers could always count on The Office to deliver a fantastic Christmas episode. Season 6 gave us their strongest effort for the most wonderful time of the year. Like with every Christmas episode, Michael acts like an idiot but everything ends up cheerful in the end. “Secret Santa” was the zenith of the Erin-Andy angle and, probably, Phyllis (Vance) Smith’s finest episode. The ending visual-gag of the two Santas (Bob and Phyllis) making out was/is utterly brilliant.

getImage9. “Dinner Party” – Season 4

This certainly isn’t a “favorite,” but it deserves to be on this list because it demonstrates, more than any other episode, just how skin-crawling The Office could be when it wanted. It’s also a nod to the power of the actors involved in the episode; essentially only six. No matter how many times I watch “Dinner Party,” I still find myself clenching my teeth, turning away from the screen, and letting out strange noises in an attempt to break the awkward tension throughout it. Melora Hardin always seemed to be hit-or-miss on the show but she, in particular, shines here as she made the audience take genuine concern/pity on Michael Scott despite his moronic nature.

Classis Dwight line: “Mmm… Good turkey leg.”

url8. “The Injury” – Season 2

The argument could be made, and won, that “The Injury” was the episode that put The Office on the map and solidified its spot on television. The absolute ridiculous nature of its premise was kept believable because of the ineptitude and hubris that Steve Carell’s Michael Scott had shown up until that point. In a sense, it was the first payoff episode.

The Office7. “Andy’s Play” – Season 7

Right as the wave began to break; “Andy’s Play” holds the spot for the last truly great episode in Office history. The season had been rocky up until this point and had created some confusing inter-office relationships, things seemed jumbled and on the edge of becoming chaotic, when this episode went back to basics and reminded the viewers that “Hey, these guys are all still a family.” I believe the Erin-Andy angle was one of the main things that killed the quality of the show, but this episode was the closest it ever came to *really* working. The closing montage to “Andy’s Play” marks that last time the show left me with any feeling close to “everything is going to be ok.” Continue reading

The Top Ten Movies of 2012

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The Absolute Best I Saw In 2012

The Big Omissions (the notable films that, for whatever reason, I missed and need to see): Amour, Argo, Robot & Frank, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty

Honorable Mention:

-Your Sister’s Sister
-Killer Joe
-The Expendables 2
-Jeff, Who Lives At Home
-Bernie

10. CM Punk: Best In The World/Wreck-It Ralph

PunkBest_crop_exactBecause it was that good. It joins the very small collection of WWE home video releases that I would almost classify as “documentary” and not “E propaganda.” Almost. What Best in the World shows its viewer is how big of an egomaniacal, self-obsessed, world-is-against-me, prima donna CM Punk has become. It also shows that Punk has absolutely earned the right to be that way. Critically speaking from a “film” standpoint, this is far-and-away the best release the WWE has ever produced.

Wreck-It-Ralph-central-stationWreck-It Ralph is the best non-Pixar effort Disney has made since Bolt. With a phenomenal voice-acting cast and a deliciously original plot, this sucker exceeded all expectations. With a director who worked on The Simpsons and Futurama during their best times and a nod to Metal Gear Solid, I’m not sure how it could have gone wrong. The scene of Ralph’s final act of heroism is one of my favorites, like, ever.

9. The Divide

the-divide-milo-ventimiglia-13552923-2560-1505I suppose we can call this my guilty pleasure movie of 2012. Xavier Gens’ dark, depressing tale doesn’t explain who, why, or when, but it does show the brutal, disturbing manner of how eight survivors deal with the post-apocalyptic scenario they’re faced with. By no means the most quality film of the year, but easily one that I found most memorable.

8. Goon

goonIn 2011, Michael Dowse directed my guilty pleasure movie of that year, Take Me Home Tonight. His next film, Goon, presented one hell of a pleasant surprise. One of 2012’s most solid comedies, somehow, delivered some actual emotion and turned into quite the engaging piece (truth hurts, Julio). Notable performances from Seann William Scott and Liev Schreiber pulled the whole shabang together. Continue reading

The Five Worst Movies of 2012

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The Absolute Worst I Saw In 2012

Dishonorable Mention: The Campaign, This Means War, Wanderlust

05chronicle-blog4805. Chronicle

Originally, I thought this was going to be an American attempt at the British hit TV show, Misfits. Unfortunately for audiences, it wasn’t 1/1000 in quality. The over-done “found footage” approach was given some originality and turned out to be the best part of the movie. A hilariously anti-climatic ending capped off the tale of what happens when you give an emo kid superpowers.

TED-TV-Trailer_00004. Ted

The movie itself isn’t as offensive as the amount of money it made. Seth MacFarlane has changed modern humor and it certainly is not for the better. The absolute lack of effort and overwhelming amount of ego this man puts into his work has supplied a generation with a brand of “comedy” that I will never quite understand. Ted is a shining example of this. I just didn’t find the appeal and was grateful when the credits began to roll. Then again, MacFarlane is a millionaire and hosting the Oscars… So, yeah, I’m the asshole. Continue reading

Top Ten (Mainstream) Rasslin’ Matches of 2012

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Again, I’m sticking to the mainstream (WWE, TNA, ROH) for my 2012 honors and awards. And, again, I’m not fucking Meltzer. I’m not telling you what was the best, I’m just sharing my opinions and would love to hear all others! Here we go!

Top Ten (Mainstream) Rasslin’ Matches of 2012

 Honorable Mention: James Storm Vs. Bobby Roode (4/15 & 10/14), Brock Lesnar Vs. John Cena (4/29), Daniel Bryan Vs. Sheamus (4/29), CM Punk Vs. John Cena (9/16), Kevin Steen Vs. El Generico (12/16).

318795_10150976018991026_220105429_n_crop_exact_crop_exact10. Bobby Roode Vs. Austin Aries – Destination X, July 8

Bobby Roode had one of the best title reigns in TNA’s short history, and it came to an end with one of the best matches he’s had in the company. TNA made a star in Austin Aries in 2012 and this was the stamp that solidified his place in the company, in the wrestling world. Of course, they fucked it all up a few months later but hey, it’s TNA.

EC12_photo_089

9. Daniel Bryan Vs. Santino Marella Vs. The Big Show Vs. The Great Khali Vs. Cody Rhodes Vs. Wade Barrett – Elimination Chamber, February 19

So many great stories were told in this match: Bryan being the chicken shit heel champion, Big Show getting his brutal vengeance on Bryan, Barrett being a dominate recluse, Santino actually being a credible wrestler (of course, they didn’t follow up on that one), Cody one-upping Show, Bryan still being able to win in the clutch… Khali being fucking worthless. All those stories came together and gave, in my opinion, the most entertaining Elimination Chamber of the past couple years. I concede that it takes awhile for this match to get going, but the final ten minutes are so damn money it makes up for it.

GTStoChrisJericho_crop_exact8. CM Punk Vs. Chris Jericho – WrestleMania XXVIII, April 1

A classic case of two fantastic workers upping their game for WrestleMania. Many people felt their Extreme Rules match was superior and I call those people morons. The “Best in the World” angle leading in was great. The “exploiting Punk’s family” part of it was meh. Whatever the feeling on the build, the quality of the match itself can’t be questioned. I can’t be the only one who saw utter brilliance in these two wearing matching Best in the World gear for this match. It’s the little things, people! In the end, both guys looked like a million bucks and the finish just further cemented Punk’s title reign. A true bonus was the mark out moment I had when Jeri locked on a legit Lion Tamer.0punk-jericho-1(Seriously, how awesome was Punk’s entrance?) Continue reading

The 2012 (Mainstream) Rasslin’ Awards

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Before we begin, let me say that I am an avid professional wrestling aficionado and watch all that I can, whenever I can. However, 2012 was not the year that I took in the most indy and international material so I’m not going to act like this is the definitive best of all the world. I’ll be sticking to the mainstream (WWE, TNA, ROH) for my 2012 honors and awards. Also, I’m not fucking Meltzer. I’m not telling you what is good and what is not. This is just my opinion. I’d love to hear yours if you disagree or have some to add. Don’t be a stereotypical wrestling fan, let’s banter!

Alright, without further ado, Alex Mattis presents:

The 2012 (Mainstream) Rasslin’ Awards

Wrestler of the Year Award:NOC12_Photo_154

1st Place – CM Punk

In 2012, the man reached territory that had been uncharted for the better part of my lifetime. He made the strap seem important again all the while defending that title around the world against a vast range of opponents, having great matches, and remaining one of the best on the microphone. In 2012 CM Punk cemented his place in professional wrestling history.

WM28_Photo_bryan_daniel0612nd Place – Daniel Bryan

Over the span of three days, he became the most over motherfucker in the company. The 18-seconds disaster at WrestleMania turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to young Daniel Bryan Danielson as it led to him becoming an actually player in World Wrestling Entertainment. Tack on an incredible series of matches with Punk in the summer, an outstanding wedding tuxedo, and being part of the most entertaining duo of the year?! The American Dragon had himself quite the 2012.

9844fe71791a8e491fdac71cb9affcdb3rd Place – Kevin Steen

“The Antichrist of Pro Wrestling” had quite the year. He was the first guy to be ROH champion in years that actually seemed different (no disrespect to Roderick Strong or Eddie Edwards). He brought brawling to the forefront of a company built on purity and technique. He consistently had entertaining matches and was the promo man ROH needed. His polarizing persona is also something the independent scene had been lacking as no matter the feeling towards him, each and every fan is passionate about him. Hmm, that John Cena parody shirt is starting to make more and more sense. The final image we saw of Steen in 2012 (a scene of carnage as he stood over El Generico with his ROH world championship held about his head) perfectly summarized the best year this man has had in his career. Love him or hate him, Kevin Steen was one of the most talked-about acts in professional wrestling this past year.

Honorable Mention: Austin Aries, John Cena, The Rock (one match; biggest of the year), Dolph Ziggler Continue reading