Monday, January 2, 2017

The Top 10* Movies of 2017!

As much as many of us wanted to get out of 2016, there were some pretty good movies last year. I only saw 7 out of my 10 list for 2016 but most of the ones I didn't see were on the bottom of the list anyway. Captain America: Civil War and Rogue One were pretty darn good times at the movie theater and a few movies (Zootopia, Jungle Book) turned out to be even better than I was expecting.

This list can seem trivial but I want to take a second and talk about the impact that movies can make. For some people 2016 was a great year, for others it was a year of disappointment. A trip to the movies can be an opportunity to escape to another world. I don't think we should watch movies with our brains turned off or not have standards for the content that we're consuming, but a chance to see truth, love, human nature and heroism played out before us is not something we should take for granted. I often think of the scene with Sam and Frodo in The Two Towers as a scene of heroism and virtue on display. These trips to escape shouldn't make us deny that the world we live in is still as messy when we leave the movies as it was when we went in but they can remind us that there is something better remaining.

Without further ado, the 9th Annual list of the 10 ten movies I'm looking forward to next year:

1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (December 15th)




I put The Force Awakens on the top of the 2015 in the hope that it could possibly live up to my expectations. Although it's become passé to call it a great movie, I felt like it was the necessary framework to set up a new trilogy. Regardless of what people say now, they did a great job of creating new characters that I want to know more about without making it feel like the "Next Generation." When you combine that with a chance to see Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia one last time, there's no way that any other movie could top The Last Jedi for the top of this list.

2. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7th)


There's been one thing that has been on my "things I hope happen but am not counting on" list for the last several years and it's a chance to have Spider-man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I loved the first 3 Spider-man movies and probably counted Spider-man along with Batman and The Flash as my favorite childhood superheroes growing up but the most recent two Spider-man movies were largely forgettable. Well acted but seemed to lack a reason for existing. Enter 2016 where Spider-man is finally allowed to crossover to the MCU and I'd argue he easily stole the show in Captain America: Civil War. I'm excited to see what they can do with a Peter Parker who feels like he's in high school and one who knows and works with The Avengers.

3. Dunkirk (July 21st)




Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, Interstellar, The Prestige, etc.) Enough said.

Just kidding, Nolan directing is enough for most movies to reach my top 5 and although I'm not the biggest fan of war films, this looks beautifully captured and focuses on a piece of history that I would know about if I'd seen the 1958 film but I haven't so I can go in not knowing exactly what to expect. A Christopher Nolan film is like a painting and in the world of sequels and spin-offs, it's a treat to be able to watch.

4. Beauty and the Beast (March 17th)


This would normally make the list on its own but having Emma Watson (Hermonie from the Harry Potter series), Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), Ian McKellen (Gandalf from Lord of the Rings), Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi from the Star Wars prequel trilogy) and several others make this a potentially better movie than it has a right to be. There are people who groan every time that Disney announces another live-action version of one of their animated films (they're seriously doing every single one of them) but Cinderella and to an even greater degree Jungle Book were able to come at a familiar story with fresh eyes so I don't think being an adaptation is enough to scare me away from this one.

5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5th)




I wanted to see the first one on the basis of enjoying the aforementioned MCU (see Spider-man), it looking a little like a Star Wars movie and the fact that it starred Chris Pratt (Andy from Parks and Rec.) While it isn't the style of movie for everybody, I was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was and the fact that it was a movie with a talking raccoon and a semi-talking tree. All signs point to this sequel being just as fun this time around.

6. The LEGO Batman Movie (February 10th)




In case it look like the only comic book movies I enjoy are Marvel, DC made the list! Batman was the scene-stealer in The Lego Movie and this movie looks hilarious as well. The Lego Movie blew away expectations by knowing how to not take itself too seriously while at the same time having a story that you actually cared about. This movie may live up to that or it might feel like a little Lego Batman goes a long way but it's worth checking out.

7. Thor: Ragnarok (November 3rd)




Thor might be a character that works better with The Avengers than he does on his own but the first Thor movie introduced a world that is so dramatically different from Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk. Combined with the fact that we finally get to see what The Hulk has been up to since the end of the second Avengers movie and I can say that it'll be worth watching.

8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26th)




The first POTC was awesome. It was such a huge event that it seemed like you couldn't escape seeing it wherever you went. The 2nd one was a little over-the-top but still fun. The 3rd one seemed like it had a hard time sticking the landing of the trilogy. I seem to remember the 4th one being fun but only saw it the one time I went to the theaters to see it. It's been 6 years since then and I have hope that they can recapture what made the 1st movie so great.

9. Jumanji (December 22nd)




Speaking of a large time gap between movies, the original Jumanji came out in 1995 and starred the late, great Robin Williams, Cubs fan Bonnie Hunt, future Spider-man alumna Kirsten Dunst and David Alan Grier. This time around we've got Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black. I'm biased toward anything connected to Grand Rapids-native Chris Van Allsburg (The Polar Express is a must-see at Christmas) so I'll give this one a shot as well.

10. Cars 3/Despicable Me 3 (June 16th/30th)




This list ends in a tie. I really enjoyed the first two Despicable Me movies but bad reviews kept me away from the spin-off Minions. The first two Cars movies are probably my least favorite Pixar movies but kids love them. For DM3, Steve Carell as Gru is reason enough to go see it. For Cars 3, at least it has Randy Newman back doing the music...


Movie that I saw in 2016 but is opening nation-wide this Friday (January 6th) that you should not miss:



I had never heard about this movie until the end of 2016 but had a chance to see it at one of the few theaters that released this in 2016 in order to qualify for the award shows. If you love history, space or a combination of the two this movie is for you. We saw this on Christmas and I would put this on the list of "important" films to see. It was an entertaining drama but it told a story that we need to know. If there was one thing that 2016 showed us its that if we desire to get out of our echo chambers and bubbles, it's important to see movies that show us what life is like for people that are not entirely like us. I'm glad that life for everyone is much different now but this movie reminds us that it's important to learn and grow from things that happened in history rather than trying to ignore that they happened.


And since there isn't a Star Wars Episode VIII trailer yet, enjoy this instead:




Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Top 10 Movies of 2016!

8th annual list! I've decided to try and change things up with this year's edition by dividing it into 3 lists:

1. Movies I will probably see in the theater

2. Movies I will probably rent from Redbox

3. Movies that I want to see but I'm not sure when

Why the change? Well, for starters, I only ended up seeing 6 out of my top 10 list last year. (There are 2 waiting for me to Redbox them sometime in the near future.) Also, realistically I don't go to the movie theater as often as the crazy days of my youth. (I saw each of the three Star Wars prequels 3 times in the theater. I love Star Wars but I could have paid for Harvard if I'd held off a little.) Hopefully by breaking down this list into sections I can give more attention to the films I'm most excited about while still being able to feature the ones that have me interested... even if it doesn't have me interested enough to buy a $12 bag of popcorn.


Movies I will probably see in the theater

1. Captain America: Civil War (May 6th)


Sure, this looks like it's one Hulk short of a third Avengers movie, but I'm pretty psyched about Captain America and Iron Man facing off against each other. I'm not really sure why they turned Captain America into a libertarian and Iron Man into Bernie Sanders but the issue of superhero privacy is an intriguing basis for a movie.

2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16th)


Two things: No, this isn't the sequel to the movie you just waited in line last weekend to see. It's a prequel to A New Hope (and technically a sequel to the prequels) about the Rebel Alliance's mission to steal the plans to the Death Star. Second, if The Force Awakens is any indication, this should be really good. I'm not sure if the overall tension is possible in a movie where everyone knows the outcome but they still make movies about other important points of history that everyone already knows about.

3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (November 18th)


I will give them credit for not mentioning Harry Potter in this trailer. But, seriously, it's a HARRY POTTER SPINOFF! (and I consider that a good thing.) The really intriguing part is that the script itself is being written by Harry Potter author JK Rowling (she merely provided the source material in  the HP films.) It's set in America during the 1920s so basically if there were a Downton Abbey/Harry Potter mashup, this would be it.


4. Finding Dory (June 17th)


Finding Nemo is one of the most enduring Pixar films out of their near perfect history and the highlight of that movie is, without a doubt, the Ellen DeGeneres-voiced Dory. I'm not sure if this will have the ability to hold up to the original movie but they definitely created a world worth exploring further.



Movies I will probably rent from Redbox

5. The BFG (July 1st)

This would probably be higher on my list if I had read the book but it's been awhile since Steven Spielberg has made a "kids movie" (2011's The Adventures of Tintin... and if you don't count that one, it'd be 1991's Hook) and if this is in the groove of E.T., it could be really good.

6. The Jungle Book (April 15th)


The director of Iron Man, Elf and uh... Cowboys vs Aliens brings you the live-action version of the Disney animated classic. On one hand, I'm pessimistic. (Do we really need a live action version of every Disney animated classic?) On the other hand, Bill Murray.

7. Zootopia (March 4th)

This could possibly be the funniest scene in the entire movie but it's a pretty funny scene. (Looking forward to the live-action remake in 2056.)

Update: This brand new trailer gives a better idea of the storyline and I think shows a lot of promise:



8. Star Trek Beyond (July 22nd)


This would be higher on the list if it were directed by JJ Abrams (but he was busy directing another space movie and couldn't complete his trilogy) but I really enjoyed Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness (and have seen way too much of each of the Star Trek tv series). This is one that could be really bad but if it turns out to be good, I will regret putting it this low.


Movies that I want to see but I'm not sure when

9. X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27th)


I LOVED X-Men: Days of Future Past but it's probably mostly because it was great having the original X-Men cast back in a time-travel movie. While I am a big Jennifer Lawrence fan, I just have a hard time getting excited about this one like I have the other X-Men films. Maybe it's because Poe from The Force Awakens is a bad guy that looks like he escaped from the Blue Man Group.

10. Doctor Strange (November 4th)

doctorstrange1.jpg

A Marvel movie about a guy who does magic? I'll admit that I'm not that up on my Doctor Strange comic books (I'm more of a mainstream Spider-man or Batman kind of guy) but this definitely seems like they will test the limits of what the average movie goer wants in a superhero movie. I still haven't seen Ant-Man but that made a ton of money so they must have some idea what people like.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 10 Movies of 2015!

It's hard to believe that we've arrived at 2015 already. Despite the lack of affordable hover cars or self-drying jackets, things are looking pretty good... at least when it comes to the movies. This top 10 list has been compiled, changed, reordered and finalized over the last several months. There are multiple movies on this list that would have been #1 if other movies weren't also coming out this year. If you're looking for a good post-Christmas present for me, AMC gift cards might be a good idea.

This is the 7th annual list of my top anticipated movies for the upcoming year and while I keep making a New Year's resolution to blog more often, maybe I should resolve to be consistent (since I'm doing a pretty good job of that already.)

Here's the list!

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens


This movie was practically guarenteed the top spot on this list the moment it was announced. I can't really think of any movie that could knock this off of the top of the list (besides a Phineas and Ferb movie, of course) but everything they've released has indicated that this movie is going to be awesome. True, people thought that about the Prequel Trilogy but it seems that by including the things that people actually liked about the Original Trilogy (Luke, Leia, Han, Stormtroopers) that the chance of it actually turning out well is much higher.

2. Avengers: Age of Ultron


Marvel has not skipped a beat the entire time that they've been building their "Cinematic Universe" (including a talking raccoon and a Vin Diesel tree) and the only downside to this film is that as they're already talking about the third (and fourth) Avengers movies, this one seems to just be something to get through on the way to something bigger. I don't think that's true, I think this will probably be one of the most fun movie experiences of the year but I do think there's something to be said about letting one movie come out before you're building anticipation for the next one. But hey, call me old-fashioned.

3. Tomorrowland


Every once in a while a director builds up enough credibility that I want to see his (or her) movies without even knowing what they're about. Christopher Nolan is on that list but so is Brad Bird. Bird has directed some of the very best animated movies of the last 15 years (Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille) as well as a Mission Impossible movie (Ghost Protocol) that was far better than a Mission Impossible movie has any business being. All I know about this one is what is in the teaser and that they've been very secretive about almost everything (it's co-written by LOST writer Damon Lindelof) and at least somewhat based on the section of Disneyland. Original moviemaking doesn't come by all that often and I like to reward those who tell fun, original stories.

4. Mockingjay- Part 2

 

 There isn't a trailer for this yet and they probably could skip releasing one and people would still show up. The only reason this fell to #4 is that I didn't really enjoy how the 3rd book ends so I'm a little biased against this already. The first three movies have been really great and in another year this would probably be on the top of my list. I will miss having a Hunger Games movie come out when these are finished. (I'm sure the movie studio or author will figure out some way to keep cashing in though.)

5. Jurassic World


When I was 14, seeing the poster for Jurassic Park 3 was enough to convince me I needed to see it. The Jurassic Park movies are not the best movies in the world (seriously, when will people realize that going to an island of dinosaurs is a bad idea?) but I've probably seen them more than any other movie series outside of Star Wars and Back to the Future. Even if they won't be in the running for Best Picture, they tend to be fun, scary movies that are a great escape during the summer months. Add in Chris Pratt and I'll overlook the lack of realizing that hanging out with dinosaurs (in the rain) will always end up badly.

6. Spectre






When the James Bond series rebooted with Daniel Craig, people were upset that he had the wrong hair color. I hope by now that people have realized that he was the best thing to happen to the Bond series. The last four films have been a larger departure from the other Bond films besides the aforementioned hair issue but they have placed storytelling much further toward the front of their purpose than ever before. Skyfall was not only one of my favorite Bond films, but one of my favorite films altogether. This one should be great. 

7. Minions


Arguably the best part of the Despicable Me movies are the Minions (no offense to Gru.) Yes, this movie will be full of slapstick humor but the writing (even in this trailer) is so clever that this is almost guaranteed to be funny. The story might suffer without having Gru along or they might be annoying as the focus of an entire movie but I'm willing to give them a chance.

8. Ant-Man

 

No, this isn't a movie about Zoolander's school for ants. This is the follow-up to the Avengers coming out earlier in the year and the end of their second phase of films before launching the 3rd (and final?) phase in 2016. Before doubting that a movie about a guy who can shrink to the size of an ant could possibly be any good, who would have thought that people would enjoy a guy that acts like a Spider? I have some doubts about this one but Marvel Studios hasn't screwed up yet.

9. Cinderella


Yes, I unashamedly put Cinderella on this list. Besides the fact that the cast has multiple members of the cast of Downton Abbey, this just looks like a quality take on the story. Yes, everyone already know the entire plot (and if you didn't the trailer pretty much goes through it for you) but this looks fun in the same vein as the Alice in Wonderland movie that came out a few years ago. True, there's no Johnny Depp this one but sometimes a lack of Johnny Depp can be a good thing.

10. (tie) Inside Out/The Good Dinosaur











Pixar last came out with a movie in 2013 and now they've got 2 coming in 2015. People focus on the fact that they've had a couple of stumbles but in my opinion a bad Pixar movie is still better than most other movies you could go see. The first movie deals with a creative take on what is going on inside of you emotionally and the second involves a world where the dinosaurs were never killed off. Both seem like fun ideas and while I hope that these get lumped in with the Toy Story, Wall-E, Up category of Pixar films, even something that falls a little short should still be a good time at the movies.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Top 10 Movies of 2014

So, I should obviously make a resolution to update my blog more than twice a year.

I've made this list for the last 6 years and have to admit that I had my first draft of this list made sometime around last July. I love movies but I also love looking forward to what's coming next. Here's the list for 2014:

1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (December 17)
This is really no question. Someday we'll look back and realize how lucky we were that we got six of these movies and that they really are so good. I was originally opposed to the idea that they would split such a small book into three movies but they've done such a great job at connecting these to the Lord of the Rings movies that I will be sad that it's over after only the third film.
(No Trailer Yet)

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (November 21)
I'm going to need to see Catching Fire a second time when it comes out on Redbox. I was sitting a little too close to the screen at the theater and had to leave instead of being able to see the whole movie. I really liked the parts that I saw though and I love these stories. I think that especially with the last movie and then going into these that they have the potential to go above simply being an action movie to being able to say something significant about how we view ourselves and our entertainment.
(No Trailer Yet)

3. X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)
I waiver on my excitement of this movie from time to time. On one hand, they've promised to undo all of the dumb things that happened in X-Men 3 with time travel but on the other hand they're already planning the movie to come after that. I'm really just excited that we get another movie with Patrick Stewart as Professor X once again.

4. Interstellar (November 7)
This movie is this high purely on pedigree. It's directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy) and written by his brother who really did a great job writing those movies. I really have no idea what it's going to be about but with the team behind it, it has the potential to be great.

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4)
We really are spoiled by how many comic book movies get made these days. In the past this probably would have been #1 or #2 on my list but it's hard to put it that high when we've had The Avengers combine so many superheroes in one movie. That being said, I really enjoyed the first Captain America movie and they say that this is the movie that will start the momentum moving story-wise toward The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).

6. Muppets Most Wanted (March 21)
I love, love, love The Muppets. I think they were classically funny but that they did a great job making them fresh with the last Muppets movie. If they have anything half as singable as "Muppet or Man" I will be very happy.

7. The Lego Movie (February 7)
I would never have imagined that this would be on this list but the trailers for this movie have been so funny. Throw in Lego Batman and I'm pretty excited.

8. Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)
A comic book movie with a talking raccoon, a talking tree and Andy from Parks and Rec? It'll either be fantastic or terrible but I've got hope for the former.
(No Trailer Yet)

9. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)
The first How to Train Your Dragon was as good of a film as a lot of the films that Pixar has released over the years. 99% of the animated movies out there are telling the same story of "celebrate your differences" but the first one did such a better job of expounding on that. This one should be good too.

10. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2)
If Tomorrowland and Minions hadn't been moved to 2015 this probably wouldn't have made my list. I still remember going to see Spider-man during the opening weekend in 2003 and I'm pretty sure I've seen every episode of the cartoon from the 90s. I wish that Sony and Disney could just agree to let Spider-man join The Avengers but I'll be happy to see him battle by himself for now.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's STILL Ok To Be Single

A year ago I wrote a post about why my single friends needed not to be depressed. Later that evening I started dating my wonderful girlfriend (a story for another day) and obviously changed my mind, right?

WRONG!

I still agree with what I said last year. Valentine's Day is cool and it doesn't help yourself or anyone else to be gloomy about it. What I said last year still stands true (we don't freak out about not being able to celebrate Secretary Appreciation Day, 100% of married people were single at one point and singleness does not define you) but I think a couple other things can be said as well....

1. Marriage is not the epitome of the Christian life. Christopher Yuan, author and professor at Moody Bible Institute spoke recently about why Christians are losing the Gay Marriage debate and he argued that it was because we've made marriage the ideal state of being. It is cool and it should be held in high regard by the church... but it shouldn't be held in TOO high of regard. Marriage is not the ideal state of being, righteousness is.

2. There's always another goal to pursue. People, for the most part, seem wired to want the next step. Single people who aren't dating want to be like their friends who are. People who are dating and actually like the person who they're dating eventually wish that they were like their married friends. Married people who don't have kids eventually wish that they were like their friends who do have kids. There always seems to be something else.

It's not romance and family for everyone. For some it's a job, a car, a house, money, prestige, respect or power. In the end, none of this provides fulfillment. Christ provides fulfillment.

Everything (including relationships) on this Earth is temporary. Our relationship with Christ is eternal. It's why He deserves the place of most importance in our lives. Not because He'll help us endure until we get what we most desire, because He is the most valuable thing we could ever desire.

And that is why even though this year I'm not in the same place relationally that I was last year (at this time of day, at least) I can still relate to and think about these things. I'm extremely humbled and grateful to be dating a dedicated follower of Christ but the temptation to continue to want to be at the place of life where other people are and the temptation to find fulfillment in these things is still constant.

So it's on this Valentine's Day that I remember that it's ok to be at whatever stage of life we're in because Christ offers us something we can't fully find in any other person:

Himself.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 10 Movies of 2013

Hi there. It's the end of 2012 and one of my favorite things to do is make a list of the movies that I'm most looking forward to next year. Unfortunately, 2013 has big shoes to fill because I'm not sure that I'm looking forward to any of these movies as much as I was "The Dark Knight Rises" or "The Avengers" but it's still a solid enough of a list that I've decided to expand it to 10 movies this year. I'll focus on my top 5 but I'll still give a mention to the rest of 6-10.

My list last year (Brave, Hunger Games, Avengers, Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises) was pretty solid. I'd say that now that I've seen Skyfall that it probably should have been above Brave on my list but I've made mistakes on this list before and I'm probably bound to do so again.

Finally, I'm pretty sure that normally I count down to the top movie on my list but I'll try just starting with #1 and going from there....

1. Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17th)

I don't know that I qualify as a "Trekkie" as I have never dressed up as a Klingon or gone to a convention in my life but I am a life-long Star Trek fan. I'm also a JJ Abrams fan (LOST) and his first Star Trek movie in 2009 was fantastic. It's not very often that I recommend a movie to everyone I talk to regardless of what their tastes in movies is but the original seemed to be enjoyable to a lot larger of a group than some of the older Star Trek movies. I'm excited to see the Enterprise flying underwater and how they continue to show Captain Kirk evolve as a leader.

2. Man of Steel (June 14th)

I love comic book movies but this one looks particularly good. Both of the trailers they've released have had a great tone to them. I'm sure it helps that it's being produced by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) but I think they could actually make me care about a guy whose only weakness is a glowing green rock. (I kid, I kid) I've always liked Superman but the key to a good comic book story is what they have to overcome and Superman seems to have most of his life in order. I think this movie could be a chance to show Superman having to overcome something more than a guy who wants to break California off of the rest of the USA.

3. Monsters University (June 21st)

I love Pixar movies. Really, I do. "Brave" made my list last year and it was probably the most forgettable Pixar movie I've seen. Monsters Inc was one of my favorite Pixar movies of all time though. I still remember going to see it for my birthday and not caring that I was surrounded by children much younger than I because I knew that the movie was going to be fantastic. It's still a movie that I can pop into the DVD player pretty much anytime and enjoy. The beauty of the movie is that it created an entire universe full of stuff worth exploring so I'm excited to see more of this monster world and it helps that Billy Crystal and John Goodman are fantastic together.

4. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (December 13th)
(There's no trailer yet. I'll edit it down the road when they finally do release one. I'll give them a break, the first one just came out)

The first of three movies based on "The Hobbit" was a movie that I put near the top of my 2012 list. By the time that it came out, I wasn't sure that this movie would make the top 5. It had less to do with the trailers or reviews of the movie as it had to do with the fact that I was discouraged that they would take a small book and turn it into three movies. (a la Twilight, Hunger Games, Harry Potter) I knew that they were adding to the story but it reeked of tricking me into going to the movie theater multiple times just because they knew that I wouldn't skip parts of a large story. I went into the first movie with lowered expectations and came out pleased. It was entertaining and kept me interested in its own right, not on the basis of me missing the Lord of the Rings movies. It did seem slowly paced and drawn out in some areas so that is keeping me from being too excited about this one but they have me interested in their characters so now they've got me hooked to go along for the rest of the ride. (See the movie studio's evil plan)

5. Iron Man 3 (May 3rd)

I'll admit that when I saw the first Iron Man movie I enjoyed it but my favorite part was the trailer for The Dark Knight. (My favorite part of the Hobbit may have been the 9 minute trailer of Star Trek Into Darkness) I am excited to see how they go with Iron Man's story "post-Avengers" because it will easily be boring to have Iron Man take on some angry guy after he just joined up with multiple other superheroes to defeat an alien army.

And the rest...

6. Saving Mr. Banks (December 20th)
Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney as he tries to convince the author of Mary Poppins to allow him to make her book into a movie. I won't spoil the ending for you...

7. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (November 22nd)
I was really excited about the first one and then slightly disappointed by the actual movie. I'm more excited that the screenwriter of Toy Story 3 and the upcoming Star Wars movies is tackling this one so I'm inclined to give them another chance. Hopefully less shaky camera work...

8. The Wolverine (July 26th)
The sequel to the 2009 movie that was not good at all. Wolverine is cool enough to check this one out though. Plus it takes place in Japan.

9. Despicable Me 2 (July 3rd)
The first one was solid. I'm not sure where they'll go with the story (he's not despicable anymore!) but the minions alone are worth the movie ticket.

10. Oz: The Great and Powerful (March 8th)
Normally I'd be opposed to a sequel to a classic movie but The Wizard is an interesting character so I'm excited to see the story of his background.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Finding the Joy in Voting

There is something to be said about the ability of a nation being able to freely choose its leaders. Tomorrow, millions of Americans will go to the polls and make their choice. Depending on who you support, the resulting choice of the nation could be good or bad but it will be our choice.

Americans do not have a monopoly on free elections.

We didn't even invent them.

We should take joy in the fact that we have them though.

It can be easy when you've lived here for your whole life or if you've seen how Americans can be seen from the outside to minimize the privileges and rights that we have. I understand that. The constant political ads alone would be enough to make a person cynical. It doesn't help that it often gets couched in language like "duty" or "responsibility" instead of "privilege" or "blessing."

We can look to those who have not had these privileges for nearly as long to see the joy connected to this freedom...



I still remember watching the excitement of the people of Iraq finally able to make their voice heard. No longer would a dictator use their country as his personal labor force. No longer would a dictator use bioweapons on his own people. These were their leaders. This was their choice.

(Maybe it'd help if we used ink rather than those stickers when we vote.)

It's somewhat discouraged by many to do so but I have no problem in sharing who I voted for (I voted absentee) because hopefully we, as Americans, can agree or disagree peacefully and respectfully.

I voted for the same man that I voted for in the primary election because I believe that he has the experience and leadership skills to help turn the American economy around, Mitt Romney.



There's probably a few of you who are tempted to stop reading right now. I share my choice for a specific reason, not because I expect this blog post to convince you to vote a certain way but because caring enough about your choice to let other people know about it is part of finding joy in voting.

Over the past few months, a group of supporters of President Obama have been coming to Panera Bread on Monday nights. They each have a list of mostly older folks in Iowa and spend a few hours calling them, telling them how they can vote absentee or early. They also ask them to consider supporting the President. I've worked almost every Monday night since I've started at Panera so I've gotten to know quite a few of these people. I'm always surprised at the friendliness, genuineness and ability to keep calling even after getting hung up on multiple times. I've often said that if their candidate wasn't so far away from my values on a few key issues, they might have persuaded me to switch my vote.

The thing that makes me the most excited about this group of people is that they not only have the ability to freely choose who they want to be our leader, they are engaged enough to try and convince others to do the same. As annoying as some of the debate on Facebook could be, people were really just displaying that same passion for their candidate. I can't blame them for passion (even if they could use tact.)

Don't get me wrong. Elections have consequences. A few Supreme Court seats will hang on Tuesday's result. The steps taken to lead America to a stronger economy would be very different between the candidates. The choice is yours.

At the end of Tuesday night, however, one of our candidates will have been chosen...

By US.


And regardless of the results, we should come together as Americans to celebrate the blessing of being able to make that choice.