Grain of Salt: Matt's Top 10 Films of 2017

I’ve gotta be completely honest. I take this list very seriously. I obsess over it for months- curating, second-guessing, shuffling, re-shuffling, and shuffling again like an insecure blackjack dealer. And when I finally am satisfied enough to walk away from it and make it public I am immediately filled with that looming dread of the inevitable dissent coming my way for not including a film someone was passionate about (I’d hate to tell you how much flack I got last year when MOONLIGHT only ended up on my honorable mentions). But you know what? That’s okay. Lists representing individual opinions are merely a caveat for inciting discussion and a helpful tool for organizing one’s thoughts. I use my top 10 list as a way of taking my own temperature as a critic and examining patterns for the ways in which the industry winds are blowing in any given year. I saw 290 films in 2017 and 110 of those were in a movie theater. These were the ones that really rattled my molars. I hope you find it to be an interesting read as opposed to a reason to start a fight. There were plenty of things to get angry about in 2017 but, trust, me, movies weren’t one of them. Movies are the antidote… in my humble opinion…

Read More

Media Management: Matt's 2017 Theatrical Watchlist

My recent ritual of charting my viewing techniques (inspired by Steven Soderbergh's yearly listicle) has developed into something of professional obsession that I pore over and update with the satisfaction of someone admiring their Hummel figurines. And while I've recently begun keeping track of my "extra-cinematic" viewing habits as well (episodic or mini-series endeavors, Netflix-only documentaries, etc.), I feel that particular expansion is a project for 2018. For the purposes of my 2017 list I've decided to keep it to only to viewings that took place in a movie theater or screening room. And this distinction seems only appropriate as 2017 is the first year that I managed to break triple digits! Let's hear it for film festivals and masters degree programs- the guilt-free justification for watching 5 movies in a day! 

Read More

TITANIC 20th Anniversary Podcastacular!


Happy Holidays, WLM family!

20 years ago today a little movie about a big boat premiered in theaters around the world. Said theaters have been in pain ever since due to the insane foot and rear-end traffic that persisted for next 5 months as the film went on to gross over 2 billion dollars worldwide and basically bow-checked the modern blockbuster paradigm into the the 21st century. James Cameron's TITANIC was the recipient of 11 Oscars including best picture and currently holds the #83 position on the AFI's top 100 American films of all time list.

6 Months ago we invited TITANIC superfan Laura Crow to join us for our AFI / TITANIC dis-cush  and the conversation went so well that we decided to post an encore presentation of that podcast today in honor of Kate, Leo, and James's 20th anniversary celebration.

Here's hoping you're just as "Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave" as we are. <---That's a deep cut for the hardcore JacknRosers.

219: Oeuvre - The 1st Age of STEVEN SPIELBERG - 1971-1979


Our long-promised, much-delayed "Oeuvre Series" finally bows in earnest with the the first of [at least] 6 episodes chronicling the 40+ years and 30+ films of an artist named Steven Spielberg. Perhaps you've heard of him.
This installment is affectionately titled "The 70s Wunderkind" and spans 1971-1979:
It's time for a new journey and we're so flattered to have you with us.

216: AFI #83 - TITANIC (w/ Special Guest- Superfan Laura Crow!)


"Music to drown by. Now I know I'm in first class."

Note: We experienced a little sound glitch that starts up around the 55 minute mark and continues until the end of the podcast (hazard of a 3-way skype call across as many states). But don't be deterred! It's a minor annoyance. This is a great episode worth toughing it out 'till the end!

205: Our Unsolicited Oscar Predictions


Happy Oscar Weekend, WLM faithfuls!
Seems like just yesterday we were patting ourselves on the back and handing out golden statues. But somehow it's the glorious time of year again when the world turns its attention toward the magical world of movies. This Sunday, those of us belonging to the 30% of the population who actually watch best picture nominees will tune in right alongside the 70% who can't even name a nominee to collectively pick apart the "Super Bowl of show business".
Join Oscar and I as we psych ourselves up for the 89th Academy Awards and go on record with our predictions in each category.
If you're like us and you love this weekend- we're just under 72 hours away from the big ceremony!
If you absolutely hate this self-congratulatory season- the nightmare is just over 72 hours from being over!

204: AFI #87 - 12 ANGRY MEN


The first AFI challenge pod of 2017 arrives, bringing with it a polite genuflection before the alter of one of the greatest (nay, the greatest?) single room dramas ever committed to film.

The oft-referenced, oft-remade, oft-revered chatfest known as 12 ANGRY MEN gets the WLM treatment this week, just in time for Valentine's Day! Sit down next to someone you love to argue with, revisit this bonafide classic, then catch up on our knee-jerk reactions to the film.

"I don't believe I have to be loyal to one side or the other. I'm simply asking questions."

203: Oscar Nom Hot Pod


We got up at 5am this morning, sat through the awkward, self-congratulatory, pre-taped nomination presentation, then immediately went on the record with our thoughts.
Our spirits were high, our opinions were fresh, our commentary was cutting and insightful! (At least that’s how it felt at 6am)
Listen in for a nice, tight, 45 minute breakdown of all things Oscar[s]!

Grain of Salt: Matt’s Top 10 Films of 2016

2016 in cinema was 75% whimper and 25% bang.
But what a bang! And luckily said bang came late, all but erasing the bad taste that the first 8 months left lingering in our collective mouths.
If only the cinema of 2016 could also erase the bad taste left over from what was happening outside of the movie theater...
Que sera. Movies are magic but they can't solve ALL of our problems.

Let's leave our cares and worries about the state of the world behind for the moment and take a brief little hopscotch down the memory lane of the last 12 months, shall we? If nothing else, the films of 2016 proved that "television" may have the more attractive business models and profit margins, but movies have Herzog, Chazelle, Lanthimos, Verhoeven, and Villeneuve. So... for now at least... movies still win.

Read More

202: The Top 10 of 2016 Lists (plus hot Globes talk)


Our beloved Top 10 of the year podcast is here again and this time around we someone managed to bring it in for a landing shy of 90 minutes.
Maybe we're gettin' better at this, nearly 200 episodes in...
We start off with a brief Golden Globes breakdown before diggin' in for the good stuff: Our favorite films of 2016. Thanks for being with us. 



It's screwball time y'all.
One of the most inimitable couples ever to grace the silver screen achieve bicker-banter critical mass in the Howard Hawks classic BRINGING UP BABY. And if rat-a-tat chatter isn't your thing there's an extraordinarily well-trained leopard (the title character, natch) who's sure to hold your interest for 100 minutes.
We take only minor issue with this slightly-dated farce but our conversation actually blossoms into a more in-depth discussion on the nature and fundamentals of cinematic comedy. So there's that!



The first legitimate turkey on AFI's revised top 100 list materializes in the form of M. Night Shyamalan's "game-changer" psychological thriller THE SIXTH SENSE. The film that changed the way popular culture handles spoilers, foisted a catchphrase-whispering Haley Joel Osment upon the masses, and tried to sell us on one of Bruce Willis's least convincing hairpieces, gets the WLM treatment this week. We're tough... but fair!
Listen in. We're more critical this time around but it makes for some incisive pod. Truly!

194: AFI #90 - SWING TIME


SWING TIME is a film of modest narrative ambitions but vast musical and choreographic pleasures. On this week's episode we take the sour with the sweet as we break down the film's charm, substance, and shortcomings. This is a nice, tight convo with very little filibustering. We're proud of this one. Thanks for listening.