Michael Lane’s Top 10 Films of 2016

Don’t even try to tell me that 2016 was a bad year for film. I found myself falling in love with new films week after week from the beginning of the year until its final days. Be it the year’s biggest blockbusters, the indie-est of horror flicks, or those found in between, the output from filmmakers in 2016 was absolutely remarkable.

I ended up condensing this down from a lengthy list of 35, and it wasn’t easy. Actually, ranking these films could’ve been an even harder task, but I sadly didn’t get to see every film I wanted to in 2016 — the most unfortunate among them being Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, and Jackie, which I’m sure would have all been strong contenders. And before I get to the actual list, below you will find a number of standouts that just barely missed the cut for the top 10.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Captain America: Civil War – Dir. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo (streaming on Netflix)
  • The Witch – Dir. Robert Eggers (streaming on Amazon Prime)
  • Zootopia – Dir. Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush (streaming on Netflix)
  • Hacksaw Ridge – Dir. Mel Gibson
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane – Dir. Dan Trachtenberg

Like I said before, there were plenty of films I loved this year. Here are the best of the best:

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Basement Dwelling: Pre-Orders for January ’17

Hello, hello, hello, and happy new year! Welcome to a new Basement Dwelling spin-off feature I’m proud to roll out — “Pre-Orders.” The purpose of “Pre-Orders” is to make a list of albums coming out every month that I am incredibly excited for, and to hopefully get you similarly excited for them. Maybe I will even review the records presented here in the future. But even if I don’t, you can rest assured these albums will be sitting comfortably on my turntable or in my CD player for the next few months. So let’s begin the inaugural “Pre-Orders” post with January’s most hyped albums.

Brandon Can’t Dance – Graveyard of Good Times (Jan. 13th)

I was first introduced to Brandon Can’t Dance this past October when he was the opening act for LVL UP and Alex G, when I caught their sets here in Chicago. Although I had no prior experience with the act, I walked away completely impressed seeing his set at that show, and was even more impressed upon hearing the first singles — “Angelina” and the ridiculously infectious “Smoke And Drive Around” — to come from his upcoming record. It’s simplistic, one-man indie electro-pop of which I’m excited to see how a full LP of material will turn out.

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City of Stars: A Review of “La La Land”

http://bit.ly/2hUxwp2
http://bit.ly/2hUxwp2
Movies are supposed to feel magical. They transport us to worlds both familiar and alien, relay stories ranging between grandeur and intimate scale, and introduce us to an array of characters we’ve known our entire lives along with those we’ve yet to meet. La La Land, from Whiplash writer-director Damien Chazelle, is 2016’s most magical and completely marvelous film. From start to finish, La La Land pays homage to classical Hollywood musicals in a wholly engaging and visually stunning tribute — one that features class performances from co-leads Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, who impressively dance and sing along to its wonderful soundtrack.

Emma Stone plays Mia, a young, aspiring actress desperately hoping to make her break in Hollywood, but is unfortunately stuck working a barista job on a soundstage lot. Opposite her, Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian is a down-on-his-luck pianist whose admiration for jazz guides his desire to manage his own jazz club in L.A., but is rather left performing renditions of Christmas songs at a local restaurant.

The two eventually find what they’ve always needed in each other, but as these things always go, there’s initially some chance encounters in which the two butt heads and express how uninterested they are in each other. But it’s apparent that the pair has wonderful chemistry, brought to light early on in one of the film’s best pieces, “A Lovely Night.” The couple elegantly dances around an L.A. street corner as the sun sets — the scene not only being gorgeous to look at, but Stone and Gosling’s voices evoke similarly as much beauty.

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Editor’s Notes #186

Image source: http://editorialiste.blogspot.com
Image source: http://editorialiste.blogspot.com

Hello, blog readers! I hope you’ve been having a great month so far, and that you’re getting excited for the holidays. First things first — Issue #12 of the Jet Fuel Review is now available for you to peruse. As always, we’ve got some great poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art from amazing authors and artists. You can read the new issue on the Jet Fuel website, or you can download an eBook version of the issue. Check it out if you have some free time over the holidays!

Now let’s take a look at some recent posts here on the blog. Firstly, Michael and Jake have been hard at work on several Jet Fuel Jukebox posts. A few weeks back, a regular playlist was posted. More recently, they have created playlists of their top 20 worst songs of 2016, as well as their 50 best songs of 2016. Be sure to check out the highs and lows of music that came out this year.

If you’re looking for even more music posts, Jake and Michael also wrote about their top 10 albums of 2016. In addition, Dan Fiorio wrote about his top 25 albums of the year. You can read all about those in part one and part two of his post. Michael Lane also wrote a review of “Bleed for This.”

We’ve also had several special features posted to the blog in recent weeks. First, you can see some amazing photography and art in our Artists’ Portfolio posts. At the end of last month, we profiled Mervyn John, a photographer, and Alex Turner, a painter, who are both talented artists attending Lewis University. Be sure to check out these posts!

Finally, Michael Lane posted an interview with Chicago-based musician and artist Damon Locks. And we posted our last “Meet the Editors” post, and this one featured Keanu Taylor, the Assistant Communications Manager and Assistant Web Designer for the Jet Fuel Review. 

I hope you enjoy all of these posts, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Jake and Michael’s Top 10 Albums of 2016

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With the year quickly coming to a close, we here at the Jet Fuel Review Blog have been hard at work crafting some year round-up lists for both your enjoyment and contemplation! Just in these past few weeks, Jake and I updated the Jukebox playlist with our least favorite and most favorite tracks of 2016, and fellow music blogger Dan Fiorio has recently written a two-part series on his 25 favorite albums of the past year (Part 1; Part 2). Now, it’s time for Jake and I to reveal to you our respective top ten album lists.

Jake2016…honestly, such a bad year in terms of, well, everything. Actually, music was probably the only redeeming factor in what was otherwise a bleak year. Especially as an avid fan of pop music, 2016 delivered some of the most consistent works in nearly a decade. When it came down to narrowing over 20 albums to just ten, it felt wrong — but here I am. And with nine of the ten albums being from female artists, it seems that women just got pop music right this year. Also, keep in mind that this list has changed about five times within the past week, so this is an ever-changing list. But for the purposes of this post, this is my definitive top ten albums of 2016…as of December 16.

Michael: Whether it’s groundbreaking and experimental, simply a lot of fun, a music legend’s harrowing farewell, or a new artist’s welcoming debut, there were dozens of albums I genuinely loved from this year. Many of the albums I adored this year came from either first-time artists or those I’d never heard of before, making 2016 an exciting year of musical discovery for me. I went back and forth on many of these albums, but I feel good about the list I’ve ended up with. Let’s celebrate the music of 2016, because let’s be honest, there wasn’t much else this year to be excited about. (Also, shout-out to Jake for making that awesome header image at the top of this post!)

Before we present you with our actual lists, we will begin with a quick list honoring the albums that were oh-so close to breaking into the top tens. The lists will be in order from number ten to number one, beginning with Jake’s number ten, then my number ten, then Jake’s number nine, and so on and so forth.

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Basement Dwelling: The Top 25 Albums of 2016 (Part 2)

Here we are, folks — the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The creme de la creme; the best of the best. Through streaming services, compact discs, vinyl records, and cassettes (lol), I listened to a countless number of albums this year.

Below you will find my top ten favorites. The ten LPs that made my music nerd heart flutter, made me reevaluate my life, made me do a dance, made me cry, or simply made me say, “Damn, that was really good.” The ten records you should have been listening to instead of complaining about how “music isn’t good anymore” or downloading Tidal (c’mon, you knew [insert “Tidal exclusive” album] was going to be available elsewhere eventually).

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the first part of this list, which ranked my favorite albums of 2016 from #25 to #11.

These are my top 10 records of 2016:

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