Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Favorite Movies of All Time (2007 Update)...

Dice's Favorite 41 Movies of All Time
(These are, in order, the 41 movies I enjoy, respect, desire, and love the most that I have ever seen.)

This is my favorite list to update every year and get feedback on. I would love to hear what you think of my choices and what you think I missed (and what it should replace). There is an obvious love for Hitchcock, Pixar, and M. Night here, but that's what makes it my list. The marking to the right of each selection indicates it's movement from last year.

1. Lord of the Rings (-)
2. Singin' In the Rain (-)
3. Quiz Show (-)
4. Finding Nemo (-)
5. North by Northwest (-)
6. The Princess Bride (-)
7. Hudsucker Proxy (+1)
8. The Truman Show (-1)
9. Toy Story 2 (-)
10. Signs (-)
11. The Incredibles (+1)
12. Unbreakable (+2)
13. Toy Story (+3)
14. The Matrix (+4)
15. Apollo 13 (-)
16. United 93 (+4)
17. Searching for Bobby Fischer (-4)
18. Titanic (+1)
19. The Passion of the Christ (+4)
20. Vertigo (+4)
21. Contact (-)
22. Monsters Inc. (-11)
23. Star Wars: Episode 4 (+8)
24. King Kong (2005) (-2)
25. Ratatouille (*)
26. Cast Away (-)
27. Sound of Music (-)
28. Dial M for Murder (+1)
29. Appocalypto (*)
30. Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (-)
31. The Lion, Witch, & The Wardrobe (-14)
32. Spiderman 2 (+4)
33. Swing Kids (+2)
34. Shadow of a Doubt (-)
35. Liar, Liar (-2)
36. Star Wars: Episode 3 (-4)
37. Groundhog's Day (-)
38. The Village (-)
39. Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade (-)
40. Gattaca (-)
41. Fifth Element (*)

Honorable Mentions:

Aladdin, Big Fish, Bourne Ultimatum,
Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, Independence Day,
Iron Giant, Jurassic Park, Mary Poppins, Mice + Men,
Moulin Rouge, Rope, Sixth Sense, What About Bob?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Favorite Games of 2007...

Dice's Favorite 5 Video Games of 2007
(These are, in order, the 5 games I enjoyed, respected, desired, and loved the most that I played for the first time in 2007.)

Admission: For financial and nostalgic reasons I live in a Nintendo only home, though I did enjoy playing a little bit of guitar hero I did not experience it enough to qualify it for consideration. I would rebuff your cries of "FANBOY!!" except that it just might be true.

Also the fact that Zach and Wiki isn't on here should be a sign of just how many great games are coming out.

The list:


5. Picross DS (Nintendo DS) - I know everyone was on a Sudoku kick for a while, but this was the puzzle game that owned my attention this year. It is a puzzler that is perfect for the touch screen DS and it is immediately addicting. Like Sudoku it's a puzzle I played in my puzzle books as a kid, and getting back into it was a ton of fun. It also wins the "Wife o' Dice" award as the game she played the most this past year.

4. Dice Wars (Online) - Aside from the absolutely wonderful name, this game is flat out fun. It's an addictive game that I found on a website for playing online games through the Wii (Wiicade.com) and once I got the hang of it I couldn't stop playing. I guess it's similar to Risk (a board game that I absolutely had no interest in ever playing) but I love it because it is challenging and can be played against varied amounts of computer opponents. Plus when I conquer the world, it flashes YOU WIN! on the screen and that always makes me feel good.

3. Wario Ware: Smooth Moves (Wii) - The Wario Ware series has always been good, but with motion control the Wii notched the entire experience to another level. The silliness and animation styles might add to the idea that this is a "kids game", but underneath the cartoony shell is some real gameplay goodness especially for our A.D.D. generations.

2. Twilight Princess - I actually owned this game for the end of 2006, but I didn't start playing it until around this past spring. Once I did I couldn't stop until every last enemy was under my sword and my world was safe again. Twilight Princess remains to me the best example of how the new control styles of the Wii are suitable to any type of game. The sword swinging got old after a while, but using the IR to shoot and grab was a huge improvement and I found myself more and more immersed as the game went on. Though "Ocarina of Time" may still be on the throne, Twilight Princess manages to best even "Link to the Past" on my list of best Zelda games of all time.

1. Super Mario Galaxy - Galaxy is the Wii's coup de grace on old style game control. If Wario Ware showed how fun it was, and Twilight Princess showed how versatile it could be, SMG shows how motion control can work so seamlessly into a gaming mechanic that you can't imagine ever going back. This game is so visually engaging and so flat out fun that I hardly hesitate to say it's the most fun I've ever had playing a video game. Every new level feels like a revelation and the gameplay continues to evolve as you collect every last star. Not just my favorite game of this past year, but possibly my favorite game of all time.

BONUS LOOK INTO THE FUTURE:

Almost certain to make next year's list:


Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Favorite TV of 2007

Dice's Favorite 10 TV Shows of 2007
(These are, in order, the 10 shows I enjoyed, respected, desired, and loved the most that aired new episodes in 2007.)

A couple things to get out of the way before we get into the list:

- I don't have HBO or Showtime so if you like the edgier stuff they show (ie Sopranos, The Wire, etc.) I just haven't seen it.

- These rankings are based on episodes that aired in 2007, so the last half of last season and the first half of this season in most cases.

Honorable Mentions:

The Biggest Loser - I've always enjoyed this show if for no other reason than the amazing transformations. But season 4 added a great twist with a vindicated exiled black team (under the tutelage of returning trainer Jillian) dominating and eventually eliminating the reds and blues. This season also so gameplay from contestant Neil where he purposefully regained 17 pounds in a week to make sure his teamate was eliminated. The overall production quality is too weak to consider this as the best, but it was a fun season to watch for sure.

CSI - 8 seasons in and still a great show to watch. My favorite episodes are always the episodes that stray a bit from the format and take some risks (like the one involving the testing of a CSI board game) but from week to week the overall quality is a bit of a roller coaster (for instance, I could have completely done without the Grissom love story arc). Still more good than bad for the show that started the procedural drama craze nearly 8 years ago.

My Name is Earl - Earl has been slipping creatively but not much. The acting is still top notch and it's still a very funny show but it just seems like the writers have run out of idea. The prison storyline was a way for the writers to escape the list gimmick, but isn't that what made the show in the first place? Now that Earl is out of the slammer and has dealt with his karma collapse maybe we can get back to the Earl we used to know and love.

Mythbusters - There are so many things to love about this show. The blowin' stuff up testosterone, the scientific Mr. Wizardish experimentation, and the chemistry of the hosts just to name a few. But I think the thing I like the most is the consistency of fresh myths and urban legends to explore and the gusto in which they do it. This is one show that seems to be on all year long and they are still coming up with new ideas. In fact, The MacGyver special, where they test to see if MacGyver could really do the things he was shown doing on the show, coming in February is assurance that Adam, Jamie, and the crew will be on my list again next year.

So You Think You Can Dance - This show remains one of the most honest Reality Shows on TV. What I mean when I say that is that this is a show that is truly looking for the best undiscovered dancer in America. There are no Sanjaya's or Boy Shakira's in the finalists just for entertainment purposes and there is a real level of education that happens when you watch. Even without Benji competing this season (though his sister did, and he was a guest choreographer) it was a show worth watching.

10. Heroes - It's only through the last half of Season 1 that Heroes sneaks onto the list. The abridged second season almost made me thankful that the writers strike had put it out of it's misery. This is a show in desperate need of redemption, which I can only hope will come in Chapter 3. If it sounds like I'm being too hard on our freak friends it's become the potential is so great. We are hardest on the ones we love.

9. The Simpsons - Not the best show on TV, not even the funniest, but still worth watching every week. Just think people have been watching this yellow family since 1987. How many other pieces of pop culture have stayed this strong and this smart for 20 years? Any? It's incredible.

8. Survivor - Fiji was great and Earl was a winner you could root for but the Machiavellian machinations of Todd and his skeleton crew made China one of the better editions of this still amazing show. Another great pair of seasons from the show that made Reality TV a mainstream phenomenon.

7. Chuck - I'm so glad people are watching this show, because I love Zachary Levi (Chuck himself) and think he deserves a hit show. I remember thinking he was absolutely hilarious and compelling in "Less Than Perfect" and am glad he has found a vehicle for his charming persona (Wow, this is sounding way to much like a man-crush, and I don't want JJ Abrams to get jealous so we should move on.) The fact is that Chuck is a well written show with a fun concept and a great cast and it's great that it's getting eyeballs on it week to week.

6. 30 Rock - Tina Fey is a genius writer and her touch can be felt all over this show. People are starting to realize just how funny this show is and it's showing in the increased awards, exposure, and viewership. Quirky character studies abound, from Baldwin's pitch perfect corporate bossman to Kenneth the page, played with innocent abandon by Jack McBrayer. Each personality adds a piece to this absurdist, yet somehow grounded, comic endeavor.

5. Journeyman - This years entry into the annual "show I loved that nobody else watched so it got canceled". I guess with 3 great new shows debuting this season it's not surprising that one of them got left in the cold. If you missed this and it ever comes out on DVD I would highly recommend it. It's a well acted, thought provoking, sci-fi drama and it will be missed.

4. Pushing Daisies - Best new show of the season and consistently the most well written. The cadence in these scripts is a work of art, as are the visuals that accompany these quirky yet touching plots. It's high concept but not high brow and the most joy full show on TV. Add to this the genius voice work of Jim Dale (who you may know if you ever listened to any of the Harry Potter books on tape) and it's genuinely in a class of it's own.

3. The Office - Still the funniest show on TV and Steve Carell continues to dominate with his impeccable performance. It was the first show to go down when the writers strike happened and has since become my first writer's strike withdrawal case. Is anybody else as impressed as I am at how they pulled off Jim and Pam actually being a couple? The degree of difficulty on that one is off the charts, yet somehow it worked.

2. House - Gregory House is hands down the most interesting character study on television. Though the conceit of having a Survivor type showdown for his new team was a love it/hate it thing (I personally loved it), it is exactly the kind of thing we expect House to do. This is exactly the kind of person you wished existed in real life, only to quickly be relieved that they don't. The stories sometimes feel contrived, yet somehow there isn't a second that goes by in this show that you aren't deeply interested in what's going on in this captivating show.

1. Lost - I'm really running out of things to say about this show that I haven't mentioned before. Knowing when the end will come has given the creators of Lost the freedom to start resolving things quickly and satisfactorily. It shows in the confidence of the crescendo of amazing episodes ending Season 3, culminating with what was arguable the best single TV episode of the year, the mind blowing finale. I feel utterly sorry for those who didn't hang on through the muddle of the beginning of Season 2 because the show quickly returned to form and is now as good if not better than it was when it debuted. 48 episodes remain, and I have a feeling they will encompass 48 of my favorite hours of the next 3 years.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Favorite TV of 2007 (Part 3, Top 5)...

Dice's Favorite 10 TV Shows of 2007
(These are, in order, the 10 shows I enjoyed, respected, desired, and loved the most that aired new episodes in 2007.)

A couple things to get out of the way before we get into the list:

- I don't have HBO or Showtime so if you like the edgier stuff they show (ie Sopranos, The Wire, etc.) I just haven't seen it.

- These rankings are based on episodes that aired in 2007, so the last half of last season and the first half of this season in most cases.

Honorable Mentions:

----------------------------

10-6

-------------------------------

5. Journeyman - This years entry into the annual "show I loved that nobody else watched so it got canceled". I guess with 3 great new shows debuting this season it's not surprising that one of them got left in the cold. If you missed this and it ever comes out on DVD I would highly recommend it. It's a well acted, thought provoking, sci-fi drama and it will be missed.

4. Pushing Daisies - Best new show of the season and consistently the most well written. The cadence in these scripts is a work of art, as are the visuals that accompany these quirky yet touching plots. It's high concept but not high brow and the most joy full show on TV. Add to this the genius voice work of Jim Dale (who you may know if you ever listened to any of the Harry Potter books on tape) and it's genuinely in a class of it's own.

3. The Office - Still the funniest show on TV and Steve Carell continues to dominate with his impeccable performance. It was the first show to go down when the writers strike happened and has since become my first writer's strike withdrawal case. Is anybody else as impressed as I am at how they pulled off Jim and Pam actually being a couple? The degree of difficulty on that one is off the charts, yet somehow it worked.

2. House - Gregory House is hands down the most interesting character study on television. Though the conceit of having a Survivor type showdown for his new team was a love it/hate it thing (I personally loved it), it is exactly the kind of thing we expect House to do. This is exactly the kind of person you wished existed in real life, only to quickly be relieved that they don't. The stories sometimes feel contrived, yet somehow there isn't a second that goes by in this show that you aren't deeply interested in what's going on in this captivating show.

1. Lost - I'm really running out of things to say about this show that I haven't mentioned before. Knowing when the end will come has given the creators of Lost the freedom to start resolving things quickly and satisfactorily. It shows in the confidence of the crescendo of amazing episodes ending Season 3, culminating with what was arguable the best single TV episode of the year, the mind blowing finale. I feel utterly sorry for those who didn't hang on through the muddle of the beginning of Season 2 because the show quickly returned to form and is now as good if not better than it was when it debuted. 48 episodes remain, and I have a feeling they will encompass 48 of my favorite hours of the next 3 years.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Favorite TV of 2007 (Part 2, 10-6)...

Dice's Favorite 10 TV Shows of 2007
(These are, in order, the 10 shows I enjoyed, respected, desired, and loved the most that aired new episodes in 2007.)

A couple things to get out of the way before we get into the list:

- I don't have HBO or Showtime so if you like the edgier stuff they show (ie Sopranos, The Wire, etc.) I just haven't seen it.

- These rankings are based on episodes that aired in 2007, so the last half of last season and the first half of this season in most cases.

Honorable Mentions:

----------------------------

10. Heroes - It's only through the last half of Season 1 that Heroes sneaks onto the list. The abridged second season almost made me thankful that the writers strike had put it out of it's misery. This is a show in desperate need of redemption, which I can only hope will come in Chapter 3. If it sounds like I'm being too hard on our freak friends it's become the potential is so great. We are hardest on the ones we love.

9. The Simpsons - Not the best show on TV, not even the funniest, but still worth watching every week. Just think people have been watching this yellow family since 1987. How many other pieces of pop culture have stayed this strong and this smart for 20 years? Any? It's incredible.

8. Survivor - Fiji was great and Earl was a winner you could root for but the Machiavellian machinations of Todd and his skeleton crew made China one of the better editions of this still amazing show. Another great pair of seasons from the show that made Reality TV a mainstream phenomenon.

7. Chuck - I'm so glad people are watching this show, because I love Zachary Levi (Chuck himself) and think he deserves a hit show. I remember thinking he was absolutely hilarious and compelling in "Less Than Perfect" and am glad he has found a vehicle for his charming persona (Wow, this is sounding way to much like a man-crush, and I don't want JJ Abrams to get jealous so we should move on.) The fact is that Chuck is a well written show with a fun concept and a great cast and it's great that it's getting eyeballs on it week to week.

6. 30 Rock - Tina Fey is a genius writer and her touch can be felt all over this show. People are starting to realize just how funny this show is and it's showing in the increased awards, exposure, and viewership. Quirky character studies abound, from Baldwin's pitch perfect corporate bossman to Kenneth the page, played with innocent abandon by Jack McBrayer. Each personality adds a piece to this absurdist, yet somehow grounded, comic endeavor.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Favorite TV of 2007 (Part 1, Honorable Mentions)...

Dice's Favorite 10 TV Shows of 2007
(These are, in order, the 10 shows I enjoyed, respected, desired, and loved the most that aired new episodes in 2007.)

A couple things to get out of the way before we get into the list:

- I don't have HBO or Showtime so if you like the edgier stuff they show (ie Sopranos, The Wire, etc.) I just haven't seen it.

- These rankings are based on episodes that aired in 2007, so the last half of last season and the first half of this season in most cases.

Honorable Mentions:

The Biggest Loser - I've always enjoyed this show if for no other reason than the amazing transformations. But season 4 added a great twist with a vindicated exiled black team (under the tutelage of returning trainer Jillian) dominating and eventually eliminating the reds and blues. This season also so gameplay from contestant Neil where he purposefully regained 17 pounds in a week to make sure his teamate was eliminated. The overall production quality is too weak to consider this as the best, but it was a fun season to watch for sure.

CSI - 8 seasons in and still a great show to watch. My favorite episodes are always the episodes that stray a bit from the format and take some risks (like the one involving the testing of a CSI board game) but from week to week the overall quality is a bit of a roller coaster (for instance, I could have completely done without the Grissom love story arc). Still more good than bad for the show that started the procedural drama craze nearly 8 years ago.

My Name is Earl - Earl has been slipping creatively but not much. The acting is still top notch and it's still a very funny show but it just seems like the writers have run out of idea. The prison storyline was a way for the writers to escape the list gimmick, but isn't that what made the show in the first place? Now that Earl is out of the slammer and has dealt with his karma collapse maybe we can get back to the Earl we used to know and love.

Mythbusters - There are so many things to love about this show. The blowin' stuff up testosterone, the scientific Mr. Wizardish experimentation, and the chemistry of the hosts just to name a few. But I think the thing I like the most is the consistency of fresh myths and urban legends to explore and the gusto in which they do it. This is one show that seems to be on all year long and they are still coming up with new ideas. In fact, The MacGyver special, where they test to see if MacGyver could really do the things he was shown doing on the show, coming in February is assurance that Adam, Jamie, and the crew will be on my list again next year.

So You Think You Can Dance - This show remains one of the most honest Reality Shows on TV. What I mean when I say that is that this is a show that is truly looking for the best undiscovered dancer in America. There are no Sanjaya's or Boy Shakira's in the finalists just for entertainment purposes and there is a real level of education that happens when you watch. Even without Benji competing this season (though his sister did, and he was a guest choreographer) it was a show worth watching.