2019 is finally at an end. We’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs, but we survived. Before we jump into the next year We wanted to share our top “things of the year. Here’s mine in no particular order.
“When They See Us”
If you somehow haven’t seen the series, it was written and directed by Ava Duvernay about the sequence of events that led to the wrongful conviction of five young black boys in 1990. I was two years old at the time they were convicted and sent to jail, but I was 14 years old when they were finally exonerated, so I remember reading about what took place 12 years prior. But reading it at 14 didn’t do what happened to those boys any justice. Watching it all these years later gave me, and I’m sure many others like me confirmation of what we knew the justice system was capable of. I say confirmation because growing up as a black man in New York you are introduced to this kind of profiling early. I’m glad my parents were there to protect me from it, but as we saw, not every black child is so lucky. I won’t get into what happened, you can read that in several places online, instead, I just want to highlight that stories, shows and movies like “When They See Us” have a lot offer all communities because they challenge our perception of government, law enforcement and “criminals”. Shout out to all the actors and especially Jharrel Jerome with a Emmy winning performance.
All Major Pageant Winners are Black
Did you know that all the major pageant winners in 2019 are women of color? Yes miss Universe, Miss World, Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Black Awareness are all black. And let me just say… That we don’t objectify women here at objectively black no matter where you’re from… But if we did! Look at this melanated goodness. GOODNESS! Of course, these ladies are more than just pretty faces with great skin, and amazing bodies, which are perfectly toned…erhm. Yes, they are also aspiring doctor men rights activists and talented artists. And I hate to add that as an afterthought because what they do is probably more important than what they look like right? This is the type of thing that young black girls never see. I know some will say that pageants like this are outdated. They pit women against each other, and they can send the wrong message to young women about beauty standards but we also have to take a look at where pageants like this started. Black women weren’t even allowed to participate. And look how far we’ve come. I say it’s okay to celebrate their successes. Let us have this one.
The Impeachment of Donald Trump perhaps
I know it’s too soon to celebrate, but this impeachment thing has got to be on the list. Yeah, I’m the last person to acknowledge anything positive that happens in politics nowadays. I’m still holding out hope that they’ll be some law that makes buying a gun harder than opening a store credit card, but I won’t hold my breath. Thanks to shows and news outlets like “Last Week Tonight” and “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”, we all get a glimpse into how fucked up the world is. Every political leader, CEO and billionaire is under some type of scrutiny. Whether it be for how much they pay in taxes or whether or not they own a media platform that has the ability to upend governments, (we’re looking at you Mark Zuckerberg). But Donald Trump just owns every mistake and deflects like his girlfriend is asking him for his cell phone password. Seriously this guy is like the second coming of Teflon motherfuking don.
Naija stand up. Izzy Adesanya is your UFC middleweight champion of the world! And in my opinion the fighter of the year. Some of you will want to mention Jorge Masvidal and the type of year that he’s had. Beating both Darren Till & Ben Askren with vicious KO’s before winning a made up belt after beating washed up Nate Diaz(forgive me Nate my love for Africa is Strong). But to you guys, I say check the record again. Adesanya is undefeated. He beat Kelvin Gastelum in an all-out war just to get the belt and then defended it against a healthy Robert Whittaker, giving his chin up to the Gods. All while doing getting style my friends. Israel adesanya is who we all wish to be. A killer Nigerian dancing Machine. It really doesn’t get any better than the last two years that Izzy had but even if you’re just looking at 2019 you have to give it up for the style Bender.
Just look at this face…
The NBA is Back
2019 is the year that the Toronto Raptors wonder first NBA title. It’s also the year that the finals MVP of that Raptors left Canada and signed with the LA Clippers. It’s the same year that KD and Kyrie Irving signed to the Brooklyn Nets. And the same year Anthony Davis signed up to join LeBron James on the LA Lakers. And that’s just some of the moves that happened which effectively rebalanced the talent in the NBA. The Warriors dynasty is finally over, and basketball became interesting again. I know that this is a broad event to add to the list. But after suffering through those years of very little parity between the best and the worst NBA teams, this next decade of the NBA feels like a massive turning point. And next year’s playoffs is looking like one of the most competitive in a very long time. The race is between about four/five teams in the east and pretty much one through eight that make it in the West. It also feels like a turning point for the league. LeBron James time as the most dominant force in basketball is coming to an end and names like Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and yes even Luka Doncic will eventually replace him at the top. I know I’ll be watching.
“Game Of Thrones” Season 8
Game of Thrones is over. The show that brought us to all together back in 2011 with a little kid witnessing incest and then immediately being thrown from a window. And carried our interest for 8 years with witches, battles, dragons, and tits is no more. We all had our favorite characters, and we all hated Cersei. There was some backlash was season 8 because of how everything ended, but after taking some time to think about the ending… I’m still annoyed. I mean after all that Jon Snow goes back to the Night Watch? Seriously what the fuck? There were several instances of “Why is this happening?” so yes I am annoyed but not annoyed enough to ignore how great the show was overall. And to be fair season 8 had its moments. Mainly when Arya surprised us all with that knife thingy. I’ll say no more…
The Chernobyl miniseries was definitely one of the most compelling shows of the year. In my opinion, HBO always does a good job on their shows. Outside of the aforementioned game of Thrones season finale, we saw the ending of silicon Valley, the beginning of Watchmen, His Dark Materials, and euphoria. And I know we’re all still waiting for Insecure to come back. Much like Netflix’s one they see us, HBO’s Chernobyl gave us a behind-the-scenes look into the events that took place during a disastrous moment in a country’s history. I will concede that most of what’s in this the show has been dramatized to make for good television. And that the events that occurred in real life probably weren’t as closely represented in the show, but it was still a compelling series. I also really like the miniseries approach to shows… HBO knows I can’t be wrapped up for 8 years waiting to see what happened to little Vladimir. My attention span is way too short for that.
I know you thought I’d forget “Us”, and I almost did thanks to my recency bias. This came out back in March of this year, so i’ll admit I forgot about it. This is a horror film yes HORROR by Jordan Peele. His follow-up after the very successful “Get out” another HORROR film. This one stared Lupita Nyong’o as the lead. Needless to say, Lupita did a great job in the role. And by the end, I was as shocked as anyone to find out that… No spoilers! But of course Jordan Peele doesn’t put on a movie without some underlying heavy ass meaning. The meaning for this film wasn’t extremely easy to understand at first glance but that’s part of why I really loved this movie. I went to see this movie with the kid F. Dougie, and of course right after the film ended. We started to discuss what everything meant over some beers. Even though the movie was intricate I think the meaning was pretty straightforward. “Us” represents first and second class america and even the world. And you don’t have to be part of the 1% to be in the first class, all you need is the opportunity to live comfortably which not everyone has. So while many of us may enjoy the perks of being American, for everyone who is thriving there’s another who is suffering.
“Avengers End Game”
And of course, you know this movie would make the list, it made all of our lists. Avengers: Endgame! Now available disneyplus.com (Which also could have made the list please see “baby Yoda”). Avengers Endgame is a culmination of all the Marvel movies of the past decade-plus. There were a lot of expectations that this movie has to live up to because of all the success the Marvel franchise has had in the past. Just think about all the movies. The Iron Mans, the Captain Americas, Thor Ragnarok, Black Panther, and of course Ghost Rider. I know for a fact that on April 26th 2019 we all went to that movie theater at 10 p.m. On a work night I might add, and we had high expectations. And when we left that theater at 3 a.m. The next morning we were not disappointed. Marvel films do a great job of providing elements of thriller drama in adventure into all their action films. This film was no different and the effective visuals matched the story. I know you guys have already seen this. It was the most popular film of the year. And that’s why it makes the list.
First things first, Shout out to writer April Reign (creator of #OscarsSoWhite) because without her starting the aptly named hashtag, most of the recent progress made around the Academy Awards would not have been possible. Not only would we still be passively complaining about how little diversity is spread throughout the Oscar nominees and films, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also would not have paid attention to the noise and finally changed their voting process.
We’re sure many people think that things like movies and movie awards are trivial (and maybe in the grand scheme of things they are) but since people spend so much of their lives consuming media, we actually think that films are pretty important. Movies are one of the ways for people to learn new things, encounter other cultures, and be represented in the world.
If ‘the black guy’ dies first in every movie, what does that subconsciously tell you? It tell you that the black characters are ultimately not important and disposable. It’s not a far cry for people to start to adopt these attitudes in real life.
If all the Latinx characters in movies are criminals and ignorant buffoons, how do cultures that do not encounter these people start to think about these groups?
If all the Asian characters in a movie are racial caricatures and stereotypes, it becomes harder and harder for people in those groups to be seen and treated as anything but by people who may not be as educated. You get our point.
Big budget films have been more popular than ever. Marvel and Disney films have been topping the box office for the better part of the last decade. It stands to reason that given their critical as well as commercial success, that one day they’d finally start to get some much-deserved Best Picture buzz.
Let’s not be cute about it, the Oscars have always been fairly bougie and pretentious. When fans, bloggers, and columnists started to make noise online about their desire to have the cultural powerhouse and phenomenon, Black Panther nominated for Best Picture, the academy’s response was to announce a new award for “Popular Films”. Funny that a film with a predominantly African-American cast, considering its standing in American culture would receive a “separate but equal” Best Picture award, fans revolted and called the move a total cop-out. It was a public relations nightmare for the already beleaguered academy. The academy relented and announced they’d reversed their decision.
As early as February 2019, the same month as the Academy Awards, the Academy also announced that they were not going to televise crucial film categories like Editing and Cinematography. Let’s think about this for a second…The Cinematographer or Director of Photography is the artist who ACTUALLY films the movie. The Director has the vision, but without a DP, execution is literally impossible. Let’s put it this way… If filmmaking is all about storytelling through the vision of the director, it’s the cinematographer who brings their vision to life.
Don’t get us started on Film Editing. How do you expect to put the vision together after all the footage is shot without the editor? We know the award show is long, but either do it right, or don’t do it at all. How does an academy that prides itself on artistic integrity decide to cut two of the most artistic categories in film? So after another PR backlash and subsequent nightmare, the academy announced that it will air the categories after all.
“In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound, without color, without a story, without actors and without music. No one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.” – Alfonso Cuaron
That brings us to tonight. We both love films of all types and 2018 was a record year for the box office as well as for critically acclaimed movies. The categories are stacked and our glasses are full. Let’s get into it:
F. Dougie: Ok, so the show is already starting off on the wrong foot. Kendrick is overseas and can’t perform at the awards tonight.
Idris Gray: Who’s replacing him?
Dougie: No one. They had all the ‘Best Song’ nominees performing but he couldn’t make it back in time and still put on a dope performance. But I’m off that Sancerre! So we’ll need to inject some much needed blackness into this ceremony!
Idris Gray: DAMN
PERFORMANCE – Queen feat. Adam Lambert
Dougie: Aight, here we go. Pour one out for Freddie.
….They shoulda just had these three ladies host! (Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey).
AWARD – OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS (REGINA KING)
Dougie: Pulling for Regina King here…
Idris: Regina for the win. It’s a celebration. Also, Chris Evans really out here being Captain America. Chivalry is alive and well, sort of.
Dougie: Ayyyyyyyyyyy!!!! REGINA! What an amazing actress. Its about time she got her due. How long she been out here doing this?! How many tv shows? How many movies?
Idris: Yeah it’s a long time coming for sure. She wearing that dress too.
Dougie: It’s her moment, Idris but I’mma let you have it too.
Idris: Damn. Now Helen (Mirren) out here. Still looking fine.
Dougie: Helen Mirren. That’s another legendary actress.
Wooooo, I can’t fake homie. Been trying to surf that wave for a loooonnnggg time.
Idris: I haven’t seen any of these tbh, I should watch more documentaries.
Dougie: RBG and Free Solo were dope.Hope she lives forever tho forreal.
Idris: Looks like the free climbing one would be cool.
Dougie: Son. In 4K? Forget about it.
Also, you’ll never see no brothas up there…. Sorry, I had to do it.
Idris: LOL. Well, real life is extreme enough ain’t it? These dudes looking for more “thrills”. I feel a thrill every time I see the po-po.
Dougie: LOL, “Oh look, the police. What is that, $0.25 across the street? Just gonna walk into oncoming traffic instead of possibly dealing with these dudes”.
Idris: Everything I do is extreme. Extreme living. Extreme taking this elevator. Extreme cashing this check.
Dougie: They call Idris “POINT BREAK”.
Commercial – Google Assistant
Idris: These google commercials are really good. They really opened the checkbook to sell that ‘OK Google’ functionality.
Dougie: You can do that when you don’t have to pay taxes.
Idris: Hate the game Dougie… Hate the game
Tom Morello. Great guitar player.
Dougie: Legend, mate. He’s going in on Dick Cheney tho. Didn’t see that coming. Just be glad Zack DelaRoca ain’t out here keeping it 100 as well.
Idris: Yeah… Didn’t watch this (Vice). Looks really good though. We should check it out.
Dougie: I heard it was good. These guys did “The Big Short”? I really liked that one.
AWARD – BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING (VICE)
Idris: They really made Bale look like Dick Cheney. Scary what they can do with makeup.
Dougie: Then they definitely deserve this award. Christian Bale is too good. Dude can straight act.
Idris: Makes me wonder, what would you say is the most impressive makeup job you’ve seen? No CGI.
Dougie: Robert Downey, Jr. Tropic Thunder. lolol
Idris: Damn… He really got away with black face though.
AWARD – COSTUME DESIGN (BLACK PANTHER)
Idris: What are these fools doing? LOL (Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry)
Dougie: Clownin! Lol
Idris: DUH! Like how could it not be Black Panther? Wakanda Forever. This is a moment.
Dougie: Fam, Ruth Carther is a FUCKING. LEGEND.
Idris: Yes you got it fam!
Dougie: We did it. WE, IDRIS. ME AND YOU! YOU AND I.
AWARD – PRODUCTION DESIGN (BLACK PANTHER)
Idris: Another one in the bag here. This film was a moment.
Dougie: Black Panther just won again. I can’t do this….. I’m weak
Idris: I told you! I said it, haha. We all knew this was ours though? Right?
Dougie: *Cries into sweater* Don’t talk to me right now.
Idris: There, there. LOL. Honestly, this is the type of shit is what we need.
Dougie: For soooo many reasons.
AWARD – CINEMATOGRAPHY (ROMA)
Dougie: Can’t believe they almost didn’t televise this. Roma was a beautiful film.
Idris: Yeah. Really well done. We “Objectively Latin” right now.
Dougie: Arriba la Raza!
Idris: HAHA Emilia Clarke with a little funny.
Dougie: Imagine RGB with Khaleesi’s Dragons tho.
Performance – ”I’ll Fight” – Jennifer Hudson
Dougie: Her performance from Dreamgirls still gets me in my feelings. “And I am telllinnnggg you!”
Idris: Damn she was a little flat there though. Am I hating? It was still an amazing performance.
I need to turn on my VPN to the midwest and see what commercials they showing down there. I guarantee you there are no black dudes selling Cadillac Escalades.
Dougie: Hakeem Olajuwon ain’t got a dealership in Houston?
Idris: Houston got a strong Nigerian presence actually. The brand is strong out there.
Dougie: Nigerians been on that take over for a minute. Let me be down.
Idris: Oh nigga you in. Trust that.
AWARD – SOUND EDITING (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Dougie: Damn. This is a tough category.
Idris: Nah, this is a sleeper cat for sure.
Dougie: Wow. Bohemian Rhapsody coming in strong for Rock music. I’m trying to see a renaissance.
Idris: Wow. Well, I feel like that was the easy choice though.
Dougie: I mean, A Quiet Place was masterful. I haven’t seen a horror movie that took so full advantage of sound like that before. But then again, First Man went in as well. But that last 30 minutes of Bohemian Rhapsody, I thought I was IN the stadium.
Idris: Yeah I would have thought A Quiet Place for sure. But you have a movie full of some of the greatest rock songs ever written. Tough to beat.
AWARD – SOUND MIXING (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Idris: I have no clue. I guess Bohemian Rhapsody again?
Dougie: Yeah, it would have to be, right? Those teams work so closely together it would be crazy to not give them both awards.
Idris: Yup! This makes sense. Honestly, this is all off the strength of QUEEN. The music is too fire. “Fat bottom girls” is my anthem. That’s what I listen to when I’m feeling down.
Dougie: Also, your favorite IG hashtag.
Idris: Hey now, I see those likes on our handle. Those ain’t all from me.
Dougie: You know this is a team effort! I’m trying to gain us followers! We are partners! My likes are your likes!
Idris: I mean. Yes those are all me…….cough
AWARD – BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM (Roma)
Idris: ANGELA!! do we follow her on Insta? Damn, she speaks Spanish too?
Dougie: We do now. Has she aged? Seriously.
This is crazy. Roma is nominated here and for Best Picture?
Idris: Yeah, well deserved though.
Dougie: It really is a gorgeous movie. And Cuaron is a genius filmmaker.
Netflix gonna be feeling themselves if they win a Best Picture.
Idris: HAHAHAHA. Keegan Michael Key a fool.
Dougie: Yo, get your mans.
I’m saying tho, do we really need a host? These presenters are killing it.
Performance – “The Place Where Lost Things Go” – Bette Midler
Idris: Ok… Hmm. Thoughts…. Lol
Dougie: She’s a legend in many communities. I’m not touching this one.
Also, I heard Mary Poppins was good.
Idris: Nah you misunderstand. Helen Mirren or Bette Midler?
Dougie: I gotta rock with my girl Helen, but Bette still got some milkshake left.
Idris: Haha! I’m saying though.
Dougie: Trevor Noah. The future. Did you know he’s actually in the movie?
Out here speaking Xhosa.
Idris: Yeah, Africa stand up!
AWARD – FILM EDITING (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Dougie: Low Key, this is one of my favorite categories.
Idris: Of course Bohemian Rhapsody. Honestly thinking back on the film… They deserve this.
Dougie: I find it interesting that BR is winning many of these technical awards, considering all the controversy behind Brian Singer as Director. I mean, he’s not even nominated and its due to all the fuckery he bought upon his cast and crew. He’s probably be a shoe-in tonight if it wasn’t for his personal fuck ups.
Idris: Hmm yeah. Can’t always separate the person from the art I guess.
Charlize Theron. Loved her in, everything she’s ever done haha.
Dougie: LOL, Testify.
AWARD – OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR (Mahershala Ali)
Idris: DUDE this is gonna be a good one. Great performances here. Who you got?
Dougie: My man Mahershala. Every time he hits the screen he’s fucking GOLD.
Sam Rockwell has always been one of my favorites too. He’s always great. But he just won last year so…
Idris: Yeah, Sam as ‘Dubya’ is fucking amazing.
Dougie: WOW. This is an incredible night.
Idris: Hey! This too is a fucking moment. And he, like me, likes to wear beanies inside. I think that’s what that is.
Dougie: That’s 2 for him, tho! In 3 years! I know this is the Academy Awards and I shouldn’t bring up TV, but whenever this dude steps on screen in True Detective he’s giving a master class on acting. The choices he makes on screen are brilliant.
Idris: Damn, going to the Academy museum would be lit. Future review coming soon!
Dougie: Holy shit. “I want to go to there”.
AWARD – ANIMATED FEATURE FILM (Sider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)
Dougie: This is Spider-Verse or I’m out.
Idris: I’m with you.
Dougie: If any of you haven’t yet seen this film. It’s a swing through years and years of comic stories and characters, aimed at those who know everything about Spider-man and those who know absolutely nothing about him. It’s got heart, its funny, and it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s also groundbreaking from a technical standpoint.
It’s not only the best animated movie of 2018, but it’s also one of the best animated movies ever made. Comic book or not.
Idris: This was really an experience. A beautiful film and a great story. Also it’s a great example about why representation is so important in film. Seeing people or characters that look like you is important for any kid.
Dougie: You said it, fam.
Performance – “When a cowboy trades his spurs for wings” – Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
Idris: No no, no, no. What is Kacey Musgraves wearing bro?
Dougie: I mean, if you just won AOTY at the Grammy’s, you’d wear whatever the fuck you wanted.
…..Also, her outfit matches this song.
Idris: Not gonna lie… The legend of Buster Scruggs was actually kind of dope.
Dougie: Was it? I guess I gotta put it on the Netflix Queue.
Commercial – The Irishman
Dougie: Oh shit…
Idris: YOOOO. That title sequence though. With the bullet? Ok… Netflix has it’s big boy pants on
Dougie: I’m sold. Sold. Goodfellas is my favorite movie of all time.
Idris: HAHA Waynes World!
Dougie: “Party on Wayne”
Rami Malek DEFINITELY wins Best Actor later tonight. I don’t see how he doesn’t.
AWARD – ANIMATED SHORT (Bao)
F. Dougie: Bao wins this. People were crying in the damn theater before the main feature actually started.
Idris: Sorry didn’t see any of these. I was busy watching NBA youtube videos.
Dougie: Lol.They played this one before Incredibles 2. I see your point tho.
AWARD – DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT (Period. End of Sentence.)
Idris: OH I heard about a night at the garden. But again, I didn’t watch any of these. I think I need to watch more shit.
Dougie: I tried to watch as many films as possible….but I can’t lie…. I didn’t see ANY of these.
The short films are harder to come by tho. But a movie about menstruation just won an Academy Award. The ladies not giving a single fuck out here.
Idris: Yeah these aren’t on the radar as much I guess.
Dougie: They should play more of these short films before movies instead of bombarding us with 30,000 trailers before a feature.
Idris: Oh there’s a concept. But you know you like the trailers.
Dougie: I actually don’t watch them as much anymore. Too many spoilers.
Idris: Yeah they pretty much tell you exactly what happens in the movie now. Remember that dog trailer we saw before Spider-Verse?
Dougie: LOL, They showed all 3 acts of the movie!
They showed the kid losing the dog, the dog’s journey, and then the dog returning to the kid all grown up. WTF?!
Dougie: Diego Luna got that swag tho. That’s a smooth muthafucker.
Idris: Yeah, he did very well in the last season of Narcos. You catch that?
Dougie: Oh for sure. Great season. Like him in “Rogue One” as well.
Idris: Oh yeah true.
AWARD – VISUAL EFFECTS (First Man)
Idris: OK, who you got?
Dougie: This is tough. It’s a toss-up between Ready Player One and Infinity War
Idris: I LOVED READY PLAYER ONE but Infinity War was great too.
Dougie: Ok, First Man looked incredible. No 8-foot tall purple villain, but they made it look like they were really landing on the moon in the ‘60s.
Idris: Damn I’m missing on everything. Yea… but that shit ain’t exciting though. HAHA.
Dougie: The devil is in the details. It’s way more subtle, I guess.
Infinity War had the most special effects shots of all time. I’ll fall back, for now.
Performance – “Shallow” – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
Dougie: Ok, let’s see what Bradley Cooper do. We know what Gaga working wit.
Idris: He don’t don’t have a bad voice. But he’s gonna look bad beside a pro like Gaga.
Dougie: He’s doing his thing for a regular dude. Love this song tho.
I heard that’s a $50MM diamond around her neck. Where are the snipers at? Is that a red dot I see?
Idris: Nah, that red light means we’re live, dog. Cameras recording. Man. The hood has really done a number on you.
Dougie: My hand is shaking, fam. I’m afraid for anyone that moves to quickly. *grabs a whiskey*
Idris: We gon’ pray for you fam. Leave it to Jesus. Good performance though.
Dougie: I’mma need all denominations tho… “In Nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti”
Idris: Damn look at these ladies… (Krysten Ritter & Kiki Layne). Kiki Do you love me!?
AWARD – LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM (Skin)
Idris: Congrats to them.
Dougie: Yeah, they seem ecstatic.
AWARD – ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY (Green Book)
Idris: Ouch. Sam Jackson going at the Knicks hard.
Dougie: I mean, he ain’t wrong. Trash. They are trash
Green Book, cool.
Idris: Very nice. It really was an interesting look at an old subject.
Dougie: Yeah, for sure. People are tired of these movies, but if they are told correctly and with care, it’s always worth a look.
AWARD – ADAPTED SCREENPLAY (Blackkklansman)
Idris: We owning this category. Lots of good black films.
Dougie: This is another tough one. Blackkklansman and Beale Street were both heavy-hitters.
DAMMMNNNN, Spike got one!
Idris: Wow. Congratulations to Spike Lee. You can tell that this means a great deal to him. Even shouts out the 2020 presidential election? He was prepared for this – “Let’s do the right thing”
Dougie: 20 years since Do the Right Thing. He’s been out here making films, trying to keep people “woke” since before it was fashionable.My man got NOTES up there. So happy for him.
AWARD – Original Score (Black Panther)
Dougie: Oh shit. It’s the Prom King and Queen. Michael B. and Tessa T.
Idris: Oh God, Tessa Thompson is a spirit. I don’t think she’s a real person.
Dougie: No, she’s beyond all of us. We are truly not worthy. I see Michael B. bought his mother to the Oscars. Rocking the crushed Blue Velvet tux. Fly.
Idris: I think Mary Poppins might have it. LOL
Dougie: Black Panther could win this one…
Idris: Wrong again. Well fuck. I’m glad I’m wrong at least. This dude just won a Grammy actually. (Ludwig Gorranson)
Dougie: ANOTHER ONE. That’s 3 for Black Panther!
Idris: Chadwick think he’s filming Black Panther 2 with that suit on.
Dougie: Lol, let him live in this moment.
AWARD – ORIGINAL SCORE (A Star is Born)
Idris: Easy Win. I’m not getting this one wrong.
Dougie: Yeah, it’s no contest.
Low key tho. Mark Ronson is racking up Awards behind the scenes.
Idris: What the fuck? I thought this was All the stars to win. Ronson is a great producer though so I’m not really that mad.
Dougie: Oh, Nah. Gaga been out here. People love this song.
I’m still singing “All the Stars”. It’s a classic. But I think we saw this from the Grammys.
Idris: RIP STAN LEE. And also Jussie Smollett’s career.
Dougie: LOL, Ugh. It just got dark. Kanye looks like a saint by comparison.
Idris: Well Kanye ain’t a criminal.
Dougie: Isn’t he tho, Idris? Isn’t he?
Idris: You talking about Yeezus? Yeah, I want my money back on that album as well.
Dougie: We’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled.
Commercial – Elton John Biopic
Idris: So this Elton John movie is a must see.
Dougie: Yeah man, keep the biopics coming.
Idris: Barbara Streisand is royalty fam. And she came with the Jokes.
Dougie: Barbara Streisand a classy lady. NY icon.
AWARD – OUTSTANDING ACTOR (Rami Malek)
Dougie: This gotta be Rami.
Idris: Yes. But another stacked category
Dougie: Yeah, Rami is too good. That man is on another level.
Idris: Well deserved. The Oscars belong to Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody. This is a moment, Rami said so. Another great example of representation in movies as well. This is really great on many levels.
Dougie: It has been a great ceremony so far. I really could not have predicted all this. Since they changed the voting process so many great things have happened. It makes me look forward to the future of films. I’d really love to see more female representation in the Best Director category. I’d like to see the studios put more women behind the camera, but if tonight is any indication, I think we’ll see more of that inspiring progress soon.
Idris: Yeah it’s an ongoing process. The work of inclusion needs to continue. We need to see different colors, sexes, genders you name it. Diversity only makes these films better.
Idris: That girl Amanda Stenberg. Super talented. Among another things.
Dougie: Hahaha, I see you.Yeah man, she is something else. I really think she’ll be a force to be reckoned with at the box offices for years to come.
AWARD – OUTSTANDING ACTRESS (Olivia Coleman)
Idris: I’ve been wrong so many times tonight. But I’mma go with Gaga. Nah, McCarthy.
Dougie: Fuck. Another tough category.
Idris: Ok. Not mad at this. This is why I need to vote on these things. I don’t.
Dougie: Yeah, Coleman has been sweeping the awards circuit. I’d like to see more of her, tho. Melissa McCarthy looked like she really wanted that one.
Idris: Yeah you’d want an Oscar if you had to be seen on TV like that too.
Dougie: You gotta know the competition tho. In some categories, depending on awards season, you know if you have a chance or not. At least you get the swag bag tho.
Idris: Representation. Do it for the ladies, girl.
Dougie: 2 to go! Best Director and Best Picture.
Idris: Good. I’m ready for bed.
Dougie: How much money has Childish Gambino made tonight off this Cadillac commercial?
Idris: That dude stay winning. “Turn all the lights off”! That weird energy winning.
Dougie: Where was that “weird energy winning” shit in middle school? Huh?!
I ain’t mad at him. It’s great for all of us.
AWARD – BEST DIRECTOR (Alfonso Cuaron/Roma)
Idris: It would be CRAZY if this went to Spike!
Dougie: Rooting for Spike again but this will be a tough one.
Idris: Wow! Ok, you know what? Alfonso deserved it.
Dougie: Cuaron is legit tho. That dude is a visionary.
Idris: I agree. Also we here for our Latin brothers and sisters too.
Dougie: Damn right.
AWARD – BEST PICTURE (Green Book)
Dougie: This has got to go to Roma, right? It always weirds me out when they don’t pair Best Director and Best Picture.
Idris: Damn… it would make sense to give it to Roma I guess. But we can consider impact as well. No film had more impact than Black Panther.
Dougie: You are absolutely right. The Black community and American Cinema, in general hasn’t seen anything the level of Black Panther. It was a phenomenon. Roma is a sleeper tho.
Consider all the fuckery the current administration has been levying against Mexico. Another win for Cuaron here would be a huge statement.
Idris: I see what you’re saying fam.
All of the nominations are black it seems like. Just black black black… Very cool. I
Dougie: WHHATT??!!! I literally just yelled out loud.
Holy shit. Fam, I did NOT see that coming.
Idris: We are in here! It’s a celebration bitches. I am happy for this film. I think the point was clear. Not because of this win, but because of the nominations man.
Dougie: Yeah, so I want to have a positive take, here… Many people were more critical of this film because audiences are typically sick of the “white savior” trope and the black friend teaches a white friend about racism thing….but we can’t get where we want to be alone. These stories if told correctly are still very necessary. Mahershala and Viggo did an amazing job.
Idris: So when we talk about black people being tired of certain stories, I think we mean we are tired of being portrayed as just one thing. Usually negatively. Maids. Slaves, etc. But every movie in this category showed black people as people. Black and latin people are layered, like every other group. We aren’t a monolith, we are complex. You can’t just stereotype us all as one single thing. Each black film showed a level of creativity and boldness by telling a piece of the very large and complex story of black culture.
Dougie: Correct. We are not a monolith and that’s kind of the point of this blog, isn’t it? We try to be objective. We genuinely love films and I think that this year’s Academy Awards was something special. We have a long way to go but I think the future will be bright. When given an equal platform and an opportunity to tell our stories we will always shine.
Idris: Yeah man. That’s exactly why we write. We want to share our unique way of thinking. We love to see our people win, but more so we love to see our people having the chance to win. So shout out to the Oscars. And ALL the winners. Well done
OB: Ok, See you guys next year! Please leave us your comments, feedback, and share the blog if you like what you read.
What can I say about Black Panther that hasn’t already been said? This film was a movement and has changed Hollywood forever. Industry producers and filmmakers have long leaned on the racist notion that “black films don’t travel“. We were told that “black films don’t make money with foreign audiences”. Not only did the movie go on to make $1.3+ Billion. It has passed every other film in American history to become the highest grossing domestic superhero film EVER. Let that settle in.
While that marinates, let’s also remember that growing up, we were told that we couldn’t be superheroes. “You can’t be Superman, Superman is white. You can’t be Batman, Batman is white.” Pick any action-adventure, fantasy, or superhero movie in the last 50 years and throw a dart at the list of films. I can almost guarantee you that the main characters are white. Black Panther is important to American society not only because it shows us as kings, geniuses, and leaders. It also shows black children of the world that they too can also be heroes. Black Panther isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This wasn’t just a flash in the pan. Ain’t you hear? It ain’t Wakanda 2018. It’s, Wakanda. FOREVER.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Thank you, Donald Glover. “Why?” On the NBC show ‘Community’ (season 2 episode “Anthropology 101)”. Actor/Singer/Rapper/Director/Comedian Donald Glover wore a Spider-Man t-shirt during the episode’s opening. Some of the show’s fans went online and expressed their excitement! “Donald Glover should be the next Spider-Man!” Then came the comments: “Donald Glover can’t be Spider-Man. Spider-Man is white”. You see a pattern here? Spider-Man comic writer Brian Michael Bendis took notice and made a decision that would change comics and entertainment forever. 1 year later, Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli gave birth to new character Miles Morales. An Afro-Latino teen from Brooklyn, NY. Miles would become Spider-Man in his own alternate universe and would go on to join the regular Marvel Comics continuity.
An animated feature film (based on writer Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse comic and Bendis and Pichelli’s Spider-Men) was released in December 2018 to critical acclaim (97% Positive Reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and a 95% Audience score). For the movie, the creators implemented a new style of animation to bring Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends to life. Watching the movie is like walking inside an actual comic book. It implements everything from words bubbles to the ‘Ben-Day’ comic print look of comic pages from the early ’60s and ’70s. The critical consensus is that the film is the best animated movie of the year (and maybe of all time), is beautiful, funny, heart-warming, diverse, progressive, and expertly written.
Wrapping up our theme of black children finally getting representation as heroes on screen, spoiler alert; “Anyone can wear the mask“. Anyone can be a hero. Even a black kid from Brooklyn.
Avengers: Infinity War
In the early 2000s, Marvel comics licensed many of their characters to several movie studios (Fantastic Four, and the X-men to Fox & Spider-Man to Sony) in hopes of generating some revenue in order to keep their comics division going and to put some of their world-renowned characters on the big screen. (We’ll get to Infinity War, I promise) They kept many of their most popular heroes and in 2007 formed Marvel Studios, their own in-house movie studio.
They started with an idea, to create a movie franchise that linked all of their characters and stories together, just like the comics. The goal would be to introduce each character in their own respective movies individually and then bring them all together (The Avengers – 2012).
Not only was this a lofty goal, it had never been done before. In order for this to work, the majority of the movies would have to be accepted by audiences all over the world, perform well financially, and speak to critics and fans alike…The plan worked.
The Marvel films have been a critical and commercial success. Infinity War (told you we’d get to it) knocked fans sideways. Not only was the movie another critical and commercial success, but Marvel also gave fans what so many filmmakers have tried to emulate; the feeling that fans felt back in 1980 when they walked out of The Empire Strikes Back. Being the penultimate chapter in Marvel’s 12-year long, interconnected story arc, fans were expecting big things. What they did not expect was to see the characters and heroes that they’d spent over a decade building relationships with decimated, left dangling over a cliff until the final chapter (Avengers: Endgame) hits theaters in April of 2019. Many fans still have trouble hearing someone ‘snap’ their fingers together without having emotional PTSD of sorts. If nothing else, we’ve learned a valuable lesson. The good guys don’t always win. Sometimes negativity and evil overcome the best of us….but only temporarily. The best of us will pick ourselves up, step forward and fight back. We’ll look to each other for strength and when we utter that rally cry: “Avengers Assemble”.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
I know what most of you are thinking….”Tom Cruise? Really?”. So let’s get into it. I get it. Many people don’t like this dude, and rightfully so. Mormonism is weird….
“What’s that? He’s a Scientologist?” Oh shit, my bad.
Scientology is weird, allegedly abusive, and reportedly dangerous. But since movie critics (I’m not one) judge actors and filmmakers on their abilities, and since the dude hasn’t killed anyone (that we know of) or committed any atrocities (See: Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Harvey Weinstein) let’s talk about how fucking awesome this movie was.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (or Mission Impossible 6) was one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year. Reviewers called it “one of the best action movies ever made”. I usually don’t deal in superlatives, but I’m inclined to agree. Objectively, Tom Cruise can act. As a 56-year-old man that does his own stunts, rides motorcycles with no double and also flies his own planes and helicopters, you can’t help but be impressed by his dedication to the craft. While Marvel Studios is wow’ing you with CG feats of superheroism, Thomas Cruise Mapother the Fourth is jumping out of a goddamned cargo plane with his film crew for a Halo Jump at 25,000 fucking feet to impress you. He brings a level of authenticity that makes the movie look and feel more legitimate. There are no weird cuts and pauses in the action because the actor doesn’t to be pulled from the scene and replaced with a stunt or digital double. If you haven’t seen many of these films, the Mission: Impossible series has always relied heavily on misdirection and fakeouts to keep the viewer entertained. While that’s true to an extent with Fallout, even if you can see some of the twists coming, it doesn’t matter as much to you because you don’t have time to process all the changes. The movie moves from action scene to action scene at such a seamless and fast pace that by the time the movie is over you feel like you’ve just run a marathon. The movie feels expertly executed from beginning to end and you’d be hard pressed to find a better action film.
Michelle Obama: Becoming
I’m going to put it out there. For me, talking about the Obamas without becoming an absolute fanboy is an arduous task. Being objective, I still believe that First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoir is a must read. It’s almost like the life story and perspectives of the first African American First Lady of the United States of America is required reading. Who would have thought?
This is a woman who held black people’s hopes and dreams on her shoulders for 8 years going with style, grace, and humility. Michelle and Barack are the closest to actual royalty that black folks have (not counting Hov and B & George and Weezy). Need I remind you that this is a woman who grew up from humble beginnings on the South Side of Chicago, got herself admitted to a Princeton education, and then went on to graduate from a little institution called Harvard Law? Small potatoes, right?
‘Becoming’ is a relaxing read and fleshes out the upbringing, perspectives, temperaments, and philosophies of one of the most important figures of the 21st Century. Michelle Obama does not suffer fools and we could all learn a thing or two from her intellect. The book is written with such grace and witticism that you’ll wonder why Barack ever hired a speechwriter in the first place. For someone who has been in the public eye for so long and has played such an important role in shaping young people’s lives, you can’t help but agree that Ms. Obama deserves some time to rest and recuperate. After all, how much was asked of her? The Obamas didn’t get 2nd chances. They didn’t get to have embarrassing scandal after embarrassing scandal. Had Michelle or Barack committed even one of the current national embarrassments (tax returns, helping a foreign government hack a national election, payment to adult actresses as payment for silence, travel bans for foreigners, family separations at the border, children in internment camps, etc.) that the current bum has, they’d have been dragged out of the white house and shown as the reason that “you can’t give them a chance”. To be perfect? Yeah, we asked that of them. Ms. Obama has inspired an entire generation of children to not only stay active and work hard but not to take shortcuts. She’s inspired them to give back to a world that may not always love you in return. That said, we’re happy to see her back in the public eye. It’s quite clear that we’ll need her intellect and leadership in the near future.
James Clear:Atomic Habits
Many people make excuses for why they can’t achieve the goals that they want in life. We’ve all read self-improvement books. I’m looking at 3 such books on my shelf right now. With James Clear’s ‘Atomic Habits’, the author spells out some very simple and effective strategies that can be employed in order to attain incremental change. Building good habits and breaking bad ones. That’s all it is.
Without giving away too much, the strategy is to get 1% better every day. The author tells us that bad habits repeat over and over “not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change and that habits are essentially the compound interest of self-improvement.” Change can go either way, in the direction you want, or in the direction you don’t. Change your mechanism and change your approach, otherwise, you’ll be stuck on that hamster wheel forever.
Atlanta: Robbin’ Season
Atlanta is still the best show on TV. Creators Donald and Stephen Glover continue their focus on writing a black show from the black experience with an all-black writing staff; something that until now was unheard-of in Hollywood.
Season 2 of Atlanta is dubbed Robbin’ Season after a period of time (typically before Christmas and after New Years) where lower-income neighborhoods will commit more crime to provide their families for the holidays. Its meant to be a metaphor for the main characters of the show and give the viewers a sense of the changes that each is going through. The title gives you an understanding of how desperate they have become to change their individual situations. Some highlights:
Van begins to grow sick of Earn’s fuckboy bullshit.
Al comes to terms with either being a good person OR leaning into his rapper persona ‘Paperboy.
Earn learns that if he wants to manage a rapper or a family member, he’s going to have to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Darius goes through hell to get a rainbow keyed piano.
Atlanta’s episode and narrative variety shines to give us more spontaneity. I’ve heard the show called “Black Seinfeld mixed with Twin Peaks”, and that actually may be fairly accurate. In this season we meet:
‘The Alligator Man’ (Played by comedian Katt Williams, who won an Emmy for his performance),
Teddy Perkins (Donald Glover in a haunting Michael Jackson-esque whiteface performance, and my personal favorite episode of TV of the year).
Paperboi’s barber, ‘Bibby’.
Clark County, (who may be the embodiment of many current rappers in the music industry)
Can’t wait to see where these characters go in season 3. I’d try to figure out where the show is headed next, but with Atlanta, that would just be foolish.
Black Panther: The Album
When was the last time you purchased or listened to a movie soundtrack? I’ll wait… Probably middle school, right? Suicide Squad? You can miss me with that bullshit. When TDE announced in 2017 that Pulitzer and Grammy-winning King Kendrick Lamar was commissioned to curate and EP the sounds for Black Panther, fans collectively lost their minds. Not only was the album amazing, it undoubtedly helped push the film’s financial performance to new heights. Kendrick called on some of the best artists in the game to help give the soundtrack an authentic and multicultural feel. Aside from TDE labelmates Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q, the album includes The Weeknd, James Blake, SZA, Jorja Smith, Future, Khalid, Swae Lee, and Travis Scott to name a few.
Album standouts include:
“ALL THE STARS” (performed by Kendrick Lamar and SZA)
“KING’S DEAD” (performed by Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future and James Blake)
The album not only cemented Lamar’s musical artistry across different styles of Hip-Hop and R&B, but he’s also shown that he can curate and draw quality art from some of the best artists in the game. Up and coming stars SZA, Swae Lee, and Khalid are becoming household names and I for one am excited for their futures as young black artists.
The Carters: Everything is Love
Black royalty, Homecoming King and Queen. Whatever you wanna call them, in the summer of 2018, Beyoncé and Jay Z released the first joint album in their tenured careers. We’ve all heard many of their joint tracks, but this album couldn’t have come at a better time. With all of the gossip and rumors circling their partnership over the last several years, you’d think they’d want to take control of the narrative right? With rumors of infidelity swirling, it’s almost like Beyoncé and Jay Z released solo albums baring their own individual emotions and then finally culminated in a joint album to confess their dedication to one another… It’s almost like it was all coincidence.
Anyway, I’m on board. After listening to Beyoncé bare her soul on Lemonade, and after listening to Jay Z man up on ‘4:44’ and apologize to his family for the embarrassment he’d caused and for the mistakes he’d made, on Everything is Love The Carters haven’t missed a step.
The project was introduced to us with the video for Apeshit. A project that notoriously shut down the entire Louvre in Paris. The juxtaposition and subtle symbolism of Beyoncé next to the Mona Lisa is too beautiful for words.
Everything they do together is intelligently planned out. Hov releases a song, and Beyoncé has writing credits. Money. B releases a song and Jay is featured. Money. She releases another song and Blue has vocal credits. Money. This family is a billion dollar business and if people want to know every detail of their personal life, they’ve made damn sure that they’ll profit from it.
The Carters don’t hold back and give you all the details you were clamoring for over the last 4 years. Yes, Hov cheated. Yes, Beyoncé almost left him. And Yes, they got back together and made it work not only for their family but for their business. Here are some of my favorite lines from the album:
APESHIT “I said no to the Super Bowl: You need me, I don’t need you/Every night we in the endzone, tell the NFL we in stadiums, too/Last night was a fuckin’ zoo, stagedivin’ in a pool of people/Ran through Liverpool like a fuckin’ Beatle/Smoke gorilla glue like it’s fuckin’ legal/Tell the Grammy’s fuck that 0-for-eight shit/Have you ever seen the crowd goin’ apeshit?” —Jay Z
BOSS “100 million crib, 3 million watch, all facts/No cap, false, nigga, you not a boss, you got a boss/Niggas getting jerked, that shit hurts, I take it personally/Niggas rather work for the man than to work with me/Just so they can pretend they on my level, that shit is irkin’ to me/Pride always goeth before the fall, almost certainly” —Jay Z
BOSS “Ain’t nothing to it, I boss so I bought my momma a whip/My great-great-grandchildren already rich/That’s a lot of brown chi’r’en on your Forbes list/Probably looking around my compound on my fortress/I be ridin’ around with my seat reclining/Droppin’ my daughter off at school every morning/We slammin’ car doors/I be true balling on these bum whores” —Beyoncé
NICE “Yeah, fuck your subpoenas/And your misdemeanors/Was too busy touring out all your arenas/My passport is tatted, it look like it’s active/I play on these planes, y’all catch me in traffic/Y’all drag me in court for that shit, y’all backwards/After all these years of drug trafficking, huh/Time to remind me I’m Black again, huh?/All this talking back, I’m too arrogant, huh?” —Jay Z
NICE “Patiently waiting for my demise/’Cause my success can’t be quantified/If I gave two fucks—two fucks about streaming numbers/Would have put Lemonade up on Spotify/Fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool, fuck you, I’m out/I ain’t never seen a ceiling in my whole life, that’s word to Blue/Freestyling live, blueprint from my Jigga who never bribes” —Beyoncé
713 “Cash, hit deposit, 24-carat faucets/Louis V and Goyard trunks all in the closet/Ain’t shit change, the streets is still watchin’/And my little baby Blue is like, ‘Who gon’ stop us, huh?'” – Jay Z
BLACK EFFECT “I’m good any way I go, any way I go/I pull up like the Freedom Riders, hop out on Rodeo/Stunt with your curls, your lips, Sarah Baartman hips/Gotta hop into my jeans, like I hop into my whip/Mobbin’ in a hoodie like Melo/Come up out that pretty motherfucker like ‘Hello, hello’/I will never let you shoot the nose off my pharaoh” —Beyoncé
LOVEHAPPY “Y’all know how I met her/We broke up and got back together/To get her back, I had to sweat her/Y’all could make up with a bag, I had to change the weather/Move the whole family West, but it’s whatever/In a glass house still throwing stones/Hova, Beysus, watch the thrones” —Beyoncé and Jay Z
There are levels to this shit, Y’all. I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to the next Carter Trilogy. The theme of black excellence continues and 2019 couldn’t come and faster. If they can make it through all this bullshit and still find some peace can’t we all?
Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer
Janelle Monae has been taking folks to Wakanda since before many even knew it existed. Black Girl Magic has been the mantra for for little black girls everywhere since they realized they could be Mae Jemison’s or Michelle Obama’s.
In a year that saw the confirmation of Monae’s long-term partnership with actress Tessa Thompson (sorry fellas, y’all never stood a chance), we listen to this amazing woman talk about her life experience and what she calls her womanhood: “remember when they used to say I looked too mannish”?
Aside from also standing out in critically acclaimed films like Moonlight and Hidden Figures, Ms. Monae is finally being recognized by the recording academy via an Album of the Year nomination. She’s at her absolute best here with Dirty Computer. Even though this is primarily an R&B album, I had to throw Django Jane on my best of 2018 Hip-Hop playlist. Her flow would put even some of the dopest male MCs to shame. She lets the listeners know about her experiences in life, as a member of the LGBTQ community, and also about her experiences in the recording industry where (surprise) they don’t celebrate and appreciate Black Girl Magic like we do. Continuing 2018’s theme of honesty, Ms. Monale sets a new precedent for the genre. She’s not going back and hopefully neither are we.
Album standouts include:
I LIKE THAT “Uh, I remember when you laughed when I cut my perm off/And you rated me a six/I was like, “Damn”/But even back then with the tears in my eyes/I always knew I was the shit.
“I GOT THE JUICE”
DJANGO JANE “Yeah this is my palace/champagne in my chalice I got it all covered like a wedding band/Wondaland, so my alias is Alice And we gon’ start a motherfuckin’ pussy riot/Or we gon’ have to put ’em on a pussy diet. Look at that, I guarantee I got ’em quiet/Look at that, I guarantee they all inspired.
So you’ll notice pretty quickly there isn’t really any consistent structure to this list, but don’t worry I’ll try to keep it classy. You won’t see any top Kim Kardashian moments of 2018 here. I promise.
For me, the number one source of entertainment and learning came in the form of an app. For the past 2 years, Pocket has been a mainstay in any list of top 10 things for me. In that time I’ve had I’ve read more than I’ve ever read in my life. Those who know me, know I only read for knowledge. I don’t read fiction and I don’t really read for fun. I do want to read more, and the more I do the more therapeutic it has become. But it’s still hard to get over that 10 book a year mark. There’s just too much Netflix out there. Luckily for people like me, pocket provides an alternative to the traditional book reading format. I can read complete stories in 15 minutes and be done with that story forever. Or I can save it, reread it and share with friends so I we can have further conversations later on. If there’s one thing on the top 10 list that you can immediately implement into your day/life, its pocket. So if you need something to read to hold you over on that 30 – 60 minute ride on the F train here you go.
The Brilliant Idiots – Podcast
The Brilliant Idiots podcast with Andrew Schulz and Charlamagne Tha God is a hilarious podcast worth looking into. If you’re the kind of person who needs to hear your opinions represented to confirm your ideals, then the brilliant idiots podcast is not for you. You should probably stick Fox or CNN depending on where you lean politically. if you are an objectively minded thinker who actually wants to hear both sides, who appreciates discourse, and who actually appreciates unique ideas or perspectives then you’re in luck.
If I’m being completely honest the brilliant idiots are a big reason why I’ve chosen to do this blog and an even bigger reason why I chose to do it with one of my best friends. Because even though we are lot alike in many ways, there are several more things we do not agree on. I should also mention that these guys may come off as insensitive, harsh, and even inappropriate. This is your official warning. Don’t say I didn’t tell you. Don’t say Idris didn’t tell you!
Listen, the podcast is made up of one half comedian and one half radio personality. Ones a white dude from NY while the others a black dude from the south. They see a lot of things differently and often crack on each other at how absurd their views seem. So while their opinions are often veiled in comedy, their ideas are worth hearing. At the end of the day, it’s up to each of us to decide what we want to think, and what we believe is right vs. what we believe is wrong.
But “you go gotta hear both sides”.
Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury
I’m a fight guy so I had to leave a spot open for the Wilder/Fury fight. Not only was it a brilliant fight, filled with competitive back and forth, completely different styles of fighting, a great show of heart, power, and technical proficiency. But what was really enjoyable about this fight was that each fighter had completely opposite backgrounds.
Tyson Fury, coming into the fight, was a redemption story. He had battled his way out of a drug addiction and depression. Even turning into an advocate of mental health, and promising to donate all of his winnings to the less fortunate. Wilder in his own right had always been an underdog. Although never loosing in the ring he has always been outweighed by his opponents. This time was no different.
There was a level of tension between Wilder and Fury that had been missing from heavyweight fights for sometime. That’s what made this fight so great to me. And then you add in the fact that I watched it inside of a LeFrak City bar filled to the brim with black and Latinos hooting and hollering 4 Wilder to knock the s*** out of Fury! Haha it was a helluva night!
The high point of the match came late in the 12th round. Wilder does exactly what we were all asking for and knocks the s*** out of Fury. But what does Fury do? He gets up like he’s the Undertaker, you know before he was the American bad boy… He survives the round and out lasts Wilders onslaught. He even managed to get in a few good hits before the final bell. Then comes time for the decision. DRAW! What?! Even I have to admit I was shocked at that outcome, but when I really thought about it, It was the perfect ending to a great fight. Both gentlemen showed great respect after the decision and now we get to anticipate the next fight.
WAKANDA FOREVER! Talk about an impactful movie! black Panther first made his on-screen debut in the Avengers Civil War movie. And let me tell you, he showed out! After that movie, the anticipation for the Black Panther film was ever-present in every single comic book comic book, black & African circle I found myself in. Yeah, I separated the two… I’ll get back to that in a moment but, suffice it to say, we was hype. And boy did that movie deliver. But first I want to talk about the reception to the movie. In today’s New York, I notice a separation of identity between blacks and Africans. Africans don’t quite see themselves as the same as someone who isn’t as in touch with their ancestry. I think I know why.
For as long as I know being African in New York was a bad thing. I think things are different now, and much better because of BP. But I used to get “teased/bullied” because of my name all the way up through High School. My parents had me wear a shirt and slacks everyday of middle school. And It wasn’t till high school till I had some freedom to wear jeans to school. My parents, being immigrants, didn’t have the money to afford Nikes let alone Jordans, so I walked around in them Shaqs! I felt different to say the least. It was rough at times but I never truly minded it because I was proud of my heritage and still am. I think as a result of similar and maybe even worse experiences, many Africans see themselves different than African Americans. This is why black panther makes my list. Sure the movie had great action sequences, great fight scenes and an amazing performance by Michael B Jordan. I loved all of it. But for me, seeing all skin colors rally around a film about Africa was a beautiful thing. So many parts of our society and our culture shows evidence of self-hate. This was an example of the love that continues to build for one another in our communities across America and in Africa.
Ready Player One
I don’t know how Steven Spielberg does it. But he always seems to figure out a way to expose the human element inside his movies no matter what the scenario is, or how fictitious a story might be. Of course the original source material, a book of the same name by “Ernest Cline” has a lot to do with this. Spielberg does this masterfully in Ready Player One. Let me start by saying I did not read the book because I don’t read fiction. I just watch it. Don’t try to convince me that the Harry Potter books are better than the movies. I’ll just counter by saying that the movies are more efficient uses of time. Maybe that’s why I don’t read comic books? Anyway, ready Player one takes place in a dystopian future, where reality has become so hard people mainly live inside of a video game. To me, that didn’t seem very different from the world that I and my friends lived in growing up and still live in “Till this day”. Why are video games so powerful and so loved? I think it’s because it gives people a chance to escape their realities to some degree. To live in a fantasy just for a moment of time. The various pop culture references, amazing visual graphics, and a solid storyline ended up being complimentary for me. What was really important and what brought it home was the understanding that life, although it can be hard, can only be lived in reality. After all, “… it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.
Marvel’s Avengers Infinity War
This movie makes the top 10 list of every action movie fan. Although I’ll admit I’m not the biggest comic in fact I’m not a comic book nerd at all I have enjoyed every single Marvel films that came out in the last decade. This one was no different. This is probably one of my favorites up there with Winter Soldier, Thor Ragnarok, and the very first Avengers movie. Somehow the directors of the show manage to incorporate a whole plethora of Heroes, two seemingly separate storylines, 3 main battle sequences, and one scary motherfuker actual movie that was funny, dramatic, insightful, and sad. In case you are among the very few that live underneath a rock and still have not seen this film I won’t provide any spoilers. But I will say, even if you’re not a comic book or action movie fan, you’ll probably still enjoy the layered motives and surprising emotions that the antagonist elicits. Happy wondering why certain other Marvel film being left off my list. Well, this is a list of things. I already have two movies on here, I wanted to keep the list diverse. Sue me.
The War of Art – Book
2018 for me was a year of realization and growth. I was challenged in several ways and I think and I like to believe that I grew because of those challenges. The start of those realizations came in the form of a book recommendation from The Joe Rogan podcast. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a book about overcoming the things in life that hold us back. Pressfield calls it resistance. I found the book to be extremely powerful and inspiring. What resonated with me the most was how much credence Pressfield gave to the individuals power to create change. He called out the internal forces that we allow to control us. And the detrimental behaviors that make it tough for us to break out of our limits. I don’t think the book teaches as much as it reveals things that we’ve already seen, felt and experienced. I only read the book once but I plan to read it several times over. In fact, this book is part of the reason I’m even writing this blog.
Furthermore, it’s important to tell yourself and remind yourself that having high expectations for yourself and challenging yourself to be greater than you currently are is completely okay. It’s okay to want more, it’s okay to demand more but we have to be willing to do the work and we can’t allow fear or resistance as Steven Pressfield calls it, to stand in our way.
One of the many compelling quotes from the book that stuck with me was this one. “Fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.” This is basically Steven Pressfield telling us that following our dreams is much like a balled that we need to suit up for everyday. This resonated with me, but I’m sure you’ll find something unique in the book that will resonate with you.
Afro Punk Fest
There are several music/art related festivals that occur every year across the United States. Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Summer Jam & Governors Ball just to name a few. And while Summer Jam is a very popular hip-hop music festival, it only represents a small portion of black music. The black influence spreads so much further than just hip-hop. And while the hip-hop genre is probably the most popular product of the black experience. It does not accurately represent the immense diversity of the culture. Afro-Punk in a way attempts to fill that void, presenting black music in its many forms. From jazz to rock, RnB, Afrobeat, and every unique stop in between, Afro-Punk is a showcase for everything the diaspora has to offer. I went for the first time in 2018, to the Brooklyn show. I have been to several other music festivals and I was shocked, to say the least. I’m not sure why, but I was expecting to see… more white people. Every Festival I had been to up until that point had always been 80% white, at least? Seeing a sea people who look like me singing along to the internet and Miguel was really amazing. I’m mad I waited so long to attend one. And I plan on going again this year.
Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson – UFC 232
Jon Jones the man the myth the legend. He’s back ladies and gentlemen. The one true UFC light heavyweight champion of the world. Leaving absolutely no doubt in the mind of his naysayers. Well, maybe just a picogram of a doubt. Of course everywhere that Jon Jones goes, controversy is not far behind. UFC 232 different. Before either of the two fighters even stepped in the ring, it was revealed that Jon Jones still had banned substances in his blood. It was later revealed that those substances with the remainder of a previous failed drug test gave Jones no competitive advantage. Of course news like that led most believe that the UFC president Dana White and USADA were somehow cheating the system. The result of the drug test Jon Jones wasn’t permitted to fight in Las Vegas and the entire event was moved to Los Angeles. While UFC 232 was a phenomenal night of fights, including Jon Jones’ main event, it was in a way marred by the drug test. In typical John Jones fashion, his fight with Gustafson, what’s a Showcase of his tactical approach to fighting. He allowed his opponent to press forward, it’s simply chopped away at him for 2 1/2 rounds, till in the third, he took him down and beat him unconscious. As you probably guessed by the start of this, I’m a bit partial to Jon Jones. His shortcomings outside the ring aside, he is one of the greatest UFC champions to ever live. Hopefully, he can stay on track and maybe even defend his title against the man who held it in his absence, Daniel Cormier. 2019 looks to be an exciting year in the UFC. I’ll definitely be watching, and paying special attention to my countrymen Israel Adesanya.
Okay, I’m not much of a politics buff, but here me out. Donald Trump’s presidency has been constant entertainment. It’s like we are living in one of those TNT dramas. You know that saying, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry”? this is basically how I feel every time any update about Donald Trump pops up on my Facebook or YouTube feed. Some of the wildest plot twists and unbelievable moments have come from our very own government this year. And somehow we made it out. Thank the Lord Jesus. From allegations that our president is in bed with the Russians to confirmations that our president has been in bed with porn-stars. This year has been a storytellers/porn parody writers wet dream. And don’t let me get started on the tweets. I never tweet, but I do follow the president on twitter. I need to know what state of mind my world leaders are in. Like when he tweeted that his nuclear button was bigger that Kim Jong Un’s. I made sure to stay inside and work from home that day.