The Noah Garf Awards!

While the year and decade may be over, the best of lists have only just begun. Here are my awards for the past year and decade. Enjoy! If I left something out that you think should be included, let me know! I am a mere mortal and can only watch and read so much. I would love suggestions and recommendations!

Best Movies

2019 – Uncut Gems

I saw this movie very recently, and while I have yet to do an official review, Uncut Gems is the perfect movie for me. It’s almost as if this movie existed in some fever dream of mine somewhere. The Jewish references, the basketball, the gambling, the blistering pace; it is all incredible. The performances are also terrific as well. Adam Sandler is perfect. Julia Fox is great and a complete newcomer to acting. Kevin Garnett’s energy is terrific. The Weeknd is even in this and does really well. This movie even has tense Passover scenes! If this movie was not made for me I do not know which movie is. This is not just my favorite movie of the year but one of my favorite movies of all time. A+ (If I see it again I will write a long post about it).

Honorable Mentions: Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Knives Out, Us, The Irishman, and The Laundromat

Decade – Arrival 

There have been plenty of great movies in this decade but none are as impactful to me as Arrival. I saw this movie as a Senior in High School, I had heard good things about it but had no idea what to expect. It was so good it shocked me. The structure of the movie is still one of the smartest set-ups ever. I will not spoil it, but Arrival has so much to say about how we communicate and how we perceive the world. I thought this movie would be some strange alien invasion story. It is so much more.

The basic story is that alien-like structures have arrived around the world, and no one knows what to do. A linguist is sent to try and communicate with these foreigners. What happens next is truly terrific. I leave you to watch.

Honorable Mentions: The Social Network, Whiplash, First Reformed, Minding The Gap, Annihilation, Drive, and OJ: Made in America

Television

2019 – Watchmen

I wrote about this show plenty so I will not say too much about it. The show found a way to take the original comic material and write a new story in 2019. It is not just thrilling, but important. It changes superhero narratives and weaves it into the American experience as well. Damon Lindelof’s show is a masterpiece.

Honorable Mentions: Russian Doll, Bojack Horseman: Part 1, and Chernobyl

Shows I have not seen that might not be left out otherwise: Fleabag, Succession

Decade – Bojack Horseman

A story about a humanoid has-been horse is an odd premise for a show. What makes Bojack so great is its willingness to deal with mental health and its love for the characters. The show is very clear that Bojack and others are not great people. They do bad things. But you still care for them, because you understand their pain. There are plenty of standout episodes, “Escape from L.A.”, “Fish Out of Water”, “Time’s Arrow” and others among them. When an episode of Bojack Horseman is at its best, its emotional impact is unparalleled. No show made me feel more than Bojack, and it is going to be hard to find one that will.

Honorable Mentions: Game of Thrones, The Good Place, Atlanta, Watchmen, Archer, and Rick and Morty

Albums

2019 – Norman Fucking Rockwell by Lana Del Rey

I have never been much of a fan of Lana’s work, but Norman Fucking Rockwell blew me away. It is so heartfelt and sweeping it is hard to keep your breath the whole time. Songs like “The greatest”, “Fuck it I love you”, “Happiness is a butterfly”, and others are all so moody and beautiful it is hard not to get swept away. This is the album she had been building towards, and while I could never have seen this project coming, I am so glad it came. It is truly sensational.

Honorable Mentions: IGOR by Tyler, The Creator, Ginger by Brockhampton, Forever Turned Around by Whitney, When we all fall Asleep, Where do We Go? by Billie Eilish, 

Decade – Flower Boy by Tyler, The Creator 

Tyler, The Creator’s metamorphosis from Goblin to IGOR is so fascinating and in many ways reflects so much about the decade. Each project gave us something new from him, and are important to a different stage of his maturity and development. Tyler is my favorite artist of the decade and there are many albums I could put in this slot as my favorite of the decade. The reason I chose Flower Boy is because of what it meant for music and its cultural significance.

What Tyler, The Creator accomplished on Flower Boy is genuinely incredible. He went from being apart of a group accused of pedaling homophobia to a gay rapper and artist the world had to listen to believe. It was a time that was (oh boy here we go) polarized politically for many reasons. He found a way to tell his own story and grow as a person without getting caught up in what others would think. Flower Boy is the most compelling work from Tyler and the one that is the most important for the decade. 

Honorable Mentions: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West, To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, Bad Self Portraits by Lake Street Dive, Light Upon the Lake by Whitney, Norman Fucking Rockwell by Lana Del Rey

Songs

2019  – GONE, GONE/ THANK YOU

The Weatherman told me it wasn’t raining
My stupid ass brought an umbrellas
I got a glimpse of your cloud and feel better
Now it’s ninety degrees, and all the tricks up my sleeve
Is drenched in sweat and illusion because I jet to conclusion

The bars on this track are terrific. It is one of my favorite songs ever. While IGOR is not my album of the year, it was very close. This song though is the best to come out this year.

Honorable Mentions: Happiness is a butterfly by Lana Del Rey, Sugar by Brockhampton, and Used to be Lonely by Whitney

Decade – Devil in a New Dress

Put your hands to the constellations, the way you look should be a sin, you my sensation.

This song is peak Kanye. It is so good, I love every part of it. Please listen to it if you have not.

Honorable Mentions: Solo by Frank Ocean, Alright by Kendrick Lamar, and Rental Love by Lake Street Dive

Books I read (does not necessarily have to come out in the respective years)

2019 – The Great Successor

Anna Fifield’s story of Kim Jong-Un features plenty of original reporting and fascinating tales of palace intrigue. It is a dark story of a ruthless bunch and a fascinating introduction of how leadership works in North Korea. It is genuinely shocking at points and a terrific read. One of 2019’s best.

Honorable Mentions: Speaker for the Dead and A Feast for Crows

Decade – Friday Night Lights 

H.G. Bissinger’s story of Permian High School’s football team and the town of Odessa, Texas changed how I saw the world. It is fascinating from start to finish and is a true non-fiction masterpiece. While the football team is the main catalyst in this story, the true story ultimately revolves around Odessa. It is a crazy, absurd place. It is also a portrait of what America was becoming and has become. When pressure is put on high schoolers to perform and be the lifeblood of a town, it is not dissimilar to the spectacle of college football and athletics in general. It is a circus that can leave the kids behind. It does not have their best interests at heart. It is a terrific story told in a brilliant way. It is a must-read regardless of interest in sports.

Honorable Mentions: A Storm of Swords, Born a Crime, Outliers, The Blind Side 

Podcasts

2019 –  30 for 30: The Sterling Affairs

Ramona Shelburne’s profile of the Los Angeles Clippers during the Donald Sterling fiasco is a terrific re-examination of a watershed moment in the NBA. Sterling’s racism and vitriol would eventually get him removed from the NBA, and the response from the Clippers and others would shape the league for years to come. The podcast has plenty for those familiar and unfamiliar with the story. It also is full of great interviews from including from Blake Griffin, Ralph Lawler, and Shelly Sterling. Ramona’s retelling of the story is a great examination of one of the most important cultural moments of the decade. It is an important listen.

Honorable Mentions: Grierson & Leitch, The Big Picture, Binge Mode: Star Wars, Colin’s Last Stand: Fireside Chats, and Planet Money

Decade – Colin’s Last Stand: Fireside Chats

When Colin Moriarty was fired from his own company, I was unaware of the situation. However, the gaming world was up in arms. He made a bad joke on international women’s day, which I would not have made. It did not justify his firing.

He then went and started his own company, Colin’s Last Stand. The best product was his fireside chats, in which he would invite random guests from the audience and talk on random subjects. From a small-town mayor to a full-time chef he finds interesting people to discuss topics not often discussed. Pornography, Judaism, Space Exploration, Governance, Video Games, and so much more are explored by his episodes. Colin announced that the show would be ending, an incredibly sad ending to a great series. I will miss it and hope he continues to do amazing things in the future. It was truly a special show.

Honorable Mentions: S-Town, Believed, The Daily, Planet Money, and Radiolab

Sports Moments

2019 – Lucas Moura sends Tottenham to the Champions League Final

When Tottenham needed it the most, Lucas Moura stepped up. Down 3-0 on aggregate to Ajax, Lucas Moura scored a hattrick including a stoppage-time wonder to send Tottenham to their first-ever Champions League Final. It was a moment of pure brilliance that brought me to my knees.

Honorable Mentions: Kawhi’s Game Winner vs. The 76ers, USWNT winning the World Cup, Alex Morgan’s tea celebration vs. Britain, Toronto Raptors winning the NBA Title, and Liverpool comeback vs. Barcelona

Decade – LeBron blocking Andre Iguodala

This was the single greatest performance in Finals history. This block will live on as one of the greatest plays in this series. From nowhere, LeBron changed the fate of the NBA. He also managed to lead in all major categories and come back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the team that had the best regular-season record ever. It was remarkable and this block was just one moment from an incredible NBA season.

Honorable Mentions: Steph Curry buzzer-beater against the Thunder, Leicester City winning the Premier League, The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, and Nick Foles’s Playoff Run

I hope you enjoyed this! Once again please give me suggestions if you have any!

 

 

Get Out, Widows, & IGOR

Get Out – Jordan Peele’s first film I had avoided because I was afraid. I am really disappointed that I did, as this film is not focused on being scary. Rather it is focused on its social commentary, a welcome relief. The beginning build up is slow but incredibly well done, as it keeps us engaged with what will happen next. The finale is a bit over the top, and the story itself goes a bit overboard. That does not take away from what this film accomplishes, as it manages to be a fun and engaging horror with commentary to make it unique. Jordan Peele is a man of the pop culture moment, and it is understandable why this film elevated his status. 7.5/10

Widows – This was a film I wanted to see last year but unfortunately was unable to. This movie does a terrific job at being tight and ratcheting up emotion without using too much dialogue. It is also a unique Heist movie, as it forces characters into a heist rather than make them willful participants. It gives a heist film plenty of emotional weight, making it that much more rewarding than I expected. It also tells an incredibly complex story, but one that is deeply satisfying. My biggest complaint is that its tightness works against the film, as it is simply too complicated to compress. Complicated plots lead to subplots which lead to more subplots. I wish there were more time to really explore this but it simply runs out of time. This would have made for a terrific TV miniseries, but instead it is a very good movie, one still worth seeing even if it can be a bit confusing. 8/10

This album is so pretty, confident, and considered that you wonder why he named it IGOR. Tyler, the Creator’s not a freak or a goblin or a monster anymore.

I love Tyler, The Creator and with his release of his new album IGOR he begins to reshape his style after coming out of the closet on Flower Boy. His maturity is beginning to show, which is a much appreciated step since his days with Odd Future. One of my favorite parts of this album is how he plays with different gender roles, and attempts to craft a new persona. Particularly the music video for the song “Earfquake,” shows him playing with stereotypes and ideas that are brilliant.

However, I still wish he had an edge, and I miss it on this album. It is still a great project full of terrific songs, but it is about their artistic quality and less about Tyler’s emotions. Tyler’s emotions are what I find the most captivating, and that is sorely lacking on IGOR Part of what attracted me to Tyler was his deep-seated anger, and how he dealt with it.  In my favorite album of his, Wolf, he brilliantly fluctuated between anger and appreciation, struggling to put his feelings into music.  This album feels earned after the success and sincerity of Flower Boy, and I am glad that he has begun to figure out how to be happiest. I just miss some of the edge that got him famous in the first place, and I wish it was more present here.