Archive for the ‘Best of lists’ Category

Reel Charlie’s Kanopy LGBTQ Favorites

March 17, 2018

Does your public library have Kanopy? Kanopy is an outstanding streaming service available free to card holders. If your town doesn’t have Kanopy, ask your local library to consider acquiring it. Kanopy serves up the best of classic, indie, documentary, shorts, and foreign films. Outstanding catalog. Some of Reel Charlie’s favorite LGBTQ films can be found on Kanopy including (links to Reel Charlie review),

Feature Films:
God’s Own Country

The Watermelon Woman
Parting Glances
Laurence Anyways
Come Undone
Five Dances
Reaching for the Moon
Walk on Water 

Before Stonewall
After Stonewall
The Harvey Milk Story
Lavender Limelight: Lesbians in Film
Brother Outsider
We Were Here
Making the Boys
To Be Takei
Fish Out of Water
Out Late

Films I’m looking forward to seeing for the first time:
Saturday Church
Wine Women and Friends
Escape to Life: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story
The Battle of amfAR: The Quest for an AIDS Cure
3 Short Films by Marlon T. Riggs
Eye on the Guy – Alan B. Stone and the Age of Beefcake
This is Not an AIDS Advertisement
Tricia’s Wedding
A Simple Matter of Justice
Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger


Before Moonlight: 10 films that celebrate the African American LGBT experience (LGBTQ Nation)

February 23, 2018

Great list from LGBTQ Nation featuring ten fantastic films celebrating the African-American LGBT experience. I’ve seen 9 out of 10. The only reason why I haven’t seen them all is I’m waiting for Saturday Church to come out on DVD. I’ve ordered a copy for the library’s collection. Seven are stellar films in their own right and I’d mark them as classics:

The Watermelon Woman – Cheryl Dunye’s indie masterpiece
Moonlight – Oscar finally got something right
PariahMudbound‘s Dee Rees’ debut film
Tongues Untied Marlon Riggs’ late 80’s doc on gay, black men
Brother to Brother – Anthony Mackie’s breakout performance
Looking for Langston – Isaac Julian’s love story to the Harlem Renaissance
Tangerine – Trans women of color in a film shot on an iPhone.

Looking for Langston – Isaac Julian (1989)

A Streamer’s Guide to Best Actress (Decider)

February 21, 2018

Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I love these articles popping up online pointing us to the best of someone’s career and how to stream it. Decider just posted an article about the five actresses nominated for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars and how to stream the best of their canon. From Decider,

The 2017 Best Actress field at the Academy Awards is an especially strong field, representing some of the top Best Picture contenders in a way that doesn’t always happen with the Oscars. It’s something that deserves to be celebrated, so first off a big round of applause for:

  • Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water

  • Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

  • Margot Robbie in I, Tonya

  • Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird

  • Meryl Streep in The Post

Find all the films and the full article on Decider.

Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water

Be My Gaylentine 2018

February 14, 2018

When I first heard the word Galentine, I thought it meant Gay Valentine. Silly me. Anyway, it got me thinking. So here’s my Gaylentine, Leslentine, Bilentine list of my favorite LGB films filled with romance and love. Click on the link for Reel Charlie’s review.

Beautiful Thing
Freir Fall (Free Fall)
Giorni (Days)
God’s Own Country
Go Fish
Ha- Buah (The Bubble)
I Do
The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls in Love 
Jongens (Boys)
My Beautiful Laundrette
Parting Glances
Reaching for the Moon

Best Actor Nominees in Earlier Work

February 6, 2018

Creating a DVD display for the library at work today and thought I’d share the list. Below find the nominated actors for this year’s Academy Awards. I’ve listed previous films they’ve been in as a way to look back over their careers. Some are very young and so the list is short. Others are Meryl Streep and well… Enjoy the recommendations.

2018 Oscar Actor Nominees:
Timothée Chalamet
Daniel Day-Lewis
Sally Hawkins
Daniel Kaluuya
Frances McDormand
Gary Oldman
Margot Robbie
Saoirse Ronan
Meryl Streep
Denzel Washington

Timothée Chalamet:
Love the Coopers

Daniel Day-Lewis:
There Will Be Blood
Gangs of New York
In the Name of the Father
Age of Innocence
Last of the Mohicans

Sally Hawkins:
Made in Dagenham
Vera Drake
An Education
Layer Cake

Daniel Kaluuya:
Kick-Ass 2
Johnny English Reborn

Frances McDormand:
Hail, Caesar!
Olive Kitteridge
Moonrise Kingdom
Burn After Reading
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
North Country
Laurel Canyon
Almost Famous

Gary Oldman:
Child 44
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Harry Potter (Deathly Hallows 2 or Goblet)
Dark Knight/Batman Begins
Airforce One
Fifth Element
Leon the Professional
Prick up Your Ears
Sid and Nancy

Margot Robbie:
Z for Zachariah
Suicide Squad

Saoirse Ronan:
Grand Budapest Hotel
How I Live Now
Lovely Bones

Meryl Streep:
Out of Africa
Devil Wears Prada
August Osage County
Iron Lady
Julie & Julia
Mamma Mia!
Bridges of Madison County
Defending Your Life
Postcards from the Edge
Sophie’s Choice

Denzel Washington:
American Gangster
Antwone Fisher
John Q
Training Day
Remember the Titans
He Got Game
Malcolm X
Mo’ Better Blues
Cry Freedom

My Oscar Best Picture favorites 2018

January 29, 2018

Here’s my list of Oscar nominated favorites for Best Picture 2018 in order of love and hope:

The Shape of Water
Get Out
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Lady Bird
Darkest Hour
Call Me by Your Name

Haven’t seen:
Phantom Thread
The Post

#MeToo Question

January 19, 2018

As we prepare for our annual How to Win Your Oscar Pool program at the library on March 2, 2018, I emailed a question to my all-female team of experts. We print out a list of our favorite films for the year along with a list of our all-time favorite Oscar Best Picture films for participants to take home. My list from previous years has two glaring problems:

American Beauty (Kevin Spacey)
Annie Hall (Woody Allen)

What should I do? Scrap these from the list? I can easily do that. I want to add Moonlight to the list so I need to get rid of at least one film. But there are other films I could choose to delete.

Is it ok to love old films made by or starring actors who are involved in sexual abuse in their personal lives? I asked this suggestion previously when I recently re-watched Allen’s Radio Days. Comments? Suggestions?

Great Documentaries

January 10, 2018

People often ask me for favorite film lists. First up, a list of 5-star rated documentaries. Not intended to be a complete list of every non-fiction film I’ve loved, this list represents a snapshot of films watched over a ten-year period. Originally I watched them through Netflix DVD, streaming over a 10-year period and prior to that while working at the wonderful Alternative Videos. No guarantee where these films are now. Search on your streaming device such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, or  search individual services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime. You can always check your local library for DVDs, still free with a valid library card. Click on links for Reel Charlie review.


5 Broken Cameras
American Experience: Stonewall Uprising
Been Rich all my Life
Bigger, Stronger, Faster
Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary
Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin
Chris & Don: A Love Story
The Cockettes
Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Finding Vivian Maier 
How to Survive a Plague
Invisible War
Looking for Langston
My Architect: A Son’s Journey
Nomi Song
Prodigal Sons
Tillman Story
Tongues Untied
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl

Enjoy and let me know your favorite documentaries.

Best of Reel Charlie 2017

December 31, 2017

Another year has flown by. So much has happened personally, nationally, and globally. It was a year I traveled twice to different parts of the country to celebrate with my biological family. It was a year I read more political articles than ever before. It was a year of change at work – saying goodbye to fantastic co-workers and hello to new ones. It was a year of meeting my third dog, Daisy who instantly transformed my life. I told my best friend and flatmate, “I am a better person when I have a dog in my life.” And it was definitely a year of watching, binging, revisiting, gasping, laughing, sobbing, and loving film and television. Here’s a rundown of what made me pay attention in literature, music, and media during 2017.

Books (links to Goodreads)

It was another great year of reading thanks once again to Goodreads for keeping me focused, my Genre Circle at work for keeping me open, and my Kindle Paperwhite for making it fun to obsess over books. I read 38 books this year. My perfect reads were:

Christodora by Tim Murphy – something about this heartbreaking book that keeps me remembering. Not an easy read but essential for those who lived through or want to understand the ripples of the AIDS epidemic in NYC over the decades.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling – finally I read the prince.
Hell & High Water (THIRDS #1) by Charlie Cochet – there’s two races in this future-forward book at the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron otherwise known as the THIRDS. Dex rejected from his former position has to prove himself once again worthy of a good life.
Hold Tight by Christopher Bram – Bram strikes gold with this historical drama set in WWII NYC at a male brothel in Manhattan. Protagonist Hank Fayette begs to be made into a big screen adaptation. Written in 1989, one of my favorites this year.
Lay Your Sleeping Head: A Henry Rios Mystery by Michael Nava – a re-imagining of Nava’s first Henry Rios novel, The Little Death making it bolder, sexier and grittier than 30 years ago. A home run.
Love Is Love by Marc Andreyk – comic artists come together  to honor the victims of the Orlando massacre. Essential.
My Brother’s Husband, Volume 1 (Otouto no Otto #1) by Gengoroh Tagame – beautiful graphic novel about an American visiting his late husband’s family in Japan.
Seed by David Eye – my good friend David published his first full-length poetry collection. Personal and profound.
Sunburn by Laura Lippman – I may not have liked either of the main characters much, but I loved reading Lippman’s fascinating take on their lives. New Noir.
Thorn in my Side by Mary Quinn – Mary Quinn published her first novel during her senior year in high school! Lovely YA fairy tale realness.
Triad Soul (Triad Blood #2) by Nathan Burgoine – Nathan continues the beautiful supernatural gay male thrupple fun with  Luc, Anders, and Curtis—vampire, demon, and wizard.
What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell – debut novel worth investigating. Heartbreaking.
Witches of London – Lars (Witches of London #1) by Aleksandr Voinov – loved this supernatural story about the Pagan/Wiccan power of love. HEA for these two men.
Wuvable Oaf by Ed Luce – crazy ass graphic novel about a big bear of a man who lives with too many cats, pines over the lead singer of a queercore punk band, and uses his body hair to make little dolls. Essential.

Music (links to artist websites)

I continue to ignore most new music. Spotify, TuneIn, Mixcloud, SoundCloud, Pandora, and Retro Soul Radio keep me tuned to the classics. I happily wallow in my disco paradise. Meanwhile I did love a couple of new albums:
Bright Light Bright Light: Cinematography 2: Back in the Habit – especially Causing a Commotion.
Erasure – World Be Gone – especially the title track.
Sam Smith – The Thrill Of It All – gorgeous music from a beautiful, talented man.
SuperFruit – Future Friends – let’s get real… the album I had on repeat most this Fall at the gym was the sin-tilatingly sexy Future Friends from Superfruit. Every song is fabulous, but the title track slays me.

Movies (links to Reel Charlie’s review from 2017)

13th – essential history lesson
50 Shades of Gay – quirky British documentary presented by Rupert Everett
Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King – outstanding stand-up
I Am Not Your Negro – an immediate classic
Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You – the king of television speaks
O.J.: Made in America – worth every minute
Second Chance Dogs – rescue dogs rule
Strike a Pose – Madonna’s queer, dancers of color from the ’90 Blond Ambition tour reunite
The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin
– the man, the mouse, the story, the life so far

Feature Films:
20th Century Women – women rule
Get Out – crazy good horror film that’s really about race in America
Hidden Figures – women of color history lesson
If We Took a Holiday (short) – fabulous Madonna inspired short film
In a Heartbeat (short) – beautiful animated film about two boys in love
Julieta – Almodovar continues to be my favorite living director
King Charles III – fascinating and risk-taking look at a possible near-future
Loving – gorgeously understated film about real life
Manchester By the Sea – loved, loved, loved this film
Mudbound – where did this come from? Netflix hits it out of the park
Okja – magical
Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo – sexy, real, Paris, men in lust and maybe love
Victoria and Abdul
– the Queen and her Munshi

Older Films for the first time:
The Brother from Another Planet – early John Sayles tackles sci-fi
Desk Set
– Tracy and Hepburn and computers in ’57
– another John Sayles beauty
The Little Foxes – Bette Davis perfection
Matewan – John Sayles perfection
Murder on the Orient Express (2010) – love this British version from a few years ago

Take Two (watching beloved films again):
The Best Years of Our Lives – OMG, I love this film
Clue – always the best laughs
Donnie Darko – Sparkle Motion
Frozen River – Melissa Leo stellar
The Heiress – Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Clift magic
Lone Star – John Sayles masterpiece
Lovely & Amazing – mothers and daughters
Maurice – my favorite film of all-time
A Star is Born – Streisand and Kristofferson perfect casting
Sunshine State – John Sayles nails it
Suspect – Cher
Victor Victoria – a perfect film
The Way, Way Back – thoughtful, introspective, hysterical

Television (including limited series):
American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson – couldn’t believe how riveting this was
Atypical: Season 1 – sophisticated family drama
Big Little Lies: Season 1 – OMG, this is so addictive
Bloodline: Season 3 – goodbye Rayburns, you’re as fucked up as I always thought you were
Broadchurch: Season 3 – say “Miller” with a David Tennant accent three times fast.
Chelsea: Season 2 goodbye and good luck. go get ’em Chelsea!
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 1 – genius storytelling with original songs
Dear White People: Season 1 – on-point smarty pants angry love letter
Deep Water – scary, exceptional drama
The Detectorists: Season 1 and 2 – love these nerds
Downton Abbey: Season 4, 5 and 6 – it always comes back to the Crawleys, Blu-ray heaven thank you Peris
Fargo: Season 1 and 2 – scary as the original 
The Five – such a great cast, hipster mystery
The Fosters: Season 4 and 5 – love my Fosters
Golden Girls: Season 1 – four originals, they broke the mold
The Great British Baking Show: Season 2 (U.K. Series 4), and 4 – sugar and camaraderie
Home Fires: Season 1, and 2 – such a surprise, outstanding
L.A. Law: Season 3 – still hooked after all these years
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 1 – a star is born
Mindhunter: Season 1 – scary without being bloody
The Night Of – it could happen to anyone
The OA: Season 1 – perfect blend of mystery and mystical
One Day at a Time (2017): Season 1 – a delightful reboot
Orange is the New Black: Season 5 – still the Queen
Ozark: Season 1 – not always believable but who cares… it’s scary as shit and stars Laura Linney
Prime Suspect Tennison: Season 1 – I can’t believe they made this prequel work – delicious
Rectify: Season 4 – the end of Daniel’s sad story
Red Oaks: Season 3 – great sleeper comedy
Riverdale: Season 1 – OMG, I’m completely hooked
Sense8: Season 2 – please don’t end this beautiful world experience
Shetland: Seasons 1-3 – great Scottish mysteries
Transparent: Season 1, 2, 3, and 4 – Try not to get worried Mappa
Treme: Season 1, 2, 3, and 4 – revisiting a beautiful series
True Blood: Season 7: The Final Season – the best sexy scary funny comfort food ever


What were your favorites in 2017?

Thank you for taking this journey with me. I love reviewing film and television on Reel Charlie. Looking forward to Year Nine in 2018.


What Was the Best Downton Abbey Christmas episode? (Heroes and Heartbreakers)

December 25, 2017

Naz Keynejad over at Heroes and Heartbreakers reviews every Downton Abbey Christmas episode. Beginning with Season 1 which never officially had a Christmas episode and ending at the #1 spot with Season 2’s final episode which reveals Daisy’s connection with her father in-law, Thomas’ treachery over Isis, Bates’ guilty verdict, Rosamond’s indecent suitor, and finally, finally Mary and Matthew’s proposal – the one that actually got them to the finish line.

Hat tip to my dear friends Nina and Joe who spoiled me this year with a surprise of the complete series on Blu-ray. I watched this episode tonight, Christmas 2017 with great joy. The audio flaunted power as well as the stunning visual detail in the video – smoke in the fireplace, the black shadow of Bates in prison, the place settings after the hunt, and the depth of the snowflakes as Mary says yes to Matthew. Blu-ray continues to astound me making Downton Abbey sparkle.

See the full reviews over at Heroes and Heartbreakers.

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