Archive for the ‘Best of lists’ Category

Reel Charlie’s Criterion Top 10 (2023)

March 21, 2023

Today is Criterion’s 24 flash sale. Stock up on incredible Blu-ray and 4K physical format releases from America’s beloved film remastering home video company, The Criterion Collection. 

Since 2012, I’ve been updating my favorite Criterion Collection list. For 2023, I went from ten to a baker’s dozen, along with my 33 title honorable mention list. New films in both lists. Click for Reel Charlie reviews.

Reel Charlie’s Top 13 favorite Criterion releases:

All About My Mother
Eve’s Bayou
The Heiress
Howards End
My Beautiful Laundrette
Secrets and Lies
The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs
(boxed set all 5 films)

It was difficult whittling the list down to just 13 films.
So many of the 37 films below are 5 star perfect Reel Charlie ratings.
Honorable Mention:

A Christmas Tale
All That Heaven Allows
The Awful Truth

Desert Hearts

Do the Right Thing
Double Indemnity

Fish Tank
Fox and His Friends
Frances Ha
The Great Beauty
Grey Gardens
La haine
The Ice Storm

In the Mood for Love
Leave Her to Heaven
Monsoon Wedding

Mildred Pierce
A Room With a View
Rosemary’s Baby
Shallow Grave
Small Axe (boxed set all 5 films)
Some Like It Hot
Three Colors: Blue
The Times of Harvey Milk

Valley of the Dolls
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Oscar Nominations: 2023

January 24, 2023

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning. For the first time in a long time (ever?), my favorite film of the year, Everything Everywhere All at Once (EEAAO) was nominated for eleven awards, the most for any film. Yay!

I have a lot of catching up to do. Aside from EEAAO, I have only seen Elvis and Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris. I am shocked Nope received zero nominations. That’s just ridiculous. Meanwhile a beautiful moment from EEAAO. They so deserved the noms.

Best of Reel Charlie 2022

December 31, 2022

Before we enter the hopeful year of 2023, read on for Reel Charlie’s favorites in books, music, podcasts, film, and television from 2022.

Books (links to Goodreads)

Another great year of reading thanks as always to Goodreads for keeping me focused, my colleagues at work for keeping me open, and my Kindle Paperwhite for making it fun to obsess over books. I also want to give a shout out to audiobooks (hoopla, Libby free with your library card) which have helped me read/listen to so many more books throughout the year. I read 51 books this year. These are my favorites:

Apparently There Were Complaints: A Memoir by Sharon Gless – she’s amazing.
A Do-Si-Do With Death (Stan Kraychik Mystery #7) by Grant Michaels – a new book from a beloved series.
Flash Fire (The Extraordinaries, #2) and Heat Wave (The Extraordinaries, #3) by T.J. Klune – amazing YA superhero snark.
Hell of a Book by Jason Mott – fascinating.
The Holiday Trap by Roan Parrish – love love love this queer holiday rom-com home swap.
Knock Off The Hat (Clifford Waterman Gay Philly Mystery #1) by Richard Stevenson – saying goodbye is never easy. RIP Richard.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo – yes yes yes this is lesbian historicial YA brilliance.
Lavender House by Lev A.C. Rosen – wonderful queer historical mystery.
Legacy in the Blood (Chiara Corelli Mystery #4) by Catherine Maiorisi – need to go back and start this series.
The Measure by Nikki Erlick – my favorite big release.
continued with A Nick Williams Mystery by Frank W. Butterfield. In 2022 read books 8 & 9. Only 22 left to go in this 31 book series. Nick and Carter are my fantasy everything from my parents’ generation.
Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune – favorite book of the year.
Unprotected by Billy Porter – this man is amazing.


Regular readers to Reel Charlie know that I am not engulfing new music like my younger, or more daring counterparts. That said this year I listened with glee to:

Top Genres
New Wave Pop
Dance Pop
Adult Standards

Top Artists
Will Young
Olivia Newton-John (RIP)
Bette Midler
Kylie Minogue
Saint Etienne
Jessie Ware
Diana Krall
Idina Menzel
George Michael
The Ones

Also, a new anthem: Lizzo’s About Damn Time.

Movies & Television (links to Reel Charlie reviews)

This year I have wondered if my viewing has shifted to a more comfort zone reality. In other words, am I watching more things that soothe me, or mildly entertain me as opposed to watching programs that challenge and inform me? Let’s look a little closer at the lists below for an answer.

Here are Reel Charlie’s favorite films and series from 2022:

Documentaries (including podcasts and stand-up):

The Andy Warhol Diaries – delighted by this doc series focusing on Warhol’s romantic relationships.
Rothaniel – amazing tell-all stand-up.
Sound Barrier: Sylvester – incredible podcast on colossal talent Sylvester.
The Standups: Season 3 – where I first saw Janelle James (Abbott Elementary).
Visible: Out on Televisionoutstanding docuseries covers LGBTQ+ life from the 50’s to present.


Bros – couldn’t believe, LOVED and own this on Blu-ray.
Coda – one of the best Hollywood films of the year.
Downton Abbey: A New Era – I am a Downtonite, and yes I adored this.
Everything Everywhere All at Once – my favorite Hollywood film of the year and own it on 4K.
Fire Island – LOVE, great indy film, funny and poignant.
Flee – animated non-fiction film about one gay man’s quest for a safe life.
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande – so wonderful, older women rule.
Red Rocket – another indie gem, this time about a porn actor coming home.
State of the Union – saw this one for the first time, more Tracy/Hepburn magic.
Written on the Wind – saw this for the first time as well. Sirk magic.

Television (including limited series):

And Just Like That: Season 1more Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte.
All Creatures Great and Small
: Season 2 – more warmth and critter love.
Around the World in 80 Days: Season 1 loved this so much more than I expected.
As We See It: Season 1 outstanding, authentic lives of Gen Z on the spectrum.
Better Call Saul: Season 5outstanding, despicable can’t stop.
Better Call Saul: Season 6 (series finale) – bye Jimmy and Kim. Nacho forever.
Borgen: Power & Glory – one of the best of the year. Birgitte rules.
The Crown: Season 5 – quiet, reflective.
Feud: Bette and Joan– finally streamed, amazing.
Five Days at Memorial – amazing series about a NOLA hospital after Katrina.
The Great British Baking Show: Collection 10 – my joy, my love.
Julia: Season 1 – another surprise I wasn’t expecting to love.
A League of Their Own: Season 1 – outstanding one of the best of the year.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 4 – continuing Midge’s saga.
Only Murders in the Building: Season 2 – loved this season better than the first.
Ozark: Season 4, Part 1 – heavy, heavy…
Ozark: Season 4, Part 2 (series finale) – goodbye Wendy and Marty.
Russian Doll: Season 2 – wacked out even more than the first season.
Somebody Somewhere: Season 1 – wow I really loved this one.
Sort Of: Season 1 – a new voice and room at the table. Sabi rules.
Sort Of: Season 2 – full of angst and growing pains. Sabi grows.
We Own the City – more David Simon magic.
Wisting: Season 2 – outstanding Nordic noir.
Wisting: Season 3 – Maggie’s back.
Work in Progress: Season 2 – heavy and rewarding.

Take Two (watching beloved film and television again):

The Crown: Season 4 – the introduction of Diana.
Don’t Look Up – better the second time.
Downton Abbey: A New Era – a thousand times yes!
Downton Abbey: The Movie (the first movie) – see above.
The Guilded Age: Season 1 – so much better the second time around.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Murder Under the Mistletoe – my drag name would be Phryne.
Rock Hudson’s Home Movies – outstanding indie doc from 30 years ago.
Shadow of a Doubt (4K) – possibly my favorite Hitchcock, definitely his.
Single All the Way – a new classic holiday treat.

Special Posts from 2022:

Reel Charlie Speaks Podcast
One Book One Town (Fairfield, CT) Announcement: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
We Are All Golden Girls
GLAAD’S 2021-2022 Where We Are on TV Report: LGBTQ Representation Reaches New Record Highs
TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea: a place in LGBTQ Literature
Queer Writers of Crime Book Recommendation #1
Author TJ Klune: In Conversation
Reel Charlie celebrates 13 Years!
It’s A Lot Like Falling in Love: Legacies of Naiad Press and the Tallahassee Lesbian Community (Naiad Press)
Leslie Jordan: 1955 – 2022


What were your favorites in 2022? Thank you for continuing this journey with me. I love reviewing film and television on Reel Charlie. Onward 2023, another year of incredible film, television, music, podcasts, and reading!

Fairfield, What Are You Reading (Podcast) – Librarians’ Favorite Books for 2022

December 29, 2022

Each month I host our library podcast, Fairfield, What Are You Reading. Two or three of my colleagues gather to talk about their favorite new books and what’s on the horizon in the near future. In December I gather all 15 of us who rotate into the podcast throughout the year. Each staff member has 3 minutes to talk about their favorite book(s) for 2022. This year we had a lot of diverse books to gush over. Listen in below or search for us on your favorite podcast platform.

Stay tuned for Reel Charlie’s annual year-end Best of Reel Charlie wrap up for 2022 including my favorite books, music, podcasts, movies, and tv series. That lands on December 31. And then we catapult into 2023!

Merry Christmas 2022

December 25, 2022

Blessed Yule
Happy Hanukkah
Happy Holidays
Happy Kwanzaa
Happy Solstice
Merry Christmas

Here we are as in olden days. Some of us are very young. Others are older, others in mid-life, others a bit later than that, and still others are late in life. This season can mean so much, or a little, or nothing at all. I know people who are celebrating new life, others celebrating new love, others celebrating old love, still others celebrating renewed health, others facing health crises, and others continuing to face war. It’s hard to reconcile all of that and still take a few moments to enjoy this season, whatever it means to you. There’s still war, there’s still famine, there’s still inequity, there’s still racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia. There’s some who want to take us backward into the past. Others want to catapult us into the future. Still others have amassed some kind of fiscal power and want to enslave us to their whims. But as Michelle Obama said a few years ago during her first book tour, “there are more of us than them.” We are the light. We are each of us a small light that together can brightly shine the way to a better future for generations to come. If we each take a tiny piece of this and join hands with others, we can move the planet forward in positive ways. I know we can. 40 years ago, I was this wide-eyed New Age gay boy who thought my meditation and affirmations could transform the planet. There have been times I have felt the darkness that exists. I have felt hopeless. I have stumbled and fell. But I believe Michelle Obama. I look out into the world, to the people I work with, the people who make up my biological family, the friends who make up my logical family, and the neighbors and citizens and leaders around the world. And I see goodness and caring, and kind hearts who can transform and save the people of this planet. Breaking news: the planet doesn’t need saving. It will survive. However humans won’t if we don’t radically change course. I believe in Gen Z, I believe in feminists, I believe in hippies, I believe in climate activists, I believe in Democrats, I believe in Independents, I believe in moderate Republicans who stand up against the insurrectionists. I believe we can rise up and stronghold the people who steal power, money and feed on ignorance and hate. I believe we can transform this world. I have to believe. This is all I have. This moment, this wondrous planet, and my connections with beautiful, evolved humans like you. So take a moment today, and this week before the new year, and just breathe. And smile. And reach out. And know I love you.

And if all else fails, watch a movie or television series that gives you hope.


Here are some inspirational (loose interpretations included) films from Reel Charlie’s 100 Favorite Films list:

9 to 5 – classic female-focused comedy. Tomlin, Fonda, & Parton. Enough said.

120 battements par minute [BPM (Beats Per Minute)] – French feature film about ACT UP (AIDS activism) Paris during the 90’s.

Beautiful Thing – my favorite coming out film. Sweet, sensitive, innocent, and hilarious with a Mama Cass soundtrack.

The Best Years of Our Lives – Hollywood digs deep with 3 men returning from WWII.

But I’m a Cheerleader – conversion therapy skewered for the nightmare it is.

Carol – Todd Haynes adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt. 1950’s: two women in love and all its complications and romance.

Contact – Jodie Foster is “okay to go” in this Hollywood sci-fi classic.

Day After Tomorrow – Hollywood takes on climate change.

Drôle de Félix (Adventures of Felix) – the first HIV+ character in cinema who is not dying, depressed, or left behind.

Edge of Seventeen (1998) – another joyous gay male coming out film taking place in the early 80’s. Authentic. Lea Delaria.

Far from Heaven – Todd Haynes homage to Douglas Sirk’s melodramas. A masterpiece.

God’s Own Country – Rural Yorkshire indie film exploring the burgeoning love story between two young men.

Hairspray – John Waters goes mainstream but retains his perverse take on suburban America. This is the original film.

I Do – pre marriage equality romantic film about a guy trying to figure out how not to get deported as he meets the love of his life.

Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas) – based on the WWI truce between the Scots, French, and Americans.

Making Love – right before AIDS hit, Hollywood dared to produce a story about a closeted gay man married to a woman trying to find his way.

Maurice – Merchant Ivory adapts E.M. Foster’s novel of Edwardian gay male love. Perfection.

Metrosexuality – Rikki Beadle Blair’s amazing patchwork of style, passion, family, love and inclusivity. Major feel-good event.

Monsoon Wedding – Mira Nair’s gorgeous tale of two weddings from different classes in Delhi.

Moonlight – Swept the Oscars and deservedly so. Quiet, introspective film about a young black gay man at 3 stages in his life.

Muriel’s Wedding – “you’re terrible, Muriel!” Must see Toni Collette Rachel Griffiths origin acting comedy genius. ABBA soundtrack galore.

My Beautiful Laundrette – Stephen Frears tale of a young white punk and smart Paki young man who fall in love in 1980’s Britain.

Pariah – Dee Rees created a fascinating look at a high school girl in the Bronx who is figuring out how to fit in with her family and her lesbian friends.

Parting Glances – 1980’s indie film about a gay male couple facing a separation while a friend is dying of AIDS.

Rafiki – Kenyan lesbian love story. Gorgeous.

A Room with a View – Merchant Ivory costume drama gorgeousness.

Victor Victoria – a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. Preposterous. Julie Andrews and Robert Preston strike gold.

The Watermelon Woman – Cheryl Dunye’s brilliant debut film about a video store clerk researching a minor black female actress in film history.

White Christmas – the classic. Rosemary Clooney swoon.

The Wizard of Oz – the classic of all classics. Love, love, love.

What Are Your Watching December 2022?

December 11, 2022

Are you too busy with holiday gatherings and shopping? Are you too busy with reading? Are you too busy with family? Work? Are you too busy period? Or are you finding time to catch up with your favorite TV shows’ new seasons? I am currently watching:

1899 (just starting this spooky German drama from the kids who brought us Dark) (Netflix)
Abbott Elementary: Season 2 (ABC/Hulu)
Better Call Saul: Season 6 (the finale on DVD)
Sort Of: Season 2 (HBO Max)
White Lotus: Season 2 (final episode drops tonight!) (HBO Max)

Happy 70th Birthday Susan Dey

December 10, 2022

Time flies when you’re a former teenybopper. Susan Dey and her magical television family, The Partridge Family graced my imagination and bedroom walls in the 1970’s. In the 1980’s I cheered her on in L.A. Law.  She worked in film and television throughout her career. She retired in 2004 and now lives in my old stomping grounds – the Hudson Valley, NY with her husband Bernard Sofronski. Her daughter Sara lives in New York City. Wow, 70. Time truly flies. Hope she’s still having a ball.

Shop Reel Charlie on Redbubble including two images of Susan.

Cooking Cleaning & Falling in Love

Susan Dey as Judge Grace Van Owen in L.A. Law


Reel Charlie Speaks – Episode 7: Favorite Holiday Films

December 7, 2022

In episode 7 of Reel Charlie Speaks, the podcast spin-off of Reel Charlie, I explore all things holiday films and television episodes. Starting from the present and working my way backwards, I end up in the mid-20th Century asking that age old Reel Charlie Speaks question, does this movie stand the test of time?

Listen to the podcast at
or find it on your favorite podcast platform.

December is a Good Month to Watch Holiday Films and TV Episodes

December 2, 2022

Reel Charlie’s favorite holiday disks displayed with the official Rosemary Clooney as Betty Haines doll.

We’ve got all month to enjoy the holiday season. And what better way than to decorate the house, bake something sweet, listen to some favorite music, and watch lots of great holiday movies and television episodes. I love this season so much, I created a special page just to chronicle my joy.

Favorite Holiday Films and TV

In addition to perennial favorites, last year I added LGBTQ rom-coms Happiest Season and Single All the Way. Oh what fun! Here’s the full list:

Vanessa Redgrave and Emma Thompson in Merchant Ivory’s Howards End.

A Boy Called Christmas
La Bûche (The Yule Log)

Christmas in Connecticut
Un conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale)
Happiest Season 

Hollywood, je t’aime (just one scene, but it’s a doozy)
Howards End
 (just one scene…)
Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas)
Love, Actually
Make the Yuletide Gay
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special
Single All the Way

White Christmas

And don’t forget favorite holiday television show episodes:

Downton Abbey celebrates Christmas.


A Vision of Sugar Plums. Season 1. Episode 15.
Samantha’s Thanksgiving to Remember. Season 4, Episode 12.
Humbug Not to Be Spoken Here. Season 4, Episode 16.
Santa Comes to Visit and Stays and Stays. Season 6, Episode 14.
Sisters at Heart. Season 7, Episode 13.
Downton Abbey:
   Christmas at Downton Abbey. Season 2, Episode 9.
   Journey to the Highlands. Season 3: Episode 9.
   The London Scene. Season 4, Episode 9.
   A Moorland Holiday. Season 5, Episode 9.
   The Finale. Season 6, Episode 9.
The Partridge FamilyDon’t Bring Your Guns to Town, Santa. Season 2, Episode 13.
Queer as FolkPreponderance of Death. Season 4, Episode 7.
Six Feet Under: It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. Season 2, Episode 6.
The West Wing:
   In Excelsis Deo. Season 1, Episode 10.
   Noël. Season 2, Episode 10.
   Bartlett For America. Season 3, Episode 10.
   Holy Night. Season 4, Episode 10.
   Abu el Banat. Season 5, Episode 9.
Impact Winter
. Season 6, Episode 9

I get weepy over many of these, especially The Partridge Family and Queer as Folk.
The Austin Chronicle and Bustle give you full descriptions of all the Downton Abbey and The West Wing holiday episodes.

2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

November 25, 2022

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame had a great year of inductees in 2022. I watched first and foremost for The Eurythmics. Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart continue to be one of my favorite bands of all-time. Annie’s solo career blew me away, in particular her first two albums. Check out my favorite albums page on Reel Charlie featuring The Eurythmics album, Savage, and Annie Lennox’s solo album, Diva.

Other memorable moments during the special included Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and Allen Grubman.

So thrilleed the definitions of rock are being expanded to include some of my favorite artists. The finale with Dolly, Pat Benetar, Brandi Carlisle, Sheryl Crow, Simon Le Bon, Annie Lennox, Pink, and Rob Halford singing Jolene was crazy good. 4 out of 5 specifically for The Eurythmics and Dolly.

2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony currently streams on HBO Max.

The Eurthymics album, Savage (full)

Annie Lennox’s album, Diva (full)

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