Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ranking Every Song by Stone Temple Pilots

Photo Credit: Mick Hutson/Getty Images



Yet another post about Stone Temple Pilots, you ask? I know, I know. I should be working on a follow-up novel or at least trying to make a few bucks writing another short story to sell, but the concert last week is still buzzing in the back of my head. I missed this band! So what did I do? I spent hours listening to every studio track the band has ever released and ranked them 1 – 97. If you’re a fan of Stone Temple Pilots too, I hope you’ll read on. If you’re not... well I’ll try to post something more literary next time.

  1. Big Empty (1994) – The most common knock on STP is that they sound like other bands that came before them such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam. This bluesy slide guitar anthem sounds like no one else and for me, is the best song they’ve ever recorded.
  2. Interstate Love Song (1994) – One of many of STP’s songs to hit Number 1 on the Rock charts, STP introduced a country vibe into this one and it works.
  3. Vasoline (1994) – If there’s any complaint to be made about this song it’s that it only clocks in at just under 3 minutes long. This is just about perfect pop rock and one of STP’s lasting anthems.
  4. Plush (1992) – STP’s first number 1 hit on the rock charts and still one of their very best songs. Scott has stated his lyrics for this one were based on a kidnapping story he read in a newspaper.
  5. Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart (1996) – The best song on the band’s third album, this was the third chart topping single from the disc and features the famous line “I’m not dead and I’m not for sale.”
  6. Sex Type Thing (1992) – This blistering track was the band’s first single and Scott Weiland has explained that its oft-misunderstood lyrics were meant to be a commentary on the abuse women face from overly aggressive men.
  7. Big Bang Baby (1996) – One of the band’s biggest hits, this pop rock classic announced that STP was back from Scott’s first battle with the law and ready to retake their place atop the charts.
  8. Atlanta (1999) – More than any other STP song, this ballad reminds me of Scott. It’s got a Doors kind of sound to it - slow, sad, and powerful. 
  9. Hollywood Bitch (2001) – A great track that should have been a bigger hit. It’s based on a riff Robert wrote seven years before the song was released.
  10. Days of the Week (2001) – Instantly catchy, this was the first single off the band’s fifth album and the disc’s highest charting hit on rock radio.
  11. Wicked Garden (1992) – This rocker was the third single from STP’s debut Core and it remains a concert staple 26 years later.
  12. Wonderful (2001) – Trippy, pretty, and a great example of the band’s pop sensibilities.
  13. All in the Suit That You Wear (2003) – Originally written for the Spider-Man soundtrack, this song wound up on the band’s Thank You greatest hits album instead.
  14. Still Remains (1994) – Although not as well-known as some of Purple’s more popular tracks, this love song is another example of STP at their peak.
  15. Dead & Bloated (1992) – The opening track on the band’s debut album is an appropriate warning of what’s to come – a band that can rock as hard as anyone.
  16. Unglued (1994) – 100% grunge rock, this is one of those songs you just have to crank up when you hear it.
  17. Lounge Fly (1994) – This psychedelic rock track is so iconic it was used as the theme music for MTV News Break for a good portion of the 1990s.
  18. Glide (1999) – While not as popular as “Sour Girl” or “Down”, this is the best example of STP’s unique brand of pop rock on their fourth album.
  19. Silvergun Superman (1994) – Scott’s soaring vocals over an aggressive rhythm section and some outstanding guitar work from Dean make this song a standout.
  20. Piece of Pie (1992) – Another hard rocking tune on the band’s debut album, Core. The lyrics aren’t Scott’s best work, but he sure sings them with conviction.
  21. Meatplow (1994) – The hard-driving opening song on Purple sets the tone for what remains the band’s best album to date.
  22. Lady Picture Show (1996) – Another rock chart topper from the band’s celebrated third album, this one includes some of the Beatles-esque elements the band would return to later in their career.
  23. Out of Time (2013) – The best post-Scott Weiland song the band has produced to date. It’s the first track on their High Rise EP with singer Chester Bennington and it’s a great example of their rocker with a pop melody formula.
  24. Crackerman (1992) – Break out the megaphone, Scott! Weiland famously used a megaphone to distort his vocals on multiple songs throughout his career, but this was the first.
  25. Dancing Days (1995) – STP covered this 70s classic for the album Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin and it was the highlight of the disc.
  26. Sour Girl (1999) – This melodic bit of pop was the biggest hit off the band’s fourth album and a bit of a departure from an otherwise harder edged collection of songs.
  27. Break On Through (2000) – STP recorded this cover for Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors.
  28. Sin (1992) – This song more than any other in the band’s repertoire sounds like a Pearl Jam knock-off and yet for my money, it's still better than 90% of what Eddie Vedder and Co. ever produced.
  29. Revolution (2001) – STP performed this stellar Beatles cover for a 9/11 benefit concert then released it as a single a month later.
  30. Down (1999) – The Grammy nominated first track on No. 4 is the band’s opening volley in a return to their rock roots after the foray into pop that was their third album.
  31. The Art of Letting Go (2018) – My favorite track from the new album. Guitarist Dean DeLeo has mentioned The Carpenters as an influence in past interviews. That might sound strange, but give this tune a try. You’ll hear it.
  32. No Way Out (1999) – This profane blast of hard rock is meant to be played loud. Really loud.
  33. Dumb Love (2001) – A throwback to their first album, this hard-rocking song opens up Shangri-La Dee Da in fine fashion.
  34. Heaven & Hot Rods (1999) – The hard rocking second song on the band’s fourth album features some cool guitar work from Dean and some ferocious drumming by Eric Kretz.
  35. Coma (2001) – Another hard-rocking song off STP’s fifth disc
  36. Meadow (2018) – A silly but really catchy lead single from the band’s first disc with lead singer Jeff Gutt
  37. Maver (2010) – The prettiest tune on the band’s 2010 swan song with Scott. Robert wrote the music on this one and it features the disc’s best lyrics alongside a great piano part.
  38. Hello It’s Late (2001) – Another of the band’s pretty ballads. This one sounds like STP’s take on Sgt. Pepper era Beatles.
  39. Creep (1992) – This is the closest STP got to a ballad on their debut album, but it still did well on the Rock charts.
  40. A Song For Sleeping (2001) – Maybe it’s just the father in me, but I love this sweet lullaby about Scott’s son, Noah.
  41. Naked Sunday (1992) – Scott’s rocket-fueled rant against organized religion and its inherent hypocrisy.
  42. Take a Load Off (2010) – The second single from the band’s final album with Scott on vocals. It’s got a great refrain although it didn’t chart very well.
  43. Only Dying (2002) – This rare track was meant for The Crow soundtrack but was ultimately replaced by “Big Empty”. You can now find it on the 25th Anniversary edition of Core.
  44. Pruno (1999) – Another hard rocking song from No. 4 and another showcase for Eric Kretz on drums.
  45. Never Enough (2018) – This one reminds me of “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors and is one of my favorites off their new album.
  46. Sex & Violence (1999) – This is probably as close as Stone Temple Pilots have ever come to playing punk rock.
  47. Wichita Lineman (2003) – The band recorded this cover song with Glen Campbell and while it isn’t on the album, it can be found on the DVD for their greatest hits collection, Thank You.
  48. Army Ants (1994) – Fast and loud, but this one doesn’t hold up next to the great songs that make up the majority of the band’s second album.
  49. Middle of Nowhere (2018) – The opening track on the band’s self-titled 2018 release is a rocker that proves the band isn’t done just yet.
  50. Black Heart (2013) – This one wouldn’t have been out of place on the band’s 4th album and is another solid effort with Bennington on lead vocals.
  51. Thought You’d Be Mine (2018) – This country ballad provides a nice showcase for Gutt’s voice.
  52. Ride the Cliché (1996) – Another catchy tune that captures the band’s signature pop rock sound.
  53. First Kiss on Mars (2010) – Robert contributed some great music to this one and Scott’s affinity for David Bowie is all over the vocals.
  54. Between the Lines (2010) – The first single from the band’s 2010 release. It doesn’t stand up to their biggest hits, but it’s still a good tune.
  55. Tumble in the Rough (1996) – Credited solely to Scott Weiland, this is the closest thing you’ll find to a traditional rock song on the band’s third disc. 
  56. Hickory Dichotomy (2010) – This song is as quirky as its title. It’s got Scott written all over it.
  57. About A Fool (2010) – Unreleased in the U.S., this Bossa nova song was a bonus track on some of the foreign versions of the band’s first eponymous album.
  58. Wet My Bed (1992) – This strange little interlude toward the end of Core reminds me of Brad Pitt’s stoner character in the film True Romance. One of my favorite things about this band is that they’ve never been afraid of being weird.
  59. Pretty Penny (1994) – Not one of my favorites, but an interesting acoustic track that sits in the middle of the band’s best album.
  60. Where the River Goes (1992) – Not the most exciting song on the band’s initial offering and at over eight minutes, it’s too long. However it features some of Scott’s more interesting lyrics.
  61. And So I Know (1996) – This smooth little sidetrack into Bossa nova is sandwiched between two of STP’s biggest hits on Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop.
  62. Kitchenware & Candybars (1994) – This darkly introspective track closes Purple and includes the bizarre parody lounge song “My Second Album” credited to singer Richard Peterson. Don’t ever say the band lacks a sense of humor.
  63. Church on Tuesday (1999) – After opening their fourth album with three hard rocking songs in a row, STP took their foot off the gas a bit on this one.
  64. I Got You (1999) – This song wouldn’t be out of place on a Beck disc and it gave the DeLeo brothers a chance to show off some of their multi-instrumental skills.
  65. You Can’t Drive Me Away (2010) – I believe this song was recorded earlier in their career, but it wasn’t released until 2010 as a bonus track on the True Blood soundtrack.
  66. Adhesive (1996) – A fairly routine example of the band’s pop rock tendencies until the jazz trumpet comes in halfway through the song. STP was full of surprises on Tiny Music.
  67. Regeneration (2001) – Perhaps not one of the band’s better songs, but it features some of the more interesting lyrics on their 5th album.
  68. Samba Nova (2010) – A bonus track that I think was only available on the Target edition of the band’s 2010 release and a real departure for STP. It wouldn’t sound out of place on a George Michael album. Really.
  69. Transmissions from a Lonely Room (2001) – A unique track in that it features Robert on electric sitar.
  70. Bi-Polar Bear (2001) – The longest and strangest track on Shangri-La Dee Da. It deals with the struggles of mental illness.
  71. Long Way Home (2001) – The closing track on Shangri-La Dee Da has the band’s signature sound, but isn’t anything special.
  72. Black Again (2001) – One of the weaker tracks on Shangri-La Dee Da.
  73. Bagman (2010) – A fun Beatles-esque pop rock tune
  74. Huckleberry Crumble (2010) – You could drop this song onto one of Aerosmith’s records from the 70s and it would fit in just fine.
  75. Reds & Blues (2018) – Moody and with a country twang, this song closes the band’s latest album nicely.
  76. Pop’s Love Suicide (1996) – Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop was as eclectic an album as you’re likely to find. This tune sounds a bit like the band Veruca Salt to me.
  77. Cinnamon (2010) – Written about Scott’s ex-wife, this one has a 90s pop flavor that’s different from anything else in the band’s oeuvre.
  78. Art School Girl (1996) – Written about an early girlfriend of Scott’s, the story goes that she set his car on fire after they broke up.
  79. No Memory (1992) – This brief instrumental features some somber guitar playing from Dean and serves as a brief respite before the band launches into “Sin” on their debut album.
  80. MC5 (1999) – The shortest and weakest track on the otherwise strong No. 4 album.
  81. Just a Little Lie (2018) – This bluesy tune might be the biggest departure from the band’s signature sound on their latest disc and the album is better for it.
  82. Daisy (1996) – Robert gets the chance to play guitar on this sweet, little instrumental.
  83. Too Cool Queenie (2001) – The band’s kiss-off to Courtney Love might be interesting from a gossip perspective, but it’s one of their weaker efforts at song-craft.
  84. Fast As I Can (2010) – As the title implies, this one is a fast-paced rocker but the lyrics are a letdown.
  85. Hazy Daze (2010) – Hard rocking song with a heavy dose of bitterness in the lyrics.
  86. Dare If You Dare (2010) – Although I’ve never read anything about the band stating as much, I hear a John Lennon influence on this track.
  87. Peacoat (2010) – A pretty good song by Dean but Scott’s melody and lyrics didn’t do it any favors.
  88. Good Shoes (2018) – The vocals and lyrics on this one aren’t particularly memorable, but it features some nice work by the other three members of the band.
  89. Roll Me Under (2018) – This Soundgarden knock off is enjoyable enough but Gutt is no Chris Cornell.
  90. Seven Caged Tigers (1996) – A relatively weak track on the band’s third disc. If Scott wasn’t high when he wrote the lyrics to this one, he should have been.
  91. Press Play (1996) – The opening song on the band’s third album is a brief instrumental that might be described as easy-listening jazz. No doubt about it, this album was unique.
  92. Finest Hour (2018) – This sounds like a typical throw-away pop track, but if you listen to the lyrics, it’s something of an elegy to Scott and Chester.
  93. Cry Cry (2013) – This one features a grungy riff from Dean that’s a little different from most of his work, but the song isn’t all that interesting otherwise.
  94. Six Eight (2018) – This song isn’t anything special but it does feature another Soundgarden-like refrain that’s memorable.
  95. Same On the Inside (2013) – Fairly generic mid-tempo song off the High Rise EP
  96. Tomorrow (2013) – This is the final and weakest track on the band’s EP with Chester Bennington 
  97. Guilty (2018) – A loud, yet mundane offering on the band’s latest disc which features some of the band’s dumber lyrics


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Live in Concert: Stone Temple Pilots



Stone Temple Pilots will never be the same for me without Scott Weiland, but I got to see them in concert last night at The Masquerade in Underground Atlanta with their new lead singer, Jeff Gutt, and they rocked. Gutt does a fair imitation of Scott both vocally and in his stage presence and the rest of the band sounds as good as ever.

They played most of their early hits along with several songs from their new album. Highlights of the show included a sing-along to “Plush” and a melancholy rendition of one of Scott’s prettiest songs, “Atlanta”.

Clips below. Enjoy!


Vasoline

Meadow

Atlanta

Plush

Sex Type Thing




Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Visiting Italy


I'm going to completely ignore the advice I shared in my Costa Rica post last year and include a ton of pics in this post about my recent trip to Italy. You don't want to hear me rattle on about the beautiful vistas of rolling hills, the charming vineyards, or the amazing centuries' old architecture when I can show you instead. You also don't want me to embarrass myself explaining how my blood was positively buzzing after I walked through a gallery of hundreds of pieces of Renaissance art to stand in front of a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci himself. Just know this, 10 days isn't nearly enough to explore everything Italy has to offer. I wish I could have stayed for another month.


The Hills of Tuscany

The View from Montecatini Alto

The De'lemmi Tower

Night in the Village of Montecatini Alto

Fiorentina Soccer

A Lion Statue guarding the walls of Lucca

The Charming City of Lucca

Tuscan Vineyard

Tuscan Winery

Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Dining in Pisa

The Art of Pisa

The Streets of Pisa

Atop of Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Fallen Angel of Pisa

The Florence Cathedral 

The Art of Florence

The Art of Florence

View of Florence from Inside the Uffizi Gallery

Leonardo Da Vinci's Adoration of the Magi







Friday, March 16, 2018

Album Review: Stone Temple Pilots




You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger Scott Weiland fan than me, but I’ll be the first to admit that Stone Temple Pilots has always been more than just a vehicle for their former charismatic front man. If you have any doubts, take a listen to any of his solo discs or his final album before his untimely death with his band The Wildabouts. Scott rocked but he needed talented musicians to help him craft good songs. So that leads us to post-Weiland Stone Temple Pilots and what they’ve been up to since they kicked Scott out of the band for his substance abuse problems in early 2013.

Later that year they cut High Rise, a solid 5-song EP with singer Chester Bennington, but Bennington left the band two years later to focus on his primary gig with the band Linkin Park. Sadly, Weiland died less than a month later followed by Bennington’s suicide in 2017. After an exhaustive public search for a new lead singer including a three-song demo sent by yours truly, they released a self-titled album today with new vocalist and former X Factor contestant, Jeff Gutt.

Is it any good? It doesn’t come close to matching the band’s best music on their first two albums Core (1992) and Purple (1994) or the two albums Weiland made with Velvet Revolver, but it’s easily better than STP’s comeback album in 2010 and doesn’t feel out-of-place beside their third disc Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop (1996), their 1999 effort No. 4, or Shangri-La Dee Da from 2001.

Brothers Dean and Robert DeLeo along with Eric Kretz still sound fantastic on guitar, bass, and drums. They haven’t lost a beat over the years and still know how to come up with a great hook. Gutt’s lyrics on this debut don’t quite measure up to the best that Weiland penned, but his voice is excellent. He’s got his own sound without being jarringly different from what we got accustomed to from Weiland leading the band.   

The album opens solidly with the rocker “Middle of Nowhere” then really kicks into gear with the third track and first single, “Meadow”. From there, standout tracks include the ballad “The Art of Letting Go”, a rollicking song reminiscent of The Door’s classic “Roadhouse Blues” entitled “Never Enough”, and the country-rocker that closes out the disc, “Reds & Blues”.

All told, Stone Temple Pilots (2018) holds its own in the band’s 8-disc discography and is a welcome comeback for a band that’s suffered more than its share of heartbreak. Let’s hope Jeff Gutt sticks around for several albums to come.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Last Jedi vs. Logan

Photo Credit: Fandango


WARNING. This post is chock full of spoilers. If you haven’t seen The Last Jedi or Logan and have any plans to do so, abort now. I repeat. ABORT!




OK, for those of you still with me... I watched both The Last Jedi and Logan last week, the former at the theater and the latter via DVR. I consider myself a big-time fan of the Star Wars series and a reasonably enthusiastic fan of the X-Men series. I’ve seen all the films multiple times. I can carry on just about as geeky a conversation about these universes and characters as you’d want to have so I feel fairly comfortable stating that I’m confused. X-Men’s dedicated fanbase seemed almost universal in their praise of Logan. Most of what I see online from rabid Star Wars fans is disappointment in The Last Jedi. This makes no sense.

These films serve the same purpose. Both these movies kill off the old characters you love in order to usher in younger characters as our new heroes. As Yoda states, “We are what they grow beyond.”
Logan establishes very early on that every single mutant we’ve seen in any of the previous films is dead except our beloved Wolverine and Professor Xavier along with lesser known sidekick, Caliban. Every. Single. One. Magneto, Mystique, Storm, Cyclops, Jean Gray, Rogue, Beast, Angel... DEAD! It then goes on to kill Caliban, followed by Xavier, and ending with Wolverine six feet under. That’s right, even the title character is X’d out. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

I sort of get it. Logan is No Country for Old X-Men. It’s Unforgiven X. It’s a dark, dystopian western that feels appropriate given the shit-stained world we currently live in under Herr Trump. But director James Mangold and star Hugh Jackman turned our favorite good guys into sad, old, weakened fugitives then killed them all. And as an audience, we thanked him for it. So why the hate for Rian Johnson?

2015’s The Force Awakens already took out Han Solo like a punk, skewered on a lightsaber by his long-lost Sith-emo son. In The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson gives Jedi-turned-wizened hermit Luke Skywalker a heroic death. He steps out of his self-imposed retirement to become “the spark that will light the fire that will burn the First Order down.” He literally stands alone against the entire First Order and sacrifices himself to save all the good guys including his sister General Leia and all the new characters that are meant to carry the Star Wars torch. Fans hate him for it. Why?

Sure, floating-thru-space-Leia was bad CGI and desperately needed some brief explanation of how the Hell that was possible. Yes, Admiral Akbar’s untimely demise deserved more than one sentence of exposition. And I'll give you, a space-chase scene built around the idea that the fully powered bad guys would just sit around waiting for the good guys to run out of fuel was silly, but was every beat of Logan well thought out? Xavier owned a massive school with its own super-jet and mega-satellite. Now he lives in a rusted shed and Wolverine works as a chauffeur?

It seems to me that both these films were engaging, well made movies tasked with a morbid purpose. If you loved one, I don’t know why you don’t love the other.






Monday, December 18, 2017

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things from 2017

Photo Credit: Pixabay


Another year is ending and I remain an un-agented writer screaming sci-fi and horror into the void. But hey, it’s Christmas time and being dark and brooding feels inappropriate even for a guy like me. So let’s talk about what went right this year. You won’t find any raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens in this post, but there were several things that brought me joy.

Family
Who else loves you no matter how much time you spend banging away at your computer keyboard? My wife who keeps me as sane as I’m likely to get, my kids who shine light into my life every day, and my parents and sister who’ve put up with me for more than four decades now... you’re the best.

Film
Blade Runner 2049, The Last Jedi, Coco, Wonder, Get Out, Atomic Blonde... every year delivers at least a half dozen highly entertaining films and 2017 was no exception. If you missed any of these gems, I highly recommend you catch them while you enjoy some well-earned time off this holiday season.

TV
As is my wont, I didn’t catch a whole lot of different shows on the small screen in 2017, but I did love Game of Thrones, Westworld, American Gods, Silicon Valley, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Stranger Things. The short seasons always leave me wanting more, but that’s certainly better than the old days of being disappointed by throw-away filler episodes. I’m looking at you Miami Vice!

Books
Sadly, I can’t say I read many new releases this year. I’m looking forward to delving into The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh, A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab, and Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King, but my overloaded bookshelves demand I wait for the paperback editions to come out. In the meantime, I thoroughly enjoyed some older titles including The Peripheral and Pattern Recognition, both by William Gibson, and Revival by Stephen King.

Spirits
Yep, when you’re living in a country with political leaders like we’ve got, alcohol is a must. I indulged in my usual favorites of Herradura and Cazadores tequila, Grey Goose and Ketel One vodka, and Tanqueray Gin, but I also discovered Milagro and Casamigos tequilas. If you feel the need to get your drink on, these are the brands I recommend.

Travel
I kicked the year off celebrating in Savannah, Georgia. We hit the beach in Fort Walton and Navarre, Florida for Spring Break. I thoroughly enjoyed a week and a half in Costa Rica over the summer then followed that up with a long weekend in Nashville. The older I get, the more I learn the value of experience over material objects. See the world while you can!

Home
Sure, traveling the world is great, but so is coming home to a fantastic house. We moved into our new digs in June and I couldn’t be more pleased. The kids love their school, we have friendly neighbors, and this house is actually big enough to throw parties in. Did I mention I like to drink?

Readers
And finally, one my favorite things remains my readers. You may still be small in number, but you’re a huge inspiration. You keep me writing even when the demons of doubt come sniffing around in the form of Amazon sales reports and rejection letters. I’ll keep writing stories as long as you keep reading them!



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Top 10 Animated Films of All Time

Photo Credit: Disney/Pixar

I took the family to see Disney Pixar’s latest film, Coco, last night and I was blown away. There wasn’t a dry eye in the theater and it immediately got me thinking, was this the greatest animated film ever made? Given how many fantastic animated films have been produced over just the past 25 years, that’s a tall order. I decided to sit down and really sort through them. What are the absolute best animated films ever made? Here are my picks from number 10 to number 1.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Director Tim Burton has made a half dozen or more movies I love, but come Halloween, this is always the one to watch. Jack Skellington is the king of our scariest holiday, but when he gets it in his fleshless head that Christmas looks like it’s more fun, problems ensue.

Wreck-It-Ralph (2012)
Being a 1980s video-game nerd, this movie had me based on the premise alone. Ralph is tired of being the arcade-game bad guy so he sets off to prove he’s hero material but gets much more than he bargained for. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman make this one a real treat.

The Princess and the Frog (2009)
You won’t find many princess movies on my list, but this one is the exception. Tiana is no damsel in distress. She’s resourceful, she’s determined, and she’s got to make a man of selfish Prince Naveen if they have any shot at beating one of my favorite Disney villains, voodoo practitioner Dr. Facilier.

The Incredibles (2004)
What do super heroes do when the world thinks it doesn’t need them anymore? Director Brad Bird proves an animated action movie can be just as exciting as a live one when it’s armed with a great script and a cast featuring the likes of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Monsters, Inc. (2001)
When you’re little, the monsters hiding in the closet can seem awfully scary, but what if they’re really cute and cuddly once you get to know them? Billy Crystal and John Goodman are perfect together as monster protagonists who just want to help a little girl get home without losing their jobs in the scare factory.

Inside Out (2015)
Growing up is hard and few films more poignantly depict the emotions involved than this story of a young girl forced to move from the Midwest to San Francisco and leave the familiarities of her childhood behind.

Up (2009)
The opening 10 minutes of this film are heart-breakingly beautiful. You won’t find better animated story telling. From the unconventional main character to the iconic image of a house being lifted into the sky by a massive bunch of balloons, this film will stay with you a long time.

Wall-E (2008)
For a film that features a robot protagonist incapable of saying more than two words, Wall-E has a whole lot to say about man and the destructive path he’s on with both the world and the bodies we live in. Not only is this one of Disney Pixar’s best films, it might be their most important.

Toy Story 3 (2010)
I could have picked any of the three films in this series for my list, but I think the last one is the best of the bunch. Tom Hanks and co. are pure magic and this one packs more emotional punch than any other film on this list save one...

Coco (2017)
Yep, Coco is my new favorite of all time. The script and the animation are unmatched. Making it through this movie without tearing up is the new Voight-Kampff test (hey, shout-out to my fellow sci-fi nerds!). You can’t do it. Go see it while it’s in the theaters this Thanksgiving holiday.


Because I love so many animated films, here are a dozen Honorable Mentions: Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994),Toy Story (1995), South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut (1999), Toy Story 2 (1999), Shrek (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), Ratatouille (2007), Frozen (2013), Book of Life (2014), Big Hero 6 (2014), Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)