Top Quix Picks Movies & Books from 2016 (Part One)

Here are some of my favorite movies and books I’ve enjoyed this past year.

Some are old, some are new, all are absolutely wonderful. Enjoy!

Love & Mercy 

1 Love and Mercy









This biopic of Brian Wilson, the genius of Beach Boys fame, packs an emotional punch and is steeped in historical authenticity. There is a quartet of great acting performances from Paul Dano (young Brian Wilson), Elizabeth Banks (Brian Wilson’s wife), Paul Giamatti (the controlling psychotherapist Gene Landy) and – finally in a good role – John Cusack (older Brian Wilson).

Wilson’s musical genius is beautifully distilled, using the music studio as his instrument. It’s a gas to see the Wrecking Crew studio musicians portrayed and a thrill to see the process of creating such timeless art as “Caroline, No”, “God Only Knows” and “Good Vibrations”.

And you’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel for Brian Wilson the person, a gentle soul somehow cursed with twin evil forces controlling his life – his father and his therapist that controlled every aspect of his adult life until getting legally banned.

Cheers to gentle Brian Wilson – the man and musician – today happily married to the woman that helped set him free.

I Am Big Bird 

2 Big Bird









This documentary examines the life of Caroll Spinney, the man who has been Sesame Street’s Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969 (and still is well into his 80s). How powerful is this documentary? I got teary more times than I can count while watching it, and I have none of the nostalgia people may have for Sesame Street – I grew up without TV and have never seen an episode. Caroll is feeler through and through, and his story resonates deeply, inspiring me long after I’ve seen it – highly recommended.











Daniel Day-Lewis hits it out of the park in yet another in his string of ‘role-of-a-lifetime’ roles. The movie is a visual feast, courtesy of Speilberg’s long-time Director of Photography Janusz Kaminski. There were more than a few moments when a lighting effect or bit of camera work led me to feel as if I was also in the 1800s. Speilberg wisely chose one Lincoln ‘episode’ to focus on –  getting the 13th amendment passed – rather than a full-life bio-pic. And right to the end he balances Lincoln the family man and Lincoln the beloved President. It’s a good – not great – movie, but worthwhile watching for Day-Lewis and the lighting alone.

I’ll Be Me 

4 I'll Be Me









Glenn Campbell (Wichita Lineman, Rhinestone Cowboy and many other songs I love) has Alzheimer’s. He did a farewell tour in 2012, joined by three of his children (members of the band) and his wife. This documentary takes us there, giving an intimate view of both what this disease does to a vital human being and also how the best of us can sometimes shine through even as Alzheimer’s does it’s steady march of destruction. There’s a bravery to granting this kind of access to this world that I’m uncertain I’d have the courage to do myself. Recommended.

Ready Player One










How good are you at playing Pacman, Tempest, Dig Dug and other classic arcade games? How much 80s pop culture trivia is housed in your brain? This book by Ernest Cline (and soon to be a Steven Speilberg movie) is a geek’s dream come true. All that ‘useless’ knowledge accumulated as a kid becomes crucial in this book. There are lots of places online to read a plot summary so I’ll skip that here. The book gleefully revels in 80s culture – video games, movies, TV, music. So it really helps to have grown up in the 80s. And it especially helps to have been a boy growing up in the 80s (hey, that’s me!). But even if you’re not an 80s kids the book is big-hearted enough to appeal. Recommended and oddly inspiring.

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