AMC’s “Breaking Bad” hailed as favorite of A&E staff

File photo.
File photo.

Our arts and entertainment staff listed their top 3 summer television shows and movies, and AMC’s “Breaking Bad” made all three lists. Check out which other shows and flicks our staff labeled as “don’t miss.”

Nick Keeley, arts and entertainment editor

“Breaking Bad”:  Even though only half of its final eight episodes have aired, AMC’s mesmerizing conclusion to the story of Walter White (the incomparable Bryan Cranston) continues to amaze. A brilliant and meticulously-crafted tale of a mild-mannered man’s descent into evil, “Breaking Bad” succeeds time and time again in capturing a cinematic sense of unbearable tension and dread. Cranston and his phenomenal supporting cast all give career-best performances, from Aaron Paul’s powerful turn as the broken Jesse Pinkman to Dean Norris’ layered work as DEA agent Hank Schrader. Even though all “Bad” things must come to an end, I will be very sorry to see this show go once its finale airs on Sept. 29.

“Fruitvale Station”:  A powerful, haunting and gripping character drama about a man who struggles to become a better person, director Ryan Coogler’s remarkably assured debut was the best film of the summer. Based on the tragic true life story of Oscar Grant III, Coogler gives the film a truly astonishing sense of authenticity and realism, which is aided by the beautifully nuanced and subtle performances of Michael B. Jordan as Grant and Academy-Award winner Octavia Spencer as his mother. A prime contender for several Oscar nominations, “Fruitvale Station” is a film that deserves to be seen.

“The World’s End”:  Hilarious, clever and heartfelt, Edgar Wright’s conclusion to the “Three Flavors Cornetto” trilogy is an uproariously entertaining sci-fi comedy about a group of friends’ attempt at recreating a pub crawl from their youth. Much like their earlier efforts “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” Wright and co-writer and star Simon Pegg infuse “The World’s End” with a brilliantly-layered script, zany British humor and irresistible charm. Pegg and co-star Nick Frost continue to showcase their excellent versatility, while Martin Freeman (“The Hobbit”), Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine provide great support. The best comedy of the summer, “The World’s End” is a film to behold.

Christian Becker, staff writer

“The Way, Way Back”:  In a summer full of superheroes, zombies and robots, one movie stuck out above the rest, and it just so happened to be a little indie flick. “The Way, Way Back” was both funny and touching, a perfect combination in my book. We follow an emotionally damaged teenage boy, Duncan, who is forced to spend the entire summer at his mom’s boyfriend’s beach house. While everyone there encourages him to get out of the house and get his “attractive score” up from a three to a seven, all he wants is to be left alone. Once Duncan befriends a group of misfits at a local water park and forms a strong relationship with the owner, he begins to come out of his shell and feel like he finally belongs somewhere. Sam Rockwell plays the Waterpark owner and remains one of my favorite film characters of the year. He brings such a warm heart to the story while never letting up on the sarcastically hilarious remarks to his fellow co-workers. “The Way, Way Back” is the feel good movie of the summer that pulls on many heartstrings.

“Breaking Bad”:  I was going to apologize for putting this on my list, because if you are not a fan of the show you are probably sick of hearing about how great it is. But if you are not a fan, then you need to become one, and fast. As AMC’s hit show about the family man turned meth dealer comes to a close, almost every household across the country is on the edge of their seat wondering just how it will all come to an end. Walter White has come a long way since season one and Bryan Cranston has turned this character into one for the history books. Talking about this show in-depth would risk my spoiling the show for those not caught up, so I’ll make this short and simple. Just watch it. It’s a show worth getting into. While many television shows hit a slump around the fourth or fifth season, “Breaking Bad” manages to get better with each episode. “Breaking Bad” is one of the most suspenseful pieces of entertainment to date.

“Star Trek Into Darkness”:  I need to get this out before I continue. I am not a Trekkie (Star Trek fan). I have nothing against the franchise; I just haven’t actually seen any of the previous television or film installments. I had no interest, until a guy named J.J. Abrams came along and rebooted the space saga. I knew I’d like this sequel, seeing as how I loved the first one in 2009. But I didn’t think I would love it even more than the original. “Into Darkness” gave me everything I could have asked for in a summer blockbuster, from the well-choreographed and exciting action sequences all the way down to the well-written script that shows hints of comedy every now and then. I was invested all the way through, and they managed to take the characters and material to greater lengths than the first one did. While this summer offered many thrills at the movies, “Star Trek Into Darkness” was one that thrilled me from beginning to end and left me with a huge grin on my face.

Sierra Savela, staff writer

“Breaking Bad”: Truly one of television’s most well-done and entertaining television shows right now. Watch Walter White’s growth, decay and transformation into Heisenberg, Albuquerque’s finest meth cook. Actually, don’t. Just don’t: the show will take over your life like it took over mine.

“Springsteen and I”: An awesome documentary about Bruce Springsteen made up strictly of footage taken by fans. Last month Rolling Stone named Springsteen the best live act currently touring and this film sheds light on the life changing impact that these nearly four-hour shows have had. With personal stories, amazing fan footage and a whole lot of Bruce, this feature had me dancing, laughing and crying all at the same time.

The Civil Wars, “The Civil Wars”: Another beautifully-passionate album from Grammy-winning Joy Williams and John Paul White which I’ve had on repeat ever since its release date. The duo is best known for their soft, heartbreaking and intimate songs. My personal favorite is the cover of Etta James’ “Tell Mama” in which Williams sings, presumably, to her newborn baby boy.

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