Blog Archives

Cash Erica Marley at Penna Powers, how bow dah? Erica is a recent graduate from BYU Idaho, and joined the team as a Social Change Coordinator in December. When she isn’t hard at work on the Utah Cancer Control Program, she spends most of her time outdoors: mountain biking, rock climbing, and playing water sports. Although she has yet to sing for us, one of her favorite memories was making the finals for a regional NATS singing competition. She is inspired by the quote: “If you can’t teach me to fly, teach me to sing.” -J.M. Barrie

We like that Kelsey. That is a nice Kelsey. As a recent graduate from the University of Utah (go Utes!), Kelsey Hess brought her journalism background to her role as Social Media Content Coordinator. When she isn’t planning her dream trip to Bora Bora or jamming out at country concerts, you can find her in the ‘Girl’s Corner’ of Penna Powers, speed-writing for a number of clients. Once, when she was losing in Wendover, a fortune cookie told her: “The bad times are behind you.” And we agree! Welcome to the team, Kelsey.

Share: Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

One of the most difficult aspects of advertising can be trying to communicate a simple idea. Lucky for us, the language of love is universally understood. Powered by such a strong motivation, this means that Valentine’s Day is the perfect set up for clever and endearing advertisements. Here are our top ten favorite Valentine’s Day ads from the last 10 years.

1. Deadpool – True Love Never Dies

Just before last Valentine’s Day, Deadpool hit theaters. While Deadpool is actually a highly explicit, R-rated, 4th-wall-breaking comedy disguised as a superhero movie, it featured many prominent Valentine’s Day promotions that might have confused some potential moviegoers into thinking it was a Rom-Com. You never can trust advertisers, can you?

deadpool-valentines-day-01-e1452669351883

2. Durex – Happy Father’s Day

This ad doesn’t hold anything back when it proclaims, in perfect tongue-and-cheek, that other brands simply don’t offer the same protection as Durex.
happy-fathers-day-durex

3. Carphone Warehouse – Why Spend More?

Carphone Warehouse is a British mobile phone retailer who offers quick comparisons on phone prices, so you can get the most bang for your buck. In fact, they’re so affordable that they can even save you money on flowers for Valentine’s Day.

1-creative-valentine-ads4. HelpAge India – The Elderly Need Our Love Too

HelpAge India is non-profit dedicated to showing some respect to those who came before us. This clever ad reminds us that love isn’t just meant for the young.

17-creative-valentine-ads

5. McDonald’s – The Proposal

McDonald’s might not be your first choice for a romantic dinner with your special someone, but honestly, it’d probably make for a more memorable Valentine’s Day. Kudos to McDonald’s for trying.

mcdonalds

6. Anthon Berg – The Love Experiment

Anthon Berg reminds us in this online video that telling those we care about that we care is good for our own health and happiness. And what better way to say it than with Anthon Berg chocolate (and some kind words of course)?

7. BMW – Motorbike Lovers

There’s definitely something romantic about riding off into the sunset on a motorcycle. I think this ad captures that feeling, don’t you?

bmw-valentines-day-message-valentines-day-small-53473

8. Wilkinson – Smooth Valentine’s Day

Wilkinson Sword is a British company that offers precision shaving instruments. This creative outdoor execution shows that they believe a smooth shave is paramount to a smooth Valentine’s Day.

9. Hovis Bread – Valentine’s Day

Hovis Bread is the third British company to make the list. I don’t know if it’s the incredible food photography or just the simplicity of this ad, but I truly would kill for some toast right now.

hovis-valentine

10. Google – Love in Paris

Okay, technically this isn’t a Valentine’s Day ad, but when it comes to advertisements that make you feel the love, this commercial is one of the best.

 


Thanks for checking out our list of top ten Valentine’s Day ads over the last 10 years. Let us know which ad was your favorite in the comments below, or tell us if we missed an obvious winner.

Share: Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

Whether you were cheering for the Falcons or the Patriots in the Super Bowl, no doubt you also paid attention to the ads. They often end up being more entertaining than the game. And if you watched in Utah and were paying attention to the ads, right before the start of the 4th quarter, you may have seen the winner of the Zero Fatalities video contest proudly introducing his safety message to Utah audiences.

When it comes to creating a Super Bowl ad, handing over the reigns isn’t usually a good tactic – well unless you’re Doritos and can offer over $1M as a cash prize and the National Super Bowl airtime.

But unlike Doritos, Zero Fatalities wasn’t focused on receiving a professional quality ad with their “Zero Bowl Teen Video Contest.” Instead, the focus was on the process the contest provided. By providing the Super Bowl ad as the trophy, Zero Fatalities motivated teens to talk to teens, in advocacy for safe driving behaviors. And if you’re in the business of behavior change, what better advocacy could you have for safe teen driving than peer to peer?

The “Zero Bowl Teen Video Contest” began in November, and the submission deadline was January 6. Zero Fatalities received over 70 video submissions. A panel of judges selected our 5 finalists, including the winning video. All finalists were aired on the day of the Super Bowl, with the winning video being aired during the Super Bowl in the Utah market.

As you’ll see in the finalist ads, like many of the video submissions, a lot of thought and planning went into these safe driving messages. So enjoy watching from #5 to the winning spot:

5th Place – Fayth Melton, Herriman High School

Fayth’s entry probably had the highest production value. Working with Unified Police, SWAT and her local school enforcement officer, her video shows the traumatic consequences of distracted driving. She includes a dramatic arc that starts with an innocent text from her mother to a visit no law enforcement officer wants to make.

4th Place – Isaac Bowen, Corner Canyon High School

Isaac’s spot was the most cinematic, including beautiful views of the western shore of Utah Lake. His creativity is on full display as he transitions from a teen driver out on a drive to his younger brother knocking a toy car off the table as he answers the vibrating phone.

3rd Place – Kyle Ransom, Logan High School

Kyle’s spot is easily the funniest of the finalists. Wouldn’t everyone drive differently if Grandma was riding shotgun? Interestingly, Kyle’s real grandmother is not in the spot. He asked his neighbor to play the role. She nailed it.

2nd Place – Amy Miller, Lone Peak High School

Amy’s video is an outstanding achievement. Well-crafted, well-written and hauntingly shot, Amy educates her viewers on the dangers that not buckling up can pose to not only the unbuckled passenger, but also to others in the car who may be hit by a human projectile. Be sure to stay for the darkly humorous and sober ending as the body bag delivers one last plea to the viewer.

1st Place – Sterling Jones, St. George

Sterling’s message shows the power of peers to influence driving habits, especially when it comes to teens. Despite Mom and Dad’s best efforts, they might get tuned out. But if your best friend is telling you to buckle up, how can you say no? Sterling made great use of music, a GoPro camera, rooftop locations and had the best closing tagline. You’re ready for the advertising business, Sterling!

Utah teens are very talented and creative. It was extremely difficult to narrow down the entries, so visit the Zero Fatalities YouTube channel to see some noteworthy honorable mentions. And leave your comments below, we’d love your thoughts on this campaign.

Share: Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

For the first time ever, a Super Bowl went into overtime, and for the fifth time, the New England Patriots took home the championship. The Patriots win over the Falcons was nothing short of exciting, but what about the ads? Besides the “Big Game” itself, Super Bowl commercials have long since brought viewers to the TV, for the long-running tradition of picking the “Best” and “Worst.” So, we decided to ask our staffers what ads they thought were the best. Here’s our top 5:

84 LumberAlthough this commercial was deemed too controversial to show in its entirety, the 90-second teaser stood out in our minds. Featuring the journey of a mother and daughter who are leaving their country with hopes of a better life in the US, 84 Lumber capitalizes on the “land of opportunity.” 

Airbnb: The ad titled “We Accept” shows a collection of faces of different nationalities and the words “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.” The goal of the ad was to promote a message of diversity and acceptance, and was also used as an announcement that the company intends to provide short-term housing for 100,000 refugees, disaster survivors and other displaced people for the next five years.

Mr. Clean: Mr. Clean’s “Cleaner of Your Dreams” ad caused quite a stir this year. The ad features a revamped Mr. Clean, younger and “sexier” than his original character. Many viewers were entertained and found the ad to be funny, while others found it to be disturbing. It ends with the words “You gotta love man who cleans” on the screen.

Audi: Audi’s ad is narrated by a father who is worried about her daughter being valued less than men “despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence…” The ad ends with the words “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work.” Although it did receive some praise from viewers, others criticized Audi for even running the ad while lacking women in leadership positions.

Skittles: With “Romance in the Rainbow,” Skittles decided to focus on humor with a classic scene of teenage romance: throwing pebbles (or in this case, Skittles) at the window. Little does he know, the girl, along with her family, a cop, a burglar and even a random beaver, are all in her room catching mouthfuls of skittles. Skittles never fails to create ads that are as sweet as they are completely off the wall.

Super Bowl advertisements can make or break a company’s brand based on the outcome after they air. Companies spend millions of dollars on their ads with the same goal in mind as the players: that once the game is over, will people still be talking about them? If a company can create an ad that makes the “Best” lists after the Super Bowl is over and continue to create an ongoing impression, they essentially win too. Which Super Bowl ads were your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

Share: Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

In a fragmented media world with no M.A.S.H. or Cheers finale to be found, the Super Bowl has become our national TV holiday. It wasn’t until 2010 when the Super Bowl’s audience finally surpassed that legendary M.A.S.H. finale (106 million viewers back in 1983). Now, it’s unlikely any other program will ever be able to challenge it as the most watched.

Besides being an overhyped contest between two NFL football teams, the Super Bowl is the only program that inspires viewers to say they often enjoy the ads just as much, if not more than, the game. There is a ton of pressure for each advertiser to entertain, innovate and perhaps, sell something.

So we’re shining the spotlight on some brands who will be going beyond the 30-second spot this year. Here’s what we’re looking forward to:

Snickers – The Mars brand will be airing the first LIVE Super Bowl spot. We don’t know much, but we do know it will be Western-themed and star Adam Driver (or at least his cardboard cut-out). Snickers has been teasing it on TV, Facebook and YouTube:

Hyundai – The Korean car brand is teaming up with NFL legends and director, Peter Berg (Patriots Day, Deepwater Horizon) to shoot its 90-second commercial in real time during the Super Bowl. Apparently, they’re going to mix in some actual game footage, as well as shots from service men and women enjoying the game. The spot will air right after the final whistle blows. Can’t wait to see how they pull this off.

84 Lumber – While some brands use their Super Bowl spot to generally increase public opinion of the company, this supply materials brand will be the first Super Bowl advertiser to run a pure recruitment message. The company will be launching a massive hiring spree, and is perfectly fine spending $5 million to do it. Its first try at a spot was rejected by Fox, who evidently thought it too political, with its images of walls and ladders.

T-Mobile – Every Super Bowl has to have a celebrity redemption story. This year’s prize goes to T-Mobile using the much maligned Justin Bieber as it’s MC for the history of the Touchdown Dance. Will you Beliebe?

Zero Fatalities – In the spirit of the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign, UDOT’s Zero Fatalities traffic safety education program will be showcasing the winner of its #ZeroBowl contest. Teens all across the state submitted their best 30-second spot focused on a safe driving message. Look for this spot at the end of the third quarter. We are super impressed with the talent on display. While we can’t show you the winning spot  yet, here’s one of the finalists:

So sit back, grab a snack and enjoy the ads, er, the game!

Share: Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

Penna Powers has a brand new soccer team, and we pulled from whoever we had in-house to make it happen: techies, creatives, has-beens, bikers, bums and account managers. Don’t let the player pool fool you, however, because as of right now, we are 3:1. Somehow, this hodgepodge of players has turned into a tactically savvy soccer team, feared by every other team in the Coed, League 10.

The Dungeons and Dragons discussions have been nixed by talks of soccer tactics and sub rotations. The afternoon Birthday Celebration sweets have been forgone in the stomach’s preparation for the evening’s match. The P2 staff is hyped every Game Day with anticipation. Needless to say, the creation of a P2 soccer team has had an energizing effect on the P2 workday.

IMG_1810

1/5 Post-Game Recap:

Last week was a nail-biter! After overcoming a 3:0 deficit, Nate sealed the deal with a striking hit to far post for the 4:3 advantage with only minutes to go. Thor, Marsha and Becka worked some skilled offensive magic in the final third, sometimes surprising themselves, tallying upwards of 10 shots on goal. Audrey fit her defensive role like a glove and with Jordan’s coaching and stamina our team was organized and tactful. Tyson never swore, never let Jordan down and made a few seriously key stops in the final minutes of the match to seal the victory.

Players to watch 1/19: Definitely Collin Brian. A player that demonstrated some silky skills for 3 minutes — fans everywhere are anxious to see what he will do with a few more.

1/19 Post-Game Recap:

The wrath of P2 officially unleashed versus Pandas IFC. After 12 utterly nasty goals, the Pandas were left bereft of their cute looks and pride.

Speaking of cute, the girls brought the heat. Marsha continues as the consistent offensive threat while really sticking it to the offsides rule. Audrey’s savvy is missed every minute she is off the pitch. Becka receives “most improved player” and is typically found doing drills after the game. Carly got her sports confused and deliberately produced a screen, which resulted in a foul that would make any basketball coach proud. It made Kim really proud, too. Melinda had a harsh welcome to the sport with the whiff of the game. No matter, literally seconds later she was up and assisted the sweetest goal of the night. Whiff’s on you, Pandas.

The boys also did work. Player-to-watch, Collin Brian, exceeded expectations with a hat-trick performance – it’s amazing what a little more than three minutes can do for you. Jordan ran our defense…and offense…and midfield…he basically runs the entire game, literally and figuratively speaking. Nate is consistently on the leader board for goals and rumor has it scouts are watching him closely. Tyson had a sick shot on goal and if you don’t believe me, it was caught on film. Thor doesn’t say much vocally and let’s his moves do the talking: to this day he has the best shake-n-bake skills we have seen.

IMG_1809

1/26 Post-Game Recap:

If you’ve ever wondered if Narwhals exist, they don’t. P2 defeated second-in-the-league foe Narwhal Nation 9-3 last Thursday wrapping up a 3-game winning streak. The Narwhals were feisty but P2 fought back, collecting the most fouls they’ve had all season. Kim made-good with her 3-goal promise to Chuck and scored her first hat-trick of the season. She also made-bad with an opposing player, failing to chip over his 6’5″ self resulting in a nice ball-to-face moment for him. He had some colorful words for Kim immediately following (something about “going around…”).

Meanwhile, Tyson was caught counting out loud the number of times he was falling to the ground – going down with a loud “There’s three!” midway through the game. He and Thor almost had to shave and let their locks flow due to a shortage of female players. Collin remained calm and collective helping us to keep our cool all game long. Marsha has added to her soccer position repertoire by developing as a fantastic midfielder, constantly checking back to add support. Becka and Nate are beginning to make a great “soccer couple.” Fans can really see the chemistry between the P2 players develop. It is not uncommon to see give-and-go’s, wall passes, and spectacular assists at every game.

Players to watch 2/2: Alex Antonino. Let’s call this what it is: an all-out call-out. Her sassy spunk in soccer form is the most anticipated venture of the New Year. Fans and P2 players cannot contain their high-hopes for Miss. Antonino’s participation.

IMG_1818

Share: Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

Technology is always changing, with yesterday’s impossible evolving into today’s ‘must have.’ While there’s no way to predict everything that will surprise us in 2017, here are five upcoming tech products to keep your eye on in the New Year.

2017 tech

The Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is an upcoming console/tablet hybrid that aims to revolutionize the way we play video games. Utilizing detachable game controllers and a special docking station, the Nintendo Switch can transform from a handheld gaming tablet to a complete gaming console within seconds. While there is plenty of skepticism on how well the Switch will work, Nintendo has surprised us before. And the device, set to launch in March of 2017, is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Amazon Echo with a Touch Screen

Digital assistants like Siri, Google Now and Alexa have already proven that they can be a compelling tool to make everyday life easier. And while we don’t know the specific sales numbers for Amazon’s Echo devices, it’s obvious that Amazon is heavily invested in developing the product. We can expect 2017 will yield several breakthroughs in the digital assistant category. Specifically, the current rumor is that the next Alexa-enabled device will launch with a 7-inch touchscreen. Does this mean Amazon will be merging their Echo and Fire device lines? Probably not. But it could mean a new device category is set to hit the market.

Surface Phone

It’s been a long time since Microsoft bought Nokia, and we have yet to see much innovation come from the acquisition. But next year, Microsoft announced that they want to start creating Windows 10 ARM-based PCs. This might not sound like much, but it means that Microsoft wants to start using phone processors to run a specially compiled version of Windows 10. This could be a sign that a fully-functioning Windows 10 Smartphone (maybe even the long-rumored “Surface Phone”) is being prepped to launch in 2017.

Android Wear 2.0

Google planned to release an update to its Android Wear platform (the software that runs on Android Smartwatches) earlier this year. For several different reasons, this update has been pushed to 2017. While smartwatch sales have been dwindling in recent months, this update could provide a much-needed boost of usage and popularity to bring smartwatches back into the limelight.

The Next iPhone

People always clamor over the latest iPhone releases every year, but 2017 might prove to be extra special, as it marks the 10-year anniversary of the original launch of the iPhone. While it could be an incremental “7S” upgrade like we’ve seen in years past, many rumors point to a major overhaul, including a curved screen, removing the home button and more. Either way, the next iPhone will definitely turn a few heads in the tech world in 2017.

Again, there’s no way to predict what crazy and innovative products will surprise and amaze us this next year, but we can rest assured that there are many sleeper hits and major flops yet to come.

Share: Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

It was hard to pick our top 10 movie selections – but the quality of television made it difficult to even leave our couches. So many shows (e.g. Game of Thrones, Sherlock) now deliver mini-movie episodes every week that look like big budget, big screen spectacles. And now, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon just dump entire seasons on us to ignite rampant binge watching. OTT services and cable networks have become crack dealers and we are either addicted junkies or compulsive hoarders with overflowing DVRs and instant queues.

So here’s what we hoarded or became addicted to in 2016:

Game of Thrones (HBO) – Let’s get this out of the way. GoT is like that professional athlete that delivers so many great performances night in and night out that it becomes boring. The show doesn’t carry as much buzz as it used to (typical when you get to six seasons), but it still brings the goods and prompts plenty of water cooler chatter week after week at the office. With dragons, zombies, flesh-eating dogs and uppity bastards, this show is TV’s most epic.

Preacher (AMC) – During the lunch hour on any given summer weekday, you would find at Penna Powers a gaggle of gamers and geeks enthralled by the latest episode of this gonzo AMC series. Yet another comic adapted to the small screen, this one goes pretty far off the rails from any normal TV show. That’s a good thing according to our creative department. If you share a love of Preacher, they might kiss you on the Arseface.

This is Us (NBC) – Because we need to have a least one broadcast network show on our list. This is the perfect Parenthood replacement that will make you cry, laugh and get mad at yourself for laughing and crying.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (Netflix) – Netflix is pretty good at resurrecting old beloved shows. They didn’t do so well with Fuller House (despite big audiences, at least according to Netflix) but nailed it with this one. Cue more laughing and crying.

Daredevil (Netflix) – Another favorite for the Penna Powers’ creative department. Daredevil’s Season 2 was certainly no sophomore slump, despite what people have said. We’re glad Shane from Walking Dead got resurrected to keep his unbridled rage-flame burning as the Punisher.

The Crown (Netflix) – Seriously, stop making such great shows Netflix – it might go to your head and then you’ll start making really crappy stuff. But in the meantime, Penna Powers dug The Crown, which explores the rise of Queen Elizabeth II, when she first took the crown at the age of 25. If you’re having Downton Abbey withdrawals, this may be the costume drama for you.

Atlanta (FX) – If you enjoyed Donald Glover and the meta-comedy of Community, you might like this one. FX pretty much gave Glover the keys to the car to drive wherever he wanted. The road had lots of curves and rest stops, but it took us to a place TV’s never been. Never has a series created such a unique sense of place and time – it’s like he mixed Coen brothers absurdist humor with Spike Lee, Kanye West and Samuel Beckett. Now go watch it.

Black Mirror (Netflix) – The Twilight Zone for the new generation – this anthology series focuses on the scary side of technology and extrapolates the terrifying conclusion of what may happen as a result of our “progress”.  Season 3 dropped a healthy dose of six episodes. You’ll want to permanently tape up your laptop camera or go off the grid entirely after watching (with the exception of the unusually positive “San Junipero” episode). Warning: trailer video has some salty language – those bloody Brits.

Westworld (HBO) – HBO’s hoping Westworld will be it’s next Game of Thrones. The ratings have been good and the show has stirred up online discussion forums debating and conjecturing each episode. The series has certainly begged more questions than delivered answers, but the intrigue is contagious and addictive. And Anthony Hopkins is at his best, delivering a calm yet mad scientist version of his Hannibal Lecter character.

Stranger Things (Netflix) – We saved the best for last. The overwhelming favorite for the Penna Powers staff was this eight-part series that dropped out of nowhere over the summer.  If you were to mix the eighties versions of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Carpenter, all the while keeping the rating at an usual and somewhat family-friendly TV-14 (OTT services and premium cable seem to relish the TV-MA rating), you would get Stranger Things. Take 11 by the hand for a trip to the Upside Down world and witness outstanding performances from Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Matthew Modine and the best kids cast assembled since Super 8. And please keep a candle lit for our beloved Barb and her puffy jeans.

Honorable Mentions: Mr. Robot, Billions, Shamless, New Girl, Madame Secretary, Luke Cage, Silicon Valley, Veep, Insecure, Atlanta, Narcos, Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Last Week Tonight, Broad City, The Good Wife, Scandal, The Great Indoors, Ray Donovan, Goliath, The Path, Catastrophe, How to Get Away With Murder, Candle Cove

What did you watch in 2016? Let us know in the comments! Check out our 2016 movie selections and keep refreshing for more end of year selections from the Penna Powers staff.

Share: Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

sugimoto-trylon-theatre-new-york-1976

Movies are struggling to stay relevant these days, what with the quality of TV and with so many other things grabbing the headlines this year. Here’s a list of films that got noticed by the Penna Powers staff. As you’ll see, many got the attention they deserved and some quietly came and went:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – JK Rowling keeps the checks coming with this first installment of a planned five-film series. Of course, we would be breaking our pattern of picking the movie that inspires our annual holiday card if we didn’t include this one. This was a worthy first film, although it certainly coasts on its Harry Potter credentials for a bit. Once things start moving along, this film becomes something entirely different than what the trailers would have you believe. And considerably darker as well. Oh Colin Farrel, you’re so creepy.

Deadpool – The fan boys finally get the Deadpool movie they’ve been drooling for. Ryan Reynolds actually stars as the titular anti-hero for the second time (anyone remember the much reviled first attempt of the same character in X Men Origins: Wolverine?). Noted for being Marvel’s first major R-rated film and also noted for Stan Lee’s cameo as a dirty old man in a strip club, the movie proved that comic-book films no longer need to stay in the safe PG-13 realm and still make money. Funny, irreverent and self-referential (Deadpool often breaks the fourth-wall with snarky comments, making fun of X-Men movies and Hugh Jackman), it was an unexpected box office sensation, especially for one released on Valentine’s Day weekend.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  – The first stand-alone Star Wars film without the likes of Han, Luke, Leia or even Lando, the installment explains how the Rebels acquired and relayed knowledge of the Death Star’s fatal flaw. If you didn’t care about that little plot point, the film still works, introducing new characters that you do care about and makes Star Wars: A New Hope so much better in context. Plus, there’s a Vader sighting, and he’s not a happy camper. Plus plus, the movie actually delivers on the potent power of the original teaser trailer, despite not including many of those scenes.

Zootopia – The spot for best animated feature usually goes to the annual Pixar offering, but darn it if Disney Animation isn’t giving them a run for their money. Currently suffering from sequelitis, Pixar dropped Finding Dory and not one of our staffers listed it as a favorite (although Moana didn’t get any either). Last year’s outstanding Inside Out was sandwiched between uninspired outings like The Good Dinosaur and a sequel no one asked for, Monsters University. Incredibly but not surprisingly, three of the next four Pixar releases will be sequels. So that leaves room for this little original gem that no one saw coming. Everyone loves an unexpected hit with a theme that challenges our own temptation to buy into stereotypes. And it has the best ever comedic use of sloths.

 

Dr. Strange – Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially launched in 2016 with this and another film we’ll talk about later. Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect choice for the egotistical surgeon turned Sorcerer Supreme of New York. What could have been completely hokey was actually a smart, fun and visually arresting spectacle. And a bald Tilda Swinton is never a bad thing, right?

Captain America: Civil War – This was basically The Avengers 3, but I guess it can’t be if we’re missing Hulk and Thor? Doesn’t quite make sense. The other part of Marvel’s Phase 3 was this release. It was expected to be a big hit and it delivered. With the Russo brothers at the helm (they did the last Captain America film), the movie aptly juggled all of the characters and their struggles, introduced new ones and culminated in a bruising battle between the good guys. That darn Bucky is causing so many problems.

Eddie the Eagle – Our official inspirational sports movie of the year award went to Eddie the Eagle, about the unlikely popularity of the frumpy British ski jumper who managed to steal the hearts of the 1988 Olympics fans despite not actually being very good at ski jumping. It hit all of the usual sports movie cliches but was so charming and fun, we were even okay with Hugh Jackman as the grizzled, reluctant coach with a complicated past. And Christopher Walken also stops by to pick up his paycheck.

OJ: Made in America – Officially a movie and not a TV show, so we’re putting it on this list. This five-part ESPN-produced masterpiece on the OJ story revealed how his story is also the story of contemporary American society and its complicated race relations. If you think you know enough because you saw The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story on FX, you don’t know the half of it.

Various Horror Movies – Following 2015’s hypnotic It Follows, this year turned out to be quite a good one for the horror genre. Are you looking for a horror movie that is so scary that it’s rated R not for language, nudity or violence, but for just being plain creepy? Check out The Conjuring 2, continuing an impressive run for the Catholic Horror genre. The Puritan Horror genre got its first installment this year with The Witch, which will make you afraid of goats and people who speak Old English. And finally, there’s the Skinhead Horror genre, which gave us The Green Room, a tense little film featuring an outstanding, creepy and subdued performance by Patrick Stewart, chief executive skinhead of a dingy punk rock club in rural Oregon.

La La Land – We still go to the movies to have fun, right? Well, La La Land burns fun right into the celluloid and doesn’t apologize for it. If 2016 has proved too unsettling to spend it watching depressing, serious, mean, ironic and provocative films, then this movie musical is your antidote to all that. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling light up the screen with their chemistry and unbridled exuberance. If you saw director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, this film is as joyful as that movie was intense.

Honorable Mentions: Moonlight, Arrival, The Nice Guys, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Hunt for Wilderpeople, Sing Street, The Accountant, Suicide Squad, Collateral Beauty, The Magnificent Seven, Kubo & the Two Strings, Race, Weiner

What do you think we missed? Let us know what you liked in 2016 in the comments below. And be sure to check out the Penna Powers Picks: Best Movies of 2015.

Share: Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-12-11-14-pm

Called “More than just a badge of distinction” by the Salt Lake Tribune, “Top Workplaces are not only better places to work but are more likely to be successful than peer organizations.”

Only 65 companies were named a 2016 Top Workplace, we think it’s pretty cool that we’ve now made this list two years in a row.

The Salt Lake Tribune Top Workplaces Award is awarded based solely on employee surveys and comments about the environment in which they work. Not just compensation and benefits keep us here, but we have tons of fun. From annual Lagoon Day, Halloween and Bowl-ffet (bowling and pizza) parties, to cooking classes and employee anniversary celebrations, P2 is truly a Top Workplace.

Share: Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter