2011 Golden Globe Predictions

It’s awards season, and as always, I’ve got to take a stab at predicting the winners of some of the major award ceremonies. Tonight: The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Below are all the nominees with my predictions. (I’ll update this post later with the actual winners and my score.)

And for the record, these are my predictions of who will win—not necessarily my favorites or who I think deserves to win. Clearly, I haven’t seen everything that’s nominated, so it’d be hard for me to judge them personally. But also because the Globes seem to be influenced by star power and popular opinion a bit more than I would (they gave the best picture and best director awards to ‘Avatar’ two years ago, for crying out loud). So here we go… my predictions in italics, actual winners in bold.

  • Best Motion Picture – Drama
    The Descendants
    The Help
    Hugo
    The Ides of March
    Moneyball
    War Horse.
  • Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
    Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs
    Viola Davis – The Help
    Rooney Mara – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
    Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
    Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin
  • Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
    George Clooney – The Descendants
    Leonardo DiCaprio – J. Edgar
    Michael Fassbender – Shame
    Ryan Gosling – The Ides of March
    Brad Pitt – Moneyball
  • Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
    50/50
    The Artist
    Bridesmaids
    Midnight in Paris
    My Week With Marilyn
  • Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
    Jodie Foster – Carnage
    Charlize Theron – Young Adult
    Kristen Wiig – Bridesmaids
    Michelle Williams – My Week With Marilyn
    Kate Winslet – Carnage
  • Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
    Jean Dujardin – The Artist
    Brendan Gleeson – The Guard
    Joseph Gordon-Levitt – 50/50
    Ryan Gosling – Crazy, Stupid, Love
    Owen Wilson – Midnight in Paris
  • Best Animated Feature Film
    The Adventures of Tintin
    Arthur Christmas
    Cars 2
    Puss in Boots
    Rango

    Continue reading “2011 Golden Globe Predictions”

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2011 Music Recap

With 2011 wrapped up, I feel obligated to write some end-of-the-year recaps. I wish I could do a post about my favorite albums of 2011, but with my weird tastes, I haven’t listened to much that came out last year. In fact, I only bought one album actually released in 2011. So with that, here are the five bands I listened to most in 2011 (according to my Last.fm page).

Sherwood5. Sherwood – Discovered this band a couple of years ago after Amazon had their album ‘QU’ as a $3.99 album of the day. Listened to just a couple 30-second samples, and fell in love. “You Are” was easily my most-played on the album, and led me to discover what’s now one of my all-time favorite music videos. I went back and collected a lot of their older stuff, none of which disappoints. Still heartbroken that I missed them in Minneapolis, and wish they’d post some new tour dates…

Actionslacks4. Actionslacks – Quite possibly my favorite band of all time, and easily made my top five of the year despite no recent releases. Which brings me to my biggest disappointment of the year: no new ‘Slacks. There have been a number of updates over the last two years regarding a new EP—but nothing has come of it! Hopefully 2012 will finally bring some new tunes. Regardless, these guys’ stuff will always be at the top of my playlists. ‘The Scene’s Out of Sight’—a perfect blend of rock, pop, indie, and even some hints of jazz—was an album that got me through high school and the source of some of the first stuff I ever taught myself to play on guitar.

Jimmy Eat World3. Jimmy Eat World – Probably the band I’ve followed longer than any other, JEW sits high on my most-played list thanks to ‘Invented,’ which was released late last year. Great album, though very similar in style to their previous album ‘Chase This Light.’ I was kind of hoping for a slightly darker and emotional (to be read as emotional, not emo) sound like ‘Futures,’ whose title track will probably be my election-year theme song for the rest of forever.

Tron Legacy2. Daft Punk – Not a band (can you call them a band?) that I normally listen to, but the soundtrack to ‘Tron: Legacy’ was one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard. I’m a big soundtrack geek, and always have one going if I need background noise but still need to concentrate on something. So thanks to this album, Daft Punk gets the number two spot on my list. And the movie was pretty awesome too, even if the ending makes no sense. I mean, Jeff Bridges and new guy go in, new guy and Olivia Wilde come out. So the guy’s totally gonna hook up with a chick made out of his dad’s particles, right?

Foo Fighters1. Foo Fighters – ‘Wasting Light’ was the only new album I bought this year, and it’s awesomeness was probably the reason I didn’t need anything else and definitely the reason Foo takes the top spot. I hesitate to call ‘Wasting Light’ their best album yet, since their sound has evolved so much and it’s hard to say anything is better than ‘The Colour and the Shape.’ But this one definitely perfects their hard-rock sound, and is maybe the only one I can listen to from beginning to end without skipping one here and there or picking and choosing a song based on my mood. And this album offers more proof that great bands will put out some of their best material even after a studio forces a ‘greatest hits’ album (see R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, etc.)

100 Movie Challenge

So I’ve totally ripped off my buddy Chris here, but all year I’ve been keeping track of every new movie I watch and write a quick review. And by ‘new,’ I mean new to me. Most of the movies that count are recent releases, but every now and then an oldie I’ve never seen will slip in.

My personal goal was to hit 100 movies by the end of the year, but at the rate I’m going, that’ll be tough. Here are reviews 1 – 25, or what I’d watched between January and March.

01 Black Swan #1 “Black Swan” Absolutely amazing performance from Natalie Portman and fascinating camera work. Still trying to figure it all out, or even if there was anything left to figure out. Probably going to enjoy it more on a second viewing. Also, still wondering where Natalie’s talent was for the Star Wars prequels. 4/5
02 Pirate Radio #2 “Pirate Radio Fun movie, and actually laugh-out-loud funny at moments (“Good work, Twatt”). Great ensemble cast, but almost too many characters to really care about any one in particular. The awfully misleading American promos for this may have gotten me off on the wrong foot with this one. Great soundtrack though. 3/5
03 The Fighter #3 “The Fighter” Never been a fan of Mark Wahlberg or boxing movies, but thankfully this was neither a typical Wahlberg movie or a typical boxing movie. Christian Bale was fantastic, and i’m pretty sure the boxing scenes were real fights. Also, yay for Conan O’Brien’s sister. 4/5
04 I'm Still Here #4 “I’m Still Here” Pointless. Obnoxious. Not funny. Maybe I just don’t care enough about Joaquin Phoenix, but this was pretty awful. Considering how elaborate the whole hoax was, this should have been a lot better. 1/5
05 The Green Hornet #5 “The Green Hornet Overall, just a fun action movie with a number of clever moments. Great cameo from James Franco, however the Christoph Waltz villain was way too boring. 3/5
06 Tangled #6 “Tangled” Typical Disney princess movie–which isn’t a bad thing, just not always my cup of tea. Voice acting was great. Musical numbers sounded almost too much like “Little Mermaid” or “Aladdin” at times though. Entertaining movie, if only for nostalgic reasons. 3/5
07 Kick-Ass #7 “Kick-Ass” Great take on the superhero genre–not quite a spoof or just an extended homage, but a solid, original story with plenty of comedy and self-awareness. Reminded me of what ‘Shaun of the Dead’ did for zombie movies, but a little less consistent and started to take itself a bit too seriously by the end. 4/5
08 Following #8 “Following” Chris Nolan’s first movie, although at barely over an hour in length, it’s tough to justify counting this, and not the first episode of the BBC’s “Sherlock.” Anyway, great film, told in Nolan’s trademark non-linear fashion. Slowly gets more and more confusing with a few twists along the way, until it all falls cleverly into place at the end. Neat connections to his future movies as well, both intentionally (main character named Cobb) and unintentionally (Batman sticker on other main character’s door). 5/5
09 True Grit #9 “True Grit” Another great, smart film from the Coen brothers, although I typically enjoy their goofier stuff more. Action scenes were a bit forced and anticlimactic; but gorgeous art direction, clever script, and fantastic acting. 4/5
10 Operation Endgame #10 “Operation: Endgame” Despite an interesting premise and a great B-list cast, this one barely rises above awful. The whole thing really felt like a pilot episode of a mid-season replacement on Fox, save for the gratuitous cursing. Don’t get me wrong, I usually enjoy colorful language and don’t expect every director to command the eff-word as well as a Scorsese or a Kevin Smith. But seriously, I think I was using more clever and convincing insults in grade school. 2/5
11 Failure to Launch #11 “Failure to Launch” Almost embarrassed to even claim this one, but it was on TV while I was doing homework, and I got sucked in. Anyway, it was an entertaining rom-com whose great supporting cast more than makes up for the awful leading pair. 3/5
12 Cedar Rapids #12 “Cedar Rapids” Got to see a free early screening, which was pretty cool, so my rating might be slightly inflated because of that. Nonetheless, it’s definitely laugh-out-loud funny. Good to see that Ed Helms can hold his own as the lead, and that John C. Reilly can be funny when no one else is trying to be more obnoxious. 4/5
13 Winter's Bone #13 “Winter’s Bone” Both terrifying and heartbreaking, simply because of how true of a story this really is. Great performances. Kinda slow at times, but a handful of scenes are just so well done, it’s hard not to get completely sucked in. 4/5
14 The Kids are All Right #14 “The Kids are All Right” Honestly, I didn’t have the highest expectations going into this one–Hollywood has a tendency when dealing with gay characters to either ultimately play into stereotypes or go so far out of their way to break those stereotypes that a film is left with unrealistic characters. Instead, we get a film that avoids any overt political messages and a fantastic character study of a slightly dysfunctional family where the parents just happen to be gay. As a result, the characters are so much more believable and the film is far more compelling and true to life. Superb cast, particularly Mark Ruffalo who reminded me way too much of Kevin Corrigan (Google him, you’ll know who he is and see what I mean). 5/5
15 Avatar #15 “Avatar” Yeah, I finally gave in and watched it. I’ll admit, the film is gorgeous, but that’s about it. Cameron’s script is so condescending and over explains every bit of the story’s mythology, instead of leaving any mystery and letting the audience wonder. Awful techno-babble as well. “Ten to the fourth?” Really? Even real scientists are allowed to say “ten thousand.” 2/5
16 Just Go With It #16 “Just Go With It” Label this one as ‘watchable’ in my ‘every third Adam Sandler movie is watchable’ theory. Typically, the ones that are relatively grounded in reality and are more character- and duologue-driven (Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy) are far better than the ones dependent on ridiculous sight gags (Little Nicky, Zohan). And while this one comes so close to being among the former, too many poop jokes and prosthetic noses puts this somewhere in the middle. Still, there’s a lot of heart, made me laugh, and Jennifer Aniston in a bikini. 3/5
17 Freakonomics #17 “Freakonomics” Less of a feature documentary, and more of a cable TV special, and probably just a 90 minute ad for the book. Still, it’s intriguing and fun; kind of a James Burke’s “Connections” for our modern ADD society. Doesn’t make any major claims or calls to action, but it doesn’t try to–which is kind of disappointing considering the talented directors behind each segment. 3/5
18 Date Night #18 “Date Night” No particularly out-of-the-ordinary performances from either Carell or Fey, which isn’t a bad thing, just fairly predictable and formulaic. They’re both such great writers, it’s a shame neither of them worked on this script. Still, some genuine laughs and great cameos. 3/5
19 Barney's Version #19 “Barney’s Version” I’d pretty much echo Krompy’s review, so read his too. Very interesting film with fantastic performances. I hate to use a phrase like “emotional rollercoaster,” but Giamatti’s character goes from total creeper to almost likable so many times that it keeps you engaged throughout the film. 4/5
20 Rango #20 “Rango” Can’t believe it took ILM this long to do their own fully-animated feature; it’s about as gorgeous as CG can get. The animation mixed with a pretty diverse cast voicing some wonderfully quirky characters gives the whole movie a truly unique feel, even as it does its whole spaghetti-western homage thing. Hard to compare it to anything else, and wins because of that. 5/5
21 Paul #21 “Paul” In the tradition of “Shaun” and “Fuzz,” “Paul” avoids being a parody or extended homage of its genre, and instead is actually a pretty good sci-fi flick on its own. Of course it’s laugh-out-loud funny too, but it falls way short of the cleverness of their earlier collaborations (Edgar’s probably what makes that happen). 4/5
22 The Adjustment Bureau #22 “The Adjustment Bureau” Fantastic thriller which throws in some subtle political and quasi-religious themes without getting off track from the suspense and action. Characters have true depth and personality, which usually makes the difference between most sci-fi and the great. 5/5
23 The Losers #23 “The Losers” Or did I watch “The A-Team?” I’m confused. Anyway, pretty typical action flick. Fun characters, some good fight scenes, and a few twists which kept it interesting. But in the end, I feel like I’ve already seen it a dozen times. 3/5
24 Food, Inc #24 “Food, Inc.” So it’s creepy how well Netflix knows me, having recommended a number of documentaries that match up perfectly with issues I care about. Unfortunately most of these documentaries are intended for a broad audience and not for people in grad school studying these particular issues, so none of the controversies brought up in the documentary were terribly new to me. Still, issues surrounding land use, food labeling, public health, and gene patenting are alarming, and the movie does a great job of showing how the food industry has shaped the policies behind all of these for its own benefit. Decent call to action at the end, and will likely result in a trip to the co-op for some of that delicious grass-fed, free-range ground beef. 4/5
25 Due Date #25 “Due Date” Funny, but not especially memorable. Tries to take Zach Galifianakis’s performance from ‘The Hangover’ and expand it into an entire movie–which doesn’t quite work. RDJ is fantastic though, and winds up delivering most of the movie’s best lines. 3/5

Just a test…

Hello. Just playing around with ‘Windows Live Writer.’ I have no idea if I’ll ever use this again, but I’m bored. We’ll see how this goes…

So here’s a picture?

001

And a map of where I go to school?

Map picture

And a music video I made years ago?

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