Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The 10 Coolest Famous People w/ First Names that are the Same as the Last Names of the US Presidents

Yeah, that's right! It's a convoluted title, but I'm sure ya'll get the idea. Famous people whose first names are the same as the last names of some of our esteemed (and some not so esteemed) former US Presidents. I say former, because there are not many famous people with the first name of Trump (thankfully for them). For that matter, one could probably exclude such Presidents as Eisenhower, McKinley, Van Buren, or Obama, as well. I suppose Adams is out due to that last letter. But what about all those Washingtons, Jeffersons, Roosevelts, and Jacksons out there? Yeah, they may just make the list. And sorry Taylor Swift, but you just aren't cool enough to make the list. Same goes for you Jefferson D'Arcy. All the Married With Children fans in the audience know of whom I speak. And sorry, but there is no love for you, Arthur Treacher. A fine actor indeed, and I loved your namesake fish & chips, but you too, are a no go. And alas, poor Jefferson Airplane, I knew them, Horatio, but they are a band, and not a person, so away with them. But enough of these no shows, howzabout we get to the ten who did make the list. Oh, and with one special mention as well.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

Special Mention: Carter Liotta

Now since this list is (conveniently) meant to look at the famous names of the title, I will relegate my good friend to the special mention slot. Carter Liotta, probably not named after Jimmy Carter, is a doctor, pilot, filmmaker, world traveler, and self-proclaimed man of leisure. Is there anything this guy can't do? Well, hold his liquor, I suppose is one thing (which may be able to be seen in the above pic), but let's not dwell on the so-called negative. Carter Liotta may not have been named after our 39th POTUS (though he may still enjoy some peanuts now and then), but his first name gets him a very special mention here.

10. Ford Prefect
When the world is destroyed, to put in an intergalactic bypass in its place no less, you could not have a better BFF than Ford Prefect. At least for Arthur Dent, the one human Ford saves before the aforementioned demolition. An alien journalist (a native Betelgeusian, to be more precise on his alien origins) and field researcher for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford's actual given name is only pronounceable in an obscure Betelgeusian dialect, but for the purpose of our little ole list here, we are going with his adopted Earth name, which incidentally was created well before Gerry Ford ascended to the presidential throne. Above are two of his filmic portrayals. And please remember, always bring your towel.

9. Washington Irving
Possibly named after our first president (he was born at a time when George Washington, though not yet president, was a national hero), Washington Irving came to international fame with the 1819-1820 serial, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.. You haven't heard of it? Really? Well, two of the stories from this collection are Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Oh, now you know of what I speak. Irving also wrote a multi-volume biography on his possible namesake. So yeah, Washington wrote about Washington.

8. Pierce Hawthorne
Technically, Chevy Chase's Community character's first name is Pierceinald (that's right, bitches), but to keep the illusion going here, we are going by his nickname of Pierce. Granted, this one is named after one of the more obscure presidents (Franklin Pierce was our 14th Commander-in-Chief, for those lacking in American history knowledge), but he is a character on one of my favourite shows of recent times, so obscure reference or not (and Community likes the obscure references), real first name or not, Pierce Hawthorne, late heir to the Hawthorne moist towelette fortune, is right here at numero ocho!

7. Wilson Pickett

In the Midnight Hour. Land of 1,000 Dances. Mustang 'Freakin'' Sally. These are just a few of the songs that Wilson Pickett made famous back in the day. Wilson Pickett is a legend of music history. Born and raised in Detroit (as so many music legends have been) Pickett was a member of the famed Stax Records crew, back in the mid 1960's, and is now a member (and rightfully so!!) of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Granted, Pickett probably wasn't named after Woodrow Wilson, but they were both integral in helping to change and modernize their chosen professions.

6. Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier

 Rosey (and yes, his real first name is Roosevelt, the last name of not one, but two presidents) is probably best known for his NFL career. A New York Giant for a while, before becoming one of the LA Rams "Fearsome Foursome," Grier retired from pro ball in 1966. Rosey would later write several books' including Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men. Yeah, I wouldn't mock the guy for it, either. Nowadays he is a Christian minister, helping inner city youth. What a lot of people probably do not know, is his hand in the world of a wouldbe president. As a bodyguard, Rosey could not stop the assassination of Bobby Kennedy (who would have become president over Nixon!) but he did manage to subdue the assassin. You go Roosevelt. Oh, and when you get the chance, check out the 1972 film, The Thing With Two Heads. You will not be disappointed. Well, you might be disappointed, but you'll still have a good time at it.

5. Truman Capote

A famously eccentric author, Truman Capote (not named after Harry S. Truman, our 33rd president) was known later in life as an amusing talking head, and prolific talk show celebrity (he often told elaborate stories of his past celebrity encounters, such as his friendship with Garbo and a sexual dalliance with Errol Flynn, that were just not true), but back in the day, he wrote some pretty great books too. His most famous is Breakfast at Tiffany's. Granted, Hollywood vastly altered the book for their movie version (in early 1960's America, Hollywood wasn't ready to make a big mainstream film about a gay man and his fag hag) and Capote hate hate hated the adaptation. He was also pretty well known for his true crime book, In Cold Blood, as well as being the model for Harper Lee's character, Dill, in her To Kill A Mockingbird. Lee and Capote were friends their entire lives, and she even aided him on the research for In Cold Blood.

4. Grant Morrison

 One of only two non-Americans on this (kinda) American list (especially funny, since his name is that of US Grant), the Scottish born Grant Morrison, was a member of the so-called British invasion in the comic book industry back in the 1980's. Morrison, who always puts a more philosophical bent on his superhero tales, has written everyone from Batman to The Doom Patrol, from Animal Man to the JLA, from The Fantastic Four to the New X-Men. And he didn't just write these characters, he gave them all new life, and is often thought of as the quintessential writer of several of these characters (Animal Man and Doom Patrol, especially). He also wrote, along with artist Frank Quitely (whose artistic interpretation of Morrison can be seen above), my all-time favourite Superman tale, All-Star Superman. He is currently turning DC's Multiverse on its proverbial head with his Multiversity mini-series.

3. Jackson Pollock

Technically, Jackson Pollack's first name was Paul, but his nom de plume (his middle name was Jackson) is how everyone knows him, so it is Jackson we are going with. And Andy Jackson has always been my favourite historical president. Pollock is known, of course, as one of the greatest artists of modern times. He died quite early (at 44, due to an alcohol-related car accident) but before that, his so-called action paintings, helped him to become one of the most important figures in my favourite artistic movement, Abstract Expressionism. His paintings, often criticized in his day, as much as they were praised, are brilliant abstract pieces of art, splattered with a crazed fury of passion. Yeah, that's right.

2. Tyler Durden

 Nobody ever remembers poor John Tyler (he was our 10th commander-in-chief, becoming president after William Henry Harrison died, a month into his own presidency) but most people in today's world know who Tyler Durden is. Played by Brad Pitt (sorta) in the David Fincher film, Fight Club, Tyler Durden is one of the most iconic film characters of modern cinema. Yeah, I think there might have been a book too, but I can never spell the author's name so...just kidding, it was Chuck Palahniuk. But hey, the firs rule of Fight Club is that we don't talk about Fight Club, so I'll shut up about Tyler Durden now, and move on to our numero uno pick.

1. Harrison Ford

First off, he has both a first AND a last name that matches a president. Technically three presidents, since there were two Harrisons (William Henry and his grandson Benjy) to go along with Gerry Ford. Secondly, and more importantly, he is Harrison Ford. He is Han Solo. He is Indiana Jones. He is Captain of the Millennium Falcon, and did the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, and as everyone knows, parsecs are a unit of distance not time, so that in turn makes him a freakin' time traveler. Yeah, that's right. Do the freakin' math people. Not only was Han Solo the man who shot first, he was also a time traveler. And that is who Harrison Ford is. He is Han and he is Indy too. He is BFF's with a Wookiee. In his spare time, he flies helicopters on fire rescue missions. Yeah, that is Harrison Ford. End of story. He is number one. Huzzah!

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Best Damn TV Show of 2017 or: How David Lynch is Still One of the Best Damn Filmmakers Working Today

I first fell in love with the cinema of David Lynch at the tender age of nineteen. It was the Fall of 1986, and this was when I first saw that sexy beast of a film called Blue Velvet. Over the previous year or two, thanks to the booming new home video market, and the likes of Kurosawa, Fellini, Chaplin, Bergman, and other art films and filmmakers falling into my lap, I had transitioned from casual moviegoer to budding cinephile. Lynch and his Blue Velvet, which I was lucky enough to get to see in a darkened theatre, on the big screen, made that budding cinephile explode with cinema-loving glee. Granted, it was a somewhat uncomfortable cinema-loving glee, as that is the emotion Lynch most aspires to, but glee nonetheless.

Lo these past thirty some years since, this budding film freak has transformed into a downright expert on the history and technique of cinema. As far as my love of Lynch goes, it has more than merely deepened over the decades. Going back and discovering Eraserhead and The Elephant Man and the criminally undervalued Dune. I was working as a projectionist in a now long defunct local movie theatre, in 1990, when Lynch's brilliant batshitcrazy Wild at Heart came out. I think I watched that film at least a dozen times over its two week run. I remember also getting in an argument with the local newspaper's film critic (back when local papers still had film critics) about the film. She hated it!? Sacre bleu! Anyhoo, next came ABC's Twin Peaks, and Lynch went to a whole other level of batshitcrazy brilliance.

With Twin Peaks being an episodic television series, Lynch was able to go deeper and further down his own perverse rabbit hole. Sure, network television may have limited some of the more openly perverse things in said rabbit hole, but the long form format of an entire season (or two) of storytelling, allowed for a wider and deeper swath of good old fashioned Lynchian melodrama. To this day, even with the present being a truly golden age in TV making, I would still list Twin Peaks as one of the best shows to ever appear on the small screen. And now, after 25 years, a big screen prequel to Twin Peaks (Fire Walk With Me), and several movies made in the meantime (17 years in, Mulholland Dr. is still the best film of this century so far), and with the majority of the original cast back (where have you gone Lara Flynn Boyle?), Lynch brings his Twin Peaks back to episodic television.

Now on Showtime (as well as Hulu and Amazon), Twin Peaks: The Return, picks up the aforementioned batshitcrazy Lynchian nightmare narrative, right where we left it so many years ago. Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is stuck in the Black Lodge, while his doppelganger (also MacLachlan, in long hair and extra crispy tanned skin), possessed by the ghost of Bob, is out causing trouble in the so-called real world. It is Cooper's redemption, and his way back to the real world, that is the crux of the new series. And MacLachlan is just the tip of the iceberg, as most of the cast has returned, from Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer to Russ Tamblyn as the mysterious Doc Jacoby, doing strange things in the woods. We even get to briefly see Catherine Coulson as Margaret, The Log Lady, who filmed her scenes in the weeks leading up to her death back in 2015 (leave it to Lynch to bring the dead back to life). We also get a slew of newcomers to the show, including Naomi Watts, Michael Cera, Jim Belushi, and Laura Dern. Even Lauren Tewes, aka Julie McCoy of Love Boat fame, is set to appear at some point.

I gotta tell ya, everything about this new series (or is it season three?), from the episode one opening (I truly got goosebumps when that theme music first clicked on) through to the full four episodes aired so far, says it is every bit as good, and every bit as uncomfortably Lynchian, as the original. Everything from the acting (or one might say non-acting) to the super lo-fi special effects in and around the Black Lodge (these scenes, including the fascinating first ten minutes or so of episode three, some of the best minutes in television today, are like the most brilliant student film ever made, or at least since Lynch himself was a student filmmaker) to those uncomfortable weird silences and eerie music, Twin Peaks: The Return is easily the best show on what we call TV these days. It is surely going to take one hell of  a show in the second half of the year, to topple this one from atop my inevitable Best of 2017 list (I'm lookin' at you Stranger Things, season two).

To say I can't wait for the next episode (and all of the ones after that) is quite the understatement. I may just explode in the meantime, and this being a Lynchian mindset I am in right now, that may not just be figuratively speaking. But alas, the wait just makes the outcome all that much more satisfying. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


Monday, February 27, 2017

My Thoughts on Last Night's Oscars

If only the election ended in the same manner as last night's Oscars. For those of you not in the know (and if you are not in the know, why are you even reading this post about the Oscars?), at the end of last night's telecast, the wrong film was announced for Best Picture. Granted, the better film, at least in this critic's opinion, was deemed the winner, but what a blow for the poor schmucks who thought they won for about ninety seconds or so. Yup, after La La Land was named the winner, the stage manager and the folks from Price Waterhouse scrambled about, and finally revealed that Moonlight was the actual winner. A bunch of people are whining about La La Land losing (after winning Best Director, and five other awards, including a predictable but still idiotic choice for Best Actress), but what is done is done. The better film won. I just hope this puts to rest the ridiculous theory that Jack Palance said the wrong name when he gave the Oscar to Marisa Tomei.

And speaking of this fiasco. Everyone is blaming poor Warren Beatty. To his credit, when he opened the envelope and saw it read Emma Stone for La La Land (he was given the wrong envelope by the accounting firm), he questioned it and tried to get Faye Dunaway to look at it, but she thought he was just joking around, and proceeded to yelp out the name of the film on the card. But it was fixed rather quickly, and the producer of La La Land was gracious enough announce to everyone what had happened, and to hand over the Oscar to the folks from Moonlight. A rare class act in today's society. But hey, leave it to Bonnie & Clyde to cause a ruckus.

As for the rest of the show, we had the first Muslim person to win an acting award (congrats to Moonlight's deserving Mahershala Ali), the first black woman to win an Emmy, Tony, and Oscar for acting (way to go Viola Davis), and an undeserving bubble girl take home Best Actress (come on people, the weakest link of La La Land was Emma Stone!). We also got to see Casey Affleck take home Best Actor (which I predicted correctly). He already won almost every precursor award, until Denzel took home the SAG, an award that has translated to Oscar, every year since 2006. Many thought Denzel would take the award, especially with everyone yelping about alleged sexual assaults that were once thrown at Affleck, but which were never brought to fruition. There are still people today, whining all over the interwebs, about how they gave the Oscar to a sexual predator. Really? The whole innocent until proven guilty thing doesn't matter to ya'll? Oh well.

As for the rest of the rest of the show, Jimmy Kimmell was a great host, and his constant Matt Damon bashing was hilarious. He really missed an opportunity when the wrong film was announced, to blame that too, on Damon. We also got to see a surprised tourist group brought in for a comedy routine, only to be hijacked by one of the tourists (who is my new favourite person), who kept snapping pics, and even yanked Mahershala Ali's Oscar from his hands, and made the actor take  a selfie of the two of them with the Oscar. We also saw Kevin O'Connell, win his first Oscar, after losing twenty other times, and an Iranian director win Best Foreign Language Film, only to not be allowed in the country due to Trump's unconstitutional ban. All this, and candy falling from the sky too. Oh, and Ruth Negga in that red dress!

Oh, and my predictions. Oh well, I managed just 18 out of 24 (one off of my record), with my only major category miss, being (oddly enough) Best Picture. I do like that the Oscars can still surprise us a little bit, though. And, in the end, when all the confusion ended, we got ourselves the first film with a gay protagonist (Jon Voight's gay-for-pay male hustler in Midnight Cowboy, notwithstanding), to take home the Best Picture Oscar! Now that is progress! That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Final Oscar Predictions

So here we go kids! Time for my annual attempt at predicting the Academy Awards. My goal this time around, as it is every other time, is to finally break that 20 barrier. For those who do not know, there are 24 categories in which to predict. My record, which I have accomplished on multiple occasions, is 19. Here's to hopin' for that 20th correct prediction. But enough rambling. Let's get on with the show.

Best Picture
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: Moonlight (but unlikely)
Surprise Win: Hidden Figures (but doubtful)
Should Win: Arrival

With it's record tying 14 nominations, La La Land is pretty much a lock to take home the top prize. Personally, I found the film to be fun, and a well done homage to the musical genre of the past (and deserving of several of the technical awards), but not exactly as hoopla worthy as everyone is making it out to be. My favourite of the nine nominees is Arrival, which has no shot at winning, followed by Moonlight, which has the slightest of slight chances to pull off an upset. But yeah, the money is on La La Land. I mean, it is a movie about the very place most of the Oscar voters live and work. But then again, we could get a surprise in Hidden Figures. Okay, probably not.

Best Director
Will Win: Damien Chazelle for La La Land
Could Win: Barry Jenkins for Moonlight
Should Win: Barry Jenkins for Moonlight

The Academy has been prone to splitting the top two awards in recent times, and such a thing could happen here, with the voters giving Jenkins Best Director, but the solid moola is still on Chazelle, as La La Land is set to take the night.

Best Actress
Will Win: Emma Stone in La La Land
Could Win: Isabelle Huppert in Elle
Should Win: Natalie Portman in Jackie

Stone has been the frontrunner from day one, but lately, Huppert has been gaining ground. Whether it is enough ground to make up for the predictable La La Land sweep, is another story. I am going with that it is not.

Best Actor
Will Win: Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea
Could Win: Denzel Washington in Fences
Should Win: Either Casey or Denzel work for me

This is easily the closest race in any of the acting categories. Yes, Affleck has won just about every award out there, but two things do go against him, The first being the allegations against him. Yes, the charges were dropped, but you know how people are. The second being that, after Affleck won almost every award, Denzel took home the SAG for Best Actor, an award that has translated into Oscar gold for a decade straight now. But still, I think Affleck is going to pull it off. Or maybe not. Or maybe. Or maybe not. Okay, it is probably going to be Denzel. I guess. Maybe. No! Let's go with Affleck! Yeah, Affleck!! Who the hell knows!? Aaaaaahhhhh!!! Casey at Bat!

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Viola Davis in Fences
Could Win: Viola Davis in Fences
Should Win: Viola Davis in Fences

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Mahershala Ali in Moonlight
Could Win: Mahershala Ali in Moonlight
Should Win: Mahershala Ali in Moonlight

Yeah, the supporting acting categories are pretty much as sewn up as anything could be. It would be a huge (simply YUUUUGE) shock to see anyone but Davis and Ali take home these prizes. Sure, someone like Dev Patel or even Jeff Bridges could surprise Ali, but that is very doubtful. As for Davis' competition, they probably have no need to write an acceptance speech.

Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: The Salesman
Could Win: Toni Erdmann
Should Win: The Salesman

In any other year, a fun film like Toni Erdmann, would probably easily walk away with this award. But today, in Trump's America, where the director of this Iranian film is not allowed to enter the country to accept his Oscar, this is one of the (most likely) many political statements at the Oscars this year.

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Manchester by the Sea
Could Win: La La Land (one of the few categories where La La Land is not the frontrunner)
Should Win: The Lobster (I would love to see this happen)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Moonlight
Could Win: Arrival
Should Win: Moonlight

La La Land will likely sweep this year, but in this category, I think Kenneth Lonergan is going to finally get his Oscar. As for Adapted, when the WGA gave out their awards, Arrival took home Adapted, while Moonlight won for Original. But here at The Oscars, they are both considered Adapted. Moonlight is actually based on a play, but the play was never produced, so their is a bit of confusion. Anyhoo, when put head to head, Moonlight will prevail.

Best Animated Feature
Will Win: Zootopia
Could Win: Kubo and the Two Strings
Should Win: The Red Turtle

Best Documentary Feature
Will Win: O.J.: Made in America
Could Win: 13th (maybe)
Should Win: 13th (definitely)

Best Cinematography
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: Moonlight
Should Win: Moonlight

Best Production Design
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: Arrival
Should Win: Hail, Caesar! ... though La La Land looks great too

Best Film Editing
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: Hacksaw Ridge or Arrival
Should Win: La La Land

Best Costume Design
Will Win: Jackie
Could Win: La La Land
Should Win: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Will Win: Star Trek Beyond
Could Win: Suicide Squad or A Man Called Ove
Should Win: Star Trek  Beyond

Best Original Score
Will Win: La La Land (love this mesmerizing score)
Could Win: Jackie
Should Win: La La Land

Best Original Song
Will Win: City of Stars from La La Land
Could Win: Moana or Trolls (if La La Land's two nominees cancel each other out)
Should Win: Is their a sixth choice?

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge
Could Win: Arrival (but unlikely)
Should Win: La La Land

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge
Could Win: La La Land (pretty much a two way race here)
Should Win: Arrival

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: The Jungle Book
Could Win: Doctor Strange (maybe)
Should Win: The Jungle Book (loved this film)

Best Animated Short
Will Win: Piper
Could Win: Pearl (maybe)
Should Win: Blind Vaysha

Best Live Action Short
Will Win: Ennemis Interieurs
Could Win: Sing or Timecode
Should Win: ?????

Best Documentary Short
Will Win: The White Helmets
Could Win:  Extremis or Watani
Should Win: ?????

So, I have La La Land winning 9 awards. That will not be enough for it to tie the record of 11, though if it pulls off Sound Editing and Costumes (which it damn well could), that record could be tied. A Screenplay win (less likely) could allow it to break that record. But I don't see that happening. Anyhoo, nine Oscars ain't nothin' to sneeze at. No film has won that many since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, won that elusive eleven Oscars back in 2002. Now let's get on with the Oscars. I'll be back tomorrow with some comments on the results, and on how well I did in my predictions.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Who Should Win the Goddamn Oscar for Best Picture!!?

The Oscar nominations were announced a few days ago. This means, it's time for the All Things Kevyn Best Picture Oscar Poll. That's right gang! You get to pick your favourite from the nine nominees! Will your vote go the modern day musical La La Land, or maybe to the indie drama Moonlight? Howzabout the Mel Gibson war movie Hacksaw Ridge or the shoot-em up Hell or High Water!? Maybe you liked the play-to-screen Fences the best! Maybe Lion or Hidden Figures is your choice.. Maybe the melancholy melodrama Manchester by the Sea is more your speed. Maybe the sci-fi extravaganza Arrival? Whatever your choice, you can make it right here!

Of course, many of you may not have seen all the films yet, so there is time. The poll will run until Thursday, February 23rd, with the winners being officially announced the following day, and the Oscar ceremony that Sunday (with my predictions that Saturday). So, you can vote now or you can wait until you have seen more of the films. Whatever floats your boat. You may even be able to vote more than once (but let's just keep that our little secret, huh?). And remember, this poll isn't to predict the outcome (all signs point to La La Land on that one) but which film you like the most.

All one need do, is head on over to the top of the sidebar (right there, to your left) and get your vote on. For all you mobile users, you may have to flip over to the web version of the blog, to get that aforementioned vote on. Oh, and tell all your friends to get their vote on too. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Oscar Nominations (and My Predix Results)

Well, it was a pretty standard morning in Oscar Nomination Land...otherwise known as La La Land. Granted, the awards were announced in a different manner than normal (with awkward intros in a two-part pre-recorded video montage), but the results were still very predictable. Out of the 44 nominations I predicted (the Big 8 categories), I picked 39 correctly. That is an 89% success rate, which is about average for me. I picked all nine Best Picture nominees, as well as acing both Best Actor and Supporting Actress, while missing just one in each of the other categories.

As for the nominations themselves (it's not ALL about me), La La Land was the big winner (as expected by pretty much everyone) and garnered a record tying 14 nominations, placing it up there with All About Eve (a much better film) and Titanic (a much lesser film) for the most nominations ever. Hell, it even got a Costume Design nod, which contemporary films very rarely do. Needless to say, it is the frontrunner to win the top award come Oscar Night. The only real surprise (I think) was the Supporting Actor nod for Nocturnal Animals' Michael Shannon. Not that Shannon doesn't deserve the nod, he most certainly does. In fact, this is a film that deserved much more than this one lone nomination. But hey, even Shannon was not that much of a surprise. One could say Mel Gibson's Best Director nod for Hacksaw Ridge, or the exclusion of Amy Adams in the Best Actress category, even though Arrival was given eight other nominations, including Director and Best Picture even, were bigger surprises. 

Oh, and I joked around in my predictions about Deadpool sneaking in there, but alas, he did not. I did honestly expect at least a visual effects or sound editing nod tossed it's way, but that did not happen. What did happen was a big turnaround from last year's lily white Oscars, where not a single person of color was nominated in any major category. This year we have seven actors of color getting nods (two of whom I think will win their categories), a director of color, and three BP nominees about the African American experience in America. This is at least a step toward equality in Hollywood. A small step, but a step nonetheless.

Anyhoo, here is a link to the full list of nominees! That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


Monday, January 23, 2017

So, Here are My Oscar Nomination Predictions...

Hey gang, it's about that time again. The Oscar nominations are being announced in the wee hours of tomorrow morning, so here are my predictions for said nominations. The big winner is expected to be La La Land, with probably at least 12 nominations, and the possibility of tying the record of 14 even. Yeah, I enjoyed the film very much, and it did make my top ten list (spoiler alert...coming next week), but Best Picture? Well, it is the kind of film Hollywood likes, so it won't be a surprise. Anyway, another big winner tomorrow will most likely be Moonlight, the one film that could feasibly snatch the eventual Oscar away from La La Land. Other probable big winners tomorrow, include Manchester by the Sea, Arrival, Fences, and Lion. But enough rambling, here are my predictions!

BEST PICTURE

1. La La Land 
2. Moonlight
3. Manchester by the Sea
4. Arrival
5. Lion
6. Hacksaw Ridge
7. Hidden Figures
8. Hell or High Water
9. Fences
10. Silence

Possible spoilers: Loving or Nocturnal Animals

Wishful Thinking: The Lobster

As we can nowadays get anywhere between five and ten nominations in the top category, it is a hard one to predict. At least once you get past the top six or seven. But here we go anyway. I do believe the top six are sure fire nominees. After that, who knows. Hidden Figures has lost steam lately, as has Hell or High Water and Fences, and Silence, though a gorgeous and passionate film, has seemingly not caught on with voters. But hey, here they are anyway. We'll see how many films they nominate. The recent years, say it will be nine once again, so Fences or Silence may be out. Wouldn't it be funny if Deadpool snuck in there? Ha! And hey, whatever happened to the sure thing that was Birth of a Nation?

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Damian Chazelle for La La Land
2. Barry Jenkins for Moonlight
3. Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea
4. Denis Villeneuve for Arrival
5. Garth Davis for Lion

Possible Spoiler: Marty Scorsese for Silence

Wishful Thinking: Yorgos Lanthimos for The Lobster

The top four are virtual locks, with number five, an almost sure thing. I would love to see Scorsese sneak in, but it isn't looking very promising in that avenue. As for the Oscar itself, if Chazelle were to win, he will become the youngest Best Director winner ever, and if Jenkins were to win, he will become the first African American to take the award.

BEST ACTRESS

1. Emma Stone in La La Land
2. Natalie Portman in Jackie
3. Isabelle Huppert in Elle
4. Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins
5. Amy Adams in Arrival

Possible Spoiler: Annette Bening in 20th Century Women or Ruth Negga in Loving

This looks like a pretty set bunch of nominees. I suppose one of the spoilers could leap in there, but somewhat unlikely. The real race comes to the Oscar itself. For so long, Stone has been the frontrunner, but suddenly this is a three way race between her and Portman and Huppert.

BEST ACTOR

1. Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea
2. Denzel Washington in Fences
3. Ryan Gosling in La La Land
4. Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge
5. Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic

Possible Spoiler: Joel Edgerton in Loving

No Way in Hell, but Wouldn't it be Awesome: Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool

This is a six-way race. I cannot fathom another possibility of someone sneaking in there. When the Oscar is given out, it is going to be great to watch Casey Affleck, probably the best actor of his generation, win his first Oscar. Sure, Denzel could take the prize, but I think this is Casey's year. And, please take notice to no previous mention of Tom Hanks in Sully. Wasn't he the front runner a few months back? Oh well.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1. Viola Davis in Fences
2. Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea
3. Naomi Harris in Moonlight
4. Nicole Kidman in Lion
5. Octavia Spenser in Hidden Figures

Possible Spoilers: Um...nobody really. Okay, maybe Greta Gerwig in 20th Century Women

An almost sure 5-way set of locks. Yeah, Gerwig could sneak in, but it looks unlikely. Then again, this awards season has been filled with surprises, so who knows? The big thing about this category though, is the fact that it may have three African American nominations, and possibly a winner in Davis. After last year's #OscarsSoWhite controversy, this is a major step in equality in Hollywood. Okay, not actual equality (the country seems to be leaning the other direction these days) but it is at least a step for the Academy.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1. Mahershala Ali in Moonlight
2. Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water
3. Dev Patel in Lion
4. Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins
5. Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea

Possible Spoiler (and I would love it): Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Nocturnal Animals

Another category of five almost perfect locks. I would enjoy seeing Taylor-Johnson getting a nod. Nocturnal Animals is one of the best films of 2016 (spoiler alert again...my belated Top Ten is coming next week) and I would love to see some love for it around these parts. Hey, and speaking of which, howzabout a surprise nod for Taylor-Johnson's costar, Michael Shannon?

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1. Manchester by the Sea
2. La La Land
3. Hell or High Water
4. The Lobster
5. Captain Fantastic

Other possibilities: Zootopia and/or Jackie and/or 20th Century Women

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

1. Moonlight
2. Fences
3. Arrival
4. Lion
5. Nocturnal Animals

Other possibilities: Hidden Figures and/or Elle and/or Toni Erdmann

Ultra Spoiler: Deadpool

Finally, a coupla categories where I can put both The Lobster and Nocturnal Animals in there, and not just out of wishful thing. Actually, it could just be wishful thinking after all, since the writing categories tend to have the most surprises of the main categories. Of course then, there is always that damn ultra spoiler. Who knows?

Well, I'm a-gonna stop there. Let's leave all the technical categories to the fates (and just say I had a perfect score on predicting them). I'll be back tomorrow, with my reactions to the nominees, and to show off how well I did in predicting said nominees.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.







Friday, January 20, 2017

Here Are Some Things I Believe In, or to Put it in a Slightly More Grammatically Proper Way, Some Things In Which I Believe

So, since today (the Trump Inauguration is happening as I type these words) is a dark day in my nation's history, I thought I would post a rather positive piece for ya'll to read. Well, at least as positive as one can be on this wicked day. So here ya go. Have at it. Here are some things in which I believe...

I believe that Pluto is, and always will be, a planet.
I believe that Hello Kitty is a kitty, and not a little girl.
I believe that Han shot first!
I believe in Bigfoot, aliens, and ghosts.
I believe the Loch Ness Monster is not actually a monster.
I believe in all those things that go bump in the night!
I believe in Zimmerman
I believe in Father Christmas
I believe in Michael Brown
I believe Oswald did NOT act alone
I believe Jack Ruby was a patsy's patsy
I believe in this post
I believe this post is stoopid
I believe in the right for everyone to get married
I believe people should be able to use whichever bathroom they so desire
I believe Han shot first (did I already say this one?)
I believe Donald Trump has always been a repugnant human being
I believe in Kennedy
I believe in Chubby Checker
I believe in Yoko and Me
I believe in Miracles
I believe that time is non-linear
I believe the future can affect the past
I believe in the wibbly-wobbly and the timey-wimey
I believe in The Doctor
I believe I am The Doctor
I believe there is a cure for AIDS
I believe in Area 51
I believe our Government hides things from us
I believe there are aliens amongst us
I believe I may be one of them (but please don't tell anyone else)
I believe the Truth is Out There
I believe in Mulder and (sometimes) Scully
I believe Marisa Tomei deserved her Oscar for My Cousin Vinney
I believe Marisa Tomei deserves anything she wants
I believe in the ghost of Rutherford B. Hayes
I believe in the Ghost of Xmas Past
I believe in The Plastic Ono Band
I believe Leonard Peltier is innocent
I believe Charlie Manson was railroaded
I believe the Rosenbergs were heroes
I believe we should all look for the union label
I believe the record companies should fuck off
I believe Andy Kaufman is still alive
I believe in Prince
I believe in Bowie
I believe in Absurdism
I believe in Dada
I believe in Gaga
I believe in the Mother Monster
I believe Black Lives Matter
I believe I benefit from white privilege
I believe most white people do not believe they do too
I believe in the holy spirit of Huey Lewis & the News
I believe in Hot Chocolate
I believe in Marriage Equality
I believe homophobes are assholes
I believe the cornfields of Kansas are exploding
I believe the nuclear codes are in the wrong hands
I believe war is a for-profit industry
I believe prisons are too
I believe Seinfeld is the greatest comedy in TV history
I believe there is nothing wrong with that
I believe the New York Times said god is dead
I believe dinosaurs are going to make a comeback
I believe sexy never left (Prince said that)
I believe Marilou Henner is an underrated genius
I believe that last statement was just a joke
I believe in the Rebel Alliance
I believe Order 66 was bullshit
I believe in the all-encompasing power of Alec Baldwin
I believe Tina Fey is one of the sexiest women on TV
I believe Dorothy Parker was wrong about that whole glasses quip
I believe in Barbara Feldon
I believe in cats and dogs
I believe in the awesomeness of Dr. Peter Venkman
I believe that Han shot first! Did I mention that one already?
I believe Joan Crawford never beat her kids with wire hangers!
I believe Michael Jackson never touched those children!!
and
I believe we will all get through this terrible time (sorta)....

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My 10 Favourite TV Shows of 2016

So here we are again. That inevitable end of the year look back at the best, or favourites, if you will, shows of the year. As TV, or what we still archaically call TV,  evolves, so does my annual list. As the best of TV moves away from the networks. and towards cable and pay TV, and even non TV outlets such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, my list does the same. Two years ago, my top ten had two network shows still hanging on. Last year, there was just the one network hanger-on. This year, this list? Not a single network show is left. Sure, there are a handful in the runners-up section, but none on the list proper. What does this mean? I suppose it means the networks all suck. Anyhoo, without any further annoying ado, here are my choices for the best shows of 2016.

1. Stranger Things (Netflix) - Blending together the essence of everything from Stephen King to Steven Spielberg to John Carpenter to Predator and The Goonies and just about every other sci-fi/horror/fantasy moment from the 1980's, this fun and strange little eighties period piece is the perfect nostalgic, loving creature for this Gen Xer. Oh yeah, and it also happens to be a brilliant take on the tricks and tropes of genre film and television, and is designed and filmed (and very well at that) to look like a movie made in 1983. Oh yeah, and it has Winona Ryder too. What more does a grown-up sci-fi loving 80's teen need?

2. Mr. Robot (USA) - This was the surprise hit of 2015 (at least a surprise in my mind), and with it's second season, it got even better. Even darker and deeper down the rabbit hole we went. Rami Malek is a cerebral sensation here, accompanied by some of the sharpest writing on television, and a visual presence that reminds one of Kubrick doing The Matrix, with a tinge of Fight Club. Oh yeah, and it has Christian Slater too. Look at that, Winona and Christian in the top two spots.

3. Atlanta (FX) - I love things that are uncategorizable, and Atlanta is definitely one of those things. Part half hour comedy, part drama or even tragicomedy, part semi-autobiographical narrative, and part self-deprecating satire, Donald Glover's auteuresque cinematic small screen creation plays at almost as many tropes as the actor-writer-director's last effort, Community. Sometimes quite meta (one episode played out as a talk show within a show, complete with hilarious fake commercials mixed in with the real ads) and sometimes quite tragically real, Atlanta was the new shining light of cable television.

4. Game of Thrones (HBO) - This cult favourite show will only be around for two more seasons, and shortened seasons at that, but for this list, we are only talking about season six, and what a season it was, with the season finale rivaling the show's classic Red Wedding in brutality...hell, surpassing it even. This season spent it's entirety, bringing loose ends together, to shape up for the aforementioned final seasons, and the inevitable sharing of the Iron Throne by Daenerys and Jon Snow (spoiler alert...well, at least my prediction), and something like that could have killed a show's creative forces, but it only managed to make the damn hing even better, And that final episode (again), wow indeed.

5. The Get Down (Netflix) - Imagine if Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee, two people who will probably never collaborate, collaborated in the creation of the re-creation of the creation of Hip-Hop. If you did that, you would probably imagine something as cool and funky as The Get Down. Set in The Bronx of 1977, this Netflix series, actually directed by Baz Luhrmann, blends reality with fiction, as we are introduced to the fictitious kids of The Bronx, the kids that will help build the Hip-Hop world, and real life Hip-Hop pioneers like Grandmaster Flash and DJ Kool Herc. Blend the lush Lurhmannesque visuals and funkadelic music, with the underworld intrigue and seventies martial arts vibe, and you can certainly imagine one hell of  show. But no need to imagine such a thing...just go watch the damn thing.

6. Documentary Now! (IFC) - Originally created on SNL, Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Seth Meyers, bring the mockumentary genre to IFC. Inspired by This is Spinal Tap, this show, which is introduced by a very serious Miss Helen Mirren (to give it faux gravitas), takes on parodies of famous docs such as Grey Gardens, Salesman, and The Thin Blue Line. The desire to make everything as real as possible, in their take on Nanook of the North, they even took the time to use the actual camera used to film the 1922 movie. This desire for reality, combined with sharp satire, and mocking comedy, makes this one of the best shows of the year.

7. Better Call Saul (AMC) - Breaking Bad may be one of the greatest TV shows ever created, so when this prequel debuted in 2015, I had my doubts. I mean, how could they live up to such a great show? Well, ya know what? They did. They goddamn did! And then came season two this past year, and they managed to get even better. Bob Odenkirk digs deeper down into the depths of Jimmy McGill, nee Saul Goodman, than he ever did before. A brilliantly subversive show that may even get better with the upcoming season three.

8. Westworld (HBO) - Taking a cue from, but not acting as a remake of, the 1973 Michael Crichton film, this astounding HBO series reaches further and further down the rabbit hole of it's own insanity, and surprises at every turn. Westworld is the most watched first season of any HBO show ever...and this is a network that has given us The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, and True Detective. And it's worthy of such success. The writing and directing and acting is all wonderful, and Thandie Newton is the highlight of it all. I cannot wait until the second season....even if that wait is going to go on until 2018 sometime.

9. The Walking Dead (AMC) - I don't know of any major critic who has ever placed this show on their annual best of lists, as it seems to be regularly overlooked (and at all the awards shows as well), and it almost seems as if you cannot be a cool and aloof critic if you like the show. But hey, I never claimed to be all that cool, nor have I ever played at being aloof, so here it is. Granted, last year this show was number two on the list, and the year before, it was in the number one spot, and now it has dipped to 9th place, but this is not a dig at it's quality, especially since this past year's addition of the character of Negan has breathed new life (ironically enough), but just at how many great shows are being made these days. Nonetheless, here it is.

10. Veep (HBO) - With the political ups and downs of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' title character, and (spoilerish alert) the ever-increasingly misnamed show, I really have no idea where this show is going to go in season six, but that is a ponderment for 2017. This past season may have been the best one so far. The straight-up funniest show currently on TV (thanks to the elongated hiatus of Louis), Veep is the closest thing this list has to an actual situation comedy. Brilliant and warped and fast-paced, quick-witted and featuring some of the best comedic performances on television. Veep is better than ever. Now, let's see what we get in season six.

And, if I were to make it a top 20 list (in no particular order): Better Things (FX); The Americans (FX); Bojack Horseman (Netflix); The Night Of (HBO); Orange is the New Black (Netflix); Baskets (FX); Horace and Pete (Hulu); Silicon Valley (HBO); Halt and Catch Fire (AMC); and The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX).

And a bunch of runners-up, again in no particular order: Modern Family (ABC); Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW); Archer (FX); Transparent (Amazon); The Flash (CW); UnREAL (Lifetime); Fleabag (Amazon); Doctor Who (BBC); Supergirl (CBS/CW); Last Week with John Oliver (HBO); Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS); American Horror Story: Roanoke (FX); House of Cards (Netflix); Empire (Fox); The Outsiders (WGN); You're the Worst (FXX); Penny Dreadful (Showtime); Jessica Jones (Netflix); Master of None (Netflix); Insecure (HBO); The Night Manager (HBO); Gotham (Fox); and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix).

So there ya'll go. My choices for the 43 best shows on so-called TV.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.