Friday, February 28, 2014

Oscar Pix

Does anyone care about the Oscars this year? Did they get lost in the Olympic shuffle? We actually have a battle for Best Picture. Too many nominees, but still, no slam dunk.

As always, I pay no attention to who is wearing who or the wit of the host (good luck, Ellen).

It's all about the picks...and not only winning money, but more importantly, being right.

So, without further adieu, here are my picks for this Sunday night..

BEST PICTURE

My annual plea - lets get back to FIVE nominees. Make the academy work. All the films this year are good ones, but five makes it more special.

I got out more with my wife this year and saw all but one of the nominees. The film I missed was Her.  That's okay, it's not going to win.

Captain Phillips is a good movie, and Tom Hanks shockingly is not getting his due. It won't win. 

I enjoyed Philomena and Nebraska, but they both have a Best Indie feel to it, not Best Picture. 

The Wolf of Wall Street is a half hour too long and this just isn't Marty's year. 

American Hustle felt like a Scorsese movie I've seen before. Marty did it better. The acting is great. Best Picture, it is not.  

Dallas Buyers Club will take home at least one acting award, but not the big prize. 

So that leaves just two - 12 Years A Slave and Gravity.

I just watched 12 Years A Slave, and it is an excellent film. Based on a true story, its plight is so painful because we realize how much of it is true. A very moving film. But so was The Color Purple. And it did not win Best Picture. 

So that leaves Gravity. It is a visual masterpiece. It eats up every inch of the big screen. I left in awe when I walked out of the theater. And I think it will win on Sunday night.

By the way, I picked Zero Dark Thirty over Argo last year.

My Pick: Gravity

BEST DIRECTOR

This "who is Ben Affleck" category is a no brainer for me.

Alexander Payne is brilliant and I will see any movie he makes. Same goes for Martin Scorsese.  David O Russell's genius continues to elude me (I thought Silver Linings Playbook was bloated too).  Steve McQueen did an excellent job with 12 Years A Slave and has a great name for the movies.

I knew Ang Lee was going to win last year. Same reason that Alfonso Cuaron will win this year. Visually, it just doesn't get any better.

My Pick: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

BEST ACTOR

This is a tough one, and Hollywood's temperature will be taken to determine the winner.

Christian Bale - nice job in American Hustle, thanks for playing.

Bruce Dern - fantastic performance in Nebraska, and if it was Supporting Actor you might have a shot. It isn't, and you don't.

Leonardo Dicaprio - excellent performance, but these days you don't win Oscars for playing guys like Jordan Belfort.

Chiwetel Ejiofor - fantastic range of character and so many masterful subtle acting moves - it could be yours. But...

Matthew McConaughey - he's got the right Oscar mix. Lost a ton of weight, AIDS victim, angry and uplifting, and True Detective is incredible (sorry, my TV side got in there). It's his year. Alright, alright.

My Pick:  Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

BEST ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett. Lock. And that's with Meryl Streep and Judi Dench in the field.

My Pick: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

BEST SUPPPORTING ACTOR

Bradley Cooper is a talented actor, but he comes in fifth here. Michael Fassbender will be nominated again, but I felt he was too much of a caricature. Barkhad Abdi is great in Captain Phillips, but I need to see him in something else. I'm rooting for Jonah Hill who nailed the Long Island schmuck I'm all to familiar with. But the recipe is right for Jared Leto - cross dressing, AIDS, love story and a tragic figure. Winner.

My Pick: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

This is a tough one too.

I didn't see August: Osage County, so sorry Julia. You already have a statue anyway. I wasn't taken by Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine - probably too captivated by Cate. 

Jennifer Lawrence is a flat out movie star who owns the screen every time she appears. But there was not enough of her in American Hustle to merit a nomination, much less win the Oscar. I love her, but not for this.

June Squibb flat out steals Nebraska.  She's funny, poignant, and perfect for the film.  I want to pick her, but...

Lupita Nyong'o as Patsy, well, that's one for the ages. The pain in her performance is so palpable. She has to take home a gold statue.

My Pick: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave

My pick six: Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron, Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong'o

Care to wager?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Second GoPro Video

I went snorkeling with my GoPro in Aruba.

This is my second attempt creating a video using GoPro software.

I'm uploading this with a foot of snow on the ground here in New York. Uggh.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My First GoPro Video

I went parasailing in Aruba.

This is also my first crack using GoPro software.

Be kind.  Happy 2014.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Best TV of 2013

2013...we hardly knew thee.


I will begin my annual list explaining what shows you will find on most other critic's lists, but not mine.

Orange Is The New Black (NETFLIX)

I saw four episodes. They were funny. But I didn't go back for more. When I do, perhaps it will make the list. Hey, I was dead wrong about Louie, so I CAN change my mind.

Scandal (ABC)

I don't mind smart sap, but this show is overrated. It's fine...for an ABC drama. But not Top Ten.

Enlightened (HBO)

I'm not.

DIDNT WATCH IT YET, BUT LOOKING FORWARD TO IT

Top of the Lake (SUNDANCE)

Broadchurch (BBC AMERICA)


American Horror Story (FX)

Still haven't watched it. Still seems weird for the sake of being weird. I'll get there.

FAVORITE NEW SHOWS

The Americans (FX)

Really picked up steam towards the end of the season. And I'll watch anything with Margo Martindale in it (including The Millers).

Masters Of Sex (SHOWTIME)

Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan are great, but Beau Bridges and Alison Janney are even better. The show is dry in spite of the subject matter, but still well worth watching.

HONORABLE MENTION

Modern Family (ABC)

Still makes me laugh, and I always find it touching. It's good, and can be great at times, but needs to get back to its Season One brilliance. And I still don't like the new Lilly. 

The Newsroom (HBO)

I'm a sucker for Sorkin. And Olivia Munn.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Maybe I'm growing immune to the zombies and too many regulars are disappearing. I still like it, but it wasn't Top Ten for me this year.

Sons of Anarchy (FX)

Kurt Sutter knows how to start and end a season, but this just misses making my Top Ten this year. Mayhem will ensue.

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

I still love this comedy and its ensemble, but this past season was missing something. Hoping that shaking up the cast will lead to more laughs. 

MY TOP TEN

10.  Rectify (SUNDANCE)

This moody gem profiling a prisoner leaving death row is a keeper. Heavy drama with some top notch acting...and you'll find out where that teacher Don Draper was banging ended up after all.

9.  Veep (HBO)

Julia and crew hit their stride this season. Consistently funny satire that uses its cast to its full advantage.

8.  Justified (FX)

This show continues to stay under the radar. Olyphant and Goggins lead the excellent acting ensemble. The hunt for Shelby was okay, but everything around it was very entertaining.

7.  House of Cards (NETFLIX)

How can Kevin Spacey in THAT role and David Fincher's direction miss? It didn't. I didn't love Frank talking to the camera so much, but the story picked up speed and careened towards a satisfying ending. Looking forward to season two.

6.  Orphan Black (BBC AMERICA)

Want to see the best performance by a TV actress last year? Tatiana Maslany awaits you...in more ways than one.

5.  The Good Wife (CBS)

They shook things up at Lockhart/Gardner, and it paid major dividends. The best show on network TV got even better. Now all they need is a good storyline for Kalinda.

4.  Mad Men (AMC)

This season was an improvement over last, and that shot of Don looking up at the house on the hill gets you primed for the next season.

3.  Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Got off to a great start and ended a little too softly, but an excellent season all around. Bonus points for hardly any Margaret! Buscemi doesn't get enough credit for his performance.

2.  Game of Thrones (HBO)

Season three hit the ground running and really didn't stop. The Red Wedding shows how gruesome this show can be. Beautifully shot, extremely well acted, and I can't wait to get back to Westeros. Winter is coming.

1.  Breaking Bad (AMC)

My expectations for the final 8 were sky high. They weren't met...they were exceeded. Breaking Bad is one for the ages. Can't wait to call Saul.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Pix

For a long time now, the Oscars haven't been about the glamour, the stars, the host or even the films for me. The Oscars are all about the picks...and getting more of them right than anyone else. Maybe that's just my gambling side talking.

I don't care who's wearing what. I don't care about the dance numbers or Hollywood jokes. I care about the winners and losers.

So, without further adieu, here are my 2013 Oscar picks.

BEST PICTURE

There are WAY too many nominees this year. Let's have the Academy do some work and narrow it down to five, please.

The only two films I didn't see were Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild. They aren't going to win anyway.

Silver Linings Playbook is the most overrated movie of the year. Good performances, but a horrible final 30 minutes of a movie. I sat through all of Les Miserables where Anne Hathaway shines but the English accented singing in France bored me. Django was a lot of fun, but it's twenty minutes too long and not a Best Pic. Life of Pi was gorgeous to look at and a poignant tale, but not the best movie I saw this year.

That leaves Argo, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. I liked Lincoln. A lot. But it's bloated and feels way to Spielbergy at times. It WANTS to be Best Picture, but it's not.

Argo is a very good movie. Affleck got screwed by not being nominated, and any film that hails Hollywood as a hero should be a Best Picture lock. And this one would be, if Zero Dark Thirty didn't come out in the same year.

Zero Dark Thirty was the best movie I saw in 2012. Great acting and directing, fantastic drama, and it never slows down. The performances across the board were excellent. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Killing Osama gets my vote.

My Pick: Zero Dark Thirty

BEST DIRECTOR

Oscar should be ashamed not nominating Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow. I didn't see Amour or Beasts of the Southern Wild. Silver Linings should not be nominated here either. If Spielberg hadn't already won one, he'd be a lock. But he did, and Life of Pi shows what a visionary director can really do these days. Richard Parker would have gotten a Best Supporting Actor nomination if those previous Oscar winners performances weren't so good.

My Pick: Ang Lee, Life of Pi

BEST ACTOR

He won it when the poster came out. And he deserves it.  He's a "Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher" lock. The rest of the field doesn't matter.

My Pick:  Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

BEST ACTRESS

Toughest call of the bunch. I've heard that Emmanuelle Riva is fantastic in Amour, but those roles win Supporting Actress statues, not this one. Same goes for Quvenzhane Wallis who is a nice story, but she's not winning. Naomi Watts is incredible in The Impossible, but nobody saw it other than me and my wife.  

That leaves Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain. Both were excellent in their roles. Jessica will get her Oscar someday. This year, my vote goes to Katniss.

My Pick: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook 

BEST SUPPPORTING ACTOR

There's only one choice for me here, and it's Christoph Waltz. He owns Django (literally and figuratively). Of all of these accomplished actors who were nominated, his performance was simply the best. 

And I might be in the minority here, but I felt Deniro was average in Silver Linings Playbook. As a dad, he's fine. But as a bookie, come on. Didn't ring true at all. I love Deniro, but not in this movie. 

My Pick: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Helen Hunt is very good in The Sessions (John Hawkes should have been nominated for Best Actor). Jackie Weaver is barely in Silver Linings overrated. Amy Adams is always good, but never breaks through for some reason. Sally Field's performance in Lincoln reminds me of Deniro's in you-know-what, it's okay but nowhere near where an Oscar winner should be. 

If you never see Les Miserables, you should watch the scene where Anne Hathaway sings "I Dreamed a Dream" in a tight close up. I didn't like the movie, but Princess Mia belting that one out is Oscar worthy. Added bonus - her speech will be fun to watch.

My Pick: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

My pick six: Zero Dark Thirty, Ang Lee, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, Christoph Waltz and Anne Hathaway. 

Care to wager?

Friday, January 25, 2013

For What Its Worth

The Hollywood Reporter says it, so it must be true.

Gary Dell'Abate and I are heading to VH1 Classic to host our new show "For What It's Worth".

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/vh1-classic-orders-pop-culture-415225

Our first ep will air on Thursday, February 21 at 10pm. 

More details to follow...

Monday, December 17, 2012