Oscars 2017: Who Will (and Should) Win

The morning of Oscar nominations is one of my favorite of the entertainment year. As always, I make my choices morning-of, so as to not be too swayed by narrative. The past few years, that’s become more difficult, as Oscar punditry has become more popular (and started earlier in the year to boot.) Some of these choices are shoo-ins, some of these are dark horses, and each contains who *should* win as well. As always, feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments.

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Winners and Losers, 2016

Well, as John Oliver rightly noted, 2016 was not a good year. And while I’ll do my best to keep updating this space, regular readers (if there is such a thing) can vouch that I’ve been lacking in posts; mostly because it feels like the world is falling apart. (I say this not as a wholly political statement; for instance, Alan Thicke and Florence Henderson and George Michael have passed while I’ve been working on this draft. Update: Carrie Fisher, too.) But with that said, entertainment is often a good way to express discontent with the current political and social climate, and can often serve as a distraction from, well, our impending doom. So enough prologue: I humbly submit the winners and losers of the entertainment world that were on my radar in 2016.

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Casting the new “Ocean’s 11” movie

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News has broken that there will be an all-female reboot of “Ocean’s 11.” The remake will be headlined by Sandra Bullock, and produced by her friend George Clooney. For sake of argument, we’ll assume she’s playing the Danny Ocean role (Danielle Ocean?). But who should play everyone else? Let’s break it down. Continue reading

There’s No Crying In Baseball

As I’ve said before, I usually try to keep sports separate from this blog. But, as I’ve also said, it’s my blog, and I’ll post what I want. With that in mind, I’ll share with you what I couldn’t get out of my head last night: the idea that, so far, the big summer movies all seem to match up well with one Major League Baseball team. Will the trend continue? Who knows. For now, let’s take a look and see which movies are which teams.

1) Furious 7

Team: St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals keep putting out winning teams on the field, doing better than most pundits would expect, even when they have to deal with tragedy, like a sudden death from a car crash (Oscar Taveras). Sounds a lot like a Vin Diesel/Paul Walker led franchise to me.

2) Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Team: Oakland Athletics

No one understood what Oakland GM Billy Beane was doing this off-season, and nobody understood why a sequel to the heinously unfunny original was necessary. Both movie and team performed poorly, at the box office or on the field.

3) Avengers: Age of Ultron

Team: San Diego Padres

San Diego GM AJ Preller put together what looked to be an all-star roster: adding Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Meyers, Derek Norris, James Shields and Craig Kimbrel should have made for an easy cruise to the division title. But putting together all that talent doesn’t make for a workable on-field product, and the same can be said for the re-teaming of Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye et. al.

4) Pitch Perfect 2

Team: Houston Astros

Led by a pint-size box office darling (Anna Kendrick/Jose Altuve), the movie/team followed the same blue print as last time/last year to even bigger success.

5) Spy

Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto traded for Josh Donaldson, signed Russell Martin, and got rave reviews by many baseball pundits. Feels a lot like what Paul Feig assembled for his Bond-spoofing film. Both team and movie got better ratings than what the box office/win column may show, but both appear to have legs (especially given Toronto’s recent winning streak).

6) Tomorrowland

Team: Chicago Cubs

Living in the present but constantly focused on the (hopefully-promising future), the Cubs have assembled a ton of young talent in the hopes of winning an elusive World Series before another century passes.

7) Mad Max: Fury Road

Team: Washington Nationals

Led by Max, the best reviews of the summer haven’t led to as great a box-office haul as the movie producers would like. But don’t be surprised if this movie is in the conversation for Best Picture at the Oscars….and if this team wins the pennant (and more) this October.

8) Aloha

Team: Boston Red Sox

Cameron Crowe put together an all-star cast, with Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Alec Baldwin and Bill Murray. Ben Cherington did the same with Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. The results? Putrid.

9) Jurassic World

Team: New York Yankees

Nobody thought the dinosaurs would do this well at their age, and Jurassic World also fared pretty well at the box office.

10) Inside Out

Team: San Francisco Giants

The Giants started off the season woefully underperforming, especially after the team’s championship performance last year. But once it was able to bring Joy, Fear, and Disgust into balance (i.e. bringing back Hunter Pence and getting its clubhouse chemistry in order), the team is again a force to be reckoned with in the NL West.

11) Entourage

Team: Kansas City Royals

This team has wayyyy more swagger than most people think it deserves. Yes, it went to the World Series last year, but the Royals have brawled with multiple teams this season, and its fans have alienated casual baseball fans by stuffing the ballot boxes online so that the Royals will start a player at nearly every position for the All-Star Game. This is a team full of Johnny Dramas.

I may update this as the summer season rolls along, but for now, let me know what you think in the comments.

Spider-Man falls into Marvel’s Web of Heroes

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I was really excited at the news that Captain America 3 was going to be loosely based on the Civil War storyline, given that I like the idea of these larger-than-life superheroes getting into conflict. I thought Captain America 2 was fantastic, especially for its ability to be a taut spy thriller. (It’s the most “Three Days of the Condor” of a movie that Marvel has ever made.) The idea that Captain America 3 will involve Iron Man and Captain America disagreeing about domestic registration of superheroes (and potentially come to blows over this disagreement) makes me psyched – it’s the friction of the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, but with stakes other than “We have to save the world by capturing this MacGuffin.”

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So today’s news, that Spider-Man is officially joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, warms my heart. I love Spidey. Even the terrible movies (Sam Raimi’s third, the second Marc Webb effort from last summer) have always had some redeeming qualities (Topher Grace’s Venom or Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy, for instance). And the good one’s (especially 2004’s “Spider-Man 2”) transitioned the character from the comics to the screen in a way I didn’t think would be possible. So I am thrilled at the chance for Spidey to rub shoulders with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and maybe even Groot.

I’m also very happy that this means Sony may abandon plans for the Sinister Six movies they had discussed. We didn’t need six stand-alone movies about Spider-Man taking on various villians. We didn’t need an Aunt May spin-off. We didn’t need any more than the five Spider-Man movies that we’ve already gotten. And we certainly don’t need to see Peter witness Uncle Ben’s death for a third time (on screen). No, a Spider-Man who’s been doing his job (fighting crime, swinging on webs, doing whatever a spider can, etc.) rather than another iteration of the petulant and angst-ridden Peter Parker would be a nice change of a pace: a fully-formed, adult Spider-Man, capable of trading barbs with the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

While I do feel bad for Andrew Garfield (I think he did an admirable job given the sub-par scripts he was handed), some fresh blood in a franchise that, as of last summer, had lost serious momentum is a cause for celebration. Although, Marvel, I do hope that you heed the words of Uncle Ben: with great power comes great responsibility. You have stoked fans’ hopes: please don’t disappoint.

Now if only Marvel could also get back the rights to Wolverine…

Oscar Picks 2015

My reaction to the Lego snub

My reaction to the Lego snub

As I do every year, I try to make my Oscar picks as soon as the nominations are out, so that I’m not biased by any campaigning. In recent years, that’s gotten more difficult as more and more awards shows have become televised, and clear-cut front runners become locks earlier and earlier. That said, here’s who I expect to win. Also, please note that the fact that “The Lego Movie” was snubbed from the Best Animated Feature category makes me question why I will even bother watching this award show. (For the record, I also think “Gone Girl” deserved many more nominations, including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, and I would have loved “Skeleton Twins” or “Obvious Child” to have gotten a screenplay nomination). Continue reading

The Winter of My Content

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Just over two months ago, I lamented the fact that 2014 was shaping up to be a poor year for movie quality. In fact, 2014 was churning out much stronger drama on television than at the movies. But, as Rustin Cohle noted, without time, nothing grows, nothing changes.

And time changed the entertainment landscape. Gone were “True Detective,” “Masters of Sex,” “The Leftovers,” and “Mad Men.” In their place? “Saved by the Bell: The Unauthorized Story” and a plethora of fall TV offerings that looked mediocre at best. And the best drama? Back to where we expected it: the big screen. Continue reading