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Sunday, February 27, 2011

TOPIC: 2011 Oscar Predictions


It's Oscar season and while we talk about our favorite films of the previous year and debate on who should win, ultimately it's the Academy that makes the decision of who goes home with that iconic golden statue.

With that, allow me to make my predictions for the big awards. I will list the nominations, pick who I want to win & my pick of what will win.

VISUAL EFFECTS

- Alice In Wonderland
- Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Pt. I
- Hereafter
- Inception
- Iron Man II

I generally enjoyed all of the films in this category and they are all pretty good. However, only one of them stands above all others.

MY PICK

MY PREDICTION

SOUND EDITING

- Inception
- Toy Story III
- Tron: Legacy
- True Grit
- Unstopable

I'm a fan of sound mixing and audio production, which is why I'm including this category in my predictions list. I have no clue why True Grit is here. It's not like we haven't seen a Western before.

MY PICK

MY PREDICTION

MAKEUP

- Barney's Version
- The Way Back
- The Wolfman

If it's anything but The Wolfman, I'll question the eye sight of the Academy members.

MY PICK

MY PREDICTION

FILM EDITING

- Black Swan
- The Fighter
- The King's Speech
- 127 Hours
- The Social Network

MY PICK

For the film, the director watched "Irish" Micky Ward's fights and mimicked the fight punch for punch, editing it in a way that made you feel like your ringside watching the action. This hands down deserves it.

MY PREDICTION

Something just tells me The Fighter will get snubbed here.

BEST ANIMATED FILM

- How To Train Your Dragon
- The Illusionist
- Toy Story III

If it's anything but Toy Story III, I expect the audience to boo, as they rightfully should.

MY PICK

MY PREDICTION

BEST DIRECTOR

- Darren Aronofsky - Black Swan
- David O. Russell - The Fighter
- Tom Hooper - The King's Speech
- David Fincher - The Social Network
- Joel Coen and Ethan Coen - True Grit

MY PICK
David O. Russell

MY PREDICTION
Darren Aronofsky

Many people are going with David Fincher on this. I just don't see it. Black Swan was a great thriller and Aronofsky directed Natalie Portman brilliantly.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

- Amy Adams - The Fighter
- Helena Bonham Carter - The King's Speech
- Melissa Leo - The Fighter
- Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit
- Jacki Weaver - Animal Kingdom

This is a tough one. Hailee Steinfeld is only a young child, but she was brilliant in True Grit. Amy Adams had a solid performance as well. I loved Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech even though I personally didn't like the movie itself. Melissa Leo however, was so good playing Micky Ward's mother, that it almost made me hate her as a person. That's how good she was in this movie. I have a feeling though despite this, the Academy will give Ms. Carter the Oscar.

MY PICK
Melissa Leo

MY PREDICTION
Helena Bonham Carter

SUPPORTING ACTOR

- Christian Bale - The Fighter
- John Hawkes - Winter's Bone
- Jeremy Renner - The Town
- Mark Ruffalo - The Kids Are All Right
- Geoffrey Rush - The King's Speech

Christian Bale deserves this Oscar. I don't care what anyone else say's, this is his award. Watch footage of the real Dick Eklund and then watch Bale's performance in The Fighter. You can't tell the difference in the way he walks, talks and acts like Dick Eklund. I got a feeling though that this will be the "robbed" award this year.

MY PICK
Christian Bale

MY PREDICTION
Geoffrey Rush

BEST ACTRESS

- Annette Benning - The Kids Are All Right
- Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole
- Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone
- Natalie Portman - Black Swan
- Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine

Because of the media attention Black Swan got and the praise Natalie Portman got for her performance, I think she get's this, and deservedly so. I went into Black Swan just for that lesbian scene with Mila Kunis and I ended up being blown away by Natalie Portman's performance. It ended up being a really good movie.

MY PICK
Natalie Portman

MY PREDICTION
Natalie Portman

BEST ACTOR

- Javier Bardem - Biutiful
- Jeff Bridges - True Grit
- Jesse Eisenberg - The Social Network
- Colin Firth - The King's Speech
- James Franco - 127 Hours

I don't see Bridges winning because the movie was made famous by John Wayne. It would be like if a really good tribute band won a Grammy for a cover song. It just doesn't happen. I'd like to see Jesse Eisenberg win, but Colin Firth takes this one.

MY PICK
Jesse Eisenberg

MY PREDICTION
Colin Firth

BEST PICTURE

- Black Swan
- The Fighter
- Inception
- The Kids Are All Right
- The King's Speech
- 127 Hours
- The Social Network
- Toy Story III
- True Grit
- Winter's Bone

This is one of the hardest picks this year. Black Swan was very artsy and it pushed limits of whats acceptable in this country. The Figher I've said time and time again is this generations "Rocky". That's how good of a movie it is. Inception was cutting edge, original. Screw "Avatar", this is the visual effects standard. The Social Network was a great film, despite it not being 100% accurate to the real story. Toy Story III to me was perfect in every way possible. True Grit was great, but I don't think a remake should win Best Picture over original films. This was a tough one, but...

MY PICK

I'm aware I'm gonna get various homosexual themed names thrown at me for this and I'll also be called insane for putting an animated movie above the others. Let me ask you this though: What film made you laugh, happy, worry about the fate of a character & get emotional? I certainly don't remember the last film that did all of those. Toy Story III is a masterpiece. If any animated film in history deserves the "Best Picture" award, this is it.

MY PREDICTION

Let's face it, this is the highest rated movie most critics loved non-animated this year. The Academy isn't gonna give their highest honored award to an animated film and probably never will. This is your best picture of the year.

Don't miss the Oscar's tonight on ABC.

Written by: Hammy
Twitter: @HammyRadio

Saturday, February 26, 2011

TOP TEN: James Bond Films

Let's be honest here, what guy DOESN'T wanna be James Bond? You travel all over the world, kick some ass, get the girl at the end. Not to mention you get to drive around in a cool Aston Martin. The classic DB5 Connery drove set the bar as far as kick ass spy cars are concerned. Bond, with the times, has upgraded to a more advanced DB9, which to me, is the most beautiful thing on 4 wheels...


To me, James Bond is the embodiment of all things male. Their have been 22 Bond films and I have watched them all.

6 actors have had the opportunity to portray the famous spy. I don't acknowledge George Lazenby's Bond because I thought it was so awful, I struggled to get through "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". I thought Timothy Dalton was ok at best. Daniel Craig is only 2 movies in, but "Casino Royale" was a great flick and I loved his performance. It comes down to 3 actors: Sean Connery, Roger Moore & Pierce Brosnan. 2 actors had positives and negatives about their portrayal of bond. However, while everyone has their personal favorites, to me, their really is only ONE James Bond...


Yep, Sean Connery. He had the entire package: Charming personality, wits, strength, sex appeal, everything. Roger Moore's movies to me seemed more of a comedy Bond and Brosnans's Bond seemed to struggle to get that action star look. You can't top Goldeneye, and Brosnan tried to do that with every movie after Goldeneye. It got ridiculous with "Die Another Day", and I'm glad the series died out for a few years.

Anyhow, on to the main event. Seeing as though Bond goes by the number 007, here are my top 7 James Bond films.

#7 - MOONRAKER

It's the very first Bond film I saw when I was 11 years old. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid and always played spy games with my brother, so this movie was AWESOME to me. My favorite thing about this movie is not Bond, Drax or the Moonraker's themselves, I loved Jaws...

Total bad ass...

Here is this near 8 foot tall giant that can eat steel wires and is virtually unstopable. Put him in the mix of space travel and a cool spy story, Moonraker easily gets a spot on my list.

#6 - THUNDERBALL

SPECTRE's at it again. This time they steal 2 nuclear warheads and are holding the world hostage. What I loved about this movie is in the beginning of the film, #2 goes to a secret SPECTRE meeting and while you see and hear #1's voice, you still can't see his face. He also, at a push of a button, punishes an unlucky fella who has failed to please his leader...



This made a lasting impression on me. SPECTRE is not one to fuck with. Later on in the film, you see an epic underwater battle between SPECTRE and the Navy (with assistance of Bond). I think this scene has held or still holds a record for biggest underwater fight in a film. Not sure about that, but it's still an awesome scene...



#5 - CASINO ROYALE

First off, just watch this...



This is the COOLEST opening credits of all of the Bond films. Although I think "Live & Let Die" is a better song. That's just me being a Paul McCartney mark though. Chris Cornell has a voice I normally don't like, but this songs awesome.

Anyhow, onto the movie itself. It is a remake of an old 50's TV special with the same name, and it is about Bond playing a game of poker to stop a terrorist banker from funding terrorism. To me, I don't know why they couldn't have just captured him instead of having to play poker, but that's just me being nit picky. Anyhow, one scene in particular that showed how much of a bad ass Daniel Craig's Bond is, is this scene...



I don't know about you, but if someone else did that to me, I'd probably cave in. Not Bond. This movie had all of the right ingredients that makes a great Bond film. Quantum Of Solace wasn't as good as this, but if Craig keeps up performances like this as Bond, he may very well end up there with Connery as the ultimate Bond.

#4 - THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN

A world wide known hit man is out for Bonds head. No SPECTRE, no terrorist threatening world domination, just a guy with a midget assistant wanting to see if he's a better shooter than Bond. I thought I would hate this movie. This is one of my favorites because it's the only Roger Moore movie I really liked. Moonraker is on this list because I thought it was an interesting plot. I didn't like Moore's performance in that movie, LOVED it in this. Also, it had Christopher Lee in it. This dude has done everything from sucking blood out of people's necks, to trying to kill a British secret agent, to even zapping Jedi in Star Wars...


The only reason I watched Episode II...

You also have the lovely Mary Goodnight, who is one of my favorite Bond girls. She is played by Britt Ekland.


Above all else, this movie had the famous golden gun. The one gun in Goldeneye for the N64 you had to find every multi player mission. It's also one of the most famous collectible item for Bond fans. It's one of the most iconic firearms in history, and it's just from a fucking movie. A perfect film for anyone looking to watch a Bond flick.

#3 - GOLDFINGER

What can I say about this movie that hasn't already been said. It's argued by many as the best Bond film of all time. It's also said that this is Connery's best performance as Bond. To me, yes, I agree with almost everything the fans say. However, I found a problem with this. No SPECTRE. When this film was released, everyone was obsessed with SPECTRE and wanting to find out the story behind that group. While this movie is excellent, I wanted to find out what happens next with SPECTRE.

However, that one negative aspect is made up 10 fold by many positives.


You had this guy, Odd Job. Besides Bond and the main villains, Odd Job is one of the most popular characters in the Bond films. His ability to take any punch and use his hat as a Frisbee like saw was cool as hell...


Also, this film has the greatest moment in all Bond films. Any thrilling spy movie today owes their success to this scene...



Taking away the "no SPECTRE" complaint, this is the perfect Bond film.

#2 - GOLDENEYE

I may catch some heat for this putting Goldeneye above Goldfinger, so allow me to explain why.

First off, it had the perfect Bond villain. Who else could match Bond with gun skills, resources and fighting skills than another 00 agent? 006 Alec Trevelyan, who thought to be dead for years, resurfaces as Janus. He plans to use the Goldeneye weapon to send an explosive EMP to London, destroying all computers and financial records of the UK, sending it back to the middle ages. Great plan, great villain.

Second, Pierce Brosnan was Bond. Besides Connery, Brosnan is my favorite James Bond.

Also, it had the lovely Famke Jenssen. She played Xenia, a military expert and assistant to Trevelyan who killed her male targets by seducing them, fucking their brains out so hard, it killed them. How hot is that?


Very...

It had an epic final confrontation between 007 and 006 that made this movie one of the few Bond films I can watch over and over again.

Now though, onto my #1, and that is...

#1 - YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE

This movie is flawless. Gun fights, beautiful women, creative plot, great action scenes, Sean Connery as Bond. Above all else, we finally see the face of #1, the leader of SPECTRE, James Bonds arch nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld...


This dude is fucking evil. In this film, he builds a space craft that literally swallows up USSR and USA crafts in orbit. His plan is to get the two super powers of the world to go to war, destroy each other, than rise from the ashes of World War 3 as the worlds ruler. How sick is that plan? Of course Bond saves the day, but not without an all out epic gun fight in an active volcano.

Blofeld escapes, but returns in future Bond films. This version of Blofeld was the inspiration for Mike Myers' Dr. Evil creation in his Austin Powers movie's. I can't speak any highly more of this film other than to strongly suggest you see this movie. If this doesn't make you a fan of Bond, nothing will.

That is my top 7 Bond films, now let the comments fly!

Written by: Hammy
Twitter: @BrainstuHammy

REVIEW: Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

It has been an interesting couple of years since Kanye West released his hit album Graduation in 2007. First his mother died after complications from cosmetic surgery in late 2007. Then his follow-up to Graduation titled “808s and Heartbreak” was released and was subsequently panned by most listeners despite decent critical reviews. After that came the VMA's incident where he went on the stage and interrupted the speech of Taylor Swift, which generated much backlash against Kanye. After that he became the butt of jokes by everyone ranging from the writers of South Park to internet meme sites like YTMND. With all that happening in that span, you would almost allow it to automatically be an excuse for a sub-par record when he got around to recording his next album.


Thankfully for us, the listener, “My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy” is probably Kanye West’s best work since Late Registration. I can’t think of anyone else in the music world that could put out something that is such an example of a grandiose musical spectacle as Kanye West is capable of. What makes this album great is that you can feel the emotional complexity of Kanye in both the lyrics and the production. It has spectacular highs and depressing lows with every bit of egotistical self declaration and low self esteem that he has shown ever since College Dropout dropped.

Another thing to point out on this album is the amount of star power present on the guest appearances. You have well known rap vets like Jay-Z, RZA and Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan fame then you got new blood like Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, and Kid Cudi. Also thrown randomly in the album are the likes of John Legend, Alicia Keys, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, and even Elton John lays some piano tracks and some vocals to a song here. One song in particular (All of the Lights) features 11 different guests on the song. Granted most of them are instrumental guests or only have a single sentence or two of vocals. Still, when I saw the people featured on the song, it was unbelievable that Kanye was able to fit all those appearances in a 5 minute span.



The production on this album is also some of the best on one of his CDs too with Kanye bringing in RZA, No I.D., Jeff Baskher, and others to add more variety to the production level of this album and it shows. There are moments of Kanye’s “vocal samples to enhance a beat” technique, more guitar laden beats, piano infused beats, and even a few moments where it sounds more like an something out of a Nintendo-core band’s instrumentals than a rap cd.

One place where Kanye has improved is with his lyrical delivery and lyrics themselves. Not that he was really bad at it but he stepped up his game big time as if he had something to prove after "808s And Heartbreaks". His lyrics on this release range from self-aggrandizing, to romantic, to sexual, to escapist, to self doubting. No matter what the shift in lyrics are, they all feel real which is what makes Kanye West who he is. There are no frills to his personality and that is one of the reasons this reviewer is a fan of his work.

I would say my favorite track on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” has to be “Blame Game”, which features John Legend.



The song sounds utterly depressing in tone and lyrical content. At the very end of the song during the last piano notes, there are clips of Chris Rock played to lighten the mood as if this were the musical equivalent of Greek drama, where they would do something funny to break up the tension of the dramatic play going on. Another track I have to point out is the second track of the CD titled "Gorgeous" which features great verses by both Kanye and Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon.



The first single off this album, “Power”, is another standout track as is “All of the Lights”(along with the interlude into the song which enhances the track as a whole).



If there is one knock I have on the album it is some of the guest appearances. Nicki Minaj isn’t that good and I kinda wonder why Fergie got the longest vocal part in "All Of The Lights" when there were more talented guests on the song who only got one sentence or two in it. Another knock on the album for me is the track “Lost In The World” which is the kind of auto-tuned song that you’d see on 808s.



Overall though these minor knocks are nowhere near enough to dampen my review of “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” in any way. It is worth at least a listen with an open mind (which I know is hard for some of the more opinionated Kanye West haters).

I rate it 4.5 fish sticks out of 5

Written by: Mike Falcone
Twitter: @BrainstuFalcone
Facebook: Michael Falcone

REVIEW: Top Gear USA

Who WOULDN'T like a show about fast cars hosted by 3 guy's that deliver a car review (which is normally VERY boring) into something entertaining?

That's what over 350,000,000 viewers a week say when they watch Top Gear on the BBC. This show has become one of the most watched shows this generation. Top Gear is so popular in the UK, you can't wear a shirt with The Stig on it without someone walking up to you making a reference to the show.


I personally have been watching Top Gear for 5 years now. I remember first watching the show on the Discovery Channel when, for not even a year, syndicated Top Gear late at night. I was flipping through the channels one night and I saw this...



So, after they drowned, burnt and smashed this little truck, they then got the brilliant idea of strapping it to the roof of a building that is about to be demolished. This is what happened next...



I was instantly hooked. Over the past 5 years this has become my all time favorite show next to The Sopranos.

Now though, over here in the USA, we want our own dose of Top Gear.


Enter Top Gear USA and it's hosts Rutledge Wood, Tanner Foust & Adam Ferrara (shown in photo). The show will follow the general set up and delivery like the BBC version and will have the same segments like "Star In A Reasonably Priced Car". The US version even has it's own Stig to take fast cars around their test track to get the best lap time as possible. You would believe that us Americans can't screw up a classic show like Top Gear, right?

You would be very wrong. Watching the first episode of the US Top Gear made me more sad than happy. Why? It's the simplest answer and quite frankly my only complaint.

These three guy's...

What makes the BBC's Top Gear so entertaining are the three gentlemen in the above photo: Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson & James May. They have something the US hosts don't have, chemistry.

Chemistry is what holds a show together and either makes or breaks your show. Top Gear's production value (yes, the US version too) is some of the best on TV. The way they film a car, it makes these amazing machines look like pieces of art. If you can make a Reliant Robbin look great, your doing something right.


Back to the topic at hand. Ferrara, Foust and Wood have taped several "test" shows and have been spending time together working on this show for several months now. I didn't get that vibe from watching the first episode. It felt like they just met each other that day.

The first episode had their introductions, then immediately went to a film piece where they raced a Dodge Viper against an attack chopper. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was the "Big Star, Small Car" guest. They finished the show driving around in 3 different Lamborghini's to see who's was best. While the production value was excellent (it should be, the producers of the BBC version helped produce this show), the hosts themselves are what made the show, quite frankly, boring. Tanner Foust didn't have an ounce of personality and was serious the whole time. Rutledge Wood yelled "DUDE! THAT'S AWESOME!" so many times, he reminded me of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's "Dusty" character from Twister (no, that's not a good thing).


Adam Ferrara was the saving grace of the show. His interview with Buzz Aldrin was a little shaky, but Aldrin was a mute most of the time anyway. Adam made a few jokes during the show that made me laugh, but I have a feeling the History Channel is making him bring all the humor to the show and have him be "The Funny Guy". In the BBC version, all three hosts had a share of humor and worked together to share humor off of one another. I just hope that by the end of the season we see some of that with the US hosts.

One more thing I'm not so sure about with the US version, the sponsors. The BBC version doesn't have commercial sponsors. Therefore, Clarkson can say quite frankly whatever he wants to say about a car without costing the BBC money, as shown in this clip, where he reviews the Mercedes Sl65 Black...



The US version however, does have sponsors. When they review a car they are not happy about, they can't say it's not a good car, for fear of losing sponsors. Jay Leno was in talks to host the US version, but he declined for this very reason. I'm not a fan of Leno's show, but he does know A LOT about cars, engines and racing. In another lifetime he was also a stand up comedian, so he can deliver a funny line along with a serious car review. He would have been the PERFECT host for this show. Unfortunately, corporate America is very sensitive and I'm almost certain Mercedes, Ford, Chrysler and other car makers won't buy advertising time on Top Gear if Jay Leno say's their car is absolute shit.

My verdict: Top Gear US has potential to be just as good as the original BBC version. The production value is already on par with the BBC. The only problem with this US version is the hosts themselves. If they get some chemistry between each other, this will be excellent. I'll watch the first season to give it a true shot. For now, based on this first episode, I'll stick with the UK version. If you never saw Top Gear before, you may like this US version (which airs 10pm EST every Sunday on The History Channel). You'll either like it, or hate it. If you wish to check out the UK version, they air episodes all day every Monday on BBC America. "60 Minutes" did a segment recently on Top Gear and what makes it so good. I couldn't have said it any better myself...



To finish this post, here are some of my favorite Top Gear moments...







Written by: Hammy
Twitter: @HammyRadio

I Should Be Doing Laundry - "You Are What You Eat"

You Are What You Eat...

That's right people, you are what you eat, inside and out. Quite a few of my friends feel comfortable enough to come to me with their problems, either for me just to listen or for advice. I'm honored to know that 1. they trust me enough to confide in me, and 2. They value my opinion. I love them for that.

That being said, a close friend of mine came to me the other day and voiced their opinion on how disappointed their life has been going lately, and that they "hated themselves". It breaks my heart to know that any of my friends would ever feel that way. My thought is, whether you're unhappy with your relationship, current work status, financial situation, body, etc. you are what you eat, inside and out. What I mean by that is: Positive thoughts=positive outcomes. The only one that can take charge, control how you live your life and how to improve it is YOU. No one else, but yourself. I understand that the times that are upon us now are hard ones, and it can throw a monkey wrench into any situation, but for the most part, you can change anything in your life that doesn't please you, you only need to have the will, belief and strength to do it.

I dedicate this video to my close friend. I want you to know that I will always be there for you, and no matter what comes your way, I will be right there beside you. Now stop eating that Negative Nancy Sandwich, grab yourself a Positive Power Bar and make the changes you need to do to make you happy and LOVE LIFE because its too short not to!



Written by: Maryanne
Twitter: @BostonBombshell

REVIEW: Amazon App Store (Android, Apple)


Here it is! The moment all Android users have been waiting for! The Amazon App Store! I have to say, being both an Android and Apple user, I was very excited to see what Amazon would be offering in their special, just for Android, App store. I quickly downloaded the App, and, to my dismay, was very disappointed in what I saw. It’s basically the Android Market with a different background. As far as I could tell, there were no different apps in the Amazon App Store that the Android Market didn’t already offer.


On a positive note, the Amazon App Store does offer a “paid app of the day” for free, and today was Angry Birds Rio, which normally sells for 0.99 cents. Myself, being an Angry Bird Addict, was thrilled to get it for free. (Sorry Apple users, Angry Birds Rio is not offered free in the Apple App Store)


The beginning process was easy, just log into your Amazon account via the Amazon App Store, find Angry Birds Rio (on the front page) and click download. Here’s where I encountered another disappointment: The App took FOREVER to download. On my Droid X it usually takes less than 30 seconds for an app to download on the Market. On the Amazon App Store, it took 3-4 minutes to complete the download (on 3G). I know for some of you that may not seem like a very long time, but for myself, who can be very impatient, it seemed like forever.

So, all in all, the concept of a second app store is a great idea. I’m hoping in the future Amazon will offer different apps than the Market already does and they improve their download speed. I give the Amazon App store a generous 6/10.

Written by: Maryanne
Twitter: @BostonBombshell