Monday, February 28, 2011

10 Best Things of February 2011

This is something that I have been planning for some time. Instead of being and following the normal blogging style of showcasing and loudly declaring every single thing out in the pop culture world, I'll just comply them as a wrap up for the month. After all, I just love compilations.

This format is pretty much for anything and everything, similar to what Entertainment Weekly does with its own top ten. It highlights some of the high points and the most interesting and/or entertaining things I had taken in and consumed to great satisfaction. It could be an entire movie or that one extra in that one scene. A television episode, a Youtube video, a MMA fight. Anything.

So let's kick it off.

1. Dead Island Trailer

Quite possible the best short film of the year. I have never heard of the video game until this release of this trailer, which doesn't accurately show the game in action. Instead, we have an unique and extremely sad short story of a vacationing family. With its Memento-like editing and its beautifully haunting music, you have a film that has made several videogamers cry.

2. Community, "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons"

This television show has been firing at all cylinders this season with some truly great episodes. One of the latest had the group in a mirrored version of their Christmas episode: Stuck mentally in a fantasy world while also being physically restrained in their study room. Having the characters playing D & D might be easy fodder for sitcom crap but the show brings real humor and characterization to the proceedings. Big props to the excellent sound mixing and the outrageously hilarious "sex" scene. Huzzah!

3. Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds

This had me hyped up for quite some time. Though it sadly not totally amazing and groundbreaking as the second one, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is still a lot fun with great fan service. The Ghosts and Goblins stage was the true highlight for me.

4. A.V. Club's Batman: The Animated Series

Though it almost fell apart when the original writer was fired for faking a review, A.V. Club's discussion of the landmark 90's animated series has moved on with Oliver Sawa and his interesting take of the Batman mythology. Though I could have gone with his excellent look at the "Two-Face" two-parter, I instead thoroughly enjoyed
his dual review of a truly horrible episode ("I've Got Batman In My Basement") with the award-winning and often considered best episode of the series, "Heart of Ice".

5. Archer, "Pipeline Fever"

This was the month I finally watched Archer for the first time and I have been hooked ever since. "A Going Concern" was an entertaining office romp with Jeffrey Tambor reuniting with Jessica Walter, but I enjoyed "Pipeline Fever" more with its great chemistry between Aisha Tyler and H. Jon Benjamin and its satirical take on modern environmentalism. Plus, it callbacks to old Burt Reynolds movies and Where the Red Fern Grows.

6. The entire discussion of a Robocop statue in Detroit

Waste of money or saving a city? At least people are now interested to travel to Detroit now. Not to mention the global nerdom that will flock to it.

7. The Great Gatsby - NES video game

I hate the book but love this
Super Mario Bros/Castlevania take on it. The cutscenes are truly the best, especially the ending sequence. A very short game, four levels, that doesn't overstay its welcome.

8. Birdemic: Shock and Terror released on DVD

This DVD release truly deserves an overlong clapping scene.

9. Supercomputer Watson on Jeopardy!

Entertaining three episode series on the classic game show. Two of the best Final Jeopardy rounds ever, with Watson naming Toronto as a U.S. city and Ken Jennings quoting The Simpsons.

10. Strikeforce / M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Silva, 2/12/11

A great MMA card from the often very problematic number two MMA promotion. Though the Fedor Emelianenko-Antonio Silva fight wasn't what I wanted. Fedor's then-possible retirement speech certainly was shocking.

My Tops of 2011 - February

I forgot to do this in January. Nothing was watched in theaters and nothing has changed. So, it can be very odd to say, by so far the best film of 2011 for two straight months has been THE GREEN HORNET.

It may fall out or be in the #11 - 20 bracket, but you never know how this year will be.

Best Films of 2011

1. The Green Hornet

Reaction to the Oscars

So, where to begin....

Actually, not much. This year's Oscars was ho-hum at best, which is bad considering last year was great for the cinema. Prediction wise, I was a 12 split even.

I don't want to bash The King's Speech too much, especially considering it was #16 on my best of the year list. But it winning Best Picture was the equivalent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; It might be tasty and a throwback to a previous time but it's not going to sustain a lasting memory.

How ironic was it that Steven Spielberg hands out the Best Picture award? Is it 1999 again?

I can't fault James Franco's hosting duties. He obviously was nervous, uncomfortable and may have had a problem with the show's direction. Anne Hathaway was great, though.

"You know...." Whenever I see Kirk Douglas on any show, I cringe and scream at my television. Is this supposed to be a rib or payback at the actor? Hopefully, after his debacle with the Best Supporting Actress award, we never see him present or even talk again on an awards show.

The nominees and the crowd were more quick witted with their speeches and respectable with the "in memorium" presentation by not clapping until the end. Though Lena Horne getting a massive spotlight just to have Halle Berry at the show was unnecessary. I loved Lena Horne but it would have been better if "Stormy Weather" was playing under the entire presentation rather than Celine Dion's "Smile".

The overall direction was pretty bad. Cut down on speeches so we can have another Bob Hope mention and number and two to three minute long visuals of previous films that have nothing to do with the current show. Tom Hanks looked so out of place with the whole Titanic sequence.

Aaron Sorkin sadly shot his film's foot by mentioning Network. Also, show director and band leader: You NEVER play Aaron Sorkin off.

Not even the montages were any good. The viewer could barely see or understand the films nominated in Foreign, Documentary, and the shorts.

That's really it. Everything was pretty expected and nothing was truly memorable to be talked about ever again except for the snubs and non-wins. There's always next year.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oscar Predictions and Thoughts

Of course, this is my predictions to win, not what or who I wish would win.

Best Picture: The Social Network

Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech

Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler, The King's Speech

Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3

Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland

Best Cinematography: Danny Cohen, The King's Speech

Best Costume Design: Jenny Beaven, The King's Speech

Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop

Best Documentary (Short Subject): Killing in the Name

Best Film Editing: Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan

Best Foreign Film: Dogtooth

Best Makeup: Adrien Morot, Barney's Version

Best Original Score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

Best Original Song: "Coming Home", Country Strong

Best Animated Short Film: Day and Night

Best Live Action Short Film: The Confession

Best Sound Editing: Inception

Best Sound Mixing: Inception

Best Visual Effects: Inception

I do honestly believe that there might be a huge upset during the proceedings, especially in the Big Five. My gut is on the Actress categories, most notably Michelle Williams and Hailee Steinfeld. History has shown these two categories are often shockers to Oscar predictors and to the general public.

Remember when actual pop songs were nominated and would win Best Original Song? Yet again, the nominees are hard to figure out though I can see Randy Newman getting another Oscar.

Going against Julia Roberts, I do think Biutiful will not win in either category it's nominated in, especially Foreign Language. I really expect Dogtooth to win, though I also thought that The White Ribbon would win easily.

All bets on Exit Through the Gift Shop. Not just because it was one of my favorites last year, but everyone is waiting to see if Banksy does something. Besides, did you see all of the other nominated documentaries in both feature length and short subject? They are all about war or the environment. Way to be original. Except for the brave directors of Restrepo, the rest all come across as stupid boring hipster propaganda.

See you on Monday with reactions to the awards.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dwayne McDuffie - RIP

In a very shocking moment in time, popular and influential long-time comic book creator, writer, and animation producer Dwayne McDuffie has died.

For myself and many others, he was known both for his great personal drive to bring African-American superheroes and characters to the mainstream media and his great work in television animation, most notably the truly fantastic Justice League Unlimited.

His last work was the animated DVD All Star Superman, which was ironically released today.

He will be missed.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Super Bowl was ho-hum overall, but at least it gave me the opportunity to relive one of the best moments of MST3K.