Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Terror Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Just a madman was stirring, quiet as a mouse.
The parents were hung in the chimney with care
In hopes the policemen wouldn't look there.
The children were gagged and tied to their beds,
while their short lives flashed through their heads.
With the parents all strangled and the kids in their trap,
The madman heard something, a quiet "tap, tap tap."
Then out on the lawn there arose such a chatter,
It was the neighbors, seeing what was the matter.
Away to the window, he flew with a flash,
He thought of just shooting, but knew that'd be rash.
They soon walked back home, across the new fallen snow
while the madman sighed quickly, for it was back to the show.
When, what to his wandering eyes should appear,
The flash of police sirens, drawing quite near.
If only the policemen, so lively and quick,
knew what was in store, it'd make them violently sick.
More rapid than eagles, more policemen they came,
As they whistled and shouted, calling the madman's name.
"Come on out William, we've got your surrounded!
Bring the family out safely, slowly, and unbounded!
We'll give you one warning, but that's all you're given,
We've been on your tail, since you escaped from that prison!"
The madman stayed silent, trying to plan his escape,
but he knew it was hopeless, for death was his fate.
So up to the top floor, he ran up the stairs,
but through the window a sniper, kept him in his crosshairs.
And then in a twinkling, the madman heard on the roof,
the policemen were approaching, each climbing up with an "oomph."
As he drew in his head and was turning around,
A smoke bomb was thrown, hitting the ground.
He was dressed all in kevlar, from his head to his feet,
But due to no gas mask, this had him beat.
The bundle of weapons, he kept in a sack,
The madman dumped open, preparing to attack.
His eyes starting to water, his plan was quite terse,
He would not be taken, unless by force or by hearse.
The madman's small mouth, flashed a quick grin,
For it was time for the bloodbath, the fun to begin.
He thought of his demons, everyone calling him a creep,
He wouldn't stop firing, 'till they were all six feet deep.
He took aim out the window, behind the safety of a wall,
Firing round after round, the police began to fall.
His aim was quite true, but his time was running out,
He was gravely outnumbered, for that there was no doubt.
A blink of his eye, and a twist of his head,
He felt the pain of a bullet, mark him for dead.
He spoke not a word, and kept right to the task
Pausing just a second, for a swig of his flask.
And laying his finger, by the trigger of the gun,
He thought to him self, "now this is some fun!"
He sprang out the front door, with both guns blazing,
The police still alive, found the sight quite amazing.
He screamed one last phrase, before he collapsed in a daze,
"Merry Christmas to all, and Happy Horrordays!"

You're Welcome,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Top 30 Pop Culture Moments of 2010: Part 3 (#10-#01)

2010 was a fairly good year for popular culture. I finally learned the secrets of LOST, got confused during Inception, complained a lot about remakes and 3D conversions, went all meta with Community, and finally decided I love Kanye West. These are just a small sampling of the things I loved about this year. What follows are my list of the 30 best pop culture moments in 2010. These are not a list of my favorite shows/movies/albums. They are simply my favorite snapshots that occurred in the world of entertainment and are the things I will always remember most. For those unlucky enough to have missed Part 1 and Part 2, please go enjoy those first. Lastly, major spoilers will occur in this list (mainly for Harry Potter, Toy Story 3, Red Dead Redemption, Piranha 3D, and LOST).

10) Blackface debate
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia seemed to always fly under the radar as it tended to be too hit or miss for it to be considered one of my favorite shows. Luckily that all changed this year when they had what is probably their best season in about 3 years. The best of which was the episode "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth." I would typically choose the parts making fun of juggalos as my favorite but nothing can top the epic debate that Mac, Frank, and Dennis have about blackface. I can't remember that last time I've laughed out loud so many times during a small scene. Having them each come at the topic from different angles (offensive, non-offensive, "it's all in the lips") was brilliant. While the words they were saying hading me laughing uncontrollably, it was the fact that all three were so passionate about their opinions that really made the scene work. I highly doubt this scene will ever be topped during the rest of this show's run. It's hard to think of something funnier than Mac asking "In the Lord of the Rings movies, Ian McKellen plays a wizard. Do you think he goes home at night and shoots lasers into his boyfriend’s asshole?”

09) Toys Get Trashed
Pixar has been on a roll for a long time. I've enjoyed every movie they have made and I was eagerly anticipating Toy Story 3. After Wall-E and Up, I was expecting another masterpiece from the best studio currently making movies. However, after the credits rolled on Toy Story 3, I couldn't help but feel let down. Something about the movie just didn't click for me and I wound up feeling the movie didn't prove it's need to exist. Having said that, I was absolutely blown away by the scene near the end of the movie as the toys are being led on the conveyor belt towards the fiery pit ready to destroy them. What amazed me the most was the instead of playing it for laughs or quick edited action before having the toys rescued to safety, the writers decided to maintain a very serious tone throughout the whole scene. We see each toy's expression go from fear to acceptance as they all join hands and decide that if they have to go out, at least they are going out together. I actually sat in my seat, fighting back tears, wondering what my reaction would be if this was the actual ending of the movie. I sort of knew they couldn't all die but I wouldn't put it past Pixar to have at least one of the toys fall into the pit. Thankfully in the end, this is still a kid's movie and so at the very last minute, the toys are rescued by the little alien guys (using a giant claw of course). I've never wanted to stand up and cheer more during a movie. I may not love Toy Story 3 like I love a lot of the other Pixar movies, but it was still a great experience.

08) Ben Linus and John Locke, Together Again!
For those reading this who know me, it comes as no surprise to see this so high on the list. I've been loving LOST for a few years now (I was a late bloomer to the show but when I started watching between the 3rd and 4th seasons, I became quickly obsessed) and there was nothing that I anticipated more in 2010 than the series finale. While Desmond had long been my favorite (as evident by the name of this blog), I also had a real soft spot for any scene featuring both Ben and Locke bouncing off each other. To me, they were the shows most interesting dynamic. It was sort of sad knowing that every scene they shared together after "The Life and Times of Jeremy Bentham" from season 5 wasn't truly "Ben" and "Locke" sharing a scene, but always a different spin on their characters (whether in the sideways world or The Man In Black's embodiment of John Locke). So it was with great relief that they took the time to have one last epic Ben/Locke scene before it was all said and done. I may not have enjoyed the final reveal that the sideways world was some holding pen after death, but as the months have passed since the finale, I've become more comfortable with what the overall message of LOST was: We may go through a lot in life, and we won't always know the answers to the biggest mysteries, but all that matters in the end are the people we kept close throughout it all.

07) The Last Act of Arcade Fire's The Suburbs
I actually wasn't a fan of Arcade Fire before listening to their latest album The Suburbs. I know to most music fans that's a sin but I just never made the attempt to get into their two previous albums (Funeral and Neon Bible). But once I started listening to The Suburbs, I became an instant fan. It's easily the best album of the year and I would even go so far as to place it in my top ten of all time. But what really places it so high on the list is the closing section of the album, specifically the last four songs: We Used To Wait, Sprawl I (Flatland), Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), and The Suburbs (Continued). This is as close to a perfect ending I have ever heard in an album. I doubt there is any song I listened to more in 2010 than Sprawl II. No matter what my mood was, it was always a perfect match for this song. On it's own it is a great piece of music, but within the confines of the rest of the album, it's amazing. I sadly still haven't gone back and listened to Funeral or Neon Bible yet because every time I decide to give it a try, I realize I still would just rather listen to The Suburbs instead. Maybe once my love for the album dies down a bit I'll be able to discover the greatness of those two as well.

06) Assemble the Minions!
The minions are the sole reason I am obsessed with the movie Despicable Me. As far as I'm concerned, they were the best new characters in 2010. Everything about them is just awesome, from the way they look, to they way they sound, to the way they are each given their own mini story/personality. I'm glad that they caught on as it seems like we will be seeing more minion nonsense in years to come through mini-movies while we patiently wait for a full length sequel. While there are many scenes that could go here, I had to chose the scene where we are first introduced to these fantastic yellow creatures. Gru yells for the minions to be assembled and we are then taken on a long tracking shot down into their lair. Getting to see the hundreds of minions all interacting with each other and spreading the news to gather is filled with so many wonderful little gags. I already loved these things on first sight, but once I found out they had an aerobics class, my love was then taken to a whole other level. It also helps that one of them is named Dave.

05) Dobby the Hero
A Harry Potter movie made me cry. I'm not sure what caused it but the death of Dobby really pushed certain buttons for me. I am not what you would call a die hard Harry Potter fan (never read a book and I've only seen each movie once, with Deathly Hallows Part 1 being the first in an actual movie theater) and I wasn't even a fan of Dobby the character the first time he showed up earlier in the franchise. But the way they made him so likable and fragile, mixed with his heroic turn and eternal optimism, made for a very emotional death scene. It's comical now, realizing that the death of a CG house elf can make me cry for the first time in almost 2 years (Up was the last time before this). The beautiful burying scene that follows wrapped it all up so perfectly. I still wish that was the last scene of the film and that the "Voldermort has the wand!" capper wasn't needed, but I understand it's a kid's movie so it needed to end on a big cliffhanger to get people ready for the finale next year. The Deathly Hallows Part 1 was an excellent movie (Top 5 of the year for me) and I'm really glad that it contained a scene so powerful that it made it this high on my list. It's refreshing to realize the seventh movie in a franchise can so easily be considered it's best.

04) Defying Gravity
Everything about Inception worked for me. I fell in love with right at the opening scene and consider it the best science fiction movie since Children of Men. Looking back, I do have a few small complaints about the amount of expository dialog early on in the film, but I truly believe that it was necessary due to the complexity of the premise. However, out of all the mind-bending sequences in this movie, nothing tops the zero gravity fight scene that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character Arthur has in the hallway of the hotel. It's one of the coolest achievements I've seen in years and both times I saw the movie in a theater I was left with a big smile on my face the entire sequence. I still may not be able to tell you what I think the whole movie means (though I lean towards 3/4 of the movie being Cobb's dream as his team tries to force him to get over his feelings regarding his wife's death), but it doesn't really matter because the experience of watching the movie is so perfect. I believe (and hope) that Inception will be a genre classic for years to come.

03) Waking Up To a War Zone...of Paint
Now that LOST is over, Community is the greatest show on TV. It's is the perfect mix of character based plot and reference driven jokes. Nothing sums that beautiful mix up better than last years epic paintball episode "Modern Warfare." What starts as a normal episode of Study Room bickering ends with Joel McHale's Jeff Winger going to his car to take a nap as the school wide paintball tournament is about to begin. Once the opening credits roll however and we cut to Jeff waking up in his car, the episode morphs into a spot-on homage to action/post-apocalyptic survival films. The way they turn Greendale Community College into a paint splattered and deserted wasteland is stunning. I love the beginning scenes of Jeff slowly meeting up with his group as he tries to comprehend just what the hell is going on. The best of which is when Abed takes Jeff to the safe room where Troy is waiting for them (decked out in warrior gear of shoulder pads no less). As Troy sees Jeff and realizes he is still in the game, the look on his face is priceless, which is then followed by the spot on line reading from Donald Glover as he exclaims "Jeff Winger! You son of a bitch!" and gives him a big welcome back hug. It's a cliche line we've seen a hundred times in movies but the way Community plays it so straight, I couldn't help but just sit back and smile as I knew I was in good hands for the remainder of the episode. LOST's The Constant will always be the epitome of an hour long episode of TV. Community's "Modern Warfare" is now the same for the half hour format.

02) John Marston's Last Stand

Red Dead Redemption is the best video game I have ever played. The summer of 2010 will always be remembered as the summer where I spent countless hours roaming around the expansive map of Red Dead Redemption hunting wild animals, playing long games of poker, and looting dead bodies for some spare cash. Red Dead Redemption had a lot of great things going for it. Everything was perfect, from the visuals, to the missions, and everything in between. But what really made it such a great game to play was the main character, Mr. John Marston. It was the best fully formed character I had ever seen in a video game. I really dislike the trend of making main characters in video games silent nobodies as a way to make you feel like it could be you or whoever you want to imagine the character as. Luckily, Red Dead Redemption's makers got it right and knew that for a story to really matter, you first had to care about the main character. It's fun riding along in the game on horseback and killing random people, but in order for it to transcend the simple sandbox format and become a true masterpiece, we had to care about every mission we completed because it felt like we were one step closer to getting John Marston where he needed to be, which was with his family. This is what made the very end of Red Dead Redemption so satisfying. Most games would end with the hero making it back to his family (...and roll credits!). But Rockstar made an amazing decision to keep the game going, allowing you to see John Marston attempt to live a boring, normal life with the family he thought he wouldn't get to be with again. Of course, one's past is never truly behind them and sure enough, just when I thought the game would end on a quiet note of his family coming together as a unit again, we are given the final cut scene of John Marston's last stand. I saw John Marston die roughly 200 times during the course of the summer, but seeing it done in a way that was actually part of the story and so final (until the Undead Nightmare reboot) was such a powerful scene, especially for a video game. The fact they added a playable epilogue of his son Jack getting revenge simply made it that much more amazing. If you own a 360 or PS3 and didn't play Red Dead Redemption this year, you made a mistake.

01) Lake Massacre
Piranha 3D was the best time I ever had in a movie theater. I knew going in I was going to enjoy the movie, but I had no idea how amazing it would actually end up being. I guess before continuing any further I should note that that I love over-the-top gore in horror movies that don't take themselves too seriously and Piranha 3D is the best example of that I have ever seen. Sure the movie isn't the most well made, or the best written, or the best acted, and sometimes the 3D conversion made things look a bit murky, but I'll be damned if during the last half of the movie, I didn't care about any of those things. I'm not trying to say the movie is so bad it's good, like Troll 2 or The Manitou. It's also not in the lame group of films that try so hard to be "kitschy bad" that they end up sucking all the fun out of the movie because it comes across as too forced. Piranha 3D is simply an insanely fun horror movie made by people who love insanely fun horror movies. That's why I consider the whole lake massacre section of Piranha 3D (pretty much the second half of the film) to be my favorite pop culture moment of 2010. Once the piranhas are let loose, the movie becomes scene after glorious scene of gory kills. Making everything better is the fact that most of the victims are annoying "Spring Breakers" who are not sympathetic due to their overall douchy-ness (though that may just be my bias against those types of assholes talking). Bodies are destroyed in so many different ways that it never gets repetitive. Every time I think the movie just did something that could never be topped, they top it in the very next scene. I can't remember the last time I've seen this much carnage on screen. I'm really curious to see how this all translates when viewed at home in 2D instead of the large 3D screen in the theater. No matter how less epic it feels the second time around, I'll still always have the memory of seeing it for the first time, and loving every second of it.

You're Welcome,

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Top 30 Pop Culture Moments of 2010: Part 2 (#20-#11)

2010 was a fairly good year for popular culture. I finally learned the secrets of LOST, got confused during Inception, complained a lot about remakes and 3D conversions, went all meta with Community, and finally decided I love Kanye West. These are just a small sampling of the things I loved about this year. What follows are my list of the 30 best pop culture moments in 2010. These are not a list of my favorite shows/movies/albums. They are simply my favorite snapshots that occurred in the world of entertainment and are the things I will always remember most. This is Part 2 of my countdown. For those unlucky enough to have missed Part 1, please go enjoy that first. Expect Part 3 soon, which will countdown my top 10 moments of the year. Lastly, spoilers will occur in this list.

20) The Social Network Opens With a Bang
I went into The Social Network a bit pessimistic. The hype just seemed way too loud for a movie about Facebook. But once that opening scene at the bar finished, I knew I was in good hands for the remainder of the movie and that it would end up as one of my top 5 movies of the year. The layered dialog, jumping back and forth between certain topics was a very inspiring way to open up the movie. I've heard complaints that the dialog was too stylized and not realistic but I find that to be a very weak argument. I love dialog that zips along at an insane pace, going all the way back to the screwball comedies of the 1930s. It may not be how real people talk, but for a movie, it makes for an extremely entertaining scene. It's a little unfortunate the The Social Network's best scene is its first scene, but everything that comes after it is pretty damn close.

19) Patrick Tillman Expresses His Feelings To The Government
I loved The Tillman Story. It was one of the best Documentaries I saw all year and really opened my eyes to how much of a bad situation Tillman's death really was. The movie takes lots of dark turns as you begin to see the cover-up that came after his death and the pain and frustration it caused his family and close friends. So after 90 minutes of fairly dark material, we see a memo that Pat Tillman's father Patrick sent the government, showcasing every lie and misstep that they took in the investigation into his son's death. It's a very elaborate and well written letter, but the closing is what makes this #19 on my list. After being very straight forward and calm in the whole letter, Mr. Tillman ends with "In sum: Fuck you...and yours." It was such a cathartic scene that elicited a much needed laugh throughout the theater.

18) MacGruber's Fatal Mistake
One of the biggest movie related mistakes I made in 2010 was not seeing MacGruber in the theater. What I thought would be a lame SNL movie turned out to be one of the funniest, darkest, and absurd comedies that I had seen in a long time. It was actually hard to pick just one scene from this movie but I think the van explosion wins because it made me laugh the most. Sure it was telegraphed from a mile away, but they spent so much time on showing MacGruber build up his team of experts (all played by WWE wrestlers) only to have them die in one quick explosion that was of course MacGruber's fault. Seeing MacGruber search through the wreckage was priceless. If you haven't given this movie a shot, you need to fix that. Honorable mention goes to the two sex scenes and the MacGruber begging scene ("I will suck your dick...").

17) Tracy Jordan on Cash Cab
30 Rock really bounced back this year after a fairly lame season. I'm not sure what happened but this season has featured some of the funniest scenes that the show has ever had. Out of all of these, nothing tops the scene of Tracy Jordan ending up on Cash Cab while trying to get to the hospital for his child's birth. Tracy Morgan is amazing at random one liners and this scene is the epitome of that. Of course you expect him to do poorly but he ends up getting question after question right. The real humor comes from his reasoning behind knowing every answer. The best example is after he gets a question about Abu Dhabi right, he dryly explains "I knew that because if I go back there again, I'll be executed." 30 Rock may go a little too heavy on the one-note absurdity of its characters sometimes, but in this instance, it made for amazing television.

16) Nicki Minaj is a Monster
I was first exposed to Nicki Minaj at the MTV VMA awards this summer when she performed with Will.I.Am (who was in blackface). My initial reaction was "Oh OK, she is terrible" and I never thought about her again. That is until the reviews for Kanye West's new album ("My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy") started rolling in. I was skeptical of the whole album because I was sick of Kanye's shtick and I also hate anything that people quickly claim to be the greatest thing to come along in years. But as I started listening to it, I slowly realized this actually was a great CD. Once I got to the song Monster, I was a full convert. Nicki Minaj pops in and delivers my favorite cameo in a song I've ever heard. It's a very chaotic verse and contains some great lines (ex: "OK, first things first I'll eat your brains/Then I'mma start rockin' gold teeth and fangs."). I now consider Kanye's CD the second best of the year. As far as my feelings on Minaj? I love her spot on Monster but I still haven't been able to make it through her debut album. It just seems too generic and is missing the strangeness that made Monster so appealing.

15) Kurt's Turn
I quit watching Glee this year after I realized I was able to watch full episodes in about 15 minutes thanks to all the fast forwarding I was doing during bad and/or boring parts. But when I did watch it, my favorite character was Kurt. He always had the best story lines (especially anything with his Dad, played shockingly well by Mike O'Malley). Of all the songs he sang (including the fantastic Glee version of Baby, It's Cold Outside), my absolute favorite was Rose's Turn. It was a song I had never heard before but it was so epically done that when it was over, I felt like that should have been the series finale of Glee because it will never be topped. Sure enough, it won't be.

14) Katy Perry Yearns For Some Penis
Katy Perry released a new album this year to much fanfare. The album has already spawned countless hits and has made her a bona fide music star. When she isn't featured in an about music, she's in the news for having large boobs (journalism!). But really, the only important thing about her this year (aside from the boob stuff) that she made a song called "Peacock" about wanting to see a guy's penis. I've already reviewed the song in depth so I'll just say that I don't think there was a song this year that made me laugh/sad quite as much as Peacock did.

13) Louie C.K.'s Awkward Date
Louie C.K. created the greatest new show of 2010. It's amazing how much creative freedom he was given. Luckily for FX, it paid off because they were allowed to air one of the smartest and funniest shows on TV. I fell in love with this episode right away so I decided to pick a scene from the first episode that sums up everything that's great about this show. The extended scene is of Louie C.K. going on a really bad first date with a woman. Everything that goes wrong is insanely absurd but hits all the right notes for me. While the whole thing is flat out hysterical, it really is the ending that made me fall in love. Louie and the woman are sitting silently on a bench as they both realize this is clearly the worst social experience of their lives. Then out of nowhere, a helicopter appears and a ladder drops down. The woman then runs to the helicopter, grabs on to the ladder, and is safely removed from this terrible situation. That's how you end a bad date.

12) Scott Pilgrim vs. Vegan Superman
I love Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I loved the graphic novels leading up to the movie, I loved both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz by director Edgar Wright, and I loved almost everything Michael Cera had done up to that point. So I wasn't surprised by how much I loved this movie. Getting the chance to see this movie in Boston with Edgar Wright in attendance for a Q&A (along with a Flash Gordon screening) was an amazing experience this year (up there with meeting John Carpenter and George A. Romero). Out of all the amazing scenes in this movie, nothing was as cool to me as his fight scene with Evil Ex #3, played by Brandon Routh. From the great opening scene of him keeping Scott floating in the air to the epic ending with the Vegan Police (and their amazing high five), everything about this fight worked. This was one of only two movies I saw twice in the theaters this year (the other being Inception) and the scene held up perfectly the second time around. I could listen to Brandon Routh try to explain his cleaning lady comment for hours. Too bad he got headbutted and turned into a pile of coins.

11) Hit-Girl Fights in the Dark
Kick-Ass was another movie that I knew I was going to love before I saw one frame. Unlike Scott Pilgrim though, I hadn't read the source material, didn't know anything else the director did, and wasn't familiar with most of the cast (other than Nicolas Cage and Christopher Mintz-Plasse). While the movie didn't quite hold up on a second viewing at home, I still think it's one of the best movies of the year. While I was a bit underwhelmed the second time around by any scene that didn't feature fighting, every single time the action picked up I was still in love. Hit-Girl is the best live action character seen on film this year (I'll explain the best animated ones in my top 10). While every fight scene she has is perfect, I have to give the edge to the scene of her attempting to rescue her Dad and Kick-Ass from the mobsters about to kill them. After being shot and left for dead (though we all knew that wasn't the case), she comes storming in (after killing the lights) and begins racking up kills left and right. Then the strobe light gun gets turned on (or as her father, played by Nic Cage, yells from his chair, "Now KRYPTONIIIITE!!!" Side comment: that is also my favorite line reading from any movie this year). With that one scene, a new iconic character was born on film. It just so happens that character is a 13 year old violent vigilante who curses like a sailor.

You're Welcome,

My Top 30 Pop Culture Moments of 2010: Part 1 (#30-#21)

2010 was a fairly good year for popular culture. I finally learned the secrets of LOST, got confused during Inception, complained a lot about remakes and 3D conversions, went all meta with Community, and finally decided I love Kanye West. These are just a small sampling of the things I loved about this year. What follows are my list of the 30 best pop culture moments in 2010. These are not a list of my favorite shows/movies/albums. They are simply my favorite snapshots that occurred in the world of entertainment and are the things I will always remember most. I'm breaking it down into 3 parts so you can expect Part 2 later this week.

30) Giggy on Watch What Happens Live on Halloween night
Giggy is a dog owned by one of the housewives from Bravo's Real Housewives series. Also on Bravo is a show called "Watch What Happens Live" hosted by Andy Cohen. On Halloween night this year, they decided to bring Giggy out in several costumes. It was amazing.

29) 2010 Emmys or Golden Globes?
Christina Hendricks usually makes headlines with every fashion runway she walks down. However, nothing will ever top the 2010 Emmys when she was being interviewed by Ryan Seacrest. In the middle of the interview, they decided to show off the Mad Men doll of her character and so of course the camera man zoomed into Seacrest's hand holding the doll. The angle just happened to be set-up so right behind the doll was what can only be described as a strategically placed zoom into a mountain of cleavage. It was my favorite "Am I really seeing this on TV" moment of the year that left me both shaking my head in shame but laughing hysterically at the same time. You could almost hear the high fiving that was going on in the directors booth at that moment. I sadly could no longer find the video on youtube but here is another interview that night to give you the idea.

28) Lucifer destroys the Gods
Supernatural has been one of my favorite shows for a few years now. Of all the episodes to choose from, I had to pick a moment from last season's amazing "Hammer of the Gods." In it, a bunch of pagan Gods meet to decide what to do about the pending Apocalypse (hear me out if you are not a fan). It's not all wings and halos though as they are all in human forms. The episode reaches a climax when Lucifer himself (Played by LOST's Mark Pellegrino) shows up and starts to lay waste to these collection of Gods. It was a surprising twist to see Gods actually get killed and it made it so much better due to the lovely amount of gore on screen.

27) Intermission Monologue
In March, I was lucky enough to go see A Behanding in Spokane, a pitch black comedy on Broadway featuring Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell. The play was pretty short and cut into two 45 min. halves so instead of having a real intermission, they had Sam Rockwell come out halfway and give a 10 minute monologue that was an amazing stream of conscious rambling that touched on everything from trained monkeys to his sympathy with school shooters (the gun men, not the victims). While the play itself had me laughing out loud for most of the short running time, nothing was quite as memorable as this random scene (which had pretty much nothing to do with the full story, other than to flesh out his small part as the worker at the hotel Walken is staying at).

26) Tossing Some Stones
The Pacific was one of the best war stories I've ever seen unfold in either film or TV. It had a wonderful mix of intense action scenes and quiet, character-building moments of the men away from the battlefield. One thing that I think the miniseries did best was to showcase the true terror that war really is. This was best summed up in an episode in the latter half of the series when the men are taking in the carnage that they are walking into post-battle. There are tons of bodies strewn about (from both sides) and as they sit in the midst of this hell and begin to talk about the meaning and importance of what they are doing, you see that right next to them is the corpse of a Japanese soldier who had the top half of this head blown clean off. Suddenly, one of the American soldiers begins throwing small pebbles into the man's hallowed out head. Due to an apparent rain storm that occurred after this soldier's death, each rock causes a soft little "blip" as it splashes the water inside his head. It's an extremely nauseating scene to get through but does a fantastic job of showing how being surrounded by the horribleness of war can make people desensitized to certain actions that would otherwise be considered absolutely inhumane and grotesque.

25) Stomach Ache
Boardwalk Empire was one of the best new shows on TV this year. It took a while however for me to officially get on board and consider myself a big fan. That all changed when one of the earlier episodes climaxed with Michael Shannon's very serious  Prohibition agent questioning a fatally wounded obese man about a recent homicide involving bootleggers. Seeing that the man is close to death, he gets him to the nearest doctor he can find, which turns out to be a dentist. He makes the dentist shoot the victim with drugs to make him lucid for a few more minutes so he can get some names out of him. The man turns out to be a hard person to question due to his attitude, so Shannon's character pulls the greatest trick I've ever seen a policeman pull to get someone to talk, and jams his entire hand into the mans gaping gunshot wound in his stomach. It was a very painful scene to watch, but also the one that solidified Boardwalk Empire as a show to keep an eye on.

24) Welcome to Atlanta
The Walking Dead was a mixed bag for me. I was a fan of the comic for the past couple years but would easily admit that dialog was not the comic's strong suit. I had high hopes that the series would correct this seeing as how it was being run by Frank Darabont. Turns out the show suffered from the same problem as the comic book. There were many times where I was left rolling my eyes or slapping my forehead in disbelief (sometimes both) at the words being spoken on screen. This is perfectly summed up in the awful opening bit of the 4th episode that featured the two sisters fishing on a boat while talking about their father. Luckily, for every bad line of dialog, there was usually a cool scene somewhere else in the episode to keep me interested in watching. My favorite part of the show's first season comes from the pilot episode. Rick Grimes finally makes it to Atlanta, which he had hoped would be a safety zone where he would possibly find his wife and son. What Rick actually walks into however (on horseback no less, thus making the scene extra epic) is a giant wasteland that has become overrun with zombies. The shock of how many he encounters, along with the quick devouring of his horse by said zombies, made for a very memorable scene. Sadly it showed a certain coolness the show wasn't able to reach again until the ending of the second to last episode when the crew made it to the CDC.

23) Natalie Portman's Morning Surprise
I was a big fan of Black Swan but going in, I didn't realize how dark the movie actually was. I should have known considering it was coming from Darren Aronofsky. The movie features lots of squirm-inducing scenes of body horror as Natalie Portman's body begins to break down (or does it?). However, the most uncomfortable to watch (and therefore my favorite) is when her character wakes up and decides to take her dance instructor's advice to become more like the black swan and delve into some self-pleasuring. What starts as an awkward attempt at pleasure quickly delves into an animalistic action, showcasing a part of her character that had previously been locked up inside her. However, she suddenly glances over near her bedroom door only to find her mother asleep in a chair in her room. Just one of the many powerful scenes in this fantastic movie.

22) The Miley Cyrus Show is Pretty Cool
SNL has been more miss than hit lately but every once in a while they do something perfect. The most recent example of this was newcomer Vanessa Bayer doing a sublime impersonation of Miley Cyrus hosting her own talk show. The skit goes for the absurd instead of the easy path but nails everything right on the head. I guess the only thing left is say is that "it's pretty cool!"

21) Twisted Vampire Sex
True Blood is a show that I dislike and love at the same time. They have a bad habit of killing off the most interesting characters, yet letting the absolute worst on TV (Tara!) live on and on. But the one thing I can't complain about on this show is the level of gore they are allowed to show. My favorite scene of the entire show so far (and something I doubt they can top) was from the end of an episode near the beginning of the season. Bill Compton and the vampire who created him (Lorena) are having one of their epic fight scenes. This of course ends with them having violent vampire sex. By violent I mean that they start off having sex in the usual missionary position and instead of the cliche scene of the man angrily turning the woman over, he instead simply grabs her head and spins it around, slowly breaking all the bones in her neck, while furiously pumping away at her body. The head (still alive because she is a vampire), then begins professing her love for the man who is currently doing this to her. That's how you end an episode! As you can see from this list (#26, #25, #21), it was a banner year for gore on HBO.

You're Welcome,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2011 Golden Globe Nominations - Film (by Dave Machado)

Welcome to Part 2 of my amazing coverage of the 2011 Golden Globe nominations. Today I'll be taking a look at the film nominees and giving my take on who should win (but mostly complaining about who didn't get nominated). For the poor souls who missed out on my TV coverage, I direct you to Part 1.

Best Film (Drama)
  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The King's Speech
  • The Social Network
Thoughts: Out of these movies, my favorite is Inception. However, I don't think this is a movie that wins awards (except Score, which we will get to later). I also think The Social Network is out of the running to win, leaving it down to Black Swan, The Fighter, and The King's Speech. Of those three, I feel like The King's Speech is the easiest pick to win. Just for fun, I'm going to go for the long shot and call it for Black Swan though. Body horror for the win! Missing from this category? The American. Also? Piranha 3D.

Best Actress (Drama)
  • Halle Berry - Frankie and Alice
  • Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole
  • Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone
  • Natalie Portman - Black Swan
  • Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine
Thoughts: I would love to see Natalie Portman win this but I think Kidman will walk away with the Golden Globe. Portman will get the Oscar though so it's OK.

Best Actor (Drama)
  • Jesse Eisenberg - Social Network
  • Colin Firth - The King's Speech
  • James Franco - 127 Hours
  • Ryan Gosling - Blue Valentine
  • Mark Wahlburg - The Fighter
Thoughts: I was torn here between Franco and Firth. I'm going with Firth clearly because he has more buzz going into the awards season but it could go either way. I think Eisenberg's nomination is more of a "welcome to the club" nod and not an actual contender to win. Lastly, Gosling and Wahlburg don't have enough hype for them to squeeze out an upset. Clooney deserved a nod here for The American.

Best Film (Comedy/Musical)
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Burlesque
  • The Kids Are Alright
  • Red
  • The Tourist
Thoughts: The Kids Are Alright needs to win this. Anything else is just a giant joke. Were there really no good comedies this year? Also, how is The Kids Are Alright a comedy? Who decides these things? Scott Pilgrim should have replaced Alice in Wonderland, Red, or The Tourist. Then two other movies should replace the other ones.

Best Actress (Comedy/Musical)
  • Annette Bening - The Kids Are Alright
  • Anne Hathaway - Love and Other Drugs
  • Angelina Jolie - The Tourist
  • Julianne Moore - The Kids Are Alright
  • Emma Stone - Easy A
Thoughts: It's awesome Emma Stone got nominated but she has zero chance at winning. I think it's down to either Bening or Moore. I'll give Moore the edge here. The other possibility is that Hathaway wins due to fans of The Kids Are Alright splitting the votes. Basically, just don't let Angelina Jolie win.

Best Actor (Comedy/Musical)
  • Johnny Depp - Alice in Wonderland
  • Johnny Depp - The Tourist
  • Paul Giamatti - Barney's Version
  • Jake Gyllenhaal - Love and Other Drugs
  • Kevin Spacey - Casino Jack
Thoughts: I almost don't care who wins this as long as it is not Johnny Depp. I flipped a coin and it landed on it's side so that means Gyllenhaal wins. No offense to Johnny Depp but those two movies look pretty terrible. They basically picked him because he is a big star and they shy away from actual "comedic" performances even though the category says it is for comedy. Who's missing from here? Cher for Burlesque.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Amy Adams - The Fighter
  • Helena Bonham Carter - The King's Speech
  • Mila Kunis - Black Swan
  • Melissa Leo - The Figher
  • Jacki Weaver - Animal Kingdom
Thoughts: Mila Kunis was great in Black Swan but I don't think she was good enough to win awards. I'm going with Carter on this one. At least they nominated her for The King's Speech and not Alice in Wonderland.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Christian Bale - The Fighter
  • Michael Douglas - Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  • Andrew Garfield - The Social Network
  • Jeremy Renner - The Town
  • Geoffrey Rush - The King's Speech
Thoughts: This is a hard one to call between Rush and Bale. Bale is getting some pretty good buzz for this role and even seems more open when doing press and not being his usual quiet (or angry) self. I'm picking Bale simply because I think it would be better to see him win. I'm glad Garfield got a nomination for The Social Network though. I also wouldn't have minded seeing Timberlake get a nod as well. I'd be happy with anyone winning except Douglas. His nomination should have went to either Tom Hardy or Joseph Gordon-Levitt from Inception.

Best Animated Film
  • Despicable Me
  • How To Train Your Dragon
  • The Illusionist
  • Tangled
  • Toy Story 3
Thoughts: Normally I would call it for any Pixar movie without further comments. However Toy Story 3 didn't effect me as much as Wall-E and Up did the past two years. Save for a fantastic final act, I was a bit let down by Toy Story 3 and found it to be enjoyable but unnecessary. I liked Despicable Me a lot more and thought it had a great original story that featured the creation of the best side characters (Minions) in years. How To Train Your Dragon was also a big surprise and a movie that I respect a lot for how the story unfolded. Having said that, I still think Pixar will walk away with the award. Next year is when the Pixar winning streak is in real jeopardy (Cars 2).

Best Foreign Language Film
  • Biutiful
  • The Concert
  • The Edge
  • I Am Love
  • In a Better World
Thoughts: I feel a bit unqualified to even speak about this since I know nothing about the nominees. I'm going with Biutiful purely on that fact that it's the newest film from the director of Babel.

Best Director
  • Darren Aronofsky - Black Swan
  • David Fincher - The Social Network
  • Tom Hooper - The King's Speech
  • Christopher Nolan - Inception
  • David O. Russell - The Fighter
Thoughts: Nolan deserves this award for pulling off such a complex film like Inception. However, despite his amazing job, I don't think he will actually win. It's pretty much a toss up from there as far as I'm concerned. Despite him being my least favorite choice, I'm going to go with my gut and say Hooper wins for The King's Speech.

Best Screenplay
  • Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle - 127 Hours
  • Christopher Nolan - Inception
  • Stuart Blumberg and Lisa Cholodenko - The Kids Are Alright
  • David Seidler - The King's Speech
  • Aaron Sorkin - The Social Network
Thoughts: Sorkin deserves this award simply for the opening scene of The Social Network. Nevermind that every scene after that is filled with continuously amazing dialog that moves at a fantastic pace without ever getting bogged down in unnecessary drama. No one else should even have a chance to win. As much as I loved Inception, I think the script was a bit too expository to win the award. The concept of the story is a masterpiece, but the actual words spoken no screen sometimes are a bit too explanatory (though in the movie's defense, the mechanics of the dreamworld are far too complex to have done it any other way).

Best Original Score
  • Alexandre Desplat - The King's Speech
  • Danny Elfman - Alice in Wonderland
  • A. R. Rahman - 127 Hours
  • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Social Network
  • Hans Zimmer - Inception
Thoughts: I am surprised at the lack of a nomination for Tron: Legacy as I have been hearing non-stop praise for Daft Punk's score. Also, I believe Scott Pilgrim vs. The World deserves a nod here as well. But none of that matters because regardless of who else was nominated, nothing would be able to top Hanz Zimmer's amazingly epic score for Inception.

Best Original Song
  • "Bound To You" - Burlesque
  • "Coming Home" - Country Strong
  • "I See The Light" - Tangled
  • "There's a Place For Us" - Chronincles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • "You Haven't Seen The Last of Me" - Burlesque
Thoughts: Attention filmmakers, if you want to win Best Original Song from now on, you must have the word "Country" in your movie title. Last year's victory from Country Heart will be followed by this year's win for Gwyneth Paltrow's "Coming Home" from Country Strong. Someone better start making a movie called "Country Love." May I suggest Courtney Love as the singer/actress? Thought I guess you'd have to remove the "o" from Country if you went that route.

You're Welcome,

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2011 Golden Globe Nominations - Television (by Dave Machado)

While most people don't consider The Golden Globes to be much more than the Hollywood Foreign Press throwing awards at America's most popular (yet usually undeserving) stars, I still get excited each year when the nominations come out as is signals the beginning of Oscar Season. For someone like me who doesn't follow any sports teams, it's the one time of year when I root for someone to win something despite the outcome having no impact on my life whatsoever. It's fun to see things you like get recognized and even more fun to complain about things that were horrifically forgotten (Community...LOST...*sniff*...). To make things a bit easier, I've decided to split this up into two posts, so today we will tackle the TV nominations. As expected, I'll run down who was nominated along with my own take on who should win (and who got left out).

Best Series (Drama)
  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Dexter
  • The Good Wife
  • Mad Men
  • The Walking Dead
Thoughts: I'm amazed that LOST didn't get a nomination here (they were shut out in all categories). I'm calling this one for The Good Wife. I've never seen the show (and never will), which makes me even more sure that it will win. The only other show that has a chance is Mad Men.

Best Actress (Drama)
  • Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife
  • Elisabeth Moss - Mad Men
  • Piper Perabo - Covert Affairs
  • Katey Segal - Sons of Anarchy
  • Kyra Sedgwick - The Closer
Thoughts: I don't care who wins this. I had never even heard of Covert Affairs until this nomination. I would love to see Katey Segal win, but I haven't even watched Sons of Anarchy. I just love her from LOST, Married with Children, and Futurama. Let's say Elisabeth Moss gets the award.
    Best Actor (Drama)
    • Steve Buscemi - Boardwalk Empire
    • Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad
    • Michael C. Hall - Dexter
    • Jon Hamm - Mad Men
    • Hugh Laurie - House
    Thoughts: I really think Matthew Fox should have been nominated this year. Say what you will about how LOST ended, but Fox did a great job this year making us fall in love (again) with Jack Shepard. In an ideal world that will never exist, Jensen Ackles would also get a nomination for Supernatural. They seem to pick the same damn people every year now.  While Cranston is technically new since he didn't get nominated last year, he's won the Emmy multiple times in this category, thus making his inclusion here far less exciting. I'm going with Buscemi purely because he's a new name for this category.

    Best Series (Comedy)
    • 30 Rock
    • Big Bang Theory
    • The Big C
    • Glee
    • Modern Family
    • Nurse Jackie
    Thoughts: Community will easily win this. Oh wait, they forgot to include the greatest comedy on TV since Arrested Development. OK fine, one snub is excusable, I'll choose Louie as the winner instead. Damnit, they forgot that as well. Fine, I guess Eastbound and Down deserves it anyway...I mean It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia...Jesus Christ they missed a lot of amazing comedies. 30 Rock is the only show I even watch in this category but I think they will give it to Glee (which I quit watching after the Britney Spears episode). At least Two and a Half Men wasn't nominated...

    Best Actress (Comedy)
    • Toni Collette - United States of Tara
    • Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie
    • Tina Fey - 30 Rock
    • Laura Linney - The Big C
    • Lea Michele - Glee
    Thoughts: This is the first category where I actually think one of the nominees deserves to win (Tina Fey). Liz Lemon is easily the greatest female character on TV and also of the the funniest. So clearly Tina Fey will lose to Laura Linney for a show I haven't seen. The other three nominations either make me sleepy with indifference (Collette and Falco) or angry (Michele).

    Best Actor (Comedy)
    • Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
    • Steve Carrell - The Office
    • Thomas Jane - Hung
    • Matthew Morrison - Glee
    • Jim Parsons - The Big Bang Theory
    Thoughts: 30 Rock had a pretty sub-par season last year but has thankfully bounced back in the first half of the current season and is now in the middle of one of the best runs it has had since Season 2. A lot of that is due to the greatness of both Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. It would have been great for them to both win but I'm fine settling for just Alec (though of the two, he is far less funny than Tina Fey). However, the fact Louie C.K. isn't nominated automatically makes this category a joke.

    Best Miniseries/Made for TV Movie
    • Carlos
    • The Pacific
    • Pillars of the Earth
    • Temple Grandin
    • You Don't Know Jack
    Thoughts: The Pacific was one of the greatest things I watched all year. It will win because it deserves to. Though I am a bit worried that Temple Grandin will steal the prize away.

    Best Actress (Miniseries/Made for TV Movie)
    • Hayley Atwell - Pillars of the Earth
    • Claire Danes - Temple Grandin
    • Judi Dench - Return to Cranford
    • Romola Garai - Emma
    • Jennifer Love Hewitt - The Client List
    Thoughts: Guess which nomination made me laugh. Clare Danes will win. Can you tell I don't care about TV movies and miniseries?

    Best Actor (Miniseries/Made for TV Movie)
    • Idris Elba - Luther
    • Ian McShane- Pillars of the Earth
    • Al Pacino - You Don't Know Jack
    • Dennis Quaid - The Special Relationship
    • Edgar Ramirez - Carlos
    Thoughts: Al Pacino wins and I shrug and eat some chips.

    Best Supporting Actress
    • Hope Davis - The Special Relationship
    • Jane Lynch - Glee
    • Kelly MacDonald - Boardwalk Empire
    • Julia Stiles - Dexter
    • Sofia Vergara - Modern Family
    Thoughts: I initially had Jane Lynch picked but that choice made me too sad so I convinced myself to go with Sofia Vergara instead. Yes, Jane Lynch is funny, but the character is too one-note for me (part of the reason I stopped watching). You know whose missing from this list? Alison Brie! She is amazing on Community as Annie and should at least be noticed for how perfect she is on that show.

    Best Supporting Actor
    • Scott Caan - Hawaii Five-O
    • Chris Colfer - Glee
    • Chris Noth - The Good Wife
    • Eric Stonestreet - Modern Family
    • David Strathairn - Temple Grandin
    Thoughts: Another lame win for The Good Wife. Missing from this category: Danny Pudi, Donald Glover, Chevy Chase (I love Community!), Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny...), and Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson (the two saddest and anger inducing LOST snubs). I will admit though that Colfer's role as Kurt on Glee is the only thing I miss about the show. Lastly, "lol" to Scott Caan's nomination.

    That about does it for the TV nominations. It's a whole lot of indifference mixed with a good amount of rage at certain shows being locked out. I'll be back later with my take on the movies, which I'm sure will be slightly less anger inducing but still filled with lots of mistakes (not mine, I don't make those).

    You're Welcome,