Cast Overhauls: Glee vs. Degrassi (Which Show Handled it Better?)


glee

This Tuesday, Glee will (maybe?) be saying goodbye to McKinley’s glee club and hello to…”focusing on New York 100%.” It will definitely be a jarring transition. After all…what’s Glee without a glee club? However, most fans seem to be supporting this decision. Besides the fact that the jumping back and forth between Lima and New York was seen as “awkward,” most fans never really warmed up to the “newbies” (to put it lightly). Personally, I didn’t hate the newcomers. In fact, I genuinely liked them. Unique was literally my favorite thing about season 4. The Kitty vs. Marley rivalry was interesting and had so much potential. And the two other dudes could dance, sing, and look good – what more did we want from them? I honestly felt like the newbies gave the show a breath of fresh air after an inconsistent 3rd season. But I’m clearly in the minority. And that’s fine. While it’s been sad seeing the newbies marginalized into non-existence as they ride off to “who knows?” these last few episodes, I am looking forward to seeing the “Rachel in NYC” story line really develop and move forward. I agree with “newbie haters” for the most part…the New York stuff was more compelling. And you cannot have Glee without Rachel; a s much as I find her annoying, she is the “heart and soul” of this show. However…I will miss the newbies. And I wonder if the show could have made the transition between the old cast and the new cast easier (because, to be honest, I feel like, with most fans, this has been a “transitional issue” than simply a “I hate the new characters” issue).

I think the reason why I’ve been open to the new cast members/characters on Glee…is because I’ve already experienced this same sort of cast overhaul a few years back with Degrassi. However, while Glee‘s cast overhaul might have seemed abrupt, I feel like the producers of Degrassi did a better job of easing the transition so that by season 10, when all the original cast members were completely out of the picture, we felt some attachment towards the “new” characters who were introduced a couple seasons back while the originals were still on. At least, that’s how I felt. Here’s a breakdown of what exactly I’m talking about here…

Season 1: The original 10. We know who we’re talking about. Hazel is later added to the group.

Season 2: Believe it or not, characters like Marco and Ellie and Craig didn’t appear until the 2nd season. Nonetheless, they’re still considered “original” by most fans, particularly because the three characters gave the show some much needed dimensions.

Seasons 3 to 5: Some more newer characters were added (Alex, Jay, Dylan, “Chris”), others unfortunately taken to the secret island where they live out their witness protection (yeah, Terri). But for the most part, the originals were still a major part of the show. The group we affectionately refer to as “Grade 8′s” graduate…well, at least half of them. The other half, for various reasons, are held back. This totally gave viewers confidence that the writers could come up with some great college storylines.

Season 6: Not to turn this into a review…but the first half of this season had mostly compelling storylines (Sean and Emma / Craig drama / School rivalries leading to JT’s unfortunate death) while the second half (Paige dropping out / Paige and Alex? / Alex becomes an exotic dancer) was “meh.”

Seasons 7-9: And these were the transitional seasons. While the show did the best they could giving all the graduating/already graduated “original” characters proper sendoffs (with the help of two movies), new, young characters were introduced, gradually become more and more important to the narrative and more fleshed out altogether. The last originals to appear on the show were Emma, Spinner, Manny, and Liberty.

degrassi

And then that leads us to the show now, which, besides Mr. Simpson (does he even still go by Snake anymore?), has absolutely no connection to the first season. And, yeah, season 10 was a big change. No end freezes. Weird, “telenovela” format. No “The Next Generation” in the title. However, characters who had been introduced as early as season 6 (OK, just Clare) were still on and I had become interested in their stories (it also helped that, in terms of quality, season 10 was probably the most consistently great season since, maybe, season 4?) I love the originals. I always will. But…Holly, Sav, Anya, Alli and even Connor weren’t too shabby themselves.

Could the show have ended after the originals graduated? Should the show have ended after the originals graduated? There are definitely some older fans who believe so…and, yeah, those fans have stopped watching. However, in an age where teen dramas are either filled with gimmicks (I love Switched at Birth…but the whole “switched at birth” aspect of the show, no matter how well handled it is, is a little gimmicky #sns) or vampires, the “plainness” and realness of Degrassi is a breath of fresh air. The show’s powers that be have decided to continue the show. And they did two things right: 1.) realized that Degrassi is not Degrassi unless it takes place in Degrassi (BTW, for people not familiar, “Degrassi” is the name of the school), and 2.) overlapped cast overhauls so that by the time one group graduates, another group has already made a name for itself.

Ryan Murphy and co. tried to follow this model…but for many many reasons it just didn’t work. One) Degrassi was more focused on showcasing individual issues than creating “season long arcs,” so it’s easier for characters to come in and out depending on the issue. Two) Degrassi is more of an ensemble show than Glee. There wasn’t a character on Degrassi that had the same overwhelming, starring presence as Rachel or even Finn (Emma, Craig, and Manny come close…but those three didn’t appear in EVERY episode because Degrassi wasn’t “that” type of show.) And I think, as popular as Degrassi was/is, this little Canadian show never reached the popularity and cultural impact as Glee. So, I think it’s easier for producers to make big casting decisions without being looked under a microscope like Glee was.

But, in any case, I still believe Degrassi created a more seamless transition than Glee. The producers of Glee tried…but it didn’t fully work. I’d even say that maybe introducing a few permanent freshmen Glee clubbers during the third season would have been better. Or maybe Glee just wasn’t the type of the show that could pull these cast transitions off.

The big point I am trying to make here…is that Degrassi is a lot better than  Glee. Thanks for reading!!!

2014 Oscars (Final Predictions)


gravity

Wow. It seems like it’s been forever since the Golden Globes, right? I guess this is what happens when the Winter Olympics take over the world. It’s been a long month; and although not much has happened in this month to truly change the race significantly, that doesn’t take away how “out in the open” this race is. Personally, I find the “Gravity vs. 12 Years a Slave vs. American Hustle” competition to be more compelling and interesting than the “Argo vs. Lincoln” was last year, mostly because Gravity and 12 Years a Slave aren’t your typical “Oscar baity” films. Gravity is a science fiction thriller with a female lead that has done a very nice job picking up directing and technical precursors. 12 Years a Slave is a somewhat uncomfortable (in a good way) film about slavery where most of the main characters are “unlikable” (to say the least). Either one of these wins (particularly Gravity) would be a pretty historic win. American Hustle is probably the “safest pick” but…after losses at the PGAs and the BAFTAs, a Best Picture win would be small surprise (I write knowing full well it won the Golden Globe and the SAG with 4 of the actors taking up the 4 acting categories but still…) This is an interesting race and I would be surprised if someone ended the night with their predictions 100% right.

Anyway, here are my final predictions (who should win via ranking, and who will win)…

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Best Picture: My Ranking:

  1. The Wolf of Wall Street
  2. 12 Years a Slave
  3. Gravity
  4. Her
  5. Dallas Buyers Club
  6. Philomena
  7. Nebraska
  8. Captain Phillips
  9. American Hustler

Even less than a week away from the big ceremony, this ranking is still very tentative. It’s strange…but out of the nine nominees, there really isn’t that one film that TRULY stands out. There’s no Silver Linings Playbook (for me). There’s no The Help and The Descendants (again, my opinion).  There’s no The Kids Are All Right. There’s no Precious. There isn’t that one special film that is my absolute favorite for the year. Honestly, I’d say the top 3 are in their own clump. And then I’d say the bottom 2 movies are also in their own clump, with the movies in the middle interchangeable. For some reason, The Wolf of Wall Street got pretty mixed reviews, but I absolutely loved this crazy, wild movie. Even at three hours, this movie never slowed down. I never felt bored. My attention was never lost. I think it’s a movie that more people will respect in the future (which is why I’m glad the Academy gave it some key nominations this year).

american hustle

Gravity and 12 Years a Slave are incredibly respectful front runners and either winning would make me happy. Gravity is feat in both special effects and story telling, while 12 Years a Slave might be the best, more realistic depiction of slavery on film since Roots (yeah! I said it!) Captain Phillips has a ton of thrilling moments (those last 15 minutes are truly spectacular). However, I think the movie could have been condensed a bit (so it did run into the same “lulls” that WOWS could have had). American Hustle pretty much has all the right ingredients of a great film. David O. Russell truly knows how to extract powerful performances out of his actors (4 acting noms 2 years in a row, y’all!) And the movie looks great – from the costumes to the hair to the editing. However…while there were some really great individual scenes (pretty much anything involving Louis CK and Jennifer Lawrence), I just wasn’t that captivated by the story itself. And, personally, I didn’t always understand what was going on. The story was just too complex for me. It’s not a bad movie…it just wasn’t great for me. 

Who Will Win? It’s weird. It seems like, no matter what, 12 Years a Slave is always able to win the big award in the end. I think if the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes can give this movie Best Picture, then I think the Academy can follow suit too. I think it also helps that the movie has a big ensemble cast while Gravity is essentially “one and a half” person play. Although it’s a strong contender, American Hustle winning would be a “Crash-sized” surprise.

wolf of wall street

Best Director: My Ranking: 

  1. Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
  2. Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
  3. Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  4. David O. Russell (American Hustle)
  5. Alexander Payne (Nebraska)

It’s really between the top 2 for me. When I was discussing the Golden Globes, I gave the opinion that I would a little happier if Steve McQueen won. 12 Years a Slave is a difficult, yet thoughtfully theatrical, look into the deep, dark world of slavery. However…I think what Cuaron does is more innovative and “different.” I think having an entire movie take place was a pretty risky thing to do, yet Cuaron pulls it off perfectly. Either win would be fine. But…Cuaron wrote the screenplay for Y Tu Mama Tambien (he unfortunately didn’t win an Oscar for that) so…I think I’m more sentimental for Cuaron.

Who Will Win? Cuaron has been sweeping the precursors so he’s a semi-safe bet so far. If the Academy goes really gaga for 12 Years a Slave, then the movie could snag this award too. However this could be an interesting year where there’s a “Director/Picture” split (it happened last year…but last year was weird.)

her

Best Original Screenplay: My Ranking:

  1. Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine)
  2. Spike Jonze (Her)
  3. Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club)
  4. Bob Nelson (Nebraska)
  5. Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell (American Hustle)

Sigh…controversy notwithstanding, Blue Jasmine really was one of my favorite films of the year – and it’s certainly my favorite film nominated in this category. I thought Allen’s portrait of this hot mess of a woman was very captivating. However, I have to admit, since it would be awkward if Allen actually won, then even I would fill in Jonze’s circle on the voter ballot. Hey! Allen already has enough Oscars. And it’s not like he would be there to accept it anyway! Her is certainly one of the strangest, yet most human, movies of the year. Even underdog Dallas Buyers Club would be a worthy winner here.

Who Will Win? Spike Jonze seems to be the front runner to most people, but I think I’m going to predict David Russell this time. Surprisingly, he hasn’t won an Oscar yet. American Hustle has 10 Oscar nominations this year…it has to win something. Considering it’s not much of a front runner anywhere else, this category might be the film’s best chance at winning an Oscar. I just have a gut feeling that it’s Russell’s time to win…and Her is too weird for the older voters.

before midnight

Best Adapted Screenplay: My Ranking:

  1. Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight)
  2. Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (Philomena)
  3. Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  4. John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
  5. Billy Ray (Captain Phillips)

Every time I get annoyed over Julie Delpy’s Best Actress snub, I try to remind myself that she at least got nominated here along with her also deserving co-star. That uncomfortably long hotel scene is probably my favorite single movie scene from this year. It’s just fascinating how much that argument progresses. It’s masterfully written (and acted). In second place is Philomena, an underrated movie that hits all the right notes. It’s funny. It’s sad. It’s sentimental…but not too goopy. Although, to be honest, I always find it hard to judge this category when I haven’t read any of the original material (although Before Midnight isn’t technically “adapted”…it’s a sequel, so only the characters are technically adapted.)

Who Will Win? Since the WGAs have weird eligibility rules, I can’t take the results this year too seriously. In any case, I think the Best Picture front runner will win this category. So, congratulations, John Ridley.

dallas buyer club

Best Actor: My Ranking: 

  1. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  2. Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
  3. Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
  4. Christian Bale (American Hustle)
  5. Bruce Dern (Nebraska)

As much as I love Dallas Buyers Club, I do not want to live in a world where Matthew McConaughey has an Oscar for his first nomination while DiCaprio loses for the 4th time. No, I do not think the Oscars should be a “Lifetime Achievement Award.” But I say all this with the full belief that DiCaprio gave the strongest performance of the year – male or female, leading or supporting. It is a powerhouse performance. It’s a long, hectic three hour movie and he practically appears in every scene. I just don’t think the other actors in this category worked as hard as DiCaprio. If DiCaprio can’t win, then Ejiofor would make a worthy winner. I think his best scene is the scene where his character practically loses hope in returning home, so he tearfully burns the letter that was supposed to save him. And, obviously, McConaughey is a complete revelation in both Dallas Buyers Club and even in his small role in TWOWS. However, I’m really hoping the Academy makes the right decision here.

Who Will Win? Let’s face it, Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) is too unlikable, too manic a character. Matthew McConaughey has done a very nice job sweeping the major precursors. But my gut is telling that the first front runner in this category, Ejiofor, will get the last laugh and win the Oscar. But, ultimately, this is a race between the AIDs victim and the slave.

blue jasmine

Best Actress: My Ranking: 

  1. Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
  2. Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
  3. Judi Dench (Philomena)
  4. Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
  5. Amy Adams (American Hustle)

Like Leading Actor, this category has a clear “best.” Fortunately, the best in this category is also the front runner for the win so…yay! Cate Blanchett gives a true tour-de-force. She’s loud. She’s abrasive. She’s teary. She’s conniving. Blanchett was given a truly meaty role…and she ate every last piece of that meat. That last scene where Jasmine mumbles to herself haunted my dreams for days after I first watched the movie. She deserves this win. She deserves a Lead Oscar. And I don’t think a polarizing controversy involving a family she has no relation with should jeopardize that. However, I do have to say that Sandra Bullock is very underrated for this role. I know people really want Blanchett to win…but Bullock does an excellent job considering the fact that she performed most of the movie in front of a green screen. She won’t get the Oscar…but she deserves her props. And if Blue Jasmine hadn’t been released this year, I would have gladly given Bullock a second Oscar.

Who Will Win? Cate Blanchett is having a “MoNique-sized” sweep. If she doesn’t win, it’ll be the biggest shock since Eddie Murphy losing for Dreamgirls (that still pisses me off). However, if voters get caught up in the recent tabloid drama, then perennial Oscar loser Amy Adams will be next up (like she always is). Unfortunately, she gives the weakest performance in American Hustle (not entirely her fault).

captain phillips

Best Supporting Actor: My Ranking:

  1. Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  2. Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  3. Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
  4. Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
  5. Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)

Sometimes the Oscars aren’t about “Who’s the best?” It’s more about creating a good story. And nominated Abdi gave us a good story. It’s a modern Cinderella story. It’s noble that voters (with the help of every other awards group before it) were able to step out the box and nominate an African with an accent and an interesting face in his first acting role. However…was his performance really that great? On the other end of the spectrum, while I didn’t much think he was all that great in Moneyball, I was pleasantly surprised Jonah Hill got a nomination for TWOWS…and I think he’s the best in the category. The scene where his character reveals he’s married to his cousin is the first of many great scenes involving Hill. Hey! Instead of awarding two male actors from DBC, let’s award the superior performances from TWOWS. 

Who Will Win? I really believe Jared Leto was robbed 13 years ago for Requiem for a Dream. And I’ve enjoyed his work since then. This is another great performance by him. I don’t really think Leto’s truly given a baity scene (and my excitement for the performance has softened this last month), but it’s a quiet performance full of conviction. Leto does a brave thing by playing this role ,and it won’t be bad if he’s awarded for it.

julia roberts

Best Supporting Actress: My Ranking:

  1. Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
  2. Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
  3. June Squibb (Nebraska)
  4. Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
  5. Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)

I don’t cruise around the Gold Derby Forums much anymore, but when I did late last year, I ran across a post that said that Nyong’o didn’t deserve the win because all her character does is get whipped. Clearly this troll hadn’t actually watched the movie. Did he watch the scene where Patsey asks Solomon to kill her to escape the life of a slave? Did he watch the scene where she tearfully explains to her master why she needed soap to clean her body? Did he watch all those subtle, quiet moments where one facial expression by her gave us a thousand words? This isn’t a performance that everyone appreciates…but I’m glad award voters seem be on the right side. I adore Jennifer Lawrence and I was rooting for her to win last year. However, I rather her second Oscar be for a stronger role. Julia Roberts is a great representation for a film  I find very underrated (and she pretty much gives her best performance since Closer). However, I think Juliette Lewis (from the same movie) would have been a more inspired choice.

Who Will Win? At this point…it’s between Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o. Lawrence seems to be favored by international voters, while fellow actors and American critics have preferred Nyong’o. Even veteran June Squibb is still a strong contender. However…to be honest, this is the “easiest” place for an African (American) actress to win an Oscar. If Octavia Spencer can win an Oscar, then I’m putting my money on Nyong’o. Also, do you think voters will want to give Jlaw two Oscars in a row?

frozen

Best Animated Film:

Who Will Win? A few days ago, I had a weird dream that Despicable Me 2 won the Oscar and that everyone was really mad and…yeah, that’s about it. Despite my dreams, this is definitely Frozen‘s to lose. Frozen got great reviews, did well in the box office and music charts. This is not a category where voters take risks so it would pretty surprising if Miyazaki’s last film ends up winning.

Best Foreign Language Film:

Who Will Win? With Blue is the Warmest Color not eligible, there isn’t really that foreign film that seems to be connecting with American audiences (like Amour and even A Separation definitely had more of an impact with American audiences than any of the films nominated here). So…I don’t know…this seems like a pretty open category. The Great Beauty seems poised to win. However, I think this could be the year for another “Departures-level” surprise here. So, I’m officially predicting The Hunt, starring Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen.

Best Original Song: My Ranking:

  1. “Let it Go” (Frozen)
  2. “Happy” (Despicable Me 2)
  3. “The Moon Song” (Her)
  4. “Ordinary Love” (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

God, I love “Let it Go” (the original Idina Menzel version…the Demi Lovato cover is…I can’t get through that ish). It’s such a rousing song. When Idina sings “The cold never bothered me anyway,” I literally get shivers. It is far away the best song in this category. I will have a problem if the baity U2 song with good intentions wins this because voters are lazy. “Let it Go” deserves to be awarded the same way “Under the Sea,” “Beauty and the Beast, “A Whole New World,” “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “Colors of the Wind” were awarded.

Who Will Win? Alas, I wouldn’t be surprised if U2 wins this the same way they weirdly won the Golden Globe. But I’m going stick with my original prediction. “Let it Go.”

prisoners

OTHER PREDICTIONS

Best Documentary: The Act of Killing

Best Original Score: Gravity

Best Sound Editing: Gravity

Best Sound Mixing: Gravity

Best Production Design: The Great Gatsby (12 Years a Slave is close though)

Best Cinematography: Prisoners (Roger Deakins needs his first win)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club (would not be surprised if Bad Grandpa surprises though.)

Best Costume Design: The Invisible Woman (voters like period and fluffy gowns)

Best Film Editing: Gravity

Best Visual Effects: Gravity

OK…and those are my predictions. Thanks for reading. I am definitely looking forward to this Sunday.

Season 13 American Idol Recap (Top 10 Guys Perform…5 Go Home Crying)


Before I begin this recap…I feel like I didn’t do a proper job of conveying how much I hate this semifinal format in my last blog post. One of the things I’ve loved about this season is the focus on GOOD SINGING, particularly during the auditions, and not the drama and sob stories. However…it doesn’t seem like the show has retired its cheap gimmicks…and what went on last night was among the worst gimmicks they’ve ever attempted. Making 15 girls choose a song, rehearse their songs, and invite their families over…just to prevent 5 of them (5 really great singers btw) from performing is unnecessarily…unnecessary. And, on top of that, because the girls were so anxious and nervous, when they were chosen to sing, they ended up…well…sucking. Because they weren’t given that time to relax and calm their jitters.

It should be about the SINGING…and giving us GREAT performances. Not the gimmicks. Not the drama. Hopefully, after the top 13 is finally chosen, they’ll be no more of this nonsense.

1. Caleb Johnson: Interesting pick, judges. He sang “Stay with Me.” First things first – no, this performance certainly didn’t have the same magic that Skyler Laine gave us from a couple seasons ago. But, besides that, this was a very energetic way to start the show. He has an incredibly strong voice, but he also showed some new found control here. He just seems comfortable on stage. The judges also agree with me.

2. CJ Harris: Don’t remember him from the earlier episodes. He sang “Shelter” by Ray LaMontagne. LOL, he kept the guitar. Y’know, I…dug this performance. I really like his voice. I like how he gritty he sounds. There’s some true, authentic guts in that voice. And he has a great, infectious smile (I love his jaggedy teeth.) He sounded out of key in some places. But…yeah…it was a very nice “first performance” for me.

3. Emmanuel Zidor: Hm…He sang “The Best of My Love” (terrible song choice). Shame on the judges. The judges (and/or producers) should truly be ashamed for choosing this guy for the top 20. I don’t have anything more to say…he won’t make it through…next.

4. Sam Woolf: He sang “Babelon.” Look, he sounded decent. He mostly sang the right notes. He showed hints of artistry (mostly thanks to the guitar). And he chose an interesting song. However…the performance was like white bread. It wasn’t particularly magical. It didn’t hold my attention. It was a subdued performance…but it was too subdued. So…he needs to work on his confidence and stage presence. Connick, Jr. had the right idea.

5. George Lovett: He sang “Grenade.” Ya know…it was a rough performance. There was some voice cracks. Some tiny awkwardnesses here and there. I think he pushed too hard. It’s a fine line between being “not present” and overdoing it. He needed to walk that line. But it seems like he has a lot of potential. But between falling under the radar in Hollywood week and not giving a great performance here…I think the only way he could make it through is as a wildcard (they’ll still have those this season, right?)

6. Dexter Roberts: I don’t remember any of these guys! He sang “This Old Boy.” He looks like a fat Josh Peck (Did we ever think we’d refer to someone as a fat Josh Peck?). I think…if he stays…I could end up really liking him. I just hope he doesn’t play it safe because he’s country and this show has a large country following. But I don’t think he’s capable of giving a bad performance…and this wasn’t a bad performance.

7. Alex Preston: Is it bad that I think he has an irritating look. He sang “Volcano” by Damien Rice. I enjoyed his groove. I suppose he looked mostly comfortable up there. He had some diction problems. I couldn’t really understand most of the words he was singing. His face still annoys me, but he’s one of the stronger competitors tonight.

8. Malcolm Allen: He sang “Coming from Where I Am.” What went wrong here? It’s so unfortunate because he clearly has a great voice. A great tone. He chose a great song. But, he just…seemed lifeless up there. His voice was underwhelming. He wasn’t always on key. And I feel, towards the end, knowing this performance wasn’t working, he gave up. I feel like if he had had more time to prepare backstage and shake the “goosies” off, he would have fared better. But, ultimately, it’s his responsibility to try. Sigh…let’s see how the rest of the night goes.

9. Ben Briley: He sang “Soulshine.” Y’know, I like this dude. I see what Harry is getting at with the “country, gospel, rock” voice thing. He just seemed so comfortable and confident. “He came alive,” says Jlo. I actually agree with Paula Abdul 2.0.

The judges need to stop acting like the victims. Just pick someone and move on. You’re job isn’t that hard.

10. Spencer Lloyd: He sang “Love Don’t Die” by The Fray. I want to listen to the real version of this song. It sounds great…unlike this actual performance. Whatever. He’ll make it through because he went last and he’s hot.

Well…this won’t be too difficult.

The Ones That Should Make It: Caleb, CJ, and Ben

The One That Definitely Shouldn’t: Emmanuel

The One Should Get a Second Chance: Probably Malcolm…

Thanks for reading. Check back tomorrow for my results recap.

Season 13 American Idol Recap (Top 15 Girls…oh, actually, the Top 10)


Yay! I’m back!! And I’m definitely more excited than ever. I’m optimistic. Maybe I’m too optimistic. But, so far, this season has had more “good moments” than “bad moments.” During the auditions, we were spared clearly staged bad singers. The sob back stories were at a minimum. And the judges have been excellent. Actually, when I say “judges,” I mean “Harry Connick, Jr.” Jlo continues to be a wannabe Paula Abdul. And Keith Urban, IMO, is overrated. Connick, Jr., however, has hit all the right notes. He’s honest. He’s tough. He’s, like, knowledgeable about musical terms (so we won’t be hearing any more “pitchy” critiques.) He’s funny. He’s not perfect. Sometimes, he can be kind of douche (I still dislike how he treated that gay male singer who sang “If I Was  a Boy” during Hollywood Week.) But I really hope that during the live shows (I’m writing this blog while I’m watching the episode), he can bring all the energy he had during the auditions. And, be real and honest. And, hopefully, his awesomeness can rub off on the other 2 judges because I’m not really feeling them yet.

So, let’s get on with the singers. This final cut is unnecessarily cruel. What’s the point of announcing a top 30, if you’re cutting a third of them without America seeing them again.

Confession: I am not mad that Randy is back. I think he is better served as a mentor than as a judge (where his ramblings can be edited). So far, I’m confident he’ll…do his job, I guess?

I kind of hate how unexcited the contestants seemed about meeting Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry. Like…they are American Idol royalty. Bow down!

1. Majesty Rose: Great choice! She definitely stood out during the last few weeks. And I love her hair. She sang “Happy” from the best animated film this year (take that, Frozen!). I’m not sure if I’m crazy about the song choice. I don’t know if this was the best way for her to introduce herself to the world. She has a great voice and she performed well. But, sometimes she sounded too quiet and winded (because of the fast pace). The judges loved her. Let’s see if she continues to stand out by the end of the episode…

2. Kristen O’Connor: I do not remember her…She sang “Turning Tables.” Honestly…I wasn’t feeling it. I never want to discourage anyone from singing an Adele song. There have been plenty of successful Adele performances in the past. But…if you can’t pull it off…then don’t pull it off. The performance just felt a little empty for me. Harry surprisingly gave it a positive review, while Jlo and Keith commented on her obvious nerves. Connick, Jr, don’t fail me now!

3. Briana Oakley: I’m happy she made it through. She deserves a chance. She sang “Warrior” by Demi Lovato. It started out a little shaky, but by the end, she definitely sold the song. She did a beautiful job with the climax. This is definitely the strongest performance so far. The judges are little critical. Connick, Jr. criticized her use of the big high note or something…I didn’t quite understand what he was getting at. I also don’t get how his first ounce of criticism was for THIS performance. Strike 3, Harry. I still love you. (This isn’t baseball.)

4. Jena Irene: She got a lot of screen time during the early rounds. She sang “Paint it Black.” Why is her name spelled like that? Anyway, she sounded strong and I think she has a lot of potential to truly wow us in the future. However, right now, I think she held back a bit. Jlo and Keith dug her while Harry played the whole “What’s this song about?” charade. Message to all future contestants: be prepared to answer that!

5. Bria Anai: She reminds me of Miranda Sings. Not complainin’! She sang “Wrong Side of a Love Song.” I appreciate her moxy. I really like her personality. But she lacks control and refinement. And, I agree with Harry, it was a little “shouty.” I’m very intrigued by her…but I think this will be her last performance.

6. Marrialle Sellars: Based on her so/so audition and her dismal “Wrecking Ball,” I never would have let her through to the top 30. She sang “Roar.” After this performance, I’m not sure how she made it top 20 either. She should have sang this acoustic on her guitar. Why did the producers she change her mind and give us this awkward production number? The judges gave her some tough criticism…and the audience seemed to agree. Again…I don’t get why she was picked? I thought these judges watched the rehearsals…

I sort of love that random hallway with those random people leading up to the stage from the holding room.

7. Jessica Meuse: OK…she’s unique. I dug her during Hollywood Week. She sang “Drink a Bear.” Did she forget her lyrics a bit? I actually dug this song choice. Very different and interesting. But this was a sleepy, nervous performance. She didn’t invite the audience in. She just needs to be more comfortable on stage.

8. Emily Piriz: She sang “Paris Oh Lala.” It was mostly solid performance. Probably more solid than some of the performances before it. But…I’m just not intrigued by her yet. She…sort of bores me…in terms of personality and voice. And I didn’t like the song choice much. But…so far, unfortunately, she probably in the top half of the ladies.

9. MK Nobillette: Phew! That was a close one. Her version of “The A Team” during Hollywood week stood out for me. She sang John Legend’s “All of Me.” Aw…her mom (or whoever she is) is just sobbing. A beautiful, pure performance. This was by far the strongest performance of the night so far. She deservedly gets cheers from the audience. I really hope America votes with their ears and soul and not their eyes (if you know what I mean…actually, she’s lovely, but she’s not exactly the definition of “femininity”). The judges all liked it as well. OK…those are her moms.

I will for real stop watching this show if she’s not put through. This group of girls has been so underwhelming.

10. Malaya Watson: OK. Good. She’s was another favorite of mine during Hollywood week. She sang “Hard Times.” I love how she kept the glasses, the braces, and the frizzy hair. She looks a real, American young woman. She needs to stay on the show for her personality alone. It was a very nice performance. It wasn’t the showstopper I was hoping for. But I love her excitement. I love her voice. And…I want to see more of her. Again, if America votes with their ears and not their eyes, she should make it through.

Overall, this was a rough semifinals. Usually, at this time, there are 2 or 3 really outstanding performances (like Elise’s “One and Only,” Jessica Sanchez’s “Love You I Do,” Skyler’s “Stay with Me” or Amber Holcomb’s “I Believe in You and Me” among many others.) But tonight I was definitely disappointed. Are they purposely making the girls bad so another WGWG can steal the crown? (I’m an asshole, yes)

Who DEFINITELY NEEDS TO MAKE IT: MK Nobillette, Malaya Watson

Other “Stand Outs:” Majesty Rose, Briana Oakley, Jena Irene

They NEED to say “Bye Bye:” Marialle Sellers…that’s it.

Again, as long as the last two singers make it, I’ll be fine.

Final Note: What the F#$% does this show have against Brandy Neelly??? Hopefully, she’ll be allowed to audition next year considering she didn’t get to sing this time around.

Same question regarding Sarina Joi Crowe, who’s auditioned 3 years in a row and still didn’t bloody make it.

I’m still optimistic, right?

2014 Grammy Predictions (Only the Categories People Care About)


Hey! And welcome to another edition of “UE tries to predict stuff.” If you’re familiar with my past work, you’d know that I’m not terribly great at this. But, hey, this is what they pay me the “no bucks” for. So, once again, I’m going to try to predict who WILL win come January 26. And who I believe should win because their song is clearly the best in the category.

R&B

Best R&B Performance: Tamar Braxton (Love and War), Anthony Hamilton (Best of Me), Hiatus Kaiyote featuring Q-Tip (Nakamarra), Miguel featuring Kendrick Lamar (How Many Drinks?), Snarky Puppy featuring Lalah Hathaway (Something) Will Win: I always really love listening to the R&B categories because (since R&B isn’t “mainstream” anymore) I get to discover some really cool, new artists. However, although voters tend to be daring in their nominations, they aren’t necessarily through their winners. So I think Miguel and Kendrick Lamar, the most recognizable artists in the lineup, will take this one. Should Win: Although I’m a pretty big fan of Anthony Hamilton, I have to say I really dig “Nakamarra” the most out of these nominees. I have never heard of Hiatus Kaiyote, but I need to listen to more of their stuff.

Best R&B Song: Anthony Hamilton and Jairus Mozee (Best of Me); Tamar Braxton, Darhyl Camper, Jr., LaShawn Daniels and Makeba Riddick (Love and War); PJ Morton (Only One, feat. Stevie Wonder); Justin Timberlake, James Fauntleroy, Jerome Harmon, and Timothy Mosely (Pusher Love Girl); Fantasia Barrino, Missy Elliott, Al Sherrod Lambert, Harmony Samuels, and Kyle Stewart (Without Me, feat. Kelly Rowland) Will Win: To be honest, usually the most popular song/artist wins this award. So (even though he’s white), I think Justin Timberlake and co. are winning this. Should Win: Again, an Anthony Hamilton win wouldn’t bug me, but this time I really enjoyed PJ Morton’s really fun and upbeat love song.

ROCK

Best Rock Performance: Alabama Shakes (Always Alright), David Bowie (The Stars Are Out Tonight), Imagine Dragons (Radioactive), Led Zeppelin (Kashmir Live), Queens of the Stone Age (My God is the Sun), Jack White (I’m Shakin’) Will Win: David Bowie could win because he is a respected artist with a highly acclaimed comeback album. However, considering he didn’t show up in any of the “general categories,” I think Grammy voters will lean more towards the wildly successful, more commercial “Radioactive.” Should Win: “Kashmir” is always a lot of fun to listen to. However, I’m not quite sure how I feel about a live version of an old song getting a nomination. It’s a cool recording, but I have such a soft spot for Alabama Shakes. And, well, I think “Always Alright” is the best song in the category.

Best Rock Song: Gary Clark Jr. (Ain’t Messin’ ‘Round); Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear (Cut Me Some Slack); Mick Jagger, Keith Richards (Doom and Gloom, by The Rolling Stones); Black Sabbath (God is Dead?); Matthew Bellamy (Panic Station, by Muse) Will Win: There are a lot of “veteran” performers in this category, so I could see the award going to any of them. However, I have a feeling a McCartney/Grohl collaboration will be too difficult to beat. Should Win: I honestly don’t love this category so much. It’s mostly because I’m more into contemporary rock rather than the classic, heavy rock that’s taking over here. I think Muse is my favorite song of the nominees, followed closely by the infectiously soulful Ain’t Messin ‘Round.

RAP

Best Rap Performance: Drake (Started from the Bottom), Eminem (Berzerk), Jay-Z (Tom Ford), Kendrick Lamar (Swimming Pools Drank), Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, feat. Wanz (Thrift Shop) Will Win: This is a toughie. Very strong category. I really like all the songs. Usually, the safe choice would be Jay-Z (who received more nominations than any other artist this year); however, his album got a pretty lukewarm response, and it’s almost surprising how many nominations he received (mostly for collaboration stuff but still). I think Kendrick Lamar will win this category, but Macklemore is definitely a strong possibility. Should Win: I freaking adore “Tom Ford,” but I don’t think Jay-Z should win a billionth Grammy for a song that’s not even in his top 10. A month ago, I probably would have rooted for “Thrift Shop,” but over these last few weeks I’ve developed a new found appreciation for Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” – so now that’s my pick.

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: J. Cole, feat. Miguel (Power Trip), Jay -Z, feat. Beyonce (Part II On the Run), Jay-Z, feat. Justin Timberlake (Holy Grail), Kendrick Lamar, feat. Mary J. Blige (Now or Never), Wiz Khalifa, feat. The Weeknd (Remember You) Will Win: This award is definitely going to Jay-Z…but for which song? A part of me believes with Beyonce’s new “Queen status,” voters may want to award the husband/wife pair. However, I think I’m going to play it safe and predict the song that is coincidentally also nominated for “Rap Song”: “Holy Grail.” Should Win: I don’t know! This is tough. I wouldn’t mind if Jay-Z won this one…but I think the upbeat “Now or Never” or even J Cole’s soulful “PowerTrip” spoke to me more.

Best Rap Song: ASAP Rocky, Drake, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, Noah Shebib (F***in’ Problems); Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Terius Nash, J. Harmon, Timothy Mosley, Ernest Wilson, with Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic (Holy Grail); Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Ben Bronfman, Mike Dean, Louis Johnson, Malik Jones, Elon Rutberg, Sakiya Sandifer, Rhymefest, Cyhi the Prynce, with Anna Adamis, Gabor Presser (New Slaves); Drake, Mike Zombie, Noah Shebib, with Bruno Sanfilippo (Started From the Bottom); Macklemore, Ryan Lewis (Thrift Shop, feat. Wanz) Will Win: Again, I’m not 100% convinced Macklemore will win in these categories. I think, even with 2 nominations, Kanye West has to win something. This song (“New Slaves”) will be relevant for a lot of the African American voters, so I think it will end up winning here. Should Win: I don’t really understand what F***kin’ Problems is doing here. Anyway, as mentioned before, I really like “Started from the Bottom.” But the lyrics in “Thrift Shop” are so clever and funny and iconic, that I have to root for that song this time.

COUNTRY

Best Country Solo Performance: Lee Brice (I Drive Your Truck), Hunter Hayes (I Want Crazy), Miranda Lambert (Mama’s Broken Heart), Darius Rucker (Wagon Wheel), Blake Shelton (Mine Would Be You) Will Win: The last two years, the song that won in this category also won in the songwriting category. I’m not sure that will be completely true this yea, but I still can’t imagine a win here without at least a nomination there. I’m not the biggest fan of Blake Shelton’s music, but he’s never won a Grammy before, and I think goodwill from The Voice (and no competition from Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood) will finally allow him to win here. (Also, it’s nuts how Carrie Underwood wasn’t nominated!) Should Win: Hunter Hayes “I Want Crazy” is definitely the best song in this list. It stands out. Miranda Lambert’s spicy and fun “Mama’s Broken Heart” is runner up.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance: The Civil Wars (From This Valley), Kelly Clarkson, feat. Vince Gill (Don’t Rush), Little Big Town (Your Side of the Bed), Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban (Highway Don’t Care), Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (You Can’t Make Old Friends) Will Win: If voters are really familiar with Taylor Swift’s work, they’d know that her very first single was entitled “Tim McGraw.” I think that sort of nostalgic tidbit alone will allow “Highway Don’t Care” to win. Should Win: This is an incredibly strong category. “From this Valley” is raw and acoustic. “Don’t Rush” has a comforting, 80′s sway feeling to it. “You Can’t Make Old Friends” is just a lovely sentiment featuring two great artists. And Little Big Town always delivers with their crazy harmonies. However, I’m going to go the easy route and say that “Highway Don’t Care” should win. Taylor Swift’s “I Can’t live without you, baby” line just does it for me.

Best Country Song: Taylor Swift (Begin Again); Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary (I Drive Your Truck by Lee Brice); Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves (Mama’s Broken Heart by Miranda Lambert); Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne (Merry Go ‘Round); Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Deric Ruttan (Mine Would Be You by Blake Shelton) Will Win: It’s interesting how the “disconnect” between artist and songwriter is stronger than the other categories. Just sayin’. Anyway, newcomer Kacey Musgraves has to win a Grammy this year. It would be ridiculous otherwise. So, if she doesn’t win for “Merry Go ‘Round,” then I think she will at least win for writing the Miranda Lambert song. The similar sounding “I Drive Your Truck” and “Mine Would Be You” will cancel each other. Should Win: “Merry Go ‘Round” is far ahead of, not only all the songs in this category, but all the country songs that came out last year. It’s a song about small town dreams and rural life in general. The song literally brings me to tears every time I listen to it. And the backing melody is instantly distinct and recognizable. I think the song deserved more nominations than what it got, but whatevs…

POP

Best Pop Solo Performance: Sara Bareilles (Brave), Lorde (Royals), Bruno Mars (When I Was Your Man), Katy Perry (Roar), Justin Timberlake (Mirrors) Will Win: God, I love pop music! Anyway, this one’s a little difficult. It would seem like “Mirrors” would be the front runner here, but considering Timberlake was completely shut out from the general categories, I just can’t believe he would win here. I mean, maybe he can. But, in any case, I’m going to predict Lorde for the win. She’s a little too new and fresh (and with only one real hit), but I think the song is popular enough to win at least one award. Should Win: Honestly, any of them would be fine with me. A part of me is rooting for Bareilles just because she’s never won before and she’s such an underdog. However, I think the biggest part of me is rooting for Justin Timberlake because “Mirrors” truly is an 8 minute masterpiece.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: Daft Punk, feat. Pharrell Williams (Get Lucky), Pink and Nate Ruess (Just Give Me a Reason), Rihanna, feat. Mikky Ekko (Stay), Robin Thicke, feat. TI and Pharrell Williams (Blurred Lines), Justin Timberlake, feat. Jay-Z (Suit & Tie) Will Win: Another strong category filled with songs that are also nominated in the general categories. Again, JT and Jay-Z could win here, but I think they have a better chance at prevailing the rap/R&B categories. I’m going to go out on a limb (OK, maybe not so much) and say the radio friendly (yet less possibly offensive) Pink song takes it over Pharrell Williams and co. The beautiful and haunting “Stay” would be a huge shock. Should Win: I don’t love “Suit and Tie” or “Blurred Lines” so any of the other 3 nominees would be fitting choices. “Get Lucky” is my favorite song to sing along to.

Why isn’t there a Pop Song category?

GENERAL

Best New Artist: James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kacey Musgraves, Ed Sheeran Will Win: I honestly think Kacey Musgraves will win, even if her nomination (over more popular choices like Lorde and Ariana Grande) was a little surprising. It would be unusual seeing a rapper (even a white one) win. And Ed Sheeran’s nomination, while completely deserving, strikes me as a little odd because he was nominated for a general category last year. And James Blake winning would just be out there. This category has always liked young female artists (even going as far as giving the virtual unknown Esperanza Spalding a win), so I’m imagining Kacey Musgraves for this win. Should Win: All great artists (James Blake’s voice is SO unique), but I want Ed Sheeran to win the most. “Lego House” and “The A-Team” are my life.

Song of the Year: Pink, Nate Ruess, Jeff Bhasker (Just Give Me a Reason); Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine (Locked Out of Heaven); Katy Perry, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Henry Walter (Roar); Lorde, Joel Little (Royals); Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Curtis Mayfield (Same Love) Will Win: I think with everything that has been going on this year in regards to gay rights and gay marriage, I have a feeling “Same Love” will win. I don’t think the Grammys are terribly sentimental, but I think this is a situation where they’ll want to be. Should Win: I love “Same Love” and a win would make me happy…but, honestly, I think “Just Give Me a Reason” is a really well-made, well sung song. I just think Nate and Pink collaborate really well together. There was a time when I was obsessed with “Locked out of Heaven.” But, now, I feel like I’ve listened to the song so much that…it’s a little numb for me. I feel like I’ve forgotten what I loved about the song in the first place. So…yeah…go Pink!

Record of the Year: Daft Punk, feat. Pharrell Williams (Get Lucky), Imagine Dragons (Radioactive), Lorde (Royals), Bruno Mars (Locked Out of Heaven), Robin Thicke, feat. TI and Pharrell Williams (Blurred Lines) Will Win: Oh, this is a very tight race. I don’t really see “Locked out of Heaven” or “Blurred Lines” winning this one so let’s cross them out. Sometimes, voters like rock songs, so I could see Imagine Dragons win a la Kings of Leon from a few years back. At one point, I thought Daft Punk was the front runner because they got a lot of nominations this year and it seems like they’re finally receiving some mainstream praise (maybe not “finally” but you get the idea.) But…maybe I shouldn’t over think this. Sometimes simple and iconic is the way to go. If “Somebody That I used to Know” can win last year, then I think Lorde’s instantly recognizable and wildly popular “Royals” can win this year. She would be one of the (if not “the”) youngest winner of this category. Should Win: I’m just obsessed with “Get Lucky.” It’s such a cool, yet simple song. And…it would be interesting seeing Daft Punk make an acceptance speech, right?

Album of the Year: Sara Bareilles (The Blessed Unrest), Daft Punk (Random Access Memories), Kendrick Lamar (Good Kid, MAAD City), Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (The Heist), Taylor Swift (Red) Will Win: AGH! Where’s Justin Timberlake when you need him. Not fully saying he DESERVED a nomination over these 5, but if he had gotten one like everyone in the world thought, then he probably would have been the front runner. But now? We’re left with two rap albums, an electronic music album, an album from a young artist who only (controversially) won a few years ago, and Sara Bareilles (the official WTF nomination of the year). No aging rock bands. No rock bands in general. No Bruno Mars. No Justin Timberlake. No Lorde. Whatever wins this year…will be a relatively strange win. Oh…I guess I should probably make a prediction…….Daft Punk. Should Win: Not gonna lie, I’m rooting for Taylor Swift. I think another win would be an invitation for more hate directed towards her but…yeah, I think she should win. Red was a great album.

Whew! And that is all the categories I’m going to cover. What do you think? Any of these predictions completely off base? Too safe? Anyway, thanks for reading. Byeee…

2014 Oscar Predictions (Nominations) – The Major Categories


jennifer garner

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a list of titles for scholarly essays I could write based on this year’s Oscar race so far…

  • “The Rise and Fall of Diana
  • “Four Black Best Actor Contenders…One Slot Available”
  • “Definition of a Comedy: According to the Hollywood Foreign Press”
  • “Prisoners: Did Early Release Hurt Oscar Chances?”
  • “Leonardo DiCaprio: What the F@#$ does he Have to Do?”

That last one would definitely be a rant. Anyway, if last year was considered “overcrowded,” then this year is darn near impossible. When Oscar nominations are announced this Thursday, two or three major contenders in each category will get hurt. Deserving/promising movies will be shut out completely. Predicting the Oscars (or any award, really) can be hard. You have to tell yourself not to wishful think. You have to tell yourself not to go too nuts. But, at the same time, it’s never a crime to prepare yourself for a couple surprises (which you’ll see me do a couple times in this post). In any case, here are my sure-to-fail Oscar nominations predictions.

From most likely to least likely…

Best Picture:

  1. 12 Years a Slave

  2. Gravity

  3. American Hustle

  4. Nebraska

  5. Captain Phillips

  6. Dallas Buyers Club

  7. The Wolf of Wall Street

  8. Saving Mr. Banks

  9. Inside Llewyn Davis

  10. Her

The first three are virtual locks. There is absolutely no way those three will be snubbed. Dallas Buyers Club  has impressively been picking up key precursors, proving that it’s wonderful, well-rounded film, rather than an actor’s showcase. The Wolf of Wall Street has gotten pretty mixed reviews (and an unusually low Cinemascore), but it’s “Oscar bait” enough to at least get nominated here. I believe Saving Mr. Banks has a better chance at nabbing that “Blind Side/Lightweight Film” spot than Philomena because of the nostalgic Mary Poppins connection. If there are more than 8 nominees, I still think the fading The Butler and August: Osage County will still miss the cut despite SAG Ensemble nominations.

Best Director:

  1. Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)

  2. Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)

  3. David O. Russell (American Hustle)

  4. Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)

  5. Alexander Payne (Nebraska)

This is a toughie because Martin Scorsese…is Martin Scorsese. He’s one of the most respected directors in the business. And he’s been doing well with the major precursors. However, if we learned anything from last year, it’s that the academy likes simplicity and acclaim as much (if not more) than flashy and big names. It’s why, last year, Benh Zeitlin was able to get a surprise nomination over Tom Hooper. I just have a feeling Nebraska is going to fare better than The Wolf of Wall Street nomination morning…including here.

Best Original Screenplay:

  1. American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell)

  2. Nebraska (Bob Nelson)

  3. Her (Spike Jonze)

  4. Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron and Jonas Cuaron)

  5. Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten Melisa Wallack)

This is another situation where I’m going out on a limb and snubbing the big name (which is Woody Allen, who is as respected a screenwriter as Martin Scorcese is a director). If Gravity is such a Best Picture front runner, I can’t imagine it being snubbed in Screenplay (even if the precursors say otherwise). As for Dallas Buyers Club – again, precursors. Remember when Woody Allen was snubbed for Vicky Cristina Barcelona?

Best Adapted Screenplay: 

  1. 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

  2. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke)

  3. Captain Phillips (Billy Ray)

  4. The Wolf of Wall Street (Terrence Winter)

  5. Philomena (Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope)

The first two – I’m fairly confident they will get in. However, the others are vulnerable, particularly Philomena - whom I believe won’t get a Best Picture nomination. August: Osage County is so polarizing. But the Academy usually like play adaptions (esp. if that play won a Tony and a Pulitzer). I wouldn’t be so surprised if it gets a nod over Philomena or even TWOWS.

Best Leading Actor:

  1. Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)

  2. Matthew McConnaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

  3. Bruce Dern (Nebraska)

  4. Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)

  5. Christian Bale (American Hustle)

This is strange. I’m predicting for Leonardo DiCaprio to get snubbed, while a couple of the actors he beat at the Golden Globes will get nominated. Look, if I had a say, I’d give Leonardo DiCaprio a nod over any other contender. He truly gave the best leading male performance of the year. But he’s been snubbed so many times in the past for wholly deserving performances. I’m truly rooting for him…but the first 4 actors have gotten so much buzz. As for Christian Bale – he is most definitely vulnerable. But, I’m actually predicting that American Hustle will pull the same “nominations in all acting categories” feat that Russell’s movie last year did. So that means Bale is in…and DiCaprio (along with Whittaker, Redford, Phoenix, and B. Jordan) is out.)

Best Leading Actress:

  1. Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

  2. Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

  3. Judi Dench (Philomena)

  4. Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

  5. Amy Adams (American Hustle)

Cate and Sandra are the only undeniable locks. Judi Dench and Meryl Streep are perennial Oscar favorites. Even if August: Osage County won’t get much Oscar love, a polarizing film never stopped Meryl Streep from getting her usual nomination. Emma Thompson was a consistent Oscar favorite in the 90′s, but she hasn’t been nominated for anything since 1996. While this has been Thompson’s best chance at getting back in the game in years, I feel the Academy’s consistent recent love for Amy Adams and their presumed love for American Hustle could be the thing that stops Thompson’s award tour short.

Best Supporting Actor:

  1. Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

  2. Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

  3. Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)

  4. Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)

  5. James Gandolfini (Enough Said)

Yes, Daniel Bruhl has consistently gotten nominations for all the major precursors. But Rush isn’t getting much support in the other (major) categories. If Bruhl does get a nomination, he’ll probably the film’s one big representation. You could say the same thing for Gandolfini for Enough Said. But I think this could be a nice way to honor a beloved actor who’s mostly been rewarded for his television work up to this point. And Bradley Cooper is riding the American Hustle wave. Even Abdi is a little vulnerable. Ugh…I’ll say it right now…if Daniel Bruhl gets a nomination, I won’t be the least bit surprised.

Best Supporting Actress:

  1. Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

  2. June Squibb (Nebraska)

  3. Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)

  4. Oprah Winfrey (The Butler)

  5. Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club)

I believe if we’re destined for one major shock in the acting categories, it’ll happen in supporting actress. Remember when Jacki Weaver got a nomination last year? Remember Maggie Gyllenhaal’s nomination? I think we’re destined for the same sort of shock this year. Maybe this is wishful thinking…but Jennifer Garner truly gives a calm, yet wonderful performance. And if Dallas Buyers Club will have as strong a showing as I believe it will in the other categories, then maybe Garner can sneak in and nab her first nomination. This sort of shock means strong contenders like Julia Roberts, Sally Hawkings and even Oprah could get snubbed. But…sometimes ya gotta be fearless with these things.

Best Animated Feature:

  1. Frozen

  2. Monsters University

  3. The Wind Rises

  4. Despicable Me 2

  5. Ernest and Celestine

Frozen is the front runner to win. Oscar voters like Miyazaki and Pixar, so number 2 and 3 are also definitely in. Despicable Me 2 could be overtaken by fellow computer animated film The Croods. Ernest and Celestine is the Academy’s token “artsy/foreign” nomination (that isn’t Miyazaki).

Best Foreign Film:

  1. The Hunt (Denmark)

  2. The Great Beauty (Italy)

  3. The Grandmaster (Hong Kong)

  4. Omar (Palestine)

  5. The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)

Number and 1 and 2 are the clear front runners. One cool ass Asian flick. Check! One film from the Middle East. Check! Another film because there are typical 5 nominees. Check!

Best Documentary Feature:

  1. The Act of Killing

  2. Stories We Tell

  3. Blackfish

  4. The Square

  5. 20 Feet From Stardom

I sort of thought the Lance Armstrong film could get in…but the subject may seem a little too current and “mainstream” for voters. All I know is if Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell isn’t nominated, the voters will have to answer to my fist. (I will literally punch all of them in the gut.)

Best Song:

  1. “Let it Go” (Frozen)

  2. “Ordinary Love” (Mandela)

  3. “Happy” (Despicable Me 2)

  4. “Sweeter than Fiction” (One Chance)

  5. “Last Mile Home” (August: Osage County)

The only song in this list I like more than “Let it Go” is “Sweeter than Fiction.” So…hopefully voters at least give the song a nomination. In any case, I’m predicting it!

Nominations will be announced Thursday. I probably won’t have the chance to even write them until the weekend. But I certainly plan on discussing this Oscar race more. So check back for updates. Or just subscribe! Yeah…subscribe…

2014 Golden Globes Predictions (Film and Television)


New year! Old me! Same number of daily views! (Except for my Sound of Music Live! review…that was cool.)

I’m going to make three observations about this Oscar race that is literally made every other year.

  • This is a strong year.
  • There is no front runner right now.
  • This is a strong year…for African Americans.

Anyway, let’s discuss one of the major precursors for the Oscars: the weirdly prestigious Golden Globes. I wanted to make these predictions earlier but I’ve been so busy with grad school again. I just hope enough people read this before Sunday. Well, let’s just get on with it!

For a full list of nominations, click here. I will not be listing the full list here. PS…I have not actually seen all the films/tv shows nominated. I will still do a “should win,” but keep in mind that my “should win” here may be different for later awards this season.

FILM AWARDS

Foreign Language Film: Only two of the nominees are official finalists for the Oscars. While Blue is the Warmest Color (not a finalist) might be the most popular choice…I think voters will follow the Academy’s lead and choose one of the finalists. I have not seen ANY of these movies, but they both have gotten great reviews. So…close my eyes, roll a die - The Hunt (Denmark).

Animated Film: Pretty surprising Monster’s University was snubbed. But, in any case, I see Frozen sweeping the award circuit. Should Win: I loved Frozen with a passion. I’m always a sucker for animated Disney musicals. But, I think I’d smile a little wider if the crazy fun, yet somewhat underrated Despicable Me 2 took the prize.

Original Score: I think this category is simply between the season’s two strongest film contenders: Gravity and 12 Years a Slavewith two-time Golden Globes winner Hans Zimmer getting the edge. Should Win: I don’t honestly remember TOO much about the scores…but I believe 12 Years a Slave had a fuller score than Gravity.

Screenplay: Besides with score, I’m not quite sure how much the HFPA will embrace 12 Years a Slave…but it certainly has a strong chance winning her.e However, right now, I’m predicting American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell) to prevail. Should Win: Considering I haven’t seen Nebraska or Philomena, I think I’m mostly rooting for Spike Jonze (Her). What a weird, unique, yet meaningful script.

Director: Once again, this is a battle between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. This is a toughie. Steve McQueen has done a healthy job sweeping the critics awards. But…for some reason…it just seems like the HFPA would like Gravity more (the other movie might be “too American” the same way Lincoln was last year.) Should Win: I think I’m rooting for Steve McQueen a little more then Alfonso Cuaron.

Supporting Actress: Although the always great Jennifer Lawrence has been doing very well in the precursors, I cannot believe she would win Golden Globes (or Oscars for that matter) two years in a row, even for different categories. Besides Lawrence, it seems like Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) is the other front runner in this category. Should Win: I’m sure June Squibb is great since she’s always great, but since I haven’t seen Nebraska yet, I’m going to be rooting for Nyong’o and her painfully tortured performance.

Supporting Actor: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) and Michael Fassbender are the only nominees that I believe will definitely 100% get an Oscar nomination. The other three, IMO, are still vulnerable. In any case, I think this is Jared Leto’s to lose. Should Win: I really think Jonah Hill should be here. But…from what I have to choose from (excluding Rush since I haven’t seen it)…I believe (right now) Jared Leto gives the bravest, most dynamic performance as a transgender woman.

Actress-Musical/Comedy: American Hustle clearly has more support than August: Osage County, but…this is Meryl Streep we’re talking about! And considering Meryl Streep is more of a lock for an Oscar nomination than Amy Adams (although the BAFTAs give Adams some new-found hope), I think Meryl Streep is poised to win her billionth Golden Globe. What a record! Should Win: Honestly, the other three performances in this category impressed me more than the two front runners, particularly the passionate Julie Delpy in Before Midnight (although Before Midnight being in the comedy category doesn’t make any sense tbh.)

Actor-Musical/Comedy: I think between his veteran status and the film’s overall support, I think Nebraska‘s Bruce Dern has the edge here. Christian Bale is also a strong contender though. Should Win: I think Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)  gave the strongest male performance of the year. What a tour-de-force! It’s crazy how he isn’t a lock for an Oscar nomination yet.

Actress-Drama: I think this will be the award that decides whether the wind will blow towards Sandra Bullock (Gravity) or Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine). Right now, it looks like Blanchett gives the more acclaimed performance. (Also, with Woody Allen winning a special award, they have to give Blue Jasmine something!) Should Win: Between Bullock and Blanchett, I too believe Cate Blanchett gives the stronger performance. However, notably, I haven’t seen Judi Dench’s Philomena yet.

Actor-Drama: Considering he was also nominated on the television side, it’s clear that Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) has the broad support needed to win in this admittedly competitive category. Should Win: When did Matthew McConaughey become such a good actor? He was practically unrecognizable in Dallas Buyers Club. And Tom Hanks’s last scene in Captain Phillips also killed me. But Chiwetel Ejiofor is devastatingly brilliant in 12 Years a Slave. The transformation from this free man with a family to a slave who has lost all hope (that letter burning scene is a highlight) is acting at its finest IMO.

Musical/Comedy: In terms of overall awards contenders, American Hustle is right behind 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. Any other winner in this category would be a surprise. Should Win: But, I enjoyed The Wolf of Wall Street more.

Drama: Like mentioned above: this race is primarily between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. Both have a very strong chance. But, like Lincoln last year, 12 YAS might be a smidge too “American” for these international critics. Gravity seems more neutral. Should Win: It’s been months since I’ve seen Gravity so I may need a refresher. But, right now, both Gravity and 12 YAS are equally liked by me.

TELEVISION AWARDS

Supporting Actress: Supporting categories are always crap shoots. I think with Maggie Smith out of the way, Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) might actually have an opportunity to win an award this year. Should Win: The Golden Globes did a lot of cool things this year. One of them was giving Monica Potter (Parenthood) a nomination. Go her!

Supporting Actor: The voters never liked Breaking Bad as much as they should have (where is Anna Gunn’s nomination BTW?!) So, while Aaron Paul may seem like a front runner, I personally think voters will want to hear veteran Jon Voight‘s acceptance speech more. All the other contenders were snubbed at the Emmys so it seems a bit strange that they would suddenly win a Golden Globe. Should Win: Rob Lowe should have won an Emmy for Behind the Candelabra. And Josh Charles is displaying his best work on this season of The Good Wife. But, yeah, Aaron Paul…is Aaron Paul. He definitely deserves this one.

Actress-Miniseries/TV Movie: I…honestly don’t really know what to say about this one. Of the nominees, I’ve only seen Phil Spector (which ain’t getting anything, honey) and Top of the Lake. Jessica Lange for Coven might be safe choice. But I’m going to predict Elizabeth Moss this time. Should Win: Between Helen Mirren and Elizabeth Moss…DEFINITELY Elizabeth Moss.

Actor-Miniseries/TV Movie: Idris Elba won a couple years ago for the same role. And I’m pretty confident Chiwetel Ejiofor is going to win for his other nomination. So that pretty much leaves Emmy winner Michael Douglas (Behind the Candelabra). Should Win: I’ve always preferred Matt Damon’s performance to Michael Douglas (side note: How awesome is that BAFTA nomination!)

Actress-Musical/Comedy: Honestly, the only person I see winning this is Veep‘s Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. She got another nomination for Enough Said signifying broad support among the voters. I don’t really see Lena Dunham winning two years in a row. And I don’t see Amy Poehler winning…ever! I think even though Veep was snubbed in the Series category, the two-time Emmy winning lead star of the show is still the front runner here. Should Win: I adore Amy Poehler and it would be nice seeing her win an award just once. However, for some reason, right now, I’m feeling Julia Louis-Dreyfuss the most.

Actor-Musical/Comedy: Hm…I’m going to play it safe and just say that Jim Parsons will win. Andy Samberg is a strong possibility. I don’t see Michael J. Fox getting it. If his show were more popular – maybe. But considering the show may not make it past season 1, I don’t think the HFPA are in a rush to give the show any awards. Should Win: I don’t want to see Jim Parsons win. Or Don Cheadle for that matter. Anyone else would be OK, I suppose.

Actress-Drama: Why is this list of nominees 10x better than the one the Emmys came up with? Kerry Washington (Scandal) is certainly a potential winner. However, a win for Julianna Margulies could help her get back in the Emmy game next year. Should Win: Tatiana Maslany by a kajillion miles! Thank you Globes for giving this talented actress the acclaim she deserves!

Actor-Drama: Bryan Cranston has never won this award before. This is literally his last chance. I know I said that Aaron Paul would lose because of the voters’ ambivalence towards Breaking Bad in the past…but this is a special situation. None of the nominees are even close as good as Cranston. It would be an embarrassment for them if Cranston lost this one. Should Win: Uh…have you been paying attention?

Miniseries/Television Film: The last couple of wins in this category were programs that also won Emmys. I think Behind the Candelabra is the safest pick. Should Win: Hm…honestly, I don’t really care too much. I haven’t seen three of the nominees…and I don’t feel particularly passionate about the other two. I guess Behind the Candelabra is a little better than Top of the Lake.

Musical or Comedy: The Big Bang Theory is getting more and more popular…and it still hasn’t won in this category yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if Modern Family wins again, but TBBT is my objective pick. Should Win: I can think of a few comedies that are better than the five nominated here. But..this is what I get. I’m rooting for Parks and Rec in the name of fairness.

Drama: House of Cards is the shiny new series. It would be a terrible win IMO…but I can’t see the HFPA giving Breaking Bad or even The Good Wife a win. Should Win: Breaking Bad, obvi!

Thanks for reading. Be sure to check back here for a quick Golden Globes recap! Nope! Nevermind. Don’t have the time.

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