2014 Oscar Predictions and Preferences

A great year for movies. This year I’m doing things a bit differently. I haven’t read any predictions or Oscar discussions and have paid as little attention as possible to precursors. My ratio could be lower this year, but so what. All Oscar nominees below are ranked according to my preference. Also, my own best of the year list will come out as soon as I catch up on a backlog of 2013 titles. Here we go…

Best Picture: 12 Years A Slave
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Supporting Actor: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
Original Screenplay: David O. Russell and Eric Singer (American Hustle)
Foreign Film: Denmark’s The Hunt
Documentary: Act of Killing
Animated Feature: Frozen
Visual Effects: Gravity
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity)
Editing: American Hustle
Original Score: Steven Price (Gravity)
Song: U2’s “Ordinary Love” (Mandela)
Production Design: Gravity
Costume Design: American Hustle
Make Up: Dallas Buyers Club
Sound Editing: Gravity
Sound Mixing: Gravity
Short Live Action: The Voorman Problem
Short Animated: Get a Horse!
Documentary Short: Facing Fear

Best Picture

  • Her (grade: A)
  • American Hustle (A)
  • 12 Years a Slave (A)
  • Gravity (B+)
  • Nebraska (B+)
  • Captain Phillips (B+)
  • Dallas Buyers Club (B)
  • Philomena (B)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (C+/B-)

Will Win: 12 Years A Slave is a worthy title to join the list of best picture winners. If it indeed does become the 86th winner, it is easily the best one we’ve gotten since No Country for Old Men. History will probably see Gravity go down as the more “relevant” and groundbreaking film of of 2013 but I feel a picture/director split makes sense with 12 Years taking picture and Gravity’s directing (and myriad technical achievement) being honored in the categories below. Gravity may not win here but it’s guaranteed to take home more awards than any other 2013 film. There’s a victory in that.
Should Win: Her with American Hustle coming in second.
Snubbed: So many but if I had to pick just one: Blue Jasmine. It’s so random that nine films got nominated. Just do a top ten, dummies. If we must nominated more than five, and there are enough worthy movies to choose from (which there were this year), then round up!

Best Director

  • David O. Russell (American Hustle)
  • Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
  • Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
  • Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Alexander Payne (Nebraska)

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón. Good! I’m glad he’s (probably) going to win here because grand technical achievements in sci-fi like Tarkovsky’s Solaris Nolan’s films and 2001: A Space Odyssey are curiously never recognized by the overly sentimental Academy. The Ron Howards of the world will always get their Oscars while the colder yet far more intellectual Kubricks of the world always seem to be passed over. Perhaps that’s because voters are so wrapped up in their emotions that they fail to recognize artistry. Not this time. I’ll be clapping up a storm when Cuaron picks up his Oscar on Sunday but if voters should not follow the DGA rule and vote McQueen instead I won’t be too surprised.
Should Win: David Russell vs. Cuaron. So divided. Cuarón’s last film Children of Men was my pick for best director so, yeah, I’m a huge fan. If he wins for Gravity, he’ll be the only name on my list of the top five most important (from the 90s and beyond) directors with an Oscar; sadly, Christopher Nolan, PT Anderson, Quentin Tarentino and David Fincher may all join the company of Kubrick, Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Bergman and De Palma as legends without a best director win. However, American Hustle is Russell’s best work as a director since Three Kings and I’m going with Russell in the end as my personal pick because Hustle is made with such care and possesses a gleefully manic energy that reminded me of Boogie Nights.
Snubbed: I’d replace Scorsese’s overrated Wolf and Payne’s Nebraska with Spike Jonez’s Her and Chan-wook Park’s criminally underrated Stoker.

Best Actor

  • Christian Bale (American Hustle)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
  • Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
  • Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf of Wall Street)

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey. Hard to argue with that. McConaughey comeback is nothing short of legendary and his performance in Dallas Buyers Club is remarkable and unstoppable.
Should Win: Christian Bale. Has zero chance but I’m just happy he was nominated. If Ejiofor wins I would also be thrilled but I don’t see that happening. His performance isn’t as showy as Bale or McConaughey but it’s rock solid. He anchors the movie. As for DiCaprio, he should have been nominated last year. He overacts in Wolf.
Snubbed: Joaquin Phoenix (Her), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) and Robert Redford (All is Lost).

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
  • Amy Adams (American Hustle)
  • Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
  • Judi Dench (Philomena)
  • Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Will Win: Cate Blanchett leads a very strong category. All great performance that, in any other year, could have won.
Should Win: Blanchett is my pick but I would be just as happy if Adams wins. She is, after all, way overdue and had a great year with performances in Her, Hustle and, yes, even Man of Steel. Such range!
Snubbed: Greta Gerwig (Francis Ha). GG getting snubbed is made even sadder by of the fact that this is probably her last great film performance before we lose her to the dark machine that is network sitcom (she got the lead in the How I Meet Your Mother spin-off).

Best Supporting Actor

  • Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  • Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
  • Jonah Hill (Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
  • Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)

Will Win: Jared Leto. Decent enough in Dallas, but underwhelming as potential winners go. He’s no Christoph Waltz. It’s a nice gesture to recognize a transgender character but not for that reason alone. Beyond politics, I don’t see any other reason to give it to Leto when all the other actors and the characters they play have so much more to them. Peter O’Tool and Carey Grant never got an Oscar but Jared-fucking-Leto will. Life is so unfair.
Should Win: Fassbender not winning will be a travesty on the level of Ralph Finnes not getting an Oscar for Schindler’s List. Best character of the year. The problem in both cases is that the characters they portray are so unlikable that people are turned off and vote with their hearts instead. Hence Tommy Lee Jones winning for The Fugitive and Leto winning.
Snubbed: Vithaya Pansringarm essentially plays god in the misunderstood Only God Forgives. Or Judge Dredd. Either way, his character is unlike anything else I’ve seen all year. A force of unwavering justice, this god-cop does not forgive, he instead slashes off arms before giving a karaoke sermons. He is the living embodiment of director Nicolas Winding Refn’s bizarre desire to get in a fistfight with god.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
  • Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
  • June Squibb (Nebraska)
  • Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

Will Win: Nyong’o 12 Years a Slave. A character defined by suffering but little else. There’s nothing wrong with that in theory and while her character is tragic and poignant there’s not enough of a character arc here. Sarah Paulson gave a better supporting performance in the same movie! It doesn’t make sense that Ejiofor and Fassbender won’t get an Oscar for their meaty roles in 12 Years a Slave but Nyong’o will. I wish the film was able to explore her hopeless situation with more focus and depth but it’s such a sprawling story that it simply didn’t have time.
Should Win: Aside from Nyong’o’s nomination, a strong category. My vote goes to Lawrence and Sally Hawkins. Tough call but I’d give Hawkins the edge. Her character is as essential to why Blue Jasmine works as Blanchette.
Snubbed: Nicole Kidman (Stoker).

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
  • Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Richard Linklater (Before Midnight?)
  • Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (Philomena)
  • Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Billy Ray (Captain Phillips)

Will Win: Ridley’s 12 years. Yay! I’ve been a longtime fan of Ridley since his Three Kings script and his deliciously pulpy Elmore Leonard-esq crime novels like Everyone Smokes in Hell.
Should Win: The other 2013 film Coogan wrote and starred in, Alpha Papa, was even better than Philomena and as much as I’d like to see Coogan win an Oscar, Ridley is by far the best nominee.
Snubbed: This was a bad year for adapted screenplays. The less said the better.

Best Original Screenplay

  • David O. Russell and Eric Singer (American Hustle)
  • Bob Nelson (Nebraska)
  • Spike Jonze (Her)
  • Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club)
  • Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine)

Will Win: David O. Russell. Long overdue as a writer. He was my pick for best writer forever ago with Flirting with Disaster. I like Dallas Buyers Club but if it wins I’m going to be in a snit for the rest of the night. Please, please, please give Russell an Oscar!
Should Win: Jonez with Russell in a close second place. His first great script. I love that Jonez is able to show us that his career is not all due to Charley Kauffman.
Snubbed: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s At World’s End is the most clever movie of the year.

Best Foreign Film

  • Denmark, The Hunt
  • Belgium, The Broken Circle Breakdown
  • Italy, The Great Beauty
  • Cambodia, The Missing Picture
  • Palestine, Omar

Will Win: The Hunt. Mads!
Should Win: The Hunt. MADS!!!
Snubbed: Hum, why wasn’t The Grandmaster nominated?

Best Documentary 

  • The Act of Killing
  • 20 Feet from Stardom
  • Dirty Wars
  • The Square
  • Cutie and the Boxer

Will Win: Act of Killing.
Should Win: Act of Killing.
Snubbed: Room 237. Also Tim’s Vermeer and that Sarah Polly doc. Problem is, entertaining documentaries are usually frowned upon in this category.

Best Animated Feature

  • The Wind Rises
  • Frozen
  • Ernest & Celestine
  • Despicable Me 2
  • The Croods

Will Win: Frozen seems like a sure bet. Disney really needs another animated feature Oscar (he said sarcastically).
Should Win: Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises. None of the nominees deserve to be spoken of in the same breath as Miyazaki’s latest (and last?) animated achievement. At least he won for Spirited Away.
Snubbed: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox was pretty much the best (non-Miyazaki) animated film of the year.

Visual Effects

  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Star Trek Into Darkness
  • Iron Man 3
  • The Lone Ranger

Will Win: Gravity. With Life of Pi winning last year  and Gravity this year I’m very please with how visual effects are being awarded at the Oscars. It’s pleasing to see CGI reach such artistic heights.
Should Win: Gravity.
Snubbed: Man of Steel and Pacific Rim. Lone Range and Iron Man 3 have no business being nominated instead. Man of Steel is the best (and most underrated) blockbuster of the year and easily the best superhero movie. For the Zod vs. Superman fight alone it should have won this category. Iron Man 3, by comparison, offered nothing we haven’t seen before. If anything it offered less! Less Iron Man and more Tony Stark who, last I checked, wasn’t a special effect… so why was it nominated?!

Best Cinematography

  • Roger Deakins (Prisoners)
  • Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity)
  • Philippe Le Sourd (The Grandmaster)
  • Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis)
  • Phedon Papamichael (Nebraska)

Will Win: Gravity. Gravity is going to (and deserves to) clean up in the technical categories. If that is the case than than it HAS to win for cinematograph
Should Win: Prisioners ties with Gravity. Not because it’s better than Gravity but because I want to see Deakins finally win.
Snubbed: Chung-hoon Chung (Stoker).

Film Editing

  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • 12 Years a Slave

Will Win: American Hustle. Gravity has a good shot because, again, voters are dumb. Great movie but there’s so little editing involved I will laugh if it wins.
Should Win: American Hustle.
Snubbed: Her.

Best Original Score

  • William Butler and Owen Pallett (Her)
  • Steven Price (Gravity)
  • Alexandre Desplat (Philomena)
  • Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks)
  • John Williams (The Book Thief)

Will Win: Wow, I have no idea. I’ll say Gravity because voters may just check it off in every category (except best picture). Also: STOP NOMINATING JOHN WILLIAMS!!!
Should Win: Arcade Fire’s Her because it’s beautiful and doesn’t sound like every other nominee. I’m partial to electronic scores. As long as it’s not John Williams I’m happy.
Snubbed: Not sure how Hans Zimmer’s 12 Years a Slave’s score missed the cut. John Williams got in though which makes me ill.

Best Song

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC3ahd6Di3M[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SU6KFnGF9M8[/youtube]

  • “Ordinary Love” (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)
  • “The Moon Song” (Her)
  • “Happy” (Despicable Me 2)
  • “Let It Go” (Frozen)
  • “Alone Yet Not Alone” (Alone Yet Not Alone)

Will Win: “Alone Yet Not Alone” haha. No, really, I hate this category. It’s like a shortcut for people who shouldn’t be getting Oscars and almost always has no impact upon the film artifact. It’s promotional crap and shouldn’t be a category. Anywhoo… Ordinary Love. U2 didn’t win for Gangs of New York and a win here seems likely. Not only does a Mandella movie get a win but a popular classic rock band does too. Win, win.
Should Win: Ordinary Love and Moon Song. What the hell, I’ll vote U2. A cheesy song but an effective one. And, as much as I hate to say it, catchy too. First U2 song in over a decade that didn’t make my ears bleed. Despite that, I’m dreading that giant piece of crap (South Park reference) Bono’s speech.
Snubbed: Inside Llewyen Davis. Outer… SPACE. I’m not complaining about this category though because I’m just so grateful that Taylor Swift didn’t get nominated and so glad Kings of Leon didn’t get nominated (for August Osage County) and thrilled that the overrated XX didn’t get nominated for Great Gadspy.

Production Design

  • Her
  • Gravity
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • American Hustle
  • The Great Gatsby

Will Win: Gravity. Not 100% on this because it’s not a period movie and voters are more often than not ignorant when it comes to this category so it may very well not win.
Should Win: Props to Gravity but Her’s speculative near future design is remarkable and by far the most creative of the nominees. Smart and subtle too. Not too technologically advanced but foreign enough to really feel like the future. Everything about that movie is brilliant but I don’t see it winning a single award -_-
Snubbed: Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

Costume Design

  • American Hustle
  • The Grandmaster
  • 12 Years A Slave
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Invisible Woman

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave. Random guess. I have no idea.
Should Win: I don’t care. American Hustle I guess.
Snubbed: Her’s near future costumes, like the sets, do so much to help establish the world and, even better, so much to not distract you from the characters and story. But this opinion requires recognizing a non period for its excellence which is sadly not done often even though it displays a lot more imagination and creativity. Anyone can look in a book and using preexisting fashion so I almost always respect non period movie sets and fashion when it comes to awards. I complain about this ever year.

Makeup 

  • Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • The Lone Ranger

Will Win: Dallas Buyers Club.
Should Win: Bad Gramdpa. Anything but Lone Ranger which was inexplicably nominated. Disney threw some paint on Depp’s face. Ok. They also did an old man CGI. None of this is reason for a nomination. Another pointless category that I don’t want to waste much time on.
Snubbed: Uhhhh, where’s Hobbit?

Sound Editing

  • Gravity
  • All is Lost
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Captain Phillips
  • Lone Survivor

Will Win: Gravity’s a lock for the sound awards.
Should Win: Gravity. But I’m happy to see All is Lost get it’s single nomination. Too bad Robert Redfort wasn’t also nominated.
Snubbed: Man of Steel and Pacific Rim.

Sound Mixing

  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Captain Phillips
  • Lone Survivor

Will Win: Gravity.
Should Win: Gravity.
Snubbed: Again, Pacific Rim: zero nominations! So, so sad.

Short Film, Live Action

  • Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)
  • Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
  • Helium
  • Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
  • The Voorman Problem

Will Win: No Clue. At random I’ll guess The Voorman Problem because voters seem to vote based on title.
Should Win: Marvel’s One Shot short with Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin was better than any 2013 Marvel movie. Oh, but it wasn’t nominated.
Snubbed: Me. All the videos I made of my Pug on Vine. I was ROBBED!

Short Film, Animated

  • Feral
  • Get a Horse!
  • Mr. Hublot
  • Possessions
  • Room on the Broom

Will Win: Get a Horse! because Frozen.
Should Win: Any given episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force is better than the above shorts.

Documentary Short Subject

  • CaveDigger
  • Facing Fear
  • Karama Has No Walls
  • The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
  • Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Will Win: Facing Fear sounds like something that would win this category sight unseen. Sure, why not, that’ll win. You heard it here first. 
Should Win: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Best TV Shows – 2012/2013 Season


The Best Television Shows of the Year

  1. Breaking Bad final season
  2. Game of Thrones season 3
  3. House of Cards season 1
  4. Fringe final season
  5. Justified season 4
  6. Homeland season 2
  7. Arrow season 1
  8. Hannibal season 1
  9. Venture Brothers season 5
  10. Doctor Who season 7
  11. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia season 10
  12. Aqua Teen… season 10
  13. Downton Abbey season 3
  14. The Vampire Diaries season 4
  15. Wilfred season 3
  16. American Horror Story: Asylum season 2
  17. Continuum season 1
  18. Hataraku Maou-sama! season 1
  19. Archer season 4
  20. Parks and Recreation season 4 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA_plXX38BI[/youtube]

Best Performances

  1. Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister on Game of Thrones
  2. Bryan Cranston as THE Walter White on Breaking Bad
  3. Laura Fraser as Lidia on Breaking Bad
  4. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jamie Lannister on Game of Thrones
  5. Claire Danes as Carrie on Homeland
  6. Corey Stoll as Russo on House of Cards
  7. John Noble as Walter Bishop on Fringe
  8. Dean Norris as Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad
  9. Jonathan Banks as Mike on Breaking Bad
  10. Timothy Olyphant as Raylan on Justified
  11. Jesse Plemons as Todd Breaking on Bad
  12. Michelle Dockery as Mary on Downton Abbey
  13. Kevin Spacey as Underwood on House of Cards
  14. Rupert Friend as Peter on Homeland
  15. Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSA_Ia6on8k[/youtube]

Most Annoying Characters on TV

  1. Harrison Morgan (Dexter’s unfortunate son) on Dexter
  2. The entire cast of Revolution, especially Charlie
  3. Skyler White on Breaking Bad
  4. Every teenager on Under the Dome
  5. Rick’s wife on Walking Dead (may she rest in restlessness)
  6. Sheldon on Big Bang Theory x100
  7. Katie Cassidy as Oliver’s super awesome and brilliant lawyer girlfriend on Arrow
  8. Lena Dunham on Girls
  9. Every other character on Walking Dead (except for Daryl)
  10. Stefan Salvatore on Walking Dead
  11. Vampire Bill (after he lost his powers) on True Blood

The Worst Things on TV

  1. Cable and Network News
  2. Glee
  3. Duck Dynasty
  4. Revolution
  5. Big Bang Theory
  6. The Newsroom
  7. Girls
  8. Family Guy and Cleveland Show
  9. The Mindy Project
  10. Under the Dome
  11. Walking Dead

Disappointing Seasons From (once) Good Shows

  1. Dexter
  2. Community (shark officially jumped)
  3. Arrested Development (welcome back!… or not)
  4. True Blood
  5. Mad Men
  6. Louie

Past #1 Television Picks

  • 2013: Breaking Bad (season 5a/b)
  • 2012: Game of Thrones (season 2)
  • 2011: Game of Thrones (season 1)
  • 2010: Breaking Bad (season 3)
  • 2009: Lost (season 5)
  • 2008: Aqua Teen Hunger Force (season 5)
  • 2007: Frisky Dingo (season 1)
  • 2006: Battlestar Galactica (season 2.5)
  • 2005: Arrested Development (season 3)
  • 2004:  Fullmetal Alchemist (season 1)
  • 2003: Angel (season 5)
  • 2002: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 7)
  • 2001: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 6)

Notes on this season: For the first time in a long time the show that (probably) wins the Emmy for Best Drama this weekend, Breaking Bad, will actually be the best drama. The show is back at the number one for a second time! Season three made the top spot, followed by Game of Thrones taking best show of the year honors two years in a row. Make no mistake, season three of GoT was just as good but there’s no beating The Man that Knocks this year. It’s a safe, predictable and obvious #1 choice, granted, but there’s no way around it and no question that Breaking Bad’s final, two part 16-episode season is the best thing on Television. The first eight episodes of s5 is a flawlessly executed season that completes the “Empire” portion of Walter White’s life. Dark. Perfect. The gut wrenching unraveling of Walter White’s grimy soul in season 5b is nothing short of biggest television event since Lost ended. Except, you know, actually good. As for Dexter ending its bloody run… good riddance. Despite playing it safe and boring post season four, the show is still a classic but the insulting, soap opera-y final season sliced a gaping hole in Dexter’s legacy. It didn’t help that the final season aired parallel to Breaking Bad.  Finally, Fringe also ended it’s run. After the disappointing/disproportionate season four it was a relief to see season five of Fringe wrap things up in a satisfying and thoughtful manner; something exceedingly rare for sci-fi/fantasy shows.

Best Music of 2012 – Top Albums and Songs



Best Songs of 2012

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yh0stkLanx4[/youtube]

 

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zReWPjreJzI[/youtube]

 

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NraG_UFkkFY[/youtube]

 

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXQKRxhf4s8[/youtube]

 

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9U_EqgBWnmc[/youtube]

 

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PioZ7-3OPCM[/youtube]

 

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyX7vc0k5_k[/youtube]

 

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcxZ5fKT-zc[/youtube]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDsMpOM4uAU[/youtube]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiwcUdX7XMw[/youtube]

  1. “The Malkin Jewel” by The Mars Volta
  2. “Opium” by Dead Can Dance
  3. “Kingdom” by The Devin Townsend Project“
  4. “Nothin But Time” by Cat Power
  5. “Hey Jane” by Spiritualized
  6. “Insulin” by Crystal Castles
  7. “The Seer” by Swans
  8. “Song Of The Lonely Mountain” by Neil Finn (Hobbit) and “The Rains of Castamere” by The National (the Lannister anthem of Game of Thrones). The two best licensed fantasy songs of all time.
  9. “Untouchable, Part 1” by Anathema
  10. “Comeback Kid” by Sleigh Bells
  11. “Madness” by Muse
  12. “Laura” by Bat for Lashes
  13. “The Afterman” by Coheed and Cambria
  14. “The Puritan” by Blur
  15. “More!” by The Devin Townsend Project
  16. “Cities” (from the Sound Shapes PS3 game) by Beck
  17. “I Love It” by Icona Pop
  18. “Grimes” by Oblivion
  19. “Flutes” by Hot Chip
  20. “Children Of The Sun” by Dead Can Dance
  21. “Children Of The Moon” by The Flaming Lips
  22. “Theme from Call of Duty Black Ops II” by Trent Reznor
  23. “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” by Tame Impala
  24. “Plague” by Crystal Castles
  25. “Myth” by Beach House
  26. “In Absentia” by The Mars Volta
  27. “Rize Of The Fenix” by Tenacious D
  28. “Werewolf” by Fiona Apple
  29. NYC: 73 – 78 (Beck Remix)” by Philip Glass
  30. “True Thrush” by Dan Deacon
  31. “Kill for Love” by Chromatics
  32. “Mary” by Spiritualized
  33. “DoYaThing” by Gorillaz featuring Andre 3000 and James Murphy
  34. “Born To Lose” by Sleigh Bells
  35. “The Gathering of the Clouds” by Anathema
  36. “Under The Westway” by Blur
  37. “Drag Ropes” by Storm Corrosion
  38. “Wish Them Well” by Rush
  39. “Gaucho” by Dave Matthews Band
  40. “Catatonic” by …And You Will Knows Us By The Trail Of Dead
  41. “Yet Again” by Grizzly Bear
  42. “Not Your Kind of People” by Garbage
  43. “Duquesne Whistle” by Bob Dylan
  44. “Save Our Now” by The Devin Townsend Project
  45. “Golden Light” by Twin Shadow
  46. “Inspector Norse” by Todd Terje
  47. Animals” “Explorers” and “Liquid State” by Muse
  48. “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?” by Blawan
  49. “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” by Silversun Pickups
  50. Jessie Ware 110%

a few more cool tracks…

Top 25 Albums of 2012

  1. Swans (The Seer) — Nothing else like it except of course for more Swans. Seer is so monumental, so brutally good, that I feel like I had no choice to rank it as the best album of the year. It just is.
  2. Mars Volta (Noctourniquet) — Mars Volta finally matches (and possibly even surpasses) their debut effort. This stunning achievement is the result of a band (Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Zavala) that, after four disjointed (but underrated and masterful) albums, finally stopped experimenting with their unique blend of alt-prog-jazz-rock and proved capable creating a tight and focused album experience.
  3. Devin Townsend Project (Epicloud) — Though it’s not technically the best album of the year it’s certainly my favorite in terms of how much I have enjoyed countless re-listens. This album turned me into a Townsend fan.
  4. Crystal Castles (III) — Three albums in and Crystal Castles –the best new band from the last decade– is showing no signs of slowing, selling-out or, more importantly, repeating themselves. From the manic chiptune assault of their debut to this album’s smoother pop synths, the band’s sound is evolving; dare I say maturing? While the dreamy III is, if it must be judged against their other masterworks, their “least successful” album to date, that only results in them being ranked 4th instead of their usual spot of #1 or #2.
  5. Spiritualized (Sweet Heart, Sweet Light) — A triumph for Jason Pierce who’s last album, the deathbed set Songs in A&E, was a total downer. This album is his “We Love Life” in that it’s a souring affirmation of life featuring a surprisingly cynical and often funny edge. After all, the follow up lyric to the album’s title, Sweet Heart, Sweet Light is “…loving my life” which I never thought I’d hear in a Spiritualized song. Of course if you watch the video to this song above those lyrics are set to a dude beating up transgender hooker before getting his head blown off. Ah, good times.
  6. Anethma (Weather Systems) — That Weather Systems didn’t get people talking is one of 2012 music’s saddest moments. Anathema’s 9th album(!) displays the perfect blend of soft and hard progressive sounds.
  7. Dead Can Dance (Anastasis) — I’m embarrassed to admit that this is the first DCD album I’ve ever heard. And happy to admit that it’s not the last.
  8. Bat for Lashes (The Haunted Man) — Not Two Suns good but close.
  9. Tame Impala (Lonerism) — See, I like new music! While it’s trendy to fawn over Lonerism, I found this album to be a refreshing surprise in a year full of predictably good stuff. Best Australian band since Cut Copy.
  10. Sleigh Bells (Reign of Terror) — Derek Edward Miller and Alexis Krauss’s ridiculous pop-rock bravado doesn’t seem like a cocky hipster put-on anymore. Actually, it does but the result is far more likable. Great driving music.
  11. Dan Deacon (America) — Merica!!!
  12. Fiona Apple (Really Long Album Title Goes Here) — Two out of three of the most annoying women in music today (Taylor Swift and Adele) have basically made a career out of shitty mainstream pop post-break-up songs. Fiona Apple has been doing it (well) for years. Her only flaw: the wait between her albums are too long!
  13. Rush (Clockwork Angels) —  Sadly, most surviving rock legends have no clue what made them good in the first place and have no idea how to keep their music interesting and exciting. Rolling Stones, U2, Who, etc. Rush figured it out. I’m starting to think Neil Peart is not human but some sort of Wizard or Dark Lord.
  14. Grimes (Visions) — Annoying. Then mildly interesting. Then tolerable. Finally… adorable.
  15. Coheed and Cambria (The Aftermath: Ascension)— Claudio Sanchez’s “Amory Wars” reaches a satisfying apex with this first half of a double album. The second half, Descension, is out now.
  16. Muse (The 2nd Law) — It’s a sad day when including something from Muse on a best-of list counts as an irrational guilty pleasure. The album as a whole fails conceptually (obtuse thermodynamics concept of this album is “unsustainable” rubbish and hardly cohesive) and is easily Muses worst effort to date; a slap in the face to fans that have been following the band since their first few album. But… it’s hard to argue with an album that has so many good individual singles. If this is selling-out (and, make no mistake, it is) then so be it.
  17. Cat Power (Sun) — Cat Power’s best album ever. I’ve always admired her but never really “got” Chan Marshall until 2012’s Sun. Specifically, “Nothing But Time” one of the best songs of the decade.
  18. Bob Dylan (Tempest) — Here’s another (still rare) example of age only making music better.
  19. Storm Corrosion (self titled) — Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) + Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree). Yup.
  20. Tenacious D (Rize of the Fenix) — Leaves Arcade fire in the dust!
  21. Beach House (Bloom) — Every song here the essentially the same and that’s fine because every song is so lush and beautiful thanks to Victoria Legrand. Is there a better voice in music today?
  22. Dave Matthews Band (Away From the World) – After Whiskey and Gaucho I’m officially calling it: DMB is back.
  23. Godspeed! You Black Emperor (‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!) — Ten year gap between albums. Not cool!
  24. Django Unchained (Soundtrack) – Dig.
  25. Frank Ocean (Channel Orange) – After some resistance I’ve come around to appreciating Channel Orange.

 

The Most Overrated/Annoying/Boring/Lame Albums of 2012:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6j4f8cHBIM[/youtube]

  1. Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
  2. Taylor Swift – Red
  3. Fun. – Some Nights
  4. One Direction – Take Me Home
  5. Lana Del Rey – Born to Die
  6. Gossip – A Joyful Noise
  7. Gotye – Making Mirrors
  8. Best Coast – The Only Place
  9. Green Day – ¡Uno! ¡Dos! and ¡Tre!
  10. The xx – Coexist

Worst Songs of 2012:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0[/youtube]

  1. “Gangnam Style” – Psy
    This decade’s Macarena. May all those who listened to this without irony, mockery or hatred in their hearts be shamed for an eternity.
  2.  “Some Nights” and “We Are Young” – Fun.
  3. “Stupid Hoe” and “Roman Holiday” and pretty much everything else by…  Nicki Minaj
  4. “Call Me Maybe” – Carly Rae Jepsen
  5. “Somebody That I Used to Know” – Gotye
  6. “Harlem Shake” – Baauer
  7. “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”  – Taylor Swift
  8. “Mercy” – Cruel Summer
  9. Trying Not To Love You – Nickelback
    The worst insult I can give the songs above is to say they somehow managed to be worse than an Nickelback song.
  10. “Hot Problems” – Double Take – –funniest song of the year–

Best Albums of 2013 (so far)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxWBd840E9g[/youtube]

  1. Atoms for Peace – Amok (Thom York’s new band)
  2. The Knife – Breaking the Habitual
  3. How to Destroy Angels – Welcome Oblivion
  4. My Bloody Valentine – MBV
  5. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away
  6. Pantha Du Prince – Elements of Light
  7. Depeche Mode – Delta Machine
  8. David Bowie – The Next Day
  9. Yo La Tengo – Fade
  10. The Flaming Lips – The Terror
  11. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Descension
  12. The Strokes – Comedown Machine

Paper Street Oscars – 2013


Oscar Predictions and Preferences

BEST PICTURE: Argo (preference: Les Misérables)
BEST DIRECTOR:
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln (preference: NOT Spielberg)
BEST ACTOR:
Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln (Lewis gave a flawless performance that was hurt only by how the above filmmaker depicted it so… Hugh Jackman)
BEST ACTRESS:
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook (preference: Jessica Chastain)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln (preference: Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables (preference: Amy Adams, The Master)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
Django Unchained (preference: Flight though I’ll be thrilled if QT wins)  
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Argo (preference: Russell’s Silver Linings script will be robbed!)  
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
Amour (preference: Amour)  
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:
Searching For Sugar Man (preference: Gatekeepers)   
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
Wreck it Ralph (preference: Paranorman)  
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Argo (preference: Skyfall)
BEST FILM EDITING:
Argo (not sure how or why Argo will win over Zero Dark Thirty)  
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Les Miserables (preference: Les Misérables!!!)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
Les Miserables (preference: Les Misérables!!!)
BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
Skyfall (screw Adele, Hobbit’s “Hear of the Lonely Mountain” was snubbed)  
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Life of Pi (preference: Anna Karenina)   
BEST SOUND MIXING:
Les Misérables (Skyfall)
BEST SOUND EDITING:
Life of Pi  (preference: Skyfall or Django)
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Life of Pi (preference: Prometheus)
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING:
Les Miserables (preference: Les Misérables!!!)
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT:
Curfew
BEST ANIMATED SHORT:
Paperman  
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT:
Open Heart


Paper Street Oscars: Personal Picks

BEST PICTURE: Dark Knight Rises
BEST DIRECTOR:
Christopher Nolan, Dark Knight Rises  
BEST ACTOR:
Liam Neeson, The Grey
BEST ACTRESS:
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Robo Fassbender, Prometheus  
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Samantha Barks (Éponine), Les Misérables
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, Dark Knight Rises
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
 David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook 
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
Like Someone in Love Abbas Kiarostami
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:
Beasts of the Southern Wild. That’s a documentary, right?  
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
No feature animated movies were great this year so… Batman: Year One
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Dredd and Skyfall
BEST FILM EDITING:
Dark Knight Rises  
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:
 Les Misérables
BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
Django Unchained (for Django’s blue suit)  
BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
 “Song of the Lonely Mountain” by Neil Finn, The Hobbit
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Cloud Atlas
BEST SOUND MIXING:
Dredd  
BEST SOUND EDITING:
Prometheus
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Prometheus
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING:
None. Dumb category.


Best Picture Nominees Ranked

  1. Les Misérables (A-)
  2. Zero Dark Thirty (A-)
  3. Silver Linings Playbook (B+)
  4. Django Unchained (B+)
  5. Life of Pi (B)
  6. Argo (B)
  7. Amour (B)
  8. Beasts of the Southern Wild (B-)
  9. Lincoln (C+)

The Best Movie, Album, Song, Show, and Videogame of 2012!!!

The Best Film of 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Past #1 Film Picks…
2011: Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)
2010: Mother (Joon ho-Bong)
2009: Antichrist (Lars von Trier)
2008: Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson)
2007: There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
2006: The Queen (Stephen Frears)
2005: A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)
2004: Kill Bill vol. 2 (Quentin Tarentino)
2003: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Peter Jackson)
2002: Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)
2001: Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)

***

The Best Album of 2012:

 

The Seer by Swans

Past #1 Album Picks…
2011: Amplifier (The Octopus)
2010: Gorillaz (Plastic Beach)
2009: Porcupine Tree (The Incident)
2008: Crystal Castles (Self Titled)
2007: Blonde Redhead (23)
2006: Muse (Black Holes and Revelations)
2005: Nine Inch Nails (With Teeth)
2004: Nick Cave (Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus)
2003: The Mars Volta (De-Loused in the Comatorium)
2002: Beck (Sea Change)
2001: Tool (Lateralus – best of the decade!)

***

Best TV Best Show of 2012:

Game of Thrones (season 2)

Past #1 Television Picks…
2011: Game of Thrones (season 1)
2010: Breaking Bad (season 3)
2009: Lost (season 5)
2008: Aqua Teen Hunger Force (season 5)
2007: Frisky Dingo (season 1)
2006: Battlestar Galactica (season 2.5)
2005: Arrested Development (season 3)
2004:  Fullmetal Alchemist (season 1)
2003: Angel (season 5)
2002: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 7)
2001: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 6)

***

The Best Video Game of 2012:

Halo 4

Note: I’ve never placed a first person shooter as #1 and as much as I would have like to continue that tradition Halo 4 offered the best overall experience (graphics, single player mode, multiplayer and co-op) in what was otherwise the weakest year for video games in recent memory. 

runner up…

 FTL: Faster than Light

Past #1 Video Game Picks…
2011: Portal 2 (PS3)
2010: Mass Effect 2 (Xbox360)
2009: Batman Arkham Asylum (PS3)
2008: Fallout 3 (PC)
2007: Persona 3 FES (PS2)
2006: Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
2005: Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)
2004: Ninja Gaiden (Xbox)
2003: Deus Ex: Invisible War (PC)
2002: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (PC)
2001: Metal Gear Solid 2 (PS2)

***

Best Novel of 2012

Fate of Worlds by Larry Niven & Edward M. Lerner
(Niven’s landmark Ringworld/Fleet of Worlds series ends on the highest note possible)

tied with…
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis by James Luceno
(the best Star Wars book ever written)

2011 Best Novel:
Ready Player One by Earnest Cline and A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin.

***

Best Theatrical Performance

Liam Neeson in The Grey

runner up…

Carl Urban in Dredd
(not joking; underrated performance)

Past #1 Picks…
2011: Steve Coogan in The Trip
2010: Ben Stiller in Greenberg
2009: Sam Rockwell in Moon
2008: Christian Bale/Heath Ledger/Aaron Eckhart, all for The Dark Knight
2007: Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood
2006: Helen Mirren in The Queen
2005: Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine/Darth Sidious) in Star Wars: Episode III and Ray Winstone in The Proposition
2004: Tom Hanks in The Ladykillers
2003: Bill Murray in Lost in Translation
2002: Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love
2001: Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive

***

Full lists coming as soon as I catch up on a lot of missed movies and albums.
Also, all #1’s listed below subject to change once the full lists roll out.

Best TV Shows of the Year (2011/2012 season)

Television is the preeminent artform right now. The cinema is basically a dead art right now. Yet unlike film the organization that awards TV excellence is a joke. The Emmy’s once again got it all wrong. Or, at least, mostly all wrong. I will not be watching or putting any value in their selections (unless Peter Dinklage wins again) but, instead, participating in the great television discussion by naming my favorites. As well should all do. So here they are…

1. Game of Thrones
No surprise here. Given my preference to A Song of Ice and Fire book one I didn’t think it possible that a new season based on the second book, Clash of Kings, could surpass last year’s best of the year fantasy offerings. It did, adding new layers of complexity and insight to an already rich fantasy tapestry spun by George R.R. Martin. Aspects like a more beefed up role for Stannis and Melisandre, Cersei confessing (in a way only she can) her sadness for how Joffrey turned out, Joffrey’s sadistic treatment of prostitutes, Peter’s presence on the battlefield with Renley etc. are not earth shattering on their own but flesh out the series in a truly satisfying manner. Martin’s close involvement with the show turns what could have been some pretty awesome fan fiction asides into the stuff of timeless cannon.
Game of Thrones, easily the best show to air since Buffy the Vampire Slayer, just got better in it’s second season and, just think, we have two years worth of book 3 ahead of us! And speaking of Buffy, this is the first time since the era of the Slayer that I picked a show as #1 for two consecutive seasons and I can almost guarantee not the last time it will top the list as the best show on television.

2. Homeland
An American hero might be a brain-washed Manchurian Candidate, er, terrorist. There are so many ways this could have gone off the deep end like so many modern shows and movies tend to do. But this is the first time since the heyday of 24 (season 5 to be exact) that a show really gets into the frame of mind of our modern paranoia/fear driven culture and spin it into great entertainment. Homeland has breathed new life in the dead tired post-911/Iraq/terrorism/surveillance/blah-blah-blah genre. The key, I think, is that the show doesn’t pander and it doesn’t preach, it entertains and damn if it is not the most thrilling thing on TV. Where Homeland distinguished itself from its a show like 24 is it’s de-emphasis on action and emphasis on subtlety. The simple act of the military hero Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) taking a polygraph is as intense as 40 straight minutes of explosions and torture in 24. As good as Lewis is at selling the intrigue and simmering madness, Clara Danes as the CIA agent doggedly chasing after Brody gives the single best TV performance of the year. She is a singularly unique protagonist; empowered, sexy and bat shit crazy.

3. Justified
Building off the momentum of season 2, season 3 continued the successful formula of long form story arcs that has worked so well for this superlative action drama. To say it matches season 2 is high praise. To say it exceeds it is, well, justified in my opinion. See what I did there?! The spirit of Elmore Leonard amazing writing is captured by the show in a way only a small handful of adaptations have reached (Get Shorty and Out of Sight).

4. Breaking Bad
What to make of a show and season that consists of 10 dreary, uneventful episodes followed by one of the most powerful finishes in television history? A rousing success considering those 10 episodes were all calculated to set-up the explosive denouement. As for season 5… so far the final season has been good as well so I’m fairly certain this show will preserve it’s legacy in its final sprint to the finish line. Walter White may not survive the events of the final season but in a way he will live on forever.

5. Community
Community finally takes the reigns as the best comedy on television from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia which experienced it’s most uneven season since the pre-Frank Reynolds days. Season 3 of this random as hell community college comedy was just about perfect. Sadly, though, it will go on without show runner and chief creative force Dan Harmon (fuck you NBC… and FUCKKKKK YOU Chevy Chase). Suddenly, I have a feeling this is the last time the show will rank this high. Or rank at all for that matter. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

6. Aqua Something You Know Whatever
Formerly known as Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 01 which, itself, was formerly known as Aqua Teen Hunger Force. If you haven’t watched it by now then don’t bother, you’re not worthy, enjoy your Family Guy and 1000th season of The Simpsons and leave me the hell alone with your horrible taste. Just kidding, Aqua fans still love you (even though you have horrible taste).

7. Downton Abbey
I admit to not having finished season 2 but I must place it this high because what I’ve seen is up to par with what I expect from this excellent drama. May it go on past WWI and into WWII!

8. South Park
I’ve gotten back into South Park in a big way, um’kay.

9. Fringe
I’m a HUGE Fringe fan and that makes it all the harder for me to admit that Fringe season 4 jumped the shark or, more appropriately, jumped the universe. Season 4 is dull, uneventful and full of filler episodes searching for meaning and ending up (usually) empty handed and, for that matter, empty headed. Face it, Peter found himself stick in most uninteresting universe within the entire and possibly endless multiverse chain and he dragged us along with him. Not cool, dude! Last season’s steampunk-light amber universe was an exceptional setting that never failed to challenge or surprise its viewers (and ranked #2 on my year end list) so it baffles me how the show runners thought it would be a good idea to strand fans with this season’s non-eventful alt-alt-alt universe arc where meaningless freaks of the week took president over, you know, exploring actual sci-fi ideas and characters. I fear this watering down of a once good show was to bolster ratings and make it more accessible to new viewers. The result, of course, was a show that new viewers avoided and loyal viewers lost faith in as Fringe hit all new ratings (and creative) lows.
What I hate most about this season is that the new versions of old characters (well, everyone but Peter who is an old version of an old character and the only consistent thing during season 4) are just now finally starting to become halfway interesting. I’m still a fan and, bitching aside, still enjoy this show. If anything season 4 proved that bad Fringe is still far better than EVERY OTHER SHOW on network TV. I feel that after the series ends in 2013 (noooo!) season 4 will be looked back upon (by me at least) as a giant missed opportunity. The good news is that season 5 has nowhere to go but up.

10. Dexter
The crazy bible lunatic season was a mess. A fun mess. The show is long past its prime but unlike the horrible events/storytelling/acting of season 5 this season at least manages to put the fun back into good old Dexter’s serial killing exploits. Now that the show has announced it will be wrapping up in two seasons I have high hopes that the planning of a spectacular end game is in play. Or, you know, it will just get worse.

10.1 True Blood
Season 5 marked a welcome departure from the usual TB formula. Namely, interesting characters getting sucked into the bottomless vortex of Sookie and/or whatever lame subplot the whiny Tara is involved in. But this season changed the rules and the result was a show that seemed liberated from the tyrnie of Sookie. Maybe it’s because actress Anna Paquin was pregnant in real life with Stephen Moyer’s spawn, I don’t know, but by tightening things up and having the vampires take center stage to explore the Vampire authority (an ancient governing body), vampire religion and vampire politics (as opposed to redundant Sookie/Eric/Bill love triangles) the show brought back something that had been missing since season 1: focus. For the first time since season 1 I’m actually excited about a new season of True Blood. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another three years for it to get good again.

off the list but still good…

  • It’s Always Sunny. Disappointing season but, still, some standout episodes (Rum Pug) and moments (fat Mac lugging around a trash bag full of chimichangas) made it all worthwhile. 
  • Mad Men. Ok, it’s not on the list because I haven’t gotten to this season yet. Or finished the season before for that matter. And I have no desire to but I will anyway because people keep telling me the show got better. 
  • Warehouse 13. Just discovered this quirky show. Sadly, it’s the only thing worth watching on the once great now pathetic SyFy network. 
  • Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood. Best anime currently airing. 
  • Superjail! WTF.
  • Doctor Who. The second half of season 6 was an ungodly mess. I retract ranking (the first half of) that season as my #3 show last year. I didn’t think Steven Moffat was capable of shitting the bed to such a degree that he would make Russell T. Davis’s sloppy season 4 look almost slick and composed. 
Top Television Performances
  1. Claire Danes (Carrie Mathison) in Homeland!!!
  2. Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) in Game of Thrones
  3. Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) in Game of Thrones
  4. Brian Cranston (Walter White) Breaking Bad (#1 two years ago)
  5. Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) in Game of Thrones
  6. Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon) in Game of Thrones
  7. John Noble (Walter Bishop) in Fringe (#1 last year)
  8. Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) in Game of Thrones
  9. Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy) in Game of Thrones
  10. Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams) in Doctor Who
  11. Giancarlo Esposito (Gus) in Breaking Bad
  12. Conleth Hill (Lord Varys) in Game of Thrones
  13. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister) in Game of Thrones
  14. Steve Coogan (Steve Coogan) in The Trip
  15. Aidan Gillen (Petyr Baelish)  in Game of Thrones
  16. Damian Lewis (Nicholas Brody) in Homeland
  17. Dana Snyder (voice of Master Shake) in Aqua Something You Know Whatever
  18. Timothy Olyphant (Raylan Givens) in Justified
  19. Allison Brie in Community
  20. Mandy Patinkin (Saul Berenson) in Homeland
  21. Rob Brydon (Rob Brydon) in The Trip

Best Individual TV Episodes

  1. “End Times”/”Face Off,” season 4 Breaking Bad. Perhaps the most perfectly crafted and meticulousness plotted season ender ever.
  2. “Blackwater,” Game of Thrones. Written by George RR! Really though, every single episode of GoT could/should be here.
  3. “Letters of Transit,” Fringe.
  4. “The Granite Family, Aqua Something You Know Whatever. Master Shakes starts the apocalypse after watching The Flinstones because he want’s the world to revert to the stone age. That’s sooo Shake.
  5. “The Late Phillip J Fry,” Futurerama. And I don’t even like this show!
  6. “Pilot,” Homeland.
  7. “Wallflower,” Fringe.
  8. “The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore,” It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia AKA the Rum Pig episode.
  9. Season 2 Episode 1, Downton Abbey.
  10.  Remedial Chaos Theory,” Community.
Worst

1. Walking Dead
Worst show on TV. And that’s saying something. I should preface that with the fact that I feel the comic is the BEST long running comic of its day. Even the adventure game available on PC/Xbox360/Playstation3 does justice to the Walking brand. The show, however, is a different story. I’ll just let a few of my tweets/GetGlue posts speak for me…

  • Rick talks to Shane, Shane talks to Dale, Dale talks to Carol, Carol punches grass then talks to Lori, Lori Talks to Rick, Rick talks to Glenn, Glen talks to Maggie, Maggie talks to her dad who talks to Rick who shoots somebody after a nice talk. Zombies… say nothing because there are no zombies on this show.
  • s2e12 “I don’t even know who’s baby this is.” This is the world’s worst soap opera. Melodrama at its worst.
  • I pray to the zombie gods that Lori is dead. Sarah Wayne Callies is easily the most annoying and unlikable character on TV. She exists, in my mind, to prove that there are fates far worse than becoming a zombie. One is being married to that woman. Another is having to sit and watch her for an hour a week.
  • grumbles… here we go again. Let’s get this season over with so I can start bitching about how bad s3 is going to be.
  • I fully expect the 2nd half of Walking Dead s2 to be just as bad. More farm, more barn, more baby daddy drama, more Lori more trite writing and of course some of the worst acting/characters on basic cable. I ask myself if I should stop watching and the answer is away no. I like complaining about this overrated POS way too much. One can only hope that because the comic series is so good that, one day, it’s bound to rub off on this show… but probably not this this season. I hope to be proven wrong…
  • …Update: I was indeed NOT proven wrong.

2. Girls
Vile, self absorbed narcissist. Of course those traits can be priceless comedy (Curb, Sunny) but it can also be… well, vile self absorbed narcissism. If Lena Dunham is the voice of her generation then her generations needs to be gagged, peed on (in the shower!) and water boarded.

3. Glee 
My number 1 last year (and 2, and 3 etc.). I could never have imagined anything dethroning it but that was before I knew Lena Dunham had a show on TV and that Walking Dead would regress even further. Did I watch a full episode this year. Yes, and I got PTSD (poop, turd, shit and diarrhea) as a result. Rocky Horror will never be the same.

4. All Reality Shows
Self explanatory. I hate reality–really!

5. Big Bang Theory
This always annoying show gives a bad name to nerds. And comedy. It actually manages to be worse than 2 and a Half Men. Speaking of which…

6. 2 and a Half Men
More proof that the American sitcom is a dead art form. All shows like 2 and a Half Men do is exhume it’s corpse and parade it around while millions of dumb asses still watch.

7. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
I’ve been doing this site for over ten years and not one of those years didn’t contain Jay Leno’s abominable show on my list of TV’s worst.

8. American Horror Story
I saw the pilot and gasped. Not out of fear mind you but notion that that a show could be this bad. Being that it came from the guy who made Nip/Tuck and Glee that should not have been surprising. Of course being that it’s Ryan Murphy I am now gasping at how overrated this show has become as well. Yes, I’m going to watch all of season one (and two) but I can’t say I’m looking forward to doing so.

9. Alphas
This show is like a retarded version of Fringe. It’s shallow, safe and dull. Just another SyFy show in other words.

10. Modern Family 
Seriously, I don’t get what people see in this show. It’s so corny and lame. Perfect for middle America. And is there anyone more annoying on Television (or Earth) than Sofía Vergara? Actually, yes, Sarah Wayne Callies from Walking Dead.

Ranking Woody Allen (43 films)

Ranking Woody Allen

There are two kinds of people. Those who, according to Woody Allen, “like my work go and see it and overlook my faults,” and those who “don’t like it only see where I screw up because I always screw up.” I fall into former category and am humbled by his staggering body of work. Even if  you don’t “get” Allen, the fact remains that no other director alive (or dead for that matter) has achieved what Allen has. He is peerless, which is not to say he doesn’t “screw up” from time to time but let’s see Terrence Malick make a film a year with such (relative) consistency. Throughout the hits (Allen is an Oscar winner in the 70s, 80s and 10s) and misses (um, “Curse of the Jade Scorpion”), the endlessly prolific Allen has helped to define and shape the cinema throughout multiple eras without any sign of slowing down or running out of things to say.  Last year’s best original screenplay winning “Midnight in Paris” was touted as a return to greatness while this year’s “To Rome With Love”… was not. Allen could care less either way, he just keeps making films.

So which era of Allen is best? The screwball comedies of the 60s and 70s? The sulking Bergmanian filmmaker of the late 70s and 80s? The sophisticated comic director of the 90s? Or how about his anything goes approach in the 2000s? Though I’m probably most partial to 80s Allen it’s hard to say for certain and though his work in the 2010s is limited to just “You Will Marry a Tall Dark Stranger” and “Midnight in Paris” and “To Rome With Love”  I have a feeling some of Allen’s best films are still very much ahead of him.

Below is my top 43 Woody Allen movies ranked in order of preference.  Truth be told pretty much all of them are good except for the final two or three titles. “To Rome With Love” will make it 44 and I will update as soon as I see it. Here we go, let the kvetching begin…

 

1. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
“I don’t know from suicide, y’know. Where I grew up in Brooklyn we were too unhappy to commit suicide.” When I watch “Crimes” I’m never sure whether to laugh or cry or indulge in some pathetic variation of both. An entirely appropriate bipolar reaction considering Allen’s two major influences are Bob Hope and Ingmar Bergman. Very few can agree on what the “best” Woody Allen film is. His cannon is far too varied to yield a consistent choice. For what (little) it’s worth, “Crimes” is my top pick because, for just one in long list of reasons, it contains the best (and most cohesive) sampling of all the variations within Allen’s unique range: comedy, whimsy and a deep, dark disturbed moral pathos. The first time I saw this movie I was deeply affected by its ability to intersect a plot about a rich man (Martin Landau) who kills his mistress with a more traditional Allen plot about a filmmaker (Allen) attracted to another woman. “Crimes” contains not only Allen’s most complex story to date but it is his single best work as a filmmaker. And that’s saying something!

2. Zelig (1983)
One of the first (and certainly the best) mockumentaries ever made. Running at a lean 79 minutes I’ve watched “Zelig” more than any other Allen film. The personality shifting gimmick never gets old, it only gets better. This is not only Allen’s most stylistically innovative work to date but perhaps his funniest too. The film documents a man (Allen, of course) who is so insecure that he is able to morph physically and mentally into anybody in order to fit in. That allows for situations like… “To the gentleman who’s appendix I took out, I…I’m, I don’t know what to say, if it’s any consolation I… I may still have it somewhere around the house.“ “Zelig’s” newsreel fantasy approach is fantastical to be sure but rooted in a simple truth about the human condition. Allen carries the admittedly thin chameleon premise to its emotional (and surprisingly romantic) conclusion with an exquisite sense of pacing, dialogue, interviews and “found” documentary footage.

3. Match Point (2005)
Sex, death, blind luck and greed. “Match Point” sums up the human experience (according to Allen) and is the cinematic embodiment of Allen’s famous quote about life being “divided by the horrible and the miserable.” About a man who commits murder without any moral, social or cosmic consequences, “Match Point” is a stripped down version of what Allen was attempting to do in “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” What it lacks in that film’s variety it more than makes up with a streamlined approach to the crime genre aided by an impossibly bleak Dostoevsky worldview and a technical execution worth of Alfred Hitchcock. Haunting in its message (“you can commit a crime and get away with it because the universe is godless” according to Allen) yet timeless in its sensibilities, the sober but elegant “Match Point” may very well become Allen’s Magnum opus when all said and done. By then Woody will have finally gotten his answer to what does or does not lie beyond the chaotic void of existence.

4. Deconstructing Harry (1997)
It’s easy to overlook this one. It’s Allen’s most edgy, post-modern and alienating work to date. A great tribute to Allen’s own creations of the past, present and, without fully knowing it, future. At the same time it’s also a worthy tribute to Bergman’s “Wild Strawberries” (one of Allen’s favorite films of all time). But the influences don’t stop there. The opening, featuring multiple re-takes of a character getting out of a taxi cab, recalls the (better) moments of French New Wave while the ending devilishly reenacts the classic scene in “8½” as Allen is stuck in a room with all of his creations. Allen’s application of multiple characters in multiple realities with multiple POVs is quite the narrative juggling act and I can think of no movie in Allen’s cannon similar to this title. Or as exhilarating. I just love it when Allen experiments with the form; he does not do it often but when he does (“Zelig,” “Melinda and Melinda,” this film) I find myself blown away by how progressive this filmmaker is. And yet people still claim that Allen has limited range! I think, or at least hope, that time will be good “Harry” and that one day people will embrace it as the masterpiece it truly is.

5. Take the Money and Run (1969)
Best “old school” Allen comedy which, admittedly, is not saying much (sorry “Bananas” fans). Allen poured everything into his first proper feature and his enthusiasm translates into an unusually assured first film experience. Despite its age the laughs in this film are far from old. I lose it every time I pop in my VHS copy of this film (don’t laugh, VHS is my preferred method to watch older Allen movies as you can see in the picture of my collection above). Bottom line: this is vintage Allen at his more purely comedic.

6. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
We all must choose between reality and fantasy. And when we pick reality, as we all must, our dreams die. With this simple theme Woody Allen made a perfect little movie. A modern, cine savvy fairytale in the truest sense. This film cannot be praised enough and, indeed, IS praised enough, even by the self-critical Allen. It ties with “Match Point” as his all-time favorite. No arguments here.

7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Vintage Allen. If you don’t like it then you probably don’t like him. Sophisticated, funny and beautifully shot. This is the film where one of my favorite directors and my all-time favorite actor (Michael Caine) come together in what I can only describe as a meeting worthy of the two. I love that Allen considers “Hanna” to be his greatest creative failure. He feels he botched the ending and will never forgive himself for that. Most directors would kill or marry an adopted daughter to make a film this good.

8. Love and Death (1975)
“Love and Death” marks the end of an era. This is the last film Allen made before “Annie Hall” and it’s fun to watch it in that context. This manic period comedy features Allen as a Russian soldier who teams up with Diane Keaton to assassinate an invading Napoleon (upon hearing her request Allen says “It’s getting a little late, let’s do it after dinner”). A fitting plot for a filmmaker so obsessed with Russian literature. What makes this film truly special though is its intelligence. Sure, there are plenty of screwball/rom-com moments but the dialogue is really a step above Allen’s usual (at the time) light banter. Wrap your head around this great line: “To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you’re getting this down.” If that doesn’t translate as well on paper then just listen to the dialogue in this clip and tell me that “Love and Death” not one of Allen’s most enjoyable films in terms of how the dialogue flows. Not only is “Love and Death” smart (with a much needed sense of humor about how smart it’s trying to be) but contains Allen’s first successful use of film and literary references: Allen jumps from Marx Brothers references to Dostoevsky shout-outs and even finds time (in a period movie no less) for a “Battleship Potemkin” homage, countless Bob Hope-isms and of course the obligatory Bergman nods.

9. Stardust Memories (1980)
I had to watch this three times to to get to a place where I loved it. Maybe four. I stopped counting when I started enjoying. About a director at a junket freaking out over past successes and future uncertainties, Woody does Fellini (again) in a way only Woody of the 1980s can: by making himself the tortured filmmaker and replacing science fiction sets with Kierkegaard. “Stardust” is another rare personal favorite of Allen’s. Only hardcore Allen fans need apply. Best line in the movie: “I took one course in existential philosophy at, uh, at New York University, and on, uh, on the final they gave me ten questions, and, uh, I couldn’t answer a single one of ’em. You know? I left ’em all blank. I got a hundred.”

10. Annie Hall (1977)
One of the all time great experimental love stories. But love is a funny word, especially when it comes to Woody Allen movies. “Annie Hall” is as much of a great break-up movie than it is a great romance. This departure from conventions is one of the cornerstones of Allen’s legacy. “Annie Hall” is also one of the best examples of a movie made/saved in the editing room. As the story goes the Annie Hall character sections were not intended to be the main storyline. The film was written from the point of view of Alvy’s stream of consciousness before being radically changed into its current form. My guess is that many of the memorable fantasy scenes (the Marshall McLuhan and Truman Capote’s cameos, Annie and Alvy’s juxtaposed family life, subtitles that reveal subtext, etc.) are remnants of Allen’s “failed” experiment. I would do anything to see the original cut but of course Allen is famous for discarding (“burning” in his words) anything not in the final cut. Despite the film’s clear lack of focus or depth, “Annie Hall” is widely considered to be his best work to date and was the winner of a ass-load of Oscars including ones for director (Allen), screenplay (Allen again), actress (Diane Keaton) and of course best picture (over “Star Wars”!). Many directors would have been ruined but such mainstream success and the pressure to follow it up with something similarly crowd pleasing but Woody just shrugged it off, sighed, and pretended it never happened.

11. Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
Another classic from Allen’s fruitful 90s output. “Bullets” does a brilliant job of blending Allen’s sensibilities with more mainstream period movie and comedy conventions. With a story about neurotic writers, divas and the mop, this is as close as Woody Allen ever got to making “The Producers.” Channeling Allen in the best way possible, John Cusack’s character insists: “I don’t write hits. My plays are art. They’re written specifically to go unproduced.” Mel Brooks couldn’t have said it better.

12. Midnight in Paris (2011)
A triumph. The film that won back the hearts of countless Allen deserters/haters and filled the pockets of his financial backers who, lets face it, rarely saw huge profit margins from his creations. With its playful sci-fi/fantasy time-travel premise (anchored by the rarest of things: a good role for Owen Wilson!) the story of a man out of time who goes back in time taps into something timeless and magical. Allen is wise not to get involved in explanations but, rather, trusts his audience to suspend disbelief as Owen Wilson hobnobs with the likes of Fitzgerald, Picasso, Dali, Buñuel and of course Hemingway (brought to life by a humorously humorless performance by Corey Stoll who gets all the movie’s best lines: “All men fear death. It’s a natural fear that consumes us all. We fear death because we feel that we haven’t loved well enough or loved at all, which ultimately are one and the same. However, when you make love with a truly great woman, one that deserves the utmost respect in this world and one that makes you feel truly powerful, that fear of death completely disappears.”). “Midnight” is Allen’s most hopeful and happy film to date but with a classic Allen twist… here’s Woody Allen talking to Film Comment talking about “Midnight in Paris”: “It’s a recurring, nagging feeling of mine that the reality we’re all trapped in is, in actual fact, like a nightmare. I’m always looking for ways to escape that reality. One escapes it by going to the movies. One escapes it by becoming involved in the trivial nonsense of ‘Are the Yankees going to win?’ or ‘Are the Mets going to win?’ When in fact it means nothing. But life means nothing either. It means as much as the ballgame. So you’re constantly looking for ways to escape reality. And one of the fallacies that comes up all the time is the Golden Age fallacy, that you’d be happier at a different time.”

13. Radio Days (1987)
I hate coming-of age movies. HATE them. Allen, however, gets a pass. By not exploiting the audience, this film is thankfully more Truffaut than Rob Reiner. The best scenes in “Annie Hall” featured a young Woody (persona) depressed about the expansion of the universe while roller coasters rattled above his family’s dumpy house. Well, this entire film is practically based on that wonderful concept. “Radio Days” is a one time deal for Allen and is a worthy addition to his oeuvre. Trivia time: this is the first Woody Allen film to feature Larry David. There’s also a young Seth Green in the lead role.

14. Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
A pleasant surprise in store for anyone who revisits this wonderful film. It contains one of the best performances ever committed to film and, no, it’s not from star Sean Penn (though he is very good here). Rather, it comes from Samantha Morton playing Hattie, a mute girl in love with a sleazy-and-loving-it Penn whose idea of a good time goes something like: “Wanna go to the dump and shoot some rats?” Set on the fringes of the swinging jazz movement of the 30s, Morton steals this movie which with, ironically, total silence. Her performance, seemingly out of a silent movie, might be the most beautiful (and heartbreaking) performance every committed to film. Just watch her in this scene where Penn plays the guitar for her and tell me I’m wrong. On an unfortunate note the film would be ranked in the top ten had Allen not made the baffling decision to literally bail on her character half way through the movie to focus on Uma Thurman as a love interest. While it makes perfect sense for Penn’s character to do this from a narrative point of view the movie’s spirit could not recover from Morton’s departure. That aside I love how “Sweet and Lowdown” jumps around the timeline in its depiction of the lost music genus Emmet Ray (Penn). The film contains a great use of Zelig-like documentary interviews.

15. Husbands and Wives (1992)
Released at the height of the public’s Woody Allen hatred (which has died down but still around today), this wonderful drama was a casualty of Allen’s scandal. A shame because this is Allen as his Cinéma vérité best. If released today it probably would have gotten him a best director nomination. The film holds up surprisingly well and is one of a handful of films that Allen does not look back on with disdain. Beyond a few well-shot scenes in “Deconstructing Harry” I’m surprised and saddened that Allen never revisited the rough style of this film because he really seems to understand its mechanics more than most directors who (over)use it.

16. Manhattan (1979)
Rightfully considered one of the best and most beautiful tributes to New York ever filmed. Iconic to be sure but also, it must be said, uneven at times. It’s as if all of Allen’s wonderfully developed characters and their plot-lines were meticulously established only to evaporate in a poorly constructed third act. Perhaps that sense of literally being cut-off is what Allen intended in his plot about an out of work writer courting a capricious high school girl. I doubt it though. The movie still holds up thanks in part to the timeless cinematography by Gordon Willis, George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” composition and this all-time classic film moment in which Allen explains what makes life worth living. Along with “Annie Hall” and “Hanna and Her Sisters” “Manhattan” is one of his most beloved films to date and it’s easy to see why… unless you’re Woody Allen who is notorious for hating “Manhattan” with the same passion that others love it.

17. Melinda and Melinda (2004)
A brilliant commentary on the nature of drama and comedy. Life and art is all about context. And content is a slave to context. Along with “Cassandra’s Dream” this film goes down as Allen’s most unfairly neglected work.

18. Hollywood Ending (2002)
A controversial choice. One of Allen’s leanest and most economical movies. It’s simple, it’s funny (not haha-funny but smile-a-lot funny) and quick to get to the point. Other than Billy Wilder very few directors would go this far to poke fun at themselves. The central hook/metaphor about a blind director put in charge of making a movie shows that Allen is aware of his “myopic” personality. When the film came out however there was very little interest in watching Allen make fun of himself or anything else for that matter. I proudly defend this film to this day. On a final note, and an appropriate one considering the title, “Hollywood Ending” contains one of Allen’s best endings. After the botched film-within-the-film is laughed out of the States and all hope is seemingly lost for the director there is a throwaway Wilder-esq punch line about the French loving it. This notion of a culture appreciating Allen’s vision when others do no acts a foreshadowing to Allen’s own self-imposed creative exile to a region (Europe) that still values his works.

19. Play it Again, Sam (1972)
The best Woody Allen movie not directed by Woody Allen. Not saying much considering the iffy quality of “What’s New Pussycat,” “The Front,” and “Casino Royale.” “Sam” stars Allen. It is based on a play by Allen. It is written by Allen. There’s even Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts. I rank it here because it’s so damn good. Vintage Allen quirks aplenty and a breezy plot reminiscent of many of Allen’s later movies (especially “Annie Hall”) with an added bonus of an imaginary Humphrey Bogart character that Allen talks to. I love the scene where Allen scatters intelligent books and magazines around his apartment before a date. There’s also a great scene in an art gallery where Allen tries to make sense of a ridiculous piece of modern art. Woody Allen sums the movie up best: “Long after I’m dead people will be able to curl up in bed and watch Sam on TV and say, ‘Oh, that’s a cute kind of story from the sixties,’ just as we watched It Happened One Night or that genre of films now. Not that I think Sam is very good–it’s not. More likely they will curl up in bed and say ‘What else is on?’” Not me. I’ve seen it four times and not once was there anything better on TV (unless of course any of the Allen films from above were on).

20. Cassandra’s Dream (2007)
The third entry in what I would call Woody Allen’s atheistic crime trilogy (after “Crimes and Misdemeanors” and “Match Point”). Perhaps Allen’s most underrated drama/tragedy to date. Like “Match Point” (and the chorus parts of “Mighty Aphrodite”) it approaches near self-aware levels of Greek tragedy and earns every moment of it. Woody’s Dream is by and large considered a misstep (critics, box office, fan reception) but is far from that. It is an assured tale of a crime that tears two brothers apart. McGregor and Farrell, while they don’t exactly look related, deliver strong performances and really sell the viscous pathos that Allen tosses their way.  The film is, alas,  Woody’s last serious drama and I hope he returns to the noir scene because he’s damn good at capturing the moral essence of this genre.

 

21. Interiors (1978)
Allen has stated that Interiors expresses his feeling that life is a “cold, empty void we live in and art won’t save you–only a little human warmth helps.” While he views his also views this film as a pretentious misstep (ha!) this is clearly one of the most pivotal films in Allen’s filmography. Not just in terms of the skill in which it was made or it’s wonderful creative expressions (another great Bergman tribute) but, most of all, in Allen’s boldness. This was the film that let us know that Allen would rather be known as a great and enduring filmmaker than a comic actor or writer. As an answer (or from his point of view a panacea) to the worldwide success of “Annie Hall,” this film showed the world that Allen would not conform to what the system or indeed his fans expected of him. He had a lot back then and very few now which makes “Interiors” a wonderfully stated “fuck you” to just about everybody.

22. New York Stories (1989)
Ah, come on people, it’s awesome! Well, at least ? of the movie is. I’m talking about the “Oedipus Wrecks” segment from Allen’s collaboration with Scorsese and Coppola. Not only did Allen make the best story out of the three (not saying much) but one that serves as a great stand-alone truffle for Allen fans. A magician (Woody can never get enough of magicians) makes Allen’s nagging mother disappear one night only to have her magically appear in the sky where everybody can see and hear her rants about her son. This is one of the most creative and funny ways that one’s mother issues has been addressed on screen. I wish Woody made more one-act films.


23. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Great fun. Sometimes that’s all I want from an Allen film. The most crowd pleasing entry in Allen’s modern European phase and it’s easy to see why. But the film is deeper that just being fun. In particular I responded to how the film eloquently (and subtly) espouses the pitfalls of self-entitlement, especially among its American characters who demand romantic satisfaction and go home empty handed (but still entitled). This is the fourth film in which one of Allen’s supporting actresses won an Oscar.

24. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
When “Stranger” opens with one of Allen’s signature old time tunes it occurred to me that whatever happens in the world –and a lot happens– I can always count on Woody Allen to be Woody Allen. You can’t put a price, or rating, on that. This is an artist that will not change or be influenced past his usual inspirations and this is also one of those rare instances where one’s inability to change is a good thing. The film takes me back to the days of “Hanna and Her Sisters” where a group of people loosely connected go about their lives in a way that can not quite be called realism and not quite be called un-realism. More like Woodyness.
Observations are made, arguments are animated, trusts are broken, friendships are sparked, drinks are had, love is lost, and then found again somewhere else. Any fan of Allen knows what to expect.
Woody is a master at heavy drama/Greek tragedies (“Match Point” and “Crimes and Misdemeanors” are classics in their own right) and perhaps more well known for his comedies but what’s more interesting is how good he is at the in-betweens. One of my all-time favorite moments in a Woody Allen movie occurs in this movie. I won’t dare spoil it because so few people have seen this movie but I’ll just say it involves struggling author Josh Brolin getting some “good” news about a comatosed friend he was certain would die. Trust me, the movie is worth seeing just for that amazing scene.

25. Anything Else (2003)
If you ever wondered what would happen if Woody Allen wrote a novel (and, believe me, I have) then watch “Anything Else.” A little known fact is that this project began as novel Allen wrote to completion and promptly tossed in the garbage (or burned along with all of his deleted scenes–I can just picture Allen tossing it into a ragging fire like a crazed Nikolai Gogol) only to rework it as a screenplay about love and mental illness. When it was finally made, “Anything Else” the film slipped through the cracks which is too bad but understandable considering the appallingly bad poster. Allen’s writing is quite sharp here and his camerawork is as underrated as ever (I love all the long shots and Allen’s trademark of having characters walk in and out of the frame). Also, Jason Biggs… well, didn’t suck. Woody’s decision to play a supporting character (Biggs’s mentor) is so inspired that he really should do more often (“Scoop” is not enough). As a bit of trivia Quentin Tarentino named this Woody Allen film as one of the best films to be released since he started making films. First of all: what?! Secondly: COOL!

26. Another Woman (1988)
Gena Rowlands hit this one out of the park. It’s one of her best ever performances and certainly one of the most underrated lead roles in any Allen movie to date. See it!

27. Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
This is the last time Allen and Diane Keaton collaborated. While that’s sad considering all they had done together, “Manhattan Murder Mystery” is a pleasantly appropriate end to their legacy dating all the way back to the early seventies. They felt like an old married couple in this film, which Allen had intended to make in some form in the 70s. The “mystery” itself is nothing special but that matters very little because the film is just so charming and likable… which is kinda the point. As a final treat “MMM” contains a great Orson Welles homage. When Allen and Keaton run from a killer they encounter, the hall of mirrors chase set piece is taken directly from 1947’s “Lady from Shanghai.” It worked then and it works now.

28. Sleeper (1973)
A decent enough Woody Allen comedy on one hand but a solid science fiction film on the other. The two make strange bedfellows that’s part of “Sleeper’s” charm. The film is iconic and actually full of great, possibly even visionary, sci-fi concepts. There might not be a funnier science fiction film–unless you want to count “Starship Troopers” as a comedy.

29. Whatever Works (2009)
Speaking of something that works, I can’t possibly be alone in thinking “Whatever Works” is not that bad. Larry David teams up with Woody Allen. Hello? Anybody? Pff, fine, I will continue to search the earth until I find someone who agrees that this movie rocks.

30. September (1987)
September contains the most interesting bit of back stage trivia of Woody Allen’s films (to me at least). From the IMDb Trivia section: “Director Woody Allen cast and shot this film twice, without telling the original cast.” Wait, WHAT?! September feels more like a filmed stage play than a movie. Makes sense considering Allen’s background as a playwright.  Perhaps for that reason this is one of Allen’s more hard to define features and one that very few people talk about these days–not to mention when it was released as it’s his lowest grossing movie to date.

31. Shadows and Fog (1991)
Expressionistic Allen doing his best impression of a Fellini movie. Okay, I can get behind that. This is his second of two collaborations with John Cusack… and the worst of the two. To an Allen fan it’s a pleasant curio but like many of the circus illusions, it evaporates before your eyes once you try to make sense of it.

32. Celebrity (1998)
A noble misfire worth checking out for a number of isolated scenes (the high school reunion, the sexual misadventures, the brilliant final shot) rather than the film as a whole. Watching Kennith Branagh interpret Woody’s persona is pretty crazy but not as disastrous as others will say. There’s not much more to say about this film except that I hope Allen returns to black and white filmmaking one day. It’s been too long.

33. Alice (1990)
No, this not a movie about a decapitated head. “Alice” is a hard title to place in Allen’s cannon. I think this film confuses many Allen die hard fans. Personally, I just don’t known what to make of it. There’s a lot that works here but in the end Mia Farrow was never my favorite of Allen’s muses and while she does not outright embarrass herself she fails to carry the film on her back. Perhaps that’s because of the tone of the film. “Alice” contains an awkward mix of magic and ghosts which we’ve seen before in a number of Allen titles such as “Scoop,” “Oedipus Wrecks” and even “Match Point.” Somehow, those films integrated the supernatural elements better. Or at least with more conviction. This is one of the only Allen films I’ve seen only once so a second viewing might clear up some of my ambivalence.

34. Scoop (2006)
“Scoop” was made to be fun. Nothing more. And it succeeds on that very basic level. People are hard on this one though and, yes, it’s not that hard to see why (the movie is pretty silly after all). Every once and a while, when Allen deliberately makes a “lesser” film, they should be evaluated in that context rather than held to the standards of his so-called better works. As Billy Bob Thorton in “Bad Santa” says “they can’t all be winners.” This film is basically Woody Allen decompressing and loosening up after he bummed everyone out with “Match Point.” On the plus side there’s Scarlett Johansson in a bikini! And Anthony Stewart Head (Giles from “Buffy”)! And Wolverine! And Ian McShane as a dead reporter investigating his, uh, death. Even unpopular Allen movies have great casts.

35. Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
It pains me to say this but I could never get into this movie despite a total open mind and an enjoyment of the musical genre. I will tolerate Woody’s corny music affinities when they appear in his iconic black screen credit sequences but when they invade the movie proper with such blunt force as to have Goldie Hawn float in the air on the Left Bank, well, I just can’t abide by that. To his credit, Woody indulged in a postmodern music celebration starring non-singer celebrities before doing so was popularized by the likes of Moulin Rouge and Chicago.

36. Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
Don’t hate me but I gotta say this one of Allen’s most overrated films. Sorry. It’s too cute and shallow to respect on the same level of his other works. What kills me is how good this could have been if Allen stuck with the angle of the business of comedy and relationships between comedians and their managers because there’s something to that. Instead, manager Danny Rose (played by Allen) gets involved in a dumb as nails plot about the mob and ends up running through corn fields with that shiksa Mia. What a waist.

37. Small Time Crooks (2000)
Fumbling crooks lead by Allen open a cookie store as a front in order to tunnel next door to gain riches. The heist goes nowhere but the store takes off. A great Allen premise all the way up to the point where Woody and Tracy Ullman become rich. Then it just goes bankrupt.

38. Mighty Aphrodite (1995)
“You didn’t want a BJ so the least I could do is get you a tie.” Proof that even underwhelming Woody Allen films have their moments.

39. Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)
Some sketches worked. “What is Sodomy?” features Gene Wilder hilariously lusting over a sheep. Not much else does however, especially the skit set inside Tony Randall’s head featuring Burt Reynolds as a sperm traffic controller and Woody Allen as, well, sperm in the world’s worst “Fantastic Voyage” homage. This is one of the only Allen films that is far more clever than it thinks it is.

40. Bananas (1971)
This shit is Bananas: B-A-N-A-N-A-S. This overrated Allen comedy is short on the wit Allen is known for. It was a big step down from his brilliant “Take the Money and Run” made just two years earlier. Still, it’s a harmlessly stupid movie whose success got Allen on the map and, most of all, made for a great training project in which Allen learned more about what not to do when making a movie than what to do. He would later call “Bananas” a “stepping stone to the more serious things that I enjoy more.” The turgid pacing in the films centerpiece courtroom scene for instance is all kinds of lame (a black woman says she’s J. Edgar Hoover and people believe her… ugh). And gimmicky moments like Howard Cosell’s “play by play” sex scene is embarrassingly amateurish by today’s standards and perhaps belonged more in a movie like “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex…”. It’s not a total loss. It really is infectious to see this young filmmaker actually having a good time making movies. This is especially the case in some of the non-verbal visual gags that are well executed–the subway scene with Sylvester Stallone comes to mind as being a cool homage to physical gags in silent movies. But in the end the scattershot movie is basically just one corny and canned joke after another forced into a premise that is thin at best. Maybe I’ve been too hard on this title. I’ll try to watch it again one day.

41. A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982)
Having shot and edited “Zelig” and this film at the same time it’s almost as if “Zelig” sucked all the nutrients out of this one. It’s the “Twins” of movies. Speaking of which, why the hell has Danny De Vito never done a Woody Allen movie?! So, yeah, not Allen at his best. Woody Allen wrote the screenplay in two weeks and it shows.

42. What’s Up, Tiger Lily (1966)
It’s hard to include this as a full fledged “Woody Allen film” because… it’s not. Allen dubbed over a bad Japanese spy movie called “International Secret Police.” He changed the plot around so that it now revolves around –no joke– the search for the world’s best egg salad recipe. Oy vey–that’s the dumbest thing Allen has ever done! The funny thing is that I’d bet the original film’s dialogue is more (unintentionally) funny that this “comic” treatment. The only consolation is that this movie is at least better than the 2002 dub movie “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.”

43. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)
You know things are bad when this is the best line Woody Allen can muster up: “It’s a match made in heaven… by a retarded angel.” So, yes, I can unequivocally state that this is Woody Allen’s worst movie. The only Allen film I would have to call “bad” as hard as that is for me to say. In this movie Woody Allen and Helen Hunt are hypnotized into stealing jewels. That’s the whole movie! Allen literally sleepwalks through the making of this movie. The fumbling gumshoe plot is lifeless, the gags are lame, the supporting characters exist to stand around and crank out bad punch lines, the parody elements fall flat, the chemistry between Allen and Helen Hunt is toxic (resembling “Song of Thin Man” more than the original “Thin Man”) and with lines like “You don’t have a kosher bone in your body” flying back and forth the couple’s inane banter is the poison that fully kills any chance the film had of being watchable.

Since I would hate to end on a bad note here’s closing clip of Woody Allen attempting to rob a bank.

Best of 2011–Top 60 Songs of the Year

The Best Song of the Year…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTcrX17joIE[/youtube]

2.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQsPex0OwMM[/youtube]

3.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKZHyVnsugg[/youtube]

4.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZYYRQjR40Q[/youtube]

5.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJQk0jDZx8o&ob=av2e[/youtube]

6.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVq2yMuAMVQ[/youtube]

7.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAihDAJX8Ow&ob=av3n[/youtube]

8.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Zsnw6yxH2o[/youtube]

9.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EK65y-A_QIA[/youtube]

10.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va0w5pxFkAM[/youtube]

Top 60 Songs of 2011
click on the song title to hear it

  1. The Birds by Elbow. Whenever I think back upon 2011 this song will always come up first.
  2. Nail In My Coffin – The Kills. Gets the blood boiling. This dirty rock howl stayed in my head all year long.
  3. Interstellar – Amplifier. Space prog at its best. A visionary song in which the only way to be truly free is to travel faster than light. Makes perfect sense to me. (note: the above three songs are pretty much tied for #1)
  4. Dystopia – YACHT. Leads the charge of great 80s inspired songs in 2011. Starts with “The Earth, the earth, the earth is on fire” and only goes up from there. Bonus hipster version of YACHT doing “Dystopia, Voodoo City and Shangra-La.”
  5. Still Life – The Horrors. A shining new wave-y song. Having scored my song of the year for “Sea Within a Sea” in 2009 The Horrors damn near do it again with “Still Life.” There’s no stopping them.
  6. Civilization – Justice. I listened to this underrated song at lest 50 times. Also, music video of the year!
  7. Curl Of The Burl – Mastodon.  One of the best metal song of all time.
  8. The Wolf – Fever Ray. Just like the Beck and Bat for Lashes song from last year featured on the Eclipse soundtrack, it’s best to forget the material this great song came from (Red Riding Hood sorry to say). Still, Fever Ray was robbed of an Oscar for best original song. You hear me Muppets!
  9. A Thousand Details – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. Best instrumental track of the year. It’s from Trent Reznor so, yeah, no surprise there. This intense song is from Girl with the Pearl Earing OST.
  10. The Words That Maketh Murder – PJ Harvey. “These, these, these are the words…”
  11. Lotus Flower – Radiohead. This was the lead single off the underrated King of Limbs for a good reason. Here’s Radiohead doing “Lotus Flower” live. Damn that’s good! 
  12. Index – Steven Wilson. I’m a sucker for strings.
  13. Strange News From Another Planet: Know Your honor / Rule by Being Just / The Ship Impossible / Strange Epiphany / Racing and Hunting – …Trail of Dead. Last year my #1 was a 25 minute Sufjan Stevens song. This year my favorite LOOOOOONG song of the year was only 16 minutes. What an experience though. I am officially offering an apology to this band for ranking their Tao of the Dead album so low. It really grew on me.
  14. Tiny Monsters – Puscifer.  NOT to be confused with “Little Monsters” starring Fred Savage and Howie Mandel.
  15. My Machines (ft. Gary Numan)” – Battles. One of many great collaborations on this album. Hellllo Numan.
  16. Who’s In Control – British Sea Power. Please listen to this song. The band does not get enough love.
  17. Immigrant Song” – Trent Reznor, Karen O & Atticus Ross. Better than the original song by Led Zeppelin. Also one of those rare songs where Karen O isn’t annoying.
  18. How Deep Is Your Love? The Rapture. Very deep.
  19. Neat Little RowsElbow. Elbow scores a second track on the top 20. A great song about death.
  20. Glass Jar – Gang Gang Dance. Just wait till it hits minute 6. This is the best Thievery Corporation song Thievery Corporation never recorded.
  21. Revolving Doors Gorillaz. Last year Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach and the song “Stylo” dominated my song/album lists. The fact that Damon Albarn made another list worthy song (and on his iPad!) is pretty cool. I could go for a new Gorillaz song every year.
  22. Fall (M83 vs. Big Black Delta Remix) – Daft Punk + M83. The best M83 song of the year was on Daft Punk’s Tron remix album rather than M83s.
  23. Cruel – St. Vincent. Played with passion, quirkiness a great production and an even better voice. Hey Adele, THIS is how it’s done.
  24. Stay Away – Charli XCX. The best song of the year from a new band/artist.
  25. Amor Fati – Washed Out. The (second) best song of the year from a new band/artist.
  26. Midnight City – M83. And of course I’m wouldn’t dare forget the second best M83 song. I’m amazed (and a bit sad for some reason) at how mainstream this song has become.
  27. Need You Now – Cut Copy. I didn’t love Cut Copy’s new album but this track is the band’s best ever.
  28. Shark Ridden Waters – Gruff Rhys. A very laid back beach song from the last person you’d expect to make a laid back beach song.
  29. Man Overboard – Puscifer. Does what Puscifer and Maynerd does best: dark, clever and full of energy. I love how Maynard James Keenan was able to make an entire song out of nautical sayings.
  30. The Wave – Amplifier. This is only the second Amplifier song on the list. Most songs from the best album of the year, The Octopus, should be on this list but I wanted to save room for other bands.
  31. Repetition – TV On The Radio. Repetition” by TV On The Radio.
  32. Holdin On To Black Metal – My Morning Jacket. My Morning Jacket has never, ever, made a good album. What’s so strange, then, is how many good songs they are able to put on bad albums.
  33. “Get Away” – Yuck. Sigh, this song makes me nostalgic for the 90s. Also, if you like dogs and naked girls be sure to check out another great Yuck song called “Rubber.” This album should have been higher on my list.
  34. I Can See Through You The Horrors. Another masterful Horrors track.
  35. Let England Shake PJ Harvey. Honestly, most songs from this album could make this list.
  36. I Walked Alone YACHT. More YACHT?!
  37. The Daily Mail Radiohead. What’s this?! A non-showy song off the new Radiohead album. Impossible. /sarcasm, that’s exactly why this album is so good. Oh, and it’s a b-side too.
  38. On’n’on Justice. I could have just as easily went with the intro song and/or “Ohio.” But not the song “Audio Video, Disco” which I find annoying.
  39. Last Leaf Tom Waits. Tom Waits manages to make the image of the last leaf on a tree as winter approaches into a moving poetic experience.
  40. Shake It Out Florence and The Machine. Guilty pleasure pop song. Also 1000x better than anything Adele farted out of her mouth.
  41. White Gold Ladytron. Ladytron’s new album Gravity the Seducer was a huge letdown. Tracks like this salvaged it from being a total misfire.
  42. Shangri-la YACHT. The 3rd YACHT song on the list. This song sums up the theme of the album. It’s pretty cool.
  43. Nowhere To Run To – You Love Her Coz She’s Dead. I can chew on this until the next Crystal Castles song comes out (which is hopefully soon). I’m including this to fufil my obligatory 8bit Nintendocore requirement for the year.
  44. Miss You The Rapture. Pretty much the same song as “How Deep Is Your Love?” Meaning: it’s great!
  45. Abducted – Cults
  46. In The Dark Places – PJ Harvey. Why don’t I just put the whole PJ album on this list?
  47. Queen Of Hearts – Fucked Up. As a whole Fucked Up’s album is monotonousness and at times grating. But… if you just listen to this song you will come away very impressed. That’s what they call a mixed complement.
  48. Build Me Up, Break Me Down by Dream Theater. Epic prog in a year with no shortage of that.
  49. 212 Azealia Banks. I don’t know what the hell is going on here but I love it.
  50. House Of Balloons – Glass Table Girls The Weeknd. An epic R&B/post-dubstep song.
  51. Remainder The Black Dog – Steven Wilson. A classic (modern) prog song made by the king of new prog.
  52. With Love – Elbow 
  53. Space Is Only Noise If You Can See Nicolas Jaar. Equal parts annoying and breathtaking. I’m listing it here because it’s more of the later. Err, I think.
  54. Love in the Dark YACHT. Yup, more YACHT. “I love you like a small time cop, I want to smash you face in with a rock.” I don’t know why this album didn’t take off.
  55. Green Valley Puscifer. This song helped me get over a great loss.
  56. Options – “Whatever’s On Your Mind” by Gomez. Underrated as ever. Even I forgot to rank their new album 🙁
  57. “Lonely Boy – The Black Keys. An overrated album from a very good band. Great song though.
  58. Exile Vilify – The National. Not only is a new National song awesome but a new National song that appears in Portal 2 is awesome beyond all comprehension. Also, check out the fan made video attached to the song.
  59. Living Is So Easy” – British Sea Power.
  60. Parallel Timeline with Alternate Outcome – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
  61. “Want You Gone”  GLaDOS. I forgive you too GLaDOS.

The 20 Worst Songs of 2011

  1. Lady Gaga  – “The Edge of Glory” –Fuck. You.
  2. LMFAO  – Party Rock Anthem. OMG STFU LMFAO. Yeah but is this song worse than “Sexy & I Know It?” That will be a debate for the ages.
  3. Nicki Minaj  – “Super Bass” Minaj’s boobs are the least fake thing about her. She is a bad copy of a bad copy (Gaga). The song “Fly” is just as bad.
  4. Adele  – “Someone Like You” –It was a mildly inoffensive mainstream pop song the first time I heard it. It was wrist cuttingly bad the 100th time. The last time some sang the lyrics “Someone Like You” this shittastically bad was King’s of Leon’s “Use Somebody.”
  5. Willow Smith – 21st Century Girl
  6. Heart2Heart – “Facebook Official,”  I didn’t even know this song/band existed until I googled “worst songs of 2011.” I’m sorry I did.
  7. EMA– “California” Ponderous!
  8. Bruno Mars – The Lazy Song. Inspirational pop from a coke head loser (with millions of dollars). Ooh look, he’s dancing with monkeys ahaha.
  9. Lady Gaga – “Judas” Really, every Gaga song from Born this way would make the top ten.
  10. Bob Iver – “Holocene
  11. Beyonce – Run The World (Girls)
  12. James Blake – Wilhelms Scream
  13. Destroyer – “Kaputt
  14. Lady Gaga –  “Born this Way”
  15. Lady Gaga – “Americano”
  16. Lady Gaga – “Marry the Night”
  17. Lady Gaga – “You and I”
  18. Lady Gaga – “Hair”
  19. Lady Gaga – “Scheiße”
  20. Lady Gaga – “Heavy Metal Lover”

Other

Best Video Game Song: Turret Wife Serenade.” Portal 2. Perhaps the best video game score ever.
Best Original Movie Song: “The Wolf” by Fever Ray.
Best Music Video: Justice/Civilization. Also “Shark Ridden Waters” by Gruff Rhys (Gruff with a beard getting fucked with by a hot chick). And
Best Instrumental: A Thousand Details by Trent Reznor
Best Bad Song:Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5.
Most Appearances on this year’s top 60: Yacht (4), PJ Harvey (3)

Oscar Predictions

Final Oscar Predictions Zzzzzzzz

  • Picture: The Artist (should: Midnight In Paris)
  • Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist (should: Terrence Malick)
  • Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist (should: Oldman and Clooney)
  • Actress: Meryl Street, Iron Lady (Viola has better odds? Should: Rooney Mara)
  • S. Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners (Should: Plummer!)
  • S. Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help (should: McCarthy)
  • Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris (should Midnight)
  • Adapted Screenplay: Payne, The Descendants (Should: Descendants)
  • Documentary: Pina (Should Pena) Winner: Undefeated (what?!)
  • Animated: Rango (Should: Rango)
  • Cinematography: Kaminski, War Horse (Should: Tree of Life) Winner: Hugo
  • Editing: The Artist (Should: Dragon Tattoo) Winner: Tattoo (cool!)
  • Music: The Artist (Should: Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy)
  • Song: Man or Muppet (Should: Muppet)
  • Makeup: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Should: Potter) Winner: Iron Lady
  • Art Direction: Hugo (Should: Hugo)
  • Costumes: The Artist (Should: Hugo)
  • Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Should: Apes) Winner: Hugo
  • Sound Mixing: Hugo (Should: Hugo)
  • Sound Editing: Hugo (Should: Drive)
  • Foreign Language: A Separation (Should: Separation)
  • Live Action Short: Tuba Atlantic Winner The Shore
  • Animated Short: Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
  • Documentary Short: Tsunami

Results (winners in red… obviously): Woah, I didn’t bomb it. This is the first year I’ve gone 8 for 8 in the main category. I was a habitual 7/8er. Overall I got 17 out of 24.

This is the first year in recent memory where I have only a passing interest in the Oscars. Are Oscars to blame for picking the wrong movies or is it simply the paucity of good to great movies they had to chose from? As flawed as the voting process is I’m thinking its the later. My predictions this year are not really based on much beyond intuition because I haven’t cared enough to follow the precursors or OPPs (other peoples predictions). My final-FINAL predictions go up this Saturday and, yes, I fully expect to bomb this year so I might as well go out on a limb.

All nominees ranked by preference. 

Best Picture

  • “Midnight in Paris” (Grade: A)
  • “The Descendants” (Grade: A-)
  • “The Tree of Life” (Grade: A-)
  • “Hugo” (Grade: A-)
  • “Moneyball” (Grade: B)
  • “The Artist” (Grade: C+/B-)
  • “The Help” (Grade: C-)
  • “War Horse” (Grade: D+)
  • “Extremely Lame & Incredibly Bad” (Grade: D-/F)

What Will Win: The Artist will most likely win. I say that grudgingly. The Artist is a well crafted throwback to be sure (I’d rate it a C+/B-) and I appreciate that it does not flaunt its post-modernism. The retro gimmick works BUT… if this movie were made in the 20s nobody would care about it. Even as modern silent films go Guy Madden (Brand Upon the Brain) is a true master of pomo silent cinema while Michel Hazanavicius is more of a tourist. The film is not flawed so much as it’s not anything particularly special beyond being a fun little movie. It’s got “momentum” (I hate that term) and will win based on that because people who vote for the Academy Awards (that is when they don’t just give it to their kids/spouses/friends to vote for them) seem to care more about picking the film that is most arbitrarily popular at this exact moment rather than one that will endure or one they liked because that would require insight and some sort of critical evaluation. If you look at the state of the movie industry today you will see that that those traits are absent and have been for a while. This sheep mentality to voting for the trendy films is how titles like Slumdog Millionaire or A Beautiful Mind win and are promptly relegated to being forgotten. Like that film, The Artist will not be remembered years from now because, well, there’s not much to grab on to here. The story of an actor being rendered obsolete has been done before, and better (All About Eve, Singing in the Rain, etc.), and the style is of course entirely cribbed. The other candidate, though a long shot, is The Desdendants and that is a much better and more rounded experience. A real movie in other words. But who am I kidding those rarely win the top prize.

What Should Win: One upside to this year’s nominees is that more than half of them are actually good. The other half don’t belong here. Midnight in Paris, Descendants, Hugo and Tree of Life are four within a very small handful of films I would dare to call good in 2011.  If I could only vote for one title it would be Woody Allen’s Midnight. I would add that Moneyball would have been included in that “good” list if not for the few gag inducing scenes involving Pitt’s character’s singing daughter who, in a moment of startling pandering and out-of-place-ness, auditions for the audience as if she’s trying out for America’s Got Talent. Look, if I wanted to hear little kids singing I would go to… nowhere actually.

What Should Have Been Nominated: Too many to count. I love that the Academy managed to nominated only 9 films. I’m all for fewer films being included in the best picture category (five was perfect except for the fact that the Academy never managed to nominate the right films) but the fact is that a year hasn’t gone by where a larger pool was even remotely necessary–even if it was the Academy would probably screw it up by throwing in a couple Middle American dung nuggets a la The Blind Side. Deplorable 2011 titles like War Horse, The Help and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (the worst best picture nominee since Crash) somehow made the “elite” cut of prestigious Best Picture nominees which is an honor that is lessened with each passing year due to overcrowdedness and poor selections. What really sticks in my craw is that rather than go for a full 10 by selecting a thoughtful dark horse like, say, A Separation, or something brilliant like Drive or something unique like The Skin I Live In the voters would rater nominate nothing. Maddening. Wake me up when this is all over.

Directing

  • “The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick
  • “Hugo” Martin Scorsese
  • “Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen
  • “The Descendants” Alexander Payne
  • “The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius

Will: “The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius is the “best” “director” of the year. And by best I mean he placed a stationary camera in front of a shallow film with one dimensional characters. Genus! Blah. Hazanavicius winning the DGA pretty much ends any speculation. Will he have a prosperous directing career after this breakout film? My guess is that he’ll get a few high profile films that will bomb then go back to making bad French spy comedies. Au revoir!

Should:  Malick. No contest. He will lose to a something that could have been directed by a freshman film student and no I’m not talking about the time he lost to Spielberg. Awesome!

Robbed: The directors of Drive (Riffin), Hanna (Wright), The Skin I Live In (Almodóvar) and Melencholia (Trier) all really have legitimate beef here. As much as I like The Descendents I don’t think Payne has ever been a good enough director to warrent a Best Director nom let alone two (a great writer, sure) and the Artist was directed on autopilot so those two shouldn’t be here. But on the miserable years when Steven Daldry makes bad films and gets them nominated for no apparent reason (The Hours?! Billy Elliot?! The Reader!!!!!!?????) I’m just grateful he missed out for the first time with his feel-good (and by feel good I mean brain-dead) 9-11 sob fest.

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
  • George Clooney in “The Descendants”
  • Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”
  • Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
  • Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”

Will: Jean Dujardin in “The Artist.” I find it amusing that all the actors in The Artist were upstaged by a dog. The good news is that after this year we will never have to try to remember or pronounce his name again. To his credit he was one of the few actors in the film that actually looked like he belonged in a silent film except the filmmakers had to ruin that by giving him a speaking line at the end where this American character’s really thick non-American accent defied all logic and reason and took me out of the picture. Clooney has the best shot at upsetting but he doesn’t have “momentum” for some reason.

Should: Gary Oldman is the best actor nominated. No surprise considering he might be the best actor living. I’m thrilled that he received his first trip to the Oscars after being slighted far too many times in the past (Dracula, Sid and Nancy, The Contender, The Professional, Dark Knight etc.). That being said I was also floored by both Clooney and Pitt’s respective performances. Less so with Dujardin and Belcher (haha).

Robbed: Lots. How about Steve Coogan (The Trip), Ryan Gosling (Drive), Antonio Banderis (The Skin I Live In) and Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris giving his best performance since Minus Man. Dujardin and Bichir took the spots of some worthy actors. I would also like to add that for the second year in a row Ewan McGregor turned in Oscar caliber performances with Beginners this year and Ghost Writer last that was overlooked by literally everyone in the moviegoing community. Boo. Obi-Wan gets no respect.

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
  • Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”
  • Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
  • Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Viola Davis in “The Help”

Will: Despite not winning the SAG I’m still going with Streep. I love me some Streep but it would be sad to see her win for a lesser film. I guess that could have also applied to the awful Julia and Julia. She should have won for Doubt. Still, I will be clapping for Streep when she gets her third Oscar. She is one of the few living actors for whom I would say three career Oscars is not enough.

Should: Rooney Mara acts the shit out of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” She gave the best performance of the bunch. It’s not even close in fact. I was a huge doubter that Mara would be good in Dragon Tattoo. I don’t feel bad about being wrong because the quality and intensity in performance quite literally came out of nowhere. She turned in embarrassing performances in Social Network and Nightmara on Elm Street (haha see what I did there!).

Robbed: No Elena Anaya (The Skin I Live In) means that this category is incomplete. Same goes for Kira Knightley. After Pride and Predjuice, Atonement, Never Let Me Go and A Dangerous Method I have no idea where her new found talent came from–acting lessons?

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
  • Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
  • Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
  • Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
  • Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Will: Cancer + gay = Oscar. That’s just science. What’s great about Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”? Everything. This is one of the few categories in the entire 2012 Oscar list where the frontrunner deserves (according to me) to win. To call this a make-up Oscar would not do justice to just how amazing this performance is. Yes, the great Plummer is due to win an Oscar (where were they when he was in The Insider or, hell, Sound of Music almost 40 years ago) but a win here will have nothing to do with history and everything to do with quality. Again, lets give McGregor a little bit of credit again for helping to elevating Plummer’s performance.

Should: Honestly I would love to see Branagh win an Oscar. Long overdue. Nolte would also be fun to see get a win despite the fact that he overacted up a storm in Warrior (his Captain Ahab audio book tantrum was flat out painful to watch!) but, come on, it’s Nick Nolte we’re talking about! But this categorize basically has only one true standout and it’s Plummer. He will win, he should win; the Oscars will get only one acting category right.

Robbed: Two names are glaringly absent. Both should have been here but was screwed over by the usually overrated Max von Sydow’s unexpected and undeserving nomination. And, though I hate to say it, Jonah Hill was adequate at best in Moneyball. The first snub is Albert Brooks who was so good in Drive. I was hoping this small but memorable SAG nominated performance would be nominated like when William Hurt got singled out for his brilliantly odd performance in A History of Violence. Well he got screwed (“You don’t like me, you really don’t like me” he Tweeted). Speaking of getting screwed: BEN KINGSLEY. He was so good in Hugo that I’m amazed everyone wasn’t talking about him this year. I sure was. It’s safe to say people in general (a) take him granted and/or (b) have not forgiven him for being in too many bad movies year after year. Those two contradict each other. Moving on…

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
  • Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
  • Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
  • Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

Will: Octavia Spencer in “The Help” Ugh. Cool name aside, I still haven’t forgiven Octavia for being in Air Force One (for Oldman, however, I was willing to look the other way). Her Help co-star Chastain should have been nominated for Take Shelter instead. Does Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist” have a shot at this too? I hope not. She was not convincing as a silent movie character at all. Too modern. And too hot. Oddly enough Amanda Seyfried looked like a better silent movie actress in the very bad movie In Time. Only problem was that she had to talk in that movie and we all know what happens when Amanda has to read dialogue… we get, well, In Time and Red Riding Hood. Which is why she might not have sucked so bad in dialogue free The Artist.

Should: Boring category. Really, I don’t care who wins here. You could walk out on Hollywood Blvd and find a more capable street performer. Not one nominee generates any real feeling one way or another. McCarthy, though ever so slightly overrated in Bridesmaids (sorry but John Hamm actually stole the movie from all those ladies save for Wiig’s roomates), was funny at least half the time. Being that eliciting laughter qualifies as an emotion I would have to vote for her.  Congratulations. Little known fact (for obviously reasons): I first became a fan of McCarthy when she had a very small part in the great movie Go and I’m glad.

Robbed: Cary Mulligan not only gave a better performance in Drive than all of the above nominees but this is her first best film performance ever. Second only to her role in the classic Doctor Who (TV) episode “Blink.”

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • “The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
  • “Hugo” Screenplay by John Logan
  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan
  • “Moneyball” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin
  • “The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon

Will: The Descendants seems like a sure thing. Oscar #2 for Payne! I’m glad it won the WGA. I’m also glad The Help wasn’t nominated here. The fact that it wasn’t in this category of all things leads me to believe, or at least hope, that it might not win many this year.

Should: Go Payne! Really though it’s a triple tossup for me between Descendants, Tailor and Hugo. I’ll give the edge to Descendants just because it would be cool to see the dean from Community make his way up to the podium and declare his love for Jeff Winger while wearing an unbelievably gay, er, I mean FABULOUS! outfit.

Robbed: Ahem, Drive.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • “Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen
  • “A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhadi
  • “Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor
  • “Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
  • “The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius

Will: The Artist was nominated for screenplay. Screenplay! What? How? WHAT?! Noooo! I will slap a bitch who says The Artist should an award for its screenplay. Yes, I know there’s more to a movie’s script than just dialogue but, come on, best SCREENPLAY for pantomiming in a story that was not original to begin with?! This reminds me of the time Joss Whedon got nominated for the wordless (and most overrated of all time–I said it!) Buffy episode “Hush.” Thankfully, I don’t think it will win the Oscar for writing this year. My hunch is that Globe and WGA winner Allen will get his third writing Oscar…

Should: …and that’s great. Woody Allen wrote the best film of this bunch. Midnight is a wonderful/funny/thoughtful fantasy story and a win for Allen would be a great tribute to a filmmaker and storyteller that continues to release great films. Really, I can’t say enough good things about that magical film or Woody for that matter.

Robbed: Beginners and Certified Copy are two that come to mind. And of course The Skin I Live In. And Take Shelter. And Win Win. Lots of good stories missed out in the picture and writing category. To be fair I haven’t seen Margin Call yet. It looks great and I’m glad that smaller titles like that and A Separation got some attention in this category because it sure as hell wasn’t going to happen in the uber safe and boring Best Picture category.

Animated Feature Film

  • “Rango” Gore Verbinski
  • “A Cat in Paris” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
  • “Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
  • “Kung Fu Panda 2” Jennifer Yuh Nelson
  • “Puss in Boots” Chris Miller

Will: Rango. The best animated film of the year (by faaaaaaaaaaaaaar) and that rarest of things: a Johnny Depp movie that is not total crap. This is a strange category this year. Half the films nobody has heard of, one film is unmitigated crap (Panda) and the other looks like unmitigated crap (Puss). Rango is the only logical choice. If it doesn’t win I will shit myself with anger.

Should: Rango. The film is smart, beautiful, visually masterful and funny. If you ever wondered what a Coen Brother animated film might looks like this is as close as we’re probably going to get to seeing one. I’m a huge, unapologetic Gore Verbinski fan. He’s an auteur no matter what anyone says. Yes, even on Mouse Hunt and The Mexican. Even when he makes really bad movies like Pirates of the Caribbean 1 and 2. I’m very glad he will (probably?) get an Oscar. If so he will join Hayo Miyazaki and George Miller as cool directors who have earned an Oscar in this relatively new category. I just fear the day when Tim Burton wins for crapping out some animated monstrosity.

Robbed: I haven’t seen Tintin and while I’m sure I’ll hate it (it’s Spielberg after all) I’m shocked and for some reason a bit sad it wasn’t nominated. I’d be willing to bet my new Mini Cooper that Tintin is the better 2011 Spielberg movie because War Horse sure as hell isn’t cutting it.

Documentary (Feature)

  • “Pina” Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
  • “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
  • “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
  • “Undefeated” TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas
  • “Hell and Back Again” Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner

Will: Pina. I will be happy to see Wenders finally get an Oscar. He was sooooo close when he made Buena Vista Social Club; I still don’t know how he lost that one.

Should: Pina is a very good film. I would hesuitate to call it a full fledged documentary however since it’s more of a film that presents dance performances. If tha tmakes it a documentary than so was Black Swan.

Robbed: This year’s documentary nominees remind me of the 80s and 90s where obscure films that nobody will ever see get nominated while good docs miss out. Sorry, I’m just bitter Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams wasn’t nominated. Note: my dislike of the documentary genre continues, thus bringing me one step closer to fulfilling my sad and empty quest to escape form reality entirely. I make one or two exceptions per year and Herzog is always one of them (though I couldn’t bring myself to watch his other doc–something about death row that looks thoroughly depressing even for Herzog).

Foreign Language Film

  • “A Separation” Iran
  • “Bullhead” Belgium
  • “Footnote” Israel
  • “In Darkness” Poland
  • “Monsieur Lazhar” Canada

Will: A Separation.

Should: Dogtooth! Oh, that was last year. Obviously A Separation and not just because it’s the only foreign film on this list that I saw. Iran should stick to making movies because that’s the only thing they not spectacular at fucking up.

Robbed: THE SKIN I LIVE IN. Yes, I’m busting out all caps for that. How did this brilliant thriller not make the cut? It’s the best foreign film of the year. Screw this!

Cinematography

  • “The Tree of Life” Emmanuel Lubezki
  • “Hugo” Robert Richardson
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Jeff Cronenweth
  • “War Horse” Janusz Kaminski
  • “The Artist” Guillaume Schiffman

Will: The Artist is black and white and looks like Greg Tolan (Citizen Kane) shot it. Usually that means a film is a lock to win in this category even though, in The Artist’s case, the camera doesn’t move! Never mind. Tree of Life and War Horse might also win. The later is a bad movie, yes, but a great looking bad movie. Kaminski is perhaps the best living cinematographer. He’s too talented to be stuck working with Spielberg on every one of his films but, whatever, he’s going to win and that’s fine with me. Really, though, this category seems relatively open to upsets. Seeing as how Inception randomly won last year (the only award that film SHOULD have won at that) I’m hoping for another surprise.

Should: Tree of Life. Beautiful, elegant and truly original. The film’s cinematography helped make it all those things. Malick might have help the movie bit to I suppose 🙂

Robbed: Do I even need to say it… okay then, it starts with a “d” and ends with a “rive.”

Art Direction

  • “Hugo” Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
  • “War Horse” Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
  • “Midnight in Paris” Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
  • “The Artist” Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould

Will: Hugo seems like a lock. Sadly, this category might be its only win. This film contains Scorsese’s second best use of sets. The other is Gangs of New York (bad film in my opinion but a great looking bad film at least) which I still shudder to recall lost to Chicago.

Should: Tough call between Hugo and Potter. As much as I adored seeing the ruined and smouldering Hogwarts finally come to life I have to give the edge here to Hugo because of how creative its design is. Such a memorable film.

Robbed: Hanna.

Editing

  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
  • “Hugo” Thelma Schoonmaker
  • “Moneyball” Christopher Tellefsen
  • “The Descendants” Kevin Tent
  • “The Artist” Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius

Will: I have no idea. The Artist I guess but only because I’m guessing people are just going to give it as many Oscars as possible. Editing in The Artist is very by-the-numbers, no?

Should: Tattoo and Hugo. Both have a shot thankfully. Great editing. I’m disqualifying Schoonmaker only because she’s won like a million editing awards.

Robbed: Drive (again). Also Contagion. And how could this category not contain Tree of Life. It’s absence does not compute. Hanna is another worthy snubbee. Also, The Trip did an amazing job of condensing the series into a wonderful movie and should have been nominated.

Visual Effects

  • “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
  • “Hugo” Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier
  • “Real Steel” Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg

Will: Potter or Apes. Take your Pick. Apes it is.

Should: I loved the final Potter and it’s effects. I love Hugo and it’s effects. I love Apes and its effects. All superlative in different ways. If I had to pick I would go with Apes because the special effects are brilliantly used to help tell this film’s emotional story. If the award was for best 3D movie then Hugo would win, it’s the best 3D movie ever made.

Robbed: Tree of Life really should have been recognized here. It’s that rare arthouse films where visual effects are used to make a film more artful. That last happened, when, Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey? For that reason alone it should be celebrated. Now I’m going to contradict myself and say that Green Lantern should also have been nominated. I’m 100% serious, the effects are perfectly suited for the type of film GL is. And, hey, where’s X-Men First Class? For Magneto’s death quarter scene alone it should be nominated. That all of these films were not nominated while Real Steel was makes me very angry.

Music (Original Score)

  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Alberto Iglesias
  • “Hugo” Howard Shore
  • “The Artist” Ludovic Bource
  • “War Horse” John Williams
  • “The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams

Will: Artist. Whatever. I usually complain when John Williams (the most overrated composer of all time) gets nominated once. With two nominations I’m utterly speachless. At least he won’t win. The Artist seems like the safest bet. This is one and only category where the a win for Artist makes sense…

Should: …that being said it’s not the best nomianted score. I’m equally fond of Shore’s Hugo score and Iglesias’s Tinker tinkerings. If I had to pick just one it would be the later.

Robbed: Trent Reznor, Trent Reznor, Trent Reznor. Also: OMG, Alexander Desplat wasn’t nominated this year.

Music (Original Song)

  • “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
  • “Real in Rio” from “Rio” Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Will: Wow, what a pathetic category. Just two nominees. And random ones at that. This category never made much sense to me because the songs are usually not really part of the movie. In Muppets it was though so it gets points for that. Muppets will win because Muppets isn’t a horrible unwatchable annoying mess like Rio. Plus, it’s that rare original movie song that’s as silly as it is good.

Should:  Muppets. Obviousley.

Robbed: First of all I would like to personally thank the Academy for once again not nominating Madonna in this category. The best original movie song that I came across is Fever Ray’s aptly titled “The Wolf” from Red Riding Hood. It’s by far the only good thing about that awful mess of a movie. I love Fever Ray. I also love Trent Reznor’s “Immagrent Song” from Dragon Tattoo but, despite outdoing Zepplin, it’s not “original.”

Costume Design

  • “Hugo” Sandy Powell
  • “Anonymous” Lisy Christl
  • “Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor
  • “The Artist” Mark Bridges
  • “W.E.” Arianne Phillips

Will: I have no idea. Hugo, Artist and Anoymous seem to have a shot.

Should: I refuse to give props to period movies. I’m so sick of seeing them win. Sure they look good but usually very little imagination goes into them whereas modern costumes are wholly original.  That being said the less period-y movie here is Hugo so that gets my imaginary vote.

Robbed: Drive. Seriously, that was a cool jacket. I want one!

The Whatever Categories…

Makeup

  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
  • “The Iron Lady” Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
  • “Albert Nobbs” Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle

Will: Who cares.
Should: Not J Edgar. Oh, it wasn’t nominated. Good! Really, who cares.
Robbed: Nobody–it’s makeup. How about Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star?

Sound Editing

  • “Drive” Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Ren Klyce
  • “Hugo” Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
  • “War Horse” Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

Will: Hugo or War Horse. Hugo it is.
Should: Drive. Not because the sound editing is necessarly better than it’s fellow nominees but because, well, it’s Drive. How random is it that this is the film’s only nomination? The Academy managed to single out the one thing people didn’t talk about when the film was over. Well, that and the
Robbed: Tree of Life.

Sound Mixing

  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
  • “Hugo” Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
  • “Moneyball” Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
  • “War Horse” Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Will: Again, I have no idea. Hugo?
Should: Dragon Tattoo for the sound of Mara’s beautiful ass being spanked.
Robbed: Tree of Life.

Short Film (Animated)

  • “Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon
  • “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
  • “La Luna” Enrico Casarosa
  • “A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
  • “Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Will: I’ll get back to you on that.
Robbed: Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement” Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
  • “God Is the Bigger Elvis” Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
  • “Incident in New Baghdad”James Spione
  • “Saving Face” Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  • “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Will: Uh, yeah, dunno. Saving this pick for the last minute.
Robbed: Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

Short Film (Live Action)

  • “Pentecost” Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
  • “Raju” Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
  • “The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George
  • “Time Freak” Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
  • “Tuba Atlantic” Hallvar Witzø

Will: Huh?
Robbed: Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

Best Albums of 2011

Best of 2011: Music


Album of the Year: Amplifier
The Octopus

     How underrated is Amplifier’s The Octopus? This album is not even on Metacritic. Rock music is truly dying but The Octopus didn’t get that memo. This uncompromising self-release from a little known Manchester trio (Sel Balamir, Neil Mahoney, and Matt Brobin) fulfilled my prog/alt-rock fix with out-of-this-world bombastic sci-fi imagery and as much intensity as Muse’s tangentially similar space-rock/prog opus Black Holes and Revelations album (also my #1 the year it came out). This groundbreaking Octopus record is full of the kind of unabashedly adventurous music not heard since the 1970s when albums actually had concepts and, for that matter, when music actually had albums.A sprawling if muddled narrative through line explores an Asimovian notion of traveling the universe to escape one form of tyranny (religion, corporate, government etc.) only to encounter another. It seems that humanity is doomed to encounter the same story as the eponymous Cthulhu-like Octopus from the cover art reaches out and threatens to destroy everything it touches. Woah. Songs like “Interglacial Spell,” “Fall of the Empire,” “Trading Dark Matter On The Stock Exchange” help build this über nerdy and often psychedelic concept into something that is worthy (and surpasses) many sci-fi movies and books of recent years. Any album that has an un-ironically song titled “Planet of Insects” on it needs to be given a high five. The album’s centerpiece is “Interstellar,” an otherworldly jam that Amplifier literally kicks it into “overdrive” by taking the listener on a trip to a distant sun “faster than a laser beam” (cue Amplifer’s laser beam sound drop) to explore far away galaxies. This sublime and, again, non-ironic 10+ minute prog fueled track crescendos with the revelatory notion that traveling faster than light is the only way to be “truly free.”

While this not a conventional pick for album of the year it’s been a long time since an album so thoroughly invaded my listening hours so I got to give credit where it’s due. Spanning two discs (what are those?) and an impossible to market sound/concept, The Octopus is in instant classic. This is a hopeful indication that music’s future has the potential to be, to borrow that Amplifier lyric, truly free when more artists realize that the narrow minded record industry is hurting the music scene more than it’s helping it at this curious stage in its evolution.


2. Radiohead
King of Limbs + King of Limbs From the Basement

Loving this album takes work and dedication. One must earn it’s respect before it whispers its secrets to you. Just another Radiohead album in other words. I was just as underwhelmed by Limbs as so many other fans were but the album’s beguilingly uneventful melodies, hypnotic rhythms and sleepy lyrics/vocals lingered far longer then I expected after my first listen. I called it a work of lazy brilliance and I would still call it that today except when I say it now I mean it as a compliment. While most are ranking Limbs just above Pablo Honey as the worst Radiohead album to date, I would argue that this is in fact Radiohead’s best album since their similarly impenetrable Amnesiac. Like that A+ album, soon after my lethargic reaction I found myself re-listening to it almost daily (alongside a superlative live version of Limbs featuring two new tracks  “The Daily Mail” and “Staircase” and a decent enough remix album called TKOL RMX 1234567) without known why. Now that the year has ended I still don’t have very good grip on the album because my approach differs from one listen to the next. There are no shortcuts to Limbs. The album’s ability to grow and evolve over time will (hopefully) earn it more fans in the years to come.

3. Puscifer
Conditions of my Parole

From looking at the cover art you would think this album was a goof. Wigs, fakes moustaches and prison outfits. Is Maynard James Keenan doing another one of his Mr. Show type skits in album form? Far from it. Crazy but fun live shows aside, Puscifer’s two album releases have been very sober (Tool pun intended).  It’s hard to convey the level of success this album reaches. It took me a few listens to orient myself to the reality that this is, in fact, a very serous and even soulful album. Elements of industrial, alt-rock and even country wash over you as the mellifluous Maynard croons and groans into the abyss of a digital oblivion. This album stands as Maynard’s most mature and deeply felt effort to date. No “Cuntry Boners” here. While low key, this is an accomplished work that has the potential to appeal to fans of Tool, A Perfect Circle and those who don’t like either. That it ranks with the best of Maynard’s previous efforts is no small feat.


4. The Horrors
Skying

How did this album not make it on more best of lists?! I don’t want to jinx the band but we really could be looking at the moder version of The Clash. Their last album snagged my song of the year (“Sea Within a Sea”) and a spot in my top five. I was blindsided by The Horrors’s Primary Colours album in 2008. Many were along with me (NME for one). And many, like me, figured The Horrors would never recover from such unexpected burst of brilliance (a.k.a. Franz Ferdinand Syndrome). Well, the band blindsided me again on Skying.I should stop being surprised when The Horrors makes a great album. It shall now be assumed that they’re going to make something this outrageously good. In an interesting twist, this new album is a departure from last. Instead of playing it safe and recapturing the gothic-punk magic of Colours, The Horrors decided to evolve into a sound that’s less Horrors and more in tune with British alt-rock bands like Doves and British Sea Power as well as a number of older influences (some shoegaze). Skying is not only better than anything from those two (great) bands have but the best thing The Horrors has ever produced. More to come.


5. PJ Harvey
Let England Shake

I was a huge fan of Harvey’s last album (the dreamy White Chalk) because it was such a wonderfully realized departure from her usual alt/indie rock brilliance. I am a bigger fan of this album however because it is such a strong example of what Harvey does best. Lively rock with a real sense of spirit guiding it along. Let England Shake is (another) rousing achievement for Harvey who has no shortage of those. It is required listening for any Anglophile and a perfect example of England’s sad and solitary duty of keeping rock music alive (7 out of my top 10 albums are from UK artists!). Lyrically, it’s the smartest album released all year as well as the most spiritually enriching. It goes beyond genres to reach the very soul of a nation. And the listener.


6. The Kills
Blood Pressures

The Kills took matters to a new level (and genre) with Blood Pressures, transitioning from what was once a decent enough punk band that, on the album Midnight Boom, achieved a sloppy form greatness almost by accident. Oddly enough I think Alison Mosshart’s stint with the abominable Jack White garage blues band The Dead Weather (let us never utter than band’s name again) somehow rubbed off on The Kills, preserving the best elements (what little there were) from Dead Weather (ack!) while shit-canning the bloated country/rock indulgences. If you want to be blown away by how good The Kills have become then listen to the track “Nail In My Coffin” off Blood Pressures. Or you could listen to just about any song here. Really, it’s that good. Blood Pressures has a smoky, bluesy sound that fits beautifully with the band’s usual guttural rock howls. The Kills nailed this album so hard that they even managed to outdo The Black Keys’s El Camino in 2011.


7. Steven Wilson
Grace for Drowning

The criminally underrated Steven Wilson’s Insurgentes solo album was a cool little side project that showed off Wilson’s penchant for rocking by his lonesome. This album is a full fledged experience good enough to be put in the same company as his seminal modern prog band Porcupine Tree. The stream of consciousness songs, spread over two discs, range in influence from Mars Volta’s jazzy dissonance, Depeche Mode’s industrial synths, movie soundtracks and too many classic prog albums to count (Yes, Floyd, early Genesis etc.). A song like “Track One” begins with a Beatles-esq sound and follows that up with a few minutes of Nine Inch Nails gloom only to end with a fluffy guitar riff. This organized chaos is why this album is such a big deal. Much as the classic progressive movement mixed and matched sounds in the 70s, Steven Wilson samples form that period and goes one step beyond by adding a modern touch of alt-rock, electronic and metal. It is a truly modern progressive masterpiece; completely original in its ambitious wide-screen soundscapes. There’s even a 20+ minute track! Indulgent, yes, but that’s the quiddity of this genre. When such a skilled musician is indulging in his craft at this high a level it’s best to shut up and just take in the experience.


8. Elbow
Build a Rocket Boys!

Guy Garvey is like a modern rock version of Frank Sinatra except way cooler and actually a talented.  Elbow, the most grown-up and downright classy alternative rock band around, has crafted their most grown up album. The band’s shimmering Build a Rocket Boys may not be as visionary as their Mercury Prize winning Seldom Seen Kid (or its equally wonderful live counterpart) but it’s actually better in a lot of ways. For one, as with The Kills and many other bands on the list this year, it’s Elbow’s most consistent effort. One soulful song smoothly shifts into another, starting off low key and swelling into a lush anthem of melancholy redemption. I listened to the proggy song “Birds” more times than I can count (it’s the perfect song to walk dogs to) and consider it in the running for song of the year. Another potential best-of for Elbow, “Neat Little Rows,” manages to make the gloomy prospect death beautiful in a strange way. Elbow is the perfect band for anyone raised on 90s music and wants to listen to something dignified but not boring for a change.

9. Yacht
Shangri-La

So many things from this band and for that matter this album should annoy me. Vegan hipster hippies Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans cawing endlessly about extremely shallow new-age spiritual matters and pretty much nothing else. Sample lyric sound like this “Don’t you worry about god up above, we’re going to live life in… LOVE” or this “If your enemies cause you cancer then we’ll find a cure for you and bring it to the club, yeah bring it to the club!” There’s also song about “Paradise engineering” or (some such shit) that goes “If there is a hell/ that’s where I belong/for breaking all these rules/and singing all these songs.” Fuck off, posers! Except… don’t. Yacht pulls it off. And I can understand why; this album would annoying if it wasn’t so groovy. Perhaps it’s the playful sense of fun the duo brings to each song that keeps it alive and popping for every ecstatic second of its 44 minute running time. Laughable lyrics and messages aside, there’s hardly a misfire in the whole album. With its rousing anthem “the earth, the earth, the earth is on fire,” Dystopia is one of the all-time best 80s songs not released in the 80s. Yacht rocks every track as if it’s the last thing they’ll ever do before the metaphorical “end” they so love to muse over before invariably twisting that subject to focus on revolutions and new beginnings. Shangri-La is one of the more successful 80s electronic throwbacks ever, full of catchy hooks and a vocal approach by Evans that is so bad it’s downright charming. She makes Karen O look like a seasoned Opera singer. Unlike O’s Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, Yacht seems to be incapable of making a bad album.

10. Mastodon
The Hunter

Mastodon makes a super conventional rock album yet somehow figured out how to rock just as hard within the usually damning confines of mainstream metal. The album may not be as ambitious as the brilliant Crack the Sky (or Leviathan or Blood Mountain etc.) but it’s a wonderfully managed effort that will hopefully gain this esteemed metal band some much needed new fans who could very well be eased into the metal scene thanks to The Hunter. Take a song like “Curl of the Burl” for instance. First off, it’s brilliant. Second, it’s fucking brilliant. Third, I have no idea what a curl is or, for that matter, a burl, but I love them all the same and have become quite fond of belting out “it’s just the curl of the burl, that’s just the way of the woooooooorld!” when nobody except my Pug is around. It’s the band’s best song to date despite being the kind of track the woolly metal thrashers would not have been able to pull of on past albums that were defined more by epic metal ruminations than straight forward iPod friendly tunes. If it sounds like I’m dancing (or moshing) around the fact that the band has sold out, I am, but so what, this is the kind of “selling out” that is good because it maintains a high level integrity while offering something more accessible and polished to fans and non-fans of this neglected genre. If rock is dead then metal is REALLY dead so this is a good thing. Metalica could learn a thing or two (or five thousand) from Mastodon’s latest album.


11. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo Soundtrack
I was enthralled by Reznor and Ross’s Social Network soundtrack. It showed a side of the Nine Inch Nails frontman that I had not seen; an album that is perfectly contained with a fascinating sense of experimentation with 8-bit sounds. It is one of the most revolutionary music scores of all time, proving that all soundtracks don’t have to sound like John Williams farted them out of his crusty tuba. Just a year later and Reznor (along with longtime producer Ross) did it again! Threefold! This epic album surprises but not in the same ways Social Network did. Like the Social Network soundtrack this soundtrack is better than the movie it’s based on. After getting into the murderin’ mood with a simmering cover of Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song” that manages the (easy) feat of being better than anything the overrated Zepplin has ever done (not counting Tool’s version of “No Quarter”), the album wallops you with an endless stream of brooding ambient textures. Deeply resonating  guitar riffs get the blood flowing on tracks like “A Thousand Details” while the ambient sounds textures chill it at the same time. Most surprising is the album’s length: 3 HOURS. As Trent Reznor instrumentals go that’s is positively Ghost-sized. The album’s length is perhaps excessive but I appreciate the extent to which Reznor is able to immerse the listener in David Fincher’s dark film world. It’s the kind of album where you press play and loose track of time only to wake up naked in the snow with a bloody knife in one hand and a cat’s head in another. Uh…

12. M83
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Not M83’s best album (more on par with Saturdays = Youth than Dead Cities) but despite a number of lulls and cheesy moments (the spoken word stuff has always been too emo), the album maintains the standards I expect from this dependable electronic band. Not only is there lots of gorgeous shoegazing but the 80s vibe (a trend in 2011) that Anthony Gonzalez infuses into his music gives Hurry Up a unique personality. I wasn’t aware of how much I liked this album until I realized that whenever a song would pop up on my iPhone’s shuffle I never skipped it. I have a feeling this album will grown on me in the months to come and while I look forward to my impendingly growing appreciation I do not look forward to the regret I will/might feel for not placing this in the top ten.

13. Battles
Gloss Drop
This is not a great Battles album but it is a great album that happens to have been made by a band that once called themselves Battles but, upon the departure of guitar/keyboard/vocalist Tyondai Braxton, just as soon abandoned the quirky prog electronic signatures that put them on the map, or Atlas as it were… this sentence needs to end.

14. Gang Gang Dance
Eye Contact
Great Great Album.15. Daft Punk and co.
Tron: Legacy Reconfigured
I never expected a remix album from a Disney movie (and a bad one at that!) to make it this high on any best of list. Not that my standards are that high but, well, it’s Tron we’re talking about here and as everyone knows by now: Tron sucks. While I really enjoyed Daft Punk’s first music soundtrack on its own terms I felt it was a perfect example of one of the world’s best bands being held back and creatively suffocated by the demands of a tame, zero risk taking cinematic vision. That Daft Punk survived the lamentable Tron debacle with a product that did not outright embarrass them just shows you how good they are. This album unloads (or downloads) more electronica awesomeness than you can shake an Ethernet cable at. It holds nothing back. It even brings to the foreground a lot of stuff I missed the first time around, showing just how complex the original soundtrack might actually be. This reconfiguration is almost what I would expect from Daft Punk if they approached the initial soundtrack as an actual album rather than a movie score. Featuring re-interpretations from electronica acts like M83, Ki:Theory, Moby and Photek, Reconfigured is that rare remix album that surpasses the original mix!

16. Justice
Audo, Video, Disco

The album was put at a disadvantage by the fact that everyone expected it to top †. Well, that’s not happening –not by Justice or anybody– but, seriously, that’s not a good reason to grimace one’s way through the likable Audio, Video, Disco. Anyone not hooked by a song like “Civilization” might not have a pulse. As the album title promises, this new Justice album is full of infectious 70s/80s era disco house dance songs that are easily as good if not better than anything Lindstrom has done in the last few years.

17. St. Vincent
Strange Mercy
In 2011 the masses were placated by the phony, slightly-above-American-Idol-standard stylings of Adele. Fools! For the people who knew what the fuck is up however there was St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) who, on Strange Mercy, took full command of her sound (arty pop on par with the likes of Annie and Nellie Mckay) and converted a lot of listeners like me who were on the fence after her underwhelming Actor debut.

18. Tom Waits
Bad as Me
Sometimes I want an artist to innovate. Other times I’m perfectly content with hearing them do what they do best. Waits has made a traditional album that only he is capable of. Only Waits could sing a song from the point of view of the last leaf on a tree as winter approaches (winter is coming!) and make you feel emotional connected. Full of growls and an indescribable carnival-gone-wrong sadness, the gravely master attains a nice concoction that, while not the powerhouse that Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards was, settles nicely in his accomplished catalogue.

19. Tim Hecker
Ravedeath, 1972
Hecker’s last album An Imaginary Country made my top ten. Ravedeath, 1972 is actually better in retrospect. Every year I make room from some good ambient music and I have to say that Hecker is perhaps the best artist working in this genre right now. His music is truly addicting but I’ve never been able to capture why exactly because I suck at writing about music. At any rate Ravedeath (which sounds like a city in Skyrim) blankets the listener with well crafted shapes, sounds, tones and inexpressible emotions.

20. The Rapture
In the Grace of Your Love
Not even its status as the band’s worst album to date can stop The Rapture’s new entry from being great compared to most others. Like Radiohead and M83’s 2011 entries, it didn’t do much for me at first but I found myself revisiting this album countless times and getting into a surprising large number of songs such as the title track, “Miss You” and of course the band’s most popular song to date “How Deep is Your Love?” Very deep it turns out. The Rapture is a great band that has far too many albums to its name. MOAR!

Special Mention


21. Cliff Martinez
Drive
Another 80s throwback! I’ve been a huge Cliff Martinez fan every since hearing his score for Steven Soderbergh’s “The Limey.” His work on “Drive” however is an eye opening display of artistic growth. It’s just one of the many, many things that movie does perfectly. The fact that it works just as well as an album then as music in a film puts old Cliff in Trent Reznor’s company.

22. Washed Out
Within and Without
Provided 2011 with some much needed ccccccccccccccccccchhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiillllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll.
23. Gorillaz
The Fall
The Fall is the Gorillaz’s most problematic album. As a huge Gorillaz fan I’m hesitant to even consider it cannon–it’s more of a side-project within the overall side-project that is the Gorillaz proper. An experiment within the experiment. After the “band” made Plastic Beach, the very best album of 2010, the non-animated frontman and creative hurricane behind the band (oh, and a little band called Blur) Damon Albarn decided to have a piss and record The Fall on his iPad while on the Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour (one of the most amazing live shows I’ve ever been to). Or so the story goes. It is not an ambitious album compared to the band’s last three high concept, highly collaborative efforts, and not even a very good album in some spots, but the fact that its any good at all (“Revolving Doors” is one of the band’s best songs) is a testament to Albarn’s creativity. After hearing The Fall I am now convinced that Albarn could literally make an album in his sleep and not have it suck.

24. Dream Theater and Opeth
A Dramatic Turn of Events and Heritage
Truly a banner year for prog as evidenced by Amplifier, Steven Wilson, Opeth and of course Dream Theater’s offerings. Dream Theater’s album continues the band progressive metal sound but, as with the equally solid (though far from fan favorite) Black Clouds & Silver Linings’s album, the band mixes things up with some softer, more concept driven passages that’s less metal and more classic prog. The album is heavy to be sure but Dream Theater lets the material breath and the results are successful. As for Opeth, Heritage is one of their most progressive and palatable albums to date. Like Dream Theater’s “watered down” (not in a bad way) album Heritage lacks some of the band’s more intense death metal signatures (perhaps due to Steven Wilson’s departure as a producer) but is a worthy addition to their impressive catalog. It may not be the album that Opeth purists of 2001-2005 (Blackwater Park, Blackwater, Park Damnation) have been asking for –demanding actually– but in all honesty this direction seems more organic. Not many artists can rock and growl through an intense death metal sound after almost 30 years.

25. You Love Her Coz She’s Dead
Self Titled
Let’s hear it for Nintendocore! What’s that you say, this band ripped off Crystal Castles? Well good on them! More bands should rip of Crystal Castles. After releasing some random tracks and EPs since 2008 this British band finally got enough material together put out this full length self-titled debut. It lives up to my hopes but does not exceed them. Like Castles, the tracks here are vigorous and abrasive and the 8bit sounds are welcome. While not as melodic or clever as either of Castles perfect albums, YLHCSD finds their niche and will hopefully continue to explore the boundaries of this genre.

26. British Sea Power (Valhalla Dancehall)
27. TV On The Radio (Nine Types Of Light)
28. Gruff Rhys (Hotel Shampoo + Atheist Xmas EP)
29. Florence + The Machine (Ceremonials)
30. Trail of Dead (Tao of the Dead)
31. The Chemical Brothers (Hanna Soundtrack)
32. Nicolas Jaar (Don’t Break My Love)
33. Yuck (Yuck)
34. Liturgy (Aesthethica)
35. Fleet Foxes (Helplessness Blues)
36. Gomez (Whatever’s On Your Mind)
37. Wilco (The Whole Love)
38.  Mike Morasky (Portal 2: Songs to Test By) Videogame soundtrack.
39. The Weeknd (House of Balloons)
40. Dum Dum Girls (Only in Dreams)

Guilty Pleasure Pick: Skrillex (Bangarang)–I will not apologize for having horrible taste in music.
Best Unsigned Band: Suns–A band worth checking out. I first heard them when they opened for Crystal Castles. Hear the album on their site for free.
Best Live Album: Radiohead (The King of Limbs Live From the Basement). Runner Up: Rush Time Machine: Live in Cleveland 2011
Best Live Show: Crystal Castles

Best Film Scores

  1. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
  2. Drive by Cliff Martinez
  3. Hanna by The Chemical Brothers
  4. Jane Eyre by Dario Marianelli
  5. The Tree of Life by Alexandre Desplat

Best Video Game Score
Portal 2 by Mike Morasky. Runner Up: Skyrim 

Worst, Most Annoying and/or Most Overrated Albums of 2011

  1. Lady Gaga (Born this Way)
    Worst album of the year. Worst artist of the century. Worst music fad of, like, ever. On Born This Way the over-saturated Gaga persona sinks to new lows by sings agonizingly generic and unoriginal pop songs about individualism (a contradiction if ever there was one) while sucking a legion of fans into a hollow vortex of conformist-seeking pap and prefab pomp. Just looking at that whore-id album cover fills me with rage and sadness.
  2. Nickelback (Here & Now)
    Go & Away. Somehow Nickelback has outlived Creed.
  3. Adele (21)
    One word review: HYPE. Corporate pop soul without an ounce of anything resembling soul. Everyone fell for it. A perfect specimen of the American Idol generation. At least it’s a step up from Amy Winehouse.
  4. Daughtry (Break The Spell)
    Spell Broken.
  5. Owl City (All Things Bright and Beautiful)
    All things except this wretched album.
  6. Bon Iver (Bon Iver)
    The most overrated album of 2011. Every song is the same, which would be fine if any song was any good. This album manages the feat of being worse than For Emma. To borrow a Jack Black line from “High Fidelity,” this is sad bastard music.
  7. LMFAO  (Sorry for Party Rocking)
    Not as sorry as I am.
  8. Destroyer
    Daniel Bejar’s atonal and maddeningly smug voice ruins what would have otherwise been a mediocre album.
  9. Lou Reed & Metallica (Lulu)
    What the hell is going on here?! I expect crap from Metallica but not from Lou Reed. This confounding album makes Metal Machine Music look like a pop record.
  10. Red Hot Chili Peppers (I’m with You)
    Another turd from the eternally meh Chili Peppers.
  11. Beastie Boys (Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
    The longest running novelty act in music history. Just shut up already!
  12. tUnE-yArDs (w h o k i l l)
    aN eXtreMely-uNpleAsaNT liSteniNg expERiencE. i muSt-bE oUt oF tOuCh-thouGh becAusE thIs feMalE veRsIoN o-f aniMaL-coLLective soMEhoW wOn eVeryboDy OveR.
  13. Coldplay (Mylo Xyloto)
    A full relapse. A rush of blood to the bowls.By favoring generic pop to their last few albums alternative sounds Coldplay hasn’t sucked this thoroughly since Parachutes