Thursday, February 28, 2013

Best Movies of 2012

I tend to do this list just before the Oscars, but I'm a little late, as you can see. There can't be too much harm in doing a best of 2012 list towards the end of February, right? The reason why I wait so long to do this list every year is that a lot of the major prestige releases for awards seasons do not get a widespread release until January, long after everyone else has submitted their lists. Since my access to film festivals and screenings are limited, I have to wait just like everyone else. The extra time does allow me to play catch up, which I think always tends to benefit my lists.

1. Cloud Atlas

Upon the first viewing, Cloud Atlas can be a lot to take in. As if the near three-hour runtime wasn't a clue as to how loaded this movie is, there are six different interlocking stories to follow spanning from 1849 to the 24th century with many of the same motifs and A-list actors. Add to that a philosophical underlining throughout and for some, watching Cloud Atlas may feel like homework trying to keep up with what it all means. Regardless, it was still my favorite film of 2012 and I don't think anyone should be afraid of a little hard work when it comes to watching a movie. I'll be the first to admit that a second viewing might be required to fully grasp Cloud Atlas, which I'm anxiously looking forward to, but there was plenty to enjoy the first time around. With directing duties split between the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, the movie has more than its fair share of terrifically executed action sequences and visual flair, along with some of the most impressive makeup work I've seen over the past few years. Cloud Atlas is quite unlike many high wire acts ever attempted before in cinema, working constantly to balance a jumble of threads and far-reaching ideas. The level of ambition shown here is admirable and enough to cause some initial intrigue, which makes Cloud Atlas one of those rare big-budget films that you can both marvel at and be enriched by.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Liveblogging the 2013 Grammys

It is Grammy time once again. I'll be liveblogging all night, so watch and refresh with me. To see how my predictions held up, just click here.

6:52: According the awards handed out before the ceremony, I'm 8/15 on my pics so far. My main regret is not tabbing Skrillex to sweep the dance categories. Also notable is Gotye's win over fun. in Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. I think that favors him and Kimbra for Record of the Year, which I predicted "We Are Young" would win.

7:03: Taylor Swift kicks off the show with " We Are Never Getting Back Together" with a carnival concept. I'm still getting used to Taylor The Pop Star instead of Taylor The Pop Country Star. I believe it in the studio, but she doesn't have that Shania vibe though. Still, decent performance.

7:10: Ed Sheeran is joined onstage by Elton John. What would the Grammys be without a collaboration with Dwight? I prefer it more when it's not expected (Eminem, Lady Gaga). This is just to basically give a stamp of approval to someone most Americans have not heard. The just okay performance reflects that. It was pleasant, but I already forgot about it. I want some hardware handed out already!

7:18: Come to think, I'm not sure there has ever been a good performance on that small stage in the middle of the audience. Nothing memorable at least aside from maybe The Civil Wars last year.

7:21: Would have rather seen Kelly Clarkson or Carly Rae Jepsen take Pop Solo Performance, but Adele is still loved. 9/16 on picks.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Grammy Winner Predictions for 2013

The 55th Grammy Awards will be handed out this Sunday night on Feb. 10 on CBS. As always, I'll take a crack at guessing who will walk away with some hardware. Make sure to come back during the Grammys since I'll be liveblogging and providing on the spot analysis on the event as usual.

Album of the Year

The Black Keys - El Camino
fun. - Some Nights
Mumford & Sons - Babel
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
Jack White - Blunderbuss

Will win: The most competitive AOTY race in years essentially comes down to The Black Keys, fun., Mumford & Sons and Frank Ocean. The rock vote will be split all over the place, but based on how hard the Grammys are trying to regain credibility, El Camino will probably come out on top since it seems to be the album that even non-rock fans can agree on.
Should win: Channel Orange was my #2 album of 2012 and just about every publication had it in their year-end top ten.
Overlooked: Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do; Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream

Record of the Year

The Black Keys - "Lonely Boy"
Kelly Clarkson - "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)"
fun. feat. Janelle MonĂ¡e - "We Are Young"
Gotye feat. Kimbra - "Somebody That I Used to Know"
Frank Ocean - "Thinkin Bout You"
Taylor Swift - "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"

Will win: I can't really think of any other recent song as popular and uniting as "We Are Young."
Should win: This is the first time that I can recall not having a problem with either of the nominees winning, even though my Channel Orange bias has me rooting for "Thinkin' Bout You."
Overlooked: Carly Rae Jespen - "Call Me Maybe"; Jay-Z & Kanye West - "N----s In Paris"