“Birdman” Dominates 2014 Media Mikes Awards

After two weeks of email and on-line submissions by the staff and readers of Media Mikes.com the winners of the 3rd Annual Media Mikes Awards have been announced.

“Birdman” led all films with four awards, including (2) for director and co-writer Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was chosen as the Best Film of the Year. Michael Keaton edged out Jake Gyllenhaal to win the Best Actor Award for his work in “Birdman” while Reese Witherspoon out-dueled Julianne Moore to take the Best Actress prize for “Wild.” Another tight battle saw “Big Hero 6” narrowly out-point “The Lego Movie” for the year’s Best Animated Feature.

In the supporting categories, the races were not even close, with Mark Ruffalo running away with the Best Supporting Actor prize for his work in “Foxcatcher” and Emma Stone doing the same in the Best Supporting Actress category for her role in “Birdman.”

In awards voted on by the staff, “Birdman” took home the Best Original Screenplay Award while “The Imitation Game” was honored as the year’s Best Adapted Screenplay. “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” was chosen the year’s Best Documentary Feature. Composer Alexandre Desplat won the Best Original Score Award for his work on “The Imitation Game.”

THE COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS:

BEST FILM – “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

BEST DIRECTOR – Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu – “Birdman”

BEST ACTOR – Michael Keaton – “Birdman”

BEST ACTRESS – Reese Witherspoon – “Wild”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Mark Ruffalo – “Foxcatcher”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Emma Stone – “Birdman”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – “Big Hero 6”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolas Giocabone and Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu – “Birdman”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Graham Moore – “The Imitation Game”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”

BEST ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SCORE- Alexandre Desplat – “The Imitation Game”

The Nominees for the 2014 Media Mikes Awards are in!

After hundreds of on-line and email nominations from readers, the finalists
for the 3rd Annual Media Mikes Awards are in. The nominees are:

BEST PICTURE
“Birdman”
“Gone Girl”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“The Imitation Game”

BEST DIRECTOR
Wes Anderson – “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu – “Birdman”
“Angelina Jolie – “Unbroken”
Richard Linklater – “Boyhood”
Rob Marshall – “Into theWoods”

BEST ACTOR
Bradley Cooper – “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch – “The Imitation Game”
Ralph Fiennes – “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Jake Gyllenhaal – “Nightcrawler”
Michael Keaton – “Birdman”

BEST ACTRESS
Felicity Jones – “Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore – “Still Alice”
Chloe Grace-Moritz – “If I Stay”
Rosamund Pike – “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon – “Wild”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Robert Duvall – “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke – “Boyhood”
Edward Norton – “Birdman”
Mark Ruffalo – “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons – “Whiplash”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette – “Boyhood”
Keira Knightley – “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone – “Birdman”
Tilda Swinton – “Snowpiercer”
Meryl Streep – “Into the Woods”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Big Hero 6”
“Book of Life”
“Boxtrolls”
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
“The Lego Movie”

The winners will be announced during this coming week’s episode of our “Behind the Mikes” Podcast – available this Monday, January 26 – and will be posted here the next day. Thank you for everyone that sent in their nominations!

Media Mikes’ Music Wrap-Up for 2014

Another year in music has come and gone here at Media Mikes and that can really only mean one thing. It’s time for our annual year end wrap up where the writers here at the site get together to present our top 5 album releases of the year. We also like to take this time to thank all of our dedicated readers, press outlets and artists who make this site possible. Without all of your continued support we would not be able to do what we do. Here is to a safe and happy 2015. Now without further a due we present to you Media Mikes top 2014 music releases.

Mike Gencarelli: Site Owner
1.) The Amity Affliction- “Let the Ocean Take Me”
2.) Kontrust- “Explositive”
3.) Marketa Irglova- “Muna”
4.) Pink Floyd- “The Endless River”
5.) You+Me- “Rose Ave”

Adam Lawton: Music Editor
1.) Against Me!- “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”
2.) The Gaslight Anthem- “Get Hurt”
3.) Judas Priest- “Redeemer of Souls”
4.) Foo Fighters- “Sonic Highways”
5.) CJ Ramone- “Last Chance to Dance”

Jeremy Werner: Staff Writer
1.) Dog Fashion Disco- “Sweet Nothings”
2.) Mastadon- “Once More Round the Sun”
3.) Skindred- “Kill the Power”
4.) Weird Al Yankovic- “Mandatory Fun”
5.) Slipknot- “.5: The Gray Chapter”

Help Choose The Best of 2014 and Win Some Sweet Swag! [ENDED]

As 2015 begins there is one more piece of 2014 business to take care of. It’s time to pick the winners of the 3rd Annual Media Mikes Awards!

Last year one lucky reader won an instant Blu-ray collection but this year, thanks to our media partners, we will be awarding TEN random readers a great prize just for nominating their favorite films and performances from last year. Prizes range from a set of DVDs to T-shirts, OUIJA boards, buttons and passes to see AMERICAN SNIPER and INHERENT VICE (these passes are accepted anywhere in the United States). Plus, if you will take the time to “like” our Podcast Facebook Page you could win an awesome prize package from THE GAMBLER, including a hat, carry bag and poker set.

Here’s all you have to do: nominate your favorite film or performer in the following categories: BEST PICTURE, DIRECTOR, ACTOR, ACTRESS, SUPPORTING ACTOR, SUPPORTING ACTRESS and BEST ANIMATED FEATURE. You can either do it below or send your nominees to (email address). Ten random entries will be chosen to win a movie prize. To be eligible for THE GAMBLER prize package, just “like” our Podcast page (and please give us a listen). All “likes” made to the page from Sunday, January 4, 2015 through Wednesday, January 21, 2015 will be eligible to win THE GAMBLER prize package. All entries (either on the Media Mikes site or via email ) must be in by midnight, January 21, 2015. All entries will be tabulated and the winners announced on the “Behind the Mikes” Podcast on Saturday, January 24, 2015. They will also be posted on the site that week.

Special thanks to our friends at Allied THA! Good luck!

The “Behind The Mikes” Gang Pick Their Best and Worst of 2014

After much deliberation, MovieMike (Mike S), Loaf (Jeremy) and Brett (B.C) sat down this week and came up with their top 5 (and worse 5) films of 2014. For those of you that listen weekly, we say thank you. For those who haven’t and would like to know how we made our choices, click here http://behindthemikes.podomatic.com/entry/2015-01-04T21_34_18-08_00

Mike Smith’s 5 Best Films of 2014

1. “Unbroken”
2. “American Sniper”
3. “Grand Budapest Hotel”
4. “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”
5. “The Imitation Game”

The fact that four of these films are based on real people (with “I’ll Be Me” a documentary) doesn’t escape me. “Unbroken” was the most inspirational film of the year in my opinion.

And the WORSE!!

1. “Winter’s Tale”
2. “About Last Night”
3. “If I Stay”
4. “Into the Storm”
5. “The Crown and the Dragon”

What a horrible month February was. I had the great displeasure of seeing “Winter’s Tale” and “About Last Night” on consecutive weeks.

Jeremy Werner’s 5 Best Films of 2014

1. “Nightcrawler”
2. “Birdman”
3. “The Lego Movie”
4. “Love is Strange”
5. “Under the Skin”

And his bottom 5:

1. “The Nut Job”
2. “Endless Love” (another February stinker)
3. “That Awkward Moment”
4. “Dracula Untold”
5. “Divergent”

B.C. Allen’s top 5 of 2014

1. “Inherent Vice”
2. “The Rover”
3. “Jodorowsky’s ‘Dune'”
4. “The Raid 2”
5. “The Look of Silence”
And the 5 he will NEVER watch again:

1. “Calvary”
2. “Fury”
3. “Obvious Child”
4. “Maleficent”
5. “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction”

Here’s what some of our critics are looking forward to in 2015:

Mike G: “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,”, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Jurassic World.”

Mike S: “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” “Minions,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,”, Untitled Steven Spielberg Cold War Thriller and “Ted 2.”

Lauren Damon: “Crimson Peak,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Jurassic World,” “In the Heart of the Sea” and “The Walk”

Jeremy Werner: “Chappie,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Inside Out”

Lauren’s Top Five Films From 2014

It’s always tough being a movie buff in awards season. We sift through the weird mess of movies released between the busy summer season and Halloween and then suddenly are bombarded by all the critical darlings our eyeballs can handle in the peak holiday season. As such, I’m not completely caught up for Oscar but I can share my personal favorites from last year. As it happens the majority can be summed up with this simple questionnaire–Did it feature Tilda Swinton*? Did it feature Chris Evans? Did it feature Tilda Swinton AND Chris Evans? There, you’re spoiled for my top three but you can still read my thoughts below:

 

  1. Snowpiercer – Seeing this film three times with sold out crowds cemented this as my top pick for 2014. You can read my full review here but suffice to say, Director Joon-ho Bong apocalyptic train ride featured some wildly creative action sequences within the strict confines of its eponymous locomotive. Its twists and turns consistently drew amazing audience reactions that to me, warrant going to see films on the big screen. Chris Evans also turned in an amazing dramatic performance as the train’s reluctant savior opposite a scenery-devouring Swinton as the false-teethed face of the passengers’ oppressors.

 

  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – While the other sequels in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ‘Phase 2′ (Iron Man 3, Thor 2) were solid in their own right, they both played solidly in their own respective sandboxes. In 2013, we saw Tony Stark facing off with a past scientist rival and Thor whizzing around Asgard while battling some serious familial issues. The First Avenger’s latest installment however wasn’t afraid to shuffle the Avengers’ entire playing field. By bringing down S.H.I.E.L.D, Captain Rogers has a lot of explaining to do come next year’s Age of Ultron. Additionally, the Russo brothers delivered a hugely satisfying action film that richly developed both Chris Evans’s Captain and Scarlett Johansson’s complex Black Widow. It also unleashed one of the most tragic antagonists of the franchise with Sebastian Stan’s tortured Winter Soldier now wandering a bit dazed and confused around the Potomac river.

 

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel – With production design and a sprawling cast to die for, including the aforementioned Swinton under scads of old age makeup, this film deployed all of Director Wes Anderson’s usual character quirkiness to its best advantages. As a bonus, when was the last time someone told you to check out a HILARIOUS Ralph Fiennes performance? Exactly.

 

  1. Gone Girl – Fincher’s moody, winding take on Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel was indeed a pretty bleak take on married life, but Rosamund Pike’s award-worthy performance as the monstrous Amazing Amy blew me away. You can read my full review here.

 

  1. Art and Craft – Perhaps because my day job’s in an art museum, this documentary left the greatest impact on me when I saw it at the Tribeca Film Fest. The story of Mark Landis, a prolific art forger who duped tons of respected art institutions into displaying his uncanny frauds all the while taking no money and shopping at Hobby Lobby for his supplies. The doc was comical without being mean spirited to its oddball subject whose eye for duplication is fascinating.

 

Honorable mentions: The Imitation Game, Birdman, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men Days of Future Past and Frank.

(*Note: Swinton’s other 2014 film, Only Lovers Left Alive got its theatrical release this year, but I covered it in my best of 2013 roundup–so my opening criteria still stands!)

Not writing the majority of the film reviews for this site, I have the great good fortune to generally avoid the stinkers, which is why I can’t in good faith turn in an accurate WORST list, so instead the next list from me will be a look forward to this year’s most exciting releases to come.

Roll on, 2015! Now where are my hoverboards?

Mike’s Picks for The Best & Worst Films of 2014

With another year is coming to an end, we look back at are favorite and least favorite films from the year. To be honest, 2014 was not a huge year for movies, I found that a lot of my choices were littler known titles and not too many of the big mainstream films. I am including some trailers below as well if you are interested in checking any of these out for yourself! So for better or worse, here are my picks for the best and the worst of 2014!

BEST
The Babadook
Big Hero 6
Birdman
Chef
Edge of Tomorrow
For No Good Reason
Guardians of the Galaxy
Jodorowsky’s Dune
The LEGO Movie
The Wind Rises

Runners Up
The Congress
Snowpiercer

WORST
Exodus: Gods and Kings
Into the Woods
Pompeii
Robocop
Transcendence

Even though 2014 was a bit lackluster, 2015 is going to be a HUGE year for film! We have “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”, “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awaken” and “Jurassic World” just to name a few!! Can’t wait!!

Film Review “Annie (2014)”

Starring: Quvenzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx, and Rose Byrne
Directed By: Will Gluck
Rated: PG
Running Time: 118 minutes
Columbia Pictures

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

I need to be upfront with everyone. I have never seen any previous creation of “Annie”. I’ve never laid eyes upon the 1982 original film adaptation, I haven’t viewed a live stage production, or have taken the time to watch either made-for-TV movies on the little orphan. Like most though, I do know the basic premise, and the songs “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life”. I also have fond memories of the delightful scene in “Serial Mom” where a woman is battered to death while singing along to the movie. I’m not telling you to not to take my opinion seriously or with a grain of salt, but just keep in mind, I had no expectations. With that said, “Annie” is probably your best bet for family fun this holiday season.

Annie (Wallis) is a cheeky young girl gallivanting around Harlem and searching for her parents, believing that they will return to her one day. Then they will be the happy family she dreams they will be. Annie lives with other foster children in the care of Miss Colleen Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). She’s soaked in booze and uses every vocal opportunity she has to put Annie down.

In the much nicer, cleaner and more brightly lit part of town, is Will Stacks (Foxx). He’s an isolationist cell phone tycoon and an absolute germaphobe. Not as bad as Howard Hughes though. His habits don’t mix well with his current mission, to become the mayor of New York City. Watching him in action, you actually wonder how someone like him went along with the idea of becoming a public official for one of the world’s largest cities in the first place. At one point he spits up mashed potatoes on a homeless person.

So by pure chance, these two meet. Stacks “saves” Annie’s life and he quickly disregards Annie, right after applying some hand sanitizer, as to not get any poor on him. His circle of trust, the lovely Grace (Byrne) and the skeevy Guy (Bobby Canavale) see the potential to increase his likeability amongst the populace by having him temporarily adopt Annie. Annie simply sees this as another great opportunity in life although she’s fully aware she’s a political ploy. Hijinks, flashy tech, and montages ensue along with some catchy tunes that I haven’t heard besides the aforementioned songs.

The highest praise I can give this movie isn’t to the movie itself, but to Rose Byrne and Quvenzhane Wallis. The actresses already radiate a delightful charm by themselves, but together they’re quite endearing. Their scenes together feel like the most genuine among any of the other characters. While most dialogue in “Annie” feels hokey or nauseatingly cute, the conversations between their two characters feel honest. It’s almost like they give each other some meaningful girl power to help propel their own self-esteem and optimistic outlook.

Outside of that, there are a list of negatives, including an overacting Cameron Diaz, an odd pro and anti-capitalist slant, and hit or miss self-aware winks towards the camera; just to name a few. What had me push all those aside is the charming energy this pumped into me. I tapped my toes, I smiled, I laughed, and if you have any kind of happy reaction to something, it’s worth noting.

While I may have nothing to compare “Annie” to in terms of its predecessors and stories, I must note that it comes off playfully mocking towards the original source content. It’s almost like it knows that what it’s doing is sure to piss some people off, such as fans of the original. Well. I’m not a fan of the original. I enjoyed its taunts, its urban take on the original score, and it’s smug cuteness.

Media Mikes’ 2014 Holiday Film Preview

As you just spent the last few days fighting those “Black Friday” crowds, making sure that for years to come your children will know that you paid $10.00 less than anyone else for their JAWS Lego set, why not set aside some family time and take in a movie?

This time of year not only brings jolly Saint Nick around but also a lot of what the studios deem their “prestige” films – the ones to remember come award time.  Of course, they occasionally sneak in a couple of stinkers as well.  Here is a list of both for you to plan your next cinema visit.  As usual, thanks to our friends at the Internet Movie Database for some synopsis information and, as always, remember that this list is not all-inclusive and that the opening dates are subject to change depending on the whims of the studios and where you live.  Enjoy!

 

DECEMBER 

ESCOBAR:  PARADISE LOST

Starring:  Benicio Del Toro, Josh Hutcherson

Directed by:  Andrea Di Stefano

While vacationing in Columbia, a young man meets the woman of his dreams and soon finds himself introduced to her uncle, the infamous drug dealer Pablo Escobar.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Not a lot of buzz on this film but Del Toro did win an Oscar for his Supporting work in “Traffic.”

 

STILL ALICE

Starring:  Julianne Moore, Kate Bosworth and Kristen Stewart

Directed by:  Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland

When Alice Howland (Moore), a noted linguistics professor, begins forgetting words she learns she is in the early stages of Alzheimer.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Moore, a four time nominee, is generating great word of mouth for a fifth nod.

 

TOP FIVE

Starring:  Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson

Directed by:  Chris Rock

A comedian tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancé talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show.  Rock, who also wrote the film, promises this film to carry the edge of his stand up.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Adam Sandler also appears but who am I to dream?

 

WILD

Starring:  Reese Witherspoon and Gaby Hoffman

Directed by:  Jean-Marc Vallee

A chronicle of one woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent catastrophe.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Like Julianne Moore, Witherspoon, who already has a Best Actress Oscar for her work in “Walk the Line,” is getting great word of mouth.  Director Vallee guided both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto to Oscars last year in “Dallas Buyers Club” and earned a nomination himself for his editing of the film.

 

DECEMBER 12

DEMONIC

Starring:  Maria Bello and Frank Grillo

Directed by:  Will Canon

A police officer and a psychologist investigate the deaths of five people who were killed while trying to summon ghosts.  The story comes from James Wan (“Saw,” “Insidious,” “The Conjuring”) so hopefully this will be on the plus side of horror.

OSCAR CHANCES:  “Horror,” asks the Academy, “what is that?”

 

EXODUS:  GODS AND KINGS

Starring:  Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton

Directed by:  Ridley Scott

The defiant leader Moses (Bale) rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (Edgerton), setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Bale has one Oscar (Best Supporting Actor for “The Fighter”) and a second nomination while director Scott has been nominated three times, including for “Gladiator.”  Look for a lot of technical nods.

 

INHERENT VICE

Starring:  Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin

Directed by:  Paul Thomas Anderson

In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry “Doc” Sportello (Phoenix) investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.  Here’s a little trivia for you:  writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s production company is named Ghoulardi after the late night horror host his father, Ernie Anderson, used to portray on Cleveland television.  As a boy I loved Ghoulardi!

OSCAR CHANCES:  If Paul Thomas Anderson has made a bad film I’ve never seen it.  He and his casts are nomination magnets so look for plenty.

 

DECEMBER 17

THE HOBBIT:  THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES

Starring:  Martin Freeman and Cate Blanchett

Directed by:  Peter Jackson

The final episode of director Jackson’s “Hobbit” trilogy.  As he proved with the “Lord of the Rings” films, Jackson is a master storyteller and this last chapter should be amazing!

OSCAR CHANCES:  Technical across the board.

 

DECEMBER 19

ANNIE

Starring:  Quvenzhane Wallis and Jamie Foxx

Directed by:  Will Gluck

OK, the synopsis really has nothing to do with the Broadway musical except that Annie (Wallis) is an orphan and eventually she will sing “Tomorrow.”  This is the one film that I’m torn on.  I loved the original show – at one time it was so popular that when you went to audition for a musical you were told that you COULDN’T perform “Tomorrow” – so I’m trying to go in with blinders.  That fact that director Gluck only has a few PG-13 teen comedies on his resume, and that he helped produce the still horrible memory “About Last Night” remake makes me sad.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Young Miss Wallis remains the youngest Best Actress nominee EVER for her work in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” while Foxx not only has an Oscar for “Ray” but kicked ass in “Dreamgirls.”  I’m not looking for any here but hopefully I’ll be surprised.

 

THE GAMBLER

Starring:  Mark Walberg and Brie Larson

Directed by:  Rupert Wyatt

A literature college professor and high stakes gambler runs afoul of a loan shark and his bodyguard-like gangsters while he has an affair with one of his students.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Can’t see any.

 

TURNER

Starring:  Timothy Spall and Paul Jesson

Directed by:  Mike Leigh

An exploration of the last quarter century of the great, if eccentric, British painter J.M.W. Turner’s life.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Spall (probably best known as the band manager in “Rock Star” and Peter Pettigrew in the “Harry Potter” series, is getting huge word of mouth for his work here.  Writer/director Mike Leigh has seven previous nominations.

 

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM:  SECRET OF THE TOMB

Starring:  Ben Stiller and Rebel Wilson

Directed by:  Shawn Levy

Larry (Stiller) spans the globe, uniting favorite and new characters while embarking on an epic quest to save the magic before it is gone forever.  The final film in the series sadly features the final performance of the great Mickey Rooney and one of the final performances of the beloved Robin Williams.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Technical?

 

DECEMBER 24

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT

Starring:  Marion Cotillard

Directed by:  Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenn

Sandra, a young Belgian mother, discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job.

 

OSCAR CHANCES:  Cotillard is a past winner for “La Vie en Rose” and is always a threat to earn a nomination.

 

DECEMBER 25

AMERICAN SNIPER

Starring:  Bradley Cooper

Directed by:  Clint Eastwood

A Navy S.E.A.L. recounts his military career, which includes more than 150 confirmed kills.  Based on the life of the late Chris Kyle.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Everyone I’ve spoken to who has seen this predicts nods for Cooper, which would be his third year in a row, and Eastwood, who already has two directing Oscars on the shelf (“Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby”).

 

BIG EYES

Starring:  Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz

Directed by:  Tim Burton

A drama centered on the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.  A true change of pace film for director Burton.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Waltz has two Supporting Actor awards (“Inglorious Basterds” and “Django Unchained”) while Adams has been nominated five times previously.

 

THE INTERVIEW

Starring:  Seth Rogen and James Franco

Directed by:  Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen

Dave Skylark (Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show “Skylark Tonight.” When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists.  This is the second film co-directed by Rogen and his writing partner Goldberg, after the very funny “This is the End.”

OSCAR CHANCES:  “Comedy,” asks the Academy, “what is that?”

 

INTO THE WOODS

Starring:  Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and Johnny Depp

Directed by:  Rob Marshall

A witch (Streep) conspires to teach important lessons to various characters of popular children’s stories including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel.  Based on the Tony Award winning musical by the legendary Stephen Sondheim.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Did I mention Meryl Streep is in it?  Director Marshall helmed “Chicago” to the Best Picture Oscar in 2003.

 

SELMA

Starring:  David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo

Directed by:  Ava DuVernay

The film looks at the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and President Lyndon B. Johnson as well as the turbulent civil rights marches of the 1960s.

OSCAR CHANCES:  A supporting cast of previous nominees (Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Wilkinson) and winner (Cuba Gooding, Jr) bode well for a possible nod.  Oyelowo was brilliant last year in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

 

UNBROKEN

Starring:  Jack O’Connell and Jai Courtney

Directed by:  Angelina Jolie

A chronicle of the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II.  As a long time follower of Lou Zamperini’s story this is one of my most anticipated films of the year.

OSCAR CHANCES:  The academy loves a good bio-film!

 

 

DECEMBER 31

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR

Starring:  Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain

Directed by:  J.C. Chandor

In New York City 1981, an ambitious immigrant fights to protect his business and family during the most dangerous year in the city’s history.

OSCAR CHANCES:  Both Isaac and Chastain are bright new stars in Hollywood.

New York Comic Con 2014 “The Following” Panel

On Sunday, October 12th, Marcos Siega, Kevin Bacon, and Shawn Ashmore took to the Empire Stage at New York Comic Con to discuss their show The Following. Slim on specifics, the actors and director didn’t give too much of the new season away to fans, instead opting for vague descriptions of possible upcoming plot points. With Lily Gray’s plotline officially wrapped up and Joe Carroll in prison, it’s a new dawn for The Following, allowing a new set of events to start and creating a good entry point for new viewers.

In the teaser that was shown, Bacon’s character Ryan has a new love in his life, an ER doctor, as does his niece Max, but don’t worry Following fans. Shortly after setting this idyllic scene, a cocktail waiter was shown coming towards Ryan with a knife- perhaps setting us up for a new slew of bad guys?

After the teaser and discussion, the floor was opened up to questions from the fans. One woman asked Bacon and Ashmore for tips on working in the FBI; they laughingly replied, “Don’t do anything we do.”

Check out the slideshow below for more pictures of The Following Panel at New York Comic Con. Season 3 begins January 20th.


Created with flickr slideshow.

Convention Review “New York Comic Con 2014”

New York Comic Con 2014
Date: Thursday, October 9th – Sunday, October 12th
Venue: Jacob K. Javitz Center, New York, New York

Fall in New York City has a different meaning to the millions of people who scurry about the streets each day however for fans of Comics and Pop Culture fall means it’s time for Comic Con! The massive four day event which for the first time ever was preceded buy hero week set up shop at the Jacob K. Javitz center where over the course of the events four days more than 150,000 fans would walk the halls of the massive convention center. With those types of attendance numbers your probably wondering what makes this event so special. Well here is my account of what was going on throughout the day on Thursday of this year’s event.

After giving up on the non-existent free shuttle we hopped on the 2 train and then made our way on foot to the convention site. It seems as though the attendance for Thursday was a little underestimated as the convention staff all seemed a bit confused as to how things were supposed to be working for the coming weekend however after a brief security check we were finally able to make our way onto the event floor which even early on was bustling with activity and excitement. Thursdays in past years was always reserved for press and VIP ticket holders however this year single Thursday tickets were available. Cool if your fan, not as cool if you are trying to see everything and write a review. Though the added people certainly made getting around the venue a touch more difficult it wasn’t anything were weren’t prepared for.

Several big press conferences were scheduled for the day including those from toy creator Todd McFarlane and Marvel. McFarlane was on hand to announce the release of his newest brick building toy line. The line is based on AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead” and feature several sets ranging in price from $9.99 for smaller sets and $64.99 for larger sets. Some of the display models on hand for viewing was “The Governor’s Room”, “The Prison Tower” and “Daryl Dixon and Chopper”. All of the sets we checked out lived up to the McFarlane name and you will certainly want to grab them when they become available in late October exclusively through Toys R Us. Next up we made our way through the never ending droves of cos-players to attend Marvel Comics announcement of their latest venture. Marvels Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada was on hand to announce “The Marvel Experience” a hyper reality traveling tour which puts fans directly in to the action of their favorite comics/movies. The traveling tour produced by Hero Ventures will feature seven domes housing state of the art displays and 4-D motion rides which throw you into the middle of a full on Hollywood scripted adventure. The first run of shows will start on December 15th in Scottsdale, AZ. The tour will also be making stops in Texas and California throughout the months of January, February and March with more dates/cities set to be announced in the near future.

It wouldn’t be a Comic Con unless we made a stop to Artist Alley and checked out all the amazing talent assembled for this year’s event. Though not as busy as the conventions main floor it was a nice break to be able to walk amongst the isles and see a lot of great work not only on display but also being created right before your eyes. Some of the bigger draws for Thursday were “Batman” artist Greg Capullo, DC Comics Jim Lee and Spiderman artist Humberto Ramos all garnered lines that required quite a bit of waiting. Those looking for rare variant covers and other hard to find comic pieces were certainly in their glory on this day.

Before heading back to the main floor we made a quick journey to the basement of the complex which was playing host to the autograph area along with countless panel viewing rooms and creative workshops. Probably the biggest draw for the panels this day was for that of Rooster Teeth which featured series creators Monty Oum and Kerry Shawcross along with the voice of “Yang” Barbara Dunkleman. The three were on hand to show some new and behind the scenes footage of “RWBY” Volume 2. On hand for autographs this day was Karl Urban, Kevin Conroy and Giancarlo Esposito to name just a few.

With only a few hours left in the day we ventured back to the main exhibit floor to check out some of the vendors on hand selling everything from comic books and graphic novels to clothing and other collectable memorabilia. New York’s own Midtown Comics continues to impress me year after year with their massive set up that has pretty much everything you can think of comic related. With booths all trying to make the most of their spaces none seem to rival Midtown. As we made our way through the tight and poorly labeled booths it was easy to become frustrated as finding smaller booths in the sea of heavy hitters made traversing the landscape of vendors a bit tiresome.

After a busy/tiring day we left this year’s Comic Con with full backpacks and big wish lists as it was impossible to buy everything we saw and wanted. Sadly the shuttle situation still had yet to be ironed out as convention staff still was clueless as to when or even where you could pick up the shuttle that they provided. As we shook our heads in disbelief we knew that it was time for the day to be over. Minus a few small hiccups New York Comic was once again a great time. Whether you had never been or are a long time attendee of the convention there is always something for everyone and 2014 had that and then some.

Product Review “Nerd Block – September 2014”

Nerd Block is a monthly subscription box any nerds out there…and for under $20. The Nerd Block Classic has been called “Comic Con in a box”. I have been following Nerd Block for a while now but I never checked it out till now. What the hell was I thinking? I am really missing out here!  So this is the first time that we have received Nerd Block (and hopefully not the last).

Nerd Block contains licensed merchandise, which is hand-picked by the company team of super-nerds. The products range from all genres from movies, television, video games, internet, and more! Some of the brands that you can expect from Nerd Block: Nintendo, Star Wars, Jinx, Marvel and DC Comics. Plus who can say no to Nerd Block motto “GEEK TESTED. NERD APPROVED”

There are 5 different blocks to subscribe to with Nerd Block:
Nerd Block Classic “Comic Con in a box” $19.99/mo + S&H
Nerd Block Jr. Boys “Awesome nerd gear for kids aged 6-11” $13.99/mo + S&H
Nerd Block Jr. Boys “Awesome nerd gear for kids aged 6-11” $13.99/mo + S&H
Horror Block “The Pop Horror Subscription Box!” $19.99/mo + S&H
Arcade Block “The Video Game Subscription Box!” $19.99/mo + S&H

Click here to sign up your own Nerd Block subscription!

Check out the video for our unboxing of the latest Nerd Block:

In case you don’t feel like watching the video, here are the items included in this month’s Nerd Block:
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Papercraft Playset
2. Sounds of the Galaxy Vol.1 T-Shirt
3. Scribblenauts Unmasked Series 1 Mini-Series
4. Giant Microbes STD Plush
5. Stress Brain – Nerd Block Exclusive
6. Marvel Mega Blocks Mystery Figure

Blu-ray Review “Godzilla (2014)”

Actors: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins
Directors: Gareth Edwards
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Running Time: 123 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“Godzilla” was easily one of my most anticipated films of the entire year of 2014. After seeing the film, I was literally blown away. Director Gareth Edwards finally delivered a US reboot that is required to give respect to the Godzilla series. After watching the film again, I have to admit, I was slightly less impressed…only slightly though. Maybe it was the lack of 3D, since we were only given a 2D Blu-ray to review. I felt that the human cast in the film was bothering me a bit more this time but when you see that first glimpse of Godzilla through the smoke you can’t help but get goosebumps! I can’t wait for Edwards to get behind the camera again for “Godzilla 2”, even though we have to wait till 2018, it is going to be epic!

The story starts off in 1999 in the Philippines, where two scientists (Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins) find an uncovered tomb containing a fossil of a very large creature with two preserved pods…though one was broken opened and whatever was there was now missing. We then head to Japan where we meet Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston), a nuclear physicist/engineer and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche), a nuclear regulations consultant at the Janjira nuclear plant. As they are investigating an emergency at the plant, whatever was awoken from its sleep in the Philippines made its way to their plant to feed off the nuclear energy leading to the destruction of the plant. Though no proof was every gathered of the creature, the city was quickly evacuated and we flash forward 15 years to the present where Joe is still on the hunt for answers and calls to his son for help, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who is fresh out of the military. He also happens to be a explosive ordnance disposal technician (as you can imagine that becomes important later). As we find that the M.U.T.O. creature is looking for its spouse to reproduce, enter Godzilla who (like always never explained why) comes in to save us against these giant monsters. An all out battle is waged that spans from Japan to Hawaii to Las Vegas and California.

“Godzilla” heads to our homes with a combo pack including a Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Digital HD copy. Even though, I definitely do prefer the film in 3D, Warner Bros still delivered us a wonderful 1080p that looks stunning. This film is a visual masterpiece. The design for Godzilla is just perfect. I would love to know what the original creator of the 1954 “Godzilla” thinks about this film. This character has been through it all and he has never looked better than in this film. If the video isn’t enough the Blu-ray includes an outstanding DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. This track is unbelievable and really is perfect for this film. From ever battle scene to epic Godzilla roar, my walls were shaking and I loved ever minute. Blu-ray score would be 5/5 stars if this was the 3D Blu-ray release.

I would love to say that the special features are out of this world but I am not 100% sold here. I would have loved to see a commentary track included especially from Gareth Edwards since he was the mastermind behind this. What we get are basically two extras. The first is “MONARCH: Declassified” dives into new evidence not contained in the film that unravels the massive cover-up to keep Godzilla’s existence a secret. There are three featurettes under this including “Operation: Lucky Dragon”, “MONARCH: The M.U.T.O. File” and”The Godzilla Revelation”. These are a nice companion to the film. “The Legendary Godzilla” takes us behind-the-scenes with filmmakers and cast with the following featurettes “Godzilla: Force of Nature”, “A Whole New Level Of Destruction”, “Into The Void: The H.A.L.O. Jump” and “Ancient Enemy: The M.U.T.O.s”. Not saying that these aren’t great. There is a ton of great content, I was just hoping for a little more.

Own “GODZILLA” on Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, 2-Disc DVD Special Edition and Digital HD on 9/16

In this gritty, realistic sci-fi action epic, the Godzilla franchise returns to its roots as one of the world’s most recognized monsters. Directed by Gareth Edwards and featuring an all-star international cast, this spectacular adventure pits Godzilla against malevolent creatures that, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

Concert Review: Blake Shelton “Ten Times Crazier Tour 2014”

Blake Shelton with The Band Perry, Dan + Shay & Neal McCoy
“Ten Times Crazier Tour 2014”
Amway Center
Orlando, FL
August 30th, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Blake Shelton is no question one of the best thing that country music has going for it in recent years. His music is fun, careless and if you don’t like it you can kiss my country music loving ass. The “Ten Times Crazier Tour 2014” is not your regular concert. It features Blake Shelton along with The Band Perry, Dan + Shay & Neal McCoy (who not plays once but three times).  This is a real party. The event started at 6:45pm and went all the way to just past 11pm. Now if you ask me that is one hell of a concert and these fans are really getting their money worth.

The night kicked off with Neal McCoy, who only took stage for 15 minutes and sang some fun cover songs…but don’t worry we didn’t see the last of him and his band. Next up was Dan + Shay, who I did not get to see due to being backstage  meeting up with Blake Shelton! That’s right baby meet and greet! He is one cool (and tall) dude! What I did hear though, there were really stealing the crowd and getting them warmed up. Neal McCoy came out again after that for another 15 minutes before The Band Perry really stole the show.

I have never seen The Band Perry live and not really a huge mega fan. I know (and like) a bunch of their songs but not really a number #1. Well after this performance, I am now a number #1 fan! The Band Perry took the stage and literally tore the roof off the Amway Center. Kimberly Perry is such an amazing performer and has such presence. She is also quite theatrical and dramatic, which really adds to the performance. Of course they song their classics like If I Die Young and Chainsaw, which really drove the crowd into an all out singing fest.

After The Band Perry, Mr. McCoy took the stage once more again singing some amazing classics and keeping the crowd ready when the stage was being set for the main attraction, Blake Shelton. Having met the man, a mere minutes before, it was surreal when he hit the stage and he was belting out his hits literally six rows from my seat (thanks to his management team for the outstanding seats BTW).  What I love about Shelton is that it just seems so effortless for him and yet at the same time, the guy seems like an average Joe who at points honestly seems nervous. He is just a great performer and keeps his audiences attention from the moment he comes. He is funny and also a great storyteller.

The top selling/Grammy winning country singing artist played his hits like “Kiss My Country Ass”,  “Mine Would Be You”, “Some Beach”, “Hillbilly Bone”, “Sure Be Cool If You Did” and “My Eyes”. Also in one of the coolest things that I have ever been a part of, Blake actually recorded the video to his latest single “Neon Light”, which is set to be released on his new album “Bringing Back the Sunshine”, due out September 30th. It was a blast to get to be a part of such an amazing event.

As the night grew later, Shelton went all Acoustic on us and came up to the front of the stage solo only with a guitar and really poured his out with tracks like “Austin”, “Drink On It” and one of my favorites, “Home”, which is of course a Michael Bublé cover. But the mood didn’t end on a quite not as he closed out the night with his biggest hits “Honey Bee” and “Boys ‘Round Here” and brought in the night with fireworks. I do not think that there was one person not singing or screaming those lyrics.

This was no question of the most fun that I have had at a concert in recent years. When I left the Amway Center, my cheeks were killing me and mine and my wife’s voices were shot due to singing for hours straight. I hope Blake and his team realized that Florida has its share of country fans and knows how to tear it up with the best of them! Till next time Mr. Shelton! Thanks for a great night, you sure know how to throw a great party!

The Band Perry Setlist:
Done
Night Gone Wasted
You Lie
All Your Life
I’m a Keeper
Timber (Pitbull feat. Ke$ha cover)
Chainsaw
Fat Bottomed Girls (Queen cover)
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely
If I Die Young
Better Dig Two

Blake Shelton Setlist:
All About Tonight
The More I Drink
She Wouldn’t Be Gone
Doin’ What She Likes
Kiss My Country Ass
Mine Would Be You
Nobody But Me
Some Beach
Ol’ Red (George Jones cover)
Who Are You When I’m Not Looking
Hillbilly Bone
Sure Be Cool If You Did
Neon Light
My Eyes
Over You
(Acoustic)
Austin
(Acoustic)
Drink On It
Home (Michael Bublé cover)
Honey Bee
Boys ‘Round Here
Encore:
Footloose (Kenny Loggins cover)
God Gave Me You