Monday, January 31, 2005

The Avitator

Much better than I expected.

I'm not a huge Leo DiCaprio fan, but he was phenomenal in this movie. Much better than in Gangs of New York. I expected this year's Oscar race to be Jamie Foxx's to lose, but after seeing The Aviator, I don't know if that will be the case (Ray is on my rental list).

While the movie was long, it was gorgeous and had a great cast. Cate Blanchett (another so-so actor, in my opinion) was fantastic as Kate Hepburn and John C. Reilly did what he does the big names with a solid performance.

I really think that The Aviator may finally get Scorsese his long overdue Best Director Oscar, but we will see.

IMDb Rating: 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Oscar Nominations

So the Oscar nominations came out this morning. They were good and bad. The Academy continues its love affair with all things that Clint Eastwood touches (yeah, that's right, the "Dirty Harry" guy) and Million Dollar Baby came up with six major nominations (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay). The Aviator suprisingly came up with six major ones as well (Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Original Screenplay). I haven't seen either of these movies (nor many of the others that were nominated...I live in the Midwest...some of this stuff isn't even out yet), but below is a list of all the nominations and my opinion on who will win and who should win.

Clive Owen - CLOSER

I've only seen two of these movies (Collateral, Sideways). Alli saw another one of them (Closer). We are going to see the Aviator before the Oscars and I would like to see Million Dollar Baby too. Nobody really impressed me all that much, although Alli said that Clive Owen was good and I like him so we'll say that he should win it, but my guess is that Thomas Haden Church will win it...I can't understand all the buzz about was terrible in my opinion, but my opinion doesn't really matter.
WILL WIN: Thomas Haden Church
SHOULD WIN: Clive Owen
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: James Garner, The Notebook

Cate Blanchett - THE AVIATOR
Laura Linney - KINSEY
Virginia Madsen - SIDEWAYS
Sophie Okonedo - HOTEL RWANDA
Natalie Portman - CLOSER

I've only seen Sideways, so I can't really judge this flick. I thought Natalie Portman had a great year though. Would have liked to see her nominated for Garden State, but alas, Garden State was pretty much ignored, unfortunately.
WILL WIN: Natalie Portman
SHOULD WIN: Natalie Portman


This one is easy. Shark Tale was overrated and Shrek 2 takes multiple viewings to appreciate. The Incredibles stands above the other two and could have contended for Best Picture this year. Pixar continues to dominate everything else.
WILL WIN: The Incredibles
SHOULD WIN: The Incredibles


This is an extremely interesting category. I really really want Before Sunset to win this category. I haven't seen a movie with better dialogue this year. Finding Neverland would be another good choice, and then you have both Million Dollar Baby and Sideways in the category.
WILL WIN: Sideways (unfortunately)
SHOULD WIN: Before Sunset


I really want Eternal Sunshine to win this. It was, in my opinion, the best movie of the year, certainly worthy of more accolades than it got. I wonder if people are just sick of Charlie Kauffman's craziness (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation), but to ignore this movie is a shame. I also think it was a travesty that Garden State was completely overlooked.
WILL WIN: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
SHOULD WIN: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Mike Leigh - VERA DRAKE

Another interesting category. Scorsese certainly has the sentimental vote considering he got shut out for Gangs of New York by convicted felon Roman Polanski. I would think that this is his year if Clint Eastwood were not in the category. I think that they are the top 2 choices with Payne being the dark horse.
WILL WIN: Clint Eastwood
SHOULD WIN: Martin Scorsese

Don Cheadle - HOTEL RWANDA
Leonardo DiCaprio - THE AVIATOR
Jamie Foxx - RAY

I really think this category is Jamie Foxx's to lose. Johnny Depp was terrific in Finding Neverland, but he is always terrific. Look for him to get nominated next year for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Don Cheadle is a dark horse in this category. Such a terrific actor and it's good to see him finally getting some recognition. Leo, better luck next time...
WILL WIN: Jamie Foxx
SHOULD WIN: Jamie Foxx

Annette Bening - BEING JULIA
Catalina Sandino Moreno - MARIA FULL OF GRACE
Imelda Staunton - VERA DRAKE

My favorite, Kate Winslet, doesn't have a chance. Hilary Swank is going to win, but with all of the nominations that Vera Drake received, I wouldn't be surprised to see Imelda Staunton win. She's my dark horse.
WILL WIN: Hilary Swank
SHOULD WIN: Kate Winslet


I'm so unbelievably irritated that Eternal Sunshine didn't get nominated that I want to puke. There has not been a more original movie in 5 years (and probably won't be for another 5). This is a hard category to pick. I am really crossing my fingers that Sideways walks away with nothing and I really think it won't win this one. However, out of these movies, I've actually only seen one. I have no idea how to judge this, but I'll do my best.
WILL WIN: The Aviator
SHOULD WIN: Finding Neverland
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Overall, it was a pretty good year for movies. I don't think we'll see the utter domination like last year's Lord of the Rings, but if it will come from anyone, it will likely come from The Aviator. I really think this is Martin Scorsese's year and everyone knows how hard he worked on it. But no one really knows. This is just knee-jerk reaction right now. We'll see come February 27th.

Sidenote: The Razzie nominations are out too. Sucks to be Halle Berry...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Golden Globes Re-Hash

While I wish that Sideways would not have won a single award, I can't say that I was too upset with the people that won awards or where everything went. It was nice for a change to not see domination by one or two movies. While I wish that Jennifer Garner would have won an award for Alias, I can understand why she didn't because Season 3 wasn't really the strongest season (from what I've seen so far, I would consider her a favorite this year).

Leonardo DiCaprio finally gets some recognition, but I highly doubt he'll win the Oscar this year. No one is stopping Jamie Foxx.

Overall, the show was pretty boring...nothing super-exciting, but Robin Williams acceptance speech was certainly a highlight (as was Jamie Foxx's). Overall...a decent awards show, but they didn't really give us any indicators as to how the Oscars will go down. But that's a good thing.

Friday, January 14, 2005

In Good Company

In Good Company represents the beginning of the evolution of Topher Grace. The That 70's show star has decided to leave the lucrative sitcom next year and focus on his movie career.

His first significant starring effort, In Good Company, is extremely strong. Scarlett Johanssen is continuing to impress me. While I didn't really like last year's critically acclaimed Lost in Translation, I still thought that she did a really good job.

The person that was most impressive was Dennis Quaid. I've never really thought too highly of him as an actor (mostly I thought of him as the guy that Meg Ryan dumped for Russell Crowe), but that break-up has turned out pretty well for him. Meg is getting botox and starring in bad movies while he is enjoying a renewal in his career.

What I liked most about the movie was that it seemed real and personal. We can't really expect less from Chris and Paul Weitz...the writer/director brothers who brought us last year's About a Boy (Hugh Grant at his all-time best) and American Pie (despite its crudeness, American Pie was one of the best teen movies of the last 20 years). They bring life to the characters and tell a story that you might have heard somewhere.

Overall, I really liked it. There are those who will lament the ending (including some that I went with) but I thought it fit perfectly.

IMDb rating >> 8 out of 10

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Totally sweet.

So Apple, in all its glory, announced some pretty exciting stuff today. Steve "The Ego" Jobs stood up at Macworld today and showed off his amazing new products. What it must be like to work in Cupertino...Apple is the innovation of cool right now.

The following 3 announcements will be landmark for the next several months in technology.

Mac Mini
Apple's first attempt at really attacking Dell's stranglehold on the entry-level home user market. The iMac G5 was great, but this really is slick and the pricing makes it really compelling. To get a Mac for only $500 is pretty amazing. Most people already have monitors, keyboards, etc. and this gets them the cool factor without smacking their wallet with a rubber hose.

ipod shuffle
Mac's entry into the flash-memory-based music player market is, like the ipod, better than anything else out there right now. Small and sexy, this player also is super-competitive in price, enabling you to get a 1GB player for only $150. With an additional version at 512MB, this player will go a long way. Expect to see it soon at a Bally Total Fitness near you.

Apple finally updates its long-outdated Appleworks suite with something tangible. Featuring Keynote 2 and a new program, Pages, Apple allows you to have the most used functionality of Microsoft Office, while allowing you to only spend $80 on it instead of $400. With the same design team working on Pages as worked on Keynote, you can expect that it will be just as strong of a product.

Notice a common theme?


Apple finally has heeded the call of its critics and started to lower its prices because isn't that really all that consumers care about anymore? These 3 products enable Joe Schmo to become a savvy home Mac user because Apple has designed programs that they think people will use and are functional and simple, yet powerful enough for all levels of users.

That is a good thing.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Authorized Personnel Only

If you have yet to get on the Alias train, last night was a great time to hop aboard. Starting with a new department, new storylines, yet keeping the same great characters, the best TV show is off and running with a great story.

Last night’s episode did not disappoint (although it seemed like it had a lot of commercials). From what I heard, it cost them $3.6 million to produce the 2-hour premiere and it was totally worth it.

The beginning was strangely familiar to Phase One of Season Two (the episode after the Super Bowl), but I know that they were trying to get more people to watch the show (which worked…the ratings it received were quite good with the lead-in from Lost). Regardless, the rest of the show was sweet and no episode would be complete without something that is completely out of left field and last night was no different (see: the reason Sydney was crying).

I can’t wait…only another 148 hours until the next episode!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


I know that it isn't much (particularly with my readership), but I am pledging that all of my earnings from Google Adsense or Amazon Associates will go to aid efforts for the areas affected by the devastating tsunami and earthquake in southeast asia.

Credit goes to Andy Budd for thinking of this. As of my pledge, there are 123 bloggers who have pledged to give their advertising and affiliate dollars earned to the tsunami efforts. While that may not seem like a lot, every little bit helps.

The devastation that has been brought to that region is incomprehensible. There is much to do, but more than anything, faith can restore hope. I pray for the people who have been affected by this tragedy.

Monday, January 03, 2005

My New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions always seemed a little silly to me. Why do we need a new year to start bettering ourselves? That being said, it is still a good time to figure out what you want to do with the next year.

My Resolutions:
  1. Watch less TV (this excludes ALIAS, which starts its fourth season in a short 52 hours!!!!)
  2. Read more (I have tons of books that I have bought in the past couple of years but have never gotten around to reading them...must read those)
  3. Build stuff (this will start with a desk for my home office...I have the plan figured out...just need to buy the materials and get my drill fixed)
  4. Improve my design skills (this means finally finishing reading the QuickPro guide to Flash MX 2004 as well as the other design books I have to read)
  5. Lose weight (cliche, I know, but hey...I gotta do it)