Friday, December 27, 2013

Be Kind, Rewind

2013 is almost in the books, and Oscar season has begun. Most guilds have announced their nominations, and in a few week's time most of those guilds will have also presented their award winners, which will lead us to the one that ultimately matters most, the nominations and winners of the Academy Awards. There will be plenty of great films to watch, performances to marvel at, screenplays to watch unfold. However, right now I want to take a break from 2013. What about 2012? There were quite a number of great films that year that didn't get a lot of awards love, for one reason or another.  In some cases here, I don't necessarily think the films were Oscar-worthy, but I just feel they were and are underrated.  I don't specifically mean the blockbusters like The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises. They were great films too, but most people probably have seen those. I want to highlight some that didn't have those $300M box office grosses. So before we fast-forward to the 2013 awards, let's rewind to 2012...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Season 11 critical for "Top Chef"

Cooking shows used to be found pretty much exclusively on PBS back in the day.  Julia Child, The Galloping Gourmet, Martin Yan ("...Can Cook!") and others were chefs with shows that I stumbled onto and discovered an early love of food and wanting to cook it.  With the advent of cable in the 1980's and 1990's, these cooking shows found larger audiences on many other channels.  Then with the subsequent advent of reality television, cooking competition shows started up too.  One of the first was "Ready, Set, Cook!" and it ran for years.  Nowadays that show seems primitive compared to what's out there, but frankly, most of what's out there now just isn't too exciting.  "Chopped" is OK.  "Iron Chef America" too (although a pale comparison to the original Japanese series that really was the single show that put Food Network on the map).  One show stood out.  Debuting in 2006 on the Bravo network, "Top Chef" was the first cooking competition to be of marathon proportions, and ultimately the food is what mattered.  It was an instant smash, and many of the winners (plus a few non-winners) have found their careers to flourish after competing on the show.  By the time Seasons 6-8 rolled around, this was legitimately one of the best, if not THE best, competition shows on TV, period.  As always seems to be the case though, producers always want to tinker.  And tinker.  And tinker.  And the result usually ends up a stinker.  And stinker.  And stinker.  In just over one year's time, "Top Chef" went from the heights of awesomeness to audience revolt.  And the worst of it is, Season 10 almost got it right and washed out the nasty taste of Season 9 from everyone's mouths.  But then that finale...ohhhhhh, that finale...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Les Misérablog: 2012 Oscar Predictions (February 24, 2013)

One of the more surprising Oscar seasons in recent memory comes to a close this Sunday night with the 85th Annual Academy Awards taking place in Los Angeles at the Dolby Theater. A wide-open race going in, there's a clear favorite for Best Picture now despite the fact that that film's director did not himself get a nod in the Best Director category. Unlike previous blogs, I'm stealing the format from Entertainment Weekly magazine and choosing who I think will win, but also perhaps commenting on who SHOULD win, and why. So without further adieu...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Oscar nominations: what we learned

All indications coming into today's announcement of nominations for the 85th Annual Academy Awards were that things were going to be unpredictable. To say that this came to fruition could be argued either way. I personally say yes. Several nominations were surprises. At least one entire category is a full list of surprises. The omissions of some names from select nominations, and some films from even a single nomination is something I can't say I saw coming (Sorry, fellow Batman fans). There is plenty to be noted from what we heard today.