Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Contest Winner Revealed!!

Congrats go out to Geoff K. of Columbus, Ohio! Geoff had the winning tweet entry in the EntertainmentBlogger "Year in Movies" contest -- and will receive a prize package valued at approximately $200. Click here for more details on the prize.

Thanks to the hundreds who entered. Remember to follow EntertainmentBlogger on Twitter (@Entertainment2u) -- and check the blog often for more contests coming soon!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Twitter Contest: LAST DAY TO Enter to Win a "Year in Movies" Prize Package!

The Oscars may be over, but we can still celebrate a great year in movies! Now through March 30, you can tweet to enter the "Year in Movies" contest for a chance to win a prize package of 2009 movie memorabilia valued at approximately $200!

3/31 Update -- EntertainmentBlogger's "Year in Movies" contest has ended. Thanks for the 100s of entries! Winner to be announced this week. And check back often for more contests!

Keep in mind, you must remain a follower through the duration of the contest! And only ONE tweet per contest day is allowed!

So what do you win? The prize package includes:

  • District 9 -- t-shirt
  • Invictus -- t-shirt, cap, soundtrack CD
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen -- limited edition comic book
  • Watchmen -- hardcover coffee table book (Watchmen: The Art of the Film by Peter Aperlo)
Also, mini posters of the following movies:

  • Amelia
  • Astro Boy
  • Black Dynamite
  • Bright Star
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Pirate Radio
  • A Serious Man
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Taking Woodstock
  • The Young Victoria
And finally, we'll throw in:

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox -- Master Plan folder
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- pin and key chain
  • Sherlock Holmes -- iPhone cover
  • Taking Woodstock --air freshener (well, many critics did think the movie stunk!)


  • Only one tweet entry per Twitter account per contest day.
  • Entries are only valid if you are following @Entertainment2u on Twitter from point of entry through duration of contest.
  • Contest ends on Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 11:59 PM ET.
  • One winner will be randomly chosen from all qualified entries. He or she will be sent a direct message via Twitter -- and have 48 hours to respond with mailing address.
  • Read full detailed rules here or by clicking on the image above.
  • Original contest post date: Monday, March 8, 2010.
  • Thanks for all the tweets so far! Please note that you do NOT need to comment below about your tweet entries. All tweets are tracked on Twitter -- and each tweet has an equal chance of being the random winner!
  • Click here to return to the EntertainmentBlogger home page.

Monday, March 29, 2010

MusicMonday: Free Downloads

Here are this week's free offerings:
  • Thursday is Census Day! Have you completed and returned your census form yet? If you pledge to complete the process, you will receive 25 free songs from major artists like Pitbull, Aventura, Morrissey, Mos Def, Jaguares and Los Tigres del Norte. Although targeted toward the Latino community, all can participate. Just click on the image above to get started.
  • Spinner has an exclusive download of Pete Yorn's latest single, "Paradise Cove." The mellow rock track is the third single from the Mike Mogis-produced album, Back and Fourth. Click here to download.

And don't forget to continually check the following sources for more free downloads -- new songs covering all genres are added frequently. Just click on the links below and enjoy some new tunes.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Top 10 at the Weekend Box Office

  • Click on the chart to enlarge.
  • How to Train Your Dragon breathed a bit of box-office fire with a $43.3 million opening weekend and a #1 debut. Distributed by Paramount, the DreamWorks Animation adventure came in well behind the studio's last cartoon comedy, Monsters vs. Aliens, which opened with $59.3 million over the same weekend last year.
  • How to Train Your Dragon pulled in 68% of its revenue from 3-D presentation, another triumph for the growing digital technology. Yet it also highlights the limits on how much 3-D traffic theaters are equipped to handle. Dragon took over the bulk of 3-D theaters at the expense of Disney's Alice in Wonderland, because the roughly 4,000 screens capable of showing digital 3-D movies is not enough to handle two full wide-release films at the same time.
  • All figures are industry estimates. Actual figures are released on Monday.
  • Reviews of Green Zone and other movies not in the top ten can be found by clicking on the Film Reviews archive icon at left.
  • Sources: Nielsen EDI,, AP

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Top 10 at the Weekend Box Office

  • Click on the chart to enlarge.
  • With $34.5 million, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland easily remained at #1 for the third straight weekend. Its 17-day domestic tally stands at $265.8 million. Launched simultaneously in many foreign markets, the 3D film has fetched $565.8 million worldwide to date.
  • The big surprise this weekend came from Fox's family comedy Diary of Wimpy Kid. Its $21.8 million performance outpaced pre-release projections to nail down the weekend's #2 spot.
  • On an industry-wide basis, the $122 million weekend represented a 21% improvement over the same frame last year.
  • All figures are industry estimates. Actual figures are released on Monday.
  • Reviews of Green Zone, Avatar and other movies not in the top ten can be found by clicking on the Film Reviews archive icon at left.
  • Sources: Nielsen EDI,, Hollywood Reporter

Monday, March 15, 2010

MusicMonday: Pearl Jam on SNL / Free Downloads!

Pearl Jam Announces Tour, Performs on Saturday Night Live

The musical guest on this weekend's Saturday Night Live was Pearl Jam! The band, who just last week announced a May tour (see stops here), performed "Just Breathe" and "Unthought Known" from Backspacer. And they also appeared in a funny Twilight Zone sketch. Click the video screens below to view the great performances -- compliments of NBC.
  • March 22 update: well, NBC finally caught on and pulled down the clips -- this is just another reason why everyone hates NBC now!
  • March 23 update: Pearl Jam’s performances from SNL are now available on iTunes -- "Just Breathe" @ and "Unthought Known" @

    Free Downloads

    Here are this week's free offerings:
  • HeadCount and the NRDC Action Fund have teamed up with Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Jack Johnson and many other top acts to offer a free 17-track Best of Bonnaroo download compilation here.
  • Download the album Love from Angels & Airwaves (featuring Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 and Box Car Racer) for free here.
  • The Landmark Music Spring 2010, the new digital compilation featuring 10 new songs, is now available for download here! Compiled with the help Filter Magazine, the new edition of Landmark Music features songs by AM, Black Gold, the Iranian rock band Hypernova, Karen O and The Kids (from the soundtrack to the movie Where The Wild Things Are) and more. You can select individual tracks for download or take the entire playlist for your personal collection.
  • Get your free download of the new Gaelic Storm song "Raised on Black and Tans" from their forthcoming CD Cabbage here.
  • Blake Shelton's "Delilah" is available from Walmart here (just enter code: DELILAH).
  • While Carly Simon still holds out on the identity of the "You're So Vain" inspiration, she has revisited another hit (the Oscar-winning "Let the River Run" from Working Girl). The new slowed-down version has a slightly-altered title "Let the Riverrun" and is available for free download from Walmart here.
  • And remember to keep checking in with Smashing Pumpkins -- as they continue to roll out dozens of free songs. They now have a total of three new tunes available on their site here.

And don't forget to continually check the following sources for more free downloads -- new songs covering all genres are added frequently. Just click on the links below and enjoy some new tunes.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Top 10 at the Weekend Box Office

  • Click on the chart to enlarge.
  • Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland easily remained at #1 this weekend with $62 million. The Disney fantasy has climbed to a $208.6 million total domestically, becoming the first $200 million hit released this year. And it took in nearly as much as the rest of the top 10 movies combined.
  • In only its second weekend in theaters, Alice in Wonderland pulled ahead of the $206.5 million domestic haul of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to become the top-grossing of Johnny Depp and Burton's seven films together, which include Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd and Corpse Bride.
  • After nearly three months in theaters, Avatar remained strong -- earning another $6.6 million to raise its domestic total to $730.3 million. The 20th Century Fox release has topped $2.6 billion worldwide.
  • All figures are industry estimates. Actual figures are released on Monday.
  • Reviews of Green Zone, Brooklyn's Finest, Avatar and other movies not in the top ten can be found by clicking on the Film Reviews archive icon at left.
  • Sources: Nielsen EDI,, AP

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Movie Review: The Bourne Duo Reunites

Green Zone

With a successful partnership that included the hits The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, it was only logical that director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon would team up again. And although the familiar intense action and visceral editing are also back, the overall results are not as rewarding this time around.

Green Zone opens up seven years ago -- during the U.S.-led invasion and early occupation of Baghdad. Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller -- who with his team of Army inspectors -- is dispatched to find weapons of mass destruction believed to be stockpiled in the Iraqi desert. Rocketing from one booby-trapped and treacherous site to the next, Miller searches in vain for deadly chemical agents but stumbles instead upon an elaborate government cover-up.

The plot also stumbles at times -- due to a tricky mixture of fact and fiction -- and a clichéd script by Brian Helgeland (The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3). And I question some of the casting. Damon (Invictus, The Informant!) does well with the material -- but the same cannot be said of co-stars Greg Kinnear (as a Special Intelligence official) and Amy Ryan (as a Wall Street Journal reporter). Although usually strong actors, they're not believable in their roles here. Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) also seems a bit out of place as the CIA Baghdad bureau chief. Bottom line: there's some good action in the film -- and it raises some interesting questions on unearthing the truth -- but ultimately, it's only mildly thrilling. [Rated R; opens tomorrow]

Grade: B-

  • An alphabetical archive of other film reviews can be found by clicking on the icon in the left menu.
  • If you're looking for a truly great film about the war in Iraq, rent The Hurt Locker -- which deservedly won Best Picture at Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

DVD Reviews: One Documentary, Two Dramas

Capitalism: A Love Story

The latest political documentary from Michael Moore examines the impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans (and by default, the rest of the world). The film moves from middle America, to the halls of power in Washington, to the global financial capital of Manhattan. Although ultimately not as strong as Moore's past triumphs (Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11), the filmmaker still excels at telling an important story with both humor and outrage. And before you attack Moore for being a liberal, I think you may be surprised that he challenges both Republicans AND Democrats here. This balanced view caught me by surprise -- and reminds us that Americans need to ease the bi-partisanship and focus on what's best for the country overall.

What is the price that America pays for its love of capitalism? Families pay the price with their jobs, their homes and their savings. Moore goes into the homes of ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down; and he goes looking for explanations in DC and elsewhere. What he finds are the all-too-familiar symptoms of a love affair gone astray: lies, abuse, betrayal. Some of the vignettes work better than others -- as Moore wanders from the big picture a bit. However, the detours -- such as one highlighting a child care scandal in Pennsylvania -- are still fascinating. Extras: bonus features include the usual -- deleted scenes, extended interviews and theatrical trailers. [Rated R; released on DVD today]

Grade: B

Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire

Precious won two Academy Awards on Sunday -- Best Supporting Actress for Mo'Nique's incredible performance and Best Adapted Screenplay for Geoffrey Fletcher's heart-wrenching script. It earned the other four nominations it received as well -- including one for Best Picture. It truly was one of the best films of last year. Here is my original review of the theatrical release. [Rated R; released on DVD today]

Up in the Air

Although it received six Oscar nominations, Up in the Air was shut out on Sunday. But it still was one of the best films of 2009. Here is my original review of the theatrical release. [Rated R; released on DVD today]

Monday, March 8, 2010

Top 10 at the Weekend Box Office

  • Click on the chart to enlarge.
  • Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the 3D spectacle starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, earned an estimated $116.3 million -- the highest grossing weekend ever for a spring release (ok --technically not spring yet, but a March up til Memorial Day weekend time frame).
  • IMAX– which pulled Avatar from all its screens in exchange for Alice – was rewarded handsomely with its highest weekend gross ever, $11.9 million in only 188 theaters.
  • Avatar earned another $7.7 million to put its 12-week domestic take at $720 million.
  • All figures are industry estimates. Actual figures are released later today.
  • Reviews of Brooklyn's Finest, Avatar, Crazy Heart and other movies not in the top ten can be found by clicking on the Film Reviews archive image at left.
  • Sources: Nielsen EDI,

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscar Predictions!

It's finally here -- the 82nd Academy Awards will honor the best in film for 2009 starting tonight at 8pm ET (on ABC). Having seen all the movies in the top categories and all the nominated performances, I offer up my predictions with some level of confidence.

Now keep in mind, I'd love to be right -- but I also love to be surprised. The best Oscar shows have always been the ones with surprises. With that said, I think we'll hear "and the winner is..." as follows:

Best Picture

The Blind Side

District 9

An Education

The Hurt Locker
- winner
Inglourious Basterds


A Serious Man


Up in the Air

If you believe the experts, the race is down to two films -- Avatar and The Hurt Locker. But honestly, all ten of the films in the category are worthy. In fact, all received a grade of B+ or better in my reviews (click the Film Reviews icon at left). I think we're going to see a split tonight -- with Avatar winning Best Picture and The Hurt Locker winning for its director. Because Avatar was such a huge undertaking -- and brought cinema to a completely different level unseen before, I think it will squeeze by with the top prize.

Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker - winner
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

It's the battle of the ex-spouses as it comes down to James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow. Cameron is such a groundbreaking force -- but he has won before for Titanic. While Bigelow just recently won the Directors Guild Award -- which almost always matches the result of the Academy. Both are deserving of the honor, but I think the Academy is finally ready to make this a milestone -- and honor a female director for the first time. And she deserves it -- for giving us a war film unlike any other in the genre.

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart - winner
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Some may look at this award as honoring someone who is long overdue. But don't listen to that talk. Jeff Bridges truly gave the best performance among the five nominees -- and will walk away with the trophy for a terrific turn as a washed-up country singer -- and not for his overall career.

Best Actress

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side - winner
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Other than the Best Picture contest, this is the hottest race. When the awards season began, Carey Mulligan picked up most of the honors in a career-making role. Then the focus shifted to the most-nominated actor of all time -- Meryl Streep -- who channeled Julia Child in a terrific performance. But all the momentum seems to now be with Sandra Bullock -- who earned her first nomination for playing against her usual type. For years, we've watched Bullock mostly in lightweight comedic roles -- but in The Blind Side, she convincingly pulls off a great dramatic turn. Oscar loves the change-up, so I give the slight edge to Bullock.

Best Supporting Actor

Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds - winner

There is no race here. Virtually unknown in the U.S. before this role, Christoph Waltz does the impossible. He makes a vile Nazi officer likable and charming.

Best Supporting Actress

Penélope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo’Nique, Precious - winner

As with the other supporting category, there is no race here. Mo'Nique not only gives the best performance of the year in this category -- but across ALL acting categories. As with Bullock playing against type, the comedienne created the best villain in years as an abusive mother. A truly amazing performance.

Best Original Screenplay

Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker - winner
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy, Up
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino has a gift for story-telling -- and Inglourious Basterds is so well done, it deserves to be honored for its writing. Don't be surprised if a strong wave carries The Hurt Locker to a win here though.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche, In the Loop
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious - winner
Nick Hornby, An Education
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

An early front-runner for Best Picture, Up in the Air should instead receive this screenplay award. But don't think of it as a consolation prize; the film deserves the honor in giving us a timely look at the impact of recessionary fallout on human lives.

  • Look for my favorite movie of the year, Up, to win Best Animated Film and Best Score. - won both
  • Best Original Song should go to "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart -- it's a wonderful film that was made even better by great music. Click here to listen. - won
  • Avatar should clean up well in the technical categories -- which likely will push the film to the most overall wins. - nope; The Hurt Locker won 6, Avatar next with 3
  • A complete list of the 82nd Academy Award nominations can be found here. - updated with winners noted
  • Check back tomorrow -- the Oscars will then be over, but celebrating the best in 2009 film will not. FINALLY, Monday will mark the launch of EntertainmentBlogger's "Year in Movies" contest!
  • Enjoy the show!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Movie Reviews: Oscar Nominees

As reported yesterday, I played some catch-up since the Oscar nominations were announced last month. Here are my mini reviews of six films that completed my goal to see all 10 best picture nominations, all 10 nominated screenplays and all 20 nominated performances before the big night.


The highest-grossing film of all-time also tied for the most Oscar nominations this year (nine; along with The Hurt Locker) -- including best picture. Nominated again for best director, James Cameron (Titanic) has brought the cinema to an entirely different level by transporting us to the beautifully-lush planet of Pandora in the year 2154. Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation) plays Jake Sully, a paraplegic war veteran who is brought to the planet inhabited by the Na'vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. The film's title refers to the genetically engineered Na'vi bodies used by Jake and several other humans to interact with the natives of Pandora.

Jake soon learns that a greedy businessman has joined forces with the military to use the avatar system to help drive the natives out of their homeland -- in order to mine a valuable mineral. But Jake falls in love with Neytiri -- a Na'vi (excellently played by Zoe Saldana) -- and her culture and homeland. What results is an epic battle to save the planet.

Visually, the film is a sci-fi masterpiece -- especially in 3D -- and earns all its technical Oscar nominations. And don't get hung up on all the thinking that there's not much of a story here -- or that the plot steals from others (including Pocahantas). There's more than enough originality in the story -- and plenty to keep you captivated from beginning to end. Also stars Giovanni Ribisi, Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez (TV's Lost). [Rated PG-13, in theaters now]

Grade: A-

The Blind Side

This family film tells the story of Big Mike, a homeless African-American teen from a broken home, taken in by a well-to-do Southern white family who help him fulfill his potential. At the same time, Big Mike's presence in the family's lives leads them to some insightful self-discoveries of their own. Based on the true story of the NFL's Michael Oher, some may find the film a bit too schmaltzy. But although the tear-jerking feels forced at times, there's nothing wrong with being a feel-good movie with a great message. Sandra Bullock (The Proposal) is terrific in her Oscar-nominated role as Big Mike's tough surrogate mother with a heart of gold. Also Oscar-nominated for best picture, the sports drama stars Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates, Quinton Aaron and Jae Head. Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Alamo). [Rated PG-13; in theaters now; on DVD March 23]

Grade: B+

An Education

Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan (Brothers) is a revelation as a teenager living outside London in the early 1960s. Although her parents' have set the path for her to work hard in her studies to get accepted to Oxford, everything changes when she is romanced by a mysterious older man (Peter Sarsgaard). Soon blinded by love, she gets mixed up in some shady business that may sidetrack her education plans -- for good. The drama, also Oscar-nominated for best picture and best adapted screenplay, does an incredible job at capturing the times. And it reminds us that the best education is often not learned in the classroom -- but in actually living life itself. From Danish director Lone Scherfig, the film also stars Emma Thompson and Alfred Molina -- who was wrongly overlooked for a nomination of his own. [Rated PG-13; in theaters now; on DVD March 30]

Grade: A-

In the Loop

This British political satire was the surprise entry in the Oscar race for best adapted screenplay. The film picks up as the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom are looking to launch a war in the Middle East. The plot follows government officials and advisers from both sides of the Atlantic in their behind-the-scenes efforts either to promote the war or prevent it. Directed and co-written by Armando Iannucci, the film is a spinoff from his BBC TV series The Thick of It. And there-in lies some of the problem -- it plays like some chatty and full-of-itself TV drama. Although the cast is sharp -- and the writing is intelligent and witty -- the plot meanders, the camera and story jump around too much, and I was left dizzy and uninterested very early. Stars Tom Hollander, Mimi Kennedy, James Gandolfini (Where the Wild Things Are), Chris Addison, Peter Capaldi, a grown-up Anna Chlumsky (My Girl), Steve Coogan and David Rasche. [Rated R; on DVD now]

Grade: C+

Inglourious Basterds

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), in his familiar style of several chapters that evenutally overlap, the film has been nominated for eight Oscars -- including best picture and original screenplay. The drama opens in Nazi-occupied France, where a young Jewish refugee witnesses the murder of her family by an evil colonel (Christoph Waltz). Narrowly escaping with her life, she plots her revenge several years later when a German war hero takes an interest in her and arranges a premiere of a propaganda film at the theater she now runs. With the promise of every major Nazi officer in attendance -- including Hitler -- the event catches the attention of the "Basterds," a group of Jewish-American guerrilla soldiers led by a ruthless redneck lieutenant (Brad Pitt). As the relentless executioners advance and the conspiring young girl's plans are set in motion, their paths cross for a fateful evening that could shake the very annals of history.

Waltz is a lock for the best supporting actor Oscar category -- as he achieves the impossible -- pulling off being both charming and vile at the same time. And kudos go to Tarantino for creating a fictional film that is so well-done, you'll surely get caught up in the "what if" it only were true and history was re-written. My only complaint? On DVD, it's a bit difficult to read the subtitles that accompany the German, French and Italian-speaking sections. Also stars Diane Kruger and Mélanie Laurent. [Rated R; on DVD now]

Grade: A-


This film reunites director Clint Eastwood with his Million Dollar Baby co-star Morgan Freeman -- who plays Nelson Mandela. The drama is a look at the life of Mandela after the fall of apartheid in South Africa -- and during his term as president. Mandela campaigns to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup event as an opportunity to unite his divided county. The title comes from the fact that Mandela had the "Invictus" poem written on a scrap of paper on his prison cell while he was incarcerated. In the movie, Mandela gives the inspirational short poem (written by the English poet William Ernest Henley) to national rugby team's captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) before the start of the tournament (in reality, Mandela provided Pienaar with an extract from Theodore Roosevelt's "The Man in the Arena" speech).

Freeman does a sensational job capturing Mandela -- and earned yet another Oscar nomination. Meanwhile, Damon's supporting nomination is not as worthy -- and maybe he should have been nominated for his lead role in The Informant! instead. Ultimately, the film is a good history lesson -- but just a mildly-entertaining sports drama. [Rated PG-13; in theaters now]

Grade: B

The Last Station

This drama explores the turbulent final year in the life of the Russian writer and philosopher Leo Tolstoy and his troubled marriage. Helen Mirren (The Queen) and Christopher Plummer (Up) are both exceptional in their Oscar-nominated roles as the battling Tolstoys. James McAvoy (Atonement) and Paul Giamatti (Cold Souls) are also excellent in supporting roles as Tolstoy followers. But although we learn about Tolstoy's struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things, we're left wanting more clarity on the history of his marriage. Written and directed by Michael Hoffman (A Midsummer Night's Dream). [Rated R; in theaters now]

Grade: B

  • A complete list of the 82nd Academy Award nominations can be found here.
  • Reviews for the other best picture nominations, nominated screenplays and films carrying nominated performance can be found by clicking the Film Reviews icon in the upper left sidebar.
  • There's also still time to vote in the Oscar poll at left.
  • Check back tomorrow morning for my predictions in the major categories.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Movie Awards Update: It's Oscar Weekend!

It's time to follow up on my post the day the Oscar nominations were announced (here) -- when I only needed to see five more movies before the big night. Well, last Sunday I saw the last of those five -- and so with a week to spare, I managed to see all 10 nominated films and all 20 nominated performances!

Well tonight, I thought I'd take it a step further and see the one nominated screenplay I have not seen. So what does this all mean?

Saturday: I will post mini reviews of all the movies I have seen over the past few weeks to catch up.

Sunday AM: I will post my predictions for the major categories of the 82nd Academy Awards -- best picture, actress, actor, supporting actress, supporting actor, director, adapted screenplay and original screenplay! So check back before the big telecast @ 8:30pm Sunday.

Meanwhile, don't forget to vote in the Oscar poll at left! And check out my reviews of all the films I've previously seen by clicking the reviews icon -- also at left.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Movie Review: Brooklyn's Finest

Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) returns to the cop beat with another gritty crime drama, Brooklyn's Finest. Authentically shot on location, the film follows three seemingly unconnected stories of NY's finest. But hey, it's a movie -- so you know things will converge at some point.

Ethan Hawke (reunited with his Training Day director) plays a father who already has five kids and twins on the way -- and financial problems that make all the drug money laying around so very tempting. Don Cheadle is a detective that's been undercover for so long, he bonds more with a drug dealer (Wesley Snipes) than with the fellow cops that are trying to nab the crook. And then there's Richard Gere (Amelia), a veteran officer who's just a week away from retirement -- but just can't seem to go out quietly.

It's a bit long -- and may be too violent for some. And sure, we've seen movies about corrupt cops before. But Hawke, Cheadle and Gere are all so good at not playing by the rules that they save the script from being cliché. The tense plot kept my interest right up to the explosive climax. A strong supporting cast includes Lili Taylor and Ellen Barkin. [Rated R; opens tomorrow]

Grade: B

  • An alphabetical archive of other film reviews can be found by clicking on the icon in the left menu.
  • With only a few more days til the big night, please vote in the Oscar poll at left.

Monday, March 1, 2010

MusicMonday: Olympic Performances, Pearl Jam Update and Free Downloads

Olympic Performances

Was it just me or were most of the performances at last night's closing ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics really bad? Canada may have won the most gold medals -- but some of the nation's accomplishments were tarnished by the music that followed. The Olympic committee should have ended the day on a high-note for the country -- right after their victory over the U.S. in hockey. Performances included:
  • Inward Eye -- with a rendition of their song "Day After Day"
  • Neil Young, who took center stage with just his guitar and harmonica to croon "Long May You Run"
  • A trio of young Canadians -- pop star Nikki Yanofsky, singer/songwriter Derek Miller and "Canadian Idol" winner Eva Avila -- joined together to perform "Let's Have a Party," a song written especially for the games
  • Michael Bublé, who sang "The Maple Leaf Forever"
  • Avril Lavigne, who sang her hits “My Happy Ending” and “Girlfriend”
  • Nickelback, who sang "How You Remine Me" and "Burn It to the Ground"
  • Alanis Morissette, who sang "Wunderkind"
  • Marie-Mai, who sang "Emmene-moi"
  • Hedley, who sang "Cha-Ching"
  • Simple Plan, who sang "Your Love is a Lie"

Pearl Jam Update

It's official -- I will be heading down to New Orleans for the second weekend of Jazz Fest to see the headliners, Pearl Jam! Yes, the scope of the festival has broadened to include rock acts, but I'll be looking forward to lots of authentic jazz while there, too. Here is a list of acts performing at the festival this year. Meanwhile, check out this awesome fan video of the Pearl Jam song, "Unthought Known:"

Free Downloads

Here are this week's free offerings:
  • More than 20 concerts by Metallica from 1982-2003 are available here.
  • Download "Seven" from the Dave Matthews Band here.
  • Compliments of Amazon, comes singles "Detroit City" from Alice Cooper here and "Wake Up!" from Shooter Jennings & Hierophant here. Links for other free downloads from Amazon appear below.
  • Like the songs from the Lincoln commercials? Well now you can download four of them here -- including the Shiny Toy Dogs' version of "Major Tom."
  • Download "Enchanted" by the Moonlighters here.

And don't forget to continually check the following sources for more free downloads -- new songs covering all genres are added frequently. Just click on the links below and enjoy some new tunes.