The Cumulative Ranking of Taylor Swift’s Albums   Leave a comment

QUEEN!

Deity Swift just released her fifth studio album (earlier in some parts of the world than the US), and it is said to be her departure to the country genre to fully embrace her pop sound. And if we’ll based it on her first single this era, the infectious “Shake It Off“, it is indeed a major crossover. Is it a risk worth doing, or is it a step back to her glorious streak? In order to gauge how 1989 fared as compared to the rest of her discography, we revisit Taytay’s memory lane and rank all five of her albums.

Taylor Swift

5. TAYLOR SWIFT (2006)

It was eight years ago when Taylor Swift entered the music scene with her self titled debut album. Just like all ingenues to the music industry, Taylor’s first offering was mostly about her dreams, giving a safe offering. But if there’s one thing that’s particularly striking about her, it’s her potential for song writing. Even in her debut album, T.Swift was already giving hints of introducing her self on a deeper level with her song writing. I think she entered the country scene in the right time as there’s no solo teen country girl that has made some name for herself since Leann Rimes in the mid-90s. While she didn’t become as huge as Rimes was when she entered the scene, it is without a doubt that when it comes to Swift and this album, the rest is simply history.

Favorite tracks:Our Song“, “The Outside“, “Teardrops in My Guitar

Speak Now

4. SPEAK NOW (2010)

The follow up the the critically lauded and commercial hit Fearless will always be a crucial for any artist, but two years after, Swift comes up with “Speak Now.” If Fearless made Swift bank and bask in her youthfulness and the feeling of such, there’s certainly no place to move on but go further on her next album. Speak Now had Swift writing songs referring to Joe Jonas, Taylor Lautner, John Mayer and Kanye West to name a few, and what one might consider as petty can be Taylor’s view of finally letting her guard down and translating her frustrations as inspirations. And to the surprise of no one, it actually works. At this stage in her career, Swift needs to prove that Fearless isn’t just a fluke, a one-album wonder and she knows that her follow up will start to solidify the great start her previous album had. But like any Taylor related story, she ends up winning having the last laugh.

Favorite tracks:Enchanted“, “Back to December“, “Mean

Fearless

3. FEARLESS (2008)

Officially making her entry known to the rest of the music industry, Fearless is what made Taylor the youngest winner of the Grammy for Album of the Year back in 2009. Coming from where her initial album left off, she followed it with something that is a mix and match of a lot of things. Her sugary stuff was still present, but not only does she make herself relateable with the young girls, she also served as an older sister to them giving them pieces of advice (like that in Fifteen) or being message specific (like that in Hey Stephen.). She still gives homage to her country roots while simultaneously testing the water with them pop beats which probably is an indication of a crossover she’ll be doing in the future years of her career. And for an 18 year old country lady in the business, her album title can probably signify to that shift as well. If anything, in Fearless, Swift is still enjoying both worlds talking about puppy love and romance with a charm that only she can pull off.

Favorite tracks:You Belong With Me“, “Love Story“, “Hey Stepehen

Red

2. RED (2012)

The thing with Taylor’s albums is that the previous one can be connected with the succeeding one especially with the personal details that she shares behind the meaning of her songs. Red, which became her second album to be nominated for the Grammy Album of the Year, follows the same suit. Red is definitely her larger than life album tackling themes and topics in her songs so bluntly and partnering it with big beats and loud thumps making you feel as if every finish of a song is the closing of a different story. Her songwriting details are more aggressive and detailed this time around including a top notch favorite of mine “All Too Well.” In this album, Swift plays a teenager, a heartbroken woman, a cool girl, a hopeless romantic and lots of other facets making the listening experience more enjoyable. In Red, she acknowledges that she is mature already but that she’d still be petty every now and then. This is also her first (and still her only) album where she did collaborations (to the likes of Ed Sheeran and Gary Lightbody), and I think one that never fails to give you all the “feels.”

Favorite tracks: “All Too Well“, “The Last Time“, “Begin Again

1989

1. 1989 (2014)

Yep. You’ve read that right. Well you can freely accuse me of having knee-jerk reactions, but I was just slayed by it. In Taytay’s latest, she officially announced that she’s going full throttle to pop territory. While the pop sound was already present in Swift’s previous albums, one could still hear the country twang every now and then. Yet such is the risk that she decides to take with her fifth album. And boy does it pay off big time. 1989, mixing 80s synth pop in it, is probably her most cohesive effort to date. While other songs can sound annoying as stand alone tracks (like that of album opener Welcome to New York), it is perfectly fitting in the context of the whole album. One moment you’re hearing some Lorde realness, then the other you’re hearing Lana and Tegan and Sara. But the difference is that she’s not really ripping them off, but she’s putting her own spin on them. The succession of songs from Blank Space to Out of the Woods is pure pop perfection, and she does that with probably majority of the songs in this album. 1989 is definitely 2014’s pop-gasm album if ever you have to single out one, and DeiTay knew exactly what she had in mind by assuring she’ll deliver with this pop venture.

Favorite tracks: Uhm almost everything? Lol. But “Blank Space”, “Style“, “Wildest Dreams“, “Clean

1989 will be digitally available via iTunes Philippines starting October 28. For the meantime, just keep on bopping to Shake It Off or watch her totally actressing performance of Out of the Woods over at Jimmy Kimmel Live (maybe she got tips from her The Giver co-star Meryl Streep? :))

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

The Curious Face of Renee Zellweger   Leave a comment

renee zLeft: February 2004, BAFTA Awards | Middle: February 2013, Oscars | Right: October 2014, Elle Women in Hollywood Celebration

The Internet community has taken a new target — and its’s Oscar winner Renee Zellweger. Making her appearance at the Elle Women in Hollywood Celebration yesterday, the 45-year old actress, who rarely comes to showbiz event nowadays, showed up donning a “new face” so to speak. Gone were the squinty eyes look and now present are her puffier lips. The only thing more visible than her new look though are the negative comments judging her about it.

During the early to mid-Aughts, Renee Zellweger was one of Hollywood’s it girls. She basically fits the mold of a Jennifer Lawrence (in terms of being one of the go-to girls in terms of juicy lead female parts) meets Amy Adams (before the latter started to hit big). She wasn’t only an ideal lead for female driven films, but she was a notable actress of her generation, even picking three Oscar nods in a row and winning for her third one, as the outgoing Ruby Theses in the late Anthony Minghella’s “Cold Mountain” ten years ago.

Throughout her career, Renee’s physical looks has always been one of the favorite topics of the media. Remember how people would make big deal of her drastic weight changes when she shot Bridget Jones’ Diary? It was during those years when they scrutinize her because she gets paid to gain weight and how she would lose them again once she’s finished filming. The same criticisms appeared again when she shot the sequel to it.

To be blunt about it, Renee doesn’t really fit the “totally pretty” mold of Hollywood reserved for the likes of Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly during the Golden Era or even those of Charlize Theron and her Chicago co-star Catherine Zeta Jones. Prior to this “transformed look”, she was mostly known for her squinty eyes as if she has chewed some sour lemon candies, and even gave birth to some puns and memes such as this one. But what one might consider as Renee’s totally unique look can be someone else’s definition of not pretty. While there’s really nothing wrong about having different perspective of beauty, the reality is that its impact transcends further than the mere spectators commenting about it.

Even in her heydays as a movie actress, Renee doesn’t seem like your “typical movie star” star. If you watch her past interviews, she’s quite the shy and timid one. I don’t know if that counts as an indication of her confidence, but it won’t take a super scientist to figure out how her career has been doing the past few years. Her last movie was way back in 2010, and it was even a VOD release. When she made her first major appearance at the Oscars last year (being reunited with the cast of Chicago), she looked a bit uncomfortable even passing the announcement to co-presenter Richard Gere. If this has anything to do with her feeling the need to “correct” one’s looks, then isn’t it every inch her right?

The truth of the matter is that Hollywood and actresses have a very strange relationship. Like many other actresses in Hollywood, some even before Renee Zellweger, to lie low for quite some time automatically means that there’s a new Barbie doll in the waiting. After all, not everyone can be a Julia Roberts or a Meryl Streep to stand the test of time. Thus many actresses resort to different means in order to guard their territory. Surgery is a very “Hollywood” thing to do. While the likes of Meg Ryan, Joan Allen, Teri Hatcher, and Nicole Kidman are some of its notorious “customers”, there’s an unspoken truth about how almost everyone subscribes to it. Whether they’re obvious or not, it’s far more “common” knowledge out there to resort to it than one can usually imagine. When it comes to actresses and looks, it seemed like when a person looks great, you commend them, but when an actress looks “weird”, you blame them for doing what a lot of them does. In fact, the only difference they have is the names of their surgeons, and not the act of undergoing surgery. It is actually a lose-lose situation for Renee if we’re being honest about it, it’s either she’d be accused as lemon girl or just a new person. And so she decides for herself.

What’s disappointing about this “fiasco” (if you can even call it as such) isn’t the fact that she changed her face. It’s her friggin face after all; she can do what the hell she wants with it. I personally think she looks happier and more confident, albeit she looks like another person so good for her. It’s more of the harmful notion that we are now quick to dictate (and not judge) on how people should appear or look. Do we really have the same option to lambast them for it? And isn’t it ridiculous how superficial that was? Halle Berry has been sporting the same looks for 20 years now, but no one’s saying a thing because she still passes the society’s notion of “appealing”. I think it’s equally worrisome when you think about it how a person has been looking the same for two decades now, yet everyone gives her a free pass because she still inhabits the people’s definition of beautiful. It is Renee’s right to do something with her face. It is her right just like many out there to do the same. It is hers to deal if she’s happy with the end result, not for us to impose how she should feel about it.

It’s really sad when you think about it — how these Hollywood actresses get criticized for not keeping up with their looks. Apparently, Hollywood isn’t the only one guilty about it —  society can be harsher and more guilty of such. But hey, these are the same types of accusations that Jessica Lange received in the late 90s to early 2000s when she was “obsessed” with surgery, yet she managed to come back big time. Here’s hoping Renee follows suit.  In any case, someone better cast her as Claire Underwood’s sister in “House of Cards.” For the mean time, I’m happy to learn that she herself is happy with her looks. :)

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Posted October 22, 2014 by Nicol Latayan in Films

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12 Kabugan Teleserye Confrontation Scenes   6 comments

two wives

Last night, another teleserye premiered over ABS-CBN’s Primetime Bida– the Philippine remake of the hit Korean drama “Two Wives.” Shown here back in 2012, this local adaptation stars Kaye Abad and Erich Gonzales fighting over Jason Abalos. And based from the previews and teasers, we will see slapping – a lot of ‘em, apparently – and confrontations and “sagutans” between the two women. And if there’s one thing, these dramas are known for, it’s that we live for their over the top and melodramatic confrontations. After all, nothing snatches the interest of the TV viewing public by a showdown of two characters out-bitching each other. Thus, we revisit 12 of them in celebration of “Two Wives“‘ premiere.

01.  Rose/Emmanuelle vs. Sasha in “Sana Bukas Pa Ang Kahapon” (2014)

In the recently concluded “Sana Bukas Pa Ang Kahapon“, we see Rose (Bea Alonzo), now as Emmanuelle, flirting with former flame Patrick (Paulo Avelino). But this does not go well with Sasha (Maricar Reyes) when she sees him wiping the wine off Emmanuelle’s legs. And as Sasha comes to warn Emmanuelle, she trips off leading to a wet encounter.

The Kabugan Scene: Emmanuelle tries to help Sasha by offering her hand to help her rise from the pool. But when Sasha seizes the moment to grab Emmanuelle and pull her down the pool, the latter suddenly moves her hand away making the pathetic Sasha more miserable. For that we give this scene 2 full slaps!

02. Sarah vs. Mia in “Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo” (2012)

Childhood friends turned husband and wife Sarah (Shaina Magdayao) and Paul (Jake Cuenca) is a struggling couple which led the man to go to Dubai to experience the greener pastures for his family. Upon working there, he bumps onto former flame Mia (Bangs Garcia) and rekindled their relationship. When Sarah followed Paul to Dubai is the time she realized this inifidelity.

The Kabugan Scene: In one of the most pasabog scenes in this show (clip starts at the 2:20 bit), there’s a scene where Mia open the big gate to see who’s knocking as Sarah goes to Paul’s direction and gives him a big slap. And since it takes two to tango, she then went to Mia and gave her the other pair of the slap. It’s a slap so hard I’m sure Mia’s head shattered for a few seconds. It’s followed by some shouting yada yada, but I bet it’s hard for Mia to process it since she’s still recovering from that slap. I give this confrontation, 2.25 slaps!

03. Vanessa vs. Sara in “Impostora” (2007)

Possessing some Orphan Black realness even before the show started five years later, this GMA serye with face snatching, doppleganger realness told the story of conjoined twins Lara and Sara against their diabolical cousin Vanessa. Sharing not only their face, but also their love interests, it’s hard to keep up who’s who and what’s happening to everyone in here.

The Kabugan Scene: In that big wedding scene right before the ceremony starts. we see Sunshine Dizon stops the wedding of Mark Anthony Fernandez and …. Sunshine Dizon. So as these 2 Sunshines go back and forth between who the real Sara is, Iza Calzado’s character comes in and reveals that Nicolas is marrying the wrong Sara.  Nothing beats the chaos that comes from a wedding, and with that, we rank this 2.5 slaps!

04. Chantal vs. Heidi in “Temptation of Wife” (2012)

While Angeline (Marian Rivera) and Heidi (Glaiza e Castro) have been friends since their childhood, Heidi had always developed a hidden envy to Chantal that she has kept as they were growing up. This even reached a point when they shared the same man — Marcel (Dennis Trillo). But when Angeline learned about the betrayal of the two people she loved the most, an accident that led Heidi thinking Angeline is dead is the start of the latter’s payback. She comes back as Chantal Gonzales, and she’s getting the receipts of her revenge.

The Kabugan Scene: Upon thinking that Chantal is flirting with her beau, this did not go well with Heidi as she decided to attack Chantal Mortal Kombat style. Jumping from chairs, tumbling in the carpet, tying with a hanky, and using fork as a weapon, this larger than life fight seemed to exist only in video games. It’s as over the top as it is ridiculous. But then again, it ended with a reveal of a pillow baby. So at least they’re consistent with it. This fight deserved a 2.75 slap rating!

05. Amor Powers vs. Claudia Buenavista in “Pangako Sa’Yo” (2000)

Gone were the days when we get these really over the top but serious showdowns in between characters. Nowadays, people live for the snark and the quotable quotations. But not in 2000 — as we see bitter rivals Amor Powers (Eula Valdez) and Madam Claudia Buenavista (Jean Garcia) battle out not only with money, but with men and children in this two year series. There’s a reason why these two are some of the most iconic characters in Philippine drama history.

The Kabugan Scene: When Claudia suddenly dashes her way to Amor’s house to ask for her daughter, she did it just for one reason: to slap her bitchy rival. Upon being threatened and be slapped  as well, she suddenly sneaks her way out. But that’s without mentioning the stanzas of lines that they shout at each other. And the pair of slap they gave to one another (including that rare leftie slap by Claudia to Amor). This doesn’t happen to modern teleseryes anymore. And to say I miss them is an understatement. For that, I give this scene a 3 slap rating!

06. Marimar vs. Angelika in “Marimar” (2007)

Definitely one of the most memorable telenovelas in Philippine history, the Mexican version of Marimar is one that will forever be one of the most influential ones. In this GMA remake, including a star-turning performance by Marian Rivera in the lead role, Marimar’s rag to riches story is, whether it’s Marimar and Sergio’s romance, or Marimar and Angelika’s revolving fates, and the other colorful characters in the soap, is one that will never get old.

The Kabugan Scene: While weddings and preparations bring out the class in most of us, consider both Marimar and Angelika as the likely outliers. When Angelika decided to poke fun at Marimar by asking her to be the maid of honor to Angelika and Sergio’s wedding, you know that it will only lead to chaos. And chaos it is, as not only did they ruin the whole place, but they’ve also wrestled with one another ruining gowns, cakes, and involving other people in the place.  Hopefully though, this type of mess only exists in the small screen and not in real life. This scene deserves a full 3.25 slap rating!

07. Vera vs. Victoria in “Magkaribal” (2010)

While most of the stories included in this lists had characters fighting over love interests, Magkaribal skews a bit as this one is a battle of power. When orphaned Anna Abella (Gretchen Barretto) thought that her younger sister Gelai (bea Alonzo) died from a hospital fire, she then made it a promise that she will take everything away from the person she thinks is responsible for those: Vera Cruz (Angel Aquino). So after his adopted father let her study fashion in Paris, she comes back to the country to snatch the title of “Queen of Philippine Fashion” from her mortal enemy.

The Kabugan Scene: Probably the start of a really famous pun — one that has been quoted many times especially during the trailer release and the premiere of the actual episode — Victoria visits Vera and informs her that she knows of the fashion designs that the latter has plagiarized and stolen from an up and coming designer. So when Vera confronted Victoria and asked her that she accepts the challenge, Gretchen Barretto, sans moving forehead, just said “You want war? I’ll give you war. Sabihin mo lang kung saan at kelan… I’ll be there in my red stilettos.” For that interaction alone, this clearly merits a 3.5 slap rating!

08. Milet vs. Sheila in “Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real” (2014)

GMA’s offering in the “kabitan” year of telserye, “Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real” featured the Diamond Star Maricel Soriano in the leading role as Milet Real, the original wife in the series. While Milet is mostly kind, patient, and calm, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned as she finally confronts the second Mrs. Real, Sheila, played by Lovi Poe in this nerve wracking elevator scene.

The Kabugan Scene: Never mind that the elevator seemed like it was stuck or that their confrontation went over 5 minutes without picking and dropping any new passengers, there will really be those times when nothing is more powerful than words. And that’s what Milet, who played a teacher in the soap, did here. Not only did she teach Sheila some lessons (“Bago mo ibuka ang hita mo, mag-research ka muna kung may asawa”), offending her parents, and doing everything as the mistress carries the lovechild, it is safe to say that the original schooled the second one here. This confrontation is deserving of a 3.75 slap rating!

09. Celyn vs. Margaux in “Ina Kapatid Anak” (2013)

Best friends turned enemies turned sisters turned rivals (whew!) Celyn (Kim Chiu)and Margaux (Maja Salvador) have all been fighting for the same things: parents’ attention, boys, interests, it always seemed like everything is going Celyn’s way. But while it seemed like the rivalry is too good to be true, well apparently it is since it’s one of those times when truth is stranger than fiction as the former real life best friends Kim and Maja aren’t really in a friendly mood during the production of this show due to some personal issues.

The Kabugan Scene: During the after party of their double celebration debut, Margaux finally had it with Celyn getting all the attention. Si while she’s drunk, she asked her if she can talk to her in which Margaux will just reiterate how much she hated Celyn following it with a really hard slap. Celyn then answered back “Para mahimasmasan ka..” and swooped up an equally hard slap. Sure, these slaps are supposed to be tame for a TV show, but in the context of what’s happening during these times, the tension in this scene alone trumps a lot of others in this list which leads to a solid 4 slap rating!

10. Catherine vs. Scarlet in “Iisa Pa Lamang” (2008)

This conflict over conflict over conflict of interconnecting stories focuses on naive lass Catherine (Claudine Barretto) and how she has smitten Miguel (Diether Ocampo) off her fingers. Miguel’s past flame Scarlet (Angelica Panganiban) came back just to meddle with these affairs and she will do everything it takes to make Catherine’s life msierable. For what its worth, Iisa Pa Lamang will never be forgotten as it pioneered the era of bitchy retorts and the endless over the top lines that have been uttered on Philippine dramas.

The Kabugan Scene:  It’s difficult to choose for this one as kabugan seems to be the name of the game for this soap, but let’s go with this court interaction in which Scarlet demands Catherine to be taken off the room only to find out that the latter will be used as a witness against Scarlet for the grounds of adultery. This led to a confrontation on the stairs where the two women shouted labels at each other ranging from “social climber” to “adulteress” and “slut” to “home wrecker” until Catherine capped it off by shouting “Desperraaattteee housewife from hellll” before attempting to push Scarlett off the stairs. That intensity of the scene alone is enough to give this a 4.5 slap rating.

11. Lally vs. Vincent in “My Husband’s Lover” (2013)

One of the hottest soaps of last year, GMA 7’s “My Husband Lover” provided major buzz in pop culture because of its handling of a sensitive topic that’s rarely (or even a first of its kind) focus on the relationship of two gay men on its forefront. This Dennis Trillo-Tom Rodriguez-Carla Abellana triangle not only made them household names (in the case of Tom Rodriguez), but it also proved her acting prowess (in the case of Carla Abellana) and initiated a career comeback (for Dennis Trillo).

The Kabugan Scene: While all of us pretty much know who “bhe” already is, Lally (Carla Abellana) seems like she’s the last person to figure things out. So when she did, it definitely shook her world (probably much more than we expected). This confrontation between husband and wife isn’t snarky or bitchy like the others on the list, but for sheer scene intensity and a high point moment in the series, it is worthy of a 4.75 slap rating!

12. Monica vs. Nicole in “The Legal Wife” (2014)

And rounding up the list is from 2014’s most memorable and most talked about teleserye… ABS-CBN’s “The Legal Wife.” Angel Locsin’s primetime TV comeback not only defied the high expectations for her, but it even delivered some of the highest ratings in the history of its timeslot. But then again, who can blame the audience? The story of how Monica (Angel Locsin) dealt upon learning that her former best friend Nicole (Maja Salvador) is having an affair with her husband Adrian (Jericho Rosales) has been the topic of endless debates, arguments, and trending Twitter topics during its time on the air,

The Kabugan Scene: We already had a taste of the confrontation when Monica went to Nicole’s house and attacked the latter while asking the now catchphrase “Masarap ba ang asawa ko? Paano mo siya nilandi? Anong unang tinanggal mo: yung bra mo, yung panty mo? O yung konsensiya mo?”, but then it was all Monica getting angry at a sheepish Nicole. In this however, we finally see a fight. And a very realistic one. Hair grabbing, hair pulling, and extension snatching fight. Everything about this scene is realistically awkward, but no one can bat an eyelash considering how we’re all Team Monica, yet even fans can sympathize of how it felt like to be Maja Salvador during this specific scene. I’m certain this scene will be remembered years from now, and it will be the barometer used for the next confrontations to come. This, a full perfect 5 slap rating!

There you have it! Do you think Two Wives will soon join the list? What are some of your favorite kabugan teleserye confrontation that missed the list? Pipe them in the comments section below.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

87th Oscars: Foreign Language Film Race   Leave a comment

.logo

After a record breaking 83 submissions from different countries this year (six more than previous record 76 last year), it is safe to say that this is definitely one of the closest categories of the year. Add the fact that there is no definitive frontrunner for this year like that of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in 2000, or “A Separation” in 2011 and “Amour” in 2012, it just makes the whole race more competitive. Below, I list down 20 countries (in alphabetical order) that are definitely in contention and are a cut above the rest in this field of 83 and has bigger chances of getting closer to that coveted golden naked Oscar trophy.

*Clicking the photo will lead you to the film’s trailer or a clip from it!

Argentina

Belgium

Brazil

Canada

Cuba

Ethiopia

France

Georgia

 

Germany

Greece

Hungary

Israel

Italy

Mauritania

Philippines

Poland

Russia

South Korea

Sweden

Turkey

Post-submission release, here’s how I’ll assess the race in terms of countries getting closer to the Top 9 and ultimately the top five final nominations. Belgium can probably work on the “no win” narrative yet and it’s the Dardennes so it can be considered hitting two birds with one stone. But then, both Russia and Poland are in contention as well and can all share frontrunner status.

.FINAL RANKINGS

What are your thoughts on the race? Who do you think are ahead of the pack and who can still surprise? You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

87th Oscars Predictions: October Edition   2 comments

We’re getting closer to the busiest months of awards prognostication as we reach the end of the year. At this point in the race, only American Sniper, Unbroken, Selma, Interstellar, Into the Woods, A Most Violent Year and Big Eyes are left among those in play for major nominations this year. But then again, we’ve had word on majority of the contenders already and we’re just awaiting for other factors to have a complete look on the race. This month, I’ve already added my predictions for the Foreign Language Film category considering that in two weeks time, we’ll hear the official complete list from AMPAS.

I’m still a bit bullish on Unbroken while quite confident in Selma, despite both being unseen. And I’m quite ready to predict that American Sniper will be Clint’s Oscar comeback. It’s also interesting to see the crowded Lead Actor race, as we’re bound to get a snub or two the way Tom Hanks was last year and John Hawkes was the year before. My current bet is on Eddie Redmayne to come close but solidify his chances for next year’s The Danish Girl, but I might still change my mind in the months to come. Anyway, here are my complete predictions in 19 different categories

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directing

 

 

lead actor

 

lead actress

 

supp actor

 

supp actress

 

screenplay

 

animated flf

 

techs 1

 

techs 2

 

techs 3
Total tally of nominations:

10 – Interstellar, Selma
8 – Gone Girl, Birdman
– The Imitation Game, Unbroken
5 – Boyhood, Into the Woods
4 – American Sniper, Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything
3 – Exodus: Gods and Kings
2 – Big Eyes, Godzilla, Mr. Turner, Whiplash, Wild

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs 2014   Leave a comment

After taking a break for quite some time, one of the most prestigious OPM songwriting competitions is back with the Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs: 2014. Quite frankly, I wondered if we’ll be having one this year especially after the huge comeback they had last year because this usually happens every March. But worry no more because not only is it back for another year, it’s getting bigger than ever with 15(!) songs vying for this year. This, we here at Tit for Tat will be grading all the songs in contention so you can also vote for your favorites before the competition night this Sunday.

Song details format credited to: manillenials.com/himig-handog-p-pop-love-songs-2014-top-15-finalists/

“AKIN KA NA LANG”

Interpreter: Morissette Amon
Words & Music by: Francis “Kiko” Salazar
Arranged & Produced by: Francis Kiko Salazar
Music video: Colegio de San Juan de Letran

Reminiscent of the big belted diva songs singing of heartbreak and missed love, “Akin Ka Na Lang” definitely fits the bill. It is emotional, it has whispering parts, and by the end, there’s the vocal acrobatics painting the hurt of a woman who wishes she’d have the man she loves. It has a widespread appeal especially to the general public and will make this a mainstay at the “pangmasa” FM stations. The music video’s like a Sarah Geronimo redux circa Forever’s Not Enough though. Small skit? Check. Lady singer acting? Check. Girl crying in her very long train of a gown? Check. It wasn’t bad, but it doesn’t inspire anything new as well.

Song: 2/5 | Music Video:  1.5/5

“BUMABALIK ANG NAGDAAN”

Interpreter: Jessa Zaragoza
Words & Music by: Sarah Jane Gandia
Arranged & Produced by: Jimmy Antiporda
Music video: Meridian International College

You heard the first song above, right? This is the continuation of that girl’s story. But damn if I’ll deny that I miss Jessa Zaragoza’s voice. Her distinct delivery is a treat here. Reminiscing is probably the theme of this whole entry, as the woman (in this case, Jessa) misses her one great love. I slightly prefer this though since the breakdown of the song is clearer and gives space for the singer and the listener to breathe especially in the song’s climax part. The music video, while nothing original, was fun to watch since the first part is basically Rihanna’s “Stay” while the last one is Christina Aguilera’s “I Turn To You.” However, I am living for Jessa’s actressing skills in this one (the tears in the end!!!), so I guess I’d rank it higher.

Song: 2.5/5 | Music Video:  2/5

“DITO”

Interpreter: Jovit Baldivino
Words & Music by: Raizo Chabeldin & Biv De Vera
Music video: Far Eastern University

Dito” dealt with a person being stuck with his feelings, harbored lonely memories back when he was young as Jovit Baldivino emphasizes the “Di-tooooooo” in “Dito sa puso ko.” Okay we get it, you’re really hurt. It’s a lovely song, though on par with the first two as songs about heartbreak and lost love. The music video did have some potential switching to black and white (to indicate that it was ancient perhaps? Lol), and some juxtaposition of the guy’s character back when he was young and now that he’s old, though I think the palette was overdid in some parts making it look like a bit amateurish when I’m certain they’re going for emotional.

Song: 2/5 | Music Video:  1.5/5

“EVERYTHING TAKES TIME”

Interpreter: Hazel Faith Dela Cruz
Words & Music by: Hazel Faith Dela Cruz
Music video: Adamson University

One thing I’ve always loved about these festivals is discovering new talent. Just last year alone, two of my favorite entries were from newbie singer/songwriters Marion Aunor (“If You Ever Change Your Mind“) and Wynn Andrada (“Tamang Panahon“). Such is the case for Hazel Faith dela Cruz who wrote, arranged, interpreted, and even starred in the music video of her entry “Everything Takes Time.” Certainly a bit more upbeat and probably the feel good song of the first four entries by far, “Everything…” is about waiting for that right moment and right time. The music video weaving four different stories of young girls being frustrated in life, with Hazel Faith serving as their indirect fairy god mother, is somewhat cute and fits the vibe of the song. Refreshing song of the bunch!

Song: 3.5/5 | Music Video:  3/5

“HALIK SA HANGIN”

Interpreters: Ebe Dancel, Abra
Words & Music by: David Dimaguila
Arranged & Produced by Jonathan Ong
Music video: University of the East

Okay so prior to giving this a spin, I have to say that it’s one of my most anticipated entries since I loooove both Ebe Dancel and Abra. But trying to keep my bias aside, this is really good. I like the slow build up of the whole song. Ebe Dancel sings the words as if they’re being whispered and it makes the whole haunting vibe more effective. Then comes Abra’s part which further specified the desolation and state of sadness the character felt even having “blood tears.” Props to all those who made the paper airplanes here (they’re a loooot), and I like the transitions in the scenes (zooming in at one place, zooming out at another). I hope they cleaned all the paper airplanes in the scene where the guy threw them in the road though.

Song: 4/5 | Music Video:  4/5

“HANGGANG KAILAN”

Interpreter: Angeline Quinto
Words & Music by: Joel Mendoza
Arranged & Produced by: Albert Tamayo
Music video: Ateneo de Manila University

Okay so I guess we’re back to the depressing love songs with this song interpreted by Angeline Quinto. However, I find this the better of the “sad” songs by far since it’s one where the interpreter is perfectly matched with the song. Quinto brings in so much honesty in her performance that it’s hard not to be carried away. It’s basically less is more with her as it brings the raw impact of the song. The music video was probably the cleanest one yet, and one that would certainly mistaken as a professional music video. It’s well done even if the treatment was already done many times.

Song: 2.5/5 | Music Video:  3.5/5

“HINDI, WALA”

Interpreter: Juris
Words & Music by: Nica del Rosario
Arranged & Produced by: Gino Cruz
Music video: De La Salle-College of St. Benilde

Juris’ slow, bordering on reciting delivery, of the verses is either a blessing in disguise or a genius plan in the making because that totally worked with the nature of the song. The lyrics, containing deep hurt, effectively doubled with the interpreter’s emotional take on it. I like how she lets the words linger making the emotions translate more to its audience.  The video’s pretty nice as well, especially on a technical standpoint, even leaving with a catch in the end. It’s one of those melodramatic songs that totally works on so many different levels.

Song: 3.5/5 | Music Video:  3.5/5

“IF YOU DON’T WANT TO FALL”

Interpreter: Jed Madela
Words & Music by: Jude Gitamondoc
Arranged by: Jad Bantug & 1032 Studio
Music video: University of Santo Tomas

For some reason, this song reminds me of South Border’s “Wherever You Are.”, and that’s not even a knock to it. I like how low key the song was. Save for some unnecessary runs, Jed Madela was restrained and heartfelt. It’s one of those songs that I think grows better with you after repeated listens because it’s surprisingly simple, direct, and effective. The music video’s okay too. Love that overflowing pouring of wine shot even if that “fight scene” was kinda out of place technical wise. I think this has the potential to be a sleeper hit?

Song: 4/5 | Music Video:  2.5/5

“MAHAL KITA PERO”

Interpreter: Janella Salvador
Words & Music by Melchora Mabilog
Arranged & Produced by Jack Rufo
Music video: San Beda College Alabang

There’s something odd about the song that I can’t quite put my finger on. No doubt it is catchy, but I still can’t figure out which. The beat’s a little bit odd, I think? Sure it’s a semi upbeat song, but I think it would have fared better in a faster tempo perhaps. Or maybe it was the oddly “Ayaw ni (insert relative here)…” part which sounded out of place and totally forced. It’s like the way the lines were divided was awkward to hear. The video’s cute though, and Janella Salvador was fitting interpreter to put some “youth” spin in it with her vocals. But I guess it’s one where the song lives up to the title. The song has the potential pero…

Song: 2.5/5 | Music Video:  3/5

“MAHAL KO O MAHAL AKO”

Interpreter: KZ Tandingan
Words & Music by: Edwin Marollano
Arranged & Produced by Edwin Marollano
Music video: San Sebastian College-Recoletos

After last year’s “Scared to Death“, which was definitely one of my favorites from prior year’s batch, KZ Tandingan offered a different one this year taking on a song about someone confused whether to choose the person of his dreams who doesn’t have the same affection for him or the other person who loves him even if that wasn’t his ideal one. The beat ‘s reminiscent of that OPM song “Kabit“, and since that one’s a videoke staple of mine, I actually like this one a lot. It’s catchy, it’s quite different, and it has that relate-ability factor. The music video had some good ideas (like that shadow thing), though the final output wasn’t as polished, but I’d still give them props.

Song: 4/5 | Music Video:  2.5/5

“PARE, MAHAL MO RAW AKO”

Interpreter: Michael Pangilinan
Words & Music by: Joven Tan
Arranged & Produced by: Paulo Zarate Recorded by: Jan Levi Sanchez
Music video: University of the Philippines

This one is quite interesting, as I think it caters to a special niche.  Not to be confused with the hilarity of “This Guy’s in Love with You, Pare“, this is a serious take on a one way love between two guy friends. The song’s meant to be a love letter/reply answer of the straight man to his gay best friend who’s in love with him. I don’t know if I’m totally comfortable with the idea of singling out the guys in this particular song (when it could have been more universally appealing by leaving “Pare” behind), but I appreciate the earnest honesty of what the song wants to say. UP continues its trend of “equality” this year by being assigned to this song fitting a whole storyline in a four minute video with lavish background to boot.

Song: 3.5/5 | Music Video:  4/5

“PUMAPAG-IBIG”

Interpreter: Marion Aunor feat. Rizza Cabrera & Seed Bunye
Words & Music by: Jungee Marcelo
Arranged & Produced by Jungee Marcelo
Music video: Mapua Institute of Technology

Nitpick all you want, but at this stage, Jungee Marcelo is already a league of his own. The song, too sweet at times, booming with innocence of what it feels like being in love is a breath of fresh air in this group of contenders. With soothing vocals from last year’s festival break out artist Marion Aunor, with the help of Rizza Cabrera and Seed Bunye, this almost bossa pop track is a delight to listen to. The music video certainly captured the sweet atmosphere that the song talks about which surely makes this one of the year’s highlights.

Song: 3.5/5 | Music Video:  3/5

“SIMPLENG TULAD MO”

Interpreter: Daniel Padilla
Words & Music by: MJ Magno
Arranged by: Teddy Katigbak
Music video: Polytechnic University of the Philippines

There’s something about Daniel Padilla and songs that lets him serenade and appreciate the girl of his dreams no? Probably it’s because he fits the bill of a manic pixie dream boy that this totally works well for him. Well, “Simpleng Tulad Mo” certainly is right up that alley. It’s cute, if not a bit low key, and simple. It might not be like “Nasa’yo Na Ang Lahat” of last year, but there’s a certain genuine sincerity that the song brings probably making teenagers kilig. Of course we get Kathryn Bernardo in the music video (and that’s not a bad thing, but it’s quite predictable), but despite that, I love the playfulness especially during the last part of it. It’s a song that is definitely in the middle of the pack — it did not reach the highs of the other songs but certainly did not dip the lows of the others as well.

Song: 3/5 | Music Video:  3.5/5

“UMIIYAK ANG PUSO”

Interpreter: Bugoy Drilon
Words & Music by: Rolando “Ronnie” Azor
Arranged by: Albert Tamayo
Music video: St. Paul University Manila

Uhm what’ can be said about this? The song and the video, portraying a love triangle where the woman chooses this guy but ends up realizing she wants the other guy, is alright. It’s quite forgettable and one that might get lost in the shuffle among all these other heartbreak songs and the unique ones in this line up. There’s nothing wrong with Bugoy Drilon’s interpretation (this is totally his wheelhouse), but I guess the song lacked that something for it to totally stand out in this group.

Song: 2/5 | Music Video:  2/5

“WALANG BASAGAN NG TRIP”

Interpreter: Jugs Jugueta and Teddy Corpuz
Words & Music by: Eric De Leon
Arranged & Produced by: Jonathan Ong
Music video: Miriam College

And lastly, we end this lineup with a bang! Being the obligatory novelty track, “Walang Basagan ng Trip” does not need any other introduction as its open about its playfulness and hilarity while sending the message of self-love. Getting the wacky duo of Jugs Jugueta and Teddy Corpuz in this colorful and bubbly music video, both the song and the video poked fun of the #YOLO attitude while also encouraging it to its audience. basing it on the history of this music festival, this is not the type of songs that they usually reward with even a top five/semifinal slot, but for what its worth, it relayed it message pretty much effectively.

Song: 3/5 | Music Video:  3/5

Complete Rankings:

01. “Halik sa Hangin
02. “If You Don’t Want to Fall
03. “Mahal Ko O Mahal Ako
04. “Pumapag-ibig
05. “Everything Takes Time
06. “Pare, Mahal Mo Raw Ako
07. “Walang Basagan ng Trip
08. “Hindi, Wala
09. “Simpleng Tulad Mo
10. “Mahal Kita Pero
11. “Hanggang Kailan
12. “Bumabalik ang Nagdaan
13. “Akin Ka Na Lang
14. “Umiiyak ang Puso
15. “Dito

The Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs 2014 will be on Sunday, September 28, 2014, at the Araneta Coliseum hosted by Robi Domingo, Alex Gonzaga, Xian Lim, and Kim Chiu. It will likely be shown on a telecast the same night at Sunday’s Best.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Philippines’ 87th Oscar Submission: Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan   1 comment

Norte After days of waiting, it’s the time of the year again when the country chooses its representative for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Let it be clear that of course, Oscar is not the be-all and end-all of anything great when it comes to filmmaking, but somehow among casual moviegoers, Oscar is synonymous to anything that represents great quality. And its prestige is still ever so present that one can’t help but be interested in the whole process. After all, having an “Oscar winning film” or “Oscar winning country” is a great bonus to a film’s achievement.

Just hours ago the Film Academy of the Philippines, represented by Leo Martinez, confirmed that the Philippines submitted Lav Diaz’ 250 minute film Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan” for next year’s awards consideration. Norte, a take on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”, showed the contrast of a man (Sid Lucero) committing a crime but was spared from it and an innocent one (Archie Alemania) paying for the former’s sins. In line with that, life goes on for the latter’s wife (Angeli Bayani) as she deals with the aftermath of the incident.

In my annual analysis of possible contenders almost a month ago, I’ve specified that it boils down to two contenders: Jun Lana’s “Barber’s Tales” and Lav Diaz’ “Norte“. Both make sense as submissions, but I’m not holding my breath for any of the two considering how the panel assigned to submit has made more mediocre choices than not since its inception in 2007, so seeing them finally taking the right path slowly but surely the past few years is indeed commendable. Besides, what is there to lose if we experiment with a Lav Diaz submission this year? It’s not as if we’ve been nominated before. This can actually serve as a trial of some sort to see what kind of films that we offer can match Oscar’s taste. But anyway, enough about my personal feelings. Let’s go straight to the point. How will Norte fare in the competition this year? And can it *actually* be nominated in the end?

As for starters, this is a year when there is no solid frontrunner for the category Oscar-wise. Sure we have lot of solid contenders to battle out (Brazil’s “The Way He Looks”, Belgium’s “Two Days, One Night”, Canada’s “Mommy“, Mauritania’s “Timbuktu“, Poland’s “Ida“, Turkery’s “Winter Sleep“, and even unofficial but slightly obvious Argnetina’s “Wild Tales“), but none of those are as sure things as “A Separation” was three years ago or even “Amour” the year after. In an open year like this, there are bigger possibilities for an out of the field choice which definitely helps Norte‘s chances.

Second, distribution counts. Among 60+ announced contenders by far, only 17 have US distributors already. Yep, including Norte. Sure, The Cinema Guild might not be as big as Sony Picture Classics, Magnolia Pictures, Roadside Attractions, or even Sundance Selects as far as distribution companies are concerned, and that other likely contenders might even pick up theirs as the season progressed, but having the benefit of a distributor already is a big thing in the country’s history of submitting in this category.

Norte” also boasts of having a wide festival coverage. Even before it participated as part of the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival last year, the film has participated as part of the Hong Kong International Film Festival. Post-Cannes, with unanimous reviews to boot, the film traveled from Locarno to Toronto, New York to Busan, and Brisbane to Glasglow among a plethora of other festivals in different parts of the world. I mean how’s that for exposure right? And did I already mention its great reviews? Because if anything, at least there’s a universal consensus on the quality of the film both here and abroad.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, really. There’s a lot that the film still needs to overcome and it’s not a smoothly paved road en route to Oscar recognition. The film’s length is still running at 250 minutes. That might be too shallow of a reason to actually consider, but remember that the voting to end up in the shortlist is still by public vote from the foreign language film department. It’s not an easy pill to swallow for them to stay 250 minutes to watch a film and convince them to sit around and stay that long or even prioritize watching it (even if one can argue that it’s their job to do so). 200 minutes I’d say they can still tolerate, but anything longer than that might possibly turn them off leading to either not finishing the film or choosing not to even watch the film at all. That is a crucial factor to end up as part of the top six in the first stage of the voting which aims to be included in the shortlist of nine. That said, an executive committee is in charge to review the remaining films left off the top six and add three more films that they’ll base on merit. This is the part where I think Norte might benefit a lot. While it is not being publicly announced which among the shortlist of nine came from public vote and which were inserted the last minute, this change of ruling has led to inclusion of offbeat, quirky, or non-traditional/Academy friendly films such as Belgium’s “Bullhead” to the shortlist in 2011 or something like Greece’s “Dogtooth” to the final five a year before. This part of the voting can really be crucial in helping Norte (and other films that aren’t as buzzed as the early contenders I’ve mentioned in the fourth paragraph) to be a part of the shortlist.

Two years ago, I correctly predicted that a shortlist mention for Bwakaw is a long shot and that last yearTransit isn’t going anywhere. Now if you’re gonna force me to say an actual answer now, I’d say it’s better if we take things slowly. First step of getting the actual nomination is knowing the rules of the game by submitting a competitive film which we have already done. Honestly speaking, I guess a Top 9 shortlist mention isn’t really out of reach this time. After all, this is the best and most competitive submission we had since “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” in 2005. It seems like stars are aligning good enough for the Philippines this year, at least even for a shortlist mention. But I’m quite optimistic with this one. In the end though, Oscar nomination or not, this is already a win-win situation for the country. If you ask me a few years ago if we’ll ever see the day that a Lav Diaz film will be considered as an Oscar contender, I will without a doubt say that it’s impossible. But times are changing, and so far, they’re for the good. Nevertheless, I raise my imaginary glass of toast and say cheers to everyone involved in Norte and the FAP for actually getting this year right. We’ll surely be rooting for you all the way!

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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