Archive for February 2013

85th Academy Awards Best Dressed List   Leave a comment

And with the Oscars wrapping up the awards season yesterday, it is safe to say that the fashion and the red carpet ended with a bang. As actresses walk the red carpet at yesterday’s Academy Awards, we got a good representation of the glitz and the glamour that is Hollywood. Here are my picks for this year’s best dressed list at the Oscars.

Once again, you can click the photos to enlarge them. All photo credits go to: Yahoo! OMG coverage

Amy Adams

12. AMY ADAMS in Oscar dela Renta

This design has been done a lot of times at the Oscars (more notoriously by the ethereal Charlize Theron in baby blue back in 2005 ), but what makes this light gray Oscar dela Renta creation work was that Amy sashayed this on the red carpet very effortlessly. I’m liking the natural look both with her hair and make up too.

Jessica Chastain

11. JESSICA CHASTAIN in Armani Prive

There is an unwritten rule in red carpet fashion to not wear a dress that perfectly matches the color of your hair, with black being the sole exception. With that said, Chastain’s Armani Prive gown is an exception to that rule as she gave a throwback to early Hollywood in this very sexy and classic ensemble.

Queen Latifah

10. QUEEN LATIFAH in Badgley Mischka

It has been exactly ten years when Quene Latifah herself was nominated for the Oscar, but she’s still looking every inch a winner in the red carpet. This clean white Badgley Mischka creation that she wore last night quickly trumps both her Chicago co-stars Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Sandra Bullock

09. SANDRA BULLOCK in Elie Saab

I just love it when Sandra ditches sexy for fab. Well, it does seem like she managed to hit both in this lacy black Elie Saab dress which revealed enough skin, but at the same time, showed movie star vibes too. Plus points for that hair brooch she wore.

Naomi Watts

08. NAOMI WATTS in Armani Prive

The second Best Actress nominee in the list, Naomi Watts, is also wearing Armani Prive. This metallic ensemble with some very unique details need some warming up to do, but for an event such as the Oscars, it worked for Naomi who’s looking fresh and fab in it.

Charlize Theron

07. CHARLIZE THERON in Dior

Though not nominated this year, Oscar winner Charlize Theron was a hoot all night. One of the reasons definitely is this white Dior dress that looked simple but elegant to her. I imagine this as the better version of what Anne Hathaway wants to achieve at the Golden Globes.

Jennifer Garner

06. JENNIFER GARNER in Gucci

She might not be going home with an Oscar, but she’s going home with an Oscar winner. That, and some fabulous remarks with her purple Gucci gown that had some very interesting back details. Garner didn’t just look like a plus one that night; she’s definitely a star in her own right.

alicia vikander

05. ALICIA VIKANDER in Elie Saab Couture

Supporting her nominated film A Royal Affair is such an easy task when you have the lovely Alicia Vikander, here in an intricately beaded blue Elie Saab creation, to grace the event.

Nicole Kidman

04. NICOLE KIDMAN in L’Wren Scott

While it was husband Keith Urban who chose this dress for her, Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman proved that the best way of responding to an Oscar snub is by going up to the event in this head turning L’Wren Scott creation that playfully gave the viewers a glimpse of her sexy body. How one achieves that at 45 is simply astonishing.

AManda Seyfried

03. AMANDA SEYFRIED in Alexander McQueen

Third time seems to be the charm for Les Mis star Amanda Seyfried, as she finally hit it right the red carpet at her third Oscar appearance. Wearing this Alexander McQueen gown bearing these dragonfly design that fits her like a glove is her easy way en route the best dressed list.

Corinne Bishop

02. CORINNE BISHOP

Just eight years ago, we witnessed this young woman at 11 seated beside her father who won Best Actor for Ray. Fast forward to now, Corinne Bishop isn’t just a companion to her father, but she’s also showing signs of fashion greatness when she stepped out the red carpet in this teal blue gown.

Jennifer Lawrence

01. JENNIFER LAWRENCE in Dior Haute Couture

Who said you can only win one at a time? Aside from taking home the Oscar Best Actress, Jennifer Lawrence is also red carpet’s best dressed woman yesterday as she stepped out of this Dior Haute Couture ensemble yesterday. You know how some Best Actress Oscar frontrunners just look “winners” in their coronation night? That trend continued yesterday with J.Law. As far as Oscar appearances go, J.Law is 2/2 for me (that red dress in 2010 was also loooove).

That’s it! Who are your best dressed picks at yesterday’s Oscars? Did you also fall in love with J.Law’s Oscar dress?

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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85th Academy Awards Winner Predictions   1 comment

So it is finally coming to an end. After months and months of continuous debates, endless discussions, and statistic searching, the Oscars will finally be handed out in two days. To say that this season has been one hell of a ride is an understatement. When the precursors don’t mean much and the tides change every other day, it’s really difficult to settle on a concrete prediction. On one hand, it makes for a really exciting and engaging Oscar ceremony; on the other, it makes prognosticators like me look foolish, as I’ll see first hand how I’ll miserably fail at this. As of this writing, I’m still not settled with Directing, Supporting Actor, and Production Design. And if I write this post on some other day, I’ll probably be writing another set of predictions. But I guess, I’ll go with this group as my final predictions for the 85th Academy Awards.

best picture

BEST PICTURE

Amour
Argo

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

With how crazy this whole Oscar season this been, there’s really nothing impossible now. But then again, it seems that Argo is in it to win it. The sweep that it did definitely makes up for its lack of Directing nom. As a matter of fact, it has been his official kickstarter to its steamroll this season. It also benefits with the way of ranking the votes in this category; this makes a safe (despite being, yes, asolid thriller) choice is likely to get the upper higher rankings rather than a movie with visible detractors (almost any other movie in the line up). Not even Brokeback Mountain  steamrolled and overperformed this way, so second Oscars for Ben Affleck and George Clooney are almost guaranteed. However, I’m still open to the possibility of Harvey Weinstein’s Silver Linings Playbook campaign, so it might give them some votes, but I don’t have the balls to predict that.

PREDICTION: ”Argo”
SPOILER: “Silver Linings Playbook”

best director

BEST DIRECTOR

Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Now that there’s no Ben Affleck in this list, it goes the predictions a little bit cray cray. Spielberg seems to be the safe and logical choice, but I haven’t seen an Oscar campaign go down in swindles just like what happened to Lincoln. It just saturated the whole campaign period for their team. I don’t think they’d give Spielberg a second Oscar for Directing for them to deny it again the Best Picture just like what happened in 1998. I’m currently using the same logic to Ang Lee’s chances, seeing they denied Brokeback Mountain the top prize, but then again, seeing that Life of Pi is a director’s masterpiece, and since he’s the only one who sailed to all these precursors, then the support might actually be there.  I’m also considering to go with David O. Russell. Hollywood loves ’em comeback stories, and his impressive feat of directing seven nominated performances (and at least three wins by Sunday) in his last two features might show support from the largest Oscar branch. I switch back and forth to Ang Lee and David O. Russell, so might as well go with Lee. He seems to be the more respected of the two, and it makes more sense since Life of Pi will sweep the techs and is likely to be the biggest winner on Sunday.

PREDICTION: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
ALTERNATE: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

actor

BEST ACTOR

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

It’s even crazy to consider doing a long post about it, but this is Daniel Day Lewis to lose. Even non-Lincoln fans vocally admire this performance. It’s such a shame that this year produced an embarrassment of riches when it comes to lead actor performances, and they’d have to resort to giving a third Oscar to an actor, but in this case, I’d say I’d totally give in as well. In Lincoln, Day Lewis literally disappeared into the role. That’s a big FU to all the criticisms barred against him for being an over the top method actor. Since this is a historic third Oscar for Best Actor, might as well give it to an actually deserving performance, and Daniel Day Lewis fits the bill.

PREDICTION: Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln
ALTERNATE: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

actress

BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible

While I personally am happy with the sudden surge of love for Emmanuelle Riva (and if she wins, it’ll be one of my most favorite Oscar moments, BAR NONE), it’s not enough to overcome the buzz that current it girl Jennifer Lawrence has already amassed during this whole season. She’s won the Globe, SAG, a critics prize, and three BFCAs. She’s backed up by Harvey, and is a young hot babe whose on her second nomination in a film the Academy showered with nominations. If it’s a battle between 22 year old rising star and an 84 year old French actress, expect the demographic Oscar voters to root for the hot one.

PREDICTION: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
ALTERNATE: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

supporting actor

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert de Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Definitely the most confusing acting category of the year, I see it going in three directions. Christoph Waltz won both the BAFTA and the Golden Globe. In any other year, that would have been enough to seal the deal. But he just won three years ago for a role mostly deemed as similar to his nominated performance, so it’s seen as a too soon to give a second Oscar. Robert de Niro despite not winning anything at all, is a Hollywood legend whose last win was  way back in 1981. It will be 31 years, and Oscar voters then are definitely different from Oscar voters now. If there’s a sudden surge of love for Silver Linings Playbook, expect him to join the love train. After all, Harvey campaigned the hardest for him and Lawrence. However, I’d probably go for Tommy Lee Jones. He still seems to be the safe choice. He played a “real” person, has lots of baity monologues in the film, won the SAG, and seems overdue for a second Oscar than de Niro being overdue for a third one.

PREDICTION: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
ALTERNATE: Robert de Niro, Silver Linings Playbook

supporting actress

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jackie Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

It’s so boring to talk about this category since we all know Anne Hathaway is winning this in a cakewalk. I’d probably just imagine her face if Jackie Weaver’s name was called. That’ll be her greatest acting requirement of her career. But nah. Hathaway is so Hathawin on Sunday. So I’d just hope that she keeps as it as less rehearsed as possible. Girl, you’re every inch deserving but just TONE.IT.DOWN.

PREDICTION: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
ALTERNATE: Sally Field, Lincoln

original screenplay

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Amour
Django Unchained
Flight
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

It’s funny that Mark Boal won the WGA when in fact, he’s definitely third best in show. This one is between Quentin Tarantino and Michael Haneke. Tarantino won both the Globe and BAFTA, and is in seen as overdue for a second Oscar as well, but with all the love Amour received, it seems this is Michael Haneke’s to lose. Since he won’t get to take home the Oscar if Amour wins Foreign Language Film, this is his only shot at bagging one home.

PREDICTION: Michael Haneke, Amour
ALTERNATE: Quention Tarantino, Django Unchained

adapted screenplay

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi

Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook

For a while, I think it was Tony Kushner all the way. I think that he will be remain unscathed despite the deteriorating buzz for Lincoln. And then David O. Russell won the BAFTA. Then Chris Terrio won the WGA. Since I’m predicting Argo to win the Best Picture Oscar, it’ll probably be one of the categories it will sweep along the way. I’m still holding on the fact that Lincoln is in the race, at least in the Adapted Screenplay category. But the love for David O. Russell might go here instead of the Best Director category, so he can still mount a win as well.

PREDICTION: Chris Terrio, Argo
ALTERNATE: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

foreign language film

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Amour (Austria)
Kon-tiki (Norway)
No (Chile)
A Royal Affair (Denmark)
War Witch (Canada)

In the history of foreign language films being nominated for Best Picture, only one managed to lose the Foreign Language Film category. That is a pretty solid statistic to rely on, so I’m basing my Amour prediction on that. I’m aware of the slight backlash that it received from the FLF committee, but it’s already far and away i the competition that I doubt it will affect the overall votes. With no Intouchables on the list, I’d expect Weinstein to work double hard and push his other bet in the race. After all, Kon-Tiki is based on an Academy award winning documentary in 1951.

PREDICTION: Amour (Austria)
ALTERNATE: 
Kon-tiki (Norway)

animated feature

ANIMATED FEATURE

Brave
Frankenweenie
Paranorman
The Pirates: Legend of the Misfits
Wreck it Ralph

This one is between Brave and Wreck it Ralph, as they have been sharing the spread of all the precursor groups this season. With that said, I’m expecting that the high box office returns for Ralph will do the trick over the low critical appreciation for Brave. 

PREDICTION: Wreck it Ralph
ALTERNATE: Brave

OTHER CATEGORIES:

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Prediction: Life of Pi
Spoiler: Skyfall

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Prediction: Anna Karenina
Spoiler: Mirror Mirror

BEST FILM EDITING
Prediction: Argo
Spoiler: Zero Dark Thirty

BEST MAKE UP AND HAIRSTYLING
Prediction: Les Miserables
Spoiler: The Hobbit

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Prediction: Life of Pi
Spoiler: Skyfall

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Prediction: “Skyfall” from “Skyfall”
Spoiler: “Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Prediction: Life of Pi
Spoiler: Anna Karenina

BEST SOUND EDITING
Prediction: Life of Pi
Spoiler: Argo

BEST SOUND MIXING
Prediction: Les Miserables
Spoiler: Life of Pi

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Prediction: Life of Pi
Spoiler: The Hobbit

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Prediction: Searching for Sugar Man
Spoiler: The Gatekeepers

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Prediction: Open Heart
Spoiler: Mondays at Racine

BEST ANIMATED SHORTS
Prediction: Paperman
Spoiler: Adam and Dog

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Prediction: Curfew
Spoiler: Death of a Shadow

Final Oscar tally: Life of Pi – 6; Argo, Les Miserables – 3; Lincoln, Amour – 2; Silver Linings Playbook, Anna Karenina, Wreck it Ralph, Skyfall – 1

Happy Oscar day everybody!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

What My Oscar Ballot Looks Like   Leave a comment


oscar ballot
That’s how I’ll probably vote at the Oscars. But of course I’m not a voter, so this does not hold any weight. But then again, just being an O

Oscar prognosticator, this is one of the most fun things to do prior to Oscar season. And here are the reasons behind my votes:

BEST PICTURE: Amour. It’s not my number one film of the year, but the Oscar Best Picture lineup rarely nominates foreign language films in it. This is a once in a blue moon case, and among this pack, it’s clearly the best in show.

BEST DIRECTOR: Ang Lee. Life of Pi is such a director’s vision. For a book that is deemed as un-filmable, all it takes is one captain that will guide the whole process. That’s what Ang Lee did, and if only I was a voter, I’m casting my vote for him.

BEST ACTOR: Joaquin Phoenix. For all the crap that DDL has received for his “method” acting, it’s quite ironic that people are praising Phoenix for an OTT performance. With that said, I was totally sold on him in this film. It seems as if he really entered this world that Paul Thomas Anderson brought him, and he was game. I would have voted for DDL, but seeing that this will be his third Best Actor Oscar, I’m inclined to spread the wealth.

BEST ACTRESS: Emmanuelle Riva. Simply heartbreaking. In any other year, I would have voted for Jessica Chastain.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz. I know he’s category fraud, but he was such a hoot in Django. I don’t get the “he’s playing the same role” comments in Basterds. Blame Tarantino, not Waltz.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway. Helen Hunt is running on her heels, but I Dreamed a Dream is pretty hard to pass on.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Amour. Haneke aimed to tell a compelling story, and that’s what he did. Second place would have been Moonrise Kingdom. I enjoyed Django but liked his writing in Basterds more. ZD30, controversies aside, was also a good choice.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Lincoln. Definitely one of the film’s strongest points. It’s like Gosford Park, in the sense that it’s a “talky” movie, but you won’t get bored with it.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Amour. If I can vote for it in the top prize, why not here right?

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Searching for Sugar Man. Ha! It was sentimental, engaging, and heartfelt. Stands out in the pack despite some solid co-nominees.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Wreck it Ralph. It’s the film in the group that I enjoyed the most. It’s somewhat reminiscent of my childhood. fascination with simple video games.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Skyfall. Give Roger Deakins a frickin Oscar! He definitely deserves it.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Mirror Mirror. Due to lack of choices. Not a fan of Les Mis or Lincoln’s costumes. They were just okay. Anna Karenina’s were also so-so. Call it the Keira Knightley overload in this category. And I like the fun playful costumes in Mirror Mirror.

BEST EDITING: Zero Dark Thirty. Have you seen the last thirty minutes of the film? ’nuff said.

BEST HAIRSTYLING AND MAKE UP: Les Miserables. Suck group of nominees. Where’s Lincoln here? That’s a more convincing make up achievement than Hopkins’ man in a fat suit.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Life of Pi. Hypnotic. Love Marianelli’s outputs, but Atonement was clearly his best. Lincoln‘s sound sounds recycled and dated. Argo‘s and Skyfall‘s were good but not best.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: Skyfall. Academy Award winner Adele = LOVE.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Life of Pi. The ship. The zoo. The swimming pool resort at the start. All eye candies!

BEST SOUND EDITING: Zero Dark Thirty. It’s the one that stood the best for me.

BEST SOUND MIXING: Les Miserables. I’ll give them their due with the live singing schtick they risked to do.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Life of Pi. Have you seen Richard Parker?

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM: Adam and Dog. Sure, Paperman is getting all the buzz, but this dog-man friendship is the one that gets in to me the most.

How about you? What will your Oscar ballot look like? Who would you have voted for? Also, my complete final Oscar predictions tomorrow!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Posted February 22, 2013 by Nicol Latayan in Awards

Tagged with , ,

From Best to Worst: Grammy Album of the Year 2000 – 2012   1 comment

The Album of the Year is what is considered as the highest award that one can get from music’s highest giving body. After all, you are rewarding a whole piece of work, and not just a single from it. In the past, this category has bestowed wins to endless classics such as The Beatles’  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Carole King’s Tapestry, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours,  Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, and Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill among others. Isn’t that a great group to be a part of? With that said, let’s take a look back at the last 13 albums to be rewarded in this category (including this year’s Babel by Mumford and Sons), and see how they hold up in this group:

steely dan
13. “Two Against Nature”  (Steely Dan) | 2000
 Up Against: Beck’s “Midnight Vulture”, Eminem’s “Marshall Mathers LP”, Radiohead’s “Kid A”, Paul Simon’s “You’re the One

While this one is an overall good effort, it’s mostly politics that fueled this win. This is Steely Dan’s comeback album in 20 years, and they have never been rewarded (not even a single Grammy) prior to this. So this one is more of a catch up slash welcome back to one of 70s’ more prominent rock groups.

My vote would have gone to: Radiohead’s “Kid A”. Definitely one of their best albums.

ray charles
12. “Genius Loves Company”  (Ray Charles) | 2004
 Up Against: Green Day’s “American Idiot”, Alicia Keys’ “The Diary of Alicia Keys”, Usher’s “Confessions”, Kanye West’s “The College Dropout

2004 was when we lost music legend Ray Charles, and the lovefest slash tribute to him has resonated throughout the whole awards season both in music (this) and motion pictures (Taylor Hackford’s Ray starring Jamie Foxx). Overall, it seemed as if a choice that was deemed because of the overwhelming love and appreciation to his legacy.

My vote would have gone to: Green Day’s “American Idiot.  A career resurgence of some sort that is filled of cohesive and sold tracks. It’s quite weird that their real Grammy sweep came the year after this nomination.

u2

11. “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”  (U2) | 2005
 Up Against: Mariah Carey’s “The Emancipation of Mimi”, Paul McCartney’s “Chaos and Creation in the Background”, Gwen Stefani’s “Love.Angel.Music.Baby.”, Kanye West’s “Late Registration

17 years after their first win in this category, U2 nabbed their second win for the 2005’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. One can interpret this as a safe and expected choice from the NARAS to give it in a field full of two urban artists, one pop album, and a Beatle’s solid but inferior album. Or maybe it’s a make up win for All That You Can’t Leave Behind (which definitely should have won in its year).

My vote would have gone to: Kanye West’s “Late Registration“. Proving that he is no flash in the pan, Kanye West delivered an even better follow up to an already solid debut effort.

herbie hancock

10. “River: The Joni Letters”  (Herbie Hancock) | 2008
 Up Against: Foo Fighters’ “Echoes, Silence, Pain & Grace”, Vince Gill’s “These Days”, Kanye West’s “Graduation”, Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black

For the record, Herbie Hancock’s collaborations are some of the best created music by musicians. And it’s also nice to see jazz music taking the spotlight. This album, which Hancock dedicates to long friend Joni Mitchell, featured collabs with the likes of Norah Jones and Corrine Bailey Rae. However, as always, it was one of those choices that seemed too safe. Looking at the other nominees in the bunch, this was stuck in the middle of some of these other albums that were nominated and lost to him.

My vote would have gone to: Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black“. It was concise, creative, and transparent. Something that represents Amy’s musical talents as a whole.

mumford and sons

09. “Babel”  (Mumford and Sons) | 2012
 Up Against: The Black Keys’ “El Camino”, fun’s “Some Nights”, Frank Ocean’s “channel ORANGE”, Jack White’s “Blunderbuss

I love it when the Grammys tend to nominate an eclectic bunch of albums for its top prize. This is definitely one of the most inspired line-ups in a long time. Even the weakest, fun’s Some Nights, is different from the usual pop albums that they’ve nominated in the previous years. But when it comes to wins, NARAS goes wit the conservative safe album of the bunch. Mumford and Sons’ Babel is actually good, though it’s really hard to top their previous effort that I consider as more deserving of AOTY recognition.

Who would I have voted for: Frank Ocean’s “channel ORANGE”. Ocean’s debut is near perfection from start to end. Consistent, fresh, and heartfelt. After listening to his album, it’ll make you see how he can top this one.

dixie chicks

08. “Taking the Long Way”  (Dixie Chicks) | 2006
 Up Against: Gnarls Barkleys’ “St. Elsewhere”, John Mayer’s “Continuum”, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Stadium Arcadium”, Justin Timberlake’s “Future Sex/LoveSounds

If there’s one genre that definitely is the most powerful at the Grammys, it’s definitely country. With that said, this Dixie Chicks victory came at a time when they have been in the midst of a controversy within their own territory. On one hand, it’s nice to see thay they still got overall support to pull off this win. On the other, there are better albums in this category that was unrewarded.

My vote would have gone to: Gnarls Barkleys’ “St. Elsewhere”. If you’re one of those who know that CeeLo Green prior to his Fuck You success, you’d know that he’s half responsible for this genius album which contain’s the decade’s most infectious song, Crazy.

taylor swift

07. “Fearless”  (Taylor Swift) | 2009
 Up Against: Beyonce’s “I Am…Sasha Fierce”, Black Eyed Peas’ “The E.N.D.”, Lady Gaga’s’ “The Fame”, Dave Matthews Band’s “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King

From one country act to the other, Taylor Swift has been more known lately as the girl who uses her relationship status as material for her next albums. But prior to that, let me remind you that she was also able to come up with a solid effort that appeals to different genres and shows her multiple skills as a musician, songwriter, and (yes) singer. It also helped that she’s stuck with a mediocre company as co-nominees. So say what you want about her, but Swift’s AOTY win was every inch deserving back then, and even up to now.

My vote would have gone to: Taylor Swift’s “Fearless.” Listening to this album is probably one of the times where in I was really convinced that I was reading someone’s diary. It was fun, honest, and effectively introduced what Taylor wants us to think of her.

plant krauss

06. “Raising Sand”  (Robert Plant and Alison Krauss) | 2008
 Up Against: Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends”, Ne-Yo’s “Year of the Gentleman”, Radiohead’s’ “In Rainbows”, Lil Wayne’s “The Carter III

By now, we should already accustom ourselves that if there’s a decent safe album from veterans that they love, then it is soooo sooo winning Album of the Year. Rarely though, we also get lucky that the veterans produce better albums, such as this collaboration between Grammy favorites Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Raising Sand might not be my first choice as Album of the Year, but it’s luckily one of the stronger efforts that manage to sweep its way into a win.

My vote would have gone to: Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends”. I’m shocked that this is only Coldplay’s AotY nomination, so it’s an easy pick for me. But it also happened that this is also a coherent solid album (though not my favorite from them).

norah jones

05. “Come Away with Me”  (Norah Jones) | 2002
 Up Against: Dixie Chicks’ “Home”, Eminem’s “The Eminem Show”, Nelly’s’ “Nellyville”, Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising

Pulling off a win (and a sweep that night) is newcomer Norah Jones. I’ve always read and heard comments about how boring Norah Jones is, but I just convinced myself that they don’t get her. Come Away with Me is another of those strong debut efforts, and while she hasn’t come close to the combo of critical and commercial success that this album received, it’s a sweet consolation that this wa rewarded of Grammy’s top honor exactly a decade ago.

My vote would have gone to: Norah Jones, “Come Away with Me.” It’s a combo of liking the album itself and not a fan of the remaining nominees’ albums.

o brother

04. “Original Soundtrack – O’ Brother Where Art Thou?”  (Various Artists) | 2001
 Up Against: India Arie’s “Acoustic Soul”, Bob Dylan’s “Love and Theft”, Outkast’s’ “Stankonia”, U2’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind

Isn’t it such a pleasure when you see compilation soundtracks get music’s top honor? In this case, yes. And this is the third and last time that it has happened (OSTs of Saturday Night Fever and The Bodyguard are the two other winners here). While I admit preferring other albums in the line up, it’s just one of those albums that stood the test of time and still sounds good even if you listen to it now.

My vote would have gone to: U2’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind“. When you’re gonna reward U2 with a second AotY victory, you could have at least went with this one that contains modern classics from this beloved rock band. The pair of Beautiful Day and Stuck in a Moment is already enough for me to cats my vote for this.

adele

03. “21”  (Adele) | 2011
 Up Against: Foo Fighters’ “Wasting Light”, Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”, Bruno Mars’ “Doo Wops and Hooligans”, Rihanna’s “Loud

Many many years from now, when you’ve decided to take a look at what the music was in 2011, there’s only one name that will be remembered that year: Adele. She was not only everywhere that year, but her music has managed to be the start of the end for the usual auto-tuned dance tracks that dominated the mainstream music for the past few years. It also helps her that she’s up against three inferior pop albums and a decent rock album.

My vote would have gone to: Adele’s “21“. I still listen to this album from start to end, and I still know the lyrics to each and every song in it.

arcade fire

02. “The Suburbs”  (Arcade Fire) | 2010
 Up Against: Eminem’s “Recovery”, Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”, Lady Gaga’s’ “The Fame Monster”, Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream

Definitely an upset that made more sense that most predictions are telling (it was supposedly Eminem’s delayed AotY win for his successful 2010 comeback), it was bittersweet to see Arcade Fire getting the Album of the Year trophy when they even lost their own genre category at the pre-telecast that year. If anything, The Suburbs is far from Arcade Fire’s best effort, but then again, who cares? Arcade Fire at its weakest is still better than all these co-nominee’s albums combined.

My vote would have gone to: Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs.  Definitely the little album that could from that Billboard Hot 100 lovefest from the other four nominees, but it definitely pulled off that win and deservingly so.

outkast

01. “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below”  (Outkast) | 2003
 Up Against: Missy Elliott’s “Under Construction”, Evanescence’s “Fallen”, Justin Timberlake’s’ “Justified”, The White Stripes’s “Elephant

Time and again, the whole conservative branch of Grammy voters aren’t brave enough to give their top honors to urban acts and albums. But then again, every now and then comes an exception. That’s why it was so sweet when OutKast was proclaimed as the winner in 2003. The double disc effort of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is indeed one of the most definitive albums of the past decade, and it gives us hope that NARAS would open their doors for great urban albums such as this one.

My vote would have gone to: Outkast, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below”. Clearly the stand out from the group, though I’d give points to Elephant as well, which could have been my winner in any other year.

There you go! Which of these albums is your favorite? Is there anything from the bunch that you still listen to its entirety? And who would you have given your wins in all those years?

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

55th Grammy Awards Winners Predictions   Leave a comment

54th_date_vert_hires_cmyk

Music’s biggest night, also known as the Grammys, will once again bestow who the top honors are for the past year in music. This year, which marks its 55th year of celebration, is quite difficult than before in terms of predicting because there are no certain frontrunners in most categories unlike last year when we figured out that Adele will steamroll her way with her domination. Nevertheless, the Grammys still remains as the most difficult to predict since you really have no idea on how the flow of the votes will go through. Sometimes they rely on buzz, while other times, they go with the critically acclaimed. And there are also times where they’ll just screw the hell out of prognosticators and choose something from the left field. With that said, here are my predictions for this year’s Grammy recipients (and an alternate for each category):

GENERAL FIELD

Record of the Year
PREDICTION: The Black Keys, “Lonely Boy”
ALTERNATE: Gotye featuring Kimbra, “Somebody That I USed to Know”

Album of the Year
PREDICTION: Mumford & Sons, “Babel”
ALTERNATE: Jack White, “Blunderbuss”

Song of the Year
PREDICTION: “We Are Young” (fun.)
ALTERNATE: “Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jepsen)

Best New Artist
PREDICTION: Frank Ocean
ALTERNATE: The Lumineers

POP FIELD

Best Pop Solo Performance
PREDICTION: Adele, “Set Fire to the Rain” (Live)
ALTERNATE: Kelly Clarkson, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”

Best Pop Vocal Album
PREDICTION: Kelly Clarkson, “Stronger”
ALTERNATE: fun., “Some Nights”

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
PREDICTION: fun. feat. Janelle Monae, “We Are Young”
ALTERNATE: Gotye feat Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used to Know”

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
PREDICTION: Michael Buble, “Christmas”
ALTERNATE: Paul McCartney, “Kisses From The Bottom”

DANCE FIELD

Best Dance Recording
PREDICTION: Skrillex, “Bangarang”
ALTERNATE: Avicii, “Levels”

Best Dance/Electronica Album
PREDICTION: Skrillex, “Bangarang”
ALTERNATE: Deadmau5, “Album Title Goes Here”

ROCK FIELD

Best Rock Performance
PREDICTION: The Black Keys, “Lonely Boy”
ALTERNATE: Mumford & Sons, “I Will Wait”

Best Rock Album
PREDICTION: Jack White, “Blunderbuss”
ALTERNATE: The Black Keys, “El Camino”

Best Rock Song
PREDICTION: “Lonely Boy” (The Black Keys)
ALTERNATE: “I Will Wait” (Mumford & Sons)

ALTERNATIVE FIELD

Best Alternative Music Album
PREDICTION: Fiona Apple, “The Idler Wheel Is Wise….”
ALTERNATE: Gotye, “Making Mirrors”

R&B FIELD

Best R&B Performance
PREDICTION: Miguel, “Adorn”
ALTERNATE: Usher, “Climax”

Best R&B Album
PREDICTION: Robert Glasper Experiment, “Black Radio”
ALTERNATE: R. Kelly, “Write Me Back”

Best R&B Song
PREDICTION: “Adorn” (Miguel)
ALTERNATE: “Beautiful Surprise” (Tamia)

Best Traditional R&B Performance
PREDICTION: Beyonce, “Love on Top”
ALTERNATE: Anita Baker, “Lately”

Best Urban Contemporary Album
PREDICTION: Frank Ocean, “Channel Orange”
ALTERNATE: Miguel, “Kaleidoscope Dream”

RAP FIELD

Best Rap Performance
PREDICTION: Jay-Z & Kanye West, “N****s in Paris”
ALTERNATE: Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, & 2 Chainz, “Mercy”

Best Rap Album
PREDICTION: Nas, Life Is Good
ALTERNATE: Drake, “Take Care”

Best Rap Song
PREDICTION: “N****s in Paris” (Jay-Z & Kanye West)
ALTERNATE: “The Motto” (Drake, Lil’ Wayne)

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
PREDICTION: Jay-Z & Kanye West featuring Frank Ocean & The-Dream, “No Church in the Wild”
ALTERNATE: Nas & Amy Winehouse, “Cherry Wine”

COUNTRY FIELD

Best Country Solo Performance
PREDICTION: Eric Church, “Springsteen”
ALTERNATE: Carrie Underwood, “Blown Away”

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
PREDICTION: Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars, “Safe & Sound”
ALTERNATE: The Time Jumpers, “On the Outskirts of the Town”

Best Country Album
PREDICTION: Miranda Lambert, “Four The Record”
ALTERNATE: Hunter Hayes, “Hunter Hayes”

Best Country Song: “Springsteen” (Eric Church)
ALTERNATE: “Blown Away” (Carrie Underwood)

AMERICAN ROOTS

Best Americana Album
PREDICTION: Mumford & Sons, “Babel”
ALTERNATE: The Lumineers, “The Lumineers”

MUSIC FOR VISUAL MEDIA

Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media
PREDICTION: The Muppets
ALTERNATE: Rock of Ages

Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
PREDICTION: The Artist
ALTERNATE: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Song Written for Visual Media
PREDICTION: “Safe & Sound” from The Hunger Games
ALTERNATE:” Abraham’s Daughter” from The Hunger Games

MUSIC VIDEO

Short Form Music Video
PREDICTION: Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris, “We Found Love”
ALTERNATE: MIA, “Bad Girls”

What are your predictions? Do you think the Black Keys will sweep? Will Beyonce win her 17th Grammy? And who will win the coveted Album of the Year award?

Do not forget to catch the 55th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday (Monday here in the Philippines, 9AM on Star World)!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

85th Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress Rankings   6 comments

suppactress

Hi everyone! It’s been a week since I last did any blog post here, and I’m kinda swamped with work. But enough about that, I guess. First up, I’m so happy because I’m already done seeing the 20 nominated acting performances for this year’s Oscars. So to continue the rankings special that I did the past few weeks (I’m already done with Picture, Animated Feature, and Original Song), here comes the first acting category for this season. If I’m an Oscar voter, here’s how I’ll rank the five female supporting performances for 2012 (according to the Academy).

05. JACKIE WEAVER, “Silver Linings Playbook”

While I’m already past the stage of heartbreak over those who weren’t nominated (Legend Kidman! Ann Dowd! Dame Dench!), I still don’t see anything special with Jackie Weaver’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook. It’s pretty clear that she was just carried along the Silver Linings Playbook love train seeing that she did not get any major precursor prior to the Oscar nod. Don’t get me wrong, as I’m not hating on Jackie Weaver. As a matter of fact, she’s my personal winner from 2010 (her Animal Kingdom performance is still a tour de force show), and it’s amazing that she received a follow up nod when everyone quickly labeled her as a one hit wonder just two years ago. But I still don’t see how many thought of this performance as anywhere Oscar worthy. I’d say that she cracks me up though every time she mentions crabby snacks in the film.

Suggested Oscar clip: a montage of crabby snacks would have been perfect, but “You lied to me Pat! Danny’s not allowed to come.”

04. SALLY FIELD, “Lincoln”

It’s nice to see that the fruits of Sally Field’s labor has finally been recognized. Back from the fighting of this role up to her consistent Oscar snubs since her infamous speech 27 years ago, it’s probably bittersweet for Mama Gump to finally be back in awards traction for her movie performances (remember Legally Blonde 2? barf!). As for her turn in Lincoln, I like that she toned it down a bit, especially since most of her performances suffer from criticisms of going too over the top. Her Mary Todd was indeed a supporting presence above anything else, though most of her scenes involved her just sitting and watching in court. Field was able to capture Mary in a way that she knows her boundaries in the film. She knows when to limit it as per usual, but she also knows how to push all buttons when the scene calls for it. It’s a controlled performance that does not go beyond that, but in Sally’s case, that’s also how her performance reaches its greatest heights.

Suggested Oscar clip: I’ll show what heartbreak. Real heartbreak looks like…”

03. AMY ADAMS, “The Master”

Amy Adams is probably one of the actresses that the Academy loves to nominate, but not give the win to. Among her four nominations, the closest she was in terms of chances was back in her first nom for Junebug where she was clearly third in line after Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. All the succeeding noms were pretty much filler (Doubt) to no chance at all (sadly, The Fighter). The same can be said for her performance in The Master. But it’s also noteworthy that she got two major critics wins for this performance. Truth be told, I don’t see this as an Oscar winning performance as well, let alone a nominated one. But what I like about her in this was that despite not being given too much to work on (she was clearly the third best in show in terms of screen time and in storyline too), she made her presence felt. Most of her scenes required her to play second fiddle to on screen husband Philip Seymour Hoffman, but her presence was clearly there despite just sitting down or standing behind him. It’s also one of the times where she used her doe eyes feature to her advantage, as it’s a perfect fit especially during the times when she’s not talking (which is most of the time). Also, just props for giving Philip Seymour Hoffman a “hand.” What a daunting task. LOL.

Suggested Oscar clip: And this is where we’re at! At the lowest level. To have to explain ourselves. For what!?!?”

02. HELEN HUNT, “The Sessions

15 years after her first nomination (and win), Best Actress Helen Hunt comes back for a second nomination to prove her win is no fluke via The Sessions. Hunt takes the award for most number of nude scenes in a long time among all Oscar nominees, and in any other year, this could have been a bonafide frontrunner. After seeing the film, I’ve always felt that Hunt is one of those that can go either lead or supporting, but I think she was much better in Lead. With that said, this is one of the surprise performances of the season, as I don’t think that I will like it that much, only to take it back because I actually did! As Cheryl, she already made it clear that she is a sex therapist and not a prostitute, but either way, she gets to take all of her clothes off for the most part in the film. However, thanks to Hunt’s astonishing performance, it is clear that a woman (or in this case, a sex therapist) does not need to take away her dignity with her when she takes her clothes off. Hunt made it pretty transparent how much what we want to  know about Cheryl, and she answered all of this with this vulnerability that made her, like all other else, a person that is not devoid of attachments and emotions. And I find this as one of the better acting nominations of the year.

Suggested Oscar clip: Car scene in the end after the last session

01. ANNE HATHAWAY, “Les Miserables”

While this win was already bestowed to her the moment she was announced to play this role, Anne Hathaway definitely delivered to all the expectations with her performance in Best Picture nominee Les Miserables. As Fantine, Anne is definitely one of the few bright spots in this mess of a movie, and the one who benefits from the live singing as well. But before that, let’s clear some facts first. Anne Hathaway is not the best singer in the world, and I’m certain that even she is aware of that. But she is a more capable one. And she only needs one song to nail this performance, and she definitely crushed it! Her I Dreamed a Dream is one of the standout moments of the film, as she was able to make the most out of her limited screentime. In this number, she puts all these emotional gravitas of Fantine’s suffering and bursts it out in a heartbreaking and highly emotional manner that will put most viewers to tears (guilty as charged). Yes, it was brief, and yes, she disappears for most part in the film, but she already built enough momentum and impact that by the end,hers is one of the moments you’d remember the most. So regardless if you felt that Hathaway is self absorbed and narcissistic and self entitled, I’d give her a free pass with this performance as she gave justice to it, and than an Oscar is really warranted.

Suggested Oscar clip: I Dreamed a Dream. Duh.

How will you rank these performances? Who would you have voted in this category? And do you think Jackie Weaver really deserve her nod?

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl