Monday, February 28, 2011

83rd Academy Award Predictions

The Oscars will air in a couple hours, but before that I thought making a short predictions list of who I think will win and who I think should win the prestigious award. Now, I'm not a savvy pop-culturalists, but whatever.

Oh, and this is actually the first time that I saw every single Best Picture nominee - with the addition of Blue Valentine and Rabbit Hole, where both Michelle Williams and Nicole Kidman got a nod for Best Actress.

Without further ado, here are my predictions for the major awards!

It's pretty obvious that it's just going to be between The Social Network and The King's Speech. The critics love The Social Network, but the momentum is now with The King's Speech. It's tough, to be honest. Personally though, while The King's Speech was amazing with it's superb acting ensemble and effective storytelling, I'm still leaning towards The Social Network just because I felt that the film didn't have one major misstep. Clever narration. Excellent direction. Fantastic performances. Brilliant Script. Now, I have to throw in Inception here since I need to have another alternative. Yes, it's a long shot for this to win, but I think it deserves a little recognition.

WHO SHOULD WIN: The Social Network
WHO WILL WIN: The King's Speech

When I saw 127 Hours, I really thought that there's no freakin' way how someone could top James Franco's brilliant performance. Then came Colin Firth, who I thought gave a stupendous performance in The King's Speech. They way he portrayed his role was credible and overflowing of passion without reaching the theatrical exaggerations I occasionally find in period films. Jesse Eisenberg, on the other hand, can pull an upset with his subtle yet authentic performance, but I highly doubt it.

WHO WILL WIN: Colin Firth

This is Natalie Portman's year, so I guess, this one's a bit of a no-brainer. Her closest competition would probably be Annette Bening just because her getting an Oscar is long overdue, but I don't think her performance was good enough to merit an Academy Award. Michelle Williams was absolutely incredible in her film, Blue Valentine, and I was thrilled that she got nominated for her raw performance. Too bad, this is Natalie Portman's award to lose.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Natalie Portman
WHO WILL WIN: Natalie Portman

Usually, whoever wins Best Director gets the Best Picture. So, since I'm still rooting for The Social Network - even if the momentum suddenly shifted to The King's Speech - I'm behind David Fincher on this one. Seriously. There's this high level of quality entertainment in all of his works and The Social Network was no exception. Tom Hooper also did good as he understood his film's fundamental core, but I love David Fincher. Ha! Now, I just have to mention Christopher Nolan here. I know. I know. He's not even nominated, but I really think he deserves, at least, a nomination from the Academy. I mean, if David O. Russell got nominated for The Fighter - a movie that was completely carried by the acting ensemble since the pacing of the film was jarring to me - why can't Nolan? To me, Inception was one of the most complex editing jobs Hollywood has ever seen. Oh well.

WHO SHOULD WIN: David Fincher
WHO WILL WIN: David Fincher / Tom Hooper

Yes, that's Christian Bale in the picture. Crazy no? While I loved Geoffrey Rush's inspired and brilliant portrayal of a freelance speech therapist in The King's Speech, Christian Bale's finely etched creation of his character in The Fighter was just phenomenal. He brought a lot of depth into the character and this is obviously method acting at its finest. It's a long shot for Jeremy Renner, but he too gave a stunning acting performance.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Christian Bale
WHO WILL WIN: Christian Bale

This is a tough one. I think Melissa Leo delivered a knock out performance in The Fighter. Her performance actually saved the film's believable yet cliched storyline from being just another walk in the park. She was amazingly detestable. Hailee Steinfeld, on the other hand, stole my heart with her youth and vitality while presenting a very credible portrayal of her role in True Grit. But while I think that she should've been nominated for Best Actress instead of being recognized in a supporting role, this actually gives her a bigger chance of winning an Oscar. So, who am I to complain right? Helena Bonham Carter was also good with a subdued approach to the role, but winning is unlikely.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Hailee Steinfeld
WHO WILL WIN: Melissa Leo

I love How To Train Your Dragon, but Toy Story 3 SHOULD win this one. I haven't seen The Illusionist, so no comment. Ha!

WHO WILL WIN: Toy Story 3

That's it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Glee Music 2: Get It Right and Loser Like Me (Original Songs)

Well, here are the songs New Directions will perform in the upcoming Regionals episode, which will air three weeks from now (Episode 16). These songs are, yes, original tunes and I'm interested to see if the Glee kids can finally produce a bonafide radio hit. I mean, the covers they usually release sell a lot of downloads in the first couple of days after an episode airs, but disappear pretty quickly.

That said, I'm doubtful if this will actually be a big hit - moderate success, maybe - and I'll tell you why.

Get It Right
Yes, this is kind of a paint by numbers ballad. Rachel sounds gorgeous in this song and I think it's actually quite pretty, if a bit generic. It isn't Don't Rain On My Parade caliber, but it's a sight closer than any other Rachel solo that we've had this season, I think. 8/10

Loser Like Me
I'm not a fan of this YET - just because I think this will grow on me eventually. But for now, it's a bit cheesy for my taste - I think this song would appeal to High School Musical fans. Haha. I admit that the tune is really catchy but when everybody chimes in, the song becomes a bit juvenile and awkward. To be honest, I still prefer the Journey medley or even Valerie over this. Oh, and I don't think Rachel has a voice for pop radio. Just saying. 7/10

Saturday, February 26, 2011

American Idol 10: Top 12 Boys Song Spoilers

Yes, this year's semifinals isn't live - unlike Season 8 and Season 9 - and the taping for this show was done a couple of hours ago. So obviously, we already have the song spoilers for next episode with a couple of tidbits from the actual taping. Oh, and it's interesting, believe me!

Read at your own risk!!

Songs and Performance Order

1. Clint Jun Gamboa - Superstition Stevie Wonder
2. Jovany Barreto - I'll Be Edwin McCain
3. Jordan Dorsey - OMG Usher
4. Tim Halperin - Streetcorner Symphony Rob Thomas
5. Brett Loewenstern - Light My Fire The Doors
6. James Durbin - You Got Another Thing Comin’ Judas Priest
7. Robbie Rosen - In the Arms of An Angel Sarah MacLachlan
8. Scotty McCreery - Letters From Home John Michael Montgomery
9. Stefano Langone -  Just The Way You Are Bruno Mars
10. Paul McDonald - Maggie Mae Rod Stewart
11. Jacob Lusk - House Is Not A Home Luther Vandross
12. Casey Abrams - I Put A Spell On You Creedence Clearwater Revival

Now, according to Brittany Keener who attended the taping, here are a couple of interesting tidbits:
  • Jovanny Barretto sang the song twice after the judges left! Apparently, his second performance will be the one to be aired. Nigel Lythgoe (executive producer) was sitting in the judges' seat during the 2nd performance.
  • Jennifer and Steven BOTH cried after Jacob Lusk’s performance.
  • Paul McDonald, Jacob Lusk and Casey Abrams got Standing Ovations.
  • Paul McDonald made use of the stage. Quirky
  • After Jordan Dorsey sang OMG and the judges said, "This is not you…this isn’t you”. He replied, "the song was offered to me so I sang it.”
  • Brett Loewenstern awkward on stage but in a good way.
  • Tim Halperin did not get good responses from the judges. According to them, "Not you, don’t know if it’s going to get you through".
  • Nigel Lythgoe makes his presence known
  • It’s like a legit stage now. It’s pretty awesome. 
  • Casey Abrams didn’t come out at first with the boys. He seemed exhausted and went backstage a few times. Did not affect his performance though.  Ryan Seacrest mentioned that he was ill.
  • Full audience. 700 people!
  • Ryan doesn’t mention that people can already vote through Facebook.  He said the voting was at the Idol site.
  • The band is to the left of the stage. They are visible.
  • Stefano Langone struggled with some of the high notes singing Bruno Mars.
  • Robbie Rosen was definitely nervous and had mic issues, so he had to start over. Randy called him pitchy and Jennifer Lopez said he told a story.
  • Ryan gave Steven a bleep sign to use when he needs to say colorful words. No F-Bombs - but I think he used the sign once.
  • There was a Simon comment: Randy gave Robbie Rosen a bad critique and his grandma wasn’t happy. Randy blamed it on the chair’s previous owner.
From the looks of it, Jacob Lusk, James Durbin, Casey Abrams and Paul McDonald did great. I'm doubtful if I'll enjoy Jacob and James oversinging, but we'll see. I'm still hoping for Tim Halperin, Robbie Rosen and Stefano Langone to be in the Top 13.

Friday, February 25, 2011

American Idol 10: Other Top 24 Finalists Revealed

.. and we now have American Idol Season 10 Top 24! That was fast. Seriously.

This episode was actually handled quite impressively. I loved the fact that everyone that's part of the Top 24 - including fodders - were featured tonight and I was pleasantly surprised with the talent this season got. No, it sure didn't change my mind that much, but I think Season 10 started out so much better than last year. I think we're going to be treated to a very entertaining season.

I'm not quite sure if this will hit Season 7 or Season 5's level of amazingness, but the talent is evenly spread like a perfect spread of butter on a piece of toast. Delicious.

Also, I'll have my usual post about the Top 24 in the next coming days! Stay tuned..

Anyway, here's my review on the people who got featured on today's episode:

DISCLAIMER: None as of this moment. Haha. 

Karen Rodriguez
Wow. I'm starting to like Karen. She sounded gorgeous in Spanish, and her stripped down version of Jennifer Lopez' If You Had My Love was actually quite beautiful. I also think she's adorable. IN

Robbie Rosen
Robbie is definitely one of the front-runners this season. I mean, he was consistent since his audition up until his last performance before the Top 24 announcement. His version of Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word was really cool and I loved how slow, quiet and soft it was. One to watch! He reminds me of David Archuleta, for some reason. IN

Tatynisa Wilson
I like her. I've seen a couple of his videos prior to the show and she's a great performer. Unfortunately, I doubt she'll make it far after the show kept on showing her messing up during Hollywood week. Sad. IN

Brittany Mazur OUT

Jimmie Allen OUT

Tim Halperin
If Tim Urban and Elliott Yamin have a love child,, that's Tim Halperin right there. Haha. I admit, I didn't care for his audition but he really impressed me especially his Beatles performance. Not a big fan of his original song, but I think he's great. IN

Julie Zorrilla
I found her audition awfully affected but just like his duet partner, Tim Halperin, she really impressed me during Hollywood week. I think she has an impressive control to her voice and she plays piano. Looking like Lea Michele isn't so bad either. Yes, she seems too pageanty with her annoying dresses, but I think she really has the potential to be a good recording artist. I just wonder why she got Lady Gaga's song after? Haha. IN

Scott McCreery
"Baby lock them doors and turn the lights down low". Haha. Well, I have to say that his final performance was quite impressive - and I don't even like country music. That said, I really don't think Scott needs Idol. Some Nashville label will swoop in and sign him with that kind of sound. IN

John Wayne Shulz OUT

Jovanny Barreto
I've yet to be impressed by Jovany. He's definitely not one of the best guys and I honestly think John Wayne ore even Jerome Bell deserved his spot. He just screams canoon fodder to me. Oh, and he needs to smile more. That constant scowl makes him look really grouchy. Just saying. IN

Lauren Turner
More than any of the others, Lauren Turner gives off a rocker vibe. I kind of like her, I think she has a great voice, but like I've said she's a bit forgettable to me. Wait, is all that heair really hers? Haha. IN

Tiwan Strong OUT

Eryn Kelly OUT

Rachel Zevita
OUTSTANDING! I think I just found one of the people I'll be rooting for. Rachel's made me remember why I liked her Season 6 audition so much, she has got a really cool edge to her voice. Plus, her range is pretty astounding. She kind of reminds me Siobhan Magnus. IN

Kendra Chantelle
I kind of like Kendra. I love her softer voice and her transitions are really nice. I just she think she needs to open up more. She seems so reserved and a little cold. IN

Jordan Dorsey
Jordan is so mediocre. If you're gonna be a d*ck, at least be good. That is all. IN

Lauren Alaina
What is up with her outfit? She looks like Miss Piggy! Haha. Ok, that's mean, but whatever! Haha. Again, she went with another repeat performance, and although I find her voice realy good, the fact that she's been shoved into our faces every episode makes me want to punch her face. Plus, she just lost all the 'girl next door' appeal that she had when she auditioned with that ridiculous dress. Help me!! IN

Stefano Langone
I'm really pulling for Stefano. I think he has such a sweet spirit and his voice is pretty good. Not the best, but good enough. Plus, his final song was actually quite decent. IN

Jackie Wilson OUT

Jacob Lusk
Truth be told, if I was creating a choir group, this guy wouls be my first pick. But I'm not, so whatever. HAHA. I think he's good, but the oversinging is a bit annoying and exhausting. Oh, and his version of God Bless The Child is the best single performance on Idol EVER? Really Randy? Does he not remember Kristy Lee Cook's Eight Days A Week? Haha. They just moved him up into the "overrated" category, in my opinion. NEXT! IN

Pia Toscano
Pia, to me, is technically almost a perfect singer. Her pitch is always spot on, her tone is good and that range is pretty impressive. Her rendition of Alicia Keys' Doesn't Mean Anything was amazing. Plus, she looks gorgeous. IN

James Durbin
I'm so sick of him already. No comment. IN

Casey Abrams
Casey is officially awesome! Haha. He's not my type of artist, but I like his personality and his musicality is impeccable. I have nothing more to say aside from, Casey is all kinds of awesome. There! IN

Thia Megia
Ok. Here's the thing - and I know I'll probably get some flack for this - I really think Thia is quite boring. Her version of You Raise Me Up was awesome without her usual weird phrasing, but it just didn't do anything for me. She's like Ramiele Malubay, good voice but boring. She needs to lighten up a bit, she's 15 for crying out loud! IN

Jessica Cunningham OUT

Brett Loewenstern
I didn't think his final performance was good, but I still like him. He's been sinking in my estimation though. And for the amount of screentime he’s had, I just don’t feel like Brett has done much in terms of scoring a fanbase. IN

Jacee Badeaux OUT

Colton Dixon OUT

Movie Review: I Am Number Four

Look, it's pretty dumb to expect a fine cinematic piece with I Am Number Four. I mean, there was virtually nothing original about this film, the pacing was awful, the plot got that tired typical teen drama - this time with aliens - and the script was a bit sketchy. But since my standards were braced for the obvious shortcomings of any movie from this vein, I have to say that I was appropriately pleased.

I think films under this genre will survive with just a cool special effects, attractive people and enough of a story line to hold them together. And yes, this film managed to have just that. On a technical standpoint, it really delivered. I thought the visual effects were carried off brilliantly throughout the film, the soundtrack was eclectic but fairly interesting and the action scenes - especially in the final act - were pretty solid. True, the action was sparse until the end, but it was well worth the wait, I think.

The acting performances were also surprisingly decent, consistent and believable. I actually found most of the characters quite charming. Alex Pettyfer was good, and so was Dianna Agron - although she mumbled A LOT. Together, they were adequate, if not entirely convincing, as the teen sweethearts in this action adventure. But I admit, that it was Teresa Palmer who got me all giddy like an idiot as soon as she started kicking a satisfying amount of rampage. Ha! Such a bad a*s!

Now, the only real weakness that seriously bothered me was the cheesy villains. Frankly, I NEVER really saw them as a serious threat to the main characters. Tell me, if these weird looking tall beings had no powers - aside from their weirdly looking guns - why were they such a threat? They were so deadly, but why then did Number 4 and Number 6 fight back with nearly no fear, and bested their foes? Strange.

Overall, I Am Number Four was pretty typical. It was fairly easy to see what was coming, but I was kept entertained throughout. I can also say that the positive things I mentioned - good visual effects, charming characters and impressive final act - have, for the most part, salvaged the film. I'm happy to say, the movie wasn't horrible. Better than Jumper, I must say.

RATING: 6/10

Thursday, February 24, 2011

American Idol 10: Las Vegas Round + Some Top 24

I've said it before and I'll say it again, my faith in this show has been restored. Seriously. I'm very much impressed with this season so far. Everything seems faster, the judges are surprisingly eloquent (save for Randy, of course), the production is more grand and, yes, the talent is way better than Season 9. Who knew?

Plus, they are not messing around this year. This episode proves that American Idol is determined to get their superstar - from Peggy Blu (voice coach from hell) down to Jimmy Iovine (Interscope mogul), they are kind of intimidating!

No doubt, American Idol is BACK!

Anyway, here's my review on the people who got featured on today's episode:

DISCLAIMER: None as of this moment. Haha.


James Durbin and Stefano Langone
Stefano was good, although his stage presence was a bit awkward. But, that's just me nitpicking. He actually reminds me of David Hernandez, for some reason. As for James Durbin, I'm just annoyed with his singing. His last screech was way off pitch and it's growing old already. Frankly, I don't need another guy to scream and make my ears bleed again. It took me two years to recover. Enough!

Pia Toscano and Karen Rodriguez
These two really worked well together. I thought Pia has the potential to be a real good pop star and so is Karen. I somehow prefer Pia over Karen though. On a shallow note, Karen rocked that skirt-boots combo! Haha.

Naima Adedapo, Jacob Lusk and Haley Reinhart
Thank you Jimmy for giving Jacob that piece of advice - now, have a  chat with James Durbin. Haha. I found this performance kind of good, with exception to Haley's rough lower notes. I thought Naima was good and I liked how Jacob dialed it back a little. As for you Randy, by telling Jacob to not EVER hold back was just about the stupidest thing you've ever said. You're useless!

Rachel Zevita and company
I'm not going to lie, I freakin' love the quality of Rachel's voice. Plus, her phrasing was wonderful in that version of Eleanor Rigby. I'm a fan!

Lauren Turner and Jovanny Barreto
No comment on Jovanny. Now, Lauren proved to me that she's a stellar singer. She clearly has some serious vocal chops. My only problem with her is that she just doesn't stand out. Sad.

Tim Halperin and Julie Zorrilla
Beautiful!! Possibly the best performance in this Las Vegas Round. The control, the harmony, the piano, and even their stage presence were absolutely lovely. Tim reminds me of a more talented Tim Urban. Haha. Just saying.

Jerome Bell, Lakeisha Lewis and Tatynisa Wilson
This performance was obviously flawed with a number of pitch problems from everyone, but they were comfortable and it showed that they had fun with this number. That is all.

Kendra Chantelle and Paul McDonald
Wow. I love Kendra's voice. I think she has a fantastic, well toned, lower register. Paul is quirky and different, but I don't think that he's got a very good voice. Frankly, I don't think they will connect with America though.

Melinda Ademi and Thia Megia
This performance was a little too cutesy for my taste. Melinda sounded average and Thia, though good, just connect with me that well. Plus, I somehow don't like her tone - there's something unpleasant sounding to it. I don't know. 

Ashley Sullivan and Sophia Shorai
Sophia was ok, Ashley was a psycho. Enough said.

Lauren Alaina, Denise Jackson and Scott McCreery
Strange. Haha. It was a cute arrangement to the song, but it was also the weirdest choreography I've seen in quite a while. Haha. Denise sounded ok. Scotty showcased his upper register! Who knew? And I just don't understand why Lauren Alaina was being pimped so hard. This performance just didn't quite come together.

Casey Abrams and Chris Medina
This was dreadful. I like Casey and I think he did his best, but this just didn't do him any favor. Chris Medina is probably the most average singer to ever make it this far.

Robbie Rosen, Aaron Sanders and Jordan Dorsey
Robbie continued to impress me. He's always on pitch. Very nice. I was also impressed with Aaron, but Jordan's vocals were underwhelming. I actually prefer Aaron over Jordan.

Side Note: I love the hanger as their Green Mile location! Lovely!

She actually reminds me of Crystal Bowersox - powerful voice, rootsy, a bit hippie and far from being commercial. Is it a good thing? I'm not so sure. I liked his version of Put Your Records On though. IN

I'm a bit disappointed that she didn't make the cut. I thought she stood out during the Hollywood week and her rendition of No One was rather lovely. Overall, I think she's a talented young lady. However, I think that they are right about her coming back in a couple of years and doing really well. By then, she'd be, hopefully, phenomenal. OUT

She's obviously a fodder. OUT

I NEVER heard him sing. Such a shame. OUT

I'm indifferent on his personality, but I love his voice. I'm not sure though if he can get out of the villain edit he got during Hollywood week. Personally, I don’t think he’s half as nasty as Jordan Dorsey who made folks audition for him! I mean, there’s confidence and then there’s arrogance. Go figure! IN

I admit, I'm a bit ambivalent on Haley. I think she has a good voice, but I really don't understand the words when she sings. Plus, I don't think that Haley's vocals are going to appeal to America - most of the girls on the show that did well have really pure voices - Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Jordin Sparks. Crystal and Allison had grittier vocals, but they weren't marketed as pop stars. Let's see. IN

To me, it seemed a little stupid to cut him this early. I mean, he has a very commercial look and sound. Yes, I haven't seen much of DeAndre, but he's pretty good - especially from that group performance. OUT

I don't know. He has interesting tone, but he just doesn't do anything for me. His voice is too distinct to appeal to the masses, I think. Oh, and I really don’t like that he has that goat vibrato thing going at times. Seriously. It drove me crazy with Casey last year doing that. IN

She sure loves those diva songs. I think she's good, pretty and marketable. But for some odd reason, African American girls just doesn't do well on American Idol - except for Fantasia, of course. Syesha Mercado and Vonzell Solomon almost made to the Finale. I'm not sure of her chances. IN

OH NO! NOW, YOU'RE BRINGING COLDPLAY INTO THIS? YOU'VE CROSSED THE LINE, SIR! Oh, and why did you have to bring up your wife again? Ugh. It felt inappropriate. Really. Good thing, he was cut because I don't think he's talented enough to be in the Top 24. He's bland, boring and sounds like a bleating sheep when he sings. Good riddance! OUT
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