Monday, March 2, 2015

Movie Review: Focus

After being one of the most consistently bankable actors from much of the 90's and 2000's, Will Smith has recently fallen on hard times. He hasn't starred in a film that's reached $200 million domestically since 2008's Hancock and more importantly, his last few films haven't been panned by critics and audiences alike. After a multi-year hiatus from starring in quality projects, Smith has gotten his groove back with the breezy crime caper Focus.

Focus centers around the life of veteran con man Nicky "Mellow" Spurgeon (Smith). Spurgeon has swindled and stolen millions of dollars over his two decades in the business thanks to his fast hands, brilliant scheming and ability to never waver from his deep web of lies. During a trip to New York, a young woman named Jess (Margot Robbie) attempts to seduce and hustle Nicky, which proves to be wildly unsuccessful. Months later, Jess tracks down Nicky in New Orleans to seek professional advice, which forces Nicky to reluctantly take her under his wing and shows her the tricks of the trade. Jess joins Spurgeon and his team as they execute a series of major scores in the Big Easy during the week of the Super Bowl, and during that time Jess falls madly in love with Nicky. Despite having feelings for her, Nicky doesn't want to have love interfere with his work and quickly cuts off contact with Jess after their work is complete.

Three years later, Nicky is embarking on one of the biggest cons of his career in Buenos Aires, Argentina when billionaire Formula One team owner Rafael Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro) hires Nicky to pose as a disgruntled engineer for his racing team and sell a bogus engine component to a rival owner (Robert Taylor) that will slow down his cars ahead of the upcoming championship race. Everything is going smoothly until he's at a pre-race party and he discovers that Jess is dating Garriga. For the first time in his career, Nicky begins to lose focus and soon the entire con is in jeopardy due to Jess' awareness of his calculated methods.

From the snappy dialogue to the beautiful locations, Focus oozes a vast level of cool that makes the film incredibly fun to watch. Writer/directing duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have created a slick, engrossing world full of colorful characters that only becomes more interesting as the film progresses. As you would probably expect with a film centered around the art of deception, the twists pile up as the film goes on and you never get a sense of whose playing who until the dust finally settles in the final five minutes of the film. A film with this many sudden plot turns could've been really messy, but Ficarra and Requa's intelligent, well-constructed script makes sure that never becomes the case.

The clever writing and striking cinematography gives Focus a solid outline for success, but its the work of its two leads that push the film from pretty good to truly great. Smith and Robbie are perfectly tailored for the film's suave nature and have an effortless chemistry that just explodes off the screen. The likability and charm that defined Smith's early days as an actor is on full display in Focus. Smith is visibly having a blast in this role and his confident performance here reminds audiences everywhere just how electric he can be when given a role that properly showcases his talent.

While Smith showed the world he's still got the same charisma that made him a star 25 years ago on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Robbie is showing the film world that she has the makings of a bonafide superstar. Robbie had a supporting role in 2013's The Wolf of Wall Street as Leonardo DiCaprio's second wife, but Focus is her first chance to truly be in the spotlight and she just crushes it. Robbie has that quintessential Hollywood "it factor" that floors you from the moment she first appears on screen. She is a fearless performer who embodies each character she plays and has the range to convey dramatic depth and comedic sass with equal dexterity. If she ends up becoming an A-lister in the future, her success should be linked back to her tremendous performance here. Focus is a witty, entertaining ride that serves as a stellar showcase for the talent of its cast and crew, and far exceeds the quality of films you typically see in the early months of the calendar year.

4/5 Stars 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Concert Review: Cannibal Corpse/Behemoth-- Boston, MA-- February 27th, 2015

The House of Blues in Boston, Massachusetts was overcome with a dark energy last night as death metal titans Cannibal Corpse and Behemoth brought their co-headlining tour to Beantown. Unsurprisingly, Both bands did not fail to live up to their icon status and delivered incredible performances.

Continuing an annoying recent trend I've fell into, I once again missed this show's opening act. I've never listened to Tribulation before, but I've heard a lot of good things, so I was kind of disappointed that I missed them. I arrived about 5 minutes before the second band of the night, Aeon, hit the stage. Aeon-who hail from Sweden-put on a pretty killer show the first time I saw them on their first-ever U.S. tour in 2013 and that was once again the case last night. They are easily one of the most pure, unadulterated heavy bands I've ever had the pleasure of seeing live. Every song is relentless as they pile on the crushing riffs without ever giving the listener anything that even resembles a break. I'll admit that the lack of variety in their songs makes Aeon becomes a little bit dull after a while, but their ability to get a crowd going with their groove-based, mosh-friendly brand of death metal makes them a pretty great opener for a show like this.

Behemoth was the first of the co-headliners to take the stage. This was the first time I'd seen Behemoth where I was actually fan of theirs, so to say that I was excited would be a strong understatement. I actually hated Behemoth until the first time I saw live Rockstar Mayhem Festival in 2009. but after experiencing their powerhouse live show, my views on them drastically changed. Since that fateful day in 2009, I've become a huge fans of theirs and now consider them to be one of my all-time favorite bands. From the minute they rolled out their equipment and stage setup which included prominent Pagan imagery and the burning of strong incense, I knew I was going to be in for an unforgettable experience that at the very least rivaled the first time I saw them in 2009. Not only did they manage to match the quality of the first performance I saw from, they blew it out of the god damn water. From the ominous yet atmospheric power of their music to the manner that guitarist/vocalist Nergal and bassist Orion stalk the stage, Behemoth establishes a level of intensity in their live shows that their peers simply can't match. Behemoth has always been a band with a distinctly grim sound, but their signature aura of darkness has only been intensified by Nergal's triumphant return to music after defeating stage 3 leukemia in late 2011-as evidenced by the commanding gloomy nature of their 2014 comeback record The Satanist. The cuts from The Satanist served as the driving force of Behemoth's set  and garnered the type of strong reaction that you rarely see from material that has practically just been released. I can't speak for the rest of the audience, but these songs strongly resonated with me because of their massive sound, dynamic instrumentation and darkly beautiful tone. The sprawling nature and immense crunch of The Satanist tracks were only amplified in a live setting, and made them the undisputed highlights of their 50-minute set. Behemoth just flat-out tore up the stage every moment they were on it. I really hope it won't be another six years before I get the opportunity to see them again.

Despite the fact that they had a far simpler stage layout, Cannibal Corpse took far longer to set up than Behemoth. However, The seasoned death metal stalwarts proved to be well worth the wait as they handily   put on the best performance out of the four times I've seen them. The key to the success of their performance was the sound mix. The last time I saw them at Summer Slaughter 2012, their sound mix was absolutely dreadful and made all the songs bleed into one another, which put a huge damper on the quality of their set. This time around the sound was pitch perfect. The mix was clear enough so you could hear all of the vocals and instruments yet sloppy enough to accentuate the grittiness Cannibal Corpse is known for. The setlist was pretty standard for them with a wide variety of material that spans that spans the entirety of the two decades vocalist vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher has been in the band and a handful of tracks from the late 80's-mid 90's Chris Barnes-era thrown in for good measure. Staples such as "Hammer Smashed Face" and "A Skull Full of Maggots" were fun as always, but it was the attention-grabbing velocity and pizazz of the material off their new record A Skeletal Domain that really stood out. Each one of the three tracks ("Sadistic Embodiment", "Kill to Become", "Icepick Lobotomy") that they played should go on to be cornerstones of their set for the rest of their time as a band. Cannibal Corpse redeemed themselves majorly from the last time I saw them and showed the crowd of 1,500+ in attendance exactly why they are legends in the genre.

Scores:
Aeon 8/10
Behemoth 9/10
Cannibal Corpse 8.5/10

Setlists:
Aeon:
Satanic Victory
Living Sin
Forgiveness Denied
Kill Them All
Blessed by the Priest
God Gives Head in Heaven
Forever Nailed

Behemoth:
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Conquer All
Ben Sahar
Decade of Therion
Messe Noire
Ov Fire and the Void
At the Left Hand Ov God
Slaves Shall Serve
Chant for Eschaton 2000

Encore:
O Father! O Satan! O Sun!

Cannibal Corpse:
Scourge of Iron
Demented Agression
Evisceration Plague
Stripped, Raped and Strangled 
Kill or Become
Sadistic Embodiment
Icepick Lobotomy
The Wretched Spawn
Dormant Bodies Bursting
Addicted to Vaginal Skin
Make Them Suffer
A Skull Full of Maggots
Hammer Shamed Face
Devoured by Vermin

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Top 25 Hip-Hop Beats of 2014

This post has been a long time coming. This countdown got glossed over with all of my other year-end list obligations, but now that the chaos has subsided, I finally had time to throw together my list of favorite hip-hop beats from 2014. Hope you enjoy!

Albums heard:
A$AP Ferg-Ferg Forever 
Atmosphere-Southsiders
Big K.R.I.T.-Cadillactica 
CunninLynguists-Strange Journey Volume Three 
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib-Pinata
Iggy Azalea-The New Classic
Isiah Rashad-Cilvia Demo 
J.Cole-2014 Forest Hills Drive 
Migos-No Label II
Migos-Rich Nigga Timeline
Mac Miller-Faces
Open Mike Eagle-Dark Comedy
People Under the Stairs-12 Step Program
Ratking-So It Goes
Riff Raff-Neon Icon
Run the Jewels-Run the Jewels 2
ScHoolboy Q-Oxymoron
Vince Staples-Hell Can Wait
Vince Staples-Shyne Coldchain 2

25.J. Cole-G.O.M.D. (Producer: J. Cole) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LpPoDTmhQA
24.CunninLynguists-Kings (Producer: Kno) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSwWGtRZ0fE
23.A$AP Ferg-Uncle (Producer: Clams Casino) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLtxFRSFaDE
22.ScHoolboy Q-Break the Bank (Producer: The Alchemist) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHt3TvFJXQI
21.Riff Raff-Wetter Than Tsunami (Producer: Raff Riley) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNtd_XN6v1s
20.Freddie Gibbs & Madlib-Scarface (Producer: Madlib) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dffuCNKtR3g
19.Iggy Azalea-Walk the Line (Producers: The Invisible Men and The Arcade )http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NABebOOwFdY
18.Vince Staples-Blue Suede (Producer: Hagler) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU0nLIlFPrg
17.Atmosphere-The World Might Night Live Through the Night (Producer: Ant) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul8gKMZWVe0
16.Ratking-Remove Ya (Producer: Sporting Life) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfvFsbITLGY
15.Run the Jewels-Lie, Cheat, Steal (Producers: El-P, Boots and Little Shalamar) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOYA48d4Bks
14.Big K.R.I.T.-My Sub Pt. 3 (Big Bang) (Producer: Big K.R.I.T.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWB7_7JTzkA
13.Freddie Gibbs & Madlib-Shitsville (Producer: Madlib) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U-aaKhov2o
12.ScHoolboy Q-Man of the Year (Producers: Nez & Rio and Sounwave) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdJWkB5K8RU
11.Big K.R.I.T.-King of the South (Producer: Big K.R.I.T.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeCMHgGEw1o
10.Riff Raff-Versace Python (Producers: Atira and Diplo) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_mdUPxhTeQ
9.Freddie Gibbs & Madlib-Uno (Producer: Madlib) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk08c5RMa0s
8.A$AP Ferg-Fergsomnia (Producers: Very Rare and Dram) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWTjwvxbWU0
7.Run the Jewels-All Due Respect (Producers: El-P, Little Shalamar and Wilder Zoby) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1ymlMtibnY
6.Run the Jewels-Blockbuster Night Part 1 (Producer: El-P) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PUlXX5xuTE
5.Riff Raff-Aquaberry Dolphin (Producer: Mac Miller) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNSWq_3pV0c
4.ScHoolboy Q-Los Awesome (Producer: Pharrell) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWogKxTzdLA
3.Freddie Gibbs and Madlib-Bomb (Producer: Madlib) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1h26SvybDw
2.Freddie Gibbs and Madlib-Harold's (Producer: Madlib) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJAYeq19oAQ
1.Run the Jewels-Oh My Darling Don't Cry (Producers: El-P, Little Shlamar and Wilder Zoby) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASGuqFNhhfc

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Album Review: Periphery-Juggernaut (Alpha+Omega)

 Whether they like it or not, Periphery will always be the band credited with starting the djent movement. The groove-oriented offshoot of progressive metal which is categorized by distinct, deep chugging guitars and heavy use of polyrhythms has taken off in popularity over the past several years, but has also picked up a large number of vocal detractors who write off the legitimacy and talent of the bands within the genre. Periphery has slowly been trying to move away from the genre they popularized on their recent releases and on their new double album, Juggernaut, they have a grand amount of success doing so.

What immediately stands out when listening to either half of Juggernaut is variety of the material. Over the double LP's 17 tracks, Periphery explores everything from complex epics ("Omega", "Psychosphere") to radio-friendly alternative rock ("Heavy Heart", "Priestess") to '90s-inspired nu/industrial metal ("MK Ultra", "The Bad Thing") with equal proficiency. This level of experimentation gives Periphery a sense of unpredictability that's unlike anything they've had in the past. This album's constant musical shifts serves as a testament of how far they've comes as songwriters. This isn't the same band that burst onto the scene in 2010 with chug-reliant tracks like "Icarus Lives!" and "Buttersnips". While they haven't entirely dropped djent grooves from their repertoire, there's now far more moments of nuanced melody and oft-kilter guitar solos to balance things out.

It also helps that for the first time in their career they're taking full advantage of the three-guitar attack of Misha "Bulb" Mansoor, Jake Bowen and Mark Holcomb that they have at their disposal. On their past records, they worked like a traditional two-guitar band with one lead and two rhythm guitar playing the same. Here, each guitarist adds something different to the mix and the riffs of the lead/rhythm guitars are in a constant state of flux. It will take even the most seasoned guitar exert multiple listens to unlock all of the layers and subtle harmonies Periphery's trio of axemen composed on these tracks. The effectiveness of their three-headed guitar monster and general improvement as songwriters is most apparent on the manic tempo-shifting 10+ minute behemoth "Omega". Their ability to organically transfer from an extended 3-4 minute progressive jam section to a skull-crushingly heavy finale is something they just wouldn't have been able to pull off a few years ago.

Further aiding and in a lot of ways making Periphery's maturation possible is vocalist Spencer Sotelo. Having a versatile vocalist in Sotelo allows Periphery to explore a lot of different avenues with ease. Whether the song calls for a poppy hook, gritty screams or something in between, Sotelo always rises to the occasion and pours maximum emotion into every single vocal line. The Alpha half of the album makes for a particularly strong showcase of Sotelo's vocal talent as it calls for a heavy dose of his clean singing. Sotelo's soaring vocals allows songs such as "Alpha", "Rainbow Gravity" and '22 Faces" to burst out of the speakers with a vivacious, irresistible energy. Sotelo has been impressive throughout his tenure with Periphery, but Juggernaut stands alone as the greatest overall vocal performance of his career.

Juggernaut is a mightily impressive effort from Periphery. They have shown substantial growth since they arrived on the scene six years ago and their increasingly dynamic style is helping them rapidly ascend in the modern metal ranks. While not without its filler along the way (most notably plodding Alpha opener "A Black Minute" and the one-note chugfest "Hell Below" from Omega), Juggernaut keeps up a pretty staggering level of consistency for a double album that runs for nearly an hour and a half. With the triumph of this album, Periphery's evolution from the founding fathers of djent to experimental progressive metal, ahem, juggernauts is now officially complete.

4/5 Stars
Standout Tracks
Alpha
1.Heavy Heart
2.Alpha
3.22 Faces

Omega
1.Priestess
2.Omega
3.The Bad Thing  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Concert Review: The Contortionist-- Allston, MA-- February 21st, 2015

The first can't miss tour metal tour package of 2015 featuring The Contortionist, Revocation, Fallujah and Toothgrinder stopped at the Brighton Music Hall in Allston, Massachusetts last night. As expected with a lineup of this caliber, it ended up being one of the most fun and flat-out best shows I've attended in a long while.

Due to my friend and I's inability to find a place to park for 45 minutes, I missed the local opener Swarm of Eyes. From what I heard while getting food next door to the Brighton Music Hall, it doesn't seem like I missed much. By the time I finished up eating and got inside the venue, New Jersey mathcore upstarts Toothgrinder had just started their set. Toothgrinder is a relatively new act on the national level with just one EP under their belt, but based on their performance here, I'd be surprised if they stayed unknown for long. Their music mixes the tornado-like destruction of Dillinger Escape Plan with the raw griminess of Hot Damn!-era Every Time Die. Their beautifully chaotic sound is matched by a relentless stage presence that demands attention and energy from the crowd. In short, Toothgrinder ruled and I'll be checking out their music further immediately.

Fallujah, the first widely know act of the evening, started about 15 minutes later. Much like the last time I saw them at Summer Slaughter last year, they blew the doors off the previous time I'd seen them. Their continued improvement as a live act can be directly linked to a boost in their confidence level. Since The Flesh Prevails came out last July, the entire band has developed a winning stage presence that matches their immense technical ability and that has made their shows that much more memorable than they were a couple of years ago. Their setlist was focused almost solely on material from The Flesh Prevails. "Starlit Path", "Sapphire" and "Carved from Stone" were all crushingly beautiful, but it was the nuanced epic "Levitation" that served as the set's crowning achievement. The only downside of their set was that they played for just under 30 minutes. Seeing them play these short sets are a huge tease and serve as a painful reminder of just how I want to see them headline. Fallujah is quickly becoming just as formidable as a live act as they are as a studio band, which further solidifies their standing as one of the most important young bands in extreme metal today.

Boston's own Revocation took the stage next. I somehow didn't see them at all in 2014 after seeing them three times in 2013, so it was great to finally get an opportunity to see them again. Per usual, they owned the stage and got an amazing reception from the hometown crowd. Like Fallujah, Revocation primarily played material from their most recent record Deathless. This was completely fine by me as Deathless was my pick for the best album of 2014 and is my favorite Revocation album to-date. The title track was a fiery set opener that got the pits going right away while "Labyrinth of Eyes and "Madness Opus" were even heavier live than on disc. While the other Deathless songs kicked ass, it was set closer "Witch Trials" that proved to be the best song of the night. The solo at the end is perhaps the best single best showcase of David Davidson's guitar playing abilities in their entire discography and the effectiveness of the various tempo changes are fully realized in a live setting. Revocation is one of the most consistent live bands in metal right now, and hopefully they do a headlining tour soon so they can play even more material off Deathless.

After a moderately long changeover, The Contortionist came on to close out the show. This was my fifth time seeing them and the biggest takeaway from this performance was the monumental impact vocalist Mike Lessard has had on this band. Since joining in 2013, Lessard has allowed The Contortionist to tackle a bunch of new musical territory, as evidenced on their latest album Language- which is easily the mellowest they've put out to date. In addition to taking them in a new, bolder direction musically, Lessard also does a great job handling the band's older material. He stays true to the vocals ex-vocalist Jonathan Carpenter originally laid down but gives them his own flare. The setlist was pretty standard as they peppered their hour-long set with some jams from Language as well as longtime set staples such as "Flourish" and "Oscillator". The only real surprise on the night was the presence of "Contact" from 2010's Exoplanet. "Contact" has been been my favorite Contortionist song since I first heard Exoplanet ,and it was unreal to finally get to see them play it. While The Contortionist put on a good show, I'd be lying if I said they weren't a bit disappointing. Seeing The Contortionist play after Revocation and Fallujah is kind of anticlimatic. Their reserved stage presence put a serious damper on the high-energy vibe that was running through the room before they took the stage and their music just doesn't pack the same punch as those two bands do. That being said, The Contortionist still put on a pretty solid performance that served as a nice cherry on top for a glorious evening of heavy music.  
 

Scores:
Toothgrinder 8.5/10
Fallujah 9.5/10
Revocation 9/10
The Contortionist 8/10

Setlists:
Fallujah:
Starlit Path
Carved From Stone
Levitation
Cerebral Hybridization
Sapphire

Revocation:
Deathless
Dismantle the Dictator
Labyrinth of Eyes
Madness Opus
No Funeral
Witch Trials

The Contortionist:
Flourish
Geocentric Confusion
Language I: Intuition
Language II: Conspire
Thrive
Contact
Exoplanet II: Void
Solipsis 
Primordial Sound

Encore:
Oscillator
The Parable

Predictions for the 87th Academy Awards

Best Picture: Nominees: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash
And the Winner is...: Boyhood
Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel and American Sniper have all supposedly gained a lot of traction with Academy voters over the past few weeks, but I don't think any of them will gain enough supporters to knock off Boyhood. Boyhood has been the heavy favorite in this category for months and I believe the level of buzz surrounding it is insurmountable at this point in time.

Best Actor: Nominees: Steve Carrell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
And the Winner is...: Eddie Redmayne
This is the only acting race where there's any sort of serious suspense. Keaton and Redmayne have been locked in a dead heat all award season long and neither one of them have a serious edge heading into Oscar night. Ultimately I think Redmayne will walk away with it because he won at the BAFTA's- which are the last awards show before the Oscars- and the Academy loves to award actors who portray real people.

Best Actress: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
And the Winner is...: Julianne Moore
If I were to gamble on one award, it would be this. There's just no possible situation where I see Moore losing. She's won Best Actress at every other major awards show, it's an incredibly weak field, and the Academy is going to want finally reward her after sending her home empty-handed the previous four times she's been nominated.

Best Supporting Actor: Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
And the Winner is...: J.K. Simmons
This is another presumed lock. Simmons has all of the momentum leading up to the Oscars and there's not another actor in this field that went further out of their comfort zone for their performance than him.

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
And the Winner is...: Patricia Arquette
Put on your surprised face because this category appears to be yet another lock. Arquette has been racking up the awards over the past couple of months and is largely considered to give the best performance in the Best Picture frontrunner. If that's not a recipe for Oscar gold, I don't know what is.

Best Director: Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood). Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Morten Tyldum(The Imitation Game)
And the Winner is...: Richard Linklater
This is a serious toss-up between Linklater and Gonzalez-Inarritu, who just won the Director's Guild Association's top honor. In the end, I think they'll end up awarding Linklater's ambition over Inarritu's technical virtuosity.

Side Notes:
Who I'd vote for If I could cast a ballot:
Best Picture: Whiplash
Best Actor: Michael Keaton
Best Actress: Rosamund Pike
Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons
Best Supporting Actress: Emma Stone
Best Director: Richard Linklater
Best Original Screenplay: Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Damian Chazelle (Whiplash)
Best Cinematography: Birdman 
Best Score: The Imitation Game
Best Visual Effects: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Biggest Snub By Category:
Best Picture: Gone Girl
Best Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)
Best Actress: Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)
Best Supporting Actor: Tyler Perry (Gone Girl)
Best Supporting Actress: Eva Green (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For)
Best Director: Damian Chazelle (Whiplash)
Best Original Screenplay: Chris Rock (Top Five)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
Best Cinematography: Nightcrawler  
Best Score: The Guest
Best Visual Effects: Robocop

Nominees That Shouldn't Be Here By Category:
Best Picture: American Sniper
Best Actor: Bradley Cooper
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon
Best Supporting Actor: N/A
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern
Best Director: Bennett Miller
Best Original Screenplay: Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Jason Hall (American Sniper)
Best Cinematography: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Score: Interstellar
Best Visual Effects: Captain America: The Winter Solider

Friday, February 20, 2015

2014 Film Experiment (Results)

For a second consecutive year, my closest group of friends were kind enough to give me a numerical rating from 1-10 of every film they saw last year. Much like 2013, the consensus of the group wasn't too far from my personal feelings, but there were still some surprises along the way. Here are the rankings of 38 films featured in the experiment from worst of the best.  

38.Transformers: Age of Extinction Avg: 3.9
37.Godzilla Avg: 4.0
36.The Gambler Avg: 5.9
35.The Monuments Men Avg: 6.5
34.Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Avg: 6.8
33.American Sniper Avg: 6.9
32.Interstellar Avg: 7.0
30.The Expendables 3/Hercules Avg: 7.1
29.The Equalizer Avg: 7.3
28.The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Avg: 7.5
25.A Million Ways to Die in the West/Fury/Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Avg: 7.7
18.3 Days to Kill/Captain America: The Winter Solider/Divergent/The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1/The Interview/Robocop/Sabotage Avg: 7.8
15.Foxcatcher/Horrible Bosses 2/Need for Speed Avg: 8.0
14.Let's Be Cops Avg: 8.2
11.300: Rise of an Empire/Neighbors/Nightcrawler Avg: 8.4
10.Sin City: A Dame to Kill For Avg: 8.5
7.Draft Day/John Wick/X-Men: Days of Future Past Avg: 8.8
6.The Lego Movie Avg: 8.9
5.Top Five Avg: 9.0
3.22 Jump Street/Guardians of the Galaxy Avg: 9.4
2.Whiplash Avg: 9.5
1.Gone Girl Avg: 9.7

Average by Person:
Me: 7.5
Dave: 7.9
D.J.: 7.9
Justin: 8.8
Matt: 7.8
Steve: 7.8

Films excluded because they were only seen by one member of the group:
 About Last Night
Adult World
Bad Words
Begin Again
Big Hero 6
Birdman
Blended
Blue Ruin
Boyhood
Brick Mansions
Calvary
Chef
Cold in July
Cuban Fury
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Deliver Us from Evil
Dom Hemingway
Edge of Tomorrow
Fading Gigolo
Filth
Force Majeure
Get on Up
Horns
How to Train Your Dragon 2
I, Frankenstein
Life Itself
Locke
Maleficent
Million Dollar Arm
Muppets Most Wanted
Noah
Non-Stop
Obvious Child
Oculus
Ride Along
Selma
Sex Tape
Snowpiercer
St. Vincent
Tammy
That Awkward Moment
The Fault in Our Stars
The Giver
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Maze Runner
The One I Love
The Purge: Anarchy
The Raid 2
The Rover
The Skeleton Twins
They Came Together
This is Where I Leave You
Transcendence
Tusk
Under the Skin
When the Game Stands Tall
White Bird in a Blizzard
Wild