2017 Oscar predictions

The Academy Awards are on February 26th (Sunday night) and below are my predictions:

I’ve seen the two favorites Moonlight and La La Land. The latter is the safe bet, but I just watched La La Land on Thursday and was underwhelmed. La La Land is harmless, self-indulgent, set in the present while reminding us of the past. Moonlight is set in the past but is about the present. Moonlight to win, it’s more important.

BEST DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle
Damien Chazelle is favorite, so I’ll go with him. He should have been nominated for director for Whiplash which is his best film. Barry Jenkins has an outside chance for Moonlight.

Denzel Washington is the joint favorite, but he’s won a couple of time before. The assault allegations may hurt Casey Affleck's chances with voters. Even though I didn’t love Manchester By The Sea, I think it's the kind of oscar-baity role that will win. Fences winning for both Davis and Washington might happen, especially with #OscarsSoWhite controversy of last year. Could there really be three black actors winning in the four actor categories? I don't see it happening, so my money's on Affleck.

Emma Stone for La La Land is the betting favorite. I hope Isabelle Huppert surprises like she did at the Golden Globes, and it would be justice because Elle was snubbed for a Foreign Language Film nomination. Popular Jennifer Lawrence beat veteran Emmanuelle Riva, and I expect the same thing to happen here with the crowd-pleasing Emma Stone beating the darker, subtle work of Huppert.

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Viola Davis, Fences

Manchester by the Sea to win. Hell or High Water and The Lobster are more original though, so I hope one of those can pull off an upset.


La La Land

A difficult category. Not a clear favorite. Front runner Toni Erdmann has won precursor awards. The Salesman has picked up steam due to Iranian director boycotting the Oscars in protest of Donald Trump’s refugee ban. I’m sticking with Toni Erdmann. Asghar Farhadi won for A Separation just a few years ago, a film that has some similarities to The Salesman.


La La Land


La La Land

Star Trek Beyond

The Jungle Book

O.J.: Made in America was riveting to watch, although did voters sit through all 7h 47m?

The White Helmets


Ennemis Intérieurs, also known as Enemies within

La La Land

"City Of Stars" from La La Land

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

After the ceremony, I will share how many I got right=   ?/24 

Will you be watching the Oscars? What are your predictions in the main categories? Which are your favorites of the nominees? As always, comments are welcome

Top 100 songs of 2016 (tracks 60-51)

Ivy by Frank Ocean
Neo Soul. Speaks to me on a meditative level, as does much of the album.

Empty by Garbage
Alternative Rock. You only have to listen to the opening “I’ve” and you can identify the sultry vocal of Shirley Manson. “I’ve been feeling so frustrated, I’ll never be as great as I want to be” is my favorite lyric on their latest LP.

Bum Bum Bum by Cass McCombs
Singer/Songwriter. A nice discovery, which I’ve had on repeat. You’ll probably either love or hate the “Bum Bum Bum" lyric.

Admitting the Endorphin Addiction by Open Mike Eagle & Paul White
Hip Hop. Probably the most pop-friendly on the album. “Blah, blah, blah, I cry for help” , “You'd really be surprised, how innovative I can get when left alone”.

Take Me To The Alley by Gregory Porter
Jazz Vocal. He's a talented singer and won a Grammy last Sunday. Porter revealed: "Take Me To The Alley is about those darker places, those backstreets, the forgotten places. The alley, and how we treat the people that are in the alley and how we think of them."

Passionate Friend by Meilyr Jones
Chamber Pop. There’s quite a lot going on musically here. My favorite from the album. The songs were inspired by Jones' stay in Rome. Thanks to The Swede for the recommendation. Won the Welsh Music Prize for Album of the Year.

Moth Into Flame by Metallica
Heavy Metal. Not sure it's a classic, but still entertaining. Love the intro. Could have been trimmed to 4 minutes.

Cold Little Heart by Michael Kiwanuka
Neo-Soul. A slow-building epic which is Pink Floyd-esque.

Daddy Lessons (Feat. The Dixie Chicks) by Beyoncé
A surprise country song from Queen Bey, and a good one. I've read Beyoncé is not to be admired because she stays with her cheating husband, but on the other hand the power of forgiveness is important. Airing dirty laundry in public is one way of looking at Lemonade, yet to me sincere lyrics have greater emotional value than contrived words do. Granted she didn't write the entire album herself, but she makes it her own. Giving a voice to those who were disrespected and who hopefully can feel less alone with their torment by listening to the music.

Hold Up by Beyoncé
Contemporary R&B. The video with her in the lemonade dress and holding a baseball bat lifted the song to new heights. Her latest album gains so much from the visuals. Being creative is a way of coming to terms with your problems and your past.

Find anything you liked? Already know some of these? Which are your favorites from these albums? As always, comments are welcome. Tracks 50-41 coming soon!

TV watched in 2016

Stranger Things (2016) (Season 1) (8 episodes)
Strengths: Suspenseful and captivating story, well-acted, at times scary, retro soundtrack fits with the 80s mood, depiction of childhood, teenage life, and parent-child relationships handled well. The friendship between the boys has warmth, especially the way groups divide themselves into opposing cliques felt realistic.
Weaknesses: Style over substance, overly reliant on homage to classics such as Spielberg, Stephen King and Twin Peaks, a bit predictable, some of the scientific aspects feel a little far-fetched.
The positives outweighed the drawbacks.
Rating 8.5/10

Miami Vice (1984) (Season 1)
The smooth talking is quite entertaining in a light-hearted way. My issue with TV shows in general is the same problem I have with Bond movies. We know the main character(s) are not going to die, because the show relies on them to come back. Other shows have the same issue when told as stand-alone adventures. That said, Miami Vice is still suspenseful.
The soundtrack has many well-known and sometimes obscure 80s tunes, and as a fan of the music from that decade, that was the main reason I decided to buy Season 1. Both Jan Hammer's original score and the 80s soundtrack picks add to the enjoyment and give Miami Vice a sense of belonging to that era. The series is also famous for its wardrobe.
For me, a weakness is the continuity from the Pilot to Episode 2, in that the boss and Tubbs were seen as unfit to carry on, yet there’s barely any mention of it in episode 2, except a minor line of dialogue about NYPD willing to fry him for misconduct. Despite this, Crockett and Tubbs are a fun partnership with good chemistry. It’s just the way Tubbs is suddenly an undercover detective in Miami which is slightly glossed over.
Another weakness is the detectives manage to fool the bad guys countless times by pretending to be someone else, and this ploy is too repetitive and relies on the stupidity of the bad guys in not doing a proper background check on them.
I can't rate Season 1 as I only watched half of the 22 episodes due to mild boredom with stories tending to be quite similar and a lack of character growth. My favorite episodes were the pilot as well as the two part Calderone's Return. I'll finish season 1, but I'm taking it slow. Not ideal to binge watch, but good in small doses. A fun show to watch if you just want to switch your brain off and be entertained.

Mum (2016) (Season 1) (6 episodes)
A flawed, yet engrossing kitchen sink sitcom. Lesley Manville anchors the series as the motherly recently widowed Cathy, she is the polite, sympathetic listener people turn to. She and Peter Mullan give likeable performances. Cathy’s son’s girlfriend Kelly (Lisa McGrillis) seemed dumbed down a tad too far, yet she is probably the character who grows the most during the series. The scenes between her and Manville, and the scenes with Manville and Mullan are the strongest moments. Some of the supporting characters such as snobbish Pauline and the rude grandmother were too one-dimensional. During season 1, the number of inappropriate, offensive remarks is excessive. Presumably these repetitions and caricatures put in place for comedic effect. For me, the drama worked better than the comedy. The warmth of the main characters kept me watching. Thank god there’s no canned laughter.
Rating 7/10

The Marvellous World Of Roald Dahl (2016) (BBC documentary)
A one hour BBC special to celebrate 100 years since the author’s birth. He was my favorite children's author growing up. Autobiographical elements and interviews are spliced with moments from his books. Apparently the quirky language in the BFG was inspired by his wife's unusual phrasing following a stroke. Charlie & The Chocolate Factory was inspired by Dahl being used as a test bunny at school by a chocolate company who asked kids to rate various chocolate bars. The books Danny the Champion of the World and Fantastic Mr Fox were influenced by him living in the country.
Rating 8/10

50 Years of Star Trek (2016) (The History Channel) (documentary)
Watching Star Trek is on my to-do list. Particularly interesting were the best TV episode picks: The City on the Edge of Forever (1967), The Devil in the Dark (1967), The Measure of a Man (1989), Yesterday's Enterprise (1990)  Far Beyond the Stars (1998), Someone to Watch Over Me (1999).
Also new to me is the way Star Trek has influenced technology, for instance ipads, flip phones, sliding doors, etc. This may be old news to Trekkies, but I found it eye-opening.
The coverage of the Star Trek movies was rushed, which was a pity. The documentary needed to be longer than 84 min.
The round table debates were fairly interesting, discussing the message of Star Trek and how it impacted the fans etc.
Rating 6/10

Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (1988-89) (season 25, episode 11-14)
Even though I’ve never been an avid Doctor Who fan, this particular adventure left a lasting impression. I watched parts of it as a 7-year-old in the late 80s and was terrified by the clowns. Now I have completed it, and doesn’t live up to its intriguing title. You get to hear a rap by the circus ringmaster, so there is that. The clowns are not as scary as I remembered, in fact they didn't frighten me at all now.
The feisty assistant “Ace” (Sophie Aldred in the center of the poster) is cute, the synth soundtrack by Mark Ayres is alright, and the cliffhanger endings are effective. But the production looks like a silly B-movie horror, and the main characters are not given much to do. The mystery about the circus kept me interested. There are memorable scenes and surprises. I like the doctor’s umbrella handle, which is shaped as a question mark.
I read afterwards the adventure can be perceived allegorically as creativity being destroyed by ratings in the TV industry. TV shows are destroyed when they don't pull in the required ratings and the Gods of Ragnarok can be likened to the BBC controllers of the time, who focused more on the ratings than how original or creative the shows were.
Favorite quote: "Entertain us, or die!"
Rating 5/10

Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988) (TV Special) 
I previously watched the Blackadder TV series from the 1980s, and found it original, but only mildly amusing. The WW2 episodes are my favorites. For whatever reason I hadn't stumbled upon the Christmas special until now, which is a parody of Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol. The story jumps around in different centuries, with Roan Atkinson reprising various characters. The comedy was too predictable. Funniest when Blackadder insults people.
Rating 6/10

Have you seen any of these and what did you think? Which (old or new) TV shows impressed you in the last 12 months?

Top 100 songs of 2016 (tracks 70-61)

Smile More by Deap Vally
Garage Rock. Thanks to Sun Dried Sparrows for the tip. The lyrics are what got me hooked.

Red Earth and the Pouring Rain by Bear's Den
Alternative/Indie. Thanks to Derek at Past and The Pending for the recommendation. The album artwork (pictured above) fits perfectly with the music, retro 80s suitable for the road.

It Means I Love You by Jessy Lanza
Synthpop. The album is overhyped, but the drum and synth combo here is quite primal and bewitching. In the video she wears the golden gown from the album sleeve.

Fire by Justice
Nu-Disco. Had me pressing replay. Seems these guys have a Thelma and Louise fixation. I guess Geena was busy.

Open Your Eyes by School of Seven Bells
Dream Pop. A wake-up call to face life again. From their fourth (and final) album. The band’s career tragically cut short by the death of Benjamin Curtis.

Red Wine by Common
Conscious Hip Hop/Neo-Soul. A track that I didn't even listen to the words of. Just a very smooth sound. I'm sure he has some interesting lyrics if you dig a little deeper. "Get comfortable".

In God's House by Bat for Lashes
Art Pop. A concept album about a woman going through a tragedy on her wedding day. This single is atmospheric and the video dream-like.

Aslan by Charlotte Cornfield
Alt-Country. CS Lewis’ Lion has a cameo

Why Did You Separate Me from the Earth? by Anohni
Art Pop. Can you guess if the singer is male or female? The androgynous voice, appearance and name is part of the performance. I've read the lyrics are about human beings vs the natural world. A powerful song. The mobile phone video is fanmade and irrelevant.

Exodus by Jesu / Sun Kil Moon
Singer/Songwriter. A bonus track to Nick Cave’s new album Skeleton Tree

Find anything you liked? Already know some of these? Which are your favorites from these albums? As always, comments are welcome. Tracks 60-51 coming soon!

Question: Your anticipated films/albums/books of 2017?

In this post, I've listed my most anticipated films and albums. You can click on the links for descriptions/trailers. New books I don't follow, I prefer to read the classics.

I realize several of the below films have already been released in some areas of the world. The thing is, I'm still waiting for them in Denmark, we are often late getting them to our screens.
I included a bunch of these based on early buzz. One More Time with Feeling was praised by Jordan, The Wailing by Zach, Elle by Lisa, The Handmaiden by Sati, Christine by Dave, and T2 Trainspotting by Anne. There's no guarantee I'll react the same way though.

Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve) (October)

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson) (December)

One More Time with Feeling (Andrew Dominik)

Elle (Paul Verhoeven)

Christine (Antonio Campos)

Top 100 songs of 2016 (tracks 80-71)

One More Night by Michael Kiwanuka
Neo-Soul. A motivational song that encourages you to get things done. If anyone knows why he has long legs in the video please explain.

Mercury (feat. Tim Darcy) by Charlotte Cornfield
Alt-Country. A talented lyricist. This is one of her best songs which holds up to many plays. Another find from saidthegramophone's top 100

No Worries Gonna Find Us by Plants and Animals
Indie Rock. Are you a worrier? Maybe this tune can help.

Put The Fire Out by Courtney Marie Andrews
Singer/Songwriter. After hearing a couple of songs on YouTube I downloaded her album Honest Life from bandcamp (it wasn't on Spotify). Her stories come from travelling around the US and also working as a bartender. The lyrics have a relatability and the melodies and vocal are distinctive. The album recently climbed to the top of the UK Americana Charts.

E V P by Blood Orange
Quite funky. There's some Prince influence here. The best track on Freetown Sound. Judging from the YouTube video, probably better live.

Solitude by M83
Synthpop with beautiful orchestral elements. Might be too sad for some listeners.

Body Talk by Foxes
Dance Pop. Very catchy

80 West by Caveman
Indie Rock. A hidden gem which should have been a single. Good driving music.

Love On The Brain by Rihanna
Anti was a mixed bag, the modern tracks I loathed and throwbacks (like this one) I enjoyed

8 circle by Bon Iver
Folktronica. An infectious vocal performance

Find anything you liked? Already know some of these? As always, comments are welcome. Tracks 70-61 coming soon!


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