Chloe M. O'Connor | Layout, Illustration, and Freelance Design

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Picks Of The Week

Obsession of the week: XXX Olympic Games hosted by London

I refuse to use the super ugly London 2012 logo, so all you get are the always amazing Olympic rings ...

I refuse to use the super ugly London 2012 logo, so all you get are the always amazing Olympic rings …

... and this photograph of the British Women’s Olympic swimming team, shown the day before the official opening of the Olympic Games in 1948. This was the first time the Games were held since Berlin hosted in 1936, as they were canceled because of World War II. It was also the second time London hosted the worldwide gathering, the most recent hosting gig until today!

… and this photograph of the British Women’s Olympic swimming team, shown the day before the official opening of the Olympic Games in 1948! This was the first time the Games were held since Berlin hosted in 1936, as they were canceled because of World War II. It was also the second time London hosted the worldwide gathering, the most recent hosting gig until today.

After the Academy Awards, the Olympics are my favorite television spectacle. Maybe it’s the fact it only happens every two years. Maybe it’s because it switches from sun to snow each time around. But mostly I think it has something to do with the most elite athletes on the face of the earth gathering to compete in their specialized sport.

Emotions run high. I know this because I watched NBC’s top 30 greatest moments special Saturday and cried tears of joy over about 93 percent of the selections. When someone wins — especially if their story is a particularly moving one — you feel like you have won.

 

I can’t wait to cheer on Team USA. And watch Ryan Lochte, since he managed to do this at the Olympic trials. I am very much looking forward to seeing the 16-year-old flying squirrel fight for the women’s all-around gymnast title.

To kick it all off, and since I work tonight and do not have a DVR, I will catch the rerun of the opening ceremonies at 1:30 a.m. For those of you keeping score, I love the Olympics so much, I will be staying up until 4 a.m. just to watch the start of the festivities!

 

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Song of the week: “She’s So Mean” by Matchbox Twenty

I’m on a new-songs-from-old-bands kick. I was in love with Rob Thomas my senior year in high school, and I bought his first solo album with euros. So of course I’m over the moon that the band is writing new tunes! The new album, “North,” releases Sept. 4. I also just saw Thomas is mentoring with CeeLo Green on Season 3 of “The Voice.” Ahh! Photographic proof.

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Video stream of the week: Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen” on Netflix and Hulu

I don’t have cable and “Top Chef Masters” started Wednesday. Thus my stumbling upon this show starring an ex-Top Chef contestant.

Molecular gastronomy chef Marcel Vigneron was a big ball of crazy on “Top Chef” Season 2, as seen in this mildly funny, fan-made rap video. He’s still crazy on this show, which aired six episodes on Syfy in 2011. It’s easier to watch Marcel on “Quantum Kitchen” because he is in his own element, making his style of food with a couple of his friends.

The premise is Marcel runs a catering company, so there are clients and party planners with whom to deal, equaling a bit o’ drama. But the real drama happens in the kitchen when Marcel and Co. test the wacky dishes two days before events. Spoiler alert: Everything always works out in the end and the dishes are magical creations everyone loves.

Here’s one of the kitchen test fails:

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Remix of the week: “Cameo Lover” by Kimbra, remixed by Sam Sparro and Golden Touch

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You already know I love Kimbra. She’s my new favorite artist, and her debut album is the best of the year (so far). My littlest sister and I are going to see her and Gotye in concert come October. Until then I will play her record on repeat and download this remix. For free!

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On a side note, if you haven’t voted in my “I Quit Sugar” giveaway poll, hop over and give your input! I’ll be gifting one lucky commenter with something wondrous in an upcoming post, but first I need your help deciding what to give you!

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Filed under: Entertainment, Internet, Music, Netflix, Television, TV on DVD, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Picks Of The Week

Obsession of the week: Oscar bait in theaters.

Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, and the back of Jason Schwartzman's head in "Moonrise Kingdom."

Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, and the back of Jason Schwartzman’s head in “Moonrise Kingdom.”

It’s pretty early to be thinking about the Academy Awards, but let’s not forget “The Hurt Locker,” which premiered in early June 2009 and won Best Picture (along with five other Oscars) eight and a half months later.

Here are the movies on my radar:

  • “Moonrise Kingdom” — Wes Anderson has yet again created a film with heart, laughs, and gorgeous, meaningful visuals. I imagine a writing nomination is in this film’s future.
  • “Brave”* — Pixar missed out on an Animated Feature Film nod last season because of an underwhelming sequel, “Cars 2,” the first Pixar film since the category’s creation in 2001 to be absent from ballots. But with “Brave,” the company introduces its first female lead — and to good reviews — which will be enough to be listed as a contender come January.
  • “The Amazing Spider-Man”  and “Marvel’s The Avengers” — While not likely to be acknowledged for their stories or acting, big-budget action movies typically clean up in Visual Effects, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.
  • “To Rome With Love” — Following up on a love story to Paris and an Oscar for Original Screenplay at this year’s awards, Woody Allen not may have another winner in this ode to Rome. But I wouldn’t be surprised with a nomination; the Academy loves Allen, even if he refuses to attend the ceremonies (save for this moving and funny love letter to New York in 2002, complete with a shout out to the late Nora Ephron).
  • “The Dark Knight Rises”* — Christopher Nolan’s last installment in his Batman trilogy has yet to arrive in theaters (July 20 is the release date), but seeing as how the “The Dark Knight” Best Picture snub at the 81st Academy Awards singlehandedly brought forth the increase in the category’s number of nominees the following year, this film has high expectations from all.

*Films I have not yet seen but intend to before February’s awards.

Video stream of the week: On Netflix, 17 of 50 films named by Entertainment Weekly as “The 50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen”

You may have seen a handful of these films, all released within the last 20 years. To catch up on a bunch more, you can thank Netflix. Below are links to the 17 streaming titles, and for the full list of 50, check out EW’s photo gallery.

Free download of the week: “Anna Sun” by Walk the Moon

The first 2:45 of the music video is one shot and includes a key-tar, sparklers, average-Joe dance moves, and a door one can only assume leads to Narnia. What fun!

I first heard this song on my favorite place to discover new singles, AOL Radio’s New Pop First station. Then I realized I already owned it (and had unknowingly heard it in episode 1 of the third season of “The Vampire Diaries”).

You can download the Cincinnati band’s track for free at Amazon.com. If you want to stumble upon other up and coming artists, check out Amazon’s monthly sampler of artists on the rise, which, for July, includes songs from Japandroids and Ed Sheeran (download Sheeran’s EP for free when you sign up for his mailing list on his website).

Filed under: Academy Awards, Entertainment, Hollywood, Internet, Movies, Music, Netflix, Oscars, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oscars: Celebrating the best of 2010

I have the jitters and I can’t blame it on the caffeine. I just started my large vanilla almond black tea at Arsaga’s in Springdale and it’ll take at least 30 minutes for that to kick in. It must be that once-a-year feeling I get, usually in February but last year in March. Time for the Academy Awards!

This year, seeing as how I am no longer occupied with school, I’ve had more time than ever to really dive into the awards season and the build-up to the biggest night in Hollywood. The categories have no big changes (no 20 Best Pictures or 12 Original Songs, thank goodness!) but the announcements of the winners will most likely keep us on our toes. So we should dive right into the predictions, right?

Best Picture

Colin Firth in "The King's Speech"

Courtesy The Weinstein Company

Remember when there were only five nominees in this category? Last year’s switch to 10 pictures was lackluster, with several films in the running that really weren’t the best of the year. The difference this time: All the movies deserve the nods they received, and I argue that “The Town” should have been included. The only film I didn’t see was “127 Hours,” but I’m sure it belongs (and I can make a sound judgment March 1 when it’s released on DVD).

The film that resonated most with me was “The Fighter.” I can’t stop thinking about it and I saw it a month ago. “The Social Network” was the best film of the year when I saw it in December. But “The King’s Speech” will come away with the win because it is a solid story with spot-on acting. The color palette is beautiful and I cried for the last 10 minutes. That’s not always a sure sign of a winner but look at it this way: I cried watching “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Hurt Locker” and they won Best Picture.

Will win: The King’s Speech

Should win: The King’s Speech

Achievement in Directing

David Fincher illustration

Courtesy Charis Tsevis

This six-man race is tight, and I say six-man because of the ever-present Oscar nominees Joel and Ethan Coen. Obviously all the directors made lovely films. I enjoyed each one. But the one director who turned a story about a website into a tale of deceit, lost friendships and the rise to the top of the Internet world was David Fincher for “The Social Network.” This could have been a boring film but it wasn’t, thank in part to Aaron Sorkin’s (Oscar-winning?) adapted screenplay. Mostly, though, it was the decisions Fincher made behind the camera that make this film deserving of recognition.

Will win: David Fincher

Should win: Christopher Nolan … snub of the century.

Best Performance by an Actor/Actress, Leading and Supporting Roles

Melissa Leo

Courtesy David Shankbone

I don’t see any surprises on the horizon, so expect the Leading Role awards to go to Colin Firth and Natalie Portman, respectively. I’d also be shocked if Christian Bale loses Supporting Actor. While some people are down on his over-the-top portrayal of non-fictional Dicky Eklund in “The Fighter,” let it be known that Bale was actually mistaken as the real Dicky while filming on location in Massachusetts. He knows exactly what he’s doing (like Lady Gaga).

However, since Melissa Leo tested out some “pimp” tactics to try to win Academy votes, her lead has shrunk. Will the voters ignore her misstep and look to her heavy but perfect performance in “The Fighter?” Or will the Oscar go to 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld, a charming, fresh-faced newcomer with acting chops? I hope Leo gets it for the sole reason that Steinfeld has many years ahead of her to perfect her craft, while Leo was there in 2008’s “Frozen River” but lost to Kate Winslet (and it was indeed Winslet’s time).

Will win: Melissa Leo

Should win: Melissa Leo

The rest of the soon-to-be best:

Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 3”

Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland”

Cinematography: True Grit”

Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland”

Alice In Wonderland

Courtesy Rafael Poveda

Documentary (Feature): Restrepo”

Documentary (Short Subject): Killing in the Name”

Film Editing: The King’s Speech”

Foreign Language Film: In a Better World” Denmark

Makeup: The Wolfman”

Music (Original Score): The Social Network”

Music (Original Song): We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3″

Toy Story 3

Courtesy Jerrod Maruyama

Short Film (Animated): Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)”

Short Film (Live Action): The Confession”

Sound Editing: Inception”

Sound Mixing: The King’s Speech”

Visual Effects: Inception”

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): The Social Network”

Writing (Original Screenplay): Inception”

Inception, Lego style

Courtesy Alex Eyler

Filed under: Academy Awards, Entertainment, Hollywood, Movies, Oscars, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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