January 28, 2010

Football 2009 Season Final Review

Ok so it’s time to see how things worked out for me in the year of football (2009).

Football 2009 Preview 8/9/09 Can be found at Tsames.Blogspot.com (archives)

Predictions

NFC

Prediction-NFC East-Eagles 11-5, Cowboys 10-6, Giants 7-9, Redskins 7-9

Actual-NFC East-Cowboys 11-5, Eagles 11-5, Giants 8-8, Redskins 4-12

Prediction-NFC North-Vikings 10-6, Packers 9-7, Bears 8-8, Lions 4-12

Actual-NFC North-Vikings 12-4, Packers 11-5, Bears 7-9, Lions 2-14

Predication- NFC South-Saints 12-4, Falcons 9-7, Bucs 6-10, Panthers 6-10

Actual-NFC South-Saints 13-3, Falcons 9-7, Panthers 8-8, Bucs 3-13

Predication-NFC West-Seahawks 11-5, 49ers 9-7, Cardinals 7-9, Rams 5-11

Actual-NFC West-Cardinals 10-6, 49ers 8-8, Seahawks 5-11, Rams 1-15

NFC Title Game Prediction-Vikings vs. Saints-Champs-Saints

NFC BREAKDOWN-So my prognostication in the NFC wasn’t all that off. I may have liked those Seahawks a bit too much, but I was sold that Matt Hasselbeck had one more good year in him…we now know that’s not the case and new coach Pete Carroll should be searching for his next guy. I also sold the Packers short, but really I think coach Mike McCarthy is a mediocre coach at best, which he is, it’s just their talent level made them excel. I think I also shouldn’t have given the Redskins and the Bucs as much credit as I did, however I do like that the Bucs now have settled in with Josh Freeman as their QB. I nailed the Vikings and the Saints which to be honest was the paper favorites (once Bret signed with the Vikes). I’m going to give myself an A- for this year’s NFC predictions given that the team I had winning the NFC…actually won the NFC…that’s pretty rare in the prediction business. GO SAINTS!

AFC

Prediction-AFC East-Pats 14-2, Jets 8-8, Dolphins 6-10, Buffalo 4-12

Actual-AFC East-Pats 10-6, Jets 9-7, Dolphins 7-9, Bills 6-10

Prediction- AFC North-Steelers 10-6, Bengals 9-7, Ravens 8-8, Browns 6-10

Actual-AFC North-Bengals 10-6, Ravens 9-7, Steelers 9-7, Browns 5-11

Prediction-AFC South-Texans 11-5, Colts 9-7, Titans 8-8, Jaguars 6-10

Actual-AFC South-Colts 14-2, Texans 9-7, Titans 8-8, Jaguars 7-9

Prediction-AFC West-Chargers 10-6, Broncos 9-7, Chiefs 7-9, Raiders 6-10

Actual-AFC West-Chargers 13-3, Broncos 8-8, Raiders 5-11, Chiefs 4-12

AFC Title Game Prediction-Patriots vs. Texans AFC Champs-Patriots

AFC BREAKDOWN-I fell in love with two teams (Texans and Pats) that came up short in their quest for glory. Though the Texans (who were my big gamble sleeper pick) did play better than ever, and finally got over 8-8 with a solid 9-7 season, they weren’t quite ready for the big time. I watched this team more this year than other team other than the Pats and I figured out why my prediction didn’t come true…they have a horrible coach! The Texans should have beaten the Colts twice c’mon this team was great, it was just horribly coached in key situations. Oh well I will by high on them again next year, but won’t have them going anywhere in the playoffs because of that crappy coach. So that brings us to the Pats…14-2 was a bit dreamy…and I am a homer with this team, but they had the pieces on offense, and not on defense…and I glanced over that. I also gave too much credit for the healing ability of Brady…he was hurt all year and on top of that it took him 4 weeks to be in football form, only to get banged up only a few weeks later. I was consistently disappointed with my team this year, but still think they positioned themselves well enough for next year…ONE NAME PATS FANS-Julious Peppers!!! (also another receiver, let’s cut Maroney, and grab a pass catching tight end like Chris Cooley) I’m going to give myself a C- grade this year on my AFC predictions because I mistakenly thought the Colts would slide a bit because of the loss of most of their coaching staff from 2008, but turns out their coaching staff consists of one guy named Manning so that wasn’t really a problem, the rest of those guys are just there for paperwork or something. I was onto the Bengals enough to take credit for that and all the teams that were close at the end I had in the mix. I gave too much credit to the Chiefs, but other than that I was right around were I needed to be.

2009 Superbowl Prediction (My final attempt to get it right this year)

Saints 27 Colts 24

Saints get their first ring ever. And Drew Brees gets to enter the elite lounge…The game ends when Manning marches the Colts down the field just enough to get Matt Stover (42 years old) a shot at a long 49 yard field goal to tie…but the cagey Saints D gets a piece of the ball and the kicks is blocked. How’s that for Superbowl Drama :)


***UPDATE***Congrats to the Saints who beat the Colts 31-17 (pretty close to my prediction) ...A worthy Champ...I already miss football :(


January 25, 2010

DVD Reviews 24. 25, 26, and 27 (The ones you may have missed)

Let’s get you caught up with 4 films you may have missed…or perhaps you just keep thinking about pulling them out of your local Redbox but don’t have a good review to go off of…hmm, maybe this will help.

Moon (2009) Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey Directed by Duncan Jones

When you are stacking up DVD’s to watch there is a lot to consider…first of all you have to have more than one because if you are rolling the dice on Independent or smaller films and they start slow or bad, it’s nice to have the option to switch. Not often, but sometimes in that stack of (I’ll get to it DVDS’s) a gem will pop up (try last year’s Bottle Shock for example DVD review #16 from July 2009) Moon is such a gem. Duncan Jones came up with a great story, and Sam Rockwell delivers a very good performance (along with the super cool voice work done by Kevin Spacey) about a worker who is nearing the end of his contract that has him alone on the moon for three years. He tries to hang on to his sanity so that he may go home. It is great, subtle, creepy, sci-fi fun. I thought this was one of the ten best of the year, and I was glad I managed to finally get to it.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Moon is the right kind of film to watch when your alone and have nothing to do, so sit back, grab a beer (or whatever beverage that suits you), and a bowl of popcorn, and watch a man freak out on the moon…trust me it’s good creepy fun…A very good 7.0 on the scale which will have it knocking out The Informant to bump into the top ten of the year (see sidebar).

The Brothers Bloom (2008) Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody Directed By Rian Johnson

This film which got very good reviews, (so I had to get to it eventually) is about two brothers (Mark Ruffalo…who I sometimes have a hard time with…but he’s great in Zodiac and Adrien Brody) who are Con men on their last job (of course they are). The film is filled with twists and turns and the acting is good all around…but unfortunately I don’t agree with some who think this film deserves “great” status as the characters at times are unlikable and the shifty ending is a bit soulless…but it is worth the watch on a rainy day.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) The Brothers Bloom is a watchable 6.0, its goofy style and odd story will keep your attention…until you get hungry.

9 (2009) Elijah Wood, Martin Landau Directed by Shane Acher

This animated film (which got a rare PG-13 rating) is full of dreary sad elements that are meant to captivate and impress you…but this more adult story falls flat because it’s old and predicitbale. That said the film has great voice work and is awesome to look at…but if you want a better dark anitmaeted film (and we all do don’t we?) go with Coraline…which is much better.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) 9 was a good effort but needed a better story to support all that great animation…how about a 6.0.

Halloween 2 (2009) Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell Directed by Rob Zombie

I really like Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween, in fact I think it is the best horror reboot ever done…sadly that raises expectation a bit, since it is still Rob Zombie helming the sequel. Again he delivers a great feel and tone for the thriller…but his story seems untrue to the Michael Myers saga. He turns Dr. Loomis into a hate-able character, and his ending is too absolute and self-indulgent to be a true Halloween film. I think Zombie missed on this one, and I think he knew it, which is probably why he release Halloween 2 in August the same week Final Destination 40 came out…it’s cool I will still see his next flick.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) This one is for fans only 5.5.

January 18, 2010

Special Comment (Golden Globes)

Globes are boring…and they get it all wrong…again!

Some thoughts on the Golden Globes…well there were a few funny moments from Rickey Gervais (the Mel Gibson introduction was priceless) and there were some very awkward moments (um Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, and John Lithgow), and finally there were some utterly embarrassing moments…like Avatar beating both Up In the Air and The Hurt Locker…just so, so bad. I’m going to go ahead and say it (it was mentioned in the ceremony)…these awards are bought and sold…this was one giant commercial and it didn’t even try to hide it. Just so, so awful…now I didn’t see all the nominees, but I have seen most so let me try to rectify this awful Globes with my own quick awards list.

Best Picture-Drama-Up In the Air 2nd Place The Hurt Locker

Best Picture-Comedy-(500) Days of Summer 2nd Place It’s Complicated

Best Actor-Film Drama-George Clooney-Up In the Air

Best Actress-Film Drama- N/A

Best Actor-Film Comedy-Joseph Gordon-Levitt-(500) Days of Summer

Best Actress-Film-Comedy-Meryl Streep-It’s Complicated

I think for both supporting roles they got it right, Waltz for Basterds was spot on, and although I didn’t see Precious…I think I would have given her (Mo’ Nique) the Globe just for the clips I have seen.

For Director I could see why Cameron was honored given that he was basically vindicted for spending years and hundreds of millions on Avatar…but this was Kathryn Bigelows or Jason Reitmans award no question.

I don't get what the Hollywood Foreign Press is using to measure these films...both it's certainly not logic...oh well we will do this again next year...my hope is that the Academy Awards get it right!

Movie Review #28 It's Complicated

It’s Complicated (2009) Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin Directed by Nancy Meyers

Nancy Meyers knows how to tap into relationships…specifically adult relationships. Some of her hits include The Parent Trap, What Women Want, and the very good Something’s Gotta Give. I have always liked her as a writer and she is becoming a very brilliant director, so I am sensing an Oscar for Nancy in the future…but not for this film. It’s Complicated is a good movie, it has some very, very funny moments (nude Alec Baldwin…always funny), and it also contains some very poignant moments that many people (divorced couples, children of divorced couples) will be affected by. Nancy is a genius at making films that you can have fun at, and yet still learn something. I really like and recommend this film, maybe not her best (Something’s Gotta Give with Jack Nicholson so tough to beat) and I would say if you have the time, go to the theater and see it, because watching Steve Martin accidently run into a hairy nude Alec Baldwin is about as priceless as it gets.

It’s Complicated follows the story of Jane (Meryl Streep) who is divorced to the now remarried Jake (Alec Baldwin…who should have been doing comedy since day one…except for his great Jack Ryan performance from The Hunt for Red October…and of course his Casino owner role in The Cooler). Jake and Jane get involved after a drunken night at a bar. This starts an ongoing affair that is both hilarious and shocking. Coincidently as this is happening Jane meets a very nice Architect named Adam (the always good and underplayed Steve Martin) who she starts to see. This of course makes it quite complicated, throw in the kids in the family and the poor fiancĂ© of the oldest daughter (the actually good…the first time I have ever liked this guy…John Krasinski)…and you get the title. Everyone is good in this, from the kids to the parents…the chemistry between Baldwin, Streep, and Martin is great. Check this one out right away.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Great cast, well written, and quite touching at times…this film deserves a very good 7.0 and although I may not go out of my way to rewatch it, if it is on TV I will most likely stick around enough to laugh at poor Alec Baldwin’s repeated misfortunes.

Food For Thought: Aside from award collecting Streep has The Ice at the Bottom of the World coming in 2010. For Baldwin he is on every Thursday (on the dysfunctional NBC) on the show 30 Rock which he is great on, and he also has Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore coming in 2010, for which he lends his voice to. For Martin (who we need to see more of) has a film called Topper out later this year. In addition to that both Baldwin and Martin Co-Host The Oscars…which should be great…and hopefully much better than the crappy Golden Globes.

January 15, 2010

DVD Review #23 Julie & Julia


-->
Julie & Julia (2009) Meryl Streep, Amy Adams Directed by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron usually bats around fifty percent with me, everybody loves Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, but not too many movie viewers fell for Lucky Numbers or Bewitched. I think she does well with Julie & Julia, maybe not a homerun but certainly a double off the monster in left field. I have been known to be a sucker for “chick-flicks” and this one qualifies under that category, but I didn’t fall for the film per say, I merely admired its cuteness and acting. Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Stanley Tucci all give very good performances here. I wouldn’t tell you to run out and grab this film by any means, but if it’s on TV and you’re looking for something for you and your significant other to watch…this film will taste just right to the both of you.

A somewhat unconventional premise here, Julie & Julia is the simultaneous story of Julia Child’s (the legend, Meryl Streep) early ”cooking career” years and Julie Powell’s (the up and comer Amy Adams) early “writing career” years. Julie Powell is looking for something to do with her life, as Julia Child once was…they both find passion in cooking. As Julie Powell burns her way through Julia Child’s famous cookbook, one recipe at a time, we travel back in time via flashback to Julia Child’s efforts to write it and get it published. I would admit that picking up the movie and reading the back will make you scratch your head as to how this works in a movie…but it does, and as a guy who watches sports and considers himself athletic (whiffleball and tennis right?) I can tell you (other guys presumably) that you may not love this film, but there is enough here for you to watch it, and be entertained…(like the food!!! Man it looks good).

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Julie & Julia is filled with great acting, great food, and some fun moments, but it lacks rewatchability so I can only bring myself to serve it up as a solid 6.5 film, that is worth catching, but not worth putting on any top ten lists (though some acting here is worthy of awards). Watch it when its on, but don’t run out to get it (unless you are a diehard Streep fan).

Food For Thought: I would be foolish to not put a little food in this one, so over some time off I dabbled in seafood, preparing Scallops in two different ways, Cajun style (lightly sauted on both sides with olive oil and butter) and a garlic/Romano cheese sautĂ©…both great and both served over pasta. Both these ladies are currently in theaters as Meryl Streep has It’s Complicated which is getting good buzz, and Amy Adams has Leap Year currently out. Up next for Streep is Ice at the Bottom of the World in 2010, and for Adams there is the Boxer Mickey Ward’s biopic The Fighter co-starring Marky Mark as Mickey.