Friday, April 13, 2018

The History of NXT Takeover: New Orleans

NXT has outdone themselves this time.  TakeOver: New Orleans might possibly be the best show the upstart developmental brand has ever put on, a three-hour extravaganza with five incredible matches, not one of which could be realistically rated below ***1/2.  With four title bouts and one deeply personal grudge match as the headliner, this show was everything you could want out of a TakeOver special.

The festivities exploded right out of the gate with a violent but safe six-way ladder match for the new NXT North American Title.  Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream, Killian Dain, Lars Sullivan, and the debuting EC3 and Ricochet put on one of the best multi-man schmozz bouts in recent memory, with multiple threads coming together to introduce this new championship in style.  Dain and Sullivan gave us a battle of the bulls multiple times throughout the match, Richochet showcased his unparalleled acrobatics, Velveteen Dream demonstrated that he's much tougher than his flamboyant character would indicate, EC3 took some crazy bumps (though he seemed absent for much of the bout), and Adam Cole played the opportunist to the hilt, swooping in at the last second to retrieve the title and become the inaugural North American Champ at the 31-minute mark.  This was a wild, brutal affair and set the tone for a rugged night of wrestling.

Next up was a Women's Title rematch, as Ember Moon faced Shayna Baszler once again.  Where their MMA-inspired first match felt unique but perhaps a little clunky, this bout blended the MMA and pro wrestling styles beautifully while still feeling like an animosity-laden fight.  Ember had done her homework, countering nearly every Baszler attack and going after her arm to try to render Baszler's submission repertoire useless; at one point Baszler slammed her dislocated shoulder into the ring post to pop it back into place.  This was an intense back-and-forth that included Ember hitting the Eclipse from the apron to the floor before Baszler eventually countered a second Eclipse in the ring, locking in her rear naked choke for an eventual pass-out title win.  This was one of the best NXT Women's matches in some time and the intimidating Baszler should make a very credible champion.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Movie Review: A Quiet Place (2018)

by Mike Drinan

A Quiet Place is directed by John Krasinski and stars himself alongside his real life wife Emily Blunt. The film is about a family’s survival in a world that has been taken hostage by monsters that have an acute sensitivity to sound. Once they hear a sound they attack with lightning speed and are ferocious. Ladies and gents, this film is intense and so good. There are so many great things, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers here.

Let’s start with the characters. I’m not a big fan of the horror genre, which this film is classified as, mainly because I can’t stand the stupidity of the characters. You find yourself annoyed because they enter a room without turning on a light, or they hear crazy sounds or noises and they continue to walk toward them. Like, hey asshole, your friends are all missing and there’s weird shit happening, so why don’t you fucking leave! A Quiet Place separates itself because the characters are actually intelligent and very careful. Lee Abbott (Krasinski) has done his research on these monsters; their characteristics, strengths, habits. Along with his pregnant wife Evelyn (Blunt), they’ve transformed their house and living situation in order to protect themselves and their two kids. They speak in sign language, mainly because their oldest daughter, Regan, is deaf. They set up a lighting system that will tell you if there’s danger at the house or if it’s safe. They replaced board game pieces with pieces of cloth. They painted the wooden floor of their house where there are no creaks so you know where it’s safe to step. They even set up a soundproof room for when Evelyn gives birth and a soundproof wooden box with an oxygen mask if the baby is crying. Genius! These are the kind of characters you can root for and hope they survive. They’re not morons.

The story line is really well done and relatable. I won’t go into it because it will give some stuff away but Krasinski (who is also a co-writer on this film) really gives this family a good backstory that makes the audience understand some of the actions and feelings of the characters. Really adds a layer to the plot that isn’t too complex but heartfelt and damn near emotional.


Why Shinsuke Nakamura’s shocking heel turn at WrestleMania 34 should lead to a high-voltage feud with AJ Styles, and will put a new charge into his WWE career

By Ryan K. Boman of

With all the shock waves that were sent through the WWE Universe on Sunday Night, the epic heel turn of Shinsuke Nakamura should not to be lost in the current. It may very well be the spark of something big.

Nakamura, after coming up short against longtime friend and rival AJ Styles for the WWE Championship, turned on The Phenomenal One and made a stunning character move at WrestleMania... one that will likely send a charge through his career.

Upon entering WWE in 2016, The Artist had already been an established superstar in Japan, holding the IWGP Championship on three occasions and wrestling classic matches against the likes of Styles, Kota Ibushi and Hiroshi Tanahashi. His signing received much fanfare at the time, and had some fans believing that the 'E' had finally acknowledged - if not fully embraced - the concept of Strong Style.

Initial reactions were great, as Nakamura cultivated two successful championship reigns in NXT and quickly graduated to the main roster. Along with him, he brought one of the greatest custom theme songs ever. His quirky, mysterious and irreverent behavior made him like a charming guest in the WWE ring. Fans happily cheered along, as this aloof and eccentric Asian superstar danced with them to all the good vibrations they could handle.

Then, somewhere along the way, the power went out.

The flash and dash started to inexplicably fade, all while Nakamura continued to rack up victories and receive favorable booking. Things were fizzling, and it seemed like the audience was ready to get off the 'Shinsuke bandwagon'.

Even his supposedly, star-making Royal Rumble win didn't give him much of a buzz. At least, not the kind that's normally worthy of a high-profile match under the mega-watt lights of WrestleMania.

Now suddenly, Nakamura leaves New Orleans with more attention than ever. His newfound attitude and fresh storyline will be wrapped around the WWE title on Smackdown Live over the course of the summer.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

NXT TakeOver: New Orleans Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another round of NXT Predictions, here at!

Well WrestleMania weekend is upon us, and that means the yellow brand will be attempting to outdo their main roster counterparts once again.  Believe it or not, they actually have their work cut out for them this time, as WrestleMania is a stacked a show as they've put on in years.  But fortunately NXT has a loaded card in their own right this Saturday.  So let's take a look....

Dusty Classic Finals/NXT Tag Team Championship Triple Threat: Adam Cole & Kyle O'Reilly vs. Authors of Pain vs. Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne

Right off the bat we have a barnburner of a match.  The Dusty finals came down to AOP vs. Strong & Dunne, but William Regal added O'Reilly & Cole to the fray after they interfered in the scheduled final match.  So for some reason the tag champs got to circumvent the entire tourney to get to the finals?  Odd, but this match should be a lot of fun.  AOP has to be on the verge of a call-up so I don't see them winning.  Strong & Dunne could take this but I think the Undisputed Era will retain and take the trophy.  Cole is pulling double duty on this show so he has to win at least one of the two matches.

Justin: Cole & Kyle
Landon: O'Reilly & Cole

North American Championship Ladder Match: Adam Cole vs. EC3 vs. Velveteen Dream vs. Ricochet vs. Killian Dain vs. Lars Sullivan

It's a brand new belt for NXT, and the winner of this schmozz gets to take it home.  EC3 and Ricochet are newcomers (or returners in the case of EC3) making their debut in this match.  Can't wait to see how Ricochet fits in here.  The man is superhuman.  Anyway, I don't see Dain, Sullivan or Dream becoming the inaugural champ, Ricochet is brand new to WWE, and Cole is in two matches (not sure which goes on first).  I'm gonna go with EC3, who's already been in WWE before and has a huge cache from his TNA stint.

Justin: EC3
Landon: Ricochet

WWE WrestleMania 34 Preview & Predictions

Oh man.  Oh mama.  Oh doctor.  That's right, it's WRESTLEMANIA!  

We are just days away from the 34th annual Showcase of the Immortals, and man does this lineup smack the ever-lovin' goose shit out of the previous fifteen-or-so editions.  THIS is what a WrestleMania match lineup should look like folks.  Lots of variety, major bouts involving the current crop of stars, maybe a nostalgia act or two in special attraction matches, and some potential MOTY candidates.   It's about time they got one right.  Course they could fuck the whole thing up anyway, but for the first time in literally years they have a really stacked lineup to work with.  This 'Mania season has felt to me like Triple H and Steph had a much bigger hand in booking it than Vince did.  The last three PPVs have gone according to logic, and the focus has been overwhelmingly on the full-timers while Hunter, Steph and Shane are in matches designed to get newer people over.  I haven't been this jazzed about a WrestleMania show in a long time.  A long time.

So let's get to the picks.  It's a whole new season and we're all starting with a clean slate.  But first the 2017 results:

1. Justin - 90/120 (75%)
2. Landon - 79/108 (73%)
3. Dave - 62/86 (72%)
4. Dan - 75/120 (62.5%)

Pre-Show Cruiserweight Championship Finals: Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali

I haven't been following 205 Live so I have no idea what's been going on with this division.  The CW division needs a breakout star to build around.  Neville was that star for a while but got so fed up with the tiny box he was put in that he up and walked out.  He is supposedly in talks to return, so maybe they'll do something more with him.  Problem is the CW division is such a tiny niche in WWE programming that any potential breakout stars are, to a certain extent, wasted in that division.  They either need to figure out a balance or scrap this experiment.  I'm sure the match will be solid but they'll probably put it on so early the stadium will be half empty.  Gotta feel sorry for these guys.

Justin: No idea - let's go with Cedric.
Dan: I mean... I've never heard of either of these dudes. Ali
Landon: Alexander
Dave: Cedric.  Who cares?

Pre-Show Andre the Giant Battle Royal

Sooooo glad this isn't going on the main show.  The only Andre Battle Royal I've truly enjoyed so far is the first one, which turned out to be an unexpected hit.  Since then it's been a pointless sideshow attraction designed to cram all the unused names on the PPV.  And none of the four winners really got much of a push afterwards.  Baron Corbin is the only one who can truly claim it helped his main roster career, and even that is debatable.  Only 14 names have been announced so far, and none of them seem like sure winners.  Of those 14 I'd probably pick Corbin to repeat.  At least that would be something on his resume: Two-time Andre Battle Royal winner.

Justin: Either Corbin or Mr. Surprise Entrant #6 (Maybe Dolph?)
Dan: Is Elias in this?  If so, him.
Landon: Karl Anderson
Dave: No idea, Dolph....

Pre-Show Women's Battle Royal

The women's division equivalent of the ABR.  But at least this one is historic for being the inaugural one.  It sucks they couldn't find time on the main show for a Sasha-Bayley match, as that would've been another potential show stealer.  But the focus of this match is clearly going to be on that feud.  This only has 13 names announced so far, and Sasha, Bayley and Becky have to be the favorites.

Justin: I could see Sasha and Bayley canceling each other out and paving the way for Becky to take it down.
Dan: Ruby Riott
Landon: Becky Lynch
Dave: Sasha

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers

This should be a fine car wreck of a match.  The BB have been pushed as the latest coming of the Road Warriors and I'm happy about that.  Harper especially is way too good to have been wasted for so long.  This is only going one way.  Harper and Rowan kill everything they see and become the dominant heel Tag Champs.

Justin: Bludgeon Brothers
Dan: BB
Landon: Bludgeon Brothers
Dave: Gotta be the Bludgeon Brothers

Monday, April 2, 2018

TV Review: Jesus Christ Superstar Live

NBC's special live broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar was a welcome change of pace from the recent slate of live Broadway network specials.  Instead of a full on-stage production with traditional sets designed to simulate the Broadway experience, JCS was a more of a stripped-down concert with minimalist, utilitarian sets and contemporary costumes, complete with each cast member being miked, but still interacting as they would in a stage play.  The backing band was also visible the whole time, often taking center stage during instrumental passages.

Musically the show was top-notch and a very worthy rendition of the classic rock opera.  The band was tight, and faithful to the original but still found room to add their own touches here and there, particularly during various guitar solos.  The strong foundation was there for the actors to build their performances.

But this show would stand or fall based on casting, and fortunately this cast was first-rate, from John Legend's soulful, strangely non-rock n' roll turn as Jesus (Legend's silky vocal style worked unexpectedly well in this context despite the band's stylistic adherence to the classic rock original) to Sara Bareilles's understated, melancholy performance as Mary Magdalene, to theater veteran Norm Lewis as the imposing, authoritative Caiaphas (Lewis has commanding stage presence and brings just the right sense of menace to the show's de facto villain), to Ben Daniels' effortlessly charismatic Pontius Pilate, to Alice Cooper's flashy, memorable cameo as King Herod, channeling his Billion Dollar Babies-era swagger. 

Probably the most important role in Jesus Christ Superstar though is Judas.  Judas is the glue that holds the story together, the catalyst for the events that play out, and in an odd way the character most relatable to the fallible, fragile audience.  If the actor playing Judas isn't up to the task, the whole show falls apart.  Brandon Victor Dixon was more than up to the task, delivering a muscular performance that prodigiously brought to life this conflicted, crucial role.  While his opening number felt perhaps a bit uncertain, Dixon settled into the character almost immediately after that, stealing the show in the second act, as Judas should.  Dixon has fittingly also played Aaron Burr in Hamilton, a role that for me echoes Judas and his relationship with the lead character.  Dixon admirably filled the enormous shoes of the great Carl Anderson, for me the absolute definitive Judas.

From top to bottom JCS Live was a visually and musically engaging spectacle; a mix of classic rock mixed with current pop and theater sensibilities, boasting a tremendously effective ensemble cast with two pretty stellar lead performances.  The commercial breaks were a tad distracting; frequent interruptions of a live performance just feels wrong.  But aside from that complaint this two-plus-hour show flew by and did Andrew Lloyd Webber's masterpiece true justice.  Easy thumbs up from me.

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Parents' Night In #4: Ghostbusters (1984)

Watch and listen as Kelly and I drink some beers and talk the original Ghostbusters!

Join us on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter (@EnuffaDotCom)

Friday, March 30, 2018


by Dan Moore

My secret shame* is I love techno music, in all its incarnations. Trance, trip, dubstep, happy hardcore, bebob, skeet skot, shmendrick, bumfuzzle, you name it, I got it (good luck figuring out which of those genres I made up).

That's me on the left. 

In the quest to find the hottest bangers to fist pump to, I’ve run into my fair share of clunkers. I typically have bought compilation albums, so along with hearing the hottest hits that kids 20 years my junior enjoy,  they're filled with enough scorching GARBAGE to fill up 9 landfills. Most of them make me laugh...but these ones here...they're not my kind of techno.  I submit the worst 4 I’ve ever heard in the next few posts. Lemme know which is the worst so they can win MARCH TECHNO MADNESS

*It's no secret, I'm not ashamed

1. I'm an Albatraoz by AronChupa (Vocals by Nora Ekberg)

First up, a truly deplorable song about…a sea faring bird? A mouse? I have no clue. Not only is this girl's voice infuriating but the "music" behind her while she sings the chorus is UNREAL annoying.

HUH!?!?! What the FUCK was that all about?

2. Let Me Hit It by Sporty O 

Next up, we have this bouncing, bopping, ridiculous sort of rap song. This song is ludicrous in a hilarious way. The guy's rhymes are BONKERS stupid...but awesome. This is an actual lyric in the song. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Best Picture Reviews: Terms Of Endearment (1983)

by Mike Drinan

When you look through the list of Best Picture winners and see a film with Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger and Jack Nicholson, written and directed by the wonderful James L. Brooks, you sit and say to yourself, “Well, that’s no surprise.” Oh, but it was dear reader, it was quite the surprise, because this movie is crap.

Terms of Endearment is the story of the relationship between Aurora Greenway (MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Winger) over several years. Emma marries the comically named, Flap Horton (played by Jeff Daniels), as Aurora finds herself in a relationship with her neighbor, astronaut Garrett Breedlove (Nicholson). The relationship between the two evolves as Emma begins to have marriage problems while Aurora is dealing with conflicting emotions of her own with Garrett. The film’s pinnacle shows the mother and daughter in how they each express love in their own way.

Let’s start with the good, and there’s no better or obvious place to start than with MacLaine’s performance. She is fantastic as Aurora, a stern, no bullshit, and sometimes neurotic, self-absorbed woman who courts a number of gentlemen for, what seems like, the mere fun of having them around and showering her with compliments. Aurora is the kind of woman that you want to fall madly in love with, while at the same time makes you want to put your head through a wall. MacLaine is great at balancing the comical and dramatic tones of the film with her character. She is believable and wildly entertaining. With each new development you are constantly wondering how she is going to act and MacLaine never lets you down.

Nicholson is good in this movie but this isn’t a memorable role for him, in my opinion. As astronaut playboy Garrett Breedlove, he’s unfiltered and doesn’t have a care in the world. He knows he’s in demand sexually with younger women and embraces it fully, but still has a part of him that is caring and thoughtful. At times he’s a likeable character but most of the time, like Aurora, he’s a self-absorbed, stubborn toolbag and Nicholson, like MacLaine, does a great job in balancing the conflicting emotions and situations the character finds himself in.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

NJPW Sakura Genesis 2018 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another round of NJPW predictions here at, where my colleague Landon Wayne (@LSWayne21) and I attempt to prognosticate New Japan's latest PPV offering.

This Sunday is the annual Sakura Genesis (formerly Invasion Attack), one of the company's biggest shows of the year, that should have implications leading into June's Dominion show.

After a wildly successful US-based show last week, the company is poised to continue a few of the stories at play.  For those of you who missed Strong Style Evolved, the tag team main event between Golden Lovers and the Young Bucks was a truly epic encounter that furthered this unpredictable angle.  Also we got a taste of the Okada-Sabre main event in their furious tag match, and I can't wait to see this singles bout.  NJPW has done an incredible job of elevating Zack Sabre and presenting him as a fearsome stretching machine.  He counters nearly every move to the point that an opponent doesn't even dare throw a strike, because you're just giving him your arm to bend the wrong way.  Sabre is a uniquely gifted asset to this company and I'm delighted that he's being pushed so strong.

Anyway, let's get to the predictions.

The Young Bucks vs. Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi

I'll be honest, this show is a little tag-heavy for my tastes.  Feels more like a Destruction PPV than Sakura Genesis.  The Bucks being in the opening match here feels a little strange, and since they're facing two Bullet Club guys I guess that means Matt and Nick are on the outs with the BC in general.  I'm thinking we'll see a new faction formed, with the Bucks, Omega and Ibushi.  I'm not complaining, mind you.

Justin: This is a match to establish the Bucks as a newly sympathetic team.  Bucks obviously win here.
Landon: Young Bucks beat BCOG...though do Yujiro and Chase count? I mean I guess cause at this point we've shattered into three factions inside the Bullet Club know what? Whatever, next.

Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. Taichi & Takashi Iizuka

Not much to this one, though Taichi's recent singles work has impressed me.  He's got a good look, a great douchey heel character, and a lot of potential.  Based on the Okada/Ishii vs. Suzuki/Sabre match last week I was hoping Ishii was being groomed for an Intercontinental Title match, but now it doesn't seem like it.  Goddammit, can Ishii get something better than this?

Justin: I guess Chaos for the win?
Landon: Speaking of grooming. I think Taichi, and I am the messenger  so don't shoot me for this, is being set up for the next NEVER Openweight title shot. Taichi pins Yano here.

NEVER Six-Man Tag Team Championship: Bad Luck Fale & Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Michael Elgin, Togi Makabe & Ryusuke Taguchi

The increasingly pointless six-man belts are on the line in another Bullet Club vs. Taguchi Japan match.  It literally doesn't matter who wins this, but I'd keep the straps on Fale & GOD.  That said, they'll probably do a title change because these belts ALWAYS change hands.

Justin: Taguchi Japan
Landon: Fuck it, put the belts on Mike Mak and Taguch. It'll be fun regardless

Monday, March 26, 2018

Best Picture Reviews: Shakespeare In Love (1998)

by Mike Drinan

Alright, let’s just get this one out of the way. Today’s installment of Best Picture Reviews is often listed as one of The Academy’s greatest mistakes and is directly responsible for my father refusing to watch The Academy Awards, which has now stretched to thirty years. Today, I review Shakespeare In Love.

The film stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes and is directed by John Madden (no, not that John Madden). It’s about a young William Shakespeare (Fiennes) who has sold his next play but suffers from extreme writer’s block, lacking inspiration. Then, he meets the beautiful Viola de Lesseps (Paltrow), a huge theater enthusiast and a big fan of Shakespeare’s work, who begins to dress as a man in order to get on stage and act, since at the time men were the only ones allowed to act. Shakespeare sees through the disguise and the two, despite him being married and Viola being promised to some other rich guy, begin a passionate love affair that Shakespeare uses as inspiration for writing his play.

I first saw this film in the theater when it came out and thought it was a really good movie. I rewatched it years later and it still stood up for me. The film has a lot of humor in it which is what makes it enjoyable and a lot of entertaining characters that make you want more of them, like Geoffrey Rush’s crude yet hilarious character Philip Henslowe. Even Affleck’s small role as Ned Alleyn is pretty amusing. The film also has a decent premise even though it reads like a sappy romantic comedy.

The acting is good, apart from Joseph Fiennes who just completely overdoes it in this movie. You can tell that he is acting. Nothing feels genuine or natural with his delivery, tone or body movement. He’s there to react and I find his performance in this boring and uninspired for that reason. Paltrow was good as she juggled the personas of both Viola and Thomas Kent masterfully, which helped lead to her snagging the Best Actress Oscar from a very formidable Cate Blanchett that year who was nominated for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth. I’m not sure Paltrow’s performance was Oscar-worthy but she was certainly great to watch in this, a highlight for me in this film certainly. Judi Dench’s performance as Queen Elizabeth I (that’s weird) nabbed the Best Supporting Actress Oscar even though it was a very minimal role. Not sure she deserved an Oscar for that role either but the lack of competition that year probably had more to do with it. What makes the film enjoyable for me is the supporting cast and minor characters. They were all great and fun and give the film a great sense of camaraderie. I felt part of their crew, enjoying the fun, the work and the crazy drinking after rehearsals in the pub.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Great PPVs: WrestleMania XXX

Welcome to the 7th installment of our series called The Great PPVs, here at and, where I take a look back on an all-time favorite wrestling show.

With the bombshell announcement this week that one of the most beloved stars of the last decade is returning to the ring after a two-year "retirement," and considering this year's WrestleMania will emanate from the same venue, I thought I'd revisit the event unofficially dubbed "Yes-tleMania."  That's right, I'm talkin' about WrestleMania XXX!

Anyone who's been a frequenter of should know two things about me.  #1 I'm a massive Daniel Bryan fan.  Have been since I first stumbled onto his Ring of Honor work in 2007, when he quickly became my favorite wrestler on the planet (If you've only seen his WWE stuff you're missing some absolutely stellar matches).  #2 I have been less than excited about the last three WrestleManias, feeling that the company had more or less dumped fans like me by the wayside and failed to offer us any must-see matches on the biggest show of the year.

But in 2014 WrestleMania felt like it belonged to the diehard fans, whom Vince had begun to ignore every January to April, preferring instead to cater to the casual audience with celebrity appearances and old-timer returns.  By contrast this WrestleMania was all about "our guy" - a plucky little workhorse from Aberdeen, WA who'd defied WWE's intention to plant him firmly in the middle of the card as a "solid B+ player" (If you think Stephanie wasn't using Vince's words in that infamous promo you're kidding yourself).  At WrestleMania 30, Daniel Bryan would take down the entire machine and for the time being emerge as the new face of the company.  We all knew it had to happen, and it was rewarding beyond belief when it did.

But the show wasn't even supposed to go that way originally.  Vince had his heart set on 'Mania 30 being headlined by Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock (one of several 2002-04 matchups he'd inexplicably decided to recycle around this time).  Only problem was The Rock, who'd main evented the previous two 'Manias, got hurt a year earlier and subsequently agreed to a Hollywood contract clause that he wouldn't wrestle again until after his current film project was completed, lest another injury derail production.  So Dwayne Johnson was out of WrestleMania 30.  Enter Vince's substitute, Dave Bautista.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Parents' Night In #3: Dirty Dancing (1987)

Well it finally happened.  Kelly made me watch Dirty Dancing for the first time.  Fortunately it was accompanied by BOOZE!

Sit back and laugh with us as we revisit an 80s favorite and Justin picks it apart.  Its time for Dirty Dancing!

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Episode 1

Episode 2

Best Picture Reviews: Marty (1955)

by Mike Drinan

I’ve recently begun a journey to watch every movie that has won the Academy Award for Best Picture and give my thoughts on it. So, here I begin my new series...Best Picture Reviews.

The 1955 Best Picture winner Marty, stars Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair. The film was directed by Delbert Mann and was adapted from a teleplay of the same name. The film not only won the Academy Award for Best Picture, but also for Best Actor, Director and Adapted Screenplay.

Marty is about a thirty-four year old butcher (Borgnine) who lives in the Bronx with his overbearing Italian mother. He is constantly lectured by his family and friends about settling down and getting married. As much as he’d like to get married, with no romantic prospects, Marty has come to grips with the idea of being a bachelor for the rest of his life. One Saturday night, his mother talks him into going to the Stardust Ballroom for a dance, and its there he meets lonely school teacher, Clara (Blair), who is crying on the roof after being abandoned by her blind date. Being the sweet nice guy that he is, Marty spends the evening with her dancing, eating, and talking, both having a great time together. They both become very excited about seeing each other again with the prospect of falling in love a real possibility for the two of them. It isn’t until Marty starts hearing what his mother and friends think of Clara, for very different reasons, that he begins to have second thoughts.

I loved this movie. I thought it was a great story, with fantastic acting and wonderful themes. It showcases a regular guy and a regular woman, both regarded as unattractive in the film, and really builds this great story that people can easily relate to. You care about both characters in the movie and really hope they pull it together and end up with each other. The movie is funny, heartwarming, with a few dramatic moments, and is a great romantic story that is perfect for a movie night with a special someone. The fact that this movie won Best Picture is mind blowing. These days a movie like Marty would never even come close to sniffing a Best Picture nomination let alone winning it!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A24 Reviews: Good Time (2017)

by Mike Drinan

Welcome to the latest installment of A24 Reviews, where I review films released by one of the best independent film studios and distributors in today's industry.

If someone asked me to recommend a movie from last year that not many people have seen, Good Time would absolutely be my answer.

Good Time, directed by the Safdie Brothers, is about Connie Nikas (played by Robert Pattinson) and his mentally handicapped brother Nick Nikas (played by co-director Benny Safdie), carrying out a bank robbery that goes bad. Running from the police, the two are separated and Nick gets arrested. As Connie goes into hiding around New York City, he learns that Nick is going to be shipped out to Rikers Island unless he can come up with $10,000 in order to bail his brother out.

The first five minutes of the film you’re introduced to Nick through his meeting with a therapist. Nick’s answers to the questions are short, unexplained but give you an insight into his life. The single tear that is shed from what seems like an innocent question is powerful and you immediately feel for Nick.

All of a sudden the meeting is interrupted by Connie who immediately berates the therapist causing an angry outburst from Nick, which clearly shows how much of an influence Connie is on his brother. From there, we are now thrusted into the world of Connie, and he’s a straight up douchebag. He’s a manipulative scumbag that has resorted to crime and scams in order to get what he wants and there’s no sympathy, remorse or regret for the people he causes trouble for along the way. Everyone he interacts with gets screwed somehow, including his brother. The next 15 minutes of the film are pure adrenaline as we are now in the throes of the robbery where there is barely any dialogue, just notes between Connie and the bank teller. It’s a riveting scene that continues with the getaway and ends with Nick getting caught and Connie goes into hiding around the city. We are shown Nick’s experience in jail which furthers the sympathy we have for his character.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Top Ten Things: Shinsuke Nakamura Matches

Welcome to Top Ten Things, here at!  Today I'll be talking about the WWE's resident "rock star," the Japanese phenomenon and the King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura!

Former NJPW headliner Nakamura made his long-awaited WWE debut in April 2016 and had a successful NXT run before joining Smackdown a year later.  Since then he's become a fixture on the blue brand, winning the 2018 men's Royal Rumble and rekindling his old rivalry with AJ Styles. 

Nak is far and away the most charismatic wrestler in the world, oozing a mesmerizing rock star swagger (He cites Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson as personal heroes) and delivering every wrestling maneuver in a completely unique, sensationally dramatic way.  His wrestling style is mostly striking-based, playing off his brief-but-successful MMA career, and involves heavy use of knee strikes and kicks.  His finishing move, the Kinshasa (formerly the Boma Ye), is a simple-but-devastating running knee to the jaw that has leveled dozens of opponents.  While his moveset may seem simplistic and unspectacular, it's Nakamura's delivery and his infectious, larger-than-life magnetism that makes him so captivating to watch.  He executes every move with complete attention to detail and nuance, to the extent that one can't help but say, "I've seen that move done before but never quite like that."  In an odd way his smartly-worked style reminds me of a Randy Savage.  It seems like he's doing much more than he is, and the storytelling aspect is so strong it makes the whole match sizzle.

American fans are largely new to Nakamura's incredible talent, but prior to arriving in America he built a stellar resume in New Japan, racking up dozens of Match of the Year-caliber performances.  Here now are my ten favorite Nakamura bouts....

10. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Naomichi Marufuji - King of Pro-Wrestling 2013

The IWGP Intercontinental Champion vs. The Ace of Pro Wrestling NOAH.  This match had some of the most innovative offense I'd seen in years, as the two spent several minutes grappling and countergrappling.  I could've watched Nakamura and Marufuji feud for months - that's how well they worked together, assembling a 16-minute barn burner that would've been Match of the Night on any show not headlined by Okada vs. Tanahashi.

9. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kazushi Sakuraba - WrestleKingdom 7

The semi-main event of the excellent WK7 pitted Chaos stablemates against each other for the Intercontinental Title.  What a unique, fascinating match this was.  As pro wrestling/MMA hybrids go, this was about as good as it gets.  It kicked off with totally credible ground grappling (to be expected given both of these guys were MMA fighters) which then led to stiff wrestling offense (At one point Nakamura ran into a vicious knee to the face and I can't believe he wasn't legit knocked out).  Sakuraba dominated by working Nakamura's arm, but Nakamura fought through and managed to hit the Boma Ye for the win.  This bout was just about perfect for its spot on the card.

Monday, March 12, 2018

WWE Fastlane 2018: The Pieces Are In Place

That there was a mildly enjoyable fluff show that further set up stuff for WrestleMania.  In that regard, WWE Fastlane 2018 was a success.  It was easy to watch, the matches were all decent at worst, the main event was a fun little action movie, and the booking was logical.  Not much to complain about here, and thus far the 2018 WrestleMania season has been the strongest in several years. 

The opening match kinda set the tone for the whole show, as it was a fun little 15-minute Nakamura-Rusev back-and-forth.  Both guys got their major stuff in and while the middle was a bit slow and rest hold-heavy, the last third was pretty exciting and had good false finishes.  The best spot of the match was Rusev countering the Kinshasa with a side kick that turned Nak inside out.  Minutes later Nak countered the Accolade by slipping out behind Rusev and leveling him with a Kinshasa before finishing him with a second one.  The crowd liked this and it got across that Nakamura is ready for his WrestleMania moment.

Another solid match followed, one that I liked more than I expected to.  Bobby Roode and Randy Orton, two babyfaces who are much better suited to be heels based on their personas and in-ring style, nonetheless put together a very well-worked 19-minute US Title match.  The third act felt a bit overly long but considering there was a title change it seemed appropriate in hindsight.  After several finisher attempts by both guys, Roode leapt off the top rope into a sudden RKO, which gave Orton the one active championship he's never won.  Post-match Jinder Mahal came out and confronted Orton before Roode laid him out with a Glorious DDT.  Obviously a triple threat at WrestleMania is in the cards.  This match was pretty good.

The one filler match of the night was next as Natalya and Carmella faced Becky Lynch and Naomi.  This was standard free TV stuff but it was inoffensive.  Nattie and Carmella won as expected to keep Carmella's briefcase cash-in on the table.  Rumor is she may cash in at 'Mania but lose, which is the right move.  I'm still baffled that Carmella got to be the first women's Money in the Bank winner.

Movie Review: A Wrinkle In Time (2018)

by Mike Drinan

The film adaptation of the 1962 children's novel of the same name was directed Ava DuVernay and stars Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon. It’s about Meg (played wonderfully by Storm Reid), a thirteen-year-old who is struggling, emotionally and academically, with the four-year disappearance of her scientist father (played by Chris Pine). She is considered an outcast and is subjected to teasing and taunting from her classmates, but is constantly supported by her younger brother Charles Wallace, who seems to be somewhat of a genius. Meg and her brother are visited by three supernatural beings (Winfrey, Witherspoon and Kaling) who explain they are here to help them find their father. From there they go across time and space to rescue him while simultaneously combating the ever-present and manipulating thing called “The It”.

I was looking forward to seeing this film and watching this fantasy adventure play out. Having Ava DuVernay directing was exciting for me too since she was behind really good films such as Selma and the Netflix documentary, 13th. She is a gifted director capable of making different kinds of movies and I was very interested to see what she would do with this story. When I left the theater after seeing it, I thought it was a really good kids movie with some easy to overlook flaws. It had a lot of colors, great energy, great messages, relatable characters and some funny moments. Then after thinking about it for some time, I realized that the kids in our theater didn’t have any kind of reaction throughout the entire film. They didn’t laugh at the funny parts and there wasn’t any kind of chatter at any point. Even when walking out of the theater nobody was really talking about it. It didn’t feel as if the intended audience for this film was engaged with it, and now I can see why.

This movie was pretty bad, even for a kids movie.

This was a CGI-heavy film, obviously, and there were moments that were visually stunning. The first planet the characters visit, with the flowers that love to gossip, was really great to watch and very vibrant and imaginative. But then, when they visit the Happy Medium, the effects were just straight up terrible and the green screen horribly noticeable, causing the scene to be unbelievable and cheesy.

Aside from Storm Reid, the acting in this film is subpar. Reese Witherspoon seems to be phoning it in and Mindy Kaling and Oprah don’t really do much of anything. Chris Pine was pretty good even though his role is rather limited in the film.

The characters themselves, aside from Meg, are pretty bland too. Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who are supposed to be these supernatural beings that come to help Meg find her father, but don’t seem to do much helping. They can’t even show Meg how to tesser correctly and that’s kind of a bummer since that’s how they’re supposed to travel through space and time. Thanks! Also, the character of Charles Wallace in this film is vomit-inducing. So bad! When you give a kid the kind of dialogue that is meant for adults, it’s supposed to be fun and quirky. None of that happens here. It’s comes across as unnatural, unfunny and down right weird.

Then there’s this Calvin kid who just seems to appear out of nowhere, with the exception of a single shot of him in school watching Meg get teased about her father disappearing. There’s no backstory to this character and there’s no depth to him aside from having issues with his father. Oh boy! A popular rich white kid with daddy issues. Yipeeeee!

Friday, March 9, 2018


And now we turn the floor over to our insane friend, Scotty Pickles, discussing the greatest songs ever. All typos preserved in their original packaging. 

A real top 10 songs list. No opinion just facts..........

10.) Revolution- The Beatles

This song is a true great from John’s vocals to George’s grinding guitar the song speaks to every generation that feels the need to revolt. And I mean revolting for the right reasons, like fighting agents an oppressive government, and not sitting on a lawn crying because no one is hiring people with degrees in archaeology.

9.) Stairway to Heaven-Led Zeppelin 

Where do I begin with this classic? This isn’t a stairway it’s a roller coaster of tempo and sound. The song has three sections, each one progressively increasing in tempo and volume. The song begins in a slow tempo with acoustic instruments (guitar and recorders) before introducing electric instruments. The final section is an hard rock anthem with Jimmy Paige’s classic hard rock guitar and Robert Plant’s screeching vocals.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Parents' Night In #2: Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Welcome to Episode #2 of Parents' Night In, where Kelly and I drink booze and watch movies!  This week we're talkin' about the John Hughes classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off!

WWE Fastlane 2018 Preview & Predictions

Jeezus, another freakin' WWE PPV to predict?  Whatever happened to a six-week (or more) build to WrestleMania?  I miss those days.

Anyway, the final Smackdown-only PPV (before the PPVs all become dual-branded going forward due to so many weak-ass single-brand PPVs) looks to be a mildly entertaining if kinda pointless affair, with a big clusterfuck main event (I'm really getting tired of those) and a few undercard bouts of interest before the Showcase of the Immortals fully takes shape.  Barring any unforeseen fuckups on WWE's part, this year's WrestleMania could actually be a pretty damn good show.  Stay the course, fellas.....

Anyway, let's do this.

***Heading into the 2017-18 season home stretch I'm in the lead with 85/114 (74.5%), Landon's in second with 70/102 (72.5%), Dave's got 57/80 (71%), and Dan's mathematically eliminated with 70/114 (61%)***

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. The New Day

This here is a sign that the blue brand ain't got shit going on in this division at the moment.  We've seen this match literally a thousand times.  I know the Bludgeon Brothers are on their way up and will almost certainly win gold in the next month or two, but jeezus does this reek of treading water.  The match should be good, but the question is do we need to see it again?

Justin: I have a suspicion Harper & Rowan get involved here, maybe even destroying both teams and making this a draw so there can be a 3-way match at 'Mania.  Either way it doesn't make sense to change the belts on this show.  Usos retain somehow.
Dan: Yeah
Landon: Usos
Dave: Usos

Becky Lynch & Naomi vs. Natalya & Carmella

Yikes, aside from whatever Charlotte is involved with there is nary a compelling women's feud on Smackdown.  Everyone's just sorta waiting their turn to go after the belt.  Nattie thinks she's challenging Charlotte after this, but we still don't know which belt Asuka's going after next month.

Justin: Becky beat Carmella on Smackdown this week, which means Carmella's team wins here.  50-50, even Steven, Roger-Roger--- oh wait, that's from Star Wars.
Dan: Becky again
Landon: Carmella & Natalya
Dave: No idea.  Carmella and the other chick.

Smackdown Women's Championship: Charlotte vs. Ruby Riott

One of two matches where a prominent 'Mania participant is being kept busy till New Orleans.  Riott has zero chance of taking the belt here.  The match should be decent.

Justin: Charlotte retains
Dan: Yeah
Landon: Charlotte needs to be ready for Asuka.  (Editor's Note: NO ONE is ready for Asuka)
Dave: Charlotte

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Is Cocaine Really Addictive?: An Investigative Report

by Dan Moore

I’ve been writing for this website for a few years now and I’ve noticed most of these articles are jokey, silly nonsense. Well, faithful reader, I want to jump into some real Journalism. That’s capital J type journalism. I’m ready to hit the streets and dive into what has been called a most addictive drug: Cocaine. That’s right. I watch 20/20. I know the statistics. Kids are out there dying from, I assume, cocaine overdoses. I will attempt to see the how and the why of this terrible disease first person.

It’s not just for breakfast anymore.  

First, I had to procure some cocaine. Easier said than done. I had to google map my directions to the nearest ghetto. I trekked down dark alleys, avoiding guns, knives and ninja stars just to find a dealer willing to part with some of that sweet toot he be slanging.  JK. I went to one bar in Southie and BOOM, I was offered a bag of affordable booger sugar.

Thankfully, he had some he could spare

He asked me not to use his real name so I’ll refer to him as Snorty McSideSniffs. Snorty was a jumpy fellow with a black eye & maybe 4 teeth. I barely sat down before he was offering up the fast white lady. We settled on a price of $100 for a bag, which may seem like too much or too little, I don’t know, I’m a novice here. Before I could pay him, however, he was asked to a meeting in the men’s room by a much bigger man who also asked me not use his real name. We’ll call him Smokey McBongWater. Smokey needed to talk to Snorty immediately about “harvesting his broccoli” which Snorty wanted nothing to do with. They were in the bathroom a really long time and I was parked in a handicap spot. I wrote an IOU because the bartender saw me take the bag and I wanted to show how honest I was. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Oscars 2018 Recap

The 90th Oscars are behind us, and Mike and I are here to give you our thoughts....

Justin: So Mike, how 'bout them Oscars?  The big categories were all predictable in a good way; for the most part everything that won deserved to.  Best Picture was of course a coin flip between the two front runners.  I'd be lying if I said I'm super excited The Shape of Water won; it was very good but probably my least favorite of this year's crop (that I've seen).  On the other hand it is the first fantasy film to win Best Picture since Return of the King, and only the second ever.  The Academy really needs to nominate more sci-fi/fantasy films.  Also of note is that Shape was the first film since The Artist to win both Best Pic and Best Director.  When I was younger those two categories seemed to rarely split, but in recent years it's been the norm.

Kimmel was a very likable, entertaining host like last year.  His comedy was understated but included some great one-liners and jabs.  They didn't beat us over the head with the political material but it was definitely there, and they kept an air of positivity even when discussing heavy topics.

The winner I'm most excited about is of course Gary Oldman, who after 25 years of incredible performances is finally an Oscar winner.  I'm curious what he's like in real life; his red carpet interview and acceptance speech gave off an air of gentlemanly humility.  He seems such a likable chap.

I was very glad to see Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell take home their well-deserved statues.  Their Three Billboards performances were both incredible and formed a wonderful counterpoint to each other.

Allison Janney's win was also great to see.  I've been a big fan of hers since Drop Dead Gorgeous ("No, she's just screamin' 'Mom, Mom!' 'cause she's got Tourette's, she's Annette's kid, dipshit.") and she's impressed me in everything she's done since.  Her turn as Tonya Harding's abusive, domineering mother was brutally honest.

I was also happy to see Blade Runner win a couple awards (though as I said, Apes should've won Best Visual Effects); that film was criminally underappreciated at the box office, much like its predecessor.  Roger Deakins absolutely deserved the statue, as BR2049 is a breathtaking-looking film.  Perhaps in thirty years we'll all be talking about what a genre classic it was, in anticipation of Blade Runner 2079....

Overall another enjoyable ceremony with some good laughs, a few touching moments, and winners I mostly agreed with.

Oh, and how in god's name do you invite Eddie Vedder to sing during the In Memoriam video but not have him perform a Chris Cornell song???

Your take?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Top Ten Things: Gary Oldman Performances

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at!

Well it's finally happened.  After literally decades of being all but ignored by The Academy, Oscar has at long last recognized one of the great actors of our time (of any time really) with a golden statue.  The phrase "Academy Award-winner Gary Oldman" is finally a thing.  It feels so good to be able to say that.  

Like so many other moviegoers, I first became aware of Oldman because of his starring role in Bram Stoker's Dracula, where he delivered an operatic, blood and thunder portrayal of one of literature's most famous figures.  His performance was so physical, over-the-top, and otherworldly (aided by some stunning makeup and prosthetics) that it immediately became my favorite rendition of the undead Count.  It was one of those eye-opening performances (like Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight) that touched a nerve for me, and I was instantly converted into an Oldman devotee.  I sought out all his previous work (unbeknownst to me I'd already seen Gary as Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK) and eagerly anticipated every new Gary Oldman film for years; even when the movies themselves were less than stellar, his performances were always worth the price of admission.

But which of his roles have stood the test of time?  Which stack up as his defining work?  Let's take a look....

10. Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg (The Fifth Element)

One of Oldman's strengths as an actor is disappearing into characters.  In Luc Besson's sci-fi epic, Oldman transformed into the film's main villain, Zorg, a mercenary industrialist and weapons manufacturer with a southern accent and bucked teeth.  Along with the bizarre, futuristic fashion, Oldman's mannerisms were unlike those of any role he'd played before, and he stole the show in this film, all the while clearly having a helluva good time.

9. Mason Verger (Hannibal)

Speaking of transforming, Oldman was made up to be completely unrecognizable as the loathsome, disfigured pedophile Mason Verger, who'd run afoul of Hannibal Lecter and been made a faceless cripple.  Despite a mountain of prosthetics, Oldman was able to deliver a palpably creepy, hateful performance as a villain so awful he actually made serial killer Lecter seem sympathetic by comparison.  No small feat.

8. Milton Glenn (Murder in the First)

One of the earliest Oldman roles I felt warranted an Oscar nod was his supporting turn as Alcatraz Deputy Warden Milton Glenn, a prim and proper but covertly sadistic monster who'd been essentially left to rule the prison on his own, with an inhuman iron fist.  Glenn is depicted torturing the film's protagonist Henri Young (Kevin Bacon), and Oldman plays the character with understated but deeply terrifying menace; a quintessential authority figure gone rogue.

7. Sid Vicious (Sid & Nancy)

One of Oldman's first starring roles was as drug-addled, anarchic punk rock legend Sid Vicious, in this intimate character study by director Alex Cox.  Oldman and his co-star Chloe Webb showed intensely dysfunctional chemistry as the title couple, and the film follows their chaotic misadventures amid the 70s punk scene in London and New York, culminating in their premature, heroin-assisted demise.  Oldman exhibits here his naturally compelling film presence, bringing to life this frenzied punk icon in a Herculean effort.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Parents' Night In #1: Big (1988)

It's our debut episode of Parents' Night In, where Kelly and I enjoy some beverages and watch one of our favorite movies (and yours too)!  This week's installment we'll be discussing the 1988 classic comedy Big, starring Tom Hanks!


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Episode 2

Episode 3

Thursday, March 1, 2018

90th Academy Awards Preview & Predictions

What's up everyone?  It's late February, and that means only one thing: spring is almost here!  Wait, no.....  It means the Academy Awards are almost upon us.  And for us at that means it's time for Mike Drinan (@mdrinan380) and I to offer our predictions!

I dunno about you Mike, but for me 2017 was one of the best film years I can remember.  Between some pretty stellar "serious films" and just a bevy of quality popcorn movies (Logan, Apes 3, It, Blade Runner, Last Jedi, Guardians 2, etc.), it was hard for me to even nail down my five favorites.  More on that in a future column...

I still have some catching up to do but this year's slate of nominees is first-rate thus far (I've seen five of the nine Best Pic nominees as of now), which should make for an exciting Oscars ceremony (If you're into that sorta thing).  I'm glad Jimmy Kimmel is back as the host; I thought he was unexpectedly great in the role last year, offering his dry style of humor, and with Hollywood being so politically charged nowadays Kimmel will have the opportunity to add some heartfelt comments as he's been doing on his own show.

But let's get to the categories.

Best Picture

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Threat
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO

Justin: I've been impressed with the five Best Pic nominees I've seen (Three Billboards, Get Out, The Shape of Water, Lady Bird, and Dunkirk), my favorite being Three Billboards, a dark comedy with sociopolitical undertones and big performances that would make the Coen Brothers proud.  Lady Bird was a wonderfully understated coming of age story, Get Out was a gleefully disturbing Twilight Zone-esque thriller, Dunkirk was an unusual take on the war genre, and The Shape of Water was another grown-up fairy tale from Guillermo del Toro.  All signs point to this being a two-horse race between Billboards or The Shape of Water, if the previous awards shows have been any indication.  I could very easily see it going either way, but with Oscar's aversion to fantasy films, and my own personal preference for Billboards, I'm going with that.

Prediction: Three Billboards

Mike:  I've only seen five as well (Three Billboards, The Post, Get Out, Lady Bird, and Dunkirk) and have also been impressed and can see why each one has received the nomination for the big prize. My favorite this year has been Lady Bird. It was an exceptionally made film that really showed the depth, quirks and love of a mother-daughter relationship, a relationship that truly hasn't been shown on film, ever. Get Out was a deftly constructed horror-ish film and a significant commentary on racism. It was thrilling, suspenseful and entertaining. Dunkirk told the story of a well known historic event in a very unique and interesting way with a cast that really brought the human, emotional punch that is needed with a military film. Three Billboards was a great dark comedy that explored the trappings of acting on anger, and you're right, this film would've made the Coen Brothers proud. It hits on every note, takes some unexpected turns and the acting is top notch, not to mention a strong, determined female lead which will go a long way with voters, especially with everything going on in Hollywood these days.

Also, please dear Lord can we not have a screw up like last year in announcing the winner?

Prediction: Three Billboards

Best Director

Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread)
Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)

Justin: Phantom Thread is the only one of these I haven't seen (hoping to remedy that this weekend), but all four remaining directorial endeavors have been quite admirable.  If I had my pick I'd probably go with Gerwig, for her note-perfect solo debut behind the camera.  While I wouldn't be surprised to see her take it, I think this'll be del Toro's night to grab the gold, splitting the two big categories between the two frontrunners.

Prediction: Guillermo del Toro

Mike: I've got a couple of favorites in this category. Jordan Peele absolutely did a marvelous job crafting Get Out to the point where every time you watch the film you'll pick up on something that you might've missed before. The story is thorough and the nightmare he installed with "the sunken place" still gives me chills and takes my breath away. I've been a fan of Greta Gerwig's as an actor since she was in Greenberg. As a director of Lady Bird, she hit one out of the park on her first go 'round and I can't wait to own this film and see what she does next. Everything about the film is wonderful and enjoyable. Christopher Nolan is one of my favorite directors working because he hasn't made a terrible movie from what I've seen. After being lauded and commercially successful for ages he's finally got his nomination for directing. He wields a technical mastery that is unfortunately matched by Guillermo del Toro, who is the odds on favorite in this category. In my Oscar nomination reaction piece back in January, I said that this category is Greta's to lose. Sadly, I have to go back on that and put my chips on del Toro as well.

Prediction: Guillermo del Toro

Monday, February 26, 2018

WWE Elimination Chamber 2018 Review: Still Trying to Make "Fetch" Happen

The WrestleMania 34 card is taking shape, and there are two major bits of news coming out of Elimination Chamber.  Both of these items played out as expected, and people seem to be complaining about them as though they're surprised.  I'm excited for one, indifferent toward the other.

The first big news is that Ronda Rousey will indeed be competing at WrestleMania, and all signs point to a mixed tag match against Triple H and Stephanie, likely with Kurt Angle as Ronda's tag partner.  I'm fine with all of this - it's a payoff that was teased three years ago, and Angle makes perfect sense to team with Ronda.  Both have a legitimate combat sports background, both were highly touted as major acquisitions for WWE, and with Angle blowing the whistle on the Helmsleys' subterfuge during the contract signing, it seems appropriate for him to volunteer.  This won't be a five-star classic, but it'll be a high profile way to introduce Ronda as a full-fledged WWE wrestler, it keeps Hunter out of one of the long matches of the night, and it's a big box office attraction-type match.  Yes, the Boss vs. Wrestler feud has been done to death, but the fact that it's the female version of that angle gives it a different flavor, and after this blows over Ronda can be incorporated fully into the women's division.  This'll be fine.

The other news is that Roman Reigns is once again headlining WrestleMania.  Sigh.  There's nothing surprising about this, and Brock vs. Roman will likely be a better overall match than Brock vs. Braun would've been.  But with the way Braun was booked in this Chamber match it really should be him in the main event, having an all-out car collision of a match with Brock.  Now I'm not sure how they resolve the unfinished business with Strowman, unless Brock re-signs, nor do I have any idea what Strowman's 'Mania plans are.  It is strange that both big 'Mania matches set up last night are payoffs from three years ago.  At least the long-term storytelling is in place there.

The show itself was solid stuff.  The non-Chamber matches were nothing spectacular, but none of them were really bad either.