2015 Primetime Emmy Ballot

The Emmy nominations are being announced this week and with it comes my yearly attempt to pick my favorites in each category only to watch them be passed over in favor of Downton Abbey in a week. This year, a lot of great shows from last year came to an end, while others simply fell in quality, so much of who showed up below were new picks.

Overall, this was a pretty good year for television, but decidedly uneven in how quality was spread across categories. When comparing the two, it tended to be a stronger year for comedy than drama, although the distinction between the two at these awards has never been more confusing. And it must be said: female performers this year brought it much harder than the men did. Any number of these female categories could have expanded to nine or ten nominees, while coming up with six was difficult for any number of the men's. Meanwhile, this was not by any means a good year for miniseries and tv movies and certainly not enough to justify those categories being as large as they are.

Below are my picks in the Emmy categories I feel I viewed enough in to have an opinion. They stick mostly to Emmy eligibility and category placement, but otherwise are fever dreams compared to what will actually be nominated. Enjoy!


2014 Dream Oscar Ballot

Tomorrow are the Academy Award nominations and at this point their success rate is anyone's guess. This year was so uneven that the Oscars have a real chance to think outside of the box and honor some deserving contenders. Or, more likely, they could play it entirely safe and stick within their playhouse of designated Academy fare. 2014 was a better year than they're making it out to be, but you wouldn't guess that by some of the frontrunners.

I could go on complaining or I could present my own choices for the Oscar nominations tomorrow. Nominees below, there are six nominees in each category to spread the love, except Best Actress which had to have seven this year (a "weak year" for women). Winners are bold, runners-up are italicized. Enjoy!


The Best Films of 2014.

Another year comes to a close and compared to other film years, 2014 ranks squarely down the middle. Some of its highest achievements are films I know I'll think about for years to come, while others already seem a forgotten memory. None of the films listed below have to worry, though. Whether they burrowed into my brain, immediately won over my affection, or challenged me enough to feel they had accomplished something, these films below represent (for better or worse) my favorite movies of 2014. Enjoy!


2014 Primetime Emmy Ballot.

Emmy nominations came and went this year with a lot of good and a lot of bad and now we're here inexplicably on a Monday to celebrate the best in television. For a season of television with a lot of highlights, I found that my picks included a lot of the same picks and a lot of old favorites. Below are my picks (and runners-up) for the best in TV over the last year. Enjoy!


2013 Dream Oscar Ballot.

Having now wrapped up my review of the film year that was, I have finally finished my 2013 Oscar ballot in all of the major categories just before the Oscar nominations are announced tomorrow. And boy, was it a doozy. Each category has six nominees (one more than Oscar, but still not enough) with one winner bolded and a runner-up italicized (lest I deprive someone the prestigious honor of being second place on my ballot).

Deciding on a few of these categories was truly heinous (leading actor could have easily merited a three-way tie) while others were utterly vacant (supporting actor continues to be a wasteland). Some of these categories have been set in my mind for a long time while others formed spontaneously as I wrote them which lead to a number of surprises (Spring Breakers with a pretty big technical haul).

Meanwhile, even I was surprised at all the Oscar favorites that didn't drum up my passion and the deserving candidates who surely won't show up tomorrow morning. But our favorites are favorites for a reason, not because awards bodies agree, and so with that I sum up 2013 and lay out my personal choices.


The Best Films of 2013.

The time has come. 2013 has already come to a close, but now that the film year is winding down with awards season, it is the perfect time to reflect on the year as it was. And it was a busy one. As of this posting, I have a list of 105 (!) films that I saw this year (the vast majority of those were free, before you begin thinking that anyone can rightly afford to see that much with ticket prices being what they are) and still plenty more that I couldn't quite get my hands on (I made up this list before seeing Philomena so please be aware that I cannot conclusively say Philomena is not the best at everything ever).

It must be said that 2013 was a fantastic year for movies. Certainly, looking back at 2012 when I had trouble even deciding on ten films that felt worthy of being on a Best Of list, it has surpassed even my depleted expectations. But what was even more impressive was how diverse the lineup of films were - numerous genres feeling accurately represented and a number of ambitious achievements that won't soon be forgotten.

List making is an inherently difficult task because there's little chance that your personal preferences won't vary as films age and tastes change. But this year, looking at my lineup, I feel confident that I've narrowed down ten films that I confidently love (and another ten that I greatly admire) that will stay with me long after the year is over. So here are ten runners-up (ranked alphabetically) and my top ten favorite films of the year. Enjoy!


2013 Primetime Emmy Ballot.

Emmy nominations come tomorrow and it is time for my yearly tradition of writing up my personal picks so I can be filled with righteous indignation when the Academy disagrees tomorrow. It is truly what keeps the world turning.

Below are my picks in most of the major categories (unless I really didn't feel knowledgeable of enough of the submissions) and a few extras I've decided to include. Winners are pictured and any runner-up is noted in italics. In a few instances, I've gone beyond the official submissions of each show, but sometimes you just have to stick up for what you believe and if I don't defend what is right then who will? Enjoy, if you will.


Dream Oscar Ballot 2012

One of the most unpredictable yet strangely disinteresting Oscar races gets into full gear tomorrow when the nominations are finally announced. I say finally despite the fact that they're coming early because so many of the contenders seemed like sure things the minute they went into production. Was the world ever not going to bow at the feet of an Abraham Lincoln biopic created by Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner starring Daniel Day-Lewis?

Not that many of these choices are bad (or even close to it) yet there's lots of opportunities for exciting choices and perhaps just as many chances for disappointment. This year, more than ever, my own picks seem particularly far from the Academy's realm. Which is not to do a disservice to their choices, but to say that this year the typical Oscar fare by-and-large didn't do it for me. On the other hand, a number of under the radar films took me by surprise and found themselves popping up regularly throughout my list.

Coinciding the two is hard yet I have one basic rule: if I'm stuck between a film/performance that I admire on a technical level and one I connect with on a personal one - I'll likely choose the latter. After all, these are my choices, and who knows how long they'll stick. Some decisions were particularly grueling (Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence might be my two favorite actresses to emerge in the last few years, yet I had to choose against both of them here, although they each have taken a win from me before) and others entirely simple (the Supporting Actor category is a wasteland with only one performance I can genuinely say I'm passionate about making it an easy victory).

Each category runs between 5-6 nominees (you can never have too much) and has a bolded winner and italicized runner-up (because why not?). Most of my categories follow Oscar territory until the end where I have fun and throw in my own for good measure. Agree or disagree as you wish. Read along and enjoy!


The Best Films of 2012.

After all is said and done, I don't know if 2012 was a great year for movies. People keep telling me it was and yet as I look over everything I watched, there is much more in the middling-to-good category than the great one. This year's Oscar frontrunners exemplify that. Hardly a bad film among them (although one or two are close) but very few films to get passionate about.

Updating the blog kind of fizzled out for me over the second half of the year, but I saw no less films than I normally do. Overall, between theaters, DVDs and the persistent glory of Netflix, I saw about 80~ films compared to last year's 90. Hardly a quiet year, but as I compiled this list, there were few films I felt absolutely rushing to write about.

But it wasn't a bad year. And this list, filled with films I nonetheless do feel passionate about, showcases that fact. It actually ended up being semi-difficult to whittle it down to merely ten (with five runners-up because you can never have too many). List making is fun, but ultimately useless, especially looking back. Sometimes it has its purposes - my last two #1's, Drive and Black Swan, still remain films I love - but things sometimes get murkier. Last year, The Artist made my #5, and in the time since I have hardly felt compelled to go back and rewatch it even once. While my Top 5 here seem the most solid and filled with films I feel will only increase in stature with time, that caveat tells you all you need to know. And so, with that, enjoy.


2012 Emmy Award Picks.

It wouldn't be an awards season without obsessively making my own picks. The Emmy nominations come out this week, and there are a lot of opportunities for them to get things right, but perhaps just as many pitfalls along the way. Shows likely to be honored like The Big Bang Theory and Boardwalk Empire continue to not live up to any such hype for me, and even the likely big winner Modern Family has stopped being one of my favorite comedies. So instead, I offer my own selections, many will show up, but others will likely not. So it goes.

I'm keeping my picks to what was actually submitted to the Emmys and where. I may not agree with who is a lead vs. supporting, or what is a comedy vs. drama, but I'll humor them. That's also why a show like Sherlock is nowhere here when it might have been everywhere because it is technically a miniseries to them. When I looked back over my choices, I noticed that at least half of them are repeats from years before. By no means was this a lackluster TV season, and it was hard to cut some shows out, but for the most part, my favorites in each category continued to deliver, even in the case of my two picks for the best shows on television.


Dream Oscar Ballot 2011

Oscar nominations are a few days away. As always, a lot of what gets in is going to be standard awards bait. But whenever the Academy gets the chance to truly break ground, they typically stay away from it. Even this year, while they have the opportunity to honor difficult-but-rewarding material like Shame or We Need To Talk About Kevin, we can't be sure they'll ultimately bite. Meanwhile, actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Glenn Close will likely glide by on name recognition and prestige despite the fact that their films are very near terrible.

So each year, I like to highlight what I would have paid attention to if I was ever given the chance to vote for these awards. Of course, some of our tastes inevitably overlap (you cannot deny the charms of Michelle Williams or The Artist and you shouldn't try) but many do not. The Academy keeps it to five for each category (except Best Picture, which now can be 5-10, I'll be going with the latter) yet I usually let myself go beyond to six and sometimes seven. After all, what's with the reluctance to honor too many great works?

There are a number of works I didn't have time for this year, and some smaller ones that simply never came around to me. (Most notably, everyone's favorite foreign language film A Separation still has not arrived, as well as a number of other foreign and documentary entries). But these choices are almost perfectly representative of what the year was for me and more than a few surprises are surprising even for me. Winners are bolded (and pictured) while runners-up are italicized for fun. And, of course, these are inevitably subject to change, but for now, enjoy.


The Best Films of 2011.

If you looked at the list of presumed Oscar nominees, you might have no idea what a fairly great year of film it happened to be. With their need to embrace the mediocre (The Help, War Horse) and sometimes plain bad (Albert Nobbs, J. Edgar) this year's best films will likely go unnoticed by the Academy and other awards bodies. Yet 2011 carried a number of gems, some you have surely heard of, others perhaps not, but all worthy of your attention.

This year was so good, in fact, that I don't even feel compelled to write about the worst the year had to offer. Mostly because I avoid that which seems obviously bad (no Jack & Jill reviews for me) but also because it's hardly worth talking about a piece of dreck like Green Lantern when focusing on the films that made this year so memorable seems far more important. I will have more to say when I write up my personal Oscar ballot as this year, more than any other, featured a number of great performers and technical achievements in less satisfying works. But for now, let's celebrate that which makes going to the movies my continued favorite past time, and the people who make that possible.

Over the year that was, I managed to see about 90 films and wrote about a great deal of them (not most, of course). Looking back on it, I had neglected to realize how difficult it would be to narrow that list down to my very favorite. 10 features made my final list, with a few honorable mentions, and a number of others that merit a note among this year's best. Before you is a mix of mainstream and independent, homemade and foreign, silent and talkie (okay, perhaps only one silent), but all films that stuck with me over the year that was 2011. Let me know if you agree, or just as intriguingly, if you don't.


Most Anticipated Films of Fall 2011.

With only four months left of 2011, the prime season for movie-going is descending upon us. Love or hate Oscar season, it is what it is and it's not going away anytime soon. Neither is the frustrating film release schedule that finds most of the year's best films released in the Fall. But it leaves us with a lot to look forward to over these next few months. Whether or not they'll love up to the hype remains to be seen, but here are 15 of my own personal most anticipated. (All release dates are scheduled to change, and probably will, as per annoying studio shuffling.)


The Best of 2011 - So Far...

I'm a little late on rounding out my thoughts on the first half of 2011. But I figure that's okay since this fall has been so loaded with buzzworthy pictures (I could probably name at least 50 I am personally anticipating). Howver, these first seven months have been quite surprising and a number of excellent films have been released. Although they may not last in memories until the end of the year, some of them certainly deserve to. It's still early and many of my opinions will change. It's possible that some of these films will have been long replaced six months from now. But before the fall movie season begins, here are my picks for the best movies and performances of 2011 so far.


2011 Emmy Award Picks.

Since my most anticipated movies of the summer seem determined to avoid playing around me at all costs, it's been a slow summer movie-wise for me. I've needed a good distraction during the calm before the storm that is Harry Potter and while I wait to finally see Tree of Life. With there being so much quality TV on right now, I've managed to watch enough to last a lifetime. And with the Emmy nominations coming out this week, I'm putting out my picks for who my favorites in the TV world are.