Who will win best picture this year, oh twin suns of Tatooine?
Let the humiliation begin.
As I brag every year, I once won Movie Village's big Oscar contest grand prize by correctly choosing every, single Oscar category correctly - and a free movie rental every day for a year was mine.
The world was my oyster. Kids saluted me on the street. Women fainted in my presence. Trumpets played whenever I entered a room. "But then I began my long, long descent into obscurity," said the guy who last year chose Avatar to win best picture over the Hurt Locker. D'oh!
This year, I'm again using the Vanity FairHollywood app to make my Oscar predictions: for my money, a better app than the official Oscar app, which is clunky, clunky, clunky. The VF app features Oscar-related news, trailers, chat, the ability to share your picks on Facebook and Twitter and, on the big night, to track the leaderboard to see how you stack up.
Here are this year's terrible picks. I'm including the degree to which other users of Vanity Fair's app agree with them. This is a competition, not an exhibition. Please wager.
The Social Network (22 per cent agree)
The King's Speech has momentum, though.
David Fincher - The Social Network (47 per cent agree)
Colin Firth - The King's Speech (77 per cent agree)
Natalie Portman - Black Swan (81 per cent agree)
Christian Bale - The Fighter (65 per cent agree)
But I secretly think that Geoffrey Rush might get it.
Best Supporting Actress
Melissa Leo - The Fighter (32 per cent agree)
Inception (62 per cent agree)
Inception (49 per cent agree)
But I secretly think it could go to True Grit.
Jenny Beavan - The King's Speech (eight per cent agree)
I cannot vote for Alice in Wonderland.
Adrien Morot - Barney's Version (12 per cent agree)
I'm betting that the Academy goes with a good movie. If not, it'll be Rick Baker's night.
Exit Through the Gift Shop (57 per cent agree)
Biutiful (81 per cent agree)
The foreign film with the actor we know will be out the foreign films with the actor we don't.
Toy Story 3 (81 per cent agree)
Because everyone knows that it's really best picture.
The Social Network (53 per cent agree)
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Social Network (41 per cent agree)
Music that on paper seems like it would be distracting, but that really works toward making the finished product better than it would be without it.
"We Belong Together" - Toy Story 3 (65 per cent agree)
Richard King - Inception (73 per cent agree)
Inception (75 per cent agree)
Inception (83 per cent agree)
When in doubt in the small categories, vote "Inception" and you'll be right at least a couple of times, methinks.
The King's Speech (30 per cent agree)
Aaron Sorkin - The Social Network (79 per cent agree)
The Confession (55 per cent agree)
Haven't seen it, but the subject matter looks Oscar worthy.
Killing in the Name (11 per cent agree)
Day and Night (63 per cent agree)
Toy Story 3's opening act, so you can't go wrong.
Thank you for reading. Truly, it's an honor just to have you click through as a unique visitor.
For a crash course in satirical slogan writing, look no further than this collection of real slogans from Stiff Records.
The "renegade English record label" was founded by Jake Riviera in the mid-seventies as a tongue-in-cheek reaction to the overblown and pretentious music and marketing campaigns rampant across the major labels.
Proving that every "dominant" product category (Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Coke) needs an "against" category (Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Graham Parker, Pepsi), the label actually used these slogans - post-modern, funny, controversial, and memorable - to sell its wares.
Should you get your game on when you get your learn on?
Imagine if school was more like a game: you'd "level up" when you master basic writing skills and other milestones, get five points every time you arrive to class on time, achieve a 10-point bonus when you deliver an apple to my desk, and lose 15 points every time I catch you downloading porn in a computer lab.
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one:
With the U.S. educational system in the shambles, the idea of "school as a game" is getting more traction, especially as a way to address the issue of women outperforming men at every task and level of education, something that's often blamed on men's predilection for Xbox and PlayStation.
I discovered today that Red River College's Notre Dame campus has installed gaming consoles right there in the student lounge, as if to say, "Hey, kids, wanna play these video games? OK, but first...learn - learn like the wind!"
As a guy who plays more than his fair share of Xbox, I can say that I don't condone gaming as a way of life, but I understand those who do. As a member of the male species, let me just say: we're not a proud group. If it takes turning everything into a game for us to be interested, then so be it - just don't ask me to watch TV and have a conversation with you at the same time.
In the article, game designer Jesse Schnell makes the case that "a real-life game could be stacked on top of reality."
"You'd get points for, well, just about everything you normally do in the course of 24 hours. What were American Express points and frequent-flier miles but games that reward loyalty? Weight Watchers? A game. Fantasy football? A game stacked on top of a game that influences the way you watch a game. In the Ford Fusion, a virtual tree is embedded in the dash. The more gas you save, the more the tree grows. They put a virtual pet in your car, he marveled, and it actually changes the way people drive!"
I already use my iPhone as a "gaming layer" when I check in at a restaurant on Foursquare to earn a badge or get a discount, use the camera function on junaio to look around the Super Bowl stadium, or use the "monocle" feature on Yelp to find out what restaurants are nearby and which of my friends has reviewed them.
What are marks, anyway, but a "score" at the end of a game? And the famous Spider-Man sticker that one of my colleagues gives out to the most notable assignment in the class? Clearly an achievement badge if there ever was one (though the John Lennon in me wants to slap a Spider-Man sticker on every assignment I mark, regardless of the grade - "Nothing to kill or die for!").
Ad, PR, and promos, meet gaming
For this semester's PR proposal - a magazine launch plan - I've asked students to consider adding a "gaming layer," which is becoming more and more important in advertising, PR, and promotions, especially campaigns aimed at "the youth market."
I give you the Toyota tent at the most-recent Lollapalooza - Spin the wheel!; Take your picture!; Win a Prius and cool stuff!; Create art! And then, when you get an income at some point in the near future: buy one!
As the gaming generation grows up, games will continue to grow as a key entry point for product launches, advertising, and sponsorships, and as the key place where the two-way dialogue between product and consumer begins.
Video games have already begun overtaking time spent with other media, especially among teenage boys, who sometimes not only forget to watch TV, but to also eat and sleep when they're immersed in gameplay.
If gameplay is where the eyeballs are, that's where the conversation has to take place - just ask BMW.
"Hey, teenage boy: would you like to know more about how BMW is "making its commitment to sustainability throughout the value chain come to life?" No? OK, would you like to play some BMW Efficient Dynamics Pinball on your iPhone for free? Awesome!
"Now that you're done playing pinball, we don't need to have the conversation about BMW reducing carbon emissions - you've just had that conversation with the game."
BMW's experiment in brainwashing.
If you want to make money from your game, you do what those good pioneers of FarmVille did: start with a free app and get your users to spend "virtual dollars" on value-added extras in the game and make millions of dollars pennies at a time.
As games become more integrated into every aspect of our lives with more immersive controllers, more mobile layers, and more multiplayer-, GPS-, and network-based layers, we'll stop noticing that we're even playing games; we'll just think we're living something called "life."
I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will play as one.
Look no further than U2, which is even more "brandy" than most bands: it pulls out all of the old PR/promotional tricks all of the time, but does them so well, we generally accept the band as being "great," even though its recent musical output has been - let's face it - "shitty."
Argue if you want, and I'll just play that "Sexy Boots" travesty for you one more time, and you'll be forced to roll into the fetal position and admit that I'm right.
Yet... I still have a nagging feeling that I might want to check out U2's tour when it stops by Winnipeg this summer - am I expressing a healthy curiosity with life, or am I too a victim of U2's witchcraft?
How do you do it, U2. How?!
1. Have a big idea or image that's easy to understand.
A giant lemon is best, but don't begrudge a heart-shaped stage, rotating claw, or even a 3-D concert film. As the band's set designer once told Q Magazine, "We were clearly already in Spinal Tap territory, and Bono said, "Let's do something really insane"." And the giant lemon was born.
If it works, it works. If it doesn't, your fans will just think it's an elaborate practical joke.
2. Brand yourself with the company you keep
Salman Rushdie? Check. Bill Gates? Check. George W. Bush. No check. They can't all be winners; however, the subliminal message is important: I'm bigger than any one rock star - I hang with "the deciders." Thanks for the word, Georgie. Yeah, he and I are on a first-name basis, see?
3. Hook up with the fans however you can, and engage them in conversation.
Phone them from the stage. Have a video confessional booth at the show. Slow dance with them at Live Aid - if you touch one of them, you touch all of them. Mix and match. Repeat.
4. Apologize subtly for bad past product, and talk up the new one.
"No, really, this time the album is actually good!"
5. Wear wacky outfits and glasses.
People love wacky outfits and glasses.
6. Parody the moneymakers while you yourself do the same thing.
Any relationship between this arch and another one you might have seen before is purely coincidental, and if it's not: it's either fair use or parody in a completely legally binding sense of the words.
7. Graciously show up and accept whatever award anyone wants to give you.
Most organizations are so giddy to have celebrities show up, they'll be happy to bestow all kinds of honors upon them, as Chris Jericho knows.
Bono actually has talent and does good work, so his list of honors is a mile long, and even includes a trio of Nobel Peace Prize nominations.
8. At the end of the day, give something back.
Amnesty International, Live Aid, Live 8, Make Poverty History, DATA, World Vision, ONE, (RED), Edun, One in Four...
Oscar needs to spend a night or two at home on the sofa.
I'm a guy who loves movies and sees virtually everything that gets released - but last year I went to the theatre a grand total of twice.
Blame Apple TV and my kick-ass HD widescreen, coupled with the oh-so-shitty experience that is going to the theatre these days, what with heads of bone and butt talkin', textin', and tweetin' without regard for common human decency.
To anyone who's paying attention, you can see it coming a mile away: the future of the film isn't in the theatre, it's across multiple platforms, wherever people happen to be.
Yes, the theatre will be one of these platforms and places, but just one of them - which is why it drives me crazy that the Academy Awards' rules look like they're from the "talkies" era:
"Academy Awards of Merit shall be given annually to honor outstanding achievements in theatrically released feature-length motion pictures..."
According to the Academy, films that get their first public exhibition in any manner other than "the theatre" can't be eligible for an Oscar - this includes anything shown on TV, released on DVD or uploaded online.
So: Temple Grandin is out, because it premiered on HBO. And so's "the new Mozart" famously predicted by Francis Ford Coppola in Hearts of Darkness:
The thing is: the future of which he speaks is now, and the question isn't "if" a little girl is going to direct the best picture of the year, it's "when."
Then and now
Mighty prescient of Mr. Coppola, because at the time of that interview, there was no home video industry, downloads, or nothin' - you had to see a movie in the theatre or not at all. Nowadays it's a different story: "home" is the one with the big screen, awesome selection, great food, and respectful audience.
The future of movies
In the future, the people of Earth will laugh out loud at DVD region codes.
We are ready for movies to be released across non-traditional and multiple platforms - and even for free movies to be underwritten by brand sponsorships or merchandising (as George Lucas predicted with his famously lucrative merchandising deal for Star Wars).
The movies of the future will be interactive, experiential games. The games of the future will be interactive, experiential movies. Who's going to decide where "game" ends and "film" begins?
We will - and Oscar will still be awarding a best-picture award to a talkie starring Julia Roberts.
Put a fork in his arse and turn him over - he's done.
I can only be talking about the Food Network's David Adjey, who last night gave a ballroomful of Winnipeggers a master class in how not to win over a crowd.
It was ugly.
Billed an evening with David Adjey, the star of Restaurant Makeover and The Opener gave the crowd at the Fort Garry Hotel every cent's worth of their $30 ticket (or $1,500 for a corporate table) - in discomfort and embarrassment, that is.
Things started off well enough - Adjey entered the ballroom to the strains of his show's theme song, wearing a chef's jacket, pants (thank the Lord), and one of those head-mics favored by Madonna and motivational speakers everywhere, including my favorite: Tom Cruise in Magnolia.
Looking very much like Toronto's answer to Gary Busey, he served us our appetizer - three minutes of baby-back ribbing about our weather compared to Edmonton's - followed by the main course: an "I'm winging it and doing a bad job" descent into madness, bad judgment, desperation and flopsweat.
Having performed stand-up for the better part of a dozen years, I recognized the scenario well: you lose the crowd, try to make it better, and push so hard, you make it much, much worse. Think: Michael Richards and his famous onstage meltdown.
After only one or two minutes of Adjey's nonsensical ramblings, the crowd stopped paying attention and started texting, tweeting, and murmuring.
Sample murmur: "He's losing them."
Who are you - who who who who?
Adjey was ill-prepared to speak, but his big mistake was to break the first rule of communicating: know your audience.
As it was, it seemed that Adjey might have landed at the event in a flying saucer, wandered unknowingly into a lair of bizarre, alien lifeforms, and thought it best to talk his way out of the scenario in a tongue understood only by himself.
I'm all about counterintuitive logic, but among Adjey's questionable and badly delivered advice to the crowd were these chestnuts.
1. He said he won't hire staff unless they have cell phones and actually use them while they're working in the kitchen.
The audience took this as a sign that they should be texting too, but Adjey got flustered and agitated whenever he saw people doing it, despite his suggestion that multitasking should complement everything.
2. He outright said, "Young people are the smartest people around;" odd choice, considering that the people who bought tickets to the event were mostly "old" and well off.
He could have saved his ass by saying "smarter...at technology" but, when challenged, he refused to budge from his initial statement. The tables full of "old people" tweeting on their mobiles was also a sign that maybe this crowd wasn't as dumb as he seemed to think.
3. He advised that one should never order "the daily special" at a restaurant - another odd choice, given that a good number of attendees were restaurateurs and damn proud of that daily special.
4. He said, ""Organic" is a scam."
Meet my organic fist
At this point, the crowd was clearly against the good chef. But this last bit of advice clearly came as a shocker to corporate sponsor - Organza. D'oh!
And Organza clearly came as a shocker to Adjey. One disgruntled attendee at the Organza table got up, removed the table placard with the Organza logo on it, approached Adjey, and angrily "stuck it in his face." The placard, that is.
Adjey begged him for a chance to explain - and for one painfully long moment, it seemed like Adjey was going to get a fist in the kisser.
However, the angry guy went back to his table, shouting things I couldn't hear, but with a look on his face that said, "This guy is frigging insane."
For his part, Adjey tried to win back the crowd by saying that he wasn't talking about ALL organic, just the BAD organic, and that clearly Organza was the GOOD organic, because it has angry employees who throw placards in your face if you say it's anything else.
To the attendees, he came off as the worst kind of bully: the kind who beats you up until you challenge him back, at which point he folds like a deck of cards.
And that's when the heckling began.
Adjey: "Can anybody tell me what the future of restaurants is?" Audience: "Organic!
Adjey: "I'm going to be talking for 20 more minutes." Audience: Argh!
And so he pressed on. And on. And on.
People stared at their laps, rolled their eyes, and texted loved ones "in case."
At the end of the event, the flabbergasted and angry crowd was abuzz with rhetorical questions, like: "What's wrong with this guy?"; "Why is he such a bully?"; "Let's get him!"
I guess the last one isn't a question.
And maybe it says a lot that, when I asked a person attending on behalf of the Children's Wish Foundation - the charity that was being benefited by the event - what she thought, she said, "I wish a trap door would have opened up, so I could've jumped in."
We can only be thankful that the Children's Wish Foundation made some money and the crowd was granted a blessed wish of its own when Adjey finally exited the ballroom.
Beer, chips, and contests aren't just for breakfast anymore.
If the Super Bowl is over, it means that it's time for Doritos and Big Rock to persuade us that, though the blessed event is over and done with, our chips and beer intake should remain high.
To do that, they roll out their big advertising contests to ostensibly give us a chance to win something while selling chips and beer by the chipwagon and barrelful one metric shitload at a time. Let's party!
With Doritos' sales promotion, the very balance of life is at stake: one flavor of Doritos must be destroyed: Buffalo Wings N' Ranch or Onion Rings N' Ketchup. You choose which one lives and which one dies by writing the last 20 seconds of the spot, above.
If you win, Doritos will produce the spot, and you'll get $25,000 and one per cent of future sales from the flavor that remains on the shelves.
Marketing geniuses, Doritos, because you have to buy TWO bags of chips to figure out which one to kill.
Deadline is March 13, and voting continues until March 27. The winning ending is revealed on May 5.
The game may be over, but the ads shall live in infamy. On YouTube.
The stadium has been vaccu-brushed, Jimmy Johnson has been hosed off, and the last of the facial blotters has been put away, so let's pause to remember the greatest football match in the history of mankind with a salute to America, the veterans, and this year's Super Bowl ads.
Second Johnny Depp movie trailer - this one for Rango. Looks bad.
Talking car ad for Cars.com.
Dogs serve Bud Light. Someone finally posted this one:
Cute Hyundai ad about how crappy life would be if we settled for the first thing we invented.
Ad for animated film, Rio. Looks like every other lousy animated film ever. But...contains secret Angry Birds code.
Started paying attention again when announcer mentions someone "trying to get his hands on my balls." Oh, my.
Please no tie game. Please no tie game. Please no tie game.
Great Bridgestone spot:
And VW brings back the Beetle!
Mercedes needs Diddy for two seconds of its 30-second spot?! Didn't work...
Great House promo - parody of the classic Mean Joe Green Super Bowl ad.
Another po-mo ad - copywriters talk through their new spot for Dodge and it unfolds before our very ads.
iPhone Verizon ad - its USP: you can make phone calls on it now.
Glee does a Chevy ad - which is continued later on the show. Guess I'll never find out how it ends.
Angry Birds Super Bowl ad:
Horrible Skechers commercial with a Kardashian.
Oh yeah: someone won the game.
Update: Angry Birds code: go to screen 13, game 12. Shoot the white bird backward, drop egg on the hill. Get the golden football. Play the special level, beat it, and...watch the commercial all over again!
Just got back from the gym, which means I'm energized and ready to live blog the Super Bowl ads - in addition to eating my weight in chips and dip followed by a couple o' decanters of Innis and Gunn to wash it down.
Let it be said: I have no interest in either team, the NFL, or even sports - but I will suffer through the game in order to blog about the ads, which are the last 30-second TV spots that anyone cares about and/or bothers to watch anymore.
As they say on every newscast: the Super Bowl live blog begins now! Keep hitting "refresh" until your fingers bleed, OK? OK!
I'm watching the game on the FOX digital feed, which means I won't have to see big, game-day ads from Dufresne.
What's more painful: the "witty" commentator banter or the tribute to America?
I'm reminded that football is a game of inches.
Jack in the Box reminds us that spicy chicken sure is tasty.
I'm bored. When will this game end? Oh, yeah. It hasn't started yet.
"They've traveled a long road to get here." Gag.
I heartily recommend the ADBOWL app (rate the ads as they go along!) and junaio - the app that gives you a 360 view of the football field.
Lea Michele reminds me: I hate Glee, the U.S. National Anthem, and lip syncing.
George W. Bush in the audience. The second boob we've seen on a Super Bowl Sunday.
A second version of the National Anthem by Christina Aguilera. Much sluttier than the first.
Wait a sec - that's not Christina, that's Cher. Very reminiscent of Rick Moranis:
Still no coin toss. I'm losing the will to live.
Ad for Livingsocial.com, a site that apparently has something to do with cross-dressing.
Today's game started in the great Dust Bowl with JFK and was narrated by Michael Douglas.
A shout out to my peeps watching Gandhi on the other channel.
"This is bigger than a football game." But seriously, it's exact size.
Strange pause on the name "Faulk."
First mention of Lombardi: 5:30 p.m.
Green Bay wins the toss. Crowd thinks Green Bay has won the game. There is no wind inside a domed stadium.
Where's the football game?
Interviewing an athlete is about as useful as interviewing a rabbit.
Giggle whenever you hear someone say, "end zone."
No use fussing over dropped balls.
Walt Anderson is a fine referee.
Sweet lord, this is boring.
I wonder what the Black Eyed Peas are doing.
First Super Bowl ads:
Decent Bud Light ad.
Doritos Spicy Nacho ad - not great, but top marks to the dog actor.
Great Audi ad - "Release the Hounds" Featuring Kenny G! Trailer:
Please Lord, make this game stop.
Funnier ads for Doritos. Guy sniffing things.
Chevy proves that old people are always funny.
Pepsi Max: woman throws can, hits woman in head. OK, funny - but...is there a racial undercurrent worth noting here?
Is there a game going on here?
Pomo ad about an ad: product placement for Bud Light - Genius!
Another fine Chevy ad - the car can talk to its owner, just like Lassie.
Another ad for Fast Five - lost of booty interrupted by Vin Diesel.
Michael Douglas sits behind George W. Bush. Kill him, Michael, kill him!
Green Bay gets a touchdown. Yawn.
Another Pepsi Max ad in which people get hit in the nuts with cans of Pepsi Max.
Another Doritos ad. Price tag so far: $6 million.
Ad for Cowboys and Aliens with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. I'll give it a "cool."
Expensive ad for KIA. Overkill!
Green Bay gets another touch down. The game is over at 6:08 p.m.
Animated Eminem spot for Brisk. I'm amused.
Why do football players always suck oxygen on the sidelines? That is oxygen, right?
I've been to Green Bay. It's like Regina with an NFL team.
The only autofail I ever had in CreComm: Pittsburgh. Spelled it without an "H."
Awesome Bridgestone ad about hitting "reply all" by mistake.
Ad for Chevy Bolt - a plug-in car.
Another Super Bowl, another sexists GoDaddy.CO ad. Until Joan Rivers shows up!
"The Packers do a great job on the back end." Oh, my.
Bud's latest spot features Peter Stomare singing Tiny Dancer in the old west. Fun!
Pretty funny Teleflora ad - about a guy sending a message about his girl's rack because "his heart told him to."
Another Transformers movie...but this time it's North Michigan Ave. getting ripped apart. Please spare the Fairfield Inn!
Futuristic ad reminiscent of Apple's 1984 spot, except this time it's for Motorola's tablet. Ugh. I'll take the iPad.
David Bowie's "Changes" backs up the ad for BMW's new...diesel car?!
Long shot of stadium shows a Jumbotron displaying close-ups of players' butts.
Pretty spectacular animated Dungeons and Dragons spot for Coca-Cola.
Thor ad. Dull, dull, dull.
My favorite ad so far: VW Darth Vader.
Great Richard Lewis/Roseanne Barr spot for Snickers.
Careerbuilder monkey ad - good, as far as monkey ads go.
Preview for Super 8 movie. Very E.T.esque.
First email from student predicting sickness - over 12 hours from now. Uh, OK.
Why do you need to wait to announce attendance? Tip: count ticket sales.
Uh-oh. Green Bay touchdown. This game is really over.
Chevy has a car that gives you real-time Facebook updates. Creepy!
The first Captain America trailer has a quick view of the Red Skull. Wheeeeeee!
Awesome CarMax ad featuring the best metaphors ever. I feel like a kid in a metaphor store.
Pittsburgh gets a touchdown. Pittsburgh is surprised.
Just 39 seconds away from halftime. Fergie prepares her humps.