Friday, February 25, 2011

Oscar 2011 predicitions based on the movies I've seen

For some reason, I've seen more of the Oscar nominated movies/actors etc. this year than in any year I can remember. I'm sure you've all been waiting for my picks so here goes:

Best Picture (Entries in bold are those I've seen):
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids are Alright
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

I was surprised how much I liked The Fighter, and it is the most sports related and therefore topical for the blog, but I'd only rank it third of my choices. The Social Network had such great dialogue, but that only gets it to #2. My winner is The King's Speech.

Lead Actor:
Javier Bardem
Jeff Bridges
Jesse Eisenberg
Colin Firth
James Franco

The experts already have this one for Firth. And Oscar does love a British Accent. I don't think he'll win, but I'd pick Eisenberg.

Lead Actress:
Annette Benning
Nicole Kidman
Jennifer Lawrence
Natalie Portman
Michelle Williams

This is a walkover for Portman. I was not impressed with Winter's Bone and that hurts Lawrence's chances

Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale

John Hawkes
Jeremy Renner
Mark Ruffalo
Georfrey Rush

Bale was really good in The Fighter, but at times I felt like he was doing a Michael J. Fox Impression in a bad Parkinson's phase. I'd go with Rush in a close one.

Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams
Helena Bonham Carter
Melissa Leo
Hailee Steinfeld
Jacki Weaver

Melissa Leo has the toughest role of the three as the unlikeable mother of The Fighter(s). But I could never go against the Queen Mum - Helena Bonham Carter.

Animated Film: Of the nominated films, I only saw Toy Story 3 - and I'm sure it will win. But I'd pick Despicable Me.

Art Direction - I've seen 3 1/2 out of the 5 (Parts of Alice In Wonderland on cable) - I don't see how you can beat Inception for anything "Artsy".

Cinematography - 4 of the 5 - Inception again

Costume Design - 1.5 of 5 - King's Speech

Directing - 4 of 5 - How do you separate that from best film? - King's Speech

Documentary/doc short subject - 0 for 10 :-(

Editing - 4 of 5 - Black Swan had some crazy scenes - so they win!

Foreign language - 0/5

Makeup - 0/3

Music (score) - 3/5 - The Social Network

Music (song) - 1/4 - although I've heard the Tangled soundtrack - I have to pick Toy Story 3 here

Short film - live action/animated - 0-10

Sound Editing 2/5 - Inception

Sound Mixing 3/5 - Inception

Visual Effects 2.5/5 - I want to pick Harry Potter - but have to go with Inception

Writing (adapted) 3/5 - The Social Network

Writing (original) 3/5 - I go with Inception over King's Speech/Fighter - because it is fiction over non-fiction - has to be tougher to write something that didn't happen - OR DID IT???

Take it to the bank - these are (most likely not) the winners.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Basketball Heartbreak (Make your free throws)

Crisler Arena was ready to explode last night. Denard Robinson was sitting amongst the Maize Rage and had moved down a few rows - he was anticipating the rush of the floor. And then this happened...

(photo credit Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

The closest I can remember to the feeling was football vs. Colorado in 1994. But this was worse, as an underdog that desperately needed this win for tournament chances, I victory here was certainly less anticipated.

I have no problem at all with the strategy on Wisconsin's final possession. Great job using the fouls-to-give. I heard someone suggest that maybe a good idea would have been not to give the last foul since Wisconsin was probably anticipating it. I could see that maybe being somewhat effective.

I would have liked Michigan's final inbounds to go to Novak, who despite his inability to make anything from the floor, is still solid from the line, instead of Morris. The Indiana game showed he's not good at making clutch free throws.

The biggest free throws in Michigan history would have to be Rumeal Robinson making both ends of a 1-1 in OT vs Seton Hall in the 1989 championship game.

The first big free throw I remember was by Keith Smith over Magic Johnson and the eventual National Champion Spartans in January of 1979.

IIRC my sister Sue was at that game. I'm not sure if it was at this game or not but eventually she got both Keith and Mike McGee to wish me "Happy Brithday" (sic)

(Not sure why this is sideways... I've tried posting the original several times - making 90 degree turns to the original each time - and nothing seems to change...)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Michigan Basketball - better than expected

I'm pleasantly surprised by how well the Michigan Basketball team has done this year. John Beilein seems to generate the same kind of belief/hatred that RR did. The tone may be similar but the volume is quieter since it is Michigan Basketball not Michigan Football.

Breaking down the season into sections:

Off season - team lost two best players from a team that couldn't make the NIT - they'll be lucky to beat out Indiana/Iowa for 9-10th place

Pre-season trip to Europe - M finished like 1-4 or something like that. General tone was, this is evidence the team is not very good - although some signs that Tim Hardaway Jr. might be a decent player in a few years...

Non-Conference Season - somewhat surprising success - albeit against light competition - M went 10-3 out of conference (10-2 in the real "pre" conference season). With respectable losses to Syracuse and Kansas. The best victories would be against Oakland, Clemson and Harvard. Public reception is "Maybe this is an NIT team."

Early conference season - after 7 conference games, M is 1-6; their only victory against Penn St. with "poor" losses at Indiana and Northwestern overshadowing decent efforts against OSU, Purdue and Minnesota (and Kansas). There was a lot of "Beilein must go" calls into WTKA.

The season turned back to the positive with a surprising victory in East Lansing over MSU. M hadn't won there since the early 90s and MSU's mid-season collapse wasn't obvious at game time. This win lead off an 8 game stretch where M has gone 6-2, with close loss to OSU and a one-possession loss to Illinois, with 2 shots to win/tie the end. There has certainly been very little "Beilein has to go" talk on the radio. But I wouldn't say he has great support either. I think victories quiet the detractors, but don't win them over.

M has 3 games remaining before the B1G tournament. Wednesday they host Wisconsin, then go to Minnesota on Saturday before having the week off and hosting MSU to close out the season.

Michigan is still on the outside of the NCAA tournament. A win over Wisconsin would go a long way to helping their cause. Outside of that M would need to win the other two games an probably a couple tourney games to have much chance to make the Big Dance...

The team can be annoying to watch, they still have long stretches where they don't score. Am I the only one who thinks Darius Morris dribbles too much? They have almost no offensive rebounding. Zack Novak is still playing the 4 most of the time and taller teams just eat him up... I don't have a problem with "settling" for 3-point shots, as long as we have decent shooters. Douglass and Novak have struggled the past few games and need to get it turned around. This has been offset by the amazing couple of weeks Hardaway was had. He's really on a tear, he's set and reset his career scoring high a few times in the past week.

This is still a very flawed team, but I don't think that falls solely on the lap of Beilein, as much as M's football failures were RR's responsibility.

Last season was supposed to be a step forward after M finally made the Tournament in 08-09. The team fell apart, presumably because Manny Harris wasn't interested in Beilein's system. Whether this team makes the NCAA or settles for the NIT, Beilein can't afford M to fall back again after a second positive season.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Honoring GHS's best

My high school finally got around to honoring the best basketball coach they ever had this weekend - Jack Ingalls.

He coached from the late 60s into the 90s. But his best years were the back to back 1985 & 86, when he lead the Braves to the class B qurterfinals.

One of my teammates on the 85 team, Phil Griebel is now coaching the varsity and that combined with the 25th anniversary of the 86 team was enough to finally get Coach Ingalls some of the honors he deserves.

Several of us rose to speak about the roles he played in our basketball - and non-basketball - lives. What struck me was how much this group of players from those teams still gets along today.

There is an e-mail chain that a large group communicate through, occassionally changing the subject line as needed (the current subject is "Alts", in honor of my birthday.)

I got reconnected into the chain a year or so ago. Cynically, I have thought at times that these guys really need to stop living in their greatness of the mid-80s and move on. But I have changed my tune and realized that although events of that time may be a starting point for some of their conversations, it is really the friendships that developed from those experiences thst keep them together.

Coach Ingalls played a large part in that. And I think a lot it had to do with his developing such a strong youth program, that by the time we were in high school, we didn't have to waste much time learning an offense or defensive fundamentals (coach ran a devastating zone press) and could really spend our practices playing basketball.

When I helped coach the freshman team at Shrine we had some really talented kids, but they didn't know how to play together or sound fundamentally.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spittle and Saints

MVictors has a post about Michael Taylor complaining about the hiring of Curt Mallory over Corwin Brown.  I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm looking forward to making fun of Michael Taylor.

I wondered, at that point, where Doug Mallory was now, and found he has gone back to Indiana to be co-defensive coordinator.  When I had heard Curt was hired to be DB coach, I thought maybe it was a typo and it was actually Doug.  But, now that I see he has a DC job, it makes sense. (could he be the next M DC when Mattison retires in 4 years?).

Mike Mallory on the other hand is the Assistant Specials Team Coach of the New Orleans Saints. (How many special teams coaches do they have?).

Michigan does not play Indiana, nor New Orleans next year.  If Doug had stayed the LB coach at Nebraska, the brothers would coach against each other.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I think, overall, the hiring of Brady Hoke was a decision to get the safe guy, the company line guy.  And, of course, the mediocre guy.  

Also, as I see the recruits that Hoke has been able to get in his 2+ weeks as head coach, I read things like "...was deciding between Indiana and Bowling Green, when Michigan made an offer."  Again, it looks like M is getting mediocre players.

I don't follow recruiting, and I know very little about Brady Hoke, but if the general consensus is that a mediocre coach is recruiting mediocre players, why should I be confident anything better than mediocrity will be the result?

The Answer (and I really do believe this, no matter how ridiculous it is):  We're Michigan!!

Yes, I believe that Hoke will coach above his credentials and track record, now that he is at Michigan.  Yes, I believe the 3* recruits will turn into Mike Hart (a 3* recruit).  Yes, I think that once you get to Michigan, the magic of the place and the program take over and things get better for everyone.  I had the same feeling when RR was hired, but it didn't take long to realize that wasn't the way things were going to work.  So, now, we have someone that 'gets' Michigan, and the magic is back and the mediocre roster and staff will be a good roster and staff, and eventually morph into a great roster and staff.  

I hope.