As someone who grew up primarily in the 90’s, hip-hop & R&B became a huge affinity for me which was the key to lead me into the journalism field that I happily have worked in for the past six years. Some of the biggest influencers growing up that got me to this point was Puff Daddy, Jay-Z and a plethora of other artists that shaped the way for today’s generation of rappers and hip-hop to do what they do the best. Well, the streets of Brooklyn will be buzzing at a deafening level on May 20th, when Puff Daddy & The Family will reunite for one night only at the legendary Barclay Center on May 20th. What is the occasion? To celebrate my favorite hip hop artist of all time’s birthday- The Notorious B.I.G. [Read more…] about Puff Daddy & The Family- One Night Only At Barclay May 20th
It is pretty much impossible for me and a lot of other people to go to the gym and not have music with you. Music, in a way, can help pump you up and keep you going towards your daily goal of whatever you are trying to achieve. So whether you are bench pressing, jogging on the treadmill, or reaching a new goal on the elliptical, chances are you have your music going. Question is, what songs really help you keep your energy up, burn calories, and keep you motivated? From Kanye West to Britney Spears, we have come up with ten bangers that will help your drive and determination while you keep your heart rate going. Check out what we think you should listen to. [Read more…] about Twenty Great Songs to Workout to At Your NYC Gym
You really can’t get any bigger when it comes to legends in the came then you can with the one and only Redman. Redman, who has been active in the hip-hop industry for 25 years now, is still going strong as ever and staying as relevant as ever. Born right outside NYC in Newark, New Jersey, Redman has had his hands successfully in multiple different business ventures outside of his illustrious career in the hip-hop game. From television, movies, video games and more, Redman’s unique personality and consistent drive in doing what he loves show in everything he does. He is a personal favorite of mine since I was a kid in the 90’s and continues to be many years later.
Now Redman has a brand new single he just released called “Dope Man” from his newest album called “Mudface”, due in stores on October 30th. We at Manhattan Digest were blessed to interview Redman about his single and album, his longevity in the industry, current favorites, and why women’s feet are part of his upcoming plans. For real. Check it out.
The song “Dope Man’s” chorus goes- “Hey Mr. Dope Man you’re a star, I love your gold chains and your fancy car”. Is Dope Man really you? What drove the inspiration for this song?
Yes I’m referring DOPEMAN as me! Meaning my lyrics and music is the DOPE people are fiending for… People are complaining about the same sounding music on the radio!! So it’s up to the DOPEMAN to supply the hood with the Goodness !!
You also have a new album coming out in October called “Mud Face”. What can your fans expect from that album?
MudFace album is an album I put together for my fans and to keep relevancy, till MUDDY WATERS 2 album come out..!! I’m independent now, so I have to keep music out there to create other revenues of business !!
Are you planning a tour to support the album?
Yes i always do a tour run on every album..Mudface Tour i will be in a city near you SOON !!!
It will be 23 years on September 22nd since your debut album “Whut? Thee Album” has been released. What is the best advice you would give to new artists in the industry that want to find longevity and relevancy that you have paved the way for?
For new artists to create longevity path as I did… to be able to still drop music 23 years later and still be Hot??? Here are some steps.
- Go against the Grain!
- Stay mastering your craft!
- Love your Momma and Kids !
- Never let em see you sweat !
- Don’t do reality shows !
- Have a good team that will keep you Brand Name Monumental..
- GO OVERSEAS AND PUT ON GREAT PERFORMANCES as WELL AS YOUR OWN COUNTRY !!
- Know your History on this Rap shit !!..It is a business !!
- MAKE good connections and know the right PEOPLE !!
- Make sure your Hood and City respects you for you and the work you doing and did to Rep your state !!
Do you have a favorite moment of your career that sticks out for you?
My favorite moment in my career would be the Day I met EPMD which was one of my favorite Rap Duo and then moved to Long Island… that’s when my career started !! God is Good !!
Who currently is your favorite artist in hip hop and who would you love to collaborate with?
My favorite artists are still Slick Rick, Krs One, IceCube, NWA & EPMD. These are the groups and guys that built me !!
I’m curious to know what your take is on the hip-hop industry today. Where is it excelling and where do you think it is lacking?
My ERA ( Biggie ,Snoop, Eminem D12, Jay Z, Tribe Called Quest Dogg Pound ,Wu Tang,Beanie Siegal,Kanye West,Naughty By Nature,Lords of Underground, Keith Murray,Busta Rymes Flip Mode,OutSiders, G-Unit,Game,Mobb Deep, R.I.P Sean Price and Helter Skeltah ,Lil Kim, The Pharcyde, The Roots, Xzibit, Boot Camp,UGK,Smiff and Wesson,Common,Scar Face,Camp Lo,Pete Rock Cl Smooth,Organized Confusion,Slum Village,Craig Mack,Choclair,Kardinal Official, ETC….
New Era I listen to Kendrick Lamar, School Boy Q TDE ,GunPlay , J Cole , Dope D.O.D , Rick Ross, Asap Rocky, Asap Mob, Drake, Che Grand, Jneiro Jarel, Boogie.
I want to collaborate with everyone !! Everybody on one track goin in!!
I’m curious to know what your take is on the hip-hop industry today. Where is it excelling and where do you think it is lacking?
I love Hip-Hop ! It provides jobs and allows and average person to become somebody !! The state of HipHop NOW; the music is sounding the same.. and that’s what people and fans complaining about. But hey it’s still provides jobs to my people my culture… the future of Hip-Hop will continue to grow and be that universal language !!
What other upcoming projects do you have coming up that your fans would like to know about?
My up and coming projects are-
MUDFACE ALBUM- Oct 30 2015
MUDDY WATERS 2- 2016
BLACKOUT 3- 2016
HOW HIGH 2- 2017 or 2018
Also I’m directing and producing behind the scenes in Hollywood. I started and production company with my Business partner Laura Irvine called UGLYJONES ! We are producing a show now called “Who Got Heat”; a street version of American Idol.. I feel there’s not enough artists getting recognized so we want to help with a platform to be seen… also we will give back to the community each city we run show at…stay tuned for details… show is fucking Hot !
Also I love woman who have beautiful FEET..Oh God… whewww !! I wanna create a High Heel Open Toe Sandal for woman !!! That is my top goal… So as you see i have another 8 to 10 years worth of work to do, and I’m gonna do it !! AND THAT’S HOW YOU KEEP RELEVANT FOR 23 YEARS BOYIIIEEEE !!
Budweiser’s “Made In America” festival is coming up shortly on September 5th and 6th. The annual festival, held in Philadelphia, is boasting some of the biggest names in music from Beyonce, Modest Mouse, The Weeknd and J. Cole just to name a few. Well famed hat maker New Era is putting their two cents into the mix by exclusively dropping a one of a kind hat for the festival.
Roc Nation teamed up with New Era Cap to create the Roc Nation 9Fifty snapback. With great American colors with an awesome black background, it is an essential for any hat loving aficionado to rock during this festival and well beyond it. What is even better is that it is listed only at $45, which is a steal for the hat wearing community. It is being made available to people showing up to the festival but can also be purchased on Roc Nation’s official website and their store Roc N Sole in Brooklyn.
Hope you all have a great time at Made In America for any of the Manhattanites who are making the trek there this weekend, and if you wanna rock a stylish hat that will grab attention then go out and get it!
Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!
So its pretty safe to say for any talent working in the music industry that if you get the seal of approval from the one and only Madonna, then you are clearly doing something right. This is the case for the amazingly talented producer and songwriter Paul Andrews, who has done an official mix of her song “Ghosttown” off her incredible new album “Rebel Heart”.
Paul is someone who I have profiled not once but twice in the past on Manhattan Digest. One in my Get To Know series, and the other one was coincidentally about dropping a mix of Madonna’s song “Living for Love”. I say the word coincidence because that is exactly how this whole process was able to happen. Apparently, Madonna’s team heard the remix to of “Living For Love” then he received a text from a mutual friend stating the following- “Silly question, but would you want to remix Madonna’s next single?”
Immediately jumping at the idea (because who wouldn’t), Paul asked what she was looking for when it came to remixing “Ghosttown”. It was simple- just be creative like he was with his other mixes. Only having three days to finish the mix, he spent them feverishly getting it done and arranging all of it in his head throughout that period of time. Once it was finished and submitted, he got word that Madonna herself has approved the mix and it would be an exclusive for the Jay-Z driven “Tidal Music Streaming”. Madonna (who just celebrated her 45th number one single on the Billboard charts), wanted to use it but not for a Dance EP as it wasn’t a dance mix. Suffice to say, this is an amazing accomplishment for Paul in getting to work with one of the biggest legends in music there ever was, and hope that this can continue and so on and so forth.
When it comes to the music industry, the Grammy Awards still remain the Gold Medal when it comes to award achievement for artists and musicians alike. Last year’s saw newcomers like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Lorde take the top spots in the New Artist and Song of the Year Category, whereas perennial EDM megastars Daft Punk shocked many a music fans by winning the coveted Album Of The Year Grammy with “Random Access Memories”. Now with another year in music about to close, and the Grammy Nominations out in less than a month, Manhattan Digest digest’s what will be nominated and who might be left in the dust in a year that was less than stellar to say the least. With no major artists with the exception of Coldplay, Beyonce, Jason Aldean and Eminem releasing albums this year, the music industry was run by throwaway pop tracks and one hit wonders in the making (Sorry Meghan Trainor). That being said, there were some stellar exceptions that I hope that Grammy’s notice and crown this year- some who are overdue, some who are new, and some who have been here before and deserve it again. Today, we look at the potential noms for Album Of The Year.
Album Of The Year at the Grammy’s can be tricky. Sometimes they get it right (Mumford & Sons, Daft Punk, Adele) and sometimes we don’t know where they are coming from (Steely Dan, Herbie Hancock). Sometimes, they miss the ball completely, like last year when Justin Timberlake didn’t even get nominated in a category that many people thought he would’ve won. This year, the inevitable nominee and winner is simple- Beyonce. Beyonce has been in this category before, losing a couple of years ago to Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” over her insanely good effort “I Am… Sasha Fierce”. However, with her self titled debut this year, she really doesn’t have any competition as this album was one of the biggest music stories of the year. With no one knowing it was coming out, she quietly released this on a cold December night and drove the album to platinum status in less than two weeks, and outselling her previous effort “4” shortly after. The album spawned several huge singles (some will be discussed later), has insatiable duets with artists like Drake, Frank Ocean and her hubby Jay-Z and received generally positive feedback from fans and critics alike. No doubt the winner in my mind.
Others who could be huge contenders? Obviously, The “Frozen” Soundtrack for many reasons. Oscar winning, highest selling, songs parents and like minded people alike can’t get out of your head equal Grammy goodness. This is the first soundtrack in several years though that really can be a strong contender in the main categories so be on the lookout for this to be nominated several times throughout the night.
Hip-Hop this year wasn’t exactly stellar whatsoever. Last year had so many memorable people come out of the wood works with fantastic first efforts (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kendrick Lamar) and icons who kept churning out some amazing tracks (Jay-Z, Kanye West). The sad fact that the biggest star in hip hop this year may have been Iggy Azalea says a lot about that industry and hopefully there will be some recharge in 2015. That being said, Eminem should no doubt be the 3rd nominee in this category with “The Marshall Mathers LP 2”. As someone who grew up when Eminem was really at his peek in so many different ways, I find it fantastic that 15 years after we first heard “The Real Slim Shady” he is still incredibly relevant and hip with a younger crowd that is just discovering what an epic rapper and legend he is. Whereas he had a better shot of winning this award years ago with “The Eminem Show” and the first Marshall Mathers LP” it would be a surprise if he was left out in this category.
The other two could be difficult to choose. One new artist who has gained quite a huge following this year is Sam Smith, who broke through with his gold selling “In The Lonely Hour”. A powerhouse on his own, Sam blasted through the charts with his first single “Stay With Me” as well as working with other fantastic artists such as Disclosure (“Latch”) and one of my favorite artists and tracks of the year, “Lalala” by Naughty Boy. He is this year’s big British import, sort of the male Adele when it comes to the impact that he has had on the industry. His music style is very eclectic, with tinges of pop, R&B and adult contemporary all mixed in one. He’s a surefire lock for Best New Artist without a shadow of a doubt, however don’t be surprised if he is able to seep his way into the pivotal Album Of The Year category at the Grammy’s.
Jack White’s “Lazaretto” seems poised to be the fifth and final nominee in this category. Jack, mainly known for his epic band “The White Stripes” is no stranger to this category having being nominated two years ago for his effort “Blunderbuss”. The 9 time Grammy Award winner’s Rock efforts paid off for him tend fold this past year, with “Lazaretto” receiving stellar reviews from the top publications and debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 Chart. If Jack doesn’t get the lock for Album Of The Year don’t be surprised if Coldplay takes the fifth spot for “Ghost Stories“, which is one of the highest selling albums of this past year. the 7 time Grammy Award winners lit up the charts this year with “Sky Full Of Stars” amongst other hits, and have been Grammy favorites in the past with “Clocks” winning Record Of The Year over ten years ago. Don’t expect Coldplay to take this award but expect multiple nominations for both “Stars” and “Ghost Stories” for sure.
Who do you think will be nominated Check out the Grammy official website for more info.
As sad as it is for me to say this, I was not invited to the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards that are happening tonight in Inglewood, California. I repped Manhattan Digest to the fullest at last year’s show when they were held at Brooklyn’s very own Barclay Center, and gave us one of the most epic performances in VMA history- Miley Cyrus. If you don’t know what happened then you have been living under a rock for the past year. Needless to say, this year’s VMA’s is sure to be unpredictable and insane as it usually is. The lineup of performances look sick, with the opening being pop divas Jessie J, Arianna Grande and hip-hop songstress Nicki Minaj doing their current top 10 single “Bang Bang”. Other noteworthy performances of the night should be Taylor Swift, who will be performing her new hit “Shake It Off” from the much anticipated new album “1989” due out October 27th. And of course, the lady of the night will be eight time nominee and already multiple VMA award winner Beyonce, who will be receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award later in the evening. This award has been bestowed on several legends in the industry, from Madonna, Janet Jackson, The Rolling Stones and most recently pop pioneers Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. Should be a performance of epic madness and one that I cannot wait to see.
So let’s breakdown the other thing that people are there to see- who will win each category at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. This year’s pack is stacked with some of the biggest artists and songs of the year, and is making it tough for this journalist to choose who will win and who should win. It is still funny to me that MTV broadcasts something like this when I believe I was wearing JNCO Jeans the last time they actually aired a block of music videos, but it is the most highly anticipated award show of the season, so I can see why they keep it going each year. Let’s breakdown each category, starting with the “Artist To Watch, Presented by Taco Bell”.
Artist to Watch, Presented By Taco Bell
5 Seconds Of Summer- “She Looks So Perfect”
Fifth Harmony- “Miss Moving On”
Sam Smith- “Stay With Me”
Schoolboy Q- “Man Of The Year”
Charli XCX- “Boom Clap”
Who Will Win- 5 Seconds Of Summer, Who Should Win- Sam Smith
5 Seconds Of Summer really came out of nowhere and has won the hearts of millions of adoring teens, who are the ones voting on this particular category for the most part. They are One Direction with talent, drums and guitar for the most part, so I sure as heck see them easily winning this won as it is a fan based vote. Fifth Harmony could’ve been a heavy contender for this if 5SOS wasn’t in it, but they won’t win this one. Schoolboy Q is amazing, as well as Charli XCX’s song from “The fault In Our Stars” but not enough to garner this. If Sam Smith doesn’t win this at the VMA’s, he sure as hell will win at the 2015 Grammys and several other prestigious awards. His solo work this year on “Stay With Me” on top of his brilliant performances with other artists such as Disclosure and Naughty Boy prove what a threat this guy is to the industry, and I hope he gets some love on VMA night.
Best Rock Video-
Linkin Park- “Until I’m Gone”
Imagine Dragons- “Demons”
Black Keys- “Fever”
Arctic Monkeys- “Do I Wanna Know?”
Who Will Win- Imagine Dragons. Who Should Win- Black Keys.
Imagine Dragons have had a pretty awesome two years, and this was only the 2nd song released off of their amazing debut album. “Royals” is not a rock song, so I don’t get why it is in this category. Lorde has a better shot in other categories than this one, and sadly I don’t think Arctic Monkeys have a shot in this category either. Black Keys should win as “Fever” is an amazing video, but no doubt Imagine Dragons will be the one taking this home tonight.
Best Pop Video-
Arianna Grande Featuring Iggy Azealea- “Problem”
Iggy Azalea Featuring Chari XCX- “Fancy”
Avicii Featuring Aloe Blacc- “Wake Me Up”
Jason DeRulo Featuring 2Chainz- “Talk Dirty”
Pharrell Williams- “Happy”
Who Will Win- Arianna Grande & Iggy. Who Should Win- Pharrell.
This really has been the year for Arianna and Iggy, however I think because Arianna has a bigger tween and teen fanbase she should lock this one up. “Wake Me Up” should be more in the clubland award than this one, and “Talk Dirty” just seems too urban for this as well, as is “Fancy”. “Happy” is a freaking brilliant video that screams pop with a R&B flare, and should be the one to win in this. But expect pop ingenue Arianna Grande to be leaving with not just one but a couple of VMA night.
Best Female Video-
Arianna Grande Featuring Iggy Azalea- “Problem”
Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX- “Fancy”
Katy Perry Featuring Juicy J- “Dark Horse”
Who Will Win- “Royals”. Who Should Win- “Dark Horse/Partition”
I think “Royals”, even though it is quite simple, kept my focus a lot more than the colorful pops that Iggy and Arianne presented in each of their videos, and the song is better than both so based off that it will and maybe should win. I loved the video for “Dark Horse” as Katy keeps bringing us really unique and out there videos that she has done so well over the years. “Partition” isn’t the best video from the Beyonce album, but the look and feel of it should really make her a good contender for this category tonight.
Best Male Video-
Ed Sheeran Featuring Pharrell Williams- “Sing”
Sam Smith- “Stay With Me”
John Legend- “All Of Me”
Eminem Featuring Rihanna- “Monster”
Pharrell Williams- “Happy”
Who Will Win- Ed Sheeran. Who Should Win- All of them (Minus John Legend).
This is quite possibly the strongest category of the bunch this year, as all videos and songs are incredible in their own unique ways. John’s song is amazing and is this generation’s new wedding song, however the video was basic and more of wedding video than an actual music video. I happen to love Ed Sheeran’s vocals and video for “Sing” so that gets my vote easily. I wouldn’t mind multiple VMA winner Eminem winning this for old times sake, however I think this is Ed’s to lose.
Best Hip-Hop Video-
Childish Gambino- “3005”
Drake Featuring Majid Jordan- “Hold On (We’re Going Home)”
Kanye West- “Black Skinhead”
Wiz Khalifa- “We Dem Boyz”
Who Will Win- Drake. Who should win- All of them.
Another really amazing category. I have to say Drake will win just based off of how popular the video and song was, however Eminem might be knocking at Drake’s door for this so don’t be surprised if he pulls an upset. Kanye’s video is one of his best ever with his own social message that makes this video and song one of the standouts off of his last album. Wiz hasn’t really had the biggest success since “Black & Yellow” however “We Dem Boyz” is a great video and keeps his street hustle going in the hip-hop game. Childish Gambino deserves a lot more success than then man is given, and I am super pumped the “3005” got the nod this year.
Video Of The Year-
Pharrell Williams- “Happy”
Miley Cyrus- “Wrecking Ball”
Beyonce Featuring Jay-Z- “Drunk In Love”
Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX- “Fancy”
Who Will Win- Miley or Beyonce. Who should win- SIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“Chandelier” is such an AMAZING song and video that I really just want to see Sia make a public appearance and win this. She’s like the female Daft Punk, you really never see her so I think it would make an AWESOME VMA moment if she won. I don’t get why Iggy is in this, the video is great but not at this level, she’s too new. As much as “Wrecking Ball” is a great video it is more 2013 than 2014, so I don’t think it deserves to win this. “Happy” is amazing, but I fear Pharrell may be shut out due to the younger demographic. Seeing as this is Beyonce’s night, expect her to win her second Video Of The Year trophy (done once before for “Single Ladies” back in 2009). But this is quite the unpredictable category, so you never know.
Who do YOU think will win tonight? Comment here and for a full list of nominees check out the official website for more info.
Who Is The Greatest MC Of All Time?
Such as the endless debate of which came first, the chicken or the egg, is equal if not less than the debate over who is the greatest MC of all time in the hip hop game. Long talked about for almost thirty years now, hip hop heads from across the world have spoken their mind on who they personally think is the best for whatever particular reason they think it might be. Factors like longevity, impact, the ability to spit ill shit on a dime and overall persona are just some of the reasons why students of the hip hop university we all know and love claim why their personal number one is the best. So what happens when you get three eager and green students together to discuss this epic battle of King King in the hip hop world? [Read more…] about Best MC’s Of All Time- A Candid Discussion
Manhattan Digest film reviewers Peter Foy and Dane Benko discuss the major categories of this year’s Oscar nominations.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
PF: Well, the Best Animated Feature Film category has always interested me, as some of my picks for best film of the year were actually the winners in that category
DB: And this year has surprising selections.
PF: Yeah, no Pixar!
DB: And The Croods, for some reason. Frankly three of them only have a chance, Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, Frozen, and Ernest & Celestine.
PF: Yeah, and I regret to say I had not heard of Ernest & Celestine till the announcement.
DB: Right, me either… I don’t think it’s going to win, but the nomination itself is a huge honor for it.
PF: Still, it seems to be that Miyazaki is an almost sure-bet.
DB: Yeah, Frozen has perhaps a chance because of the surprising amount of audience fondness of it, but frankly Miyazaki is too big of a name, regardless of the fact he’s won before (for Spirited Away).
PF: Yeah, it’s just the film is being hyped as his “farewell masterpiece,” so that alone should edge it towards the Academy’s favor. I wanted to see Frozen, but somehow it eluded me amidst the bustle of Oscar Season.
DB: Yeah, my Facebook feed is alive with talk about how awesome the songs are, and I was surprisingly engaged by the trailer, but this is the only time I’ve looked at the Animated section and felt at a loss as to where my year of movie watching went, precisely. And why the Croods?
PF: Yeah, that does seem an odd choice. Especially as Monsters University did receive decent critical recognition for a sequel, while it seemed like both audiences and critics were lukewarm towards The Croods. Hey, maybe they were persuaded to nominate it just to have a dark horse in there.
DB: In the end, last year’s Oscar win for Pixar seemed a little shoed in, so all in all I’m glad to see different options this year (even though I’m a die-hard Pixar fanboy), but I don’t think Despicable Me 2 or The Croods really replace that slot. Ernest & Celestine would be the most interesting win, but it’s already reaped a major award just by being featured. Frozen could be a surprise hit but only because audiences were surprisingly keen on it. But this year goes to Miyazaki
PF: I would agree, and I’m also totally for it. I feel that Miyazaki really has earned his coveted title as being perhaps the most celebrated animator of our generation, and has really made the medium an art form
Not only has he used animation to tell fantasy stories that appeal to all ages, but does them with a sense for wonderment and joy that most directors (including live-action ones) couldn’t even hope to capture.
I would call him the Walt Disney of Japan, but in all honesty I think he’s even greater than that.
DB: I still am not 100% sure he’s finished in the world of animation, the last few movies he’s made grumblings about being his last, but since he seems to want this one to underline his ouevre, I respect that.
PF: Yeah, I don’t know if this will really be his last film. He had said that about Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away also. But giving his age, and the acclaim and anticipation that this film is already receiving, then I feel it only builds to it’s stature for us to envision this as being his last work. Kind of like with Jay-z’s The Black Album! Same standard!
DB: But why The Croods?
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
DB: Scrolling up, how do you feel about the Supporting Actress nominees? I always have a difficult time with the actors segments., but it’s the actors that bring in the viewers, as the Oscars is really a celebrity showcase.
PF: Yes, very much so. I’m happy with the Supporting Actress nominations for the most part. I’m glad that they nominated Sally Hawkins, as I felt she gave a really strong and careful performance in Blue Jasmine, and I felt that some people didn’t acknowledge it due to Cate Blanchett’s lead.
DB: Sally Hawkins and June Squibb are the interesting ones. I… don’t see Jennifer Lawrence winning again. I love Jennifer Lawrence. She’s awesome. And she won last year. And I think the Academy thinks the same way I think about that.
PF: Yeah, Jennifer Lawrence was great though… and if the Academy wants to make history they may let her win as if she did win the best supporting role again this year, she would be the youngest actress to do so
DB: If the Academy Awards wants to make history (more on this when we discuss Best Picture), they’ll pick Lupita Nyong’o, which I wouldn’t be surprised to see. She did an amazing job in 12 Years a Slave, and 12 Years a Slave is pretty much a showcase of Oscar-quality talent. She may even be my pick.
PF: Yes, that’s true. She gave a very gripping performance, and her performances in the film’s most harrowing scenes were simply astonishing. She might be my pick as well, as any actress would need to go to intense places to deliver in a movie like that. I can’t comment on Julia Roberts as I haven’t seen August: Osage County
DB: I haven’t either. Fact is I’d be surprised if it wins many, or any, awards. I actually have the suspicion that the movie itself is different from the trailer, as the trailer seemed to highlight the reprehensible character Meryl Streep plays.
PF: Yeah, it’s not uncommon for trailers to be misleading these days.
DB: The movie clearly operates on that basis of ensemble performance. This is one reason why it would be sort of interesting to have an ensemble cast section for Oscars. But people’s reactions to it seem to be along the lines of, “I’m jealous of the dead character.”
PF: Ha, well if one film legitimizes the necessity for an inclusion of that category then it’s American Hustle, a film I think we will be discussing quite a bit of…
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
DB: I sort of want to head this one off by saying, I like Jonah Hill and all, and I loved This is the End, but his performance in The Wolf of Wall Street seemed more like he was acting out a sketch about being in a Martin Scorsese movie, than him actually acting in a movie directed by Scorsese. I’d even, in this list, eagerly give him the award for This is the End, because he played off himself perfectly, really subverting his own celebrity. I think Barkhad Abdi and Jared Leto seem like good contenders to add diversity to the list, but this really seems to be a showdown between Cooper and Fassbender.
PF: Yeah, I don’t think Jonah Hill has a chance. Barkhad Abdi is a fantastic actor though, and was just as strong a screen presence in Captain Phillips as Tom Hanks. Jared Leto might also get my honor for “best comeback performance” of the year, but yeah, it looks like it’s a showdown between Cooper and Fassbender, and I think the Academy is likely to tip in Fassbender’s favor.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEAD ROLE:
PF: I actually was having a conversation with someone that Tom Hanks was snubbed a leading actor nomination the other day.
DB: Oh? I don’t know, hasn’t Tom Hanks sort of proven his Academy chops?
PF: Yeah, and in actuality I don’t think his performance was quite as remarkable as the other 5 gents that the Academy nominated this year. Although the climax to Captain Philips shows that there’s still plenty of range for the veteran actor
DB: The Best Actor category seems like one of the most competitive. It’s not surprising that many good roles were lost in the shuffle. I honestly have about as good a chance predicting this one as a Magic 8 Ball.
PF: Yeah, I know that feeling. I can tell you I’m rooting for Matthew McConaughey though. In fact I wanted to see him nominated for Killer Joe last year
DB: Yeah, I can see that. The Academy has this really bad habit of awarding talent the year after the movie they deserved to win for. It seems a lot of people feel Leonardo DiCaprio is overdue for an Oscar. I throw my support behind Chiwetel Ejiofor.
PF: Yeah, as 12 Years a Slave really is a star making performance for him. Getting back to snubs… I still think they could of fit Joaquin Phoenix in there…
DB: Oh man…
PF: …as I felt he deserved to win last year for his incredibly unique and volcanic performance in The Master.
DB: It was ridiculous. I didn’t even see Phoenix the person in Her. I certainly saw Phoenix in The Master, and still thought he was powerful. Oh and by the way, as a terrible Pynchon fan, I can’t wait to see him in Inherent Vice. He’ll rock Doc Sportello. But believe me, we’ll get to discussing Her in a bit!
PF: Ha! I can’t wait to see Inherent Vice!
DB: Maybe that’s why Phoenix wasn’t put up for this year. Next year is being prepped for a long anticipated Pynchon adaptation Oscar streak.
PF: If he wins next year, then I’ll be completely ecstatic about it! Back to the best acting nominees though…What do you think about Christian Bale getting another nod? I feel he might have another good chance to win, just cause it’s a role so different from what he’s played before, and he once again perfects it
DB: My opinion on Bale is best described by the scene in Rescue Dawn where he eats maggots with a …. maggot-eating grin: Dude chews scenery in a way I adore, but I wouldn’t give him an award. I feel like I’m more on a rollercoaster than watching a performance. I’d almost feel like giving him the golden man for American Hustle would be more boring than his performance deserves. But I’m not one of the voters, so what do I know?
PF: Bruce Dern is another likely contender. Either for an Oscar, or a lifetime achievement award. As you said all five of the nominees gave career highlights this year, but, who knows, maybe the average age of academy voters will dictate them voting for the oldest nominee in the bunch.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:
DB: Let’s start talking about Best Actress! No in all seriousness, this is one of the better line-ups of actresses in my memory, being that women are finally not always secondary characters in their own stories anymore.
PF: Yes, very much, although I feel that Brie Larsson was snubbed for her performance in Short Term 12
DB: Oh really? I… I don’t know what that is.
PF: It’s just it was a little-seen independent film with an arthouse veneer. So yeah, it’s not exactly the type of movie that would attract Oscar voters. I felt she just gave such a complex and hard-edged performance for that film.
DB: Well, you certainly caught me off-guard. I was gonna mention that Melissa McCarthy should have been nominated for The Heat. I am absolutely serious, she’s the Lou Costello of our generation.
PF: Yeah I didn’t see The Heat, but I thought she should have been nominated for Bridesmaids.
DB: But since Sandra Bullock got nominated instead for Gravity, that’s about the only segue I had to this otherwise eclectic mix of characters. Like Best Actor, I don’t even know where to start here.
PF: I feel Cate Blanchett might be the most likely contender
DB: Yeah Blue Jasmine was something else. I never thought Blanchett would top her performance in Coffee and Cigarettes. And of course there she only had a segment. Now she had to hold up a movie.
PF: Yeah, she gets serious props from me as she was able to balance the humor of her character against the distraught nature of her as well. What an ending too? It was rather disturbing I found.
DB: Actually now that you use that word, pretty much all the actresses this year had disturbing roles.
Bullock’s was the most lighthearted, and it was about the grief of losing a child! Or maybe Meryl Streep’s because we were supposed to laugh at her character?
PF: Yeah, that’s true. Although there aren’t many years when an actress gets nominated cause of how “happy” their performance was. Well for me Brie Larsson’s performance outshone the rest.
DB: Right. So we’re agreed. Brie Larsson should have won, and, uh… we have no clue who will win. But we can agree that all of these actresses do a fine job at making you feel sad.
PF: Yep! Exactly!
PF: Moving onto best picture now!
DB: Well alright then. To cut to the chase, I can’t help but feel this comes down to 12 Years a Slave versus Her. The rest of the movies are great.
PF: Really, I don’t think Her has much of a chance of winning. To be honest I wouldn’t have been surprised had it not even been nominated
DB: It’s been pretty much universally embraced by critics and audiences alike. And as a separate, specific feature, it’s good up and down and through and through. Good design, good performance, good acting, good editing, and a story that seems to be hitting close to an area big on people’s minds.
Plus Megan Ellison is about as celebrity as producers get.
PF: Yeah, but it’s not exactly an Oscar-type of movie. While it is a film about contemporary relationships, it’s also a high-concept sci-fi film that also seems aimed at indie-rock fans.
I think the two most likely picks for best picture are American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave. The former just comes off to me as this year’s Argo
DB: Yeah but that might be why it loses…
PF: Yeah, I thought about that as well, but it also seems hard for The Academy to resist it.
DB: 12 Years a Slave seems like a good pick because in a weird way we’re overdue for the sober social consciousness film. It also fits the Academy’s MO.
PF: Yeah, although I do notice that the Academy does still tend to like film’s that have a little bit of levity to them. Which 12 Years a Slave certainly does not have
DB: Well in theory, the purpose of these awards are to argue for artfulness of film. 12 Years a Slave is an important film whether you enjoyed it or not. So that sort of sets it to demand people’s, including Academy voters’, attentions.
PF: Yeah, and if we’re talking about craft, then the film is a shoe-in for best picture. I absolutely feel that 12 Years a Slave will win for best director. Steve McQueen really has established himself as such a visionary with only just three films.
DB: I feel like Gravity is misplaced in these two departments. Strictly speaking Cuaron is worthy of being considered for Best Director and the movie is astounding, but it is a technical showcase that should sweep whatever technical awards its up for. But it’s kind of the odd-man-out of the rest of the titles in the Best Picture category.
PF: Yeah, well they have one of those every year (i.e. Inception)
DB: I feel like American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street will cannibalize each-others votes as historical looks at decadence and power. 12 Years a Slave has the biggest chops and Her has the feverish word-of-mouth. Which makes them create an interesting sort of unintentional narrative about whether the award will go to the mistakes of our past, or the hopes of our future.
PF: I don’t think Wolf of Wall Street has much a chance of winning. But that’s fine, you can tell Scorsese didn’t make it to win an award
DB: I don’t think Scorsese made The Departed to win an award.
PF: Yeah, but he did make The Aviator to win one. I personally think he wouldn’t have done that movie had he won an Oscar at that point, and I do feel it’s one of his weakest films because of that
DB: I wouldn’t want to answer for him. My feeling is that Scorsese is a case in point that the Academy tends to award a filmmaker about a year or two after the point when people feel the filmmaker deserves it most. Which is why Leonardo DiCaprio is either getting an award this year or next.
PF: A very solid accusation. In fact bearing that in mind, then maybe Leo will indeed win this year as the he has said he’s going on hiatus from acting, so the academy may want to award him now before he takes off for a bit.
DB: I trust his hiatus about as much as I trust Soderbergh’s various retirements. Film people seem to be like that one guy on message forums that’s always announcing his departure from the community. The ones that make the loudest announcements are typically the ones that can’t quit. Heck, Phoenix’s hiatus was a performance in and of itself. Anyway, perhaps I am being too confident in Her. I just strongly feel it is the title that SHOULD win, though 12 Years a Slave is the title to beat.
PF: Yeah, well I didn’t mention it earlier, but I would of liked to see my favorite film of the year nominated (Before Midnight). Her and 12 Years a Slave are my favorites of the batch nominated and Her is what I feel should win, but 12 Years a Slave seems the more probable outcome.
MINOR AWARDS AND ERRATA:
PF: What do you think about how Inside Llewyn Davis didn’t receive any major nominations?
DB: Don’t feel it should have. Loved the movie, isn’t as caustic and daring as A Serious Man and the Coens already settled their score with No Country for Old Men. It still got cinematography award nomination, and it looks friggin’ beautiful. I actually really hope it wins that category.
PF: Yeah, I liked how the film looked like the cover of a folk album. Really evoked The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’s, but it wasn’t surprising to see it wasn’t nominated for best picture. But, I don’t think the Coens really care either way.
DB: It’s also up for sound mixing but that should go to Gravity. Full dynamic atmospheric subjective sound. Llewyn Davis’ audio award should be for Music. But those categories have to be original song or original score.
PF: Well, it will be interesting to see which movies win in the screenplay categories, as once again, this year saw so many great scripts. Although I’m not exactly sure why Before Midnight is up for best adapted screenplay…
DB: Yeah I was wondering that as well. I guess “Adapted from the characters by Linklater.”
PF: Yeah, probably just an excuse to put the film in that category, but hey, you hardly see sequels nominated for Oscars also.
DB: It would be kind of funny if the Adapted Screenplay went to 12 Years a Slave and the Original Screenplay went to Her. “We’ve adapted to the past, and now we’re originating the future!”
PF: Yeah I was thinking that myself. It could very well happen too, as Her demonstrated that Spike Jonze is a talented screenplay writer, in addition to being a fantastic director, and as you said, The Academy seems due to acknowledge a somber film about America’s darkest past.
The 2014 Grammy Nominations were announced live last night in Los Angeles at the annual “Grammy Nominations Special” they do each year, hosted by LL Cool J. They had some pretty off the chain concerts from some of the biggest artists in the world, and it truly set the stage for a great night to come in February. When I read the list of nominees this year, some I expected, some I was somewhat surprised on, and some I was insanely baffled that got left out. Let’s break each category down and see what went right and what went really wrong.
Record Of They Year-
Imagine Dragons- “Radioactive”
Robin Thicke Featuring TI & Pharrell Williams- “Blurred Lines”
Daft Punk Featuring Pharrell Williams- “Get Lucky”
Bruno Mars- “Locked Outta Heaven”
In my original prediction blog, I had four out of five right (Hooray for me) with Imagine Dragons as an “Honorable Mention” but definitely a contender. Not surprised by any of these as they were all great nominees. Justin could’ve made this category, but I will delve much further into that on the next one. These five songs were really some of the biggest of the year, each of them representing a different genre of music in my opinion. Lorde on that pop/alternative tip, Imagine Dragons are pure alternative, Robin Thicke as the R&B crooner, Daft Punk bringing in the EDM and Bruno Mars giving us straight soul. This is going to be an interesting category of sorts because I don’t think there really is a clear cut winner here. Moving along.
Album Of The Year-
Sara Bareilles- “The Blessed Unrest”
Daft Punk- “Random Access Memories”
Kendrick Lamar- “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis- “The Heist”
Taylor Swift- “Red”
No Justin Timberlake in this category, I am beyond shocked about that. I pegged “The 20/20 Experience” as winning this award beyond easily and I truthfully believe he was the biggest snub of the night. Kind of sad when you have the biggest album of the year and you are left off such a crucial list. I think Sara and Kendrick are the surprising nominees here, in a good way. I thought Bruno Mars was a shoo in as well for “Unorthodox Jukebox” but I am somewhat glad to see him left off this list as I think Sara and Kendrick had stronger showings. Not shocked by Macklemore, Taylor or Kendrick but for the sake of my sanity I pray that Taylor doesn’t win AOTY again because “Red” wasn’t really a strong showing. It was a continuation of her last album, and I hope when she releases her new effort it has a bit of maturity to it. This is a tough one to call right now, but if I had to be personal on this- KENDRICK. Please.
Song Of The Year-
Pink & Nate Ruess- “Just Give Me A Reason”
Bruno Mars- “Locked Outta Heaven”
Katy Perry- “Roar”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Mary Lambert- “Same Love”
In my original article, I had three out of five right (Pink, Macklemore, Lorde). Katy Perry wasn’t really on my radar, and this was the category I thought Sara Bareilles had a chance at with “Brave”, which Katy insanely ripped off for “Roar”. I actually had Drake in this category for “Hold On We’re Going Home”, a song he didn’t even get nominated for this year. That to me is frustrating, as it is one of the best tracks of 2013, and its the same sentiment I felt two years ago when his song with Rihanna “Take Care” got snubbed as well. This is a pretty standard list, so nothing too surprising. They could’ve given Miley something in the main categories, especially for the teen voters, and “Wrecking Ball” is in fact a very well written song. That being said, “Same Love” has got my vote. The lyrics are incredible and if there is one award Macklemore & Ryan Lewis should win it is this one folks.
Best New Artist-
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Two out of five in my original predictions, with Macklemore and Kendrick easily getting nominated. The others, I don’t really know how I feel about it. First off, where the heck is Imagine Dragons and Lorde on this? Ed Sheeran has been around for a while, so I don’t get why he is nominated this year and not last year. I am beyond floored that Florida Georgia Line didn’t get ANY nominations, and I thought that they would be the perennial country nominee as well over Kacey, but I am glad to see she got in here. The shocker here is EDM producer James Blake, who is following similar pathways with EDM being recognized in the main categories as Skrillex earned a Best New Artist nod last year. Fun! won this last year, something that I thought was completely shit as it should’ve been Frank Ocean, but this is a pretty strong group across the board. Best New Artist has proven to be an award that is never really cut and dry, and many artists that have won in recent years are the one you least expect (Bon Iver over Nicki Minaj, Esperanza Spalding over Justin Bieber). So James Blake really is the odd one out in this. Macklemore really isn’t a new artist in my opinion because he has been around a lot longer than people think, so once again I would love for Kendrick to take this one home. Country nominees never win this award, so it really comes down to Kendrick and Macklemore in my opinion.
Check out the official Grammy website for all the nominees and keep checking on Manhattan Digest for our official prediction blogs in all the categories for months to come. Congrats to all the nominees, especially Kendrick and my homegirl Kathy Griffin who got a sixth nomination for Best Comedy Album! 🙂