Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 NBA Playoffs (Round 1)

Well, now that everyone's played a game, it's a great time to take a look at what's down the road, what we have to look forward to, and what will undoubtedly disappoint/thrill us.

Western Conference

San Antonio (#1) vs. Utah (#8)

What Game 1 told us:  Other than the fact that the Jazz have the most underwhelming big men in the NBA, it's showed us the Spurs are back and ready to tear shit up.  The West's "Big Three" (Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili) showed a renewed sense of athleticism we'd all thought died in 2007.  From Tim Duncan getting his LeBron on to Ginobili...  well, doing the same, the Spurs were out to prove something.  Though frequently injured, going bald, and French, San Antonio did some serious work.  Tony Parker let it rain with 28 points, proving that those floaters are still lethal.  Unless the Jazz do something dramatic and ridiculous, there's no reason the Spurs can't coast into the second round. 

Series impact player:

The Spurs aren't individuals, they're a unit.  They're old and achy, but they've still got a whole lot of wow in them.

 Series Prediction:  Spurs, 4-0

Oklahoma City (#2) vs. Dallas (#7)

What Game 1 told us:  This series is going to be pretty damned close.  We have a young, explosive, hungry team against some seasoned vets and last year's Champions.  The Mavericks took an early lead, going up by eight in the first quarter, and held onto it for most of the game.  The Thunder stayed close and went on a 7-0 run in the last 2:30, tying it up, then Kevin Durant nailed the game-winner over Shawn Marion.   A surprise to nobody, KD and Russell Westbrook both went in for a combined 53 points, reaffirming that they are the best one-two punch in the NBA.  Dirk did his thing (25 points, 9-10 from the line) and Jason Terry continues to be a problem in the playoffs.  It'll be a good one, folks.

Series impact player:

Serge Ibaka contributed a career high-tying 22 points, adding 5 blocks, 6 boards, and a steal.  He proved that he's got surprising offensive prowess and he'll keep putting up 20 or more if something isn't done presently.

Series prediction:  Thunder, 4-2

Los Angeles Lakers (#3) vs. Denver Nuggets (#6)

What Game 1 told us:  I know it's stating the obvious at this point, but Andrew Bynum is a monster.  He had a triple double with blocks, the vast majority of which seemed to be against Kenneth Faried.  Kobe was on his game with 31 points on a solid 45.8% from the field.  I've said it before and I'll continue to say it:  without Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets don't matter.  They just don't have the talent to get it done.  Faried has proven to be insanely explosive and athletic, but he's no superstar.  Gallo's not bad, but he's no franchise player.  Without Nene to round out the frontcourt, thanks to the worst trade of the last few years, the Nuggets unsurprisingly left the paint wide open for Andrew Bynum to chew up.  Add these factors to their lackluster 35% shooting, and you've got yourself a first round bye for Los Angeles.

Series impact player:

Once again, he had a triple double with blocks.  The Nuggets did not, will not, and cannot do anything about him with their current roster.

Series prediction:  Lakers, 4-0

 Los Angeles Clippers (#4) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (#5)

What Game 1 told us:  It's always the teams in the mid-seeds that give us the best games.  Without a doubt, this was the best game of basketball in the playoffs thus far.  The Clippers spent most of the game getting their asses handed to them, so much so that it put them in a 27-point hole.  Memphis spent the first three quarters dragging L.A. up and down the floor, shooting 50% from the field and a staggering 67% from downtown.  The fourth quarter was spectacular, though.  The Clippers got their shit together and came back to win, carried by Nick Young's team-high 19 points (he started 3-3 from downtown).  Zach Randolph, renowned pit bull breeder and the most dominant man in last year's playoffs was nowhere to be found.  Z-Bo played 32 minutes and shot 3-13 from the field for six points, adding three personal fouls and two blocks against.  The overly dramatic up-and-down nature of this game gives me hope that the Grizzlies will once again be a part of the best series in the playoffs.  Despite the Grizzlies giving up a 27-point lead, the window is far from closed.

Series impact player:

Since Zach Randolph has apparently decided to stop showing up for work, the direction the series takes rests on Rudy Gay's shoulders.  How well the Grizzlies do is dependent nearly entirely on how well number 22 does.

Series prediction:  Clippers, 4-2

Eastern Conference

Chicago Bulls (#1) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (#8)

What Game 1 told us:  Derrick Rose got injured again.  Shocking, I know, but still sad.  According to, the knee injury he sustained against Philly is the sixth body part he's hurt this year (the others were:  toe, back, groin, foot, and ankle).  What could have shaped up to be an incredibly one-sided affair is just going to be a standard one-sided affair.  Though they are a good team independent of Derrick Rose, I don't see them going too terribly far in the playoffs without him.  Saturday's game wasn't entirely without spectacle.  Here's what happened with the Bulls:  Derrick Rose played a shitty first quarter (1-7), ended with 23 points, and blew out his knee.  Rip Hamilton proved that he still has plenty of gas in the tank,  scoring 19 points on 6-7 field goals and 6-6 free throws.  Carlos Boozer almost got in a fight with Evan Turner.  They had seven more turnovers and seven less free throws made than the Sixers.  Here's what happened with the 76ers:  Nobody cares.  Seriously.  The Bulls lost their best player, turned the ball over more, gave up more free throws, and still won.  Louis Williams, Philly's top scorer during the regular season, was 1-6 from the field.  As a unit, the 76ers were 1-9 from the three-point line.  Seriously, though, with Derrick Rose out, this series no longer matters.  The Bulls still take it, no problem.

Series impact player:

In case you hadn't heard, this series no longer matters.  Let Brian Scalabrine play point for all I care; the Sixers still don't have a snowball's chance in hell.

Series prediction:  Bulls, 4-0

Miami Heat (#2) vs. New York Knicks (#7)

What Game 1 told us:  LeBron James is a rapist.  32 points (10-14 from the field, 11-14 from the line) and 4 steals.  This all happened, by the way, in three quarters.  Why the Knicks lost:  Two reasons.  First, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler (NBA leader in FG%), shot a combined 5-25 from the floor.  Second, LeBron James asserted his dominance too early and too forcefully for New York to do anything about it even if they'd wanted to (see:  Tyson Chandler).  LeBron aside, though, the Miami Heat reminded everyone that they are the best team in the NBA.  New York gave up 28 free throw attempts in the first half; Miami gave up 11 free throw attempts in the game.  The Heat added 12 steals, four blocks, and a respectably efficient 8-13 for 19 points from D. Wade to top off their blowout win over the Knicks.  Look anywhere else for a seven-game series.

Series impact player:

LeBron James; 'nuff said.

Series prediction:  Heat, 4-0

Indiana Pacers (#3) vs. Orlando Magic (#6)

What Game 1 told us:  This series isn't going to be a whole lot of fun.  We've got two clubs of low-scoring underachievers grinding it out.  While this game wasn't without some really cool moments (Jason Richardson going 5-7 from three-point land), it's going to be a real shit show.   Both teams were under 40% shooting (Orlando - 39.5, Indiana - 34.5).  Both teams were well under 40% from three-point territory (Orlando - 37%, Indiana - 30%).  Both teams combined for 95 rebounds.  People who can't shoot well miss a lot of shots, then one of them (Jason Richardson) does something unexpected.  This was easily the least interesting of the eight first round games, though Chicago/Philly was a close second.  Whoever wins here absolutely loses in the second round, so it doesn't really matter.

Series impact player:

You remember David West, right?  The guy who caught all those fancy passes from Chris Paul for a few years.  If anybody's really going to score points and make a noticeable difference on offense, it's this dude.  Good luck and godspeed, Mr. West.

Series prediction:  Magic, 4-3

Boston Celtics (#4) vs. Atlanta Hawks (#5)

What Game 1 told us:  It reaffirmed that the middle games in the first round are always the interesting ones.  While low scoring as all get out, it was quite entertaining.  Offense on both teams was piss-poor for the most part.  The Celtics were 0-11 from beyond the arc.  Both teams shot 40% from the field.  Together, Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce were 8-34 from the field and 0-15 from three.  Why, you ask, would this game be remotely interesting?   Two reasons.  First, Josh Smith.  As I've said for quite a while now, J-Smoove should be an All-Star.  He went off for 22 points and a lovely 18 rebounds.  Second, Rajon Rondo, the best point guard in the NBA.  Rondo did what Rondo does; he had 20 points and added 11 assists, four steals, and one ejection from the game (see:  video).  So we all understand each other, this game marked Rondo's 25th consecutive game with 10 or more assists; BAMF.  He's super efficient, a little immature, and kind of a dick.  That's got HoF written all over it.

Series impact player:

Like I said, he's the best point guard in the NBA.  He's got enough of an attitude to actually care about losing, and I've got a feeling that Boston won't take dropping the first game of the playoffs to the Hawks lightly.  Look for at least one triple double before the series is over.

Series prediction:  Celtics, 4-2

When everything's said and done, the playoffs look to provide some excitement, lots of boredom, and plenty of LeBron James destroying people.  The second round is where things are going to get sexy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Season Preview: 2012 Seattle Seahawks

Now, it may seem really indulgent to post a pre-draft and pre-OTA preview. I agree. I love my Seahawks and I do not care if no one else cares. Every sports network ignores the Seahawks, except for when they are talking about how bad the NFC West is. It is beyond annoying. Our only hope for national recognition lies with our former players who work for major sports outlets, such as Brock Huard (college football analyst, local ESPN radio affiliate) and Trent Dilfer (we all know he is remembered as a Raven and will not throw us a bone). Anyway, with the NFL schedule getting released earlier today, I felt compelled to talk about it. The schedule for the Hawks looks extremely favorable on paper, and for a team who has been a couple plays away from being a viable threat in the NFC the last two seasons, this will be the year that we break through.

Following last season’s 7-9 affair, expectations could not be higher for this Pete Carroll-led group. I even heard mumbles about if the Hawks had somehow snuck into the playoffs that they would be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. That is how well we were playing down the stretch. That is with a guy who can’t lead a 4th quarter touchdown drive at QB, who was playing with a torn pectoral muscle. That was with a chop shop offensive line made up of journeymen, Tom Cable’s buddies, and an injury-prone center (which still somehow amounted to the NFL’s best rushing attack in the second half of the season). That was with a couple old ass defensive linemen that still got to the passer. That was with youth all over the secondary (second year players Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor were our veterans), which was one of the best in the league down the stretch. No one wants to throw against two corners who are 6’4 and 6’3. However, with a blown 4th quarter lead to the Redskins, an impossibly tough 19-17 loss against division champion 49ers, and an overtime heartbreaker to end the season at Arizona, we ended up with 7 wins, the same record as the season before. All the team needed was to get another year of experience and a quarterback who could lead the pack.

This offseason has been interesting. Losing out on Peyton Manning was a blow (as was the unveiling of those atrocious new uniforms). However, many Hawk fans (not necessarily I) are jacked up about the signing of unproven free agent QB Matt Flynn, who I get visions of watching from the sideline while Ryan Perilloux runs his offense at LSU every time I see his face. But, then again, I am not an expert. I hope I am wrong about Flynn and he is out starter for 10 years. That seems to be what most Hawk fans are expecting, so I will ride with the assumption that, you know, he actually can play.

The draft is in 8 days, and this will be a very key time for this team. With the 12th pick, we have options. We are in a spot where a miss won’t set our franchise back. We are in position to move up into the top 10 (and anyone who listens to Pete Carroll knows that the idea of Ryan Tannehill in blue and green makes him giggle like a schoolgirl), and we are in a spot that people want to trade up to (which we should undoubtedly consider). There are tons of names thrown around by national media (who have no idea what they are talking about when they speak of my Seahawks), by local media, and by bloggers. Here is how it is shaping up:

Consensus pick: Luke Kuechly (ILB, Boston College). That would fill our biggest need, but he won’t fall to us.

My dream pick: Melvin Ingram (OLB, South Carolina). He is an amazing versatile pass-rushing talent, which will add depth and be an instant starter to our only legitimate hole on defense.

Realistic pick: [trade down] Coby Fleener (TE, Stanford). Carroll wants to have his two tight end system, and with John Carlson leaving in the offseason, he could be groomed behind Zach Miller and turn into the next TE putting up insane numbers in the league.

This brings us to our schedule. Many have jumped on the Seahawks for having a brutal road to the playoffs, basically because they don’t take us seriously. When you really analyze it, there are double-digit wins to be had here. All of the really difficult games are at home, and the bye week and post-Thursday night time off are well-placed. Check this out:

9/9/12 – at Arizona – This game was a classic last year to end the season. The Cardinals won 8 games with a bad roster, but the Hawks will make a much bigger jump this year. Seattle always starts off strong. WIN 28-17

9/16/12 – Dallas – Since the Romo fumble, the Cowboys have won three in a row against the Hawks, all in Dallas. The home opener for the Hawks will have the 12th man rocking and Tony Homo shaking in his little space boots. WIN 31-24

9/24/12 (Mon) – Green Bay – Signing Matt Flynn already paid its dividends by giving us a Monday night game against his former team. We simply do not lose at home in primetime games. It looks like a shootout on paper, but Monday night games are not like that. This is a tough game decided by a field goal set up by Matt Flynn’s first game-winning drive as a Hawk, and the nation can no longer ignore us. WIN 20-17

9/30/12 – at St. Louis – The Seahawks have had incredible success against the Rams as of late. Even though the Rams are going to be much improved with Justin Blackmon inevitably getting drafted by them, I still think we take this one, low-scoring as usual with the 10 AM start time. Marshawn takes us there. WIN 20-10

10/7/12 – at Carolina – This is a classic game that the NFC West loses every year. Newton goes off and we drop our first game of the year. LOSS 35-24

10/14/12 – New England – Another home game, but this is the only time I see our brilliant young secondary really getting carved up. Chancellor takes Gronkowski out of the game, but Sherman and Browner cannot handle Welker and Hernandez. LOSS 41-28

10/18/12 (Thu) – at San Francisco – Even in our best seasons, we cannot win in San Fran. Under the lights, I see a brutal, ugly win for the home team. LOSS 14-9

10/28/12 – at Detroit – The 10 days off is the key here. This is the end of our most brutal stretch of the schedule (4 out of 5 on the road), but this is where we prevent our team from unraveling. WIN 28-27

11/4/12 – Minnesota – Tavaris playing against his home team is interesting if Flynn gets benched at some point. I cannot see us losing here. WIN 34-13

11/11/12 – New York Jets – By this point, Tebow will obviously be the starter. That does not bode well for whoever he is playing. LOSS 18-15


11/25/12 – at Miami – This is a nice place for a bye week to regroup after giving up a last minute TD drive to Tebow. Flynn proves that he chose the right team. WIN 24-20

12/2/12 – at Chicago – Seattle has won in Chicago each of the last two seasons, but Caleb Hanie will not be starting in this game, and it will be in December unlike two years ago. LOSS 28-13

12/9/12 – Arizona – Arizona will probably be playing well by this point, but we will be in the running for a playoff spot. This will be a tough game, but I think we prevail. WIN 23-21

12/16/12 – at Buffalo (in Toronto) – Playing indoors most likely will be a nice way to avoid a freezing weather game late in the year. Buffalo will be improved, but not ready for the rolling Seahawks. WIN 31-21

12/23/12 – San Francisco – This game could be for the division. This will be upgraded to Sunday night, which means a huge primetime victory for the home team in front of its ruckus crowd. WIN 23-17

12/30/12 – St Louis – Even in our worst seasons we didn’t lose to the Rams in Seattle. WIN 24-10

So, that means we will be going 11-5 (4 win increase from 2011), probably either taking the NFC West or scoring the 5th seed in the playoffs. Depending on which one, we could win a playoff game, and depending on matchups, maybe taking more than one. Many people will say that I am overstating how good we can be, but just look at last season and how close we were with that depleted roster of rookies and no names. We have the talent to be a top 5 defense. Last year, we scored victories against the Super Bowl champion Giants on the road, and we convincingly beat the Ravens (score was not indicative) and Eagles at home. And we didn’t have a quarterback. Our division will be much tougher this year. I suspect that even the Rams will win 6 games or more. The Niners will come back down to earth with a less cakewalk of a schedule and an unhappy quarterback, but their defense is still good for 10+ wins. The Cardinals need to shore up its defense a bit, and they can be every bit as strong as the Seahawks. Our division had some real quality wins last year, but now those games will mean something. I would say that the NFC West will be the talk of the league, but that would mean that people would have to care.

So, I know that I may be a bit of a homer, but no one knows the tendencies of the Seahawks more than I do. 11-5 is my best guess after looking at the schedule. If it is flipped and we go 5-11, which experts will say is 10 times more likely, I will be beyond shocked. This Seahawk defense will not let that happen. This is a playoff team.

Is anyone else drinking the Carroll Kool-Aid? What is your win-loss prediction? How is your favorite team’s schedule and upcoming season shaping up? Let me know.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Movie Milestones: 15 Years of Titanic

Last week, I decided it was worth 3 hours of my very valuable time to go to the theatre to see the newly released Titanic in 3D. When I left the theatre, I realized how much of a milestone in film this movie was. So I thought with its latest theatrical release and this year being its 15th anniversary of its original release, on top of the fact that this weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, this would be the perfect time to look back on the lasting impact of this monumental movie.
Titanic tells the story of the maiden voyage of the greatest ship of the time through the eyes of Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet). Jack Dawson is a care-free nomadic boy who wins a 3rd class ticket on Titanic in a poker game. Rose DeWitt Bukater is an unhappy upper-class girl engaged to be married to the wealthy and egotistical Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) and can't stand it. These two meet when Rose thinks she reached her limit. When she sees no way out, Jack walks into her life and away with her heart. Halfway through the story of their love affair, they are rudely interrupted by an iceberg that sends the thousands on board in the freezing ocean.
Best Scene: Finding one scene in this epic movie to pick as the best is hard to do. There are really two stories in this movie: the story of the ship with its amazing special effects that haven't become dated in any way over the last 15 years, and then the story of the two lovers that could completely hold up on its own if needed. I could simply cheat and say the 45 minute sinking scene with is simply breathtaking. I could also pick a scene like the sketching scene which is just breathtaking in its own way (Kate Winslet . . . just . . . wow) and perfectly captures the story Jack and Rose. However, the scene I will go with is one that captures both stories in one shot. As the relationship between Jack and Rose builds, they meet in the front of the ship showing that Rose is willing to risk everything to be with Jack. He takes her to the front of the ship and lifts her up on the railing to overlook the vast ocean in front of them. She puts her full trust in Jack as she lets go and leans on him. She leans back, and they kiss. As this happens, the camera pans out so you can see entire ship in all its glory in the orange backdrop of the sunset with these two star-crossed lovers still in sight. While all this happens, the melody of the iconic "My Heart Will Go On" swells in a beautiful orchestration. It is a beautiful moment in film, let alone this movie.
Best Line: There are several lines that come quickly to mind that went from iconic to corny before Titanic ended its original theatrical run. "I'm the king of the world!" "Jack, I'm flying!" "I'll never let go Jack." Upon viewing again last week, these lines along with many other aspects of this film are so unfairly criticized and scrutinized. I don't like going with the obvious quotes though. So I am going with a monologue by Jack where he basically explains his life's philosophy to his upper class friends while he visits Rose and company for dinner. It not only makes Rose appreciate him as a person, but also makes the Jack's character extremely relatable to everyone watching. After this, you find yourself rooting for Jack. Rose's mother is trying to give Jack a back-handed insult by asking him if he enjoys living such a worthless and meaningless life. Jack responds with this:
"Well, yes, ma'am, I do... I mean, I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what's gonna happen or, who I'm gonna meet, where I'm gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure life's a gift and I don't intend on wasting it. You don't know what hand you're gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you... to make each day count."
Most Iconic Moment: I probably used up my most iconic moment from Titanic as my best scene, but there are so many great moments I really can't go wrong when picking another. I'm going to go with the last shot of the film. Rose finishes telling her story to the Bill Paxton and the treasure hunters, she drops the priceless jewel over the side of the boat, and from what we can tell, finally rests in peace. We know this because the next shot we see is Rose back on the Titanic surrounded by everyone she sailed with. Then she sees Jack at the top of the stairs with the clock behind him still frozen at the time the ship went down. As Jack and the once again young Rose embrace, the crowd of faces we got to know so well and then mourn over the past 3 hours cheer them on as the screen fades to black. What a perfect way to end it and bring the film back full circle.
The Time Tester: So what has stood the test of time in the last 15 years? The answer to this is easy. James Cameron's brilliant eye and special effects are always far ahead of their time which he proved in the Terminator movies, proved in Titanic, and proved once again a few years ago in Avatar. Watching this movie just last week proved to me that this film's visual effects would be exactly the same if it were made this year instead of 15 years ago. It makes the world seem larger than life yet still realistic. Sometimes the visuals from the 90's don't come across as that clear. On the other hand, some visuals from today's movies are almost so crisp and clear they don't look real. Titanic is right in between. The effects are clear and beautifully realistic. James Cameron is a master visionary.
The Lasting Impact: Looking at the 2nd highest grossing movie of all time (passed only by Cameron's Avatar), it is easy to see lasting impact of this movie around Hollywood today. First, it launched 3 brilliant careers into legendary status. James Cameron was already a Hollywood heavyweight after the Terminator franchise in the 80's, but this put him in another class of filmmaker. Who else could wait 12 years to put out their next movie and it still be an event like Avatar was? The only thing now that can be bigger than a James Cameron movie is the next James Cameron movie. The second star it launched was Kate Winslet. The absolutely gorgeous Winslet, only 22 years old when this released, already had one Oscar nomination under her belt for Sense and Sensibility in 1995. However, this film made her a star. Since her nomination for Titanic she has received 4 more nominations with one win, and outside of Meryl Streep, is arguably known as the greatest actress alive. The last career Titanic launched is of course Billy Zane (kidding...). It's . . . LEO!!! DiCaprio, who was 23 but looked 15 when this film was released, also already had an Oscar nomination for What's Eating Gilbert Grape, however he seemed to be the one star of this film that was cursed by it for awhile. He gave what I believe to be an outstanding performance here, but he unfortunately became the source of criticism for all those looking for something to hate in the film everyone loved. He also was the one that took the longest to shake the iconic image created in Jack so his career could advance. Everyone knew who he was but no one cared about his movies for 5 years after Titanic released. It wasn't until Catch Me If You Can that he was able to be taken seriously as an actor again. Since then, his career has yet to slow down. In fact, his image and fame has grown since his most iconic performance 15 years ago. However, now he is known as one of the greatest male actors of his generation.
Just to show the iconic status of this film, it was an event in 2008 when a little independent drama was released called Revolutionary Road. Why? It was the first on-screen reunion of Jack and Rose . . . I mean Leo and Kate. The film was pretty good, but that was completely lost on many (including me to an extent) who saw it just to see the Titanic reunion and what it would've looked like if Jack and Rose were able to end up together at the end of the day.
I hope in 15 years they re-release Titanic in theatres again because I would be first in line to get another chance to see this timeless epic that will be just as relevant then as it now and as it was when it was first released.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Top Ten Most Random Films Receiving At Least One Vote in Sight and Sound’s Greatest Films Poll

Perhaps you are familiar with the Sight and Sound poll of the 10 Greatest Films of All Time. Beginning in 1952, the British film magazine has polled directors and critics (read = phony intellectuals like the guy in the movie theater behind Woody Allen) asking them to list their top ten greatest films of all time. There is no set criteria given to how a voter “should” assess a given film’s viability as a Top Ten candidate. But as Roger Ebert has posted, some voters have political agendas, whether implicit or explicit, and this may try to throw the objectivity of the list awry. Some, no doubt, may be attempting to make a political statement about the impossibility of creating such a list (a valid criticism, but one which becomes a moot point after that same voter agrees to turn in his or her official ballot). Others may actually be retarded. In any event, here is a list of 10 unlikely films that, somehow, received at least one vote on one ballot for the official 2002 Sight and Sound poll. If this list proves anything, it proves that Sight and Sound values the opinions of ten people who may be as stupid as the movies they picked.

The Devil in Miss Jones (1973) #10 on Joel David’s list

This won’t be the first time that porn conspicuously turns up in the Sight & Sound poll (or even on Mr. David’s list). Obviously, this film is a superb demonstration of nuanced acting, sophisticated screenplay, and astonishing mise-en-scene, as demonstrated in this amazing clip. Look, all I’m saying is that if you’re going for the shock appeal by putting porn on your list, at least make it good, classy porn. Like Naughty Girls Like It Big 3 or Honey We Blew Up Your Pussy or any Michael Bay film. Kids these days.

Thelma & Louise (1991) #9 on Yvonne Tasker’s list

Tasker wants us to know she’s a Feminist, Goddammit, and her list includes Jane Campion, Sally Potter, and Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry is her #1 all time, but that film isn’t as easy to make fun of as this one). This woman screams pretentious British floozy. Look, this isn’t exactly a bad film, but any time a film in your top ten list is aired on Lifetime at least separate three times each weekend, you know your taste needs a bit of reevaluation.

Grease (1977) #7 on Michaela Boland’s list

According to Sight and Sound, Boland is from Australia, which may explain her fan-love of Olivia Newton-John and Australian directors in general (My Brilliant Career and The Pillow Book make appearances on her list). She must also apparently be 12 years old. On the upside, there remains the possibility that she could just turn in her teasin’ comb and go back to film school.

The Opposite of Sex (1998) #7 on Andy Medhurst’s list

Here’s a film which wasn’t even all that funny or original, and has a poster that reeks of "direct-to-DVD." Most people saw it in 1998 to see Christina Ricci in a swimsuit (no, it wasn’t the same swimsuit as Mermaids). It came out at a time when people liked seeing pretentious teenage jackasses, like Rushmore and Wes Bentley. And yet Andy Medhurst apparently sees no problems with ranking this film alongside Vertigo and Red River. Just watch the trailer to this movie. If you watch it and still don’t think Andy Medhurst’s membership to Sight and Sound should be revoked, then your brain should be revoked.

Moulin Rouge (2001) #6 on Pam Cook’s list

Love everything about this pick. Love that it is sandwiched between two classic Hitchcock films. Love that it is apparently better than Sunrise and The Red Shoes. Love that it was released one brief year before the 2002 list came out, clearly illustrating how much time and thought went into Ms. Cook’s list. By this logic, her 2012 list will include such eternal titles as Burlesque and Australia. But judging by the fact that her #1 pick is a forgettable western from 1993 that is basically Albert Nobbs heads west, Ms. Cook might not be granted the opportunity to fill out a list this year. Maybe her and Michaela Boland can have a sleepover!

Baby Doll (1956) #3 on Catherine Breillat’s list

Look, I get it. Breillat is a director who loves to push the envelope on taboo issues in young girls’ sexuality (she’s also a best-selling author in France who writes books with covers like these). Love the inclusions of In the Realm of the Senses and Salo and even Lost Highway is forgivable to a certain extent (although it gets worse with Lynch . . . if you don’t believe me, read below). But have you actually seen Baby Doll? It sucks. Easily the worst film of Elia Kazan’s career. Slow-moving, incoherent, not even that shocking for the 1950s (or Tennessee Williams). The film failed not because it was controversial, but because 1956 audiences thought it kinda blew. Bosley Crowther wrote that its main characters were simplistic morons. Breillat, who is a notorious provocateur, cannot quite be called a moron – but I’d put money on her seeing a beat-up VHS copy of it at a video store, being intrigued by it, and putting it on her list because, as Catherine Breillat, she has to.

Dune (1984) #3 on Slavoj Zizek’s list

Zizek is a respected scholar in the area of media studies. Well, he used to be. We can’t entirely discount the intellectual contributions he has made to the discipline as a result of this pick, but for me, it’s sort of like finding out that Bill Simmons is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan (he isn’t, but this is hypothetical). In other words, I may not be able to think about Zizek now without thinking about airbourne pimply fat men in space suits. Or without thinking about being lost at sea.

Deep Throat (1972) #3 on Trevor Steele Taylor’s list

I would love to hear this guy’s justification for the inclusion of this film: “The release of Deep Throat led to the greater socio-cultural acceptance of Linda Lovelace and the irregularities in women’s sexual anatomy.” In any event, it fits in so well alongside the likes of Antonioni, Kubrick, and Fellini (*sarcasm). But placing it next to Pasolini is completely absurd!

Heaven’s Gate (1980) #3 on Robin Wood’s list

The funny thing about this is that Robin Wood was a respected film scholar (he died in 2009) who was one of the world’s foremost scholars on great directors such as Hitchcock, Ozu, Bergman, and Ray (if you don’t believe me, check out his selection on Amazon). And yet not one of those director’s films ever surpassed Heaven’s Gate, according to this guy. That’s right, the same movie that bankrupted United Artists, and made producers tremble at the thought of “Western” until Dances With Wolves a decade later (Roger Ebert wrote of the film: “This is the most scandalous cinematic waste I have ever seen and remember, I’ve seen Paint Your Wagon.”) It was nominated for 0 Oscars and 5 Golden Raspberries, and had a net loss of over $110 million. But according to Robin Wood, only two films have ever surpassed it (and they weren’t Ishtar and Leonard Part 6). It doesn’t help that he has enough sense to have Ugetsu and Rules of the Game also on his list – he must have lost a bet after some serious drinking. Amazing.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) #1 on Armond White’s list

How can you put a film on any top ten list of all time when you can think of ten better movies from the same director? Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., The Color Purple, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report. OK, so maybe that’s only eight. But still, you get the picture. A.I. isn’t a bad movie, actually. I even own it. It is grossly misunderstood; Roger Ebert’s recent retrospective review of the film reveals the amazing degree to which the final thirty minutes were interpreted incorrectly leading to subsequent dismissals of the film. But contrary to the claims of Tim Burton and Ryan Leaf, to be great is not to be misunderstood, and the relative conventionality of White’s other picks (L’avventura, Intolerance, Lawrence of Arabia) only underscores A.I.’s place on this list sticking out like a sore thumb. This may also be one of those political picks – you’re telling me Armond White gleefully declares A.I. to be the best film ever made, and doesn’t expect a hoard of rebuttals, controversy, and attention? In fact, giving him this much consideration is only feeding his initial motivation of shock value (don’t think I didn’t notice Masculin feminin at #8). So we should really stop here. Seriously. But . . . come on, A.I., really?

Additionally, I’d like to offer ten films which I’m rather shocked did not receive a single vote by any of the esteemed panel of “experts”:

City Girl (F.W. Murnau, 1930)
A Corner in Wheat (D.W. Griffith, 1909)
Les Diaboliques (Henri-George Clouzot, 1955)
Death by Hanging (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)
Death of a Bureaucrat (Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, 1966)
Hoop Dreams (Steve James, 1994)
The Marriage of Maria Braun (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979)
Mother (Vsevolod Pudovkin, 1926)
The Sorrow and the Pity (Marcel Ophüls, 1972)
Z (Costa-Gavras, 1969)

And one film series whose absence is so egregious it deserves a moment of silence:

The Up Series (Michael Apted, 1964-2006)

Come on, you stuffy bastards from the U.K. Grow a pair and cast one measly vote for this staggering achievement of cinema that you couldn’t possibly make yourselves. In fact, it really doesn’t take that much balls. Just see it. I realize two hours over six nights is a major time commitment when you do nothing all day except for thinking about how great Heaven’s Gate and Dune are. But you won’t regret it. And neither will you.