I saw two SF Giants games at AT&T Park this weekend, though I only paid for one. I flew home from Chicago on Friday night and arrived at the stadium to have a hot dog from a street vendor and to watch the game from the free viewing section in right field. Julie and Quinn were at the game and I thought about trying to get in, but it was cold and they wanted to leave anyway.
Julie and I spent the weekend in Phoenix a couple weekends ago to see the SF Giants at Spring Training. We attended a very relaxed game at Surprise, AZ, the home of the Texas Rangers (and KC Royals). The next day we went to the SF Giants home in Scottsdale, AZ. We liked Old Town Scottsdale but it was warmer and less shady so we didn’t love the in-game experience. Overall, we had a great time attending Spring Training.
Projected winners in bold. I kind of feel like Best Picture and Best Director could split again this year, but I don’t know which one has the lead for each award. So, I’m guessing Boyhood for Best Picture and Birdman for Best Director. It really could go either way with one film winning both or Linklater winning Best Director and Birdman for Best Picture. But, I’m not playing it safe by picking the same film for both slots.
Which award winner would I stand and cheer for? Maybe Steve Carell in a miraculous upset. I’d probably cheer for Bradley Cooper too (he has a much more realistic shot). I’d like to see Big Hero 6 win Best Animated.
Update: Final tally is 16/24 - a pretty lousy results this year
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“The Theory of Everything”
Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”
Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything”
Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood”
Laura Dern in “Wild”
Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods”
Robert Duvall in “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke in “Boyhood”
Edward Norton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Alejandro G. Iñárritu
“Boyhood” Richard Linklater
“Foxcatcher” Bennett Miller
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Wes Anderson
“The Imitation Game” Morten Tyldum
“American Sniper” Written by Jason Hall
“The Imitation Game” Written by Graham Moore
“Inherent Vice” Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Theory of Everything” Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
“Whiplash” Written by Damien Chazelle
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
“Boyhood” Written by Richard Linklater
“Foxcatcher” Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
“Nightcrawler” Written by Dan Gilroy
“Big Hero 6″ Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
“The Boxtrolls” Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
“How to Train Your Dragon 2″ Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
“Song of the Sea” Tomm Moore and Paul Young
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Emmanuel Lubezki
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Robert Yeoman
“Ida” Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
“Mr. Turner” Dick Pope
“Unbroken” Roger Deakins
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Milena Canonero
“Inherent Vice” Mark Bridges
“Into the Woods” Colleen Atwood
“Maleficent” Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive
“Mr. Turner” Jacqueline Durran
“CitizenFour” Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky
“Finding Vivian Maier” John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
“Last Days in Vietnam” Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
“The Salt of the Earth” Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier
“Virunga” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara
Documentary Short Subject
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1″ Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
“Joanna” Aneta Kopacz
“Our Curse” Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
“The Reaper (La Parka)” Gabriel Serra Arguello
“White Earth” J. Christian Jensen
“American Sniper” Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
“Boyhood” Sandra Adair
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Barney Pilling
“The Imitation Game” William Goldenberg
“Whiplash” Tom Cross
Foreign Language Film
“Wild Tales” Argentina
Makeup and Hairstyling
“Foxcatcher” Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat
“The Imitation Game” Alexandre Desplat
“Interstellar” Hans Zimmer
“Mr. Turner” Gary Yershon
“The Theory of Everything” Jóhann Jóhannsson
“Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie” Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
“Glory” from “Selma” Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights” Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me” Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again” Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“The Imitation Game” Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald
“Interstellar” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
“Into the Woods” Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“Mr. Turner” Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts
Animated Short Film
“The Bigger Picture” Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
“The Dam Keeper” Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
“Feast” Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
“Me and My Moulton” Torill Kove
“A Single Life” Joris Oprins
Live Action Short Film
“Aya” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
“Boogaloo and Graham” Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney
“Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)” Hu Wei and Julien Féret
“Parvaneh” Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
“The Phone Call” Mat Kirkby and James Lucas
“American Sniper” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
“Interstellar” Richard King
“Unbroken” Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro
American Sniper” John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga
“Interstellar” Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
“Unbroken” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
“Whiplash” Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
“Interstellar” Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer
I purchased ten albums/extended plays released in 2014, and here’s my ranking.
1. The Black Keys - True Blue
This album reminds me of the kind of albums that were released in the 1970s, with an unstructured and relaxed vibe on many of the songs including the outstanding lead track “Weight of Love.” Excellent mix of guitar, drums, keyboards, and bass in roughly equal measure.
2. Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways
I really liked Dave Grohl’s 2013 Sound City film and soundtrack and Sonic Highways continues the musical exporation as an official Foo Fighters record. The HBO series was really fascinating and at times moving, and the musical tracks on this album are outstanding as well. The light keyboard touches are new for the band and a series of guest musicians made an impact too. None of those guests were better than Joe Walsh who’s killer solo on “Outside” might be the best guitar solo in years.
3. Charli XCX - Sucker
Had this been released earlier in the year it might have been number one. I really dig Charli’s whole thing, including her punkish F-you attitude. I wish more “pop” had the kind of analog instrumentation present on Sucker, including great use of guitars.
4. Ixhahuele - Mareld EP
This was a three-track EP from the Exotica group, following up their 2013 album debut (which was my number one album last year). Mareld is more of a “Les Baxter Exotica” than a “Martin Denny Exotica” record but the results are equally great. “But, Kevin, only three tracks. No wonder it’s high on your list.” To which I would say the EP is penalized on my list for only having those three tracks. This is a killer record.
5. U2 - Songs of the Innocence
So good I bought the CD with extra tracks even though Bono and Tim Cook were kind enough to provide it to me for free. Great stuff.
6. Pink Floyd - The Endless River
Surprisingly interesting and effective album of mostly instrumentals, including the bonus track “Nervana.” I loved Floyd’s ’94 effort The Division Bell and the material taken from those sessions is really good.
7. Foster the People - Supermodel
I thought there were some killer songs including my personal favorite, “Pseudologia Fantastica.” I am still liking what Mark Foster and company are selling.
8. Interpol - El Pintor
I skipped the group’s last album in 2010 but El Pintor definitely had a number of great tracks and proves there’s still live to Post-Punk Revival.
9. AC/DC - Rock or Bust
Sounds just like their last album, and the one before that and the one before that. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. Great riffs, but no song hooks that transcended the bluesy hard rock.
10. Stolen Idols - Midnight Offerings
Another modern Exotica group, with Jazz leanings that aren’t always my thing but overall the album was a good purchase. The Baxter covers of “Busy Port” and “Sophisticated Savage” done in a jazzy piano style were well done.
I listed to a total of 2669 songs in 2014 and here’s the list of the top 30 based on iTunes play counts. No surprise that spring releases from The Black Keys and Foster the People were high on this chart. Franz Ferdinand’s 2013 release got lots of plays leading up to attending their concert in April.
Charli XCX’s “Break the Rules” was played a total of 42 times, counting different remixes and versions in my library. That’s a pretty good showing considering those plays all took place after December 13.
Every year needs a novelty hit, and for me that was the “iPhone (MetroGnome Remix)” that featured riffs on Apple’s iPhone ringtones.
2669 unique songs is a big increase from previous years - 2009 (1431), 2010 (1539), 2011 (1337), 2012 (1479), and 2013 (1836).