My Best Picture Take (Oscars 2018)

The Shape of Water won best picture at the 2018 Oscars a few nights ago. I didn’t see any of the other best picture nominees, but honestly I’m kind of surprised that the Shape of Water could have been considered the best picture of 2017. It was an excellent film, don’t get me wrong, but I would definitely not consider it as in the running for my favorite film of 2017. Maybe it could be considered tacky but I’d say one of the many superhero films should’ve been at least nominated. Logan, which came out early that year is an emotional sandwich unlike any other previous and was a total game changer for the superhero genre. Thor: Ragnarok was a feast for the eyes with perfect cinematography by Taika Waititi with a nice change of pace for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Outside of superhero films there were also impressive films like Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, with musical precision unlike any film in recent memory. Shape of Water was excellent but I didn’t leave the theatre blown away. I love Guillermo del Toro’s directing, but I wouldn’t consider it his best film. I don’t think I could pick a best picture from 2017, but since I haven’t seen the nominees I would be shocked if there wasn’t a film in there that had more potential than the Shape of Water.

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The Game Awards of 2017

When you think award show, you’re more likely than not to think of the Emmys, the Golden Globes or the Oscars. If you enjoy video games, up until about four years ago you didn’t have a worthy equivalent. There was the Spike Video Game Awards for a long time, but those were often a mess compared to most award shows. When Spike discontinued the Video Game Awards in 2014, Geoff Keighley, who had presented the Video Game Awards, created his own award show without the support of Spike. Titled simply the Game Awards, they’ve been often cited as an award show worthy for the work developers and gamers put into video games.

Held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on December 7, 2017, it pulled in over 11 million viewers throughout the world. The number of viewers in 2017 was triple that of 2016, which itself had broken records at the time. The growth of the Game Awards seems to be almost exponential, and it’s likely only going to get more attention in coming years.

The Game Awards itself consists of many awards presented as well as game announcements and showcases never seen before. Over 15 games were shown, including newcomers such as Bayonetta 3 and Soulcalibur VI. In addition, they also showed clips from upcoming movies such as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Shape of Water. The show included musical performances from Phoenix and The Game Awards Orchestra.

The indie games Cuphead and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice both received 3 awards each. The support of indie games is integral for the video game industry, bringing out new creators and new experiences. There was also a new award for student game developers called the Student Game Award, where five distinguished developers played nominated games and picked a student game developer who had the best game. Support like this is going to help the game industry grow and get better.

The Game of the Year award had the nominations Super Mario Odyssey, PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds, Persona 5, Horizon Zero Dawn, and the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. All five were critically acclaimed and all worth playing in their own right. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild deservedly won the Game of the Year award, and also won five other awards throughout the show.

A highlight of the Game Awards is an unhinged awkward speech from the upcoming A Way Out’s director, Josef Fares. Instead of talking about his game, Fares started his speech with “F*ck the Oscars” and went on to talk about controversies in the industry such as EA’s microtransactions. While it was a disaster for host Geoff Keighley, Fares might’ve made a good point during his entertaining tangent. The Game Awards help highlight not just the games themselves, but the creators who work so hard on video games. Other media sees video games as an infantile art form, and the Game Awards are making a great stride to legitimize them and their developers.

 

BROCKHAMPTON TAKES TAMPA

Clad in orange jumpsuits, BROCKHAMPTON took the stage of Tampa’s own The Ritz Ybor on January 26. BROCKHAMPTON is a self described boy band formed in San Marcos, Texas in 2015, although they might be a different type of boy band than the ones you’re used to. They currently have about 14 members, half of which who are vocalists and half that work behind the scenes either producing or contributing to the band creatively. Their music has a focus on rap and hip hop, but if you listen to their albums you’ll see that they dabble in a lot of everything.

They released their first album, SATURATION, in June of 2017. Only a few months later, in August, they released their second album SATURATION II. Following this was their third album in December, SATURATION III, finishing the “SATURATION trilogy”. In promotion of SATURATION III, the group claimed that it would be their last studio album. However, a fourth album, TEAM EFFORT, was announced just a day before the release of SATURATION III with a scheduled release of 2018.

Their music’s lyrics aren’t afraid to talk about tricky subjects such as rape culture, homophobia, or racism. BROCKHAMPTON itself is a diverse group of many ethnicities and sexual orientations. Kevin Abstract, one of the founders, is a gay man and raps about it quite often. In the song “JUNKY”, Kevin raps “Why you always rap about bein’ gay? Cause not enough n****s rap and be gay” After all, straight rappers rap all the time about their relationships, it only makes sense for gay rappers to do the same.

BROCKHAMPTON performed in Tampa in front of an impressively excited crowd. The stage had a couch and a few chairs on it, giving it a homely living room look. When BROCKHAMPTON came out on stage in their trademark orange jumpsuits, the crowd went wild. Sam Ryan, 15, described the vibe of the concert as “probably the safest feeling concert I’ve ever been to. The crowd members and security were all very respectful.” She’s been listening for about a year, and her favorite song from BROCKHAMPTON is “TOKYO”.

Gage McCann, 18, who has been listening since around the release of SATURATION II has a four way tie for his favorite song, although he said if he had to pick it would be “SISTER”. On the concert, he said “It was honestly one of the greatest events of my life. The show itself was spectacular, and the energy was out of this world.” He sure is right about the energy. After waiting in line for an hour or so and waiting another hour for them to come on stage, I didn’t know if I had any energy to give for the concert. As soon as they came out on stage, I was overwhelmed by the energy the group and the crowd was giving. It was enough excitement for me to keep going for hours on end.

The group finished the concert with a grand finale of their song “STAR” (which they had already played previously in the concert). I was very excited to hear it again because it’s my favorite song by them. The song itself is a fun bop laced with tons of pop culture references to films and actors. I was starting to feel upset when it had ended, because I knew the concert was nearing a close. To my delight, they followed “STAR” with another song; it was “STAR” again. And again. And again. They played the song four times in a row, and each time the crowd and myself were more and more excited. I don’t think I’m ever going to forget that feeling.

If you’ve never heard them before, I would suggest watching one of their many music videos on YouTube. They’re very inventive despite being on a low budget. You could also check them out through the SATURATION trilogy, all of which are streaming on Spotify. One thing is for sure, BROCKHAMPTON is an unique, unforgettable music group that you cannot miss out on.

Nintendo Switch: One Year Later

It’s been about a year since Nintendo released their latest home console, the Nintendo Switch. When it came out in March of last year, there wasn’t anything about it that made me really want it. The flagship launch title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, was also released on the Wii U at the same time. Me, having a Wii U, opted to just get it for that and save myself the 300 dollars I would’ve spent on a new console. The Nintendo Switch’s portability wasn’t particularly appealing to me either. The Switch is a home console that can be removed from its dock and be taken anywhere as a portable console. For me, I prefer playing a heavy story game like Zelda at home where I can enjoy it on the big screen, so the Switch’s portability gimmick didn’t really get me either.

However, as the year went by, more and more great titles were released for the Switch. Normally, consoles are released in Fall to bank off the upcoming holiday season. The Switch, on a bold move from Nintendo, launched in March. Despite the weird launch window, the Switch sold very well at launch and even better during holiday season. Selling over 14 million units, it sold better than the entirety of the lifetime sales of the Wii U.

Those two factors were a game changer for me. Not only were games that I wanted to play now on the Switch, but more and more of my friends were getting it during the holidays. I’m a sucker for hype. I’ve been incredibly busy lately, but by January I knew I had to have it. It’s funny, but the gimmick I thought was kind of dumb had become incredibly invaluable to me. For games like Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, I don’t need a huge screen and surround sound to have an enjoyable experience.  No matter if I have free time at home or not, I’ll always have time to play the Switch waiting for my next class at HCC. I’m not alone, either. If you go to the HCC Dale Mabry campus student lounge on any given day you’re likely to see a few people killing time between classes on their Nintendo Switch.

Joshua Lombardi, a Switch owner, has seven games on his Switch currently. He’s anticipating the upcoming ports of Dark Souls and Hyrule Warriors for it. Brennan Walsh, another Switch Owner is looking forward to the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, Bayonetta 3, and Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes. Those aren’t even the tip of the iceberg for Switch releases for this year. When I asked him about the value of the Switch for it’s retail price of $ 299.99, Walsh said that it was “Definitely [worth it], the make doesn’t feel cheap and it’s a really sleek UI.” When you hold the Nintendo Switch in your hands, you’re not holding something like a Nintendo 3DS. You’re holding a fully fledged console, capable of running AAA games with high definition graphics.

After a very strong launch year with games like Super Mario Odyssey, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2, Nintendo is shaping up to have an equally good sophomore year for the Switch. It’s exciting to see Nintendo’s dedication to the success of the Switch. I can’t wait to see what new things they do with it in 2018 and beyond.

The Room in Tampa

If you like bad movies, there is one bad movie well known for being the king of bad movies. One enigmatic man wrote, directed, produced and starred in it. Many fans have speculated that he might be from another planet- even that wouldn’t explain Tommy Wiseau perfectly. Made by Wiseau in 2003, The Room is a legendary movie that has gained a huge cult following.

Wiseau himself is a mystery. He has a unique accent that’s hard to pin from anywhere specific. He’s most likely from somewhere in east Europe, but when asked he always claims he’s from New Orleans. Wiseau funded The Room all by himself, but it is unknown how he got the money to do so. Everything about Tommy Wiseau is insanely unbelievable yet, him and his incredible film exist.

The Room itself is a drama that doesn’t do too well at being dramatic; most lines of dialogue are either ridiculous or delivered awkwardly, making them seem ridiculous. There are many sub-plots present that are just forgotten about through out the movie. Between awkward drawn out sex scenes and impromptu football catch in an alley way, The Room is an unforgettable ride.

Greg Sestero, the costar of the room, published his memoirs of the making of the film in the book The Disaster Artist. It’s got a lot of unbelievable stuff in it, and in 2017 it was made a well-received film of the same name starring James Franco and Dave Franco. Thanks to The Disaster Artist, interest in the original film has increased lately. Tommy Wiseau was finally able to do a wide release of The Room in theatres nationwide.

Showings of The Room are well known for having an audience interaction element not unlike showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show. I interviewed Dakota Mensah and Kristijan Zecevic, both of which went to a showing in St Pete. Dakota has seen The Room five times, where as it was Kristijan’s first time watching the film. I asked them what kind of things the audience would do during the film. Kristijan had an interesting perspective on it all since it was the first time he had watched the film. “I knew the movie would be bad (in a good way) but I didn’t expect the audience to do what they did. There’s kind of a cult following around the movie, so there’s like an established set of things to do while watching the movie. I didn’t know about this until after I watched it, of course.” Dakota said, “They were wild. They were throwing spoons every time there was a spoon on the screen. During every big scene, everyone would quote the movie. There was this part when this person ran to the right and they were waving and screaming ‘Johnny’ and it lined up perfectly because he [Johnny, Tommy Wiseau’s character] waved back and everyone in the theatre DIED.” Kristijan was at first surprised that The Room was made in the first place, but said it made more sense when he read that the whole film was Tommy’s passion project.

The Room is having another wide release across the country during the end of February and the beginning of March. You can find more info on it on Tommy Wiseau’s or The Room’s twitter page. It’s an experience worth not missing out on.