Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Saving Mr Banks

The story of how Walt Disney Studios acquired the film rights to Mary Poppins is told in parallel to the story of its author PL Travers' difficult childhood in Saving Mr Banks. Walt Disney tried to convince Travers to sign over the rights for twenty years. The movie depicts a two week period in which Travers was in Los Angeles to approve the script. She was very demanding, to say the least. As with all films based on true events, the movie has met with its fair share of criticism. Some say the movie depicts Walt Disney in too positive a light, some that the film is too hard on Travers, others that it is rather forgiving of Travers. The original screenwriter, Sue Smith, focused on the development of Mary Poppins and Travers' unique path to motherhood. At age 40 Travers agreed to adopt twins and then changed her mind, only adopting one of the babies. Kelly Marcel took over the script and dropped the motherhood aspect, adding the dual story of Travers' childhood and the making of the movie. The two share writing credits. The script is also based on the book Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of PL Travers by Valerie Lawson. Interestingly enough, both Smith and Marcel worked on the project prior to the involvement of Disney Studios. Marcel was concerned that when Disney obtained the movie that Walt Disney would be sanitized, not shown drinking or smoking. Disney does drink in one scene and is seen putting out a cigarette. It does seem that the images and musical rights from the 1964 Mary Poppins that are in Saving Mr Banks would have been difficult for a studio other than Disney to obtain. The film is not a bio pic of Disney or Travers, it is based on accounts of how the movie rights to Mary Poppins were procured. Disney's 1940s labor issues nor Travers' romantic relationships with both men and women are the subject of the film. Those are much more tantalizing topics that would be obvious omissions from their individual life stories.
Tom Hanks makes an enchanting Walt Disney. Emma Thompson adds warmth and sympathy to a  difficult character. The movie is very well cast with strong supporting appearances by Colin Farrell as Travers' father, Ruth Wilson as her mother, and Rachel Griffiths as Travers' aunt who was the inspiration for Mary Poppins. Working most closely with Travers in the film were Bradley Whitford as screenwriter Don DaGradi and the composer brothers Robert and Richard Sherman as portrayed by BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman. Paul Giamatti is Travers' Disney Studios driver while in LA. His character is actually a fictitious addition to the script. He was added with the intent to show a softer side of Travers and make her more accessible. The set pieces and costuming of 1961 are impeccable. The score composed by Thomas Newman is excellent.

I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this picture. All the elements of story telling and movie magic are complete. Thompson has been nominated for her acting by both the Golden Globes and the SAG. The likelihood of her receiving an Oscar nomination is solid. Hanks received nominations for his work in Captain Phillips and not Saving Mr Banks. Hanks makes it look easy being Disney. He is perfectly cast. It is understandable why the other aspects of the movie may not receive nominations despite its quality. The Academy often tends towards the more dark and less feel-good. Of course there are the sentimental favorites every year but the acting may be the only area where Saving Mr Banks is acknowledged. I admit, I was predisposed to like this movie. I love Disneyland, Tom Hanks and Mary Poppins. The movie is so well executed and acted that it is both a bittersweet story and a tearjerker. I also had the pleasure of watching the movie with the benefit of a Groupon, in an arm chair, in a movie parlor theater at Cinetopia. I have had the songs of Mary Poppins in my head since I saw the film and have since rewatched the now classic movie.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas Carol

In film, radio, television, and stage, A Christmas Carol is one of the most adapted, interpreted and parodied original stories, with new versions every year. There are at least three different live plays of A Christmas Carol being performed this year in Portland alone (Second City's Twist of Dickens at Portland Center Stage; Portland Playhouse Presents A Christmas Carol; and Sherlock Holmes and The Case Of The Christmas Carol at Artists Repertory Theatre).
While I have certainly done my homework and viewed many forms of A Christmas Carol, there are still many more adaptations, animations, and musicals. Any cartoon you can name from Dora the Explorer to the Flintstones has A Christmas Carol episode or special edition. The versions that exist vary from children's films, modern made-for-tv and traditional vs nontraditional.

The story was originally published in 1843. I read the Puffin Classics 2008 edition of the Dickens' novella. The introduction and additional material on Dickens' preceding and following the original text are simple yet informative. The 2009 performance capture Robert Zemeckis completed for Disney, starring Jim Carrey, is very true to the source material. The Muppets are very true to the novella as well with dialogue and imagery of the three ghosts straight from the book. Mickey's Christmas Carol has held a special place in my heart since my mom recorded it on a VHS tape of Christmas specials for me and my sisters in the 80s. One piece of trivia, the old man in Home Alone is named Marley as a nod to A Christmas Carol. It was Chris Columbus' intention for Home Alone to feel timeless. The greatest bit about the Smurfs is that when the Ghost of Christmas Past shows up for Grouchy, the animation goes from the sacrilegious digital animation to the classic cartoon style. George Lopez does great Grouchy voice over work. Hank Azaria makes an excellent Gargamel.
Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009), Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983), The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol (2011)
The Hallmark and made for television versions truly need to be considered as their own genre. It would be unfair to compare Tori Spelling and William Shatner in A Carol Christmas to Patrick Stewart's 1999 portrayal of Scrooge. I know there is a devoted audience to the holiday and Hallmark tv movie and I will not speak ill of the demo. These movies often involve a twist to the story, Ebenezer as a woman, or take place in modern times. Carrie Fisher in It's Christmas, Carol! as the Marley character is fairly humorous and she looks great. It's Christmas, Carol! is fairly well done for this genre. Suprisingly, A Carol Christmas is pretty decent too. Karroll's Christmas has the twist that the ghosts show up to the neighbor of the Scrooge character by mistake and then both neighbor and Scrooge characters see their past, present and future Christmases in order to improve their lives. Even the charm of Tom Everett Scott and the quirk of Wallace Shawn do not make this particular version shine. Ebbie is for the diehard Susan Lucci fan, of which I am not. In a similar vein, Vanessa Williams stars in A Diva's Christmas Carol (2000).
Diva's Christmas Carol (2000), Scrooge (1970), A Carol Christmas (2003)
The first film with sound, the 1938 version, opens not with Ebenezer Scrooge's walk to work but with his nephew interacting with Tiny Tim and his brother Peter. This version adds several scenes of the Cratchit family and additional scenes with Scrooge's nephew Fred. It is a very entertaining and pleasing edition. The themes of the original story and much of the dialogue are from the novella. The 1951 British version is considered by many critics, and by Turner Classic Movies, to be the best. It spends more time on Ebenezer's past, with particular attention to the death of Scrooge's sister Fan. The depiction of the poor in the present is also given more time and is true to Dickens' original message. The visual effects are quite impressive in both the 1938 and 1951 versions. The 1999 movie starring Patrick Stewart also includes the more grim images of the poor that are in keeping with the book's themes.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009), A Christmas Carol (1951), A Christmas Carol (1938) A Christmas Carol (1999), Scrooged (1988)
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a typical, silly, romantic comedy, taking place not on Christmas Eve but the night before a wedding. It is included because it is an example of how the story and plot are entrenched in our culture and just how vast the adaptations can be. Scrooged is a known Christmas favorite of many and I think it's telling that it predates Groundhog Day. It establishes Bill Murray as a grump who will find redemption and it a very edition. A Carol for Another Christmas (1964) is a made for television movie in which Daniel Grudge (the Scrooge character) is visited by the familiar ghosts of the classic story. There is an element of science fiction during its apocalyptic portrayal of the future. Until December 2012 when TCM began airing it, the movie was only telecast one time, without commercial interruption, and was presented by the United Nations and sponsored by Xerox. The movie is dark, dated, and heavy handed with its messages about war and the disenfranchised. It exemplifies some of the unique interpretations of the source material and is a very solitary picture in film history.
The element in all of the traditional adaptations that shares a universality is the imagery of the ghosts. Brief but memorable, the bandaged face of Jacob Marley on the door knocker (whether it be Goofy as Marley in Mickey's or the face on the knocker using who-knows-what prehistoric special effects in 1938 and 1951) is consistent. The most variations in interpretations are in the look of the Ghost of Christmas Past. Dickens describes the Ghost of Christmas Past as child like and at the same time like an old man. Perhaps it is this juxtaposition that creates the most room for interpretation. Joel Grey's embodiment of the Ghost of Christmas Past in the 1999 version is the one that most captures the description in the book. The ethereal qualities displayed in Disney's and the Muppets are also very captivating. The Ghost of Christmas Present always appears as a feasting giant of a man, resembling Father Christmas and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is equally persistent as a dark, hooded, faceless spirit. 
The story gave us the phrases 'Scrooge' and 'Bah Humbug' and even popularized the use of 'Merry Christmas.' Originally criticizing 19th Century industrial capitalism and offering a return to traditional English celebrations of Christmas, A Christmas Carol remains a popular story of goodwill just as it was upon its first publication. The theme of generosity of spirit is a lasting message of the true Christmas Spirit.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

2014 Golden Globe and SAG Award Nominations

Today on behalf of the Hollywood Foreign Press, Olivia Wilde, Aziz Ansari and Zoe Saldana announced the nominations for the 2014 Golden Globes. Yesterday, December 11th, the Screen Actors Guild nominees were read by Clark Gregg and Sasha Alexander. 
Alexander, Gregg
Wilde, Ansari, Saldana












It looks as though the movies leading the way to the Oscars are 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, The Butler, Dallas Buyers Club, Captain Phillips, American Hustle and August: Osage County. Award show mainstays and A-listers Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Meryl Strep, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Oprah Winfrey and Sandra Bullock joined newcomers Daniel Brühl, Lupita Nyong'o, Barkhad Abdi and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the acting categories.

An element of both the SAG and Globes, while not Oscar related, is the inclusion of the television categories. I must say that I love that Taylor Schilling was nominated for a Globe for Orange Is The New Black. Though her nomination in the drama category as opposed to comedy is inaccurate. The laid back nature of both shows makes for a more convivial experience. The actors are seated together by project and drink at the Golden Globes. A similar atmosphere is cultivated at the SAG Awards. Because television and movies are honored, the celeb watching and red carpet possibilities are a bit more limitless.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are once again hosting the 71st Annual Golden Globes Sunday, January 12th  at 8pm Eastern and 5pm Pacific on NBC. The pair signed on for two more years after hosting fabulously last year. They're ours for 2014 and 2015. Sosie Bacon has been named Miss Golden Globe 2014. The tradition is that the child of acting parents is selected and as Miss Golden Globe assists the presenters with the handing out of the awards during the ceremony. The 20th Annual SAG Awards will air live on TNT and TBS on Saturday, January 18th at 8pm Eastern and 5pm Pacific. Below the Tina and Amy promo clip for the Golden Globes are the full lists of the Golden Globe and SAG nominations.

2014 Golden Globe Nominations:
MOVIES:
BEST MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA
12 Years A Slave
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Philomena
Redford, Ejiofor, McConaughey, Whitaker, Hanks 
Rush

BEST MOTION PICTURE - COMEDY OR MUSICAL
American Hustle
Her
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All is Lost

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr Banks
Kate Winslet, Labor Day

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE - COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Greta Gerwig, Francis Ha
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE - COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Joaquin Phoenix, Her

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Brühl, Rush
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

BEST DIRECTOR - MOTION PICTURE
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O Russell, American Hustle

BEST SCREENPLAY - MOTION PICTURE
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years A Slave
American Hustle

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Frozen

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Blue is the Warmest Color
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
The Past
The Wind Rises

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE - MOTION PICTURE
All is Lost
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Gravity
The Book Thief
12 Years A Slave

BEST ORIGINAL SONG - MOTION PICTURE
Atlas - Coldplay, Catching Fire
Let It Go - Idina Menzel, Frozen
Ordinary Love - U2, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Please Mr Kennedy - Justin Timberlake, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver, Inside Llewyn Davis
Sweeter Than Fiction - Taylor Swift, Once Chance

CECIL B DeMILLE AWARD
Woody Allen. It will be interesting to see if Allen participates in receiving the Cecil B DeMille in the traditional ways. Before giving a speech, another delightful aspect of the tradition is that the recipient is announced by a close colleague or a frequent collaborator, and is often very humorous. My best guess for presenting Allen is Penelope Cruz or Alec Baldwin. Last year for example Robert Downey Jr announced Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson was often cut to in the audience. Allen is famously a non-member of the Academy Awards. The Oscar organization has invited Allen to be a member of the Academy multiple times and has awarded him with four Oscars. Allen declines membership. Given this context, Allen's participation in receiving the Cecil B DeMille will be very telling.
Ejiofor, Blanchett, Spacey, Louis-Dreyfus, DiCaprio
GOLDEN GLOBE TELEVISION:
BEST TELEVISION SERIES - DRAMA
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
The Good Wife
House of Cards
Masters of Sex

BEST TELEVISION SERIES - COMEDY OR MUSICAL
The Big Bang Theory
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Girls
Modern Family
Parks and Rec

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TV SERIES - DRAMA
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
James Spader, The Blacklist

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TV SERIES - DRAMA
Taylor Schilling, Orange Is The New Black
Robin Wright, House of Cards
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kerry Washington, Scandal

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TV SERIES - COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TV SERIES - COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Michael J Fox, The Michael J Fox Show
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

BEST MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
American Horror Story: Coven
Behind the Candelabra
Dancing on the Edge
Top of the Lake
White Queen

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor
Rebecca Ferguson, White Queen
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven
Helen Mirren, Phil Spector
Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra
Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dancing on the Edge
Idris Elba, Luther
Al Pacino, Phil Spector

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Jacqueline Bisset, Dancing on the Edge
Janet McTeer, White Queen
Hayden Panettiere, Nashville
Monica Potter, Parenthood
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Rob Lowe, Behind the Candelabra
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Corey Stoll, House of Cards
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

2014 SAG Award Nominations:
MOVIES:
MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels' The Butler

FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr Banks
Lawrence, Ejiofor, Blanchett 


MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Brühl, Rush
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler

CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE
12 Years A Slave
American Hustle
August: Osage County
Dallas Buyers Club
Lee Daniels' The Butler

SAG TELEVISION:
MALE ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES
Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra
Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Jeremy Irons, The Hollow Crown
Rob Lowe, Killing Kennedy
Al Pacino, Phil Spector

MALE ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES
Angela Bassett, Betty and Coretta
Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor
Holly Hunter Top of the Lake
Helen Mirren, Phil Spector
Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake

MALE ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

FEMALE ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Claire Danes, Homeland
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Kerry Washington, Scandal

MALE ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

FEMALE ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

ENSEMBLE IN A DRAMA SERIES
Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Homeland

ENSEMBLE IN A COMEDY SERIES
30 Rock
Arrested Development
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
Veep

SAG LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Rita Moreno

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Understanding the Oscars

As Oscar Season revs up, I wanted to take stock of what I have learned in the time I devoted to following the Oscars in years past.

It has taken me years to gain a certain level of understanding of the inner workings of the Academy. Part of the esteem of the Academy is in its ability to maintain a shroud of mystery, even with today's environment of media transparency and the 24 hour news cycle of social media.

Some practices to contemplate:
Best Picture. This category has a history of having ten nominated films, scaling down to five and then back to ten in 2010 and 2011. It is often said that The Dark Knight's exclusion from the list of 2009's Best Picture nominees is why the category was increased back to ten. The 84th Annual Academy Awards introduced the new system that nominated nine films in 2012 and 2013. The number of films nominated for Best Picture is based on the weighted votes received during the nomination process. There can be anywhere from five to ten films nominated for Best Picture this year (the March, 2nd 2014 Awards show will honor the movies of 2013).

Best Documentary Feature. For award year 2013 for example, there were 126 qualified films for the documentary feature category. The movies must be released in theaters that allow for review by the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times. 15 films are shortlisted and then the members of Documentary Branch of the Academy voted for the five eventual nominees.

Governors of each branch meet and vote to change the rules on an annual basis. There is a reason the Academy is an institution, they are organized and they have the history to back it up.

More info than you might think is available on the official Oscar website, Oscars.org. Updates on the Academy's rules and branches and a complete history the winners and nominees are available there.
Some folks attempt to uncover the information that the Academy does not publicize. The author of one of my favorite blogs, Never Too Early Movie Predictions, took on a huge undertaking in the time following the 2012 Oscar season to attempt to identify the 6,608 members of the Academy and the research is ongoing. See the Academy Members Project. Over half of the Academy was identified as of July 2013. The Academy has been releasing the names of each year's invitees since 2004 making the current info relatively easy to collect. It's the search for all members, in all branches, covering the entire span of history of the Academy that poses the immense challenge. This info is a rabbit hole for me, I can get all caught up in it so I will move on.

Never Too Early also has a wonderful explanation on the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

I predicted 18 of 2012's 24 categories correctly and my best years were 2009, 2010 and 2013, when I went 19/24. My goal is to get 20 or more category predictions correct and have a new best year. It's been a goal since 2011 that will continue into 2014.

For posterity, my stats are below. These are more for my own edification than anything else.
2013: 19/24 KG; 17/24 EW print & 21/24 EW online *all three selected Skyfall for Sound Editing which tied with Zero Dark Thirty.
2012: 18/24 KG; 19/24 DK
2011: 17/24 KG; 16/24 DK
2010: 19/24 KG; 19/24 DK -- tie
2009: 19/24 KG; 21/24 DK
2008: 14/24 KG; 15/24 EW
2007: no record saved KG; 12/24 DK
2006: 15/24 KG; 17/24 DK
2005: 15/24 KG; 17/24 EW
2004: the year of my first party, didn't save any ballots; 21/24 DK
--the DK years are times that Dave Karger predicted the major categories and other writers of Entertainment Weekly reported on/predicted the remaining categories. In 2012, Karger was no longer with EW. He did not predict beyond the main categories so my so-to-so speak scorecard is now strictly against EW. Though EW has the added trick of having print and online predictions. Online they can update for last minute info and get pretty near to perfect predictions.

Please note the latest addition to my shout outs for fellow bloggers. New to the list, Beer Borough NW, a great beer blogger in Portland whom I had the pleasure of meeting at this past week's Holiday Ale Fest in Pioneer Square.