Welcome to The Kolb Review; a daily blog covering all the pop-culture you could handle.

Expect some guest posts from our pop-culture liaison Leora Horowitz and sports and movie man Moshe Kolb.
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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why You Should Watch the Following 10 Seasons of TV.

I am constantly discussing must-see TV shows with my friends and there is always one particular comment that bothers me. When discussing a show I have not seen people will always tell me, you must watch the 3rd season, best ever. And it always bothered me because there is no way I could just watch the 3rd season and ignore the first 2. In reality, my friend may be right and this may just be the best season ever but I would still need to watch the first 2 seasons. This whole conversation had me thinking about what truly are the best 10 season of TV in the last 10 years. Here are my favorites in no particular order (except for #1, it really is that great)
And Here We Go!!!!!!

1. Prison Break, Season One:
In my opinion this was the greatest first season in TV history. Obviously this is a very bold statement but I truly believe this. The ingenious storyline and awesome characters are not rivaled out there. With his brother Lincoln Burrows sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit, his younger sibling Michael Scofield is a genius who devises an elaborate plan to help him escape prison by purposely getting himself imprisoned. The brothers, along with six other prisoners at Fox River State Penitentiary manage to escape in the amazing first season of this 4 season-long show. The execution of the having the planned escape tattooed onto the body of Scofield still blows my mind when I think of it. There are fantastic characters, each focused on just enough for you to care about them. The villains including Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell, Captain Brad Bellick and John Abruzi are simply amazing. I don’t often do this but I guarantee that anyone who watches this season will fall in love with one of the most inventive and amazing seasons in television history.
2. Dexter, Season Four:
Dexter is a fantastic show. Each season we learn more and more about Michael C. Hall’s award winning character. Surround by the familiar crew of cast mates at Miami Metro Homicide, Dexter is faced every season with his own trials and tribulations along with a new and deadly serial killer. Season 4 was the amazing culmination to the first era of the series. The season revolved around two major story lines. Dexter’s personal life is as stressful as ever as he attempts to settle down with his new wife and kids. They have all moved in together as Dexter struggles to see how he can actually live his double life or whether he really wants to. This is all going on while Miami is rocked by the new Trinity Killer whose killing patterns date back decades. Every season of Dexter is highlighted by its guest appearances by the new serial killer. In season 4, the Trinity Killer is played by John Lithgow who won the Emmy for this performance. Without revealing too much for those few who have not seen this season, I will just say that this has earned a spot on this list due to the series finale. The two major story lines of the season are brought together in one of the most shocking season finales ever seen in TV.
3. Community, Season Two:
Like most comedies out there, Community has had its highs and lows. Season 1 started out good but not great as Community really established itself as one of the funniest shows on television with a fantastic season 2. With amazing story lines, recurring jokes and hilarious characters such as Senior Chang, season 2 really built this show’s following. Troy and Abed became staples in our weekly schedule and each episode got funnier than the next. The show’s creators saved the best for last. The season finale, which has become known as The Paintball Episode was one of the most amazing and funniest TV experiences of my life. It is a must watch.
4. Arrested Development, Season Two:
This show really earned its epic status with its second season. Very few shows especially shows that were on air for such a short period of time have the massive following that Arrested Development has. The comedy and its writing is a pure work of art that has written this sitcom’s place in history as one of the greatest shows ever. With hysterical characters, an ingenious script and story line, this season left me with stomach pains from laughing so hard. I will forever quote this show and calling someone a chicken and seeing someone in jean shorts will simply never be the same again. Go watch this show right now.
5. Battlestar Galactica, Season One:
There have been some amazing sci-fi TV shows and Battlestar Galactica is up there with the best of them. “The show is wrapped in mythology and steeped in clunky plots and bad acting, but the first three years were stellar ones, kicked off by a breathless first season in which the show could do almost no wrong, when it turned convention on its head to present a gritty, believable, and thoroughly compelling human drama about the lives and heartbreaks of the sole survivors of an alien genocide.” Season one and three are easily the best seasons in this show with great characters and developing and intriguing stories. The episodes are long and some of the characters are quite annoying but the show is a true adventure drama that keeps you on edge. I will always love Commander Adama and the crew of the Galactica. You must watch this FRACKING show!!!
6. Friday Night Lights, Season One:
Based on the very successful and popular film by the same name, FNL avoided cancelation after cancelation simply due to the cult following it has developed. This is truly one of if not my favorite shows of all time. With Dillon, Texas, a small Southern town steeped in religion and football, as its backdrop, the characters in this show will quickly become your family. You will win, lose, laugh, cry and fall in love with these characters. The show got rave reviews and even got the following compliment from The New York Times saying, “FNL is not just television great, but great in the way of a poem or painting.” The characters are complex, the dialogue very realistic and the directing and music beautiful. There is no way to watch this season and not root for the Panthers on their path to State.
7. The Office, Season Two:
Consistently one of the funniest shows on TV, the Office, and now in its seventh season is often most well known for its hilarious second season. The writing was out of this world and the characters really came into their own in this season. Michael began his transformation from a bumbling annoying idiot to a bumbling loveable idiot. Now that I am a few years into the working world it shocks me just how accurate this show is to real world office life. The mixture of strange yet lovable characters really make this show; as even the smallest supporting roles add so much to the show. The focus on Michael’s ridiculousness, Dwight’s insanity, Jim and Pam’s flirting, Jim’s prankings, Kevin’s love of food, and Creed’s ability to creep you out truly make this an awesome season.
8. Heroes, Season One:
Very few Sci-fi shows have ever captured the eye of almost the entire country as Heroes did. Heroes combined X-Men and a classic suburban drama all into one. Heroes revolved around normal people realizing their amazing and unreal powers. With the tagline of “save the cheerleader” this season won over its American audiences. The entire country anticipated the season finale which did not disappoint. With complex heroes and even more complex villains, the first season of Heroes made even the biggest jocks out there love a little sci-fi. Though the show digressed in the subsequent seasons, Season One will go down forever as a classic and must watch season of TV.
9. Breaking Bad, Season Four:
Wow do I love this show. I had heard about the show a little late and after a little catch up, I immediately was upset at myself for letting this show run without me watching it. Breaking Bad is a fantastic drama with everything you could want. There are very few shows which focus so much on what drives its characters as this drama about a cancer stricken chemistry teacher who becomes the largest Meth cook in the southern portion of the United States. Every season of this show was great but nothing compared to season four, especially the end of season four. Walter White is my hero! His growth and the unbelievable story line of the fourth season is really quite fascinating to watch. Before you say the general story lines sounds strange to you, give it a few episodes and then try to tell me that you are not addicted Yo!!!!!!!!! (pun intended)
10. 24, Season One:
Though I feel that many of these seasons are exactly the same, the first season of 24 was a nonstop action packed season that would have made an amazing action packed movie. The show is quite clever with 24 episodes, each representing 24 hours in a hellish day in the life of one Jack Bauer. Season 2 was good but this show was really made in season one. The season established Jack Bauer as a total superhero and a staple name in the minds of every TV loving person out there. Though the show quickly wore on me, there have been very few seasons that I have enjoyed more thoroughly than this season.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sorry For The Delay!

I am sorry that there have been no posts yet this week. Stay tuned though because there will be posts coming the next three days including a list of Must Watch TV Seasons and the 3rd Jewel of Netflix!!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why We Love Reality TV.

Reality television has become the bread and butter of many a basic cable network. They're cheap to make, require tolerating few, if any diva celebrities, and people - lots of people - will watch them. They're trite, full of less-than-brilliant wannabe stars, and often riddled with violence, nudity, and vulgarity. So why do the ratings keep going up? Whether you call ‘em a guilty pleasure or your greatest joy, you have to admit - you love reality TV.
Americans are, by our very nature, a voyeuristic society. It's the same reason traffic backs up when there's a horrific car crash - we just want to look. Reality stars have the lack of inhibition we often wish we had, but more often than not, are glad we don't. The cameras never seem to stop them from shoving their tongues down their roommates' throats, stripping their bodies bare before a national audience, or using profanity that would make Paris Hilton blush. We wouldn't be caught dead saying or doing these things, but we love watching what happens when they do it for us. And oh the fights!
Admit it. In your head you've smacked a thousand snotty girls or meat headed guys across the face. We all dream of having an excuse to get into a fist fight, just to show what we've got. Well reality stars have found their excuse - the camera - and we'll keep watching as long as they've got punches to throw. Freud recognized those basic human passions for sex and violence, and I think reality television is his proof. We're sick, and we love it!
I don't think I'm taking a huge leap here by saying that reality TV stars aren't the sharpest tools in the shed. Let's remember that these are people who are knowingly exploiting their personal lives for a little cash and fifteen minutes of fame. Reality stars can, however, be depended upon for one thing. When a delicate situation arises, that requires proper judgment, clear thinking, and caution, reality stars will without failure, make the wrong choice. This is great for us because we can learn from them. We can learn what not to do in almost any situation, and their flagrant disregard for logic, can be our guiding light.
Reality thesaurus. Reality shows can also be great tools for expanding one's vocabulary. Watch enough reality TV, and you'll pick up dozens of colorful - and possibly offensive - terms you never knew existed.
Been feeling down on yourself lately? It's probably because you haven't been getting your fill of reality TV. Disaster, misfortune, and personality disorders seem to follow reality stars wherever they go. How can you feel bad about yourself when you see the eating disordered failing actress, who gave up her studio apartment to live with socially dysfunctional strangers, get fired from her fast food job because she's not good enough at math. You're doing much better by comparison right? So tune in and cheer up!
Mental Escape
Our daily lives require a lot of mental energy. Our jobs our stressful and challenging, and often our personal lives are even worse. Our minds are constantly being taxed and drained. Who wants to come home and escape by turning on entertainment with substance? I don't know about you, but after a long day of thinking, I can't handle substance. I want fluff - pure, unadulterated fluff. The less I have to think to understand what I'm watching the better, and luckily, reality TV requires no thought at all. I mean it. My dog understands it. Reality TV is mental Xanax.
Defined as enjoyment taken from another person's misfortune, Schadenfreude is that unspoken, or sometimes outspoken in the case of Perez Hilton, giggle and shot of exhilaration we get when things turn for the worst for reality television stars. When they get caught lying, we smile. When they're embarrassed, we're warm and fuzzy. When they get dumped, we're delighted. Call it awful, cruel, or disgusting, but admit it. You've felt it too. And how guilty should we really feel? Reality shows are nothing new. These people know what they're signing up for, and they still do it enthusiastically. They know that we derive our entertainment from their misadventures, but they're the one's who'll reap the benefits of the exposure. Our right to laugh at their pain is part of the contract we make with each other as reality performer and reality viewer.
So hide it if you want to. Pretend you prefer books and documentaries...but we all know what you're really doing behind closed doors. I say embrace it. So grab your TV listings and some popcorn and let's all thank the gods of entertainment for reality TV!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why NYC is a “Tale of Two Cities.”

This is a little overdue but its better late than never. Being that we are now a few weeks from the end of a football season I had something on my mind. Is it me or are there sports franchises in NYC all on opposite sides of the spectrum right now? There is a clear division of winners and losers. The NY/NJ Metropolitan area is divided and there are two sides: The Winners and The Losers.
The Winners: NY Yankees, NY Giants, NY Rangers, NY Knicks
The Losers: NY Mets, NY Jets, NY Islanders, NJ/NY Nets
There is no denying that there is such a separation in our local sports market. The Yankees continue to win divisions and walk around with a swagger that is seen once a decade from the Mets. The Mets seem to be in financial woes and struggle to avoid last place while the Yankees own the town and the spotlight despite some post season woes. I was just at a wedding where Mr. Met showed up for two entire dances. They are so desperate for money that Mr. Met is making appearances at Jewish Events. In the NHL, tth Rangers have become the NHL’s best team and are thriving with excellent defense and goaltending while the Islanders struggle to keep up, despite their young stars. The Islanders sign a goalie to a lifetime contract only to have him get injured a year or two later. The Rangers are only as good as they are because of King Henrique sitting in their net. The Knicks have tons of potential, have star players and now are being mesmerized by the amazing play of Jeremy Lin. The Net see potential fly away over and over again. Players don’t want to play for the Nets, they want to play on Broadway. Brook Lopez is a shining light and the Nets seem to be on a good path and then he gets hurt. It just seems like this dissection is irrefutable.

But what really pushed me to write on the topic is the amazing difference between the two NY football teams who play in the very same Stadium. The NY Giants and NY Jets at this point in time could not be further apart if they tried. Here are some of my reasons why these two clubs are just so so different.

The Teams
Let us start off with the teams. These two squads are in two very different places. The NY Jets are coming off two Conference Championship losses in three years but why does it feel that they are still not “A Super Bowl Team.” The Jets randomly will get the regular season big win and can sometimes put away bad teams but too many of their games are closer than they should be. They seem to never get hot and I just don’t look at them and respect any player or quality other than their defensive backs. They have no passing game, no running game and even their defense is not as good as it used to be. The Giants on the other hand are coming off their 2nd Championships in 5 years and often dominating the field in some way. They have a dominant defensive line and boast a top 5 passing game. Of course, there are also the times when their running game looks absolutely dominant. The truth is that while I try to boast the Giants and bash the Jets, this is probably the area they closest in comparison.

The Coach
Tom Coughlin and Rex Ryan are opposites in as many ways as you can think. Before I go any further let me state the most obvious difference. Rex Ryan looks like the papa bear to Coughlin’s bear cub. It looks like Ryan eats a Coughlin every day for breakfast. Let’s delve further. Rex Ryan is an outlandish, outspoken and boastful coach who holds nothing back even when he should. He never shuts his mouth and has a comment about everything. He will go around making guarantees and promising to dominate this team and that team. Unfortunately, Ryan and his Jets are not always able to back up their big words and Rex is left standing like an idiot. He only focuses on defense, leaving his offense in the hands of a blubbering idiot. Coughlin on the hand is an offensive minded coach who also pays attention to his defense. More importantly, Coughlin is a reserve and stern man who lets his team’s performance speak for itself. Coughlin will take responsibility and admit when they play like crap. He doesn’t sugar coat it either way. He doesn’t talk a big talk or go for the best sound bite. Coughlin, at 67 is the oldest and perhaps one of the wisest coaches in the NFL. The two leaders of these NY squads couldn’t be the same person even if one of them lost 150 pounds.

The Quarterback
If these quarterbacks were the NY stock market, Sanchez would be the 2011 Depression and Manning would be the flourishing 90’s. The Mark Sanchez experiment is still young but definitely not going as planned. Sanchez, despite the two AFC Championship appearances, seems to not have improved at all over three seasons and neither does has the confidence anyone has in him. Watching the games, it was painful how poorly Sanchez was playing. Can he make the occasional play? Yes. Can he consistently be an accurate and productive pocket passer? I don’t think so. I have never thought that a quarterback who is at his best while rolling out to the sideline is a good NFL quarterback. Whether or not it was his offensive coordinator’s play call or not, Mark Sanchez has not shown me that the future is bright. Eli Manning’s stock has sky rocketed. Manning who to me was a level 2-3 quarterback before this past season has entered the next level. Despite a poor overall team performance for most of the season, Manning set career highs and some NFL and Giants records this season. His season was fantastic but his postseason, which really started with a regular season game against the NY Jets, was out of this world and truly elite. Yes, Eli has earned elite status. Some quarterbacks get chances to be great but only a few seize those opportunities. Eli has made the most of his situations and opportunities on the way to two Super Bowl wins. He plays with a calm, cool and collected confidence that is seen in the likes of Brady, Peyton, Breese, and Rodgers. There is perhaps no one else I would trust more with the football when losing late in the fourth quarter. Sanchez may be the GQ but Manning is the QB.

The Fans
I am a Dallas Cowboy fan and I cannot stand Jet fans. I happen to think the Giants are a team that get many breaks but also take advantage of those breaks. But what I do respect about Giant fans that I don’t like about Jet fans is the general attitude and awareness of their team’s successes and failures. The Jets and their fans remind me of a famous saying, “Give a Mouse a Cookie and He’ll ask for a glass of Milk.” You see to me, Jets fans never look at things as they are or are satisfied with what they have. If you give the average Jets fan a glimmer of greatness, they automatically assume they are great and their team is invincible. In my experience, Giants fans don’t do this. I have seen that Giants fans are awesome supportive fans when their team is great and are also able to recognize when their team is bad while maintaining their loyalty. I don’t see Jets fans doing this.

I truly believe that there is this distinct break in NY Sports right now and unless Deron Williams scores 38 every night, Jonathan Teveras scores 3 goals every night, David Wright hits a homerun every night, and Mark Sanchez can throw a 30 yard pass downfield with accuracy, I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why All You Need is a Box, a Camera, and Ryan Reynolds. (Netflix Jewel #2 Buried)

If I told you that you could be enthralled for 1 hour and 34 minutes watching nothing but Ryan Reynolds lying in a dark box you may think I am crazy. This was the challenge that Director Rodrigo Cortes faced and conquered with his film Buried (2010). The film follows Paul Controy’s (Ryan Reynolds) desperate race against time while being held hostage in a buried coffin. The movie is shot in real time as Paul has 90 minutes to pay his own ransom or die in the coffin. With nothing but a lighter and a cell phone, Paul frantically tries to get the help of his family, his employer, and even the U.S. government in order to escape his predicament. As we soon learn, Conroy is an American truck driver contracted in Iraq and while delivering some equipment on a humanitarian aid program, he is captured and knocked unconscious before waking up in the box. We don’t see the attack or the handling of the prisoner, all we see is a man buried alive in a box. As every minute passes in this real-time thriller we see hope for Conroy fading and anxiety taking over.
The film is beautifully done. Cortes builds suspense and a character with nothing but a camera. The film does feature some of the voices on the phone of Robert Paterson, Stephen Tobolowsky, Samantha Mathis, and Erik Palladino. But the true star here is Reynolds. The film came out after his first starring role and break out film The Proposal but in my opinion this was Reynolds best performance. Whenever there is a film that focuses on one character I always make comparisons to Cast Away. In my opinion, the fact that I watched nothing but Tom Hanks and a volley ball for 2.5 hours is a magnificent piece of acting and film making. Though not quite on the same par, Buried reminded me of just that. For 134 minutes I was completely enthralled by the every moment and breath Reynolds took. Additionally, I thought the script was very good and gave us just enough impact from the outside world that the film needed. I only cared about what the voices on the phone said because I cared what Conroy’s reaction would be. Cortes takes you on a roller coaster of emotions as you watch Conroy receiving glimmers of hope only to have them crushed a minute later. I will not reveal more of the story than I already have but trust me on this one. If you don’t spend the hour and a half watching this film, I may just bury you alive.

Sex: Nothing
Violence: some violent content (whatever that means)
Language: this is what probably got in the R rating though not bad at all.
Drugs: nothing
Rated: R
Run time: 134 min
Grade: 4 Stars

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why I Love A Good Movie Ending. (Part II)

10. The Sting (1973)
This classic kicks off the top 10. In a film all about deception and con-men, it would only be fitting that the end of the film had a twist which would be duplicated but never equated ever again. Paul Newman and Robert Redford spent the entire film trying to con a gangster only to have Redford betray Newman at the very end of the film in a big shootout. Eventually we are all taken for a ride when in fact the double cross was in fact part of the ruse and Redford and Newman had planned the entire stunt. This film is often credited with the original movie twist and won over the Academy as well pulling in Best Picture honors.

9. Saw (2004) and Saw IV (2011)
You may all think I am a freak but I love the Saw films. Yes I have seen every single one of the 7 films including the brilliant 7th film which concluded and wrapped up the series. The first film for me was such an iconic film that will forever go down as one of the only films to really shock me. Other than the fact that I loved the entire film, there were numerous twists, none of which topped the ending of the film. As the one footed Dr. Lawrence is crawling hopelessly to find help, Adam is left in the dungeon room and without any expectation or warning, the figure who had apparently blown his head off lying in the middle of the room rises to reveal himself as Jigsaw, the mastermind behind all these diabolical games. Jigsaw is then revealed as John (the cancer patient from earlier in the film) who has put his subjects into games which tests the subject’s will to live. I have also added the final film in here because the way the producers tied in all seven films were amazing. I will be the first to tell you that not all the films were great but to have Dr. Lawrence from the first film be revealed as Jigsaw’s true partner throughout the entire series was not only a perfect tie in but a perfect end to the series which started off shocking us all.

8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Thought not always called a “twist” ending, the ending to this film scared the garbage out of me.
Hopkins gave the performance of his career giving the infamous Hannibal Lector some of the greatest scenes and lines in movie history. The ultimate villain line “I’m having an old friend for dinner” is a pure work of genius. Having Lector escape from captivity while wearing the skin of one of the cops while at the same time showing the horrific scene in Buffalo Bill’s basement was amazing. I remember the first time I ever saw that scene with Clarice waving her gun blinded in the darkness as Buffalo Bill stalked her like a shark; it was one of the scariest moments of my life. There are few who will debate that this was not only an amazing film but an amazing ending as well. It is well deserving of the top 10.

7. Memento (2001)
It was only a matter of time before Nolan broke the top 10 with a fantastic ending to a fantastic film. Momento is often considered one of the most ingenious pieces of film making/film editing of all time. A fairly basic story transforms into a masterpiece as the entire film is shown backwards in 5 minute clips, intended to imitate the mind of the films star who suffers from short term memory loss. As we follow Leonard (Guy Pearce) attempt to find his wife’s killer despite his short term memory loss, we become aware of acts just as he does. In fact, all is revealed in the last 5 minute clip of the film. It was Leonard himself who killed his wife; she had tried to help him remember things by forcing him to repeatedly give her medical shots. Leonard’s intent to kill John G. who had raped his wife, had already come true over a year ago when Leonard had killed him but continued to pursue him unable to remember it. The ending not only revealed a ton about Leonard but about his past as well. As the films come to a close we realize that Leonard is on a never ending path in which neither his tattoos nor Polaroid’s will help him remember the truth, that he in fact was his wife’s killer.

6. Psycho (1960)
From the Master of Suspense himself, this Alfred Hitchcock classic will go down in history for some of the craziest movie twists of all time. Firstly, unlike 99% of movies made, Hitchcock went against every norm and movie rule and ended up killing of his main character. What would audiences have done if Sidney was killed 75% of the way through the first Scream film? Yes, that is how crazy this decision was. But perhaps nothing was as shocking as when Norman Bates was revealed as the murderer. Portraying his dead mother with nothing but skeletal remains propped up in a rocking chair will go down as one of the greatest endings in movie history.

5. Fight Club 1999
David Fincher’s awesome film is one of my favorites. The film was a mind-warping piece with awesome performances by Pitt (Tyler Durden) Edward Norton (Nameless Narrator) and Helena Bonham Carter (Marla). The film depicts the growth of a revolutionary movement which stands to emasculate the consumer culture found in our society. The movement started with Pitt and Norton starting a fight club in which man’s materialistic things are proved worthless in pure hand to hand combat. There are hints throughout the film but all are ignored until you finally realize that Tyler Durden is in fact the Nameless Narrator. Pitt is a figment and expression Norton’s psyche. The big twist comes at a perfect time in the film, leaves you wanting to watch the film again, and sets up the beautiful final scene as a half blown to hell Norton stands with his twisted girlfriend Marla as they watch the destruction of the entire credit system of society. There is no doubt this cracks the top 5.

4. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
I can watch this movie a million times over and still not get enough. In fact I may have just seen it that many times. Not only is this one of the best films ever made, it also has one of the best endings ever. As we are all seemingly watching the demise of Andy Dufrene (Tim Robbins) we are unaware that he has in fact tunneled his way out of prison. As warden Norton (Bob Gunton) discovers the hole in Andy’s cell hidden behind the Rita Hayworth poster, the amazing tale of Andy Dufrene is wrapped up. As Andy remarkably makes it out of his cell and subsequently clears all the money from the phony bank accounts, he also brings the demise of the warden. When Red (Morgan Freeman) is eventually released he follows the bread crumbs left by Andy on his way to finding a box full of cash and instructions to meet Andy in Mexico. As the friends are reunited on the shores of the beach, the perfect ending to one of the best films comes to a close. It was a perfect ending to an otherwise perfect film.

3. Seven (1995)
This David Fincher thriller will always be considered an amazing classic, if for nothing else than jump starting the careers of a few of our best stars. The film had two major twists including a shocking revelation at the end. The first big twist towards the end of the film is when the nameless murder of the 7 deadly sins turns himself in. The killer played by Kevin Spacey is amazingly eerie as the villain. But the biggest surprise of all comes at the end when it is revealed that Spacey has killed and decapitated Detective Mills’ (Brad Pitt) wife Tracy (Gwenyth Paltrow). As Mills becomes aware that his wife was the 6th victim of Envy, he shockingly kills Spacy with Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) watching; thus completing the 7 deadly sins by killing with Wrath. The ending was pure genius and yet so bleak at the same time. Easily one of the best endings ever.

2. The Usual Suspects (1995)
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” These are the haunting and foreshadowing words of Kevin Spacey’s limping thief in this film. The film itself did not win over a ton of critics but has some great supporting roles who all take a back seat to Spacey whose gimp gone criminal mastermind won him the Best Actor. As the movie is told from the perspective of a police interrogation, the final moments of the film reveal that in fact Spacey himself is the diabolical Keyser Soze and he has in fact fabricated the entire story from the confines of a police holding room. As investigator Chass Palminetri realizes he let the world’s greatest criminal slip through his fingers there is the iconic image of Spacey’s gimp walking as his limp turns into a confident stride as Keyser Soze makes his amazing escape, “And like that, poof, he’s gone!”

1. The Sixth Sense (1999)
To me this is the greatest ending ever in film. M Night Shyalaman went from an unknown to a Hollywood stud with this mind blowing conclusion to an otherwise dark and dreary movie. The film follows Dr. Malcom Crowe (Bruce Willis) helping young Cole (Haley Joel Osmet) deal with his apparent ability to communicate with the dead. The revelation at the end of the film that Dr. Crowe is in fact himself dead just blew the mind of everyone who saw this film. This shocking twist forces you to watch the movie again and notice all those little things that actually hint to the Doctor’s death. The revelation changes the whole perspective of the film and creates a beautiful message about remembering those lost and how to move on from such tragic events. It rightfully deserves the #1 spot on the list.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why I Love A Good Movie Ending. (Part I)

Being that the ending to the Man on the Ledge was so bad I decided to do a little focus on some of the best endings to movies. Some of the movies on this list are surprise twist endings and a few are just amazing endings.
The following post reveals the endings to some of the greatest movies of all time. If you have not seen these movies then please skip that paragraph so that I don’t ruin the movie for you.
“And Here We Go!”

25. The Game (1997)
This film got a mixed bag of reviews from the critics, some loved it and others hated it. The film is constantly leaving you guessing what is part of “The Game” and what is reality. There are so many little twists that you really get confused whether you are in the game or not. The ending is way over the top as Michael Douglas attempts to commit suicide by jumping off a building only to land on a big balloon that was part of “The Game.” There is no question that this was a surprise ending that no one saw coming. For that reason, it has earned the 25th spot on the list.

24. Chaos (2005)
In this little known film starring Jason Statham, Ryan Phillippe and Wesley Snipes, Statham and Phillippe are a mismatched pair of cops teamed together to catch Snipes who is a brilliant mastermind thief. It would take too long to explain the entire film but essentially no one is who they seem and the revelation that Lorenz (Snipes) is really former detective Jason York, (he killed the real Lorenz) and that Jason Statham was not actually killed in the house explosion are both great twists. Statham’s character escaped after it was revealed that we was secretly Lorenz’s partner in the all the bank heists. If you are confused, that is ok, just watch the movie and everything I said will make sense. Just trust me on this one.

23. Black Swan (2010)
The award winning performance by Natalie Portman is one for the ages. When Nina (Portman) gets into a fight with Lilly (Mila Kunis) and subsequently stabs her, it is revealed that she has stabbed herself and that Kunis was her alter-ego. With Nina subsequently going on to complete the greatest performance of her life as the Black Swan, she then dies after her performance; thus, causing her to reenact the story of Swan Lake itself. While everyone watching this film understood that Nina had issues, the ending that she was in fact both characters was an awesome twist and simply added to the brilliance of her performance.

22. Reindeer Games (2000)
In this cult-classic heist film; Rudy (Ben Affleck) assumes the identity of his buddy Nick (James Frain) who was murdered in prison. Once out of jail, Ben Affleck falls for Nick’s pen-pal love “Ashley” (Charlize Theron) and assumes Nick’s identity. Unfortunately for him, Ashley’s brother wants to use Rudy for a big casino heist. The film’s two big twists occur once it’s realized that Ashley and Gabriel (Gary Sinese) are actually lovers and that Ashley was playing Rudy the whole time. In the end, everything is turned upside down when in fact Nick was not killed in prison and was in fact in on the plan the entire time, hoping to pin the entire job on Rudy. The film has become quite the cult classic and the great twists and the classic casino heist as earned this film a place on the list.

21. Basic (2003)
This relatively unknown film is an underrated drama. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson as Master Sergeant Nathan West, as an elite and legendary Army Ranger who incurs a series of unfortunate yet unclear events when training a group of Rangers. The training mission goes terrible wrong leaving some killed and some whereabouts unknown. The investigation is unveiled as part of the interrogation of the surviving members by Captain Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen) and Tom Hardy (John Travolta). The big twist at the end is that the mission-gone-wrong was actually a cover in order to end an illegal drug smuggling operation and that the “killed” men were actually all involved in the mission. Though the ending is a little tacky, having the results of this long interrogation unveiled was fun to watch.

20. Shutter Island (2010)
This Scorsese picture starring Leo DiCaprio was a very good film. Set in the 1950’s, U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) is investigating the disappearance of a murderer from a mental institution for the criminally insane. As DiCaprio begins to unearth the mystery of the missing patient he begins to question the hospital, its staff and the methods used on the patients. Eventually all is revealed and Teddy is actually Andrew Laeddis and is a patient himself on the island. The entire disappearance was an elaborate show in order to help Andrew realize the truth about his life. Once all is revealed Andrew becomes aware of his surroundings only to apparently lose them in the final scene. In order to avoid a lobotomy, Andrew must succeed in leaving his delusional world. Once we think he finally has come to his wits, he brings everything into question In a great last scene. Andrew asks the doctor “Is it better to live and be a monster, or die a good man?” This statement was implying that the treatment did in fact work and he has not regressed, but he would rather be lobotomized than live with the knowledge that he killed his wife and was unable to save his children.

19. Identity (2003)
I loved this movie starring John Cusack. The film revolves around a group of people at a remote motel where members of the group are being killed off by an unknown killer. What begins as a normal thriller turns into something much more when in fact all the people at this motel are actual characters in the mind of a psychotic killer who is sitting in prison. No one seeing this movie saw this coming even if the scenes in the prison were confusing. Essentially, the prisoner had multiple personalities and the drama at the Motel was the showdown of these personalities. As it appears that the good portion of the killer’s mind prevails, it is his evil and maniacal child killer that wins in the end. These were two shocks that no one saw coming. The film had some good actors and was entertaining from start to finish.

18. Inception (2010)
Another DiCaprio film from the same year moves into the 19th spot. Inception is better known for its brilliant and innovative plot and dream worlds but in its purity the film has an epic and twisted ending. It is eventually revealed that Cobb (DiCaprio) agreed to do Inception because he has in fact performed inception on his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard). In order to convince his wife to leave Limbo after 60 plus years, he plants an idea in her head that she is dreaming, forcing her to come back to reality. Unfortunately, he planted the idea so deep that Mel thought she was in fact dreaming while in the real world; causing her to commit suicide. This alone was not the biggest twist at the end of the movie. As the mission appears successful, Cobb returns home to his kids and spins the top on the table as he is reunited with his kids. As the film ends, the camera focuses on the top which continues to spin yet wobbles on the table as the film cuts to the credits. No one knows if the top falls and Cobb is actually back with his kids or if the top continues spinning and Cobb is in fact still dreaming and caught in Limbo. This could arguably be the most debated ending ever to a film. It deserved this spot on the list.

17. Arlington Road (1999)
Yet another underrated film, Arlington Road stars Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins. The film is a back and forth action/drama as college professor and widowed husband of a FBI Terrorist Specialist, Michael Farraday (Bridges) suspects his neighbor Oliver Lang (Robbins) of being a terrorist. It is unclear the entire movie whether the creepy Lang is in fact a terrorist or not but all is revealed at the end. As Lang is in fact exposed as a terrorist, the already deemed crazy Farraday is tricked into driving the bomb itself into the FBI building thus making himself the terrorist. I thought the movie was well done and intuitive. The ending was perfect in the way that it gave us a surprise ending and summed up the movie perfectly.

16. Back to the Future (1986)
Putting the fact that this was one of my favorite movie franchise of all time aside, this film has to go down as one of if not the most gutsy calls for a sequel. To be duplicated hundreds of time after it, this film was the first to so blatantly call for a sequel in its last scene. As all appears good in the world of Marty McCfly, Doc Brown appears in the last moments of the film informing Marty that something has happened in the past and the mismatched team needs to go back to the past to fix his future. The moment was not only a perfect ending to the film but was the perfect setup for a sequel. If not for the amazing ending, this film’s bold call for its sequel in its final scene deserves a mention on the list.

15. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
This is another relatively unknown film but boasts some impressive names. Bruce Willis plays James Cole, a convict in an apocalyptic world who is sent back in time to stop a horrible virus from being spread. Brad Pitt was nominated for best supporting actor as his role as Jeffery Goins, the leader of a group called the 12 Monkeys who are credited with releasing the man-made virus. Cole struggles through the movie with dreams and memories of when he was a child and witnessed a man killed before his eyes in the airport. The big reveal at the end of the movie is that it is in fact the older Cole back in time that is shot in front of his younger self. He is essentially scarred from witnessing his own death. The ending was shocking and disturbing yet very satisfying as a close to the film.

14. Citizen Kane (1941)
This is widely considered the greatest movie of all time. It would only be fitting that the greatest movie of all time had a great ending. One of the greatest enigmas in movie history was and always will be “what is the meaning of rosebud.” In the classic film, Charles Foster Kane, an infamous powerful man dies after living a very private life with his parting words being “rosebud”. The rest of the film delves into the unearthing of Kane’s past all the way to his childhood. In the last scene of the film, as Kane’s possessions are sold and disposed of, a seemingly meaningless sled is thrown away and burned as the name “rosebud” appears. The sled was a symbol to Kane’s childhood which was apparently the only time he was ever truly happy. Though not the glorious of endings, it put a close to the debate and to what many consider the greatest film ever made.

13. Unbreakable
In this debated M. Night Shalaman follow up to The Sixth Sense, Shyalaman once again stunned audiences with a fabulous ending. While many didn’t love this film, I have always been a fan. Bruce Willis plays David, a divorced security guard who has super strength and is basically unbreakable. He is the only survivor of a horrific train accident and without a scratch on him, Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) sees the potential that David has as a real life superhero. The kicker to the film is that Elijah is in fact a killer and a villain who has been committing mass murder bombings to find someone who is unbreakable. Elijah suffers from a rare disease in which he is uber-breakable and performs these acts of domestic terrorism in order to find his opposite. The ending sequence in which the truth is revealed is done beautifully and shocks us regardless if we will admit it or not.

12. Scream (1996)
This has to go down as one of the most iconic horror films of all time. The film changed the horror genre for all time and it is no surprise that it had an ending that no one saw coming. Wes Craven’s classic pulled off a brilliant twist as he revealed that in fact there were two killers. It was both Billy Loomis and his best friend Stuart that were out to get Sidney (Neve Cambell). If you tell me you thought Billy Loomis was actually one of the killers after he was shockingly stabbed in the bedroom than you are simply lying.

11. The Prestige (2006)
In my opinion this is such an underrated movie. The film has tons of twists, has a fantastic ending and is worth seeing many times over as so many little nuances are revealed. I would expect nothing less from the brilliant Christopher Nolan. The film revolves around the feuding and competing magicians Robert (Hugh Jackman) and Borden (Christian Bale). If you have not seen this film than this will confuse you but the ending to this film was fantastic. Borden played a trick on Robert as his journal was in fact not full of secrets but actually a tool to fool Robert. Then it is revealed that Robert, in his attempt to duplicate Borden, was actually committing suicide each night but surviving by cloning himself. The beauty is that Borden was able to pull off the trick without any magic, he in fact had a twin who was performing the trick and sharing the spotlight. This amazing revelation is done perfectly and sheds light onto every scene. If you watched this film a second time you realize all the little nuances of having two twins living the same and yet very different lives. Nolan did it once again.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Why Man On A Ledge Tried Too Hard, Then Didn’t Try Hard Enough.

Man On A Ledge, the film from new director Asger Leth, is a classic messy action thriller. The film covers many of the genres out there; drama, action and heist. The film revolves around an ex-cop and now wanted fugitive Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) who stands on the ledge of a NYC hotel and puts the police and city of New York on edge. NYC negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) must talk Nick off the ledge but she soon starts to realize that there is more to this “suicide” attempt that meets the eye. What the police don’t know is that Nick is using the charade as a distraction whiles his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and future sister-in-law Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) conduct the biggest diamond heist in history. Nick was sentenced to jail for the theft of a $40 million diamond from Real Estate Mogul David Englander (Ed Harris) but he attempts to steal the diamond back from Englander to prove his innocence. Yes, Nick Cassidy is attempting to steal a massive diamond for the first time in order to prove that he didn’t steal it the first time (yes, I meant every word in that sentence). Also thrown into the mix is an Internal Affairs investigation trying to reveal a bunch of corrupt police who may or may not be connected to Nick’s predicament. Other supporting cast members include Ed Burns, (Jack Dougherty) a cop who works with Mercer to figure out what’s going on and Anthony Mackie, (Mike Ackerman) Nick’s best friend and ex-partner.
There is much to say on this film but let’s start with the following. You will be very entertained seeing this movie. For 95% of this film, I was engrossed in the story unfolding before me. While completely implausible on numerous levels, the film does give you the action, thrills, and laughs you are looking for. The heist is simply way too easy and implausible in every way but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy watching it. Jamie Bell is good as the brother but is second hand to the beautiful Genesis Rodriguez walking (and stripping) around. The couple, who without any previous crime experience, seem to pass through the highest levels of security ever created to steals the infamous diamond. The banter between the couple is witty and provides a laugh or two. Nick’s back story obviously has some holes in it but Sam Worthington does a good job with the character. The interaction with Banks and Worthington are well acted but with poor writing, the two actors do the best they can. Ed Harris is always good and serves his role as the ruthless real estate mogul.
Now for the stuff that really bothered me. This film was just messy. There were way too many story lines and unnecessary plot twists. It seemed like every character had his/her own plot going on. In regards to the implausibility of the film, even the little things like police protocol or having Ed Harris seemingly walk in and out of the “jump scene” just felt like the producers didn’t care. But all of these issues didn’t really matter because the film was entertaining. As mentioned in a previous post, I will allow for these type of messy and clumsy mistakes because of the nature of the film. What really bothered me about the film was that it felt like the producers gave up after 95% of the film. Without revealing the ending, let me just say that the last five minutes of the film may actually ruin the rest of the movie for you. Honestly, it felt like they worked hard for 135 minutes of the film and then as the film was coming to a close, the producers just said, “Screw it, let’s just end this thing.” Despite its shortfalls, I was looking for a decent ending that didn’t do anything special but didn’t make the film stupid. Unfortunately it may have just done that.
So for those of you hoping to see the film, there is plenty to keep you entertained but just remember that the film balancing police, crime, heist, drama and comedic plot lines will leave you more confused than on edge.

Sex: None, just a woman briefly in her underwear
Language: Brief strong language.
Violence: Yes but nothing too graphic
Drugs and Drinking: A little drinking and cigarette smoking
Length: 1 hr 42 min.
Rated: PG-13
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why This Year's Super Bowl Lived Up to Expectations. (The Best Finals Ever Part II)

As Clint Eastwood said in his Super Bowl ad, “It is our Second Half!”

5. US Open -Tiger Woods (2008)
This was the greatest golf tournament ever. There it is. I laid it all out on the table. Many see Golf as a boring sport but this was absolutely one of the most exciting sporting events I have bore witness to. I happen to love golf and even furthermore love Tiger Woods. All personal matter aside, Tiger is one of my favorite athletes of all time and he was never greater than in this US Open. Here is some of the background:
· The tournament was set at Torrey Pines, one of the most infamous golf courses in the world.
· For the first time ever, the PGA decided to pair the top 12 players in the world together for the first two days of the tournament. This gave us 2 straight days of Tiger-Michelson which is one of the best sports rivalries over the last 20 years. The top two players in the world playing two full rounds side by side at one of the world’s most famous golf courses; amazing!
· The first round and its 18-holes was the first round of golf played by Tiger since his knee surgery after the Masters. The injured knee played a significant role.
Here is what went down. The Major Championship was unfinished after the standard 72 holes. The tournament was forced into a Monday 18-hole playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate. But even this was not enough to settle the battle as the two players were tied once again after 90 holes. Then as it hit Monday afternoon and the two worn out stars went into a Sudden Death Playoff, Tiger pared the first playoff as Rocco Bogeyed, earning Tiger his 14th and hardest earned Major Championship.
What can add to the amazement of the tournament was that Torrey Pines is a brutal course. The winner is usually the person who doesn’t mess up; but this year was different and very different for Tiger Woods. Tiger played a roller coaster tournament going up and down with 14 bogeys, 4 double bogeys, 17 birdies and 3 eagles. Tiger ended his first round at a poor 4 over par. But then the magic started as he began pouring in the birdies and moved into a tie for 2nd. Eventually he made his push for the tie of the lead which included two of the most insane shots ever seen in Golf on the big stage. The first was a 65 foot putt on the 13th par 5 after a very poor approach. The next was an insane shot on the 17th, when from the thick rough; Tiger’s pitch took one bounce, hit the flag pole and dropped in the bottom of the cup for birdie. Then on the 18th hole, Tiger hit another 25 foot putt for his second eagle of the back nine. Many have said this was one of the most insane 9 holes in Golf History. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this tournament was the fact that with every single shot he took, Tiger Woods was in excruciating pain. Barely able to stand and walk on his knee, Tiger wasn’t even able to do his standard stare down after hitting the ball because he was bent over in pain. The fact that he was able to walk 91 holes was a pure miracle.
But all the drama that had happened after 3 rounds culminated on Sunday when Rocco Mediate, the 157th ranked player in the world, pushed the immortal Tiger Woods to his brink. Unyielding with “the eye of the Tiger” watching him, Rocco walked up to a short birdie putt on the 17th hole with a chance to force Tiger to shoot an eagle on the last hole for the tie. But as fate would have it, Rocco missed the putt and headed into the 18th with just a one shot lead. At this point Tiger was literally limping his way from shot to shot and on the 18th. His first shot ended in the fairway bunker which ended any chance of the green in 2 and then with his second shot, Tiger found the thick rough. This would have normally ruined any chance for a birdie for most men. But Tiger gathered up his strength and knocked his third shot 12 feet from the cup which was amazing in its own right. Then with the whole world watching, Tiger buried the putt while yelling at the top of his lungs.
Even Monday was an amazing round as Tiger took a three stroke lead after the 10th but then bogeyed a few holes allowing Rocco back in it and then with three straight birdies, Rocco actually had the lead going into the 18th. It was here that Tiger once again buried a putt with the silence of the world around him before eventually winning in the playoff.
From start to finish this was one of the longest and most exciting sporting events I have ever seen. There was no shortage on drama, heroics and amazing athleticism. It is surely one for the ages.
Here are some of the highlights:

4. Super Bowl XLIII Arizona Cardinals vs Pittsburg Steelers (2009)
There have been some amazing Super Bowls and this decision was a tough one, but after much deliberation I have given the #4 spot to arguably the best Super Bowl of the last 20 years, The Cardinals vs the Steelers. Other games such as the Patriots- Giants (2007 and 2012) and the Rams-Titans were in the running for this spot but in the end I gave the award to the greatest catch in Super Bowl History. The game had a little bit of a slow start but towards the end of the first half started one of the best Super Bowls ever. The Steelers ended up with the thrilling 27-23 victory over the Kurt Warner led Cardinals. Let’s examine why this has earned the #4 spot on the list.
The game seemed like it was over before it ever began. Arizona was a surprise team that started making a run in the playoffs. The 9-7 Cardinals was led by Warner (4,583 yards/30 TD/14 INT)and wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald (96 receptions, 1,431 yards, 12 touchdowns), Anquan Boldin (89 receptions, 1,038 yards, 11 touchdowns), and Steve Breaston (77 receptions, 1,006 yards, three touchdowns, 904 special teams return yards), who made the Cardinals the fifth team ever to feature three players with over 1,000 receiving yards. With some veteran running backs the Cardinals had a high powered offense. But the defense which was ranked at the bottom of the League got hot at the right time as the team made a miraculous run towards the Big Game. But on paper they were no match for the powerhouse Steelers. With a record of 12-4, the NFL’s best defense and a stellar ground & pound offense, the Steelers were poised for an easy win.
The game started out just that way. The Steelers took the opening kickoff 71 yards and scored a field goal. They dominated the first quarter allowing only one drive and one first down for the Cardinals in comparison to their 135 yards. Then after trading second quarter scores, the Cardinals were down to the Steelers 1 yard line but with 18 seconds left in the first half. In a remarkable play Steelers Linebacker James Harrison intercepted Kurt Warner on the goal line and ran the ball back 100 yards (Super Bowl Record). It was a thrilling play as Larry Fitzgerald ran 100 yards to tackle Harrison but Harrison was just able to break the plane for the 17-7 halftime lead.
In the second half, the team’s traded some more scores and the Cardinals even scored a safety with a holding penalty in the end zone. With the score 20-16 the thrilling 4th quarter went down. The game really picked up when down by 4, Warner hit Fitzgerald for a 64 yard TD pass as Fitzgerald took a crossing pattern and simply blew up the middle past Pittsburg defenders. Now down by three, the Steelers took over with 2:37 left and began their comeback drive. After some big pass plays the Steelers found themselves at the Arizona 6 yard line. As Roethlisberger avoided the pressure, he found Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone. As the ball floated over the head of 3 Arizona defenders it appeared as if there was no way Holmes would stay in bounds. But with the greatest catch in Super Bowl history, Holmes stayed in bounds with his tippy toes and pulled in the grab. The Pittsburg Defense eventually ended the game on a sack fumble. The game was amazing from start to finish. In my opinion, the best played Super Bowl of my lifetime.

3. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Boise St. vs Oklahoma University (2005)
Correct, this is not a National Championship game but it was a BCS Bowl game and was the season’s finale. The point is that this game was so frakking good that it has earned this spot. The game pitted the Big 12 Champion Sooners (#8) against the WAC Champion Boise St. Broncos (#9). This was a true case of David vs Goliath. Oklahoma is one of the most storied franchises in all of college football and the Broncos came from a relatively small and relatively unknown sports school, Boise St. The Sooners were favored by 7 ½ points going into the game but the Broncos pulled out the 43-42 victory in overtime. This is without a doubt one of the most sunning endings to a game I have ever seen. I remember staying up very late on a Saturday night watching this game and I am so happy I had seen it live.
The first half of this game was a shocker. The underdog Broncos with their high powered offense just exploded out of the gate and earned them a 21-10 first half lead. Jared Zabransky, the Boise QB, threw 2 TD’s in the first half. As the 3rd quarter began the Broncos seemed to have the game in hand once Boise St. scored on a returned interception for a touchdown extending their lead to 28-10. With the game seemingly out of hand, the Sooners began their amazing 25-0 run to take the lead. Down by 8 with just a few minutes to play the Sooners drove down the entire field and ended up scoring the tie with just 1:26 left. The first attempt at the 2 point conversion was spoiled but a pass interference penalty gave the Sooners another chance. The Sooners scored on the two point conversion and the game was tied with just over a minute to go. It was a remarkable comeback. On the very first play of the next drive as Boise attempted to regain the lead that they had just squandered, Zabranksy threw the out pattern just a little under thrown and Marcus Walker, intercepted the pass and ran it in for the easy TD. It was a stunning turn of events as the Sooners scored 14 points in just a few seconds to take an astonishing 35-28 lead with 1 minute to go.
After the kickoff, the Sooner defense stepped up and sacked Zabransky for 8 yards on first down before stopping the Broncos on the next two plays. But with a 4th and 18 and only 18 seconds left on the clock, Zabransky passed for 15 yards to Drisan James. With five Oklahoma defenders playing a "prevent" style defense to prevent a long conversion, James quickly scoop-passed the ball to an in-stride Jerard Rabb, who ran the ball along the left sideline an additional 35 yards for a touchdown. (The hook and lateral play—called "Circus" by Boise State—allowed for at least two more laterals. Johnson and Zabransky had trailed Rabb along the sideline as potential outlets or possibly as blockers.) The extra point tied the game up at 35 with just seven seconds remaining in regulation, and the game then went into overtime. If you were not watching this game live you cannot really understand how amazing this play was. I can unequivocally say this was the greatest play I have ever seen in my life. But the amazing plays didn’t end there.
Overtime was a very quick roller coaster turn of events. On the very first play, the outstanding Adrian Peterson broke through the Broncos defense for a 25 yards untouched TD run. With the extra point the Sooners took a 42-35 lead. The Boise drive came down to a 4th and 2 from the Sooner 5 yard line. At this point the Broncos ran their second trick play as the backup wide receiver received the hike in a wild-cat format and then proceeded to roll to his right before launching a touchdown pass to the TE to bring the Broncos within 1 point at 42-41. It was at this point that Broncos coach Chris Peterson decided to forgo tying the game and go for the win. The team lined up three wide outs on the right side and faked the screen throw out there. As Zabransky calmly held the ball behind his back, RB Ian Johnson took the ball and ran to the opposite end of the End Zone for the successful two point conversion and the victory. The moment was iconic and jubilant. As David defeated Goliath, it was as if all of college football began to recognize the smaller schools in the country. The game could not have possibly ended better. Even Ian Johnson’s proposal to his cheerleader girlfriend was just perfect. This was such an exciting game and will go down as one of the best of all time. It no doubt has earned the 3rd spot on this list.
Here is the full game: http://www.hulu.com/watch/5105/tostitos-fiesta-bowl-boise-st-vs-oklahoma
Here are just the highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhuHuFbIFy4

2. World Series NY Yankees vs Arizona Diamondbacks (2001)
This has to be up there with one of the best World Series ever. The only reason it did not earn the #1 spot on the list is that the truth is this was not amazing baseball. The Yankees hit a record low .183 as a team against the stellar Arizona pitching and this was in fact one of the lowest scoring World Series ever (less a blowout Arizona win in game 6). So why is this series #2 on the list? Let’s get into it.
This series has earned such a high spot on the list mostly for 3 games. Games 4, 5, and 7 go down as one of the most amazing things ever seen in sports. With the emotional backdrop of the 9/11 tragedy looming over the city of New York and the postponement of the Playoffs, NYC was a city in mourning and recovery. With the Yankees losing the first two games in Arizona by a combined score of 13-1, NYC and the Yankees were desperate for a glimmer of hope. Then in game 3 with President Bush throwing out the first pitch, Roger Clemens and Mariano Rivera combined for 1 run and 3 hits over 9 innings to win game 3 on a 6th inning Scott Brosius RBI single. Then in game 4, with the threat of going down 3-1 and only a handful of hits, the Yankees found themselves down 3-1 with one out and no one on in the bottom of the 9th. With Paul O’Neill on after an opposite field single, and Bernie Williams striking out for the second out, Tino Martinez made the entire city of NY explode with a 2 out, game tying two run homerun off Byung-Hyun Kim. The entire stadium started to shake as the game was tied. Then in the 10th inning as the clock struck twelve, sending the MLB playoffs into November for the first time ever, Derek Jeter, earned himself the name “Mr. November” with a 3-2 opposite field solo-walk off home run.
Game 5 was also a thriller as once again the Yankees needed a miracle. The Arizona starting pitching shut down the Yankees for 8 innings and then blew it in the 9th. Kim was brought in once again and after giving up a leadoff double to Posada, Kim retired the next two batters. Then with 2 outs, Scott Brosius rocked a 1-0 pitch high in the sky to left field and tied the game once again. For this to happen two nights in a row off the same closer in similar situations is unheard of. Alfonso Soriano was the hero this night with a walk-off RBI single in the 11th. The game was also memorable for the top of the 9th standing ovation for Paul O’Neill which delayed the game in O’Neill’s last game ever in Yankees Stadium. After a blowout win in game 6, the Diamondbacks earned a game 7 showdown.
In the game 7 pitching duel, twenty game winners Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling put on a show with the game going scoreless through 5. With the nerve racking game tied 1-1 going into the 8th inning, Alfonso Soriano had one of the biggest hits in World Series history with a solo-home run off Schilling which could have won the game. But in the bottom of the 9th, the Arizona Diamondbacks did something almost never done before; they came back on Mariano Rivera. With Luis Gonzalez’s walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth, the NY hearts were broken and one of the best World Series ever came to a close. Game 7 was one of the best pitching duels in history. The game featured 4 of the best pitchers ever to grace the mound with Schilling, Johnson, Clemens and Rivera. Rivera was immortal in the post season and was seemingly invincible before the Diamondbacks got to him. This is why this has earned the 2 spot on the list.

1) Wimbledon Men’s Final Roger Federer vs Rafa Nadal (2008)
Before you all go crazy that a tennis match was the best final ever, just read this summary. This match was simply amazing. Every point in this 5 set, 4 hour and 48 minute match was a display of beauty, power, and grace. Nadal pulled out the victory with a 6-4 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-7 (8-10) 9-7 victory over the #1 seed. Here is some background, Roger Federer is the #1 player in the world at the time and in discussion to be the greatest player of all time with 12 Grand Slam titles (he has subsequently won three more to take the all-time lead). Federer was nearly untouchable up this point in his career. After setting records with straight victories, weeks at #1 and many more, Federer had only one kryptonite; Rafa Nadal. Rafa had clearly established himself as the #2 player in the world and was fighting to get over that hump and dethrone Federer from the throne. Nadal was unable to touch Federer on most surfaces but owned the Swiss on clay. It just seemed that Nadal couldn’t beat Federer on any other surface but each time they played, he seemed to get a little bit closer. Everything just seemed to be the perfect storm for this epic match up of the games two best players. I don’t know the stat exactly but I think a player not named Nadal or Federer had won only 1 Major title out of the past 15-20. The match would eventually change the entire landscape of Tennis. As Nadal finally did the impossible, he seemed to have rightfully claimed his spot as the heir to the throne. Federer would win a few more majors but his dominance would never be the same as Nadal had established himself as the next big star. Nadal would go on to become the #1 in the world and go on his own undefeated streak, win numerous titles and move his way up the rankings as one of the greatest of all time. Let’s look at the Match.
Nadal was able to win the first two sets 6-4 and 6-4 as he was able to take advantage of the many break chances he received. Federer kept on fighting and earned his own break points but was unable to cash in on the opportunities. At this point, Federer, for the first time in his career looked like a broken player. The odds were against him. Federer’s unbeaten streak at Majors was on the line but not since 1927 had someone come back from 2 sets down to win the Wimbledon Final. But with the third set tied 3-3 and Federer down 0-40, the Swiss Champion mustered everything he could and staged a remarkable comeback. Federer was able to save not one or two championship points but three championship points on his way to winning the 3rd and 4th sets. After coming back in the third, Federer won both the 3rd and 4th sets in tiebreakers, the 4th going to an amazing 10-8 score.
As amazing as Federer’s comeback was, Nadal’s perseverance and heart is second to none. Nadal will go down as the hardest working and fighting tennis player of all time. He literally puts his heart and soul into every single shot. Once Federer made his comeback and evened the sets at 2-2, it almost seemed as if Roger was destined for this amazing comeback against his arch nemesis. But Nadal would have none of that. As the battle on Center Court moved towards 5-5 the two played on since there are no tiebreakers in Championship matches. Nadal was able to pull out the 5th set at 9-7 and with that, the greatest final in the last 20 years came to a close.
This final was just as impactful for its history as it was for its impact on the current field and future sport of Tennis. The game changed the landscape of the sport while honoring two the game’s greatest of all time. If you have never seen this match, watch it because every single point was full of drama, intensity, and some of the greatest athleticism ever seen. All of the top five on this list were special sporting events and there can be no doubting that this match is up there with the best of them.
Some Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEUGjcQ3jYs

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stay Tuned Tomorrow for Best Finals Ever Part II.

Why I Now Love Mockumentaries. (Netflix Jewel #1 -Street Thief)

For those of you who don’t know me and my movie taste, you should know that my #1 favorite genre of all time is heist films. Any movie that involves any type of heist or scheme simply gets me excited. In my quest to see every heist film of all time I searched the bowels of Netflix and found this amazing film. Street Thief has some controversy surrounding it but putting that all aside; this film quickly became one of my favorites. The film is a stylized, suspenseful and very entertaining look into the life of a burglar, planning his jobs, casing the places, and putting himself into all sorts of situations where getting the job done is key, and being forgotten is almost mandatory. The bit of controversy surrounding the film is the debate as to whether this is a movie or a documentary. The film is shown from the perspective of a pair of filmmakers who are granted special access and spend several weeks following the thief, Kaspar Carr around the Chicago area. The movie is filmed as a documentary but it is in fact a mock documentary or mockumentary. Kaspar Carr is actually played by Malik Bader who is co-directors with Miles Harrison. Regardless of whether the film is real or not, the film is thoroughly entertaining. It is a real-life look into the mind of a mastermind thief. Listening to Carr tell over his tips, methods, and routines of the criminal life are absolutely fascinating. Carr comes off as a standoffish, lonely and hard-assed criminal, all the while winning you over with his devotion, dedication, and love for what he does. You kind of hate him and want to be him all at once. The story does have a hole or two but you won’t really care when the film is over. The heist scenes are sharp, fast paced, accurate, and simply riveting and heart pounding as you feel you are there with Carr hoping the cops don’t show up. But the real beauty of this mockumentary is the scenes with Carr casing out jobs and making his observations and opinions of the people he sees and plans to steal from. His opinions and views are moving, disturbing, and enlightening all at the same time. Everyone enjoys the typical Hollywood heist film but have you ever wondered how a real life heist goes down? Ever think to yourself that maybe you can’t just steal millions of dollars from a Vegas Casino with good looks and good one-liners. If you are like me and enjoy the details of how these heists actually go down then this movie is for you. I don’t want to give away any more of the plot than I already have but the movie climaxes with one very big job that Carr is determined to do. The ending may leave you with a few questions but once you finish the film and take a step back you will see the beauty and deepness the story tells. If nothing else, the film kind of left me wanting to be Carr’s best friend.

Sex: In one scene, there is a topless girl walking about, though her breasts are covered by a fence. Later in that scene, she is facing the other way, and even later she is far from the camera, and blurred. Nothing to really worry about.
Language: Lots of strong profanity, including f-words and s-words and etc
Violence: There are large blood stains in one scene, implying a homicide.
Drugs and Drinking: Smoking cigarettes most of the film
Length: 1 hr 24 min.
Rated: R
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, February 6, 2012

Why This Year’s Super Bowl Lived Up To Expectations. (The Top 10 Finals Ever)

Finals are awesome.
This year’s Super Bowl turned out to be a very good game with a fantastic finish. The drama was there and there was no shortage of excitement. Regardless of whether or not you felt the best two teams were fighting for the Championship, these two teams earned their chance to win the title. The Giants took advantage of their opportunities and made the big plays needed to win. Congrats on winning the Super Bowl. Though not the best game ever, this year’s Super Bowl had everything you could want from a title game. There were back stories, amazing plays, and a down-to-the-wire finish. You see, though this championship game didn’t live up to all the hype, it was yet another example of how amazing championship games can be. I saw this as an opportunity to give you the Top Ten Finals in my lifetime.
A championship game or series is the culmination of a long season. As a fan, the championship is the cherry on top satisfying your love and need for sports. Suffering through those very long regular season games, I look forward to the championship game/series every year. To me it should all be a natural progression. The end of the regular season is fun and exciting as teams make their final push; the playoffs are nail biting as the strong weed out and outlast the weak; and the finals should be a classic showdown between the best in the league. People often say they are upset or disinterested when the so called “best teams” don’t make the championship game. But in my humble opinion I don’t care. To me, I love championship games because they are just that, played for the championship. If two teams make it there, I don’t care how they got there, I simply care that this game comes down to the last second play that makes it an instant classic. I am a sucker for the dramatic and get so amped up when there is an exciting game for a title. This inspired me to take a look back and give you my top 10 best, most exciting, most dramatic and most entertaining championship games/series of all time. (Disclosure: These are games/series from my lifetime or close to my lifetime and are all events that have had an impact on me as a sports fan)
And in the words of the greatest movie villain ever, “Here we go!” (My new catchphrase)

10. Griffin vs Bonnar UFC, The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale (2005)
At ten we have the Season One of the Ultimate Fighter Finale between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. Now I know you are going are probably saying there is no way that this is on the list but to me it deserves to be. I am a massive boxing/UFC fan and watch it consistently. This fight trumped numerous other great sports moments and made it on the list for two reasons. The first reason being that this was simply an amazing fight. The fight was more of a battle and easily won fight of the year awards.
Without the surprise success of The Ultimate Fighter reality show, which premiered in 2005 on Spike TV, the UFC might not be here today. What’s more, the battle between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar during the live finale was not only one of the best fights of the year, but also managed to rope in a casual fan audience that the UFC had been salivating over for years. For these reasons, Forrest Griffin versus Stephan Bonnar I is thought by many the most important fight in the history of MMA. In this war of two very determined fighters, Bonnar and Grifin just wailed on each other for 3 fantastic round. As Joe Rogan announced ringside, “What a battle of wills. I would hate to have to score this fight.” The groundwork in the fight was fantastic as each fighter attempted numerous submission holds and each was able to ground and pound the other. The standup was a fantastic and was a pure display of boxers duking it out. Battered and bruised both fighters kept on throwing until the final bell rang, barely able to stand up. The fighters were at the point of complete exhaustion and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This fight also made it on the list because of the impact it had on the history of the UFC. Many consider this the most important fight in UFC history. Not only was it the finals of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, which is now its 14th season, but this fight was really the beginning of the UFC’s popularity. The massive sports company has become a household name with TV deals and sold out stadiums. Many feel that UFC has surpassed boxing as the nation’s favorite hand to hand combat sport. The final match not only gave two hopefuls contracts with the UFC (usually only 1 contract is given) but it may been the best championship fight I have ever seen.
For the full fight click on the following link:
RUNNER UP: Bellator 58 Final, Mike Chandler vs Eddie Alvarez (2011)

9. Kansas vs Memphis, NCAA National Basketball Championship (2008)
Though I will admittedly say this was not the best championship game of all time (see 1983 NC State vs Houston, 1979 Michigan State vs Indiana State, and 1966 Texas Western vs Kentucky), this was the best final of my lifetime. The game was a match up of the Nation powerhouses. Both teams were number 1 seeds and two of the obvious choices to make it to the championship game. With its long and storied history behind it, Kansas ended a 20 year drought to win the National Championship in overtime with a 75-68 victory. But most of the excitement came before overtime as the end of regulation was simply breathtaking. With the game in hand all Memphis and current NBA MVP Derrick Rose had to do was hit a few foul shots to clinch a record breaking season for the national title. But a few missed free throws and one of the most clutch basketball shots ever would prevent Memphis from its record 39th win. As the Kansas faithful had their prayers answered and Derrick Rose only hit 1 of 2 free throws with 10.8 seconds left, Mario Chalmers, now of the Miami Heat, received the ball behind the three point line and hit one the most dramatic and incredible shots I have ever seen. The three to end regulation sent the game to overtime where the Jayhawks were able to pull away for the title. Overall this was one arguably the best NCAA Basketball final ever.
For the Dramatic Final Minutes, Click Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDvbTrE8VBo
RUNNER UP: NCAA National Championship Duke vs Butler (2010)

8. NCAA FB National Championship Texas vs USC (2005)
The first of our 2 College Bowl games on this list, the 2005 Rose Bowl/ BCS National Championship game was in my opinion the best college football National Championship game in my lifetime. The game was overwhelmed with talent including numerous NFL stars and some of the best college players at the time. With Matt Leinart at the helm and the Heisman winner Reggie Bush running the ball, the dominant and No. 1 ranked USC Trojans took on the Long Horns from Texas and their star college QB Vince Young. The game came down to the bitter end when on a 4th and 5, Young took a snap and scrambled for nine yards and the game winning touchdown with 9 seconds left in the game. This iconic play capped an amazing 32 point fourth quarter as the Long Horns won the game 41-38. Vince Young had an insane game throwing for 267 yards and running for another 200 yards and 3 scores. Many have said this was the best performance ever in the title game. Anyone who was there or who watched the game cannot deny just how good of a game this was. It has earned the 8 spot on the list.
For some of the highlights click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rEHzYS6xJc

7. World Series St. Louis Cardinals vs Texas Rangers Game 6 (2011)
This was an amazing baseball game. Though the series wasn’t decided until a less exciting game 7, the game 6 battle between the Cardinals and the Rangers was an absolute pleasure to watch. This was not the prettiest of games or one of the purest baseball games ever played but it was a thriller. Despite 5 horrific errors this game literally game down to the final pitch. Twice down to their final strike of the season, the Cardinals came up with amazing clutch hits. Actually, correction, David Freese came up with some of the most clutch hits ever. With a two run deficit in the 9th inning, David Freese tied the game at 7-7 with a two out, two strike, two RBI triple. Even on this incredible hit critics say that Nelson Cruz was playing unusually shallow in right field. But in all the excitement in St. Louis after Freese tied the game, the Rangers regained the lead on the super clutch two run home run by Josh Hamilton in the top of the tenth. This alone was an incredible feat. To be one strike away from the World Series title and then lose it on a last minute triple, it was simply amazing for Hamilton to come right back with a two run blast. Then in the bottom half of the inning, Ryan Theriot hit an RBI ground out, followed by Lance Berkman’s clutch RBI Single to tie the game. The Cardinals had just come back twice from a two-run deficit while down to their last strike of the season. Then in the bottom of the 11th inning, the game’s 9th inning hero became the world series hero as David Freese hit a solo walk-off home run to dead center field to force a game 7 which the Cardinals would eventually win. The game was over with the swing of the bat as Joe Buck, honoring his late father, proclaimed, “We will see you tomorrow night!” before the ball even landed. It was quite the special game.
These were the best highlights I could find: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16E238CTCCo

6 NBA Finals Bulls vs Jazz (1998)
There have been some very good NBA Finals in the last 20-25 years but none is more memorable or was more exciting than the 1998 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz. To provide some history of the series, this was the second time in 2 years that the Bulls and Jazz faced off with the Bulls winning a very exciting series in 1997. The game included some of the all-time greats. There was of course Michael Jordan, the greatest NBA player ever, who retired for the 2/3 times after the series; Karl Malone, a top 5 all-time leading scorer in NBA history; Dennis Rodman, who many consider top 5 defensive players/rebounders ever; Scottie Pippen, named one of the NBA’s greatest 50 players; and John Stockton, the then all-time assist leaders in NBA history. The series was not short of superstars and the series didn’t let us down. Five of the six games were decided by 5 points or less and the last 3 games of the series were decided by a combined total of 7 points. The Jazz got a surprising series lead with a thrilling game 1 overtime win. The Bulls tied it up with a solid 5 point victory before gaining the series lead with a 42 point massacre in game three. The reason game 3 doesn’t taint this series’ reputation is because even this game set records for biggest rout and fewest points scored (since broken) in the Finals. The bulls then took a 3-1 lead with a thrilling 4 point game 4 victory before the Jazz were amazingly able to stave off elimination with a 2 point game 5 victory.
This all led to game 6 which has to go down as one of the best and is perhaps the most iconic moment in NBA history. With his team down by a point Michael “Air” Jordan stole the ball from Karl Malone and then with a hard dribble right, a push off of Bryon Russell, he hit a series clinching 18 footer saying goodbye to the Jazz and to the greatest career the NBA has ever seen. The series had everything you could want as a fan. There was some amazing offensive moments including Jordan’s and Stockton’s missed buzzer beaters at the end of games 5 and 6 respectively. The series featured some of the best defense ever seen in an NBA Finals as the average score for both teams was in the 80’s with the Jazz failing to top 88 points and the bulls scoring anywhere from 81-95 points in each game. It definitely earns the 6 spot on the list.
Here is a listing of the final scores from each game:
GAME 1:CHI 85UTA 88 (OT)

Here is a link to the final moments of the game: