Oscars 2019 Recap: The Parasite Show

There was certainly an international flavor to last night’s Oscar ceremony and it was in a history making way. The Academy Awards honoring the pictures and performers of 2019 will forever be known as The Parasite Show as voters fell hard for Bong Joon-Ho’s South Korean export.

So how did I do on predictions? 18/21 and I’m pretty darn pleased with that. There were few surprises that didn’t involve Eminem popping up for an out of nowhere performance of his 2002 Best Song winner “Lose Yourself” (of which he missed that acceptance speech 17 years back).

Best Director was certainly the biggest race I missed. That’s because Sam Mendes (1917) was undeniably the front runner after taking home the Golden Globe and especially the Directors Guild of America, which almost always previews the eventual Academy winner. Yet the Parasite love extended to Joon-Ho, whose interpreter seemed to get more airtime than anyone. The film also was victorious for Best Picture, International Feature Film, and Original Screenplay, which I correctly projected. In doing so, Parasite is the first foreign language entry to take Best Picture in its 92 year history. The four victories ended up leading the night over 1917, which took three in tech categories (Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Visual Effects).

In the acting races, everything was according to script as the quartet of Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Renee Zellweger (Judy), Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), and Laura Dern (Marriage Story) went to the podium. Anything else happening would have constituted serious upset territory.

Other correct calls are as follows:

Adapted Screenplay – Jojo Rabbit

Animated Feature – Toy Story 4

Costume Design – Little Women

Film Editing – Ford v Ferrari

Makeup and Hairstyling – Bombshell

Original Score – Joker

Original Song – “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from Rocketman

Production Design – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Besides Director, I whiffed on Documentary with my slight upset pick of For Sama. It went to the front runner American Factory. Same goes for Sound Editing, which Ford v Ferrari took as opposed to 1917.

I was correct in my thinking that The Irishman would be the only Best Picture nominee to come up completely empty-handed, despite 10 nominations. Lucky for Martin Scorsese, he received plenty of shout-outs including from the maker of Parasite. Joon-Ho (and his interpreter) certainly came away as the story of the evening. And I’m ready to get the 2020 Oscar speculation rolling!

Dre Day

For a hip hop fan like myself, I recognize that I’m lucky to have grown up in what I consider the golden age of the genre: the early to middle portion of the 1990s. It was a time of Wu Tang Clan and the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. It’s when Outkast and Jay Z and Nas started their careers. It’s also the unforgettable era of Death Row Records – with its notorious co-founder Suge Knight. It is, of course, the label that gave us Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound. Most notably, it’s other founder is Dr. Dre, the beat maker behind legendary rap group N.W.A. That rap quintet will be the subject of Straight Outta Compton, out August 14th. The pic is already generating positive buzz.

Speaking of positive buzz, the first release on the Death Row label was The Chronic, released in late 1992. It is a Dre solo album, though none of his works actually are. It featured a smorgasbord of guest stars that Dre allowed to shine – Snoop, Kurupt, Daz, Nate Dogg, Lady of Rage and more. It gave us classics like “Ain’t Nuthin But a G Thang”, “Dre Day”, “Let Me Ride” and more. The funk drenched gangsta rap epic is often called the finest rap album of all time. I don’t disagree.

Flash forward to 1999. Dre had left Death Row three years prior amid issues with Suge and formed new label Aftermath. The long wait between Dre albums had been made easier with his production work in between – on Snoop’s brilliant debut Doggystyle, Pac’s All Eyez on Me album and others. Chronic 2001 came in late 1999 with a difficult charge to keep – holding up compared to his first “solo” work. It did. Chronic 2001 was another masterpiece, complete with assists from Dre’s new protégés Eminem and Xzhibit, as well as Snoop. Singles like “Still DRE”, “Forgot About Dre”, and “What’s the Difference?” tore up the charts.

And then… The music stopped. Sort of. While rap’s most ingenious producer kept putting out hits from Eminem works to Mary J. Blige’s “Family Affair” to 50 Cent’s anthem “In Da Club”, the music community kept waiting for Dre’s promised album Detox. And waiting. And waiting.

Detox was announced as his first final solo album. Official word of its eventual release was first discussed in 2001. Known as an extreme perfectionist, fans just assumed he was taking his time. A lot of time. Finally it late 2010, it seemed Dre’s long gestating project was finally coming to fruition. A first single featuring Snoop – “Kush” – was put out. A follow up track “I Need a Doctor” with Eminem quickly followed. And then radio silence again.

In recent years, Dre has been known more for his successful line of headphones that’s made him a billionaire. The hope of a new album with his name on it seemed unlikely at best. And then… some news broke over the weekend from the Doctor himself. He has made a brand spanking new album called Compton – The Soundtrack, inspired by the film out in two weeks. It features, among others, previous collaborators like Snoop, Ice Cube, and Eminem. And after 16 years of anticipation – Dre casually announced that it’ll be out Friday. As in THIS Friday, August 7th!! For hip hop lovers, it’s tough to properly describe how exciting this news is.

I’ll sort of try. The first two Chronic albums are essentially the rap version of the first two Godfather movies. They’re untouchable and pretty much perfect master works that hold up as well today as when they were released. For many who proclaimed hip hop a fad and “not real music”, Dre provided a prescription of stunning production that made their argument tougher to make. The Godfather comparison is not one I would make lightly, but the comparison is deserved.

And the news that we are at last getting another album from this certified genius was music to my ears. We shall learn Friday if it’s worth the wait. The Godfather comparisons continue. Sixteen years passed between the release of part II and the much lesser received Part III. It will be coincidentally be the same passage of time between Chronic 2001 and Compton. I am hopeful the Doc has some more wonderful work left in him. Frankly, he rarely disappoints. Therefore, I will be his willing patient on August 7. Friday, to be sure, will be Dre Day.

Southpaw Box Office Prediction

A ripped Jake Gyllenhaal headlines the boxing drama Southpaw, out Friday and it will attempt to bring in adult moviegoers looking for something out than effects driven sci-fi spectacles and sequels. Antoine Fuqua, director of Training Day and The Equalizer, is behind the camera with Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, and 50 Cent among the supporting cast. 50’s protege Eminem is featured prominently on the soundtrack and in the trailers and TV spots.

Gyllenhaal has been on a roll lately, particularly in the critical community. Last fall’s Nightcrawler gave the actor some of the best reviews of his career and many (including this blogger) feel he was snubbed for a nomination at Oscar time. Southpaw gives him another juicy role, but early word is somewhat mixed (it stands at 60% on Rotten Tomatoes at press time). Gyllenhaal’s recent track record suggests an opening in the low double to digits to mid teens could be a real possibility here. 2011’s Source Code debuted to $14.8 million while the following year’s End of Watch made $13.1 million out of the gate. The aforementioned Nightcrawler premiered with $10.4 million. I have a difficult time envisioning this matching his best opening of recent years – 2013’s Prisoners which made $20.8 million.

I’ll predict Southpaw is left with a start right in range with End of Watch, which would be fairly decent considering its rumored $30 million budget.

Southpaw opening weekend prediction: $12.9 million

For my Pixels prediction, click here:


For my Paper Towns prediction, click here:


My Top Ten Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

Tomorrow evening at Comerica Park, I will witness Eminem perform alongside Rihanna and I’m truly excited. I’ve been to my share of concerts in my life, but this one is special. For one thing – Mr. Mathers rarely tours. And having a chance to see him in front of his hometown crowd should really be something special.

Therefore – tonight I bring you my personal Top Ten favorite Eminem tracks of all time. Feel free to chime in on the comments section and share your personal favorites. Let’s get to it!

10. “Won’t Back Down” from Recovery (2010)

From his album that heralded a major comeback for the rapper, the hard hitting “Won’t Back Down” is my favorite on the LP. Pink assists with vocals.

9. “Business” from The Eminem Show (2002)

It wasn’t a single but it might as well have been, as this jam has become a staple of his (rare) live shows.

8. “The Way I Am” from The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

Dealing with his newfound fame through his incredible lyrics, “The Way I Am” is a highlight off his historic second mainstream album.

7. “‘Till I Collapse” from The Eminem Show (2002)

With backing vocals from the late Nate Dogg, “Collapse” is a booming anthem that has since become a staple of sports teams. Great track to psyche yourself up.

6. “My Name Is” from The Slim Shady LP (1999)

This was the song that exposed Marshall Mathers to the world with typical brilliant production from Dr. Dre. Hip hop has never been the same.

5. “Rap God” from The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)

The finest track off his latest album, “Rap God” is an amazing production with one highlight being Em’s unbelievably rapid fire delivery of a verse towards the song’s close.

4. “Stan” from The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

A lyrical masterpiece – “Stan” recounts the tale of a crazed fan obsessed with rapper. A memorable Grammy performance of the song followed with Elton John.

3. “Without Me” from The Eminem Show (2002)

Em’s lead single from his third album showcases Em and Dre doing what they do best, including the rapper’s hilarious disses of other celebrities.

2. “Kill You” from The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

For anyone for thought his hit first album was a fluke, the first track off his best album negated that. “Kill You” finds Em humorously reflecting on superstardom in only a way he can.

1. “Lose Yourself” from The 8 Mile soundtrack (2002)

This may be the greatest hip hop anthem ever created, period. 12 years later, you can still listen to it and want to take on the world. It’s inspirational, flawlessly produced, and features some of Slim Shady’s greatest verses.

And there you have it, my friends! Looking forward to seeing the man himself in 24 hours.


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