Starting Five

Students line the road along St. Mary’s Lake –or is it St. Joseph’s Lake?–awaiting Fr. Hesburgh’s funeral cortege (it’s St. Mary’s Lake)

1. Ted Talks

Former Notre Dame president Fr. Ted Hesburgh (1952-1987) who died last Friday morning at the age of 97, is laid to rest on the campus of Notre Dame. Outside of perhaps Knute Rockne and the school’s founder, Fr. Sorin, (and maybe….mayyyyybe….Rudy), he was the most important person in the school’s history.

Former President Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State Condi Rice, and Dr. Lou spoke at a tribute to Fr. Hesburgh at the Purcell Pavilion last night. And the Irish went out and beat No. 16 Louisville by 12 last night.

A few numbers regarding Fr. Hesburgh, whose contributions to the school overall are unquantifiable: allowed women to matriculate…doubled the enrollment…tripled the faculty…endowment grew from $9 million to $350 million…as an outgoing act of grace in 1987, pardoned my friend Smoron of all his crimes against humanity, particularly the time when he tossed water balloons out the third floor of Dillon Hall at unsuspecting grad students headed to lunch.

On the last day of February ’79, Hesburgh was a passenger in an SR-71 that eclipsed 2,200 miles per hour. Seriously. He died 35 years to the day later.

Here’s NBC’s Anne Thompson, an alum, introducing Lou Holtz. Dr. Lou is the best speaker I’ve ever listened to in person, by far, so I invite you to listen to him here.

So if you’re keeping score this winter, the Midwest has gained a Harbaugh and lost a Hesburgh.

2. The Lovely Bone

It was MURDER! (I have to quit binge-watching ‘CSI: Ethiopia”)

The oldest human lineage bone ever discovered, dating back some 2.8 million years, was found by a U.S.-led team in Ethiopia earlier this week. 2.8 million years ago. And we think anything beyond 2,000 years ago is ancient history. That’s like saying $2 is a lot of money when the bank has $2,800, just for a sense of perspective.

The bone was found atop a hill, not even hidden under tons of dirt. Can you really call it a “dig” if no one actually had to dig?

3. Russ-diculous

It takes a lot for a play in the 2nd quarter of a game in March to become etched in memory, but this one shall…

We’ve got quite the interesting four-way battle for the NBA’s MVP award heading into the final month of the season. How do you split hairs between LeBron James (the best overall player…even if I didn’t believe that, do I really want to tempt the wrath of Susie B.?), Russell Westbrook (the single-most valuable player on any team who has delivered the most meaningful performances), James Harden (the leading scorer) and Stephen Curry (the modern-day Maravich who is leading the Warriors to the top berth in the West turns and heads downcourt before his threes even kiss the net)?

Well, you look at last night’s performance by Westbrook, playing with a broken facial bone that is somewhat less than 2.8 million years old, and you see that he had 49 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Thunders in an overtime win against Philly. That’s his fourth consecutive triple double. Also, he made THIS PLAY. Just five dribbles while catching the ball going the wrong way against his favored hand and still going coast to coast.

The Big O: Why doesn’t anyone in the NBA use the patented Bruce Lee clear-out kick any more?

Westbrook, 26, now has 18 career triple doubles. Oscar Robertson, “The Big O,” retired with an NBA-record 181. Here are the 10 NBA players who lead that category all-time.

The Thunders are still in 8th place in the West. On one hand, I’d hate to see them face GSW in the first round. On the other, it would make the greatest 1-8 matchup in NBA history.

4. Conan in Cuba

As mentioned in yesterday’s IAH!, Conan O’Brien visited Cuba last month and the show aired on TBS last night. So, keeping score, Conan becomes the most famous Harvard alum since JFK to interact with the Cubans and probably this was the highest-profile case of an American in Cuba since Michael Corleone’s New Year’s Eve visit in The Godfather II.

Here’s a clip. Worth viewing.

5. Beep! Beep!

I’d like that to be my epitaph

So I’m driving home from a wake last night with good family friend Jones (he’s so famous, one name will suffice) and he is telling me about an incident that happened to him along the Beeline Highway northeast of Phoenix some time ago. Jones was driving along and he spotted a roadrunner crossing the road (not too unusual). Not long after he came across a coyote crossing the road (a little more rare).

“And I thought to myself, ‘That cartoon is real,'” said Jones.

I wondered aloud if an Acme anvil fell near the vehicle.

Not an hour after that conversation, these set of rules by Roadrunner/Coyote creator Chuck Jones popped up on the Twitter. Extra eerie since both men are named Jones (Chuck passed away in 2002 at the age of 89; our Jones has many decades left).

Remote Patrol

Thunder at Bulls 

8 p.m. TNT

Dion Waiters had arguably the most overlooked 20-point, 10-rebound game in NBA history last night.

How much gas will Russell Westbrook have in the tank after last night’s 49-16-10 performance? Then again, who on the Bulls is going to stop him with both Derrick Rose AND Jimmy Butler out with injuries? Aaron Brooks? Tony Snell? Or will Joakim Noah volunteer for the assignment? I’m intrigued.



Starting Five

Towns paced the Cats with 19 points and 7 boards and made a solid argument for hyphens connecting first names, not surnames

1. Bluebloods Prevail

I don’t know if anyone has coined a term for this phenomenon, but all too often in sports we see it: the team that has a history of greatness finds itself trailing in a game late and yet, almost through sheer force of destiny, prevails. It’s as if everyone watching, both at home and in person, knows who is supposed to win, and so the prophecy fulfills itself. Even the team that is in the midst of pulling off the upset seems like a willing participant in its own demise.

Happened twice last night. Undefeated and No. 1 Kentucky trailed Georgia in Athens by nine points with 9:10 remaining and still by six with 4:55 to play. But then coach John Calipari told his players, “Scared money don’t make money” (he’s right) and the Cats cruised to a 70-62 win, outscoring the Bulldogs 16-2 in the final five minutes.

Frank Mason III is a full foot shorter (5’11”) than Towns, but he, too, had 19 points and 7 boards in KU’s win

At the same time in Lawrence, Kansas, the Jayhawks trailed West Virginia by eight points with 2:02 to play. The Mountaineers even had the ball. So of course, KU forces overtime and then wins.

That’s why they are who they are. UK and KU have a combined 11 national titles in men’s hoops, Georgia and West Virginia have zero.

2. Sir Vivor

If only God had spared one domestic housekeeper –preferably an illegal immigrant–as well

Two men, each living in the American southwest, basically isolated from civilization and not taking advantage of the good woman they have backing them: Phil Miller and James McGill.

What does it say about Will Forte’s new sitcom, Last Man on Earth, that we all find shyster lawyer McGill far more appealing as a human? LMoE has some nice touches, such as the inflatable margarita pool, but whither the conflict? Will it all emanate from the one-note joke that even if you and she are the last two people on Earth that your wife will still nag you?

My favorite moment? When Phil tries to figure out how to use the giant water shed to water Carol’s tomatoes (not a euphemism) and is using duct tape and even a gun and I’m thinking to myself, this is a situation that needs MacGruber!

3. Roasted

Biebs. Roastable? Uh, yeah…

Now that Stephen Colbert has departed and Jon Stewart will soon join him, the best reason for Comedy Central to still exist may be its celebrity roasts. Next up? Justin Bieber, who recently turned 21 and will be singed on March 14th for a telecast that will air on March 30th.

Now, we all know how bad Rolling Stone lists can be (see its recent ranking of SNL cast members), but you may want to click on this link simply to watch all the clips of 18 previous Comedy Central roasts, from Charlie Sheen to Joan Rivers.

4. Thieves & Princes

Curry and Westbrook are both having career seasons…

I don’t know how common or uncommon this is, but the NBA’s top three leaders in Steals are three of its top four scorers. The Steals list looks like this:

Stephen Curry…………2.12

Russell Westbrook…..2.04

James Harden…………1.95

….as is Harden

The Scoring list looks like this:

James Harden……………………………..27.1

Russell Westbrook……………………….26.5

LeBron James……………………………..26.2

Stephen Curry/Anthony Davis………23.9

That doesn’t really help when it comes to narrowing the MVP field. Curiously enough, the Atlanta Hawks, who won last night to move to 48-12 on the season (.800), don’t have a scorer in the league’s Top 25. Paul Millsap is 30th at 16.9 ppg.

5. Things I Didn’t Know… (Cont.)

China’s Civil War made our Civil War, which was happening contemporaneously, seem puny by comparison

Before yesterday I’d never heard of the Taiping Rebellion in China or of Hong Xiuquan, the leader of the rebellion who announced to his followers that he had received visions telling him that he was the younger brother of Jesus.

The rebellion lasted from 1851-1866 and here’s what’ll blow your mind: 20 million Chinese lost their lives. That’s like taking the ENTIRE CURRENT populations of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Phoenix and completely exterminating them.

So yeah, 20 million people. By comparison, 620,000 soldiers died in the American Civil War, which took place at the same time. Never knew that. My smart buddy Dan told me about that.

Remote Patrol

Conan in Cuba

TBS 11 p.m.

Not that a six-foot-five carrot-topped comedian would stand out in Havana, but 54 or so years after another Harvard alum (JFK) stared down Castro, Conan O’Brien takes his entire show down to that lovely island south of the Florida Keys for a show. The last time an American late-night talk show host visited Cuba was in 1959 when Jack Paar took The Tonight Show there (statistics provided by Elias Late Night TV Show Bureau).



Starting Five

Netanyahu Serious

1. Netanyahu Neutrality

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in Washington, D.C., drops a Game of Thrones reference, and demonstrates that a head of state is able to earn a rousing cheer when speaking to the 114th U.S. Congress.

POTUS did not attend, as Netanyahu is up for election in a few weeks and POTUS did not want it to seem as if the administration was backing one candidate over another.

A few things I never knew as I looked into this: Speaker of the House John Boehner was honorably discharged from military service in 1968 (kind of a bad time to be serving in the U.S. Army) after eight weeks due to a bad back. Second, Boehner took seven years to graduate from Xavier University, partly because he was working his way through college. He is one of 11 children and, according to Wikipedia, his parents slept on a pull-out couch. And Boehner began working at his family’s bar at age eight.

2. 30 Rock and (Heads) Roll

Who knew ’30 Rock’ was a documentary?

My favorite behind-the-scenes TV star, producer Michael Weisman, is going to have to wake up a lot earlier now that he has agreed to play Mr. Wolf to MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Meanwhile, there’s a rumor circulating that the head of NBC’s news division, Deborah “Bitch is the New Black” Turness (that’s a compliment, btw), may be on her way out, apparently for decisively handling the situations of Jamie Horowitz and Brian Williams. Wherefore art thou, Jack Donaghy?

3. Robert Flores: Temecula

Young, Femcee

Who knew he had it in him? SportsCenter anchor Robert Flores is out-swagging Swaggy P. himself, Nick Young. To recap:

Saturday: Flores takes an unprovoked shot at Young’s girlfriend, Iggy Azalea, on SportsCenter, which a few people who care about sports happen to watch. In Flores’ defense, it has been a looooooooooooooooooong winter in New England, and having lived through one central Connecticut winter (barely), I know that it makes people a little mean.

Monday a.m.: Swaggy P. fires back via social media with a veiled threat.

Monday: Flores comes back with an even harder overhead smash, alluding to Swaggy P.’s shooting percentage this season by saying that even if Young did take a shot at him, “there’s a 70% chance he’d miss.” Degree of burn? Sick. (Fact-checker update: more like a 64% chance he’d miss).

Today: Where is the Swaggy P. Army? When will someone invite Flores to settle this in Temecula? And do you think any Bristol-bound anchor would refuse a trip to southern California right about now, even if a beating accompanied it? Or this could be a fitting undercard to the next Ronda Rousey 15 seconds-or-less bout.

4. I Love Brent

“Yes, I do and…no. I don’t.” Brent (R) is a national treasure.

A few years ago I spent an absolutely frigid and wonderful Monday in Lawrence, Kans., with the legendary Brent Musburger. One of the things Brent told me: “Don’t gamble, John.”

One of the things I love about Brent is that he doesn’t take his own advice. It sounds as if Brent, who called last night’s Oklahoma at Iowa State contest, had the Sooners plus-six. The Hawkeyes Cyclones Ames’ed high and won 77-70. “You’re looking live” handled the disappointment well, particularly when you consider that Oklahoma led 48-28 early in the second half.

5. You Know Nothing, John Snow W.

Petty to Postman: “Don’t come around here no more.”

Who knew “Things I Didn’t Know” would be such a bounteous bevy of brass tacks? Only everyone who knows me. In the immortal words of Simon LeBon, “Please. Please. Tell me now. Is there something I should know?”

Two items today, each of them courtesy of my pal Sorp, who informed me last night and BLEW MY MIND!

1) Rocker Tom Petty appeared in the 1997 Kevin Costner film The Postman (WHAT!?!?). Guess I never saw it –and, honestly, back then he could’ve been mistaken for Dwight Yoakam, who did appear in Sling Blade around the same time.

I’m a sergeant. My son, Captain Kirk, outranks me.

2. Actor Chris Pine (Star Trek) is the son of Robert Pine, who played the sergeant (Sgt. Joe Getraer) on CHiPs (that’s how you spell it, kiddos). Moreover, Pine’s mother is actress Gwynne Gilford, who made a few appearances on CHiPs as Sgt. Getraer’s wife. Is your mind BLOWN yet?

Remote Patrol

Kentucky at Georgia

ESPN 9 p.m.

Towns has Calipari’s back in more ways than one

Cats versus Dawgs. Kentucky would move to 30-0 with a victory in Athens, and are the unranked but 19-9 Bulldogs the team to take down the likes of Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns and any other three-named assassins on John Calipari’s roster? Probably not. But last month the Felines played a pair of SEC road games versus decent competition, Florida and LSU, in which they trailed after halftime. That’s probably the best any fan of an upset should hope for this evening.


Starting Five 

Seriously, Susie B? “Ya boy” misses both free throws with the Cavs trailing by a point in the dying seconds of overtime??? Let’s pump the brakes on the “LeBron for God’s Replacement” talk for a week or two, okay?

The wink was a nice touch, Dakota

1. Say What U Wanna Say, SNL

Perhaps the cast at Saturday Night Live, and executive producer Lorne Michaels, took Louis C.K.’s words to heart about how the funnier bits are the taped bits. In their return episode after the 40th anniversary super-vaganza, the two best bits were pre-recorded: this Sara Bareilles-inspired salute to candor and this parody of the Toyota ad in which the dad drops off his daughter, who is joining the army, at the airport.

The tweak here: she’s joining ISIS.

Did anyone else catch the irony of SNL doing a “Say What You Wanna Say” skit and then being excoriated by media the following day for doing just that?

Was the latter sketch funny? If you laughed, it was funny… to you. And that’s all that matters. If you did not, it wasn’t funny. Not to you.

My take: First, the acting by both Taran Killam and Dakota Johnson is terrific. That’s the first reason it works. Second, isn’t the fact that you live in a country where this parody can air on national TV and people can laugh at it what separates us from so many other countries? I mean, it’s not like we gun down dissidents a block away from our capitol.

Sure, The Producers was funny. But ISIS, well THAT is some serious shiznit.

Less than 25 years after the Nazis were stopped from mass-murdering the Jews, Mel Brooks wrote and produced a hit Broadway show that was about a fictitious Broadway musical whose theme was Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. This particular number stands out.

A plethora of news sites or cable channels produced “SNL ISIS Sketch Sparks Controversy” pieces. Good. Take a bow, SNL. You’re doing your job well. And every news anchor who bowed their head in that faux somber and disapproving tone? How many of you laughed when you watched it the first time? But you won’t “say what you wanna say” because you like your salaries far too much. We get it.

2. Curt vs The Cowards

Former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling might have exercised better judgment than to praise (i.e., draw attention to) his teenage daughter on Twitter. That’s what the dinner table is for, after all.

Still, he is correct to wonder aloud why people send out tweets such as those mentioned in Schilling’s blog entry.

Take a bow, Adam Nagel, alias “The Sports Guru” (@Nagels_Bagels) at Brookdale Community College.

And aren’t you proud, “Hollywood” alias @primetime227 , who is a student at Montclair State?

(Why do they always have to be from New Jersey?)

Both Twitter accounts have since been deleted. But the screen grabs that Curt grabbed and put on his blog will live forever. The internet is a two-way information superhighway, after all.

3. These Are Days…

Swift, 25, and Kloss, 22, out-Abercrombie & Fitch-ing every A&F ad campaign ever

you’ll remember (p.s. That entire 10,000 Maniacs album is wildly underrated).

It’s good to be in your early twenties, as I recall (well, it was so long ago I barely remember, but I believe Rolling Rocks at the Raccoon Lodge were $3 apiece). Anyway…

BFFs Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss grace the cover of this month’s Vogue, an issue that runs 583 pages (ad sales guys will be happy hour’ing heavily). Inside you’ll find a good story on their welationship, and a quote from mutual pal Lena Dunham hailing Swift as “the Betty Crocker of friendships.”

Meanwhile, there may be only one cure for my current malady.

4. Father-Son Fast Break

Tyler’s dad will be working his fourth NCAA tournament this month. Tyler, a red-shirt junior, is still in search of his first.

On Saturday afternoon Tyler Harvey of Eastern Washington scored 27 points to maintain his status as the nation’s leading scorer in Division I at 22.8 points per game. But the game was not televised nationally. In fact, the closest the Eagles have come to big time all season was a two-point victory at Indiana in November in which they appeared on ESPN News and Tyler scored 27.

Frank works games in Tyler’s area, but he will never work one of Tyler’s games…

On Saturday night Tyler’s dad, Frank Harvey, did appear on ESPN2 because he was refereeing the BYU-Gonzaga game in which the Cougars ended the Zags’ 41-game home win streak. The leading scorer in the nation’s dad has gotten more on-court air time this season than he has.

My story on the two of them in Newsweek. Thanks for the kind words.

5. Things I Don’t Know (Cont.)

Andy Spade, David’s bro, and his wife, Kate.

Remember last Friday when I revealed that I had no idea that Pete Campbell had married Rory Gilmore, or that Adam Levine had married a Namibian? Well, here’s what I also learned that night that I never knew…

I bet only 1% of the country knows what a porte-cochere is. And I can tell you which 1%…

The designer Kate Spade is David Spade’s sister-in-law (“Get! Out!”)….what a porte-cochere is….that there are creatures called crane flies that look just like mosquitoes but do not bite.

Definitely, “Things JW Does Not Know” could become a daily feature here.

Remote Patrol

Lord of the Rings Trilogy

The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King

8 p.m. –> 6 a.m.  TCM

“Sneaky little Hobbitses.”

The first film was too expository, the second was phenomenal, and the third was okay up until the 45-minute Care Bears-style denouement. Where would this franchise have been without Andy Serkis’ Smeagol? He was “the Precious.”


Starting Five

Hesburgh was president of Notre Dame for 35 years, from 1952 to 1987

1. Our Father, Who Art in Heaven…

Former Notre Dame president Fr. Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C., who met EVERYBODY during his 35-year tenure (as well as before and after) passes away at the age of 97. Outside of the priest who founded the school, Fr. Sorin, and perhaps Knute Rockne, no man has been more important in bringing the school of Our Lady to prominence.

From the Chicago Tribune: His work took him far from the university so often that the joke around campus used to be that the difference between God and Hesburgh was that while God is everywhere, Hesburgh was everywhere but Notre Dame.

Hesburgh was awarded 150 honorary degrees. His weekends in May were booked for decades.

During Hesburgh’s tenure, the university’s enrollment more than doubled, the endowment soared, the number of buildings (including the 14-story library that now bears his name) increased greatly, and women were added as students. Like that library on which the side Touchdown Jesus can be found, Hesburgh was a truly towering figure on campus, but his reach extended far beyond South Bend and even American shores.

2. Melodromedary

Thellama and Louise?

It was the greatest fugitive chase Arizona had seen since Gary Tison and Randy Greenawalt broke out of the state penitentiary in Florence back in the summer of 1978. I’m not sure where the llamas belonged, how they escaped, or how a helicopter arrived on the scene over Sun City (a huge retirement community northwest of Phoenix) so promptly,  but I do know that all of Twitter ceased its other VERY important activities (e.g. wondering aloud about the Dez Bryant video) to watch. 

In other words, March Madness and spring training cannot arrive soon enough.

3. Color Wars

So this was a thing yesterday, too. Thanks, Buzzfeed. America would like to collectively punch you in the grape cluster.

I really hope the model for this dress is Bruce Jenner

It’s gold and white, goddamnit!

Gold and white? Blue and black? Blue and gold? I dunno.

Meanwhile, the Cavs were at home last night but eschewed their white, wine and gold unis for Navy blue with wine and gold trim. For the first hour of the great dress debate, I just assumed that’s what folks were tweeting about.

White and gold?


4. Francohabitation

Son of Julio Franco?

That goofy young dude in the Unfinished Business trailer reminds me a lot of a young James Franco. And then I learn that it should since it’s his younger brother, Dave Franco, who at 29 is seven years younger (at 5’7″ he is also four inches shorter).

I tweeted out that info (I know, I use “tweet” as a verb a lot here, but it’s just part of the everyday life) and @DoctahDean informed me that Dave is dating Alison Brie, the actress better know as being Pete Campbell’s long-suffering wife on Mad Men.

Brie’s cheesy photo

And so I quipped to @DoctahDean that Pete Campbell is not going to be happy about this. And that’s when he blew my mind by replying that Pete (actor Vincent Kartheiser) is married to Rory Gilmore (actress Alexis Bledel). HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS??? How did nobody tell me? You were trying to spare my feelings, weren’t you? Thanks.

I hope Peggy Olson warns Alexis about Pete

Did this all happen after Alexis’ guest shot on Mad Men last season (yes)? Did they know each other before that (no)? To whom is Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry) bethrothed (nobody)? And did someone create a funny series of GIFs for us to tell the story (thank you)?

Anyway, that was quite a rabbit hole we just traveled down. Oh, and watch that trailer. It’s funnier than the TV ad.

5. Jon Stewart’s Parting Shot

Enforcing the 50 year-old man rule here at MH (again)

It wasn’t Jon Stewart’s final telecast of The Daily Show. That’s still a season or two in the  offing. And yet on Tuesday night Stewart delivered a polemic that summarizes his long-standing conflict with the far right as concisely and astutely as anything he has ever said or will say.

I’ll cut right to the 5:00 minute mark: “The point is that on the right they’re pretending that (The Daily Show’s) truthfulness is what’s really important to them which, ironically, is not true…What matters to the right is discrediting anything that they believe harms their side.”

Remote Patrol

House of Cards 

All Weekend NetFlix 



I don’t have Netflix –I know!–but I hear that Season 3 of the adventures of the amoral Frank and Claire Underwood became available for streaming last night. Only a loose llama wearing a dress of indeterminate color will get some people to turn away from the TV/computer this weekend.


Starting Five

The greatest 56 associated with New York City since Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak

1. Old Lady Madonna

The new issue of Rolling Stone has a cover story on Madonna, 56, penned by the hardest-working feature writer at the mag, Brian Hiatt. Unofficially, it’s her 21st time pulling a Dr. Hook, a band that ironically never has made the cover of the Rolling Stone.

It’s also 20 more times than Stillwater has made the cover, I believe.

Madonna channeling Marilyn

Do you know who really deserves an RS cover, and now? He’s never had even one: Paul Shaffer.

By the way, if you’re a music and pop culture fan and want to vanish for 15 minutes half an hour, work your way through this fabulous Cover Wall that RS has assembled. SI needs to put theirs back up, too.

Madonna covering Culture Club’s “I’ll Tumble For Ya'” at the Brit Awards

Madonna Update: She’s fallen and she can’t get up! Madonna tumbled while I was writing the above at the Brit Awards while performing “Living For Love” off her new album. Madonna, your new LifeLock spokesperson.

2. Brit, A Filter

Taylor’s tailor does not waste much fabric on pants

About those Brit Awards…they’re the United Kingdom’s Grammys and considering the UK’s contributions to pop, pop, pop music, (Beatles, Stones, Bowie, Queen, The Who, Led Zeppelin, ELO, Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, Adele, and, of course, M) you have to wonder why these are not televised here in the Colonies (or are they?)

Anyway, our gal Taylor, who is not British (yet), opened the show with “Blank Space,” which I believe is the same tune she performed in London two months ago for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. What awards show/gala/anniversary special has she not turned up at this year? How was she not given a cameo in the Parks & Rec finale?

Swift was given the “International Woman of Mystery” or some such award, which serves as a good inducement to have her fly across The Pond and open your telecast. A complete list of winners is here

3. No Cheers for Arsenal

Trust me: Behind those hands, Giroud is handsome

The Gunners, playing at home at Emirates Stadium in London for the first leg of their knockout round home-and-home versus AS Monaco in the UEFA Champions League, were a bit dodgy. Okay, more than a bit, as they fell 3-1 and uber-handsome striker Olivier Giroud, who is even more of a striking striker than his names suggests, whiffed at shot after shot. The Guardian went so far as to describe him as a “wandering wardrobe” on this night, which is a term I wish I’d thought of.

Now Arsenal, the subject of Nick Hornby’s breakthrough quasi-novel Fever Pitch, which begat a Colin Firth movie of the same title, which then begat a horrible Jimmy Fallon movie of the same title, must outscore Monaco by 3 goals on March 17 in the lovely principality if it hopes to advance. As Liam Neeson’s nemesis might say, “Good luck.”

4. Killing O’Reilly

Brian Williams claims to have been at the birth of one of these ladies –we’re still investigating

NBC’s Brian Williams sneezes, and FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly catches a cold.

Ever since Williams was suspended for six months without pay by his own network, FOX News’ heavyweight star has come under one assault after another as to the verity of his early reportage. Most of what has been investigated, by Mother Jones, the Washington Post and Media Matters, paints O’Reilly as a serial embellisher (not unlike BW).

O’Reilly’s most egregious mistake, thus far, seems to be his repeating a tale of seeing “four nuns getting shot in the back of the head” while in El Salvador. Four Catholic nuns did meet that grisly fate in El Salvador in 1980–two years before O’Reilly arrived as a CBS correspondent. The FOX anchor has since backtracked and said that he saw a photo of the four nuns being murdered.

On that basis, we all witnessed the JFK assassination.

5. Play Guitar!

At the SNL 40th: She’s his little rock ‘n roll…

It always fails to not cease to amaze me that Rolling Stones axe-wielder Keith Richards 1) married a girl from Staten Island 2) married what must be the most beautiful creature ever to emerge from Staten Island (with apologies to Josh Krulewitz of ESPN) 3) has been married to that same woman, Patti Hansen, for 31 years and 4) is still, at the age of 71, walking this planet.

Quick aside: “Keif” married Hansen on December 18, 1983–his 40th birthday. Best possible way to celebrate. Hansen is 13 years younger and beaming like this in every photo I’ve ever seen of her.

Their daughter, Alexandra Richards, shown here at last week’s Michael Kors fashion show,  favors her mom’s physical traits.

Remote Patrol

Warriors at Cavaliers

TNT 8 p.m.

Mozgov was the missing link that Cleveland needed

Golden State (44-10) opened the season 21-2. Cleveland( 36-22) is 17-2 since lose six straight. When they met earlier in Oakland, the Cavs were without the father of that really talented 10 year-old kid and lost, but THIS GUY tweeted that night, having seen the additions of J.R. Smith and Timofey Mozgov, that the Cavs were going to be a very, very good team. And they are. This is your odds-on-favorite right now for the NBA Finals.


Starting Five

This is more useful to us than another pic of a dejected-looking Rose

1. Derrick Woes

You love Derrick Rose. I love Derrick Rose.

Three knee surgeries in the past three years –ACL tear in left knee, medial meniscus tear in right knee, a second medial meniscus tear in his right knee — all of them potentially season-ending, have told the Chicago Bulls that it’s time to move on.

Not to say that Rose cannot return, or be a starter for the Bulls again. But as a franchise you just cannot expect to build around him any more. At 26, his quickest days are behind him.

The Bulls are into Rose for $41 million the next two seasons.

2. 2nd Bananarama

The runner-up in this contest is the true winner

Fantastic idea here by Grantland, a “Top Second Banana Bracket.”

So who’s missing? Lacey. Teller. The Captain. Billy Davis, Jr. Cameron. Andrew Ridgely. Howard Borden. B.J. Honeycutt. Little Dipper. Tonto.

And yet in other ways he was George Michael’s first banana…

If you ask me, the championship game should pit George Constanza versus Scottie Pippen, with the true champion being whoever finishes second…which means that it should end in a tie.

3. Court Storm Chasers

“I’ll take 500 shares of Exxon at $120.25!”

“Auntie Em! Auntie Em! It’s a twister!”

“No, darlin’. It’s just K-State beating Kansas at home again.”

Whither the hardwood tempest? I think, like most curmudgeons, my problem with it isn’t the act itself, but rather that it’s become more about students wanting their 15 seconds of fame. That is, the “feeling” is no longer genuine. It’s about getting on ESPN (and I’m not really blaming them) and being part of the show.

Odds are fair that this shot may have been snapped within a mile or two of Manhattan, Kansas.

When it’s a genuine shocking upset, I can see it (and maybe Monday night’s outcome qualified). But when the court storm begins too much to resemble the parade scene from Animal House, you begin to have a problem.

4. KO Needs a T.O.

Medium Happy editorial policy precludes us from showing more than a limited number of photos of men over the age of 50 per month. Yes, this is blatantly discriminatory. Oh, and enjoy Sports Illustrated!

So it’s fair to assume that Keith Olbermann will not be the commencement speaker at Penn State any time soon?

A good man just got a little too trigger-happy on the ol’ Tweeter (that’s never happened to me, no, not once). Although, as Mark Ennis noted on Twitter, if ESPN hadn’t suspended KO for the rest of the week, Ennis (and most of us) would have remained oblivious to the incident. This, as someone informed me on Twitter, is known as the “Streisand Effect.”

I’ll admit I’ve been a little oblivious to the show itself since it left late night to compete with ESPN’s ATH/PTI combo at the 5 p.m. hour.

5. Gaucho Marks

The last winless team in Division I college hoops, UC-Santa Barbara’s women, put a “1” in the left-hand column last Saturday with a 48-39 defeat of Cal State-Fullerton. If you did not already know it, the Gauchos play in the “Thunderdome.” There will be no winless teams in D-I hoops this season, which is nice.

Remote Patrol

San Fernando Valley? Sure. Indiana? Not quite.

I neglected to note the series finale of Parks and Recreation last night, but in truth I never really got into the series. So last night I tuned in for about 6 minutes and there was a flash-forward to an over-the-top Jewish character staging his own fauxneral (thank you!) and I thought, I spent a lot of time in Indiana and there’s just no one in Pawnee who would be that guy.

And that’s always been my problem with smirk-fests such as thisand the American version of The Office. I never for one moment believed in the authenticity of the characters and I always felt that the writers and producers of the shows were so arrogant that they never cared for a moment about matching the setting of their shows to the real-life inhabitants of places such as Scranton or Pawnee. It was a bunch of L.A. types who never for a moment tried to conform to the setting of the show.

I always felt as if I were watching a bunch of smug Hollywood actors chew scenery before getting off the set in time to pick up their kids from some tony day school in Pacific Palisades or Brentwood.

But that’s just me. And I’m a horrible person.



Starting Five 

Once every few months WordPress indiscriminately opts to chop up the column when the day’s blog is 95% done (it’s never MY fault, of course). On such days I lose the will to live and so, yes, today’s blog will be briefer. And perhaps better.

Those may be teammates, but they are NOT soldiers in Mamba’s Army

1. Kobe’s Close-Up

The Black Mamba does a very watchable turn on the Grantland Basketball Hour  (I love when he politely tells host Bill Simmons that his “It’s HIS team” conceit is bull crap) followed by an equally solid spot on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Go directly to 1:35 moment. It’s gold.

The most likable thing about Kobe, for me, is that he doesn’t care whether or not you like him. He is. Brutally. Honest.

And that was a pro move, the way he picked up on Kimmel’s Whiplash reference and took it a step further.

How funny would it be if he usurps Shaq’s chair on Inside the NBA in a couple of years?

2. ” ‘s all good, man”

Odenkirk and Seehorn are slowly building a very watchable relationship

Seriously, I watched Breaking Bad for six or seven seasons and never picked up on that? What a sap.

After four episodes, I’m not ready to say that Better Call Saul is even in Breaking Bad‘s league, but it is a slow burn that is beginning to generate heat. Your titular character, played by Bob Odenkirk, is complicated and charming (although last night’s opening con seemed unbelievably contrived; unless the cash is also counterfeit?).

I do like the idea, though, of naming a color after yourself (“Hamlindigo”).

Did anyone else catch the irony of Jimmy McGill arguing that he was trying to build a brand as Hamlin accused him of ripping off a brand?

You know who I’m really enjoying? His platonic ex, Kim Wexler, played by Rhea Seehorn. She has IT.

Here’s Sepinwall’s review.

3. One Sim Bhullar Sensation

Bighorn? More like Matterhorn! Amirite?

Reno Bighorn center Sim Bhullar, who stands seven-foot-five and weighs 360 pounds, posts an impressive triple-double: 26 points, 17 rebounds, 11 blocks against the Los Angeles D-Fenders (not to be confused with the Los Alamos Fred D-Fenders). He could be the first NBA player of Indian descent if some shrewd NBA franchise picks him up. India is only the second-most populous nation on Earth.

4. Orange is the New Lewis Black

Some think of him as “the Creed of comedy,” but Thompson is living life in the fast lane

In Esquire, author Chris Jones profiles Scott Thompson, whom you know better as Carrot Top. Jones apparently has been keeping busy since Rick Pitino kicked him off the Louisville basketball team.

My main quibble with the piece: no discussion of his cameo role in The Hangover.

5. Truly Nolan

Is it March Madness to give Nolan her own show? Probably not.

Remember when Katie Nolan used her “No Filter” webcast to lobby her FOX Sports bosses for a female voice at the table? Well, here’s your chance, Katie. FOX is giving Nolan, 29, her own show. It will premiere Sunday, March 15 (beware the Ides of March, Katie!) at 9:30 p.m. and be called Garbage Time, which means that I’ll need to find a new nickname for First Take.

I’m not a huge fan of Nolan, but I do admire her distaff Bill Simmons ascent to the big time. She hustled and she didn’t change for anyone. Best of luck to her. P.S. And I do hope that Garbage Time puts Regis in a corner on a couch.

Remote Patrol

Champions League: FC Barcelona at Manchester City

FOX Sports 1 2:30 p.m.

City will be without Yaya Toure, which is also the title of the most popular song in Whoville

Oh no. JW is becoming one of those insufferable soccer snobs who refers to it as “football” and talks about fixtures and ties and aggregate goals. Not to worry! I was insufferable long before I fell in love with soccer! This is the most intriguing matchup in the Round of 16, as Lionel Messi and Barca visit Etihad Stadium. These same two sides met in this round last year and Barca won both ties. See! I said, “Ties” when I could have just said, “Games.” Insufferable!



Starting Five

Suit up, Barney! Geez!


 1. Neil Steals The Show*

*The judges will NOT accept “Doogie WOWser!”

Suit up, indeed!

The opening number, which was also Anna Kendrick’s best on-stage musical moment since the Bellas’ finale at the ICCAs; “the best and the whitest;” the line about each Oscar nominee receiving a gift bag worth $160,000 in items, including “an armored car for when the revolution begins;” “the most well-adjusted former child star here tonight;” the tight-whitey callback to Birdman; the Travolta jab (and the way in which Menzel and Travolta handled it) and the line about Benedict Cumberbatch; “it takes a lot of balls to wear a dress like that”; the Annie joke; “Edward Snowden could not be here, for some treason.”

Not only did Neil Patrick Harris own the Oscars, but he dared to make an opening monologue joke in which he pointed to opposite sides of the audience and referenced Oprah and survived (was that a subtle nod and/or tribute to David Letterman?)

My lone quibble is that when he introduced a certain singer, he did not say, “John Legen—wait for it–d.”

NPH more than owned last night’s telecast; he saved it from more bloated self-importance than usual. “Glory” might or might not have been the best song, but how is it not about to win when you reconstruct the Edmund Pettus Bridge onstage (loved Common’s acceptance speech, though); and both Best Actor (ALS) and Best Actress (Alzheimer’s) only validated Robert Downey, Jr.’s “Never go full retard” advice. We got scolded about fair wages for women (I wonder if Ellen got paid the same to host last year as NPH did this year), about racism, about gay rights, about how “we need to talk about suicide out loud” and even about corrupt Mexican governments….

(No one scolded us about $160,000 gift bags, though).

Anyway, even if most of the nominated films were tributes to pretentiousness, it was a terrific telecast. Well done, Barney.

2. Daytona: A Win for 24 (The Age, Not the Car Number)

I ordered the No. 5 with a fruit cup instead of fries

Middletown, Conn., native Joey Logano becomes the first man born in 1990 or later to win the Daytona 500. Logano is also the first man whose surname ends in a pronounceable vowel to win the race since its 1959 debut. The race, like Logano’s name, also ends in a pronounceable vowel. Three previous winners have had silent “-e’s” at the end of their names, but those are not as cool.

3. Putting the “US” in “USA”

Michael’s mom stays in the picture

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, he of the 18 gold medals, two silvers and two bronzes, gets engaged to Nicole Johnson, she of the 2010 Miss California sash. Not to be confused with monster truck driver Nicole Johnson, who at 41 is 12 years older than the decorated couple but is no slouch herself.

The “other” Nicole Johnson

Phelps, 29, is the most decorated Olympian of all time and has opted to train for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, during which he may wonder why he chose to remain single.

4. JaMarcus Mariota

Mariota also torched Winston in the Simon Says competiton: “Simon said lift your LEFT leg with both hands!”

Who is Jameis Winston?

Is the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner a better choice at quarterback than Marcus Mariota, his successor in that trophy case, or is he the latest incarnation of JaMarcus Russell (or was that Johnny Manziel)?

Winston is a highly accurate thrower and a terrific decision-maker…when focused. Scouts should watch both halves of last October’s Notre Dame-FSU game in order to witness Bad Jameis/Super Jameis (I am doubtful that 2013 Pitt Jameis still exists).

My main problem with Jameis is related to his 4.99 run at the NFL Combine, and that is this: He already has the physique and the mobility of Fred Sanford. He’s prematurely old, from a healthy body standpoint. Whereas Mariota looks like a young leopard out there. Does it matter? We’ll see.

QBs selected among the first five overall picks since Russell was taken No. 1 overall by the Oakland Raiders in 2007:

2008: Matt Ryan, Falcons, No. 3

2009: Matt Stafford, Lions, No. 1; Mark Sanchez, Jets, No. 5

2010: Sam Bradford, Rams, No. 1

2011: Cam Newton, Panthers, No. 1

2012: Andrew Luck, Colts, No. 1; Robert Griffin III, Redskins, No. 2

2014: Blake Bortles, Jaguars, No. 3

5. Mo, Not Slow-Mo

Farah ran his second mile in 3:57

Brit Mo Farah broke the seven year-old record for the indoor 2-mile, breaking the tape at the Birmingham (England) Grand Prix in 8:03:40. The previous world record, by Kenenisa Bekele, had been 8:04:35. I’m right there with them…well, if that were the world record for one mile.

Farah, 31, is originally from Mogadishu, Somalia, but his father is a native-born London citizen. He is the current Olympic champion in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, so if he enters your local 5-K, best you can hope for is second place.

Remote Patrol

Annie Hall 

TCM 8 p.m.

La di da. La. Di-da.

Having lived out west and in New York City, Woody Allen’s Best Picture, a tour de force of a screenplay, so hits home. I live near the corner where Alvy Singer says his final goodbye to Annie (63rd & 9th Ave/Columbus). So many classic lines and moments: “I can walk to the curb from here,” and “I forgot my mantra” and “I’m due back on planet Earth.” If you’ve never seen this and want to bask in a writer who has completely discovered his muse, watch this movie. There’s not a phony moment in it.


Our amazing collaborator and inveterate cinema buff, Chris Corbellini, returns to provide his Oscar picks. Your pools have never looked so good.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou.

Sniper got under our author’s American skin

Scrolling through the Best Picture nominees one final time, I keep coming back to this Angelou quote. The only film that got under my goose bumps, and put a stiff beverage in my hand within an hour of seeing it, was American Sniper.  It’s worthy of winning it all. Judging from the box office tally, a lot of the U.S. feels the same way.

I will forget eventually that the second act was distractingly repetitive (Oh here we go, ANOTHER teary plea from his wife?), and remember simply and truly that war can break down even the strongest and most self-assured of soldiers. Sniper was a numbing experience — it had pro-soldier and anti-war vibes running side-by-side with one another for all 132 minutes — and I was appreciative of the way director Clint Eastwood crafted the story.  The Hollywood icon can still bring the high heat, and he’s in his 80s.

Of course, Selma pulls at you as well. So does Birdman. So does Boyhood. But in the latter two cases, Oscar voters would be rewarding them for what they did, not how they made us feel. Birdman was masterfully put together — where are the edits? — and the cast attacked the scenes like piranha. Boyhood is a triumph of persistence, shot over a decade, and a triumphant, authentic tale of a single mother. Years from now, whether you felt anything more than admiration for the execution of those two films is something I wonder about.

So, feel over form? Or form over feel? I’m still mulling my decision amongst those four as I type this. Let’s come back to it.

Actor in a leading role:

Steve Carrell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

The winner: Keaton. 

It wasn’t even Subway Underwear Weekend in NYC when he did this

I quote the three rules of show business, by Louis CK: 1) Look ‘em in the eye and speak from the heart. 2) You gotta go away to come back. 3) If someone asks you to keep a secret, their secret is a lie.  Keaton delivers us the first two rules in Birdman better than the field. That should be enough.

Actress in a leading role:


Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

The winner: Moore. 

A still from “Still Alice”

When an actress elevates a so-so movie to something more than it should be, she’s done something special.  Honorable mention goes to Pike here, who proved she’s more than just an ice princess. I think she will win the red carpet amongst all these gorgeous ladies, but won’t take home the grand prize.

Actor in a supporting role:

Robert Duvall, The Judge

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash 

The winner: Simmons. 

Hawke, Norton and Ruffalo will have other Oscar-worthy roles over their careers, and this isn’t Duvall’s finest hour. Simmons has been so good in every part he’s accepted – small, large and larger-than-life – and he should be rewarded for that. And for tearing into this role.

Actress in a supporting role:

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

The winner: Arquette. 

This was the easiest category to predict. Her final scene, a portion of which can be seen here, would have been nearly impossible to perform had she not been a part of this production for 12 years. The moment is earned.

Original screenplay:


The Grand Budapest Hotel


The winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel.  

What a lineup. All five of these scripts are beasts. Still, the flashback-of-a-flashback-of-a-flashback-of-a-flashback storytelling sets Hotel apart, and just barely. The final summation read like it was etched on M. Gustave’s tombstone: “There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity … he was one of them.”

Adapted screenplay:

American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything

The winner: The Imitation Game.

Just a gut feeling. I do love the backstory on this one, with the producers basically out of work and offering the screenwriter, Graham Moore, little in the way of up-front pay. As in, no pay at all.

Sound editing:

American Sniper
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The winner: American Sniper. 

Birdman uses that voice of self-doubt in Keaton’s brain splendidly (and darkly) – and they are plopped in perfectly in each sequence — but the sounds I keep coming back to took place in the sandstorm during the bullet-strewn finale in Sniper. It’s a wall of horror that almost swallows the audience.

Sound mixing:

American Sniper

The winner: American Sniper.
Granted, it’s a different discipline from sound editing — taking all those edits and merging them into one symphony, and raising one audio track louder than the rest when the scene demands it. The sound of warfare is always a challenge to get right, because the audience expects to hear carnage … and how do you surprise them? But I think the mixers did so in this case. Whiplash could definitely take this one though, and I almost rewrote this entire section thinking so.

Visual effects:

Captain America, The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past

The winner: Interstellar. 

Meh. None of these nominees were as groundbreaking as last year’s winner, Gravity. The five are not even in the same orbit. Apes had some nifty motion-capture work, and let’s not forget that the main ape character, who had a respectable range of emotions, was almost completely computer-generated. I thought about Guardians here too – it did have that moment when the crew enters a grand, celestial being’s head (which was being mined by outlaws, of course). But it felt like a cartoon in places as well.

Film editing:

American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

The winner: Boyhood. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel has that spectacularly cut museum sequence where Deputy Kovacs meets his demise, and that fun chase in the snow, but the challenge of Boyhood is flow, not style or panache. How do you edit 12 years into one compelling feature? Done wrong, and it’s that scrapbook that your mother put together that she half-forces you to look at (Ooh, graduation photo!).  Finally, how is Birdman not in this category? The entire film looked like a single take – that’s terrific editing.

Original score:

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Mr. Turner
The Theory of Everything

The winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Not a rousing year for this category. Again, I keep coming back to that chase in the snow, and the death of Kovacs. A very lively score does raise this movie here and there.

Original song:

Begin Again
Beyond the Lights
Glen Campbell: I’ll be Me
The Lego Movie

Winner: Glory from Selma. 

The one Oscar I project that it wins.  “Everything is Awesome,” from The Lego Movie would be a terrific choice, too. I also think the musical Begin Again chose the wrong song for this category. This one was magical, and absolutely critical to the entire plot.

Production design:

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

The winner: The Grant Budapest Hotel. 

It made me chuckle to see all those hunting rifles in the back of the great hall as the will of a rich matriarch was read in front of that entire family. There was a line in the script about greed around that moment, and that wasn’t an accident.  I also enjoyed all those pink bakery boxes that Zero and his future wife fell into near the end – something they completely ignored as they fumbled about, then grabbed hold of each other.  You know from frame 1 of a trailer when you are watching a Wes Anderson film. It should be celebrated this year.


The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mr. Turner

The winner: Birdman. 

That’s back-to-back statues for Emmanuel Lubezki, who won last year for Gravity. I felt like I was on the shoulders of the actors over long stretches of this film, and of course there’s that technical mountain he climbed in order to make everything look like a single take.

Costume design:

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

The winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

Another gut feeling, with admittedly little practical, professional experience to back it up. Maybe Maleficent steals this one. They can’t let Princess Angelina Jolie go completely unnoticed, can they?


The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

The winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

The Academy may want to reward Hotel with plenty of technical and aesthetic categories, because it’s not going to win the big one. I could see Guardians of the Galaxy here, too. Just look at Michael Rooker here. And the lovely Zoe Saldana in a lovely shade of green. Half this summer blockbuster is makeup. But the cynical portion of my brain believes that the fact that it’s a summer blockbuster will stop it from winning.

Animated Film:

Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kayuga

Winner: How to Train Your Dragon 2. 

It was a weak season for the animation set.

Foreign Language Film:

Ida (Poland)

Leviathan (Russia)
Tangerines (Estonia)

Timbuktu (Mauritania)
Wild Takes (Argentina)

Winner: Ida. 

There’s name recognition involved in this case, as there’s more than a good chance that some voters didn’t see all of these films. Full disclosure: *I* didn’t see all of them, either.


Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman)
Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)
Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

The winner: Linklater. 

Let’s reward the filmmaker who refused to cut corners and executed his vision over all that time, from the big picture to the minutiae and details that you remember during the passage of our lives. Of all the directors out there today, he’s the one I’d most like to go out and have a beer with, and the let the big ideas flow into the early morning hours. Let the auteur from Texas take this one home.

Best Picture: 

American Sniper
The Grand Budapest HoteL
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

The winner: Birdman. 

That’s right, form over feel this year, and I don’t agree with it. It’s a four-star flick, but not an all-timer. In this case I think the voters, a group of creatives in the motion picture business, will honor the movie about a star creative taking a break from the motion picture business to pursue a passion. Throw in the mastery of the technical aspects, and Keaton’s comeback, and it has just enough to edge Boyhood, Selma and Sniper for the big trophy of the night.