Movie Musical Bracket

March 24, 2017

My good buddy, Mike Sheehan, and I recently recorded a podcast episode debating our favorite movie musicals since the year 2000. In celebration of March Madness, we used a bracket-style to determine the rankings, match-ups, and eventually the winner. Here is the process that went with figuring out the rankings and at the bottom is the episode. Enjoy!


This post is to explain how we came up with the movies and the rankings for our Movie Musical Bracket.

First, we needed a topic and both Mike and I love movie musicals, and statistically there weren’t too many of them to choose from. Well, that’s what we thought at first before realizing there are plenty of classic movie musicals, so to stay clear from them we decided to keep the pool of films to more recent memory. We decided to only allow movie musicals since the year 2000 to be in the bracket, but even deciding that would be a lot of work. Luckily, we found a Buzzfeed article where Louis Peitzman ranked his favorite movie musicals that were released after the year 2000.

Perfect! Until Mike realized it omitted one of his favorite movie musicals: Moulin Rouge. So we just decided to throw that film in the mix as well. So we had Moulin Rouge plus 23 of the films Mr. Peitzman had on his list as the pool of films trying so hard to make it into our bracket. Now we needed to decide how to get that list down to 8.

We decided to have an Objective Score and a Subjective Score. The Objective Score was the sum of the film’s IMDB Rating + 10% of its Rotten Tomatoes Score + the films domestic box office gross/10,000,000 (with 10 being the max score). Basically, each category’s max score would be 10, so a film’s perfect score would be 30. And we felt that the mixture of IMDB (fan voting) + Rotten Tomatoes (critic’s gauge) + Box Office (pop culture relevance) was a fair enough system.

But then we had a Subjective Score, which was our separate rankings of our favorite 8 films from the pool. We ranked them 1 through 8 and used a point system: 15 points to the 1st ranked film, 13 points to the 2nd ranked film, 11 points to the 3rd ranked film, etc. Again, the max score for any film would be 30 points.

After combining all of the scores, we had our rankings. But then we discussed our main problem: what if we disagreed with a match-up? What would the tie-breaking mechanism be? We can’t just flip a coin or have the higher seed win. So we decided that since we’re the ones debating, our rankings should matter as the tie-break. Whenever we have a tie, we would look only at the Subjective Totals and the film with the higher Subjective Score would win. If that also resulted in a tie, then the higher seed won.

And there you have it! Here are how the rankings ended up and the first round match-ups:

1. La La Land (47.7 points)
2. Les Miserables (44.5 points)
3. Once (38.6 points)
4. Moulin Rouge (35.9 points)
5. Tangled (33.7 points)
6. Chicago (30.8 points)
7. Sweeney Todd (30.2 points)
8. Sing Street (28.9 points)

1. La La Land vs. 8. Sing Street
2. Les Miserables vs. 7. Sweeney Todd
3. Once vs. 6. Chicago
4. Moulin Rouge vs. 5. Tangled

Enjoy Episode 25 of Popcorn and Pop Culture Podcast:

Movie Review – Birdman

November 5, 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
119 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis


Grade: A-

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu has made only four films since 2000, Birdman being his fifth feature film. For those who are familiar with Iñárritu, his films are very heavy, but he has a great talent for style and the ability to drive home the film’s theme. In Birdman, he focuses on how mainstream blockbuster films are destroying the creative minds of those who simply want to tell great stories, but might not have the chance to do so. This feels like a very personal film, and the way Iñárritu shoots it brings us into the lives of all the characters in a dazzling way.

Beginning with Riggan Thomson (Keaton), he’s an aging actor whose fame comes from the super-hero Birdman franchise, but after decades he’s trying to bring himself back into the spotlight by writing, directing and starring in a Broadway play adaptation of Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. He’s betting his entire future (including his house) on this play, which is about to start its previews before opening night. The play’s cast includes Lesley (Watts), another aging actor who always dreamed of being on Broadway, and Mike Shiner (Norton), a gifted actor who has a reputation of beating to his own drum, usually to the director’s disapproval.

There is also Laura, Riggan’s girlfriend; Sam (Stone), Riggan’s daughter who is fresh out of rehab; and Brandon (Galifianakis), Riggan’s manager and seemingly the only sane one who tries his best to be the glue that keeps the whole production together. That’s the basic set-up to this whirlwind of a film. It’s known that the lifestyle of a theater actor can be quite hectic, especially during rehearsals, previews, and every moment in-between. Birdman captures the chaos of backstage, the methods of rehearsals, the intense nerves leading up to when the curtains open, and the family/relationship drama mixed in. But the way Iñárritu decides to present us with all of this chaos is what truly makes Birdman a must-see film of 2014.

You’ve probably already read about it, but in case you haven’t the majority of the film looks like one, single take. Obviously that’s not the case because that would be insane, but with the magic of digital editing the film really feels like one long tracking shot, moving from room-to-room, scene-to-scene. There’s no doubt that the film is made up of extended tracking shots glued together, and every shot is impressive in its own right, but shooting the film this way truly captures one of the most difficult aspects about being on Broadway: continuity.

Aside from the style of Birdman, the film boasts a number of great performances, notably from Michael Keaton. It’s impossible not to see the parallels between Keaton’s role in Birdman and his past fame with the Batman franchise, but I feel that makes everything even more compelling. In addition, Ed Norton and Emma Stone give fantastic supporting performances, two people who put on an act when they’re around Riggan but can strip down to the core of themselves when they’re alone on the rooftop of the theater.

Birdman revolves around Riggan Thomson’s world and everyone in it is one way or another affected by his actions. But even from his girlfriend, ex-wife, and to the theater critic, Thomson is haunted by the voice and ego inside his head telling him how he’ll always be known as the Birdman from his past movies. It’s a thought that every actor has to have throughout their career and the film goes the distance to show the risk of pulling the plug on a money-making franchise to seek out critical acclaim. Is it worth it? Just see how this film ends and then ask yourself again.


Smash – “The Parents”

April 3, 2013

Season Two, Episode Nine

Smash - Season 2

Grade: C

After the story-lines of Smash were put into overdrive the past few episodes, we’re back to a steady tempo in “Parents,” where we see Karen’s father and Ivy’s mother. Let’s start with Ivy and Leigh, who in the past have had a toxic relationship. That hasn’t changed, but what hurts Ivy the most is that Tom and the rest of the production crew of Bombshell already decided to have Leigh join the show as Marilyn’s mom. Sure, they knew it was going to create some problems, but they decided it was in Bombshell’s best interest to have a piece in the New York Times. What a story it is, Broadway veteran Leigh and her daughter star in Bombshell!

While the move does work out very well and Tom is able to direct the two effectively, Ivy has the last word when she tells Tom that she only works for him now and is no longer his friend. You could just see Tom’s heart break, because he was trying to do everything in his power to be the “nice” director and to listen to all of the cast members to try and maintain a democracy production. But it was foolish to believe that possible, almost like Michael Scott trying to befriend everyone in The Office.

Once again, I didn’t find the Bombshell half of the episode very compelling. There really isn’t anything fresh about that production and even though they keep tweaking the show here and there, all of the craziness is behind them and they’re ready to be launched on Broadway. What I did like was how Julia and Eileen went to the event that was showcasing Hit List, just to scope out Derek and Karen’s show. And they absolutely killed it, especially Ana’s acrobatic performance as the diva. I was actually anticipating something going wrong but am glad nothing did.

The Hit List half of the show, in my opinion, is way more interesting than Bombshell. The chemistry between Karen and Jimmy carries it, but adding Derek’s reputation and conflict between those two, and with the pressure of competing with the production they left, half of every episode just isn’t enough. They’re becoming the underdogs of this Broadway rivalry and it’s hard not to root for them against the bigger, more expensive Bombshell.

As for the C-story with Jimmy and paying back his dealer, I don’t feel it enhanced the episode in any way, but I am glad that it seems to be over with for good (though I’m sure that bag Jimmy takes is going to ruin a performance in the near future). And the little story with Karen’s dad accusing Derek for influencing her to leave Bombshell, but then realizing it was Jimmy, that felt very out of place though it’s typical seeing Karen being stomped on.

Overall, “Parents” was a pretty bland episode of Smash without that show-stopping number I long for. Ana’s performance was close to that, but the visuals over-powered the actual song. This might become an issue for Hit List so stay tuned for that. Also, Smash is now moving to its new time-slot, Saturday night. Not sure how this is going to affect the show, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last season for Smash.

Spring Awakening Movie Starring Lea Michele?

February 9, 2012

According to E! Online, Lea Michele is in talks to reprise her role of Wendla in the upcoming movie adaptation of Spring Awakening. Director McG has said he talked to Michele about the film and if they could work it out, she would love to do the part.

This is great news to hear, as I was fortunate enough to witness Michele’s performance in Spring Awakening during the Broadway run that earned the play eight Tony Awards. Spring Awakening is based on an 1891 German play of the same name that possesses an edge over the more classical Broadway shows.

As excited as I am for the upcoming Les Miserables adaptation by Tom Hooper, a Spring Awakening film adaptation featuring Lea Michele will have my anticipation running just as high.

The Blur

December 6, 2007


Well the Grammy awards were announced this afternoon.  Here they are…
Nominees announced Thursday in top categories for the 50th Annual Grammy Awards:

Record of the Year: “Irreplaceable,” Beyonce; “The Pretender,” Foo Fighters; “Umbrella,” Rihanna featuring Jay-Z; “What Goes Around … Comes Around,” Justin Timberlake; “Rehab,” Amy Winehouse.

Album of the Year: “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace,” Foo Fighters; “These Days,” Vince Gill; “River: The Joni Letters,” Herbie Hancock; “Graduation,” Kanye West; “Back to Black,” Amy Winehouse.

Song of the Year: “Before He Cheats,” Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins (Carrie Underwood); “Hey There Delilah,” Tom Higgenson (Plain White T’s); “Like a Star,” Corinne Bailey Rae (Corinne Bailey Rae); “Rehab,” Amy Winehouse (Amy Winehouse); “Umbrella,” Shawn Carter, Kuk Harrell, Terius “Dream” Nash & Christopher Stewart (Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z).

New Artist: Feist; Ledisi; Paramore; Taylor Swift; Amy Winehouse.

Pop Vocal Album: “Lost Highway,” Bon Jovi; “The Reminder,” Feist; “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long,” Maroon 5; “Memory Almost Full,” Paul McCartney; “Back to Black,” Amy Winehouse.

Rock Album: “Daughtry,” Daughtry; “Revival,” John Fogerty; “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace,” Foo Fighters; “Magic,” Bruce Springsteen; “Sky Blue Sky,” Wilco.

R&B Album: “Funk This,” Chaka Khan; “Lost & Found,” Ledisi; “Luvanmusiq,” Musiq Soulchild; “The Real Thing,” Jill Scott; “Sex, Love & Pain,” Tank.

Rap Album: “Finding Forever,” Common; “Kingdom Come,” Jay-Z, “Hip Hop Is Dead,” Nas; “T.I. vs T.I.P.,” T.I.; “Graduation,” Kanye West.

Country Album: “Long Trip Alone,” Dierks Bentley; “These Days,” Vince Gill; “Let It Go,” Tim McGraw; “5th Gear,” Brad Paisley; “It Just Comes Natural,” George Strait.

Latin Pop Album: “Papito,” Miguel Bose & Varios Artistas; “12 Segundos De Oscuridad,” Jorge Drexler; “Navidades Luis Miguel,” Luis Miguel; “Dicen Que El Tiempo,” Jennifer Pena; “El Tren De Los Momentos,” Alejandro Sanz.

Contemporary Jazz Album: “Party Hats,” Will Bernard; “Downright Upright,” Brian Bromberg; “Re-imagination,” Eldar; “River: The Joni Letters,” Herbie Hancock; “He Had a Hat,” Jeff Lorber.

Classical Album: “Cherubini: Missa Solemnis in E,” Riccardo Muti, conductor, Wilhelm Meister, producer (Ildar Abdrazakov, Herbert Lippert, Marianna Pizzolato & Ruth Ziesak (Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks); “Grechaninov: Passion Week,” Charles Bruffy, conductor, Blanton Alspaugh, producer (Kansas City Chorale & Phoenix Bach Choir); “Homage: The Age of the Diva,” Renee Fleming, David Frost, producer (Valery Gergiev, Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre); “Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Sings Peter Lieberson: Neruda Songs,” Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Dirk Sobotka, producer (James Levine; Boston Symphony Orchestra); “Tower: Made in America,” Leonard Slatkin, conductor, Tim Handley, producer (Nashville Symphony).

I don’t think I’ll ever understand how the Grammy’s work.  If I spent all of yesterday trying to figure out which artists and albums would be nominated, I wouldn’t have even came close to guessing these nominees.  What’s the criteria?  What do they look for?  The only thing that I can see to connect all of these nominations together is the fact that they’re all very popular.  I mean seriously, why else would “Hey There Delilah” be nominated for Best Song; or why else would Paramore be nominated for Best New Artist?  It’s just the cold hard truth that they’re extremely popular with intense radio and video play.  Right?

Well just from the look of things, seems as though newcomer Amy Winehouse did well… and I wouldn’t be surprised if she wins 4 Grammy’s.  And if “Umbrella” wins any awards, then I just have less of a clue than I originally thought.


There is a lot of movie news to report on.  The Golden Compass comes out tomorrow.  Whether or not the movie will gross over $40 million is debatable.  I say it’s definitely grossing over $40 million… my prediction is $44 m.  My friend Sheehan has stressed his skepticism of the film grossing over $40 million because of the controversy of the film dealing with atheism beliefs, which might have parents shielding their children from.  But according to the studio, they’ve stripped all atheism connotations from the film, leaving it as a fantasy/adventure packed film with plenty of special effects.  Hey, good enough for me.  I’m stoked to see it.

Also this weekend, the critical raves for Juno and Atonement keep pouring in.  Open to only selected theaters, it’ll be more widely released next weekend, so that’ll be the opportune time for everyone who doesn’t live in NYC or LA to see these films.  I have very high expectations for both of these films.  Juno is being compared to as “this year’s Little Miss Sunshine” and Atonement is, in my opinion, the last film this year that has a shot on dethroning No Country for Old Men as the best film of the year.  So I’m very excited for those releases as well.
The National Board of Review has announced their list of the best films of the year.  They also announced their winners for certain categories.  Here they are…

Best Director: TIM BURTON, Sweeney Todd
Best Actor: GEORGE CLOONEY, Michael Clayton
Best Actress: JULIE CHRISTIE, Away From Her
Best Supporting Actor: CASEY AFFLECK, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Best Supporting Actress: AMY RYAN, Gone Baby Gone
Best Documentary: BODY OF WAR
Best Animated Feature: RATATOUILLE
Best Ensemble Cast: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: EMILE HIRSCH, Into The Wild
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: ELLEN PAGE, Juno
Best Directorial Debut: BEN AFFLECK, Gone Baby Gone
Best Original Screenplay (tie):
DIABLO CODY, Juno and NANCY OLIVER, Lars and the Real Girl
Best Adapted Screenplay: JOEL COEN and ETHAN COEN, No Country For Old Men

Top Ten Films:
(In alphabetical order)
Top Five Foreign Films:
(In alphabetical order)
Top Five Documentary Films
(In alphabetical order)
Top Independent Films
(In alphabetical order)
Career Achievement – MICHAEL DOUGLAS
William K. Everson Film History Award – ROBERT OSBORNE
Career Achievement in Cinematography – ROGER DEAKINS
The BVLGARI Award for NBR Freedom of Expression – THE GREAT DEBATERS and PERSEPOLIS


Driving to the DMV yesterday, I heard such a powerful and positive review for a new theater play called, August: Osage County.  Here was the exact quote that I heard that just made my mind explode, “It is, flat-out, no asterisks and without qualifications, the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years.” (Charles Isherwood from the New York Times)  I mean… wow.  That’s all I could say after hearing that.  And then I continued to read raving after raving review for this play.  So yeah, I’m very interested in checking this out sometime in the near future.

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