My top movies of 2015 + Oscar picks

For the first time ever, I actually watched almost all of the movies nominated for an Oscar. Before the award ceremony, I thought I would write a little bit about each one (and a few movies not nominated) to encourage you to watch the best of them. Plus, my Oscar picks at the bottom!

My favorite films

Here are some of my favorite movies from this year. I included just about every Oscar movie—because, duh, they’re almost all really good—along with some other movies that you may have missed this year.

The best of the best

Each one of these movies just knocked me out or took my breath away. I couldn’t wait to watch each of them again. These are the movies I make other people watch because I love them so much:

  • Brooklyn: An immigrant story, told exquisitely. Saoirse Ron
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Why statheads think Trump will actually win the nomination now

Last week, after Donald Trump won the South Carolina Republican primary, I got into a heated argument with someone. He said he thought Trump would win the nomination and I vehemently disagreed. I read election news religiously, I majored in this stuff in college, I watch every new poll and development. Simply put, I argued the evidence wasn’t there for Trump to keep winning.

Well, I was wrong.

Everything changed on February 23rd. Yes, that’s when Trump won in Nevada. But it’s the way he won that has every politico & pundit scrambling to understand the monster they’ve unleashed.

Here’s why all the evidence says Trump is now the heavy favorite to actually win the nomination:

The case AGAINST Trump before 2/23

When Trump announced he w... Continue reading   ▸

Tracking when every 2016 candidate dropped out (plus complete debate & primary calendar)

I’ve always been curious about when presidential candidates drop out of the race, especially relative to important election dates. Some candidates drop out after underperforming in a primary. Others call it quits after having problems raising money following a bad debate performance. Or, in 2012 for example, Tim Pawlenty dropped out after a poor showing at the Iowa Straw Poll.

I looked around for a good, simple calendar with this information, but didn’t find one. So I made my own!

First, I grouped important events by type (because it was a lot easier to skim and read). But, at the bottom of the post, I also merged them all into one big completely chronological & colorcoded list. If you find any missing/mistaken data, let me know!

Shortcuts: Ent... Continue reading   ▸

The biggest album sales weeks of all time

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, I had a hard time finding consistent first-week album sales information. Even the industry bible, HitsDailyDouble, doesn’t archive old sales data (and uses slightly different numbers than most other sites). Where’s the music version of BoxOfficeMojo when you need it?

But then, at the last second, I came across an amazing treasure trove of data by user oldbloke on the UKMix forums Best I can tell, he’s been posting weekly & cumulative album sales for 10 years! I don’t know if he exports it from SoundScan or compiles it himself, but it’s really fantastic.

I went through as much of the data as I could find, using lots of Regex, Markdown & Excel to clean it up and combine it all. Analysis and inte... Continue reading   ▸

Adele’s crazy-pants sales numbers

When I saw the initial sales projections for Adele’s new album ’25’—selling 2+ million copies in its first week—I thought someone had made a typo. The all-time record, 2.4 million, was set way back in 2000 by NSync, before the music industry cratered. In the last 10 years, nobody has sold more than 1.3 million in their first week.

Instead, Adele actually sold 3.4 million units. IN ONE WEEK.

That number is mind-bogglingly huge in this day and age. It’s nearly the same as Taylor Swift’s last 3 albums combined. Adele is an outlier of an outlier.

Timeline

The amazing thing about this album is that experts expected it to do big numbers…just not anywhere close to THIS huge. Check out this timeline:

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How the Grammys early cutoff hurt Drake & Adele and comparing it to other award show timelines

The Grammy Awards nominees were announced recently. And, like every year, there was something that bugged me: the award show isn’t until mid-February, but a lot of recent songs aren’t nominated.

The Grammy Awards, more than the other major award shows, seems to have a way-too-early cutoff for submissions. Why? I started looking at the full submission timeline, but quickly found myself knee-deep in the arcane rules and procedures of the Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, and Tonys (EGOT!).

Into the rabbit hole we go!

Grammys

  • Timeline
    • Grammy written entry deadline: Aug 26 (but July 1 for releases through July 30)
    • Grammy album release cutoff: Sept 30, 2015
    • Grammy nomination voting: Oct 14-Nov 4
    • Grammy nominations announced: Dec 7, 2015
    • Grammy award voting: Dec 16-
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Links to Sepinwall’s episode-by-episode reviews for every show in his book, The Revolution Was Televised

My favorite TV critic, Alan Sepinwall, is releasing the updated version of his book The Revolution Was Televised today. I love the book, especially because it introduced me to shows I’ve since watched and absolutely loved (Friday Night Lights!).

As I catch up on some of the other shows in the book, as I do with every episode of good TV I watch, I immediately go to find Alan’s episode-by-episode reviews, which add lots of detail and insight. To make it easier for myself, I decide to compile all the links in one place for each episodic review for all the shows covered in his book (and one more!). Hope this helps anyone else that likes to read Alan’s reviews!

NOTE: I tried to build this list programmatically using a combination of thetvdb.com and Google ‘... Continue reading   ▸

What I want in iOS 9, OS X 10.11, and a new Apple TV

In last year’s iOS wish list, I noted that Android had finally caught up to iOS. This year, for the first time, it really feels like Google has surpassed Apple. Most importantly, Apple’s recent breakneck pace of innovation has led to self-inflicted wounds—you can only keep adding new features at the expense of stability for so long before it all breaks down.

Thankfully, it seems like Apple realizes it’s time for a ‘Snow Leopard’ year. Both iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 are rumored to be focused on stability and optimizing existing features. Understanding that, I’ve tried to focus less on pie-in-the-sky features and more on basic system improvements and refinements.

Here we go!

iOS 9

Big picture stuff:

System-wide ‘Dark mode... Continue reading   ▸

Tidal might succeed, but not for the reason artists want

Tidal, a music streaming service Jay-Z recently bought, relaunched today with 2 major differences compared to the competition:

  • It’s owned by artists. A lot of A-listers: Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire, Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Coldplay, Daft Punk, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Deadmau5, Madonna, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Usher.

  • It pays more in royalties to artists.

You can watch the star-studded launch event here (it starts at 29:42):

Here’s where the problems start. That bit about paying musicians more? It’s not exactly true:

Before today, that premium tier was the only one TIDAL offered. This morning it introduced a $9.99 service with standard definition audio, which will pay just the standard royalty rates. The double r

... Continue reading   ▸

What I want in iOS 8 and OS X 10.10

We’ve hit a tipping point. Long-time Apple evangelist Paul Stamatiou now argues Android is better. Quite convincingly, too—even I’m thinking about switching this year. Apple can no longer coast on its past successes now that developers and consumers have arguably better options now.

The only things we got from last year’s wish list were a pedometer in the iPhone and iBooks on OS X.

Still missing: better inter-app communication, Safari extensions, improved App Store rankings, Wi-Fi phone calls, a Siri that can actually compete with Google Now, and storing iOS apps in the cloud instead of on our computers. (Oh, and Apple TV apps, which I’ve been going on about for 2 years now.)

Given that, here’s what I’d like to see in the next ... Continue reading   ▸