My 2016 Emmy picks

The Emmys are tonight! These could very well be a mostly-repeat of last year’s winners because of the big rules changes last year, but nonetheless, I thought I’d take a quick stab at picking some winners. Some are who I think will win, some are for who I think should win, and some are just a chance for me to try to get you to watch some amazing TV shows. Here goes nothing!

Series awards

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • Black-ish (ABC)
  • Master of None (Netflix)
  • Modern Family (ABC)
  • Silicon Valley (HBO)
  • Transparent (Amazon)
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
  • Veep (HBO)

With Big Bang Theory thankfully excised from this category as of late, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with almost any of these shows. But as much as I enjoy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, am moved by Transparent, or laugh at Silicon Valley and Veep, I’ve go to go with the one that hit the trifecta for me: Master of None. Season 1 was really something special and I can’t wait to see if Aziz Ansari can muster up the magic again (thankfully, Netflix is giving him all the time he wants to write it!).

Outstanding Drama Series

  • The Americans (FX)
  • Better Call Saul (AMC)
  • Downton Abbey (PBS)
  • Game of Thrones (HBO)
  • Homeland (Showtime)
  • House of Cards (Netflix)
  • Mr. Robot (USA)

The Americans finally got nominated! The Americans finally got nominated!!

Unfortunately, I don’t think it has a chance in hell of winning. Given that, let’s see what our options are. Downton Abbey, Homeland, and House of Cards are barely a shell of their former selves and really have no business being nominated anymore. That leaves us with Better Call Saul, Game of Thrones, and Mr. Robot. I thought Better Call Saul and Mr Robot both had downturns in season 2 (though Mr Robot is nominated for its first season), while Game of Thrones had a surprisingly great uptick in season 6, the first no longer based on the books. I’m glad, because HBO’s huge voting bloc was probably going to deliver Game of Thrones a repeat win either way, but at least it will be well-deserved this year.

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

  • Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Crackle)
  • The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS)
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
  • Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC)

It hasn’t quite reclaimed the highs of its first season, but John Oliver is still the cream of the crop in late night.

Outstanding Limited Series

  • American Crime (ABC)
  • Fargo (FX)
  • The Night Manager (AMC)
  • The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
  • Roots (History)

I’m so glad the Emmys separated this into its own category because limited series are KILLING it this year. Any of these shows would be worthy winners and I honestly don’t know if I can decide between Fargo and The People vs. OJ Simpson. I will say that as much as I was looking forward to Fargo after its sublime first season (perhaps my favorite season of TV that year), OJ came out of nowhere and I still remember moments from it more now.

Outstanding Television Movie

  • All the Way (HBO)
  • Confirmation (HBO)
  • Luther (BBC America)
  • Sherlock: “The Abominable Bride” (PBS)
  • A Very Murray Christmas (Netflix)

If you don’t think a TV movie about a Supreme Court nominee could be supremely gripping, you haven’t seen Confirmation. Kerry Washington and Wendell Pierce are just sublime and make a character story into a thriller in its own right.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

  • The Amazing Race (CBS)
  • American Ninja Warrior (NBC)
  • Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
  • Project Runway (Lifetime)
  • Top Chef (Bravo)
  • The Voice (NBC)

As much fluff as it has, there’s nothing better than the finals of American Ninja Warrior. I just love that there’s an obstacle course show that celebrates athletic excellence, not mock it. (coughWipeoutcough)

Acting awards

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Anthony Anderson as Andre “Dre” Johnson, Sr. on Black-ish (ABC) (Episode: “Hope”)
  • Aziz Ansari as Dev Shah on Master of None (Netflix) (Episode: “Parents”)
  • Will Forte as Phil “Tandy” Miller on The Last Man on Earth (Fox) (Episode: “30 Years of Science Down the Tubes”)
  • William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher on Shameless (Showtime) (Episode: “I Only Miss Her When I’m Breathing”)
  • Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendricks on Silicon Valley (HBO) (Episode: “The Empty Chair”)
  • Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman on Transparent (Amazon) (Episode: “Man on the Land”)

Who are we kidding, Jeffrey Tambor is going to win this. You could argue that dramedies should be their own category to give truly comedic performers a real shot at this award (and I would agree with you), but that just isn’t the reality we have right now.

Ansari and Anderson would be worthy winners, but of course their performances just aren’t showy enough. But I would love to see Middleditch win this one time for an underrated performance as the glue that binds together Silicon Valley.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) (Episode: “Kimmy Goes to a Hotel!”)
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus as President Selina Meyer on Veep (HBO) (Episode: “Mother”)
  • Laurie Metcalf as Dr. Jenna James on Getting On (HBO) (Episode: “Am I Still Me?”)
  • Tracee Ellis Ross as Dr. Rainbow “Bow” Johnson on Black-ish (ABC) (Episode: “Sink or Swim”)
  • Amy Schumer as Amy on Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central) (Episode: “Welcome to the Gun Show”)
  • Lily Tomlin as Frankie Bergstein on Grace and Frankie (Netflix) (Episode: “The Test”)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is going to (deservingly) win for a record 5th year in a row…but what if she didn’t? Can we just give this award to Laurie Metcalf for her INCREDIBLE guest appearance in the 3rd episode of Horace and Pete after she was snubbed in that category at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards show last weekend? (She lost to Margo Martindale, who appeared in all of one short inconsequential scene during the entire season of The Americans.)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn on Bloodline (Netflix) (Episode: “Part 23”)
  • Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson on Mr. Robot (USA) (Episode: “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov”)
  • Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill on Better Call Saul (AMC) (Episode: “Klick”)
  • Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings on The Americans (FX) (Episode: “The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears”)
  • Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan on Ray Donovan (Showtime) (Episode: “Exsuscito”)
  • Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood on House of Cards (Netflix) (Episode: “Chapter 52”)

This might be the most wide-open category of the whole show. Bryan Cranston and Jon Hamm are both gone, and though Chandler is a previous winner, Bloodline is no Friday Night Lights (watch Friday Night Lights!).

I’m again going ride-or-die for The Americans, and Matthew Rhys should probably have been nominated and won this awards years ago. That said, The American just isn’t popular enough for him to win this year, so it’s going to come down to Bob Odenkirk and Rami Malek. And as much as Odenkirk has fleshed out the character of Saul, no one’s giving a performance like Rami Malek right now. After seeing multiple actors win this in their last year of eligibility (Chandler for Friday Night Lights, Hamm for Mad Men), let’s see if the rookie can bring it on home this time.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison on Homeland (Showtime) (Episode: “Super Powers”)
  • Viola Davis as Prof. Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) (Episode: “There’s My Baby”)
  • Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon on Empire (Fox) (Episode: “Rise by Sin”)
  • Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning, Alison Hendrix, Cosima Niehaus, Beth Childs, Rachel Duncan, and MK on Orphan Black (BBC America) (Episode: “The Antisocialism of Sex”)
  • Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings on The Americans (FX) (Episode: “The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears”)
  • Robin Wright as First Lady Claire Underwood on House of Cards (Netflix) (Episode: “Chapter 49”)

I know The Americans and its actors barely got nominated in some of these categories and they have no real chance of winning any of them, which is why I’ve been picking alternate winners in most of these categories. But Keri Russell is SO good as a committed Russian spy that I just don’t have the heart to pick anyone but her. Seriously Emmy voters, start watching The Americans so they can start winning some awards!!

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

  • Bryan Cranston as President Lyndon B. Johnson on All the Way (HBO)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes on Sherlock: “The Abominable Bride” (PBS)
  • Idris Elba as DCI John Luther on Luther (BBC America)
  • Cuba Gooding Jr. as O. J. Simpson on The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
  • Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine on The Night Manager (AMC)
  • Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran on The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

Courtney B. Vance didn’t just embody Johnnie Cochran, he WAS Johnnie Cochran. Just thinking about his performance makes me want to watch that show all over again. So damn good.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

  • Kirsten Dunst as Peggy Blumquist on Fargo (FX)
  • Felicity Huffman as Leslie Graham on American Crime (ABC)
  • Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday on Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (HBO)
  • Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark on The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
  • Lili Taylor as Anne Blaine on American Crime (ABC)
  • Kerry Washington as Anita Hill on Confirmation (HBO)

I know most experts have this pegged at Sarah Paulson’s award to lose, but does anyone else remember how people went from being bewildered at the casting of Kirsten Dunst to anointing her as the favorite to win this category during Fargo season 2? I do, I do!

That said, even I was surprised to see Sarah Paulson has been repeatedly nominated in this category the last few years, but never won. I can’t wait to see her acceptance speech tonight.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Louie Anderson as Christine Baskets on Baskets (FX) (Episode: “Easter in Bakersfield”)
  • Andre Braugher as Captain Ray Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox) (Episode: “The Oolong Slayer”)
  • Tituss Burgess as Titus Andromedon on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) (Episode: “Kimmy Gives Up!”)
  • Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy on Modern Family (ABC) (Episode: “The Party”)
  • Tony Hale as Gary Walsh on Veep (HBO) (Episode: “Inauguration”)
  • Keegan-Michael Key as Various Characters on Key & Peele (Comedy Central) (Episode: “Y’all Ready for This?”)
  • Matt Walsh as Mike McLintock on Veep (HBO) (Episode: “Kissing Your Sister”)

Mike McLintock might be the most woebegone character on Veep, and if you’ve seen the cast of caricatures on that show, you know that’s saying something. Burrell and Hale have gotten their gold in this category before, it’s time for some new blood.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer on Veep (HBO) (Episode: “C**tgate”)
  • Gaby Hoffmann as Alexandria “Ali” Pfefferman on Transparent (Amazon) (Episode: “Bulnerable”)
  • Allison Janney as Bonnie Plunkett on Mom (CBS) (Episode: “Terrorists and Gingerbread”)
  • Judith Light as Shelly Pfefferman on Transparent (Amazon) (Episode: “Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump”)
  • Kate McKinnon as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live (NBC) (Episode: “Host: Ariana Grande”)
  • Niecy Nash as Denise “DiDi” Ortley on Getting On (HBO) (Episode: “Don’t Let It Get in You or on You”)

I don’t know if variety show actors have real shots at the acting awards anymore, but for my money, Kate McKinnon is the heart of Saturday Night Live these days and I’d love to see her win this, even as much as I like all of the other nominees on their shows.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

  • Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut on Better Call Saul (AMC) (Episode: “Bali Ha’i”)
  • Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “No One”)
  • Kit Harington as Jon Snow on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “Battle of the Bastards”)
  • Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper on House of Cards (Netflix) (Episode: “Chapter 44”)
  • Ben Mendelsohn as Danny Rayburn on Bloodline (Netflix) (Episode: “Part 23”)
  • Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan on Ray Donovan (Showtime) (Episode: “The Kalamazoo”)

He might not have had a showpiece episode like last year, but Jonathan Banks is overdue for this award. He was robbed during season 5 of Breaking Bad when he lost to co-star Aaron Paul, but I think this will finally be his year.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

  • Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “Book of the Stranger”)
  • Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “The Winds of Winter”)
  • Dame Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey (PBS) (Episode: “Episode Six”)
  • Maura Tierney as Helen Solloway on The Affair (Showtime) (Episode: “204”)
  • Maisie Williams as Arya Stark on Game of Thrones (HBO) (Episode: “No One”)
  • Constance Zimmer as Quinn King on UnREAL (Lifetime) (Episode: “Mother”)

Lena Headey had so many great showcase moments during this season of Game of Thrones (no spoilers, but if you’ve seen the episode she’s nominated for, you know what I’m talking about) and she would be a worthy winner indeed.

But can we take a moment to appreciate the greatness that is UnREAL season 1 and especially Constance Zimmer?! This is a show that had no business being so good (and in season 2, it sadly wasn’t), but my god Constance Zimmer is putting on a showcase week after week. Whoo boy, she has come a long way since Good Morning, Miami!

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

  • Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden on The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) (Episode: “Manna From Heaven”)
  • Hugh Laurie as Richard Onslow Roper on The Night Manager (AMC) (Episode: “Episode 5”)
  • Jesse Plemons as Ed Blumquist on Fargo (FX) (Episode: “Loplop”)
  • David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian on The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) (Episode: “Conspiracy Theories”)
  • John Travolta as Robert Shapiro on The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) (Episode: “100% Not Guilty”)
  • Bokeem Woodbine as Mike Milligan on Fargo (FX) (Episode: “Palindrome”)

This is supposed to be OJ’s year at the Emmys, but I really hope its rising tide doesn’t life all of its boats because both of the Fargo actors nominated here were just so good. I know Bokeem Woodbine was the breakout star of Fargo, but of the two, I’ve got to give this to the ever-exasperated Jesse Plemons, who just kept delivering week after week.

(Though if David Schwimmer wins this, I won’t be mad at all - I never thought I could like a Kardashian so much!).

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

  • Kathy Bates as Iris on American Horror Story: Hotel (FX) (Episode: “Battle Royale”)
  • Olivia Colman as Angela Burr on The Night Manager (AMC) (Episode: “Episode 6”)
  • Regina King as Terri LaCroix on American Crime (ABC) (Episode: “Season Two: Episode Eight”)
  • Melissa Leo as First Lady Lady Bird Johnson on All the Way (HBO)
  • Sarah Paulson as Sally McKenna on American Horror Story: Hotel (FX) (Episode: “The Ten Commandments Killer”)
  • Jean Smart as Floyd Gerhardt on Fargo (FX) (Episode: “Fear and Trembling”)

The best part of the so-called Golden Age of TV and now Peak TV is that amazing actors like Jean Smart finally get to play roles that TV would never had room for before. She’s. Just. So. Good.


Writing awards

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

  • Catastrophe (Episode: “Episode 1”), Written by Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan (Amazon)
  • Master of None (Episode: “Parents”), Written by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang (Netflix)
  • Silicon Valley (Episode: “Founder Friendly”), Written by Dan O’Keefe (HBO)
  • Silicon Valley (Episode: “The Uptick”), Written by Alec Berg (HBO)
  • Veep (Episode: “Morning After”), Written by David Mandel (HBO)
  • Veep (Episode: “Mother”), Written by Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck (HBO)

During Modern Family’s reign atop the main comedy series category (especially in its later not-so-deserving years), people would say that the winner in this category was the “real” best comedy series. Now that the former category’s nominees are so diverse and good, I don’t know that that applies anymore. I would happy with any of these to win on their writing merits alone, but I’m going to go with Master of None here and particularly its terrific nominated episode.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

  • The Americans (Episode: “Persona Non Grata”), Written by Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg (FX)
  • Downton Abbey (Episode: “Episode 8”), Written by Julian Fellowes (PBS)
  • Game of Thrones (Episode: “Battle of the Bastards”), Written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss (HBO)
  • The Good Wife (Episode: “End”), Written by Robert King and Michelle King (CBS)
  • Mr. Robot (Episode: “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov”), Written by Sam Esmail (USA)
  • UnREAL (Episode: “Return”), Written by Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (Lifetime)

The particular episode of Game of Thrones nominated here isn’t exactly known for its writing, and Downton Abbey is Downton Abbey, but the rest of the nominees here are great. I love them all, but I’d give this to Mr Robot, whose pilot had no business at all working and yet completely did. Bravo and bonsoir, Mr. Esmail.

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special

  • Fargo (Episode: “Loplop”), Written by Bob DeLaurentis (FX)
  • Fargo (Episode: “Palindrome”), Written by Noah Hawley (FX)
  • The Night Manager, Written by David Farr (AMC)
  • The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “From the Ashes of Tragedy”), Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (FX)
  • The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”), Written by D. V. DeVincentis (FX)
  • The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “The Race Card”), Written by Joe Robert Cole (FX)

I just can’t do it, I just can’t. Give Fargo AND The People vs OJ all the awards!

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What I want in iOS 10 + the next tvOS

Another year, another iOS wishlist! I try to come up with new ideas every year, so if you haven’t seen the previous years’ lists, you can read those first (iOS 6, iOS 7, iOS 8, iOS 9).

Last year, we knew ahead of time that it would be a “Snow Leopard” year, focused on refinements and optimizations. This year, there have been very few leaks out of Cupertino, so no one really knows what’s going to be announced at WWDC. For example, the invite and banners seem to hint at an official dark mode, but there’s no concrete evidence. In fact, the biggest thing we know that’s coming are changes to the App Store…which Apple themselves surprisingly announced a few days ago.

Given that, anything could be in the cards this year. I don’t know what to expect, but I took a stab at some realistic tweaks and changes that I hope will be announced this year.

iOS 10

Picture-in-Picture: more, give me more!

Picture-in-Picture video on the iPad was probably the biggest surprise of last year’s WWDC. It was a feature that no one saw coming,1 but totally changes how you use your devices. Now, with a year of use, it’s clear Apple’s current implementation is good, but can be so much better with a few easy tweaks.

First and most importantly, please add a “skip back 10 seconds button”! It’s incredibly frustrating having to switch apps entirely every time you just miss a line of dialogue.

Second, let me make the PIP window bigger. Way bigger. When something interesting happens in a video and you want to focus on it for a second, it’d be a lot easier to just pinch and make it bigger, rather than switch back to the original video app (even on the latest iPad Mini, it takes more than a few seconds to switch apps and modes).

Third, playlists! If you want to watch YouTube videos in a PIP window (using YouPlayer, since the official YouTube app still doesn’t support PIP), it gets tedious switching back and starting a new one every time. Let me start a playlist and just keep it going in the PIP window without further user interaction.

Fourth, it would be great if there was a way to click on a YouTube link and have it open directly in PIP so you don’t have to jump between apps every time.

Lastly, picture-in-picture on iPhone please! Fully split-screen apps are probably too difficult on such a relatively small screen, but it would be great to be able to pop out a video and watch it even as you do other things. There’s no reason to limit this feature to iPads only.

FaceTime extensions: screen sharing, multi-person video calls

FaceTime has been pretty great from the start, but it’s time to flesh out its features. Why can’t I share my screen with the other person? It would make it so much easier to do tech support if you could actually see what the other person is seeing on their screen.

Better yet, let people remotely “control” the other device. Amazon added a really cool feature called Mayday to their tablet line a few years ago – you press a button and get connected to a tech support agent within 15 seconds who can see your screen, draw on it, and generally help you fix any problems. Apple would never invest in a central support team like that, but why not at least add a feature so we can help family and friends in a similar way?

One more FaceTime feature sorely missing is multi-person calls. Google Hangouts has it, Skype has it, it’s time for Apple to reach feature parity. It would be great to be able to get the whole family on a single video chat!

Siri on steroids: an SDK, real hands-free mode

Apple was first out of the gate with a voice assistant, but nowadays it feels like they’ve been lapped by everyone else. Google’s voice assistant has powerful context and AI support, Microsoft’s voice assistant works across all of their devices (from Surface to Windows to Xbox), and Amazon’s voice assistant has an app store. And Apple still can’t get basic word recognition right?

First off, let’s get a Siri SDK. It’s time. The Amazon Echo has proven that voice assistants can work easily with 3rd-party apps. Most tasks require precisely-worded commands (you definitely feel like you’re talking to a computer, not a person), but at least it works with 3rd-party services. The Alexa Skills Kit is both powerful and approachable, which is why they’ve won the hearts of developers and, therefore, users. Combined with hands-free Siri (“Hey Siri…”), an iPhone with a Siri SDK would basically be an Amazon Echo Dot.

And speaking of hands-free mode, that term is a bit of a misnomer. Sure, you can control some basic functions without touching your phone, but you can’t really use your phone with just your voice. I want to be able to sit in my car, secure my phone in a dash mount, and then never have to touch it again until I get out of my car. Right now, I all-too-frequently have to still touch the screen to press OK or cancel, select a text field, or even just exit the Siri screen (which inexplicably stays up after every command). And if you think this feature simply isn’t possible yet, guess what…Google just released it on Android!

Reinvigorated App Store: paid upgrades, app playlists

Apple’s decision to put Phil Schiller in charge of the App Store is already paying dividends. App subscriptions with better revenue splits for developers, search ads, and faster app review times are hopefully just the beginning of a reinvigorated App Store.

First off, if Apple’s going to add search ads, they better really improve app search in general. For example, I was recently searching for Google Analytics apps. I had to go more than 100 results deep to find actual 3rd-party G clients, not just completely unrelated apps that blithely mention in their keywords or whatever. Google succeeded tremendously with search ads, yes, but that was only because their actual search tech was impeccable in the first place.

Next, subscriptions are nice, but I’d rather have paid upgrades and free trials. With paid upgrades (AKA the way software sales have always worked outside of closed app stores), incentives are aligned for both parties: users get to decide whether an upgrade is worth paying for (along with a discount for being an existing customer), and developers can earn more revenue from existing customers, not just new ones. Studies show that most people spend 80+% of their time in 3 apps (and most of those are social networks). If your app isn’t one of those, how many people are going to feel comfortable paying for it monthly?

(Sketch is doing an interesting experiment, where they’re switching to rolling updates and a purchase gets you 12 months of updates. When your “subscription” expires, you get to keep the version of the app you have, you just don’t get new feature upgrades. I wonder if Apple will support that use case?)

Lastly, one really cool feature I don’t see mentioned much but that I’d love to see are App Store “playlists.” Basically, a way for everyone to make lists of apps and share them. For example, I could create a list of my “archived” games I had to delete from my phone to make space. But more importantly, I’d love to see other users’ playlists. I want to be able to check out Andy Baio’s list of favorite games or Brett Terpstra’s list of text editors. Better yet, I want to be able to follow their playlists, so I could get a notification when they add something new to it.

I just want to find and buy more cool indie apps. Why won’t you make it easier, Apple?

Safari subtleties: why do you pain me so?

Safari is a pretty great mobile browser (I have to say that since it’s the only one Apple lets us use as default!). It would just be better with a few tiny tweaks…

For one, please actually show the number of tabs open again in the bottom right, like pre-iOS 7. As I noted last year, Safari silently overwrites your oldest tab when you try opening a tab after hitting the limit. I read tons of links, so I have to keep manually counting how many tabs I have open to make sure I don’t lose any.

Next, it would be great if we could swipe on autocompleted search queries to put them in the search bar, so you can still add more terms after it. For example, if I type “iOS Saf”, autocomplete will give me “iOS Safari”. But if my full query is “iOS Safari search bar”, I have to type it all manually even though part of it was in the autocomplete results.

Lastly, the embeddable Safari View Controller introduced in iOS 9 is fantastic. App developers don’t have to build a new browser interface and users get a consistent browser in every app. The only catch is that it HAS to be full-screen. So an app like Narwhal, a Reddit client that splits the screen with a browser on top and comments below, can’t use SVC. Just make it a little more flexible so every app can use SVC.

And a few more small tweaks

When you’re in one app and click a link that opens another app, Apple puts a Back button in the top left corner of the screen. EXCEPT when you open Safari from Safari View Controller in an app. It almost makes me want a full-fledged system-wide back button, like on Android.

When I turn my phone sideways (for playing games or watching videos), I always turn it right or so that the home button is under my left thumb. But when rotation lock is on and I open an app that only works horizontally, it usually orients the opposite direction…but, even more frustratingly, not always!. Just let us set an option for our preferred horizontal orientation so it’s consistent among all apps.

On a Mac, a different Wi-Fi icon shows up when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, but not the Internet (so you know the problem is outside your home network.) It would be great to get something similar on iOS.

I don’t think the Clock app has seen any meaningful updates since the original iPhone’s debut. Most notably, the alarm settings could really use a jumpstart. How about a way to auto-delete alarms that only run once? And maybe let us schedule an alarm more than a week in advance?

You can now take incoming phone calls on an iPad. Great! But if you’re watching a video (particularly something live, like sports), the incoming call takes over the whole screen and stops the video. Not great, Bob! Just make incoming calls show up as notification banners, not fullscreen modals (if not on iPhones, certainly on iPads).

Let people store their music in iCloud, just like Photos (assuming they bought enough space). Don’t require iTunes Match for this.

No more mystery space (shows up as “Other” in iTunes). If there’s data that doesn’t fit in any main category, stick it all in iCloud Drive. Especially attachments (photos, etc) from Messages. And most importantly, make it easy to clear this space out.

And a few very good requests from other folks: Make Control Center more customizable. Make installing and using 3rd-party keyboards better. Display the volume in the status bar, not in the middle of the screen. If you won’t let us replace them, improve the default apps. And absolutely check out Federico Viticci’s massive wish list and concept video(!).

tvOS

Last year, we finally got the App Store-enabled Apple TV. I was bummed it wasn’t announced at WWDC, but luckily it debuted just a few months later. At the time, the possibilities were endless. Finally, we’d get a plethora of amazing apps from all kinds of developers! Unfortunately, the reality hasn’t been quite that. I can’t think of a single notable Apple TV app that has come out after the box’s debut. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I checked the Apple TV’s App Store. Don’t get me wrong, I use mine all the time, just only for a couple of apps. However, I think Apple could help jumpstart interest and sales of the Apple TV with a few changes.

For one, let us install apps remotely from an iPhone/iPad or, better yet, from the web (…just like Android). The last thing I do when I plop in front of my TV after a long day is look through the App Store with my remote.

Next, universal search was a good idea, but it looks like Apple themselves have to add search integration for apps. This is the old Apple TV’s “apps” situation all over again. Create an API, open it up to all developers (like Plex!), and just let every app create a content manifest that the system crawls.

Another feature that could sorely use Apple’s focus is TV Everywhere. This is the TV industry’s term for letting you use your cable login to access every channel’s app. Which is great, except every app wants you to login all over again. Why not just add a TV Everywhere setting and then just let every app use those credentials automatically?

Lastly, the latest rumor says Apple is going to make the Apple TV into more of an Amazon Echo competitor, which sounds…nonsensical. Why would I want a microphone in a box I stash under my TV? In years past, the rumor was that Apple would add AirPort features to the Apple TV so it could double as a router…at least that made a little sense.

macOS & watchOS

I’d say more about these, but it feels like Apple doesn’t care about the Mac much these days (the Mac App Store has been sorely neglected for years). And, well, does anyone still care about the Apple Watch? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  1. Fun fact: I was actually going to lead my list last year with Picture-in-Picture, my most-wanted feature, but I didn’t think there was any chance Apple would actually add it. That was a pleasant surprise, indeed! ↩︎

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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 Ronan takes a tired trope of a character and imbues it with so much life and emotion. At the beginning of the movie, I was wondering why she was nominated for an Oscar. At the end, I can barely imagine her not winning.
  • Carol: A not-quite-love story between Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. This movie just absolutely wrecked me. I was fixed to my seat the entire time and bawling in the corner afterwards. (10 movies were nominated for Best Picture at the Critics Choice Awards. 8 of those were similarly nominated at the Oscars. This one wasn’t. Ridiculous.)
  • Creed: It’s hard to have a fresh take on the boxing genre (especially after the Rocky movies exhausted most of them), so what Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan do here is nothing short of sensational. Heck, this movie is so good that Sylvester Stallone got nominated for an Oscar. (If you liked this, definitely watch Coogler + Jordan’s last team-up, Fruitvale Station.)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: I usually HATE action movies like this. So it says something when this was my favorite movie of the year. The day after I saw it in theaters, I went back to watch it again. Yes, it’s really that good!
  • Room: The story of a young woman kidnapped and locked in a small room and a child who’s never known anything else. Jacob Tremblay has the best acting performance of the year. Yes, better than Leo. I said it.
  • Sicario: WOW WOW WOW. I would’ve never watched this movie about the drug war if I hadn’t heard about it on the Hollywood Prospectus podcast, and boy am I glad I did. Just incredible tension and cinematography all-around. You probably missed this movie because it wasn’t nominated for any of the major Oscar awards, but did you know it was nominated for Best Picture at the Critics Choice Awards? Please, watch this movie when it pops up on Netflix or HBO.

The rest of the best

Here’s the movies that I thought were simply terrific. Just because these movies aren’t in the above group doesn’t mean I didn’t love them (that’s what happens when you’re making a best-of list!).

  • Ex Machina: Like Snowpiercer last year, this movie had an unconventional release (available on VOD before it hit theaters) and became an Internet cult favorite. It’s the first movie I’ve seen involving a Turing test and it handles it with aplomb. Definitely watch this if you wish Hollywood had more original stories because it’s just so very good. (Also, Alicia Vikander, who will probably win an Oscar tonight for her part in The Danish Girl, plays one of the leads in this as a humanoid robot unlike any you’ve ever seen.)
  • Spotlight: If you liked All The President’s Men, you have to watch this movie too. There’s a reason it was pegged as the favorite for Best Picture all the way back last October.
  • Steve Jobs: Once you realize that this isn’t really the story of Steve Jobs at all (Aaron Sorkin takes one too many liberties in making his life story more efficiently dramatic), you can appreciate just how good this one is. It’s a shame that Danny Boyle didn’t get more credit for his direction on this one.
  • Straight Outta Compton: Stories about black characters aren’t only for black audiences, and I can’t tell you how happy I was when this movie made so much money at the box office. I only wish Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, who produced the film, had the courage to show the worst of their own characters too (look up Dee Barnes).
  • The Big Short: The best, simplest explanation of what happened in the ‘08 financial crisis. I’ve read about this stuff, watched documentaries, etc, and even I came away with a better understanding after watching this one.
  • The Danish Girl: I understand the criticism of this movie (it simplifies the story too much, Redmayne is too overtly acting), but I don’t care. It just bowled me over, over and over again. Alicia Vikander plays Gerda Wegener with more agency than almost any “tortured wife” character I’ve seen and Eddie Redmayne imbues Lili Elbe with so much life that you feel every emotion along with him. Give this all the awards and I wouldn’t even be mad.
  • The Martian: It’s not often you get a movie that celebrates science so openly and exuberantly. It’s even rarer when that movie is really freakin’ fun, too. I only wish it were longer!
  • Trumbo: This movie has been rightfully knocked as one of the weaker films of this year’s nominees, but if you’re at all interested in the history of Hollywood writers, it’s a compelling watch indeed. (Helen Mirren steals the show with a couple of stellar lines at just the right times, too!)

Lest we zest too much

  • 45 Years: A movie I admired more than I liked. It’s a slow meditation on marriage and memory…if you liked the Top of the Lake miniseries on SundanceTV a couple years ago, you’ll like this.
  • Bridge of Spies: Mark Rylance is exceptional as a captured Russian spy, but overall this was a bit too by-the-numbers for me. (This is the movie that made me realize just why Harvey Weinstein forces every director to chop 20 minutes off their films no matter what.)
  • Concussion: It’s not good when the real person is much more magnetic on-screen than the actor playing him. Skip Will Smith’s version and check out the real Bennett Omalu in Frontline’s NFL investigation, League of Denial, instead. You can watch the whole thing for free on PBS’s website.
  • Inside Out: I thought this movie was just OK. Everyone else loves it though. Maybe, like Andy Ihnatko & The Avengers, it just wasn’t my day when I watched it.
  • Joy: This is one of the two movies I missed in theaters. Still not out on home video either.
  • The Hateful Eight: I missed the 70mm run of this movie, so I looked for it at my regular theater instead. For some reason, they dropped it after only 2 weeks, before I could watch it. Still waiting for the home video release.
  • The Revenant: I love man-vs-nature and revenge stories, but it’s not a good sign when you’re checking your watch more than once during a movie (admittedly, it’s also just really long). On a technical level, Iñárritu’s direction and Leo’s acting are tremendous, but this movie just left me a little cold.

The best of the rest

The Oscars aren’t the be-all, end-all of good movies, and this year was no exception. Here are some other under-the-radar movies I really liked this year:

  • Chappie: After the heights of District 9 and the lows of Elysium, I personally thought Neil Blomkamp bounced back with this one. The story is weak, especially towards the end, but the main character is just so fun to watch.
  • Dope: I loved this movie so much. It subverts and challenges your perceptions and stereotypes and it does it with so much bombast and pure fun. Pair it with last year’s Dear White People for a great doubleheader. (Or, for a trifecta of amazing movies with underserved minority roles, add Beyond the Lights too!)
  • Everest: I knew little about the 1996 Everest expedition before this movie and, wow, was it a gripping surprise. I’ll definitely be checking out Baltasar Kormákur’s next movie.
  • Focus: Miles better than anything else Will Smith’s done in recent years and it’s so much fun watching him as a con man.
  • Mississippi Grind: I’m a sucker for a good movie about gamblers, but this wasn’t at all what I was expecting, in a good way. If you like introspective, slow, but gripping dramas, check this one out.
  • Sanjay’s Super Team: Seeing someone who likes like you on screen is a powerful thing and Disney/Pixar’s animated short with Indian leads was a wonderful little treat indeed.
  • The Walk: This movie about wire-walking made me so damn happy. It’s a French romance film, a light-hearted comedy, a heist film, and performance art all in one. I love showing this one to people.
  • Trainwreck: I knew Amy Schumer was good, but I didn’t know she had this in her. It takes from the best of the Apatow-Rogen school of comedies, but Amy Schumer comes in and reinvigorates the genre so damn well.

Oscar picks

I went through the main 8 categories (overall, directing, acting, screenplay) and picked my favorites in each. If you just want to see what will actually win, you can check FiveThirtyEight, which has been tracking the precursor awards and has a good set of final predictions.

Best Picture

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight

Look, all of these movies are good. The Revenant and Bridge of Spies are technically excellent, even if I found them underwhelming. I liked The Big Short, Brooklyn, The Martian, and Spotlight a lot, but I don’t think they were the best movie of the year. So that leaves Room and Mad Max: Fury Road (unfortunately, Sicario and Carol weren’t nominated, as they were at the Critics Choice Awards in the same category). You can’t go wrong with either, but in the end, I’ve got to go with my heart (and a can of silver spray paint)…Mad Max: Fury Road!

Best Director

  • Room - Lenny Abrahamson
  • The Revenant - Alejandro G. Iñárritu
  • Spotlight - Tom McCarthy
  • The Big Short - Adam McKay
  • Mad Max: Fury Road - George Miller

All of these directors did great in different ways, but I think Lenny Abrahamson did more with less than anyone else nominated. Room could have gone wrong in so many ways, but he brings out simply tremendous performances in Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. Gotta give it to him.

Best Actor

  • Trumbo - Bryan Cranston
  • The Martian - Matt Damon
  • The Revenant - Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Steve Jobs - Michael Fassbender
  • The Danish Girl - Eddie Redmayne

I know Leo’s going to win. And The Revenant was almost certainly the hardest film to actually make for an actor, but that shouldn’t be enough to get you this award. So even though he won last year, I just felt so much more from Eddie Redmayne’s performance.

Best Actress

  • Carol - Cate Blanchett
  • Room - Brie Larson
  • Joy - Jennifer Lawrence
  • 45 Years - Charlotte Rampling
  • Brooklyn - Saoirse Ronan

Saoirse Ronan blew me away in Brooklyn. Watch the ending and then go back to the beginning and it doesn’t even feel like the same person. But after watching Carol, and seeing Cate Blanchett do more with a cold stare than almost any actor alive, there was just no question in my mind.

Best Supporting Actor

  • The Big Short - Christian Bale
  • The Revenant - Tom Hardy
  • Spotlight - Mark Ruffalo
  • Bridge of Spies - Mark Rylance
  • Creed - Sylvester Stallone

I’d probably rank Tom Hardy higher if I could understand half of the things he said in The Revenant (I’m not the only one who’s going to have to watch the movie again on DVD with subtitles, right?). And Mark Rylance was just sublime. But Mark Ruffalo embodied his character, even if it wasn’t the flashiest role. His rage was mine and I say this award should go to him.

Best Supporting Actress

  • The Hateful Eight - Jennifer Jason Leigh
  • Carol - Rooney Mara
  • Spotlight - Rachel McAdams
  • The Danish Girl - Alicia Vikander
  • Steve Jobs - Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet is always good, but I think she won the Golden Globe in this category more on name recognition from past performances. And Rooney Mara was just spectacular in Carol and has a strong claim to this award. But, for me, ultimately Alicia Vikander takes this. (Everyone, go watch The Danish Girl!)

Best Original Screenplay

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Ex Machina
  • Inside Out
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton

At the Emmys, many consider the writing awards the “real” best show awards. I’m not going to say the same for the Oscars, but this category does award more originality and creativity than the main categories and these movies had that in spades. Ultimately, all I have to say is this: yes, Ex Machina is THAT good.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Big Short
  • Brooklyn
  • Carol
  • The Martian
  • Room

It was a shock that both Sorkin and Tarantino weren’t nominated for best screenplay. That’s gotta be a first for both, right? That said, this is a wonderful category and possibly the hardest for me to pick from. So I’ve got to go with the one that had the most challenging source material and adapted it wonderfully for mass audiences: The Big Short.


By the way, if you’re curious, there are 57 different movies nominated for Oscars this year. Here’s how they break down:

  • 8 best picture nominees
  • 8 other movies nominated for acting
  • 3 other movies nominated for screenplay
  • 5 other movies nominated for original song
  • 4 other movies nominated for technical awards (Sicario for sound/cinematography, Cinderella for costume design, The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared for makeup & hair styling, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens for cinematography/sound/editing)
  • 29 documentaries/shorts/animated/foreign language (not including Inside Out, which was also nominated for screenplay)

I thought I watched a lot of them this year (almost everything nominated for overall/acting/screenplay) but I admire anyone, like Todd VanDerWerff, who watched and ranked all 57!

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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 was running last summer, everyone laughed. Remember his ‘Mexicans are rapists and drug-dealers’ comment? That was in his announcement speech!

But even when he started getting traction and polled around 20%, it could be explained away:

  • Early polls are notoriously bad because they usually represent awareness of a candidate more than support. A year ago, how many people had heard of Bernie Sanders? Similarly, if you were being polled and were asked about a bunch of unknown Republicans and Donald Trump, you might just go with the name you’ve heard of before.

  • Only half of the US population votes. And half of those vote Republican. So polls of “likely GOP voters” represent about 25% of the population. That means when Trump was polling at 20% nationwide, it represented 5% of the US population. And when you remember that 20% of the US population still believes Obama is a Muslim (really), Trump’s poll numbers don’t seem entirely crazy.

  • Trump’s favorability numbers were awful. They suggested a natural ceiling for his support.

  • Trump kept making controversial comments (Mexicans are rapists, McCain isn’t a war hero, ending birthright citizenship, banning all Muslims, lying about 9/11 celebrations, mocking a disabled reporter, Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle, and so much more). At some point, something had to stick, right?

  • The entire party was against him. At the first debate, even the Fox News moderators tried to undermine him. And if nothing else, “The Party Decides” theory offered a viable argument for his downfall once the candidate pool winnowed.

In other words, Trump’s popularity was unexpected, but there was evidence to suggest it was limited. And when it came time for people to actually vote, he’d lose.

And at first, that happened. In Iowa, he underperformed compared to his polls and lost to Ted Cruz. Surely his reign was ended?

Except Trump bounced back. He got 1st in New Hampshire and 1st in South Carolina. But still, it could be explained away:

  • He was winning with pluralities, not majorities. He’d hit his natural ceiling of ~35% and would start losing as support consolidated behind 1 or 2 other candidates.

  • He continued to underperform compared to the most recent polls.

  • Generally, 50% of people decide who they’re supporting the last week before a primary vote. Of that group, folks were voting for anyone but Trump (he was only getting 18% of late-deciders, again significantly worse than his polls).

The case FOR Trump after 2/23

But in Nevada, Trump confounded every expectation and turned the conventional wisdom upside-down:

  • He actually overperformed against the polls. He was polling around 40%, but got 46% of the votes. And before you say that was because Jeb dropped out, note that Jeb was only polling at 1%(!).
  • Won in a low-turnout state. Before Nevada, it could be argued Trump was only winning in high-turnout states (by bringing in new voters). But Nevada had a decidedly low turnout and he still won.
  • Won in a caucus state. Caucuses have significantly lower turnout than primaries and generally bring out very committed partisans. In this election, that’s Cruz’s base. But Trump won nonetheless.
  • Won with Hispanic voters. Yes, the sourcing on this is thin, and Trump is still heavily underwater among Latino voters nationwide (80% unfavorable, at last check). However, the race right now is still being won in the media and this story got a lot of traction.
  • Won with evangelical voters. Trump got 4 in 10 Evangelical voters. Again, this was supposed to be Ted Cruz’s base.
  • Won with every other damn demographic group. Trump won very conservative voters, moderate voters, voters without a college education, voters with a post-graduate degree(!), and with just about every other group of voters out there. Stunning.
  • Has gone from winning pluralities (24% in Iowa, 35% in NH, 33% in SC) to nearly an outright majority (46% in NV). This may be the scariest development of all. If Trump starts getting over 50%, it’s all over. Even if everyone but Rubio dropped out, Trump could win a 1-on-1.

So Trump won Nevada convincingly. And he did it in a way that demonstrates he’s even stronger, amongst nearly every demographic, than anyone anticipated.

On top of that, the Republican primary calendar has 2 dates rapidly approaching that are hugely important:

  • 3/1, aka Super Tuesday, when 11 states vote. Right now, polls show Trump significantly ahead in 8 states and competitive in the others. He’s only significantly behind in Ted Cruz’s home state of Texas (but delegates are awarded proportionally, so even a strong 2nd-place showing will still net Trump a lot of delegates).

  • 3/15, when states are finally allowed to allocate delegates winner-take-all. The Republican National Committee designed the calendar this way because you usually have a presumptive nominee by this point and they wanted him or her to be able to quickly lock up enough delegates to make it official. Well, this year that’s Trump and he is killing it in Ohio (Kasich’s home state) and Florida (Rubio’s home state). There will be a strong push for those two to drop out if they don’t win their own state (especially Kasich, who has only been competitive in 1 state so far).

Vox has a very good article on how Trump could essentially lock up the nomination by 3/15. You should really go read it now.

But if you still don’t believe me, go look at the betting markets. People who actually have money on this have Trump at 77%, Rubio at 19%, Cruz at 2%, and Kasich at 2%.

Finally, in the most shocking development of all, Trump’s starting to get endorsements from real politicians. First, Reps. Chris Collins (R-NY) and Duncan Hunter (R-CA) endorsed him. Still, they’re kinda fringe guys. But on Friday, Trump dropped a bombshell when he got sitting NJ Governor Chris Christie’s endorsement. That possibly opened the floodgates, because he soon got former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s endorsement as well as one more sitting politician. If you don’t know who, I strongly urge you to read this fantastic NYT article all the way to the bottom for a real kick-in-the-pants.

Why Rubio probably can’t win anymore

Rubio is now clearly the only viable Trump competitor left. But it’s probably too late, especially because the other competitors don’t look like they’re going anywhere soon:

  • Rubio’s “robot” debate gaffe hurt him significantly in the New Hampshire primary, getting 5th place when he was poised to get 2nd (just a 5% difference!). Instead, he let Kasich win amongst “establishment” candidates, giving him a credible reason to stay in the race. And now all indications suggest Kasich won’t drop out before 3/15, until Ohio votes.

  • Rubio’s closest competition is still Ted Cruz. But unless Cruz loses Texas (highly unlikely, based on current polls), he will probably stay in the race for a while too. He’s always been the best-funded candidate after Bush and has the best ground organization of anyone.

  • And you’d think Ben Carson would have dropped out by now, but his campaign is running on a shoestring budget with minimal staff so he’s happily chugging along and picking off ~5% in each state. Last year, he even took a month off the campaign to go on a book tour (right when he topped Trump in the polls too!), so his campaign may be more about publicity than the presidency.

So while Rubio might be able to win a 1-on-1 with Trump today, it doesn’t look like he’ll have that chance anytime soon. And by March 15th, 60% of all delegates will have been allocated. Even if every other candidate drops out then, Rubio would need to win 2/3 of the remaining delegates to catch up to Trump.

What happens next

The way I see it, the race plays out in one of three ways:

  1. Rubio fights back.

    I drafted most of this blog post before Thursday’s debate, when Rubio and Cruz finally went on the attack against Trump (even Jeb, Trump’s most direct target all year, used barely any of his $100 million to fund ads against him). Rubio got the best of it and then followed it up the next day by taking the fight to Trump the only way left—fighting insults with insults. And dare I say, it might work? I was entranced by his new “stump speech,” mocking Trump’s tweets1 and behavior at the debate. It’s Trump’s shtick, but from a candidate with substantive policy proposals to go with it. As Stuart Stevens noted, it’s not too late to stop Trump and this just might be the way.

    But for the comeback to work, Rubio will have to do 2 more things: frame the race as solely Trump-vs-Rubio (hoping voters increasingly ignore Cruz), and perform better-than-expected on Super Tuesday. Rubio’s competitive in Minnesota and Virginia and if he can actually pull off the win in both, he will rewrite this race yet again.

  2. Trump wins the nomination and the party tries to undermine him.

    If Trump wins the nomination, the GOP will be fractured. Some will support him, figuring he’s better than Hillary, but many won’t. They’ll figure it’s better to focus on 2020, when Hillary would be trying to win a 4th consecutive term for the Democrats, a rarity for any party in modern politics. In fact, Mitch McConnell is already telling Senate Republicans up for re-election this year that it’s OK for them to run ads against Trump.

    And if Trump wins the nomination, I think there’s a very good chance some Republican will run as a sacrificial candidate, splitting the GOP vote and essentially throwing the election. The problem for the RNC is that all 16 of this year’s other candidates are barred by the “pledge” they created last year to force every candidate to support the eventual Republican nominee. They thought it would force Trump to get behind a real Republican nominee, but now all the other candidates are going to have to get behind Trump!

    My money on such a sacrificial candidate is Mitt Romney. He’s out of politics now and wouldn’t be messing up a chance at another race down the line by “defecting” from the official Republican ticket. In addition, having him on the ballot would help protect downballot candidates, giving Republican voters a chance to still vote the “party line,” but not for Trump.

  3. Trump wins the nomination and the party gets behind him.

    Republicans know floating a 3rd-party bid would give the White House to Democrats. And when they already have the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and 2/3 of all state legislatures, maybe they’d rather take an unpredictable Republican than a Democrat as POTUS.2

    If Trump gets the full backing of the national party, including fundraising and endorsements, voters will notice and perhaps get in line. And as a dovish Republican who says same-sex marriage is the law of the land & Planned Parenthood does a lot of good, he might even pick off some independent- to-liberal voters.

    Look, when the GOP race started, no one thought Donald Trump had a chance. If he wins the nomination and has the backing of the party, I’m not counting ANYTHING out of the realm of possibility any more.

Of course, this is all assuming we don’t get a brokered convention or Trump third-party bid. The way this election has gone, who knows what’s going to happen next!

  1. Call me crazy, but I think Trump posted those multiple misspelled tweets intentionally. Did you notice he left them up for hours, even after thousands of retweets? I think he knew he had an underwhelming debate performance and, as he always does, tried to shift the media narrative by doing or saying something crazy. He only deleted them and posted correctly-spelled versions after Rubio mocked them relentlessly (and CNN started showing a split-screen of Rubio’s speech and Trump’s tweets). ↩︎

  2. The fact that Republicans control every other branch of government is also a very good reason why they DON’T need to support Trump as their candidate. Here’s hoping! ↩︎

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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 & color-coded list. If you find any missing/mistaken data, let me know!

Shortcuts: Entrance dates / Republican dropouts / Republican debates / Republican town halls / Democratic dropouts / Democratic debates / Democratic town halls / Primary & caucus dates / General election dates / Sources / Complete color-coded chronological calendar


Notable entrance dates

  • 2015-03-23: ENTER - Ted Cruz is 1st Republican to officially enter race
  • 2015-04-12: ENTER - Hillary Clinton is 1st Democrat to officially enter race
  • 2015-07-30: ENTER - Jim Gilmore is 17th & final Republican to officially enter race
  • 2015-09-06: ENTER - Lawrence Lessig is 6th & final Democrat to officially enter race

I didn’t include all the candidates because these dates are mostly meaningless. Serious candidates form a Presidential Exploratory Committee 3-6 months before officially entering the race. As I understand it, these committees used to actually be “exploratory” - candidates used this time to test the waters and figure out if they should seriously run or not. But nowadays, every candidate who creates a committee is almost certainly running and uses the exploratory period to instead raise unlimited money for their Super PAC…which they can legally do because they haven’t “officially” declared they’re running for President. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Democratic dropout dates

  • 2015-10-20: DROPOUT [D] - Jim Webb suspends campaign (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-10-21: DROPOUT [D] - Joe Biden declines to run (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-10-23: DROPOUT [D] - Lincoln Chafee suspends campaign (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-11-02: DROPOUT [D] - Lawrence Lessig suspends campaign (after not qualifying for 2nd debate)
  • 2016-02-01: DROPOUT [D] - Martin O’Malley suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • Still running: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders

Republican dropout dates

  • 2015-09-11: DROPOUT [R] - Rick Perry suspends campaign (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-09-21: DROPOUT [R] - Scott Walker suspends campaign (after 2nd debate)
  • 2015-11-17: DROPOUT [R] - Bobby Jindal suspends campaign (after 4th debate)
  • 2015-12-21: DROPOUT [R] - Lindsey Graham suspends campaign (after 5th debate)
  • 2015-12-29: DROPOUT [R] - George Pataki suspends campaign (after 5th debate)
  • 2016-02-01: DROPOUT [R] - Mike Huckabee suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-03: DROPOUT [R] - Rand Paul suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-03: DROPOUT [R] - Rick Santorum suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-10: DROPOUT [R] - Chris Christie suspends campaign (after NH vote)
  • 2016-02-10: DROPOUT [R] - Carly Fiorina suspends campaign (after NH vote)
  • 2016-02-12: DROPOUT [R] - Jim Gilmore1 suspends campaign (after NH vote)
  • 2016-02-20: DROPOUT [R] - Jeb Bush suspends campaign (after SC vote)
  • Still running: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Ben Carson

Republican debates

  • 2015-08-06: DEBATE - 1st Republican primary debate (Fox News)
  • 2015-09-16: DEBATE - 2nd Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2015-10-28: DEBATE - 3rd Republican primary debate (CNBC)
  • 2015-11-10: DEBATE - 4th Republican primary debate (Fox Business)
  • 2015-12-15: DEBATE - 5th Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-01-14: DEBATE - 6th Republican primary debate (Fox Business)
  • 2016-01-28: DEBATE - 7th Republican primary debate (Fox News)
  • 2016-02-06: DEBATE - 8th Republican primary debate (ABC)
  • 2016-02-13: DEBATE - 9th Republican primary debate (CBS)
  • 2016-02-25: DEBATE - 10th Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-03-03: DEBATE - 11th Republican primary debate (Fox News)
  • 2016-03-10: DEBATE - 12th Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-03-21: DEBATE - 13th Republican primary debate (TBD)

Republican forums & town halls

  • 2015-08-03: FORUM - Voters First Forum - Republicans (C-SPAN)
  • 2015-11-20: FORUM - Presidential Family Forum - Republicans
  • 2015-12-03: FORUM - Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum
  • 2016-01-09: FORUM - Kemp Forum - Republicans
  • 2016-02-17: FORUM - Donald Trump Town Hall (MSNBC)
  • 2016-02-17: FORUM - Republican Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-18: FORUM - Republican Town Hall (CNN)

Democratic debates

  • 2015-10-13: DEBATE - 1st Democratic primary debate (CNN)
  • 2015-11-14: DEBATE - 2nd Democratic primary debate (CBS)
  • 2015-12-19: DEBATE - 3rd Democratic primary debate (ABC)
  • 2016-01-17: DEBATE - 4th Democratic primary debate (NBC)
  • 2016-02-04: DEBATE - 5th Democratic primary debate (MSNBC)
  • 2016-02-11: DEBATE - 6th Democratic primary debate (PBS)
  • 2016-03-06: DEBATE - 7th Democratic primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-03-09: DEBATE - 8th Democratic primary debate (Univision)

Democratic forums & town halls

  • 2015-11-06: FORUM - First in the South Democratic Candidates Forum (MSNBC)
  • 2015-11-24: FORUM - MoveOn Democratic Forum (MoveOn.org)
  • 2016-01-11: FORUM - Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum (Fusion.net)
  • 2016-01-25: FORUM - Iowa Democratic Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-03: FORUM - New Hampshire Democratic Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-23: FORUM - South Carolina Democratic Town Hall (CNN)

Primary & caucus dates

  • 2016-02-01: VOTE - Iowa (first caucus!)
  • 2016-02-09: VOTE - New Hampshire (first primary!)
  • 2016-02-20: VOTE - Nevada (D), South Carolina (R)
  • 2016-02-23: VOTE - Nevada (R)
  • 2016-02-27: VOTE - South Carolina (D)
  • 2016-03-01: VOTE - Alabama, Alaska (R), American Samoa, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia
  • 2016-03-05: VOTE - Kansas, Kentucky (R), Louisiana, Maine (R), Nebraska (D)
  • 2016-03-06: VOTE - Maine (D), Puerto Rico (R)
  • 2016-03-08: VOTE - Hawaii (R), Idaho (R), Michigan, Mississippi
  • 2016-03-12: VOTE - District of Columbia (R), Northern Marianas Islands (D)
  • 2016-03-15: VOTE - Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Northern Marianas Islands (R), North Carolina, Ohio
  • 2016-03-19: VOTE - Virgin Islands (R)
  • 2016-03-22: VOTE - Arizona, Idaho (D), Utah
  • 2016-03-26: VOTE - Alaska (D), Hawaii (D), Washington (D)
  • 2016-04-05: VOTE - Wisconsin
  • 2016-04-09: VOTE - Wyoming
  • 2016-04-19: VOTE - New York
  • 2016-04-26: VOTE - Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island
  • 2016-05-03: VOTE - Indiana
  • 2016-05-07: VOTE - Guam
  • 2016-05-10: VOTE - Nebraska (R), West Virginia
  • 2016-05-17: VOTE - Kentucky (D), Oregon
  • 2016-05-24: VOTE - Washington (R)
  • 2016-06-04: VOTE - Virgin Islands (D)
  • 2016-06-05: VOTE - Puerto Rico (D)
  • 2016-06-07: VOTE - California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota

Important general election dates

  • 2016-07-18: CONVENTION - Start of Republican convention (Cleveland, OH)
  • 2016-07-21: CONVENTION - End of Republican convention (Cleveland, OH)
  • 2016-07-25: CONVENTION - Start of Democratic convention (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2016-07-28: CONVENTION - End of Democratic convention (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2016-09-26: DEBATE - 1st general election debate
  • 2016-10-04: DEBATE - Vice Presidential debate
  • 2016-10-09: DEBATE - 2nd general election debate
  • 2016-10-19: DEBATE - 3rd general election debate
  • 2016-11-08: VOTE - Election day!

Sources & further reading


Chronological calendar

  • 2015-03-23 - ENTER - Ted Cruz is 1st Republican to officially enter race
  • 2015-04-12 - ENTER - Hillary Clinton is 1st Democrat to officially enter race
  • 2015-07-30 - ENTER - Jim Gilmore is 17th and final Republican to officially enter race
  • 2015-08-03 - FORUM - Voters First Forum [Republicans] (C-SPAN)
  • 2015-08-06 - DEBATE - 1st Republican primary debate (Fox News)
  • 2015-09-06 - ENTER - Lawrence Lessig is 6th and final Democrat to officially enter race
  • 2015-09-11 - DROPOUT - Rick Perry suspends campaign (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-09-16 - DEBATE - 2nd Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2015-09-21 - DROPOUT - Scott Walker suspends campaign (after 2nd debate)
  • 2015-10-13 - DEBATE - 1st Democratic primary debate (CNN)
  • 2015-10-20 - DROPOUT - Jim Webb suspends campaign (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-10-21 - DROPOUT - Joe Biden declines to run (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-10-23 - DROPOUT - Lincoln Chafee suspends campaign (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-10-28 - DEBATE - 3rd Republican primary debate (CNBC)
  • 2015-11-02 - DROPOUT - Lawrence Lessig suspends campaign (after not qualifying for 2nd debate)
  • 2015-11-06 - FORUM - First in the South Democratic Candidates Forum (MSNBC)
  • 2015-11-10 - DEBATE - 4th Republican primary debate (Fox Business)
  • 2015-11-14 - DEBATE - 2nd Democratic primary debate (CBS)
  • 2015-11-17 - DROPOUT - Bobby Jindal suspends campaign (after 4th debate)
  • 2015-11-20 - FORUM - Presidential Family Forum [Republicans]
  • 2015-11-24 - FORUM - MoveOn Democratic Forum (MoveOn.org)
  • 2015-12-03 - FORUM - Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum
  • 2015-12-15 - DEBATE - 5th Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2015-12-19 - DEBATE - 3rd Democratic primary debate (ABC)
  • 2015-12-21 - DROPOUT - Lindsey Graham suspends campaign (after 5th debate)
  • 2015-12-29 - DROPOUT - George Pataki suspends campaign (after 5th debate)
  • 2016-01-09 - FORUM - Kemp Forum [Republicans]
  • 2016-01-11 - FORUM - Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum (Fusion.net)
  • 2016-01-14 - DEBATE - 6th Republican primary debate (Fox Business)
  • 2016-01-17 - DEBATE - 4th Democratic primary debate (NBC)
  • 2016-01-25 - FORUM - Iowa Democratic Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-01-28 - DEBATE - 7th Republican primary debate (Fox News)
  • 2016-02-01 - VOTE - Iowa (first caucus!)
  • 2016-02-01 - DROPOUT - Martin O’Malley suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-01 - DROPOUT - Mike Huckabee suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-03 - DROPOUT - Rand Paul suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-03 - DROPOUT - Rick Santorum suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-03 - FORUM - New Hampshire Democratic Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-04 - DEBATE - 5th Democratic primary debate (MSNBC)
  • 2016-02-06 - DEBATE - 8th Republican primary debate (ABC)
  • 2016-02-09 - VOTE - New Hampshire (first primary!)
  • 2016-02-10 - DROPOUT - Carly Fiorina suspends campaign (after NH vote)
  • 2016-02-10 - DROPOUT - Chris Christie suspends campaign (after NH vote)
  • 2016-02-11 - DEBATE - 6th Democratic primary debate (PBS)
  • 2016-02-12 - DROPOUT - Jim Gilmore suspends campaign (after NH vote)
  • 2016-02-13 - DEBATE - 9th Republican primary debate (CBS)
  • 2016-02-17 - FORUM - Republican Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-18 - FORUM - Republican Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-20 - VOTE - Nevada (D), South Carolina (R)
  • 2016-02-20 - DROPOUT - Jeb Bush suspends campaign (after SC vote)
  • 2016-02-23 - FORUM - South Carolina Democratic Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-23 - VOTE - Nevada (R)
  • 2016-02-25 - DEBATE - 10th Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-02-27 - VOTE - South Carolina (D)
  • 2016-03-01 - VOTE - Alabama, Alaska (R), American Samoa, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia
  • 2016-03-03 - DEBATE - 11th Republican primary debate (Fox News)
  • 2016-03-05 - VOTE - Kansas, Kentucky (R), Louisiana, Maine (R), Nebraska (D)
  • 2016-03-06 - DEBATE - 7th Democratic primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-03-06 - VOTE - Maine (D), Puerto Rico (R)
  • 2016-03-08 - VOTE - Hawaii (R), Idaho (R), Michigan, Mississippi
  • 2016-03-09 - DEBATE - 8th Democratic primary debate (Univision)
  • 2016-03-10 - DEBATE - 12th Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-03-12 - VOTE - District of Columbia (R), Northern Marianas Islands (D)
  • 2016-03-15 - VOTE - Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Northern Marianas Islands (R), North Carolina, Ohio
  • 2016-03-19 - VOTE - Virgin Islands (R)
  • 2016-03-21 - DEBATE - 13th Republican primary debate (TBD)
  • 2016-03-22 - VOTE - Arizona, Idaho (D), Utah
  • 2016-03-26 - VOTE - Alaska (D), Hawaii (D), Washington (D)
  • 2016-04-05 - VOTE - Wisconsin
  • 2016-04-09 - VOTE - Wyoming
  • 2016-04-19 - VOTE - New York
  • 2016-04-26 - VOTE - Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island
  • 2016-05-03 - VOTE - Indiana
  • 2016-05-07 - VOTE - Guam
  • 2016-05-10 - VOTE - Nebraska (R), West Virginia
  • 2016-05-17 - VOTE - Kentucky (D), Oregon
  • 2016-05-24 - VOTE - Washington (R)
  • 2016-06-04 - VOTE - Virgin Islands (D)
  • 2016-06-05 - VOTE - Puerto Rico (D)
  • 2016-06-07 - VOTE - California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota
  • 2016-07-18 - CONVENTION - Start of Republican convention (Cleveland, OH)
  • 2016-07-21 - CONVENTION - End of Republican convention (Cleveland, OH)
  • 2016-07-25 - CONVENTION - Start of Democratic convention (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2016-07-28 - CONVENTION - End of Democratic convention (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2016-09-26 - DEBATE - 1st general election debate
  • 2016-10-04 - DEBATE - Vice Presidential debate
  • 2016-10-09 - DEBATE - 2nd general election debate
  • 2016-10-19 - DEBATE - 3rd general election debate
  • 2016-11-08 - VOTE - Election day!
  1. Yes, this is the same Jim Gilmore who got 12 votes in Iowa (not 12%…just 12 actual votes) and got fewer votes in New Hampshire than 3 candidates who had already dropped out. ↩︎

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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 interesting finds below!

Rank Chart Date Sales Week Artist, Album & Chart Position
1. 2015-12-12 3,377,885 1 Adele / 25
2. 2000-04-08 2,415,859 1 NSync / No Strings Attached
3. 2001-08-11 1,879,955 1 NSync / Celebrity
4. 2000-06-10 1,760,049 1 Eminem / The Marshall Mathers LP
5. 2000-12-09 1,591,191 1 Backstreet Boys / Black and Blue
6. 2002-06-15 1,321,799 2 Eminem / The Eminem Show
7. 2000-06-03 1,319,193 1 Britney Spears / Oops!…I Did It Again
8. 2014-11-08 1,286,544 1 Taylor Swift / 1989
9. 2001-01-06 1,258,667 6 Beatles / 1
10. 2012-11-10 1,208,290 1 Taylor Swift / Red
11. 2016-01-09 1,160,000 5 Adele / 25
12. 2005-03-19 1,140,638 1 50 Cent / The Massacre
13. 1999-06-05 1,133,505 1 Backstreet Boys / Millennium
14. 2015-12-19 1,112,162 2 Adele / 25
15. 2011-06-11 1,108,403 1 Lady Gaga / Born This Way
16. 2004-04-10 1,096,213 1 Usher / Confessions
17. 1998-12-05 1,085,373 1 Garth Brooks / Double Live
18. 1993-01-09 1,061,483 6 Soundtrack / The Bodyguard
19. 2000-11-04 1,054,511 1 Limp Bizkit / Chocolate Starfish…
20. 2010-11-13 1,046,718 1 Taylor Swift / Speak Now
21. 2004-02-28 1,022,149 1 Norah Jones / Feels Like Home
22. 2008-06-28 1,005,545 1 Lil Wayne / Tha Carter III
23. 2013-04-06 968,018 1 Justin Timberlake / The 20/20 Experience
24. 2011-09-17 963,970 1 Lil Wayne / Tha Carter IV
25. 2007-09-29 956,936 1 Kanye West / Graduation
26. 1993-11-06 950,377 1 Pearl Jam / Vs
27. 1995-01-07 907,114 2 Garth Brooks / The Hits
28. 1997-12-13 896,932 1 Garth Brooks / Sevens
29. 2001-12-08 887,229 1 Creed / Weathered
30. 1994-12-24 877,000 3 Pearl Jam / Vitalogy
31. 2002-12-07 874,137 1 Shania Twain / Up!
32. 2003-02-22 872,082 1 50 Cent / Get Rich or Die Tryin
33. 2004-11-27 870,730 2 Eminem / Encore
34. 2002-01-05 865,030 5 Creed / Weathered
35. 2005-09-17 860,330 1 Kanye West / Late Registration
36. 1995-12-09 855,473 1 Beatles / Anthology 1
37. 1998-02-28 847,500 10 Soundtrack / Titanic
38. 2004-12-11 839,696 1 U2 / How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
39. 1993-01-02 831,000 5 Soundtrack / The Bodyguard
40. 2000-12-30 823,587 5 Beatles / 1
41. 2003-03-01 822,275 2 50 Cent / Get Rich or Die Tryin
42. 1995-01-07 819,000 8 Kenny G / Miracles: The Holiday Album (#2)
43. 2000-04-15 811,298 2 NSync / No Strings Attached
44. 2003-04-12 810,488 1 Linkin Park / Meteora
45. 2002-06-22 808,708 3 Eminem / The Eminem Show
46. 1993-12-11 802,858 1 Snoop Doggy Dogg / Doggystyle
47. 2000-06-17 793,713 2 Eminem / The Marshall Mathers LP
48. 2013-11-23 792,394 1 Eminem / The Marshall Mathers LP 2
49. 2016-01-02 789,821 4 Adele / 25
50. 2008-11-08 784,288 1 AC/DC / Black Ice
51. 2002-09-14 779,828 1 Dixie Chicks / Home
52. 2005-03-26 770,887 2 50 Cent / The Massacre
53. 1991-10-05 770,000 1 Guns N’Roses / Use Your Illusion II
54. 2004-09-11 765,739 1 Tim McGraw / Live Like You Were Dying
55. 1996-01-06 759,000 12 Mariah Carey / Daydream
56. 2008-01-05 756,590 11 Josh Groban / Noel
57. 2001-11-24 745,744 1 Britney Spears / Britney
58. 2007-12-01 742,426 1 Alicia Keys / As I Am
59. 2010-07-10 741,413 1 Eminem / Recovery
60. 2005-06-25 737,294 1 Coldplay / X & Y
61. 2001-03-17 732,720 1 Dave Matthews Band / Everyday
62. 2012-03-03 729,900 52 Adele / 21
63. 2006-01-07 727,163 1 Mary J Blige / The Breakthrough
64. 2001-01-06 724,067 5 Backstreet Boys / Black and Blue (#2)
65. 2006-04-22 721,747 1 Rascal Flatts / Me and My Gang
66. 2008-07-05 721,207 1 Coldplay / Viva La Vida
67. 1994-12-31 718,000 7 Kenny G / Miracles: The Holiday Album
68. 2001-06-09 716,003 1 Staind / Break The Cycle
69. 2002-07-13 714,114 1 Nelly / Nellyville
70. 2007-11-17 710,946 1 Eagles / Long Road Out Of Eden
71. 2004-11-27 710,880 1 Eminem / Encore
72. 2002-11-16 702,226 1 Soundtrack / 8 Mile
73. 2009-12-12 700,779 1 Susan Boyle / I Dreamed A Dream
74. 2000-01-08 698,403 1 DMX / And Then There Was X
75. 2015-12-26 695,043 3 Adele / 25
76. 1995-01-07 694,500 5 Pearl Jam / Vitalogy (#3)
77. 2007-09-29 691,304 1 50 Cent / Curtis (#2)
78. 2000-12-16 689,578 2 Backstreet Boys / Black and Blue
79. 1997-04-12 689,535 2 Notorious BIG / Life After Death
80. 2001-01-06 688,339 6 Various / Now That’s What I Call Music 5 (#3)
81. 1991-10-05 685,000 1 Guns N’Roses / Use Your Illusion I (#2)
82. 2006-09-30 684,461 1 Justin Timberlake / FutureSex/LoveSounds
83. 1998-01-10 684,000 5 Garth Brooks / Sevens
84. 1998-08-01 681,572 1 Beastie Boys / Hello Nasty
85. 2006-12-09 680,052 1 Jay-Z / Kingdom Come
86. 1996-06-22 680,000 1 Metallica / Load
87. 1998-01-03 678,000 4 Garth Brooks / Sevens
88. 2000-12-23 670,673 4 Beatles / 1
89. 1999-01-09 670,227 1 DMX / Flesh of My Flesh Blood of My Blood
90. 2007-12-29 669,161 10 Josh Groban / Noel
91. 1998-02-07 664,500 7 Soundtrack / Titanic
92. 1996-11-23 664,000 1 2Pac / The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory
93. 2001-05-19 663,280 1 Destiny’s Child / Survivor
94. 2000-12-09 662,077 2 Beatles / 1 (#2)
95. 2010-01-02 661,227 4 Susan Boyle / I Dreamed A Dream
96. 1999-05-29 660,807 1 Ricky Martin / Ricky Martin
97. 2013-10-12 657,922 1 Drake / Nothing Was The Same
98. 2000-05-06 654,596 5 NSync / No Strings Attached
99. 1998-12-12 649,496 2 Garth Brooks / Double Live
100. 2000-01-08 640,000 6 Celine Dion / All The Way…A Decade of Song (#2)
101. 1999-07-10 634,877 1 Limp Bizkit / Significant Other
102. 2011-12-03 630,571 1 Drake / Take Care
103. 2008-01-05 629,366 1 Mary J Blige / Growing Pains (#2)
104. 2002-12-14 625,580 2 Shania Twain / Up!
105. 1998-01-10 624,000 6 Celine Dion / Let’s Talk About Love (#2)
106. 2007-06-02 622,827 1 Linkin Park / Minutes to Midnight
107. 2003-08-02 621,725 1 Dave Matthews Band / Busted Stuff
108. 1999-06-12 621,621 2 Backstreet Boys / Millennium
109. 2001-08-18 621,419 1 Various / Now That’s What I Call Music 7
110. 2003-03-15 621,030 53 Norah Jones / Come Away With Me

This data should be accurate through the end of 2015. It includes the first 5 weeks of sales for Adele’s 25 which goes through 12/24/2015. If Adele sells another bazillion records the week after Christmas, I’ll update this chart!

Terms

Chart date is when SoundScan certifies the sales totals, a few weeks after the sales week begins—apparently 18 days back when albums were released on Tuesdays and 22 days now that albums are released on Fridays (but even then, it’s not always consistent?). So a “chart date” of 2015-12-12 is actually for the sales week of 11/20-11/26.

I believe Sales are pure album sales through the end of November 2014, and then include SEAs and TEAs, per SoundScan’s updated rules.

The Week indicates how many weeks the album has been on the charts (so Week 1 is the album’s debut week). I think you can assume higher numbers equal how many weeks an album has been out, though it’s possible an album could drop out of the weekly Billboard Top 200 and then re-appear.

A (#2) or (#3) next to an album represents its chart position that sales week (I omitted the #1’s to make it easier to scan). Most weeks you only have 1 album that sells in huge numbers, but there are a few weeks where you had 2 or even 3 albums that each sold enough to break onto this chart.

Analysis

  • If you see an album on this list that’s not in its debut week, check the chart date: it’s almost always December or January, AKA Black Friday to Christmas (remember, the “chart date” is a couple weeks after the sales date). I didn’t know so many people gave CDs as gifts either!

  • Of the 110 weeks listed here, 67 were for an album’s first-week sales. The other 43 are for later weeks (most during the Christmas season).

  • The albums that charted high in later weeks and NOT during Christmas: NSync’s No Strings Attached, which had a huge debut and then for some reason spiked again five weeks later in late April/early May; the Titanic soundtrack, which peaked in week 7 and then again in week 10 (though those are just its highest-selling weeks…it actually stayed at #1 for 16 straight weeks!); and Adele’s 21 & Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me, which got massive post-Grammys bumps 52 and 53 weeks after release respectively. In fact, those were the highest sales weeks ever for each of those albums!

  • There were 8 weeks where multiple albums each sold enough to make it onto this list. Of those, 6 were during the Christmas season. The other two are 1991-10-05, when Guns N’Roses released Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II simultaneously, and 2007-09-29 when Kanye West and 50 Cent both released new albums and famously tried to outsell each other (50 has yet to retire, as he promised if Kanye outsold him).

  • Eminem is the only artist on this list to have an album sell more in its 2nd week than its 1st (and have both weeks chart this high). Encore was rush-released to stores because of widespread piracy, so his first “week” of sales (710k) was only a couple of days, whereas he moved 870k units the full week after that. (Sound familiar? The same thing happened with his previous CD, The Eminem Show! It sold 284k copies in its first 1.5 day “week” and then followed it up with another 1.321 million in its first full week.)

  • Lil Wayne would do great on The Price is Right. He has one album just above the 1m mark (Tha Carter III, 1.005 million) and one just below (Tha Carter IV, 0.964m).

  • Of the 22 weeks over 1m, Adele has 3, Taylor Swift has 3, Eminem has 2, NSync has 2, and the Backstreet Boys have 2.

  • Most artists only have 1 or 2 albums on this list. The exceptions: Garth Brooks (3 albums), Taylor Swift (3 albums), and Eminem (5 albums). If you count the 8 Mile soundtrack, that’s 6 Eminem albums!

  • Many artists on here have 1 album for 2+ weeks OR 2+ albums for 1 week each, but only four have 2+ albums that each charted for 2+ weeks: Garth Brooks, the Backstreet Boys, 50 Cent, and Eminem.

  • The oldest albums on this chart are from 1991-10-05, the first year SoundScan started tracking album sales: Guns N’Roses’ simultaneous release of Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. Interestingly, the latter sold more!

  • The newest albums on this list are Taylor Swift’s 1989 (the only 2014 album to make it) and Adele’s 25 (the only 2015 album to make it).

  • One peculiarity I came across in my research: did Japan have the first 3m+ first-week album sales of the SoundScan era…14 years before Adele? This list of the fastest-selling albums in Japan is perplexing, especially because their population was half that of the US in 2000.

  • Similarly, that Wikipedia article says that a JFK memorial album sold 4m copies in a week at $0.99 each and a Beatles album sold 3.3m copies in its US debut, though the sourcing is thin (SoundScan started tracking sales data in 1991).


Google didn’t make it easy to find these, so for anyone else looking, here’s the data I used to compile the above chart:

(One weird thing I noticed: Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed A Dream shows up at #87 on the 1991-2012 list, but disappears on the 2015 list. And Garth Brooks’ Double Live shows up at #94 on the 1991-2015 list, but wasn’t on the 2012 list. I don’t know if SoundScan changed something, but I included both on my list above.)

Finally, a HUGE shoutout again to oldbloke for maintaining this data. I tried to post on the forums to thank him, but new accounts are not permitted. So oldbloke, if you ever come across this post, thank you so much!

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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:

Week-by-week sales

And, if anything, ‘25’ continues to exceed expectations in the weeks since its debut. Here are sales week-by-week:

It took Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ more than a year to sell 5.57 million units. Adele’s ‘25’ has already sold 7+ million copies in just over 5 weeks!

Adele’s previous albums

Adele’s only real competition is herself. Billboard did a good job of putting this into perspective: ‘25’ has sold more copies than any other album since Adele’s own ‘21’ (which has sold 11.37 million units since 2011!). In fact, Adele’s ‘21’ and ‘25’ are the two biggest-selling albums since 2009.

Just how high can sales go? Well, let’s compare it to her previous albums’ early sales:

  • ‘19’: Debuted in UK at #1 (Jan 2008), in US at #61 (June 2008) (Inexplicably, I can’t find actual sales numbers anywhere.)
  • ‘21’: 352,000 first-week US sales / 208,000 first-week UK sales
  • ‘25’: 3,354,773 first-week US sales / 800,000 first-week UK sales

Notice that? ‘25’ sold nearly TEN TIMES as many copies in its first week in the US as ‘21’ did. You’d think such front-loaded sales would precede an inevitable dropoff, but we have yet to see evidence of that. So if ‘21’ has sold 11m copies to date and ‘25’ has already sold 7m copies…the sky is the limit!

Biggest one-week album sales of all time

Thomas Nassiff wrote a really great article looking at the 19 albums that have sold more than 1 million units in a week before now. But as he points out, most of those albums were sold in the early 2000s, at the height of CD sales and a time when you had to buy an entire album to hear one song.

Here’s a full list of albums that have sold at least 900,000 units in a week, including Adele (I’ve bolded the albums released in the last 10 years):

  1. 2015 / 3.378 million / Adele - 25
  2. 2000 / 2.416 million / NSync - No Strings Attached
  3. 2001 / 1.880 million / NSync - Celebrity
  4. 2000 / 1.760 million / Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
  5. 2000 / 1.591 million / Backstreet Boys - Black & Blue
  6. 2002 / 1.322 million / Eminem - The Eminem Show (2nd week)
  7. 2000 / 1.319 million / Britney Spears - Oops!…I Did It Again
  8. 2014 / 1.287 million / Taylor Swift - 1989
  9. 2001 / 1.259 million / The Beatles - 1 (Christmas week)
  10. 2012 / 1.208 million / Taylor Swift - Red
  11. 2015 / 1.160 million / Adele - 25 (Christmas week)
  12. 2005 / 1.141 million / 50 Cent - The Massacre
  13. 1999 / 1.134 million / Backstreet Boys - Millennium
  14. 2015 / 1.112 million / Adele - 25 (2nd week)
  15. 2011 / 1.108 million / Lady Gaga - Born This Way (see note below)
  16. 2004 / 1.096 million / Usher - Confessions
  17. 1998 / 1.085 million / Garth Brooks - Double Live
  18. 1993 / 1.061 million / Whitney Houston - The Bodyguard OST (Christmas week)
  19. 2000 / 1.055 million / Limp Bizkit - Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water
  20. 2010 / 1.047 million / Taylor Swift - Speak Now
  21. 2004 / 1.022 million / Norah Jones - Feels Like Home
  22. 2008 / 1.005 million / Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
  23. 2013 / 0.968 million / Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience
  24. 2011 / 0.964 million / Lil Wayne - Tha Carter IV
  25. 2007 / 0.957 million / Kanye West - Graduation
  26. 1993 / 0.950 million / Pearl Jam - Vs.
  27. 1994 / 0.907 million / Garth Brooks - The Hits (Christmas week)

A few things to note based on this list:

  • Adele’s ‘25’ is the first album to ever sell more than 1 million copies in multiple weeks: its debut week (3.38m), its second week (1.11m), AND its fifth week (1.16m).

  • Since 2006, only 3 artists had sold more than a million units in one week: Taylor Swift (3 albums), Lady Gaga (1 album, but subsidized - see below), and Lil Wayne (1 album, barely). And now Adele.

  • The only artists to sell 1 million albums in a week more than once: Taylor Swift x 3, Adele x 3, NSync x 2, Backstreet Boys x 2, Eminem x 2 (all but Adele for different albums).

  • Of the 20 albums that sold a million-plus, 5 came out in 2000. No other year had more than two.

  • Before researching this, I assumed an album’s first-week sales were always its highest. Not so! Turns out the week leading up to Christmas is huge. Adele sold more albums in the Christmas week (1.16 million) than in her 2nd week (1.11 million). And The Beatles, Whitney Houston, and Garth Brooks all saw more sales in the Christmas week than in their respective albums’ debut weeks. Crazy!

  • One more week artists can expect a huge bump in sales? After the Grammys! It’s not quite enough to show up on this list, but Adele sold a staggering 730,000 copies of ‘21’ the week after the 2012 Grammys, Outkast sold 275,000 copies of ‘Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’ the week after the 2004 Grammys, and Norah Jones moved 621,000 units of ‘Come Away with Me’ the week after the 2003 Grammys. Full list of the post-Grammy bumps here.

  • Wondering why ‘The Eminem Show’ shows up in this list for its 2nd week of sales but not its first? To combat massive piracy from an early leak, Eminem’s label let retailers start selling it a week and a half sooner than expected, on a Sunday (instead of the traditional Tuesday). So its first official sales “week” was only 1.5 days, in which it sold 284,000 copies. In its first full week of sales, it moved 1,321,799 units.

  • Lady Gaga’s appearance on this list is somewhat dubious because Amazon sold her album for $0.99 (cheaper than a single song on iTunes for $1.29!). Amazon, which sold 440,000 copies or 40% of its total sales, took a significant loss on this stunt to drive up publicity for its MP3 store because it still paid Lady Gaga for the full price of the album. Billboard later changed its rules to only include albums that sell for at least $3.49 in its charts.


A note on numbers and sources: If you see small variations between numbers in this post, it’s because it’s really hard to find a single consistent source of information. Some sites use traditional album sales, some use TEAs (track-equivalent albums, where buying 10 digital singles = 1 album purchase), and some include SEAs (stream-equivalent albums, where 1,500 Spotify/YouTube/etc streams = 1 album purchase). In addition to some of the links above, I used a Billboard list of albums that have sold 1m+ in a week, a Complex list of the 25 biggest FIRST-week album sales, an article that mentioned the fastest-selling albums in 2013, and a list of the fastest-selling albums of 2014. But just as I was finishing writing this post, I found an old but amazing resource for the biggest sales weeks of the Soundscan era that was invaluable for correcting numbers and which I hope to write more about in a future blog post soon!

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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-Jan 15
    • Grammy award show: Feb 15, 2016
    • Total time from cutoff to award show: 4.5 months
    • Sources: timeline, rules

My first thought when reading this: what’s the difference between the entry deadline and the album release deadline? Good question! The album release deadline is simple: it’s the last date the album can officially be released for sale. But the entry deadline is when you have to submit your album for consideration to be nominated.

But wait, isn’t the entry deadline BEFORE the album release deadline? Yep! And turns out, it’s like that for all the award shows. Basically, if your album comes out at the end of the eligibility period, you have to submit it for Grammy consideration before its official release date. Weird, but whatever. What’s even more unusual is if your album comes out before July 30th, you had to submit it by July 1st for consideration.

If the Grammy committee gets submissions so early, why does it take so long to actually give out the awards?!

Let’s look at just how long it takes. The album release deadline is Sept 30th and the award show is on February 15th. That’s FOUR AND A HALF months in between. What takes so long? Well, they allocate about a month for nomination voting, another month until actually announcing the nominees, a month for the final round of voting, and then wait another month until the awards show. That’s SO LONG (especially compared to the other awards shows, as you’ll see below).

Now, you might be thinking, what’s the big deal? Well, let’s look at how it affects two of the biggest artists in the world:

  1. Drake: There wasn’t a consensus song of the summer this year, but there sure was an omnipresent fall song: Hotline Bling. It’s Drake’s biggest hit and would probably be the favorite for Best Rap Song this year. But it wasn’t nominated. Even worse, it wasn’t even submitted for consideration!

    How is that possible? Because, of course, the Grammys timeline is awful. It’s explained here, but basically remember the deadline for submitting the song: August 26th, 2015. At that time, Hotline Bling was just recently released and was only #57 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. No one knew what a huge smash it would quickly become.

    And so Drake’s team submitted other songs, like “Energy”, which was nominated instead. It might win, it might not. But it’s nowhere near the lock that “Hotline Bling” would’ve been.

  2. Adele: She just destroyed the all-time record for first-week album sales with 3.4 million sold. Her lead single entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #1 and has stayed there for at least 7 weeks running. But she won’t be on the Grammy stage. Not as a nominee, at least. Why? Again, a victim of the Grammys timeline.

    Her song, “Hello”, came out on October 22nd, 2015. Her album, ‘25’, came out on November 20th, 2015. But remember, the deadline was September 30th. So even though we are firmly living in the Age of Adele these next few months, she won’t be up for any Grammys this year.

    Of course, she’ll be eligible at next year’s awards. But it will have been nearly 16 months by then. Will she be able to repeat her sweep from last time, or will her moment have passed because of the long hiatus?

So, not only is the Grammy process unusually long, it actually does a disservice to the songs and artists that should be nominated. But is it unusual or do other award shows do better? Let’s take a look!

(PS. The Grammys need to fix other things too: most notably, a recent rule change that allows the entire voting body to vote on individual genres, which they may not know about. This came up when Macklemore won Best Rap Album over Kendrick Lamar a few years ago and actually apologized for it. If you’re curious about other ways the Grammys need fixing, definitely read this article too.)

Emmys

  • Timeline
    • Emmy written entry deadline: May 4
    • Emmy show airdate cutoff: May 31, 2015 (but…hanging episode rule!)
    • Emmy nomination voting: June 15-26
    • Emmy nominations announced: July 16, 2015
    • Emmy award voting: August 17-28
    • Emmy award show: Sept 20, 2015 (Creative Arts ceremony on Sept 12)
    • Total time from cutoff to award show: 3.66 months
    • Sources: timeline, rules (hanging episode rule on page 4)

So the Grammys have a 4.5 month delay between the deadline and the award show. Are the Emmys any better? At first glance, not especially: it’s more than 3.5 months from the airdate deadline to the award show this year.

But wait, it’s actually a lot better than it looks! A few things come into play:

  1. The awards are intentionally timed to the beginning and end of the TV season. The Emmy awards started as a way to honor broadcast TV (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, etc), whose season runs from September through May. That’s why the cutoff is the end of May. And the award show itself is usually held on the first day of the new TV season in mid-September, providing a great promotional opportunity for all the new fall TV shows. So the lengthy Emmys timeline is actually intentional, unlike the Grammys. (And the 2014 Emmy awards were held in August because of a scheduling conflict, demonstrating they could shorten the timeline if they really wanted.)

  2. The hanging episode rule. What happens when the Emmys airdate deadline arrives in the middle of a TV show’s current season? Not to worry! As long as a show airs more than half of its episodes before the cutoff, any episodes that air after that (but before the end of voting) are still eligible. They do have to air on the same platform (so a network can’t just put unaired episodes online) and the complete season must be 6 episodes minimum, but they are indeed eligible.

So TV is a fundamentally different medium than music and the Emmys process reflects that. Of course, the awards are no longer for just broadcast shows—in fact, broadcast shows are increasingly shut out of the major categories in favor of cable and streaming shows. And perhaps the Emmys should push back the May cutoff as a result.

For example, Netflix releases Orange is the New Black in early June every year, which is just after the cutoff. So at the September 2015 Emmy awards, everyone was talking about Season 3 of the show, but Season 2 was the one in consideration for awards.

It’s not just streaming shows that are affected by the May deadline though. FX’s Louie gets awful ratings, but the network keeps it around because it’s a perennial Emmy favorite. In 2014, Louis CK finished up Season 4 a little late, so FX actually aired 2 episodes back-to-back every week just to make sure it hit the Emmy cutoff. When networks start scheduling shows to accommodate award shows and not viewers, you know it’s time to update the rules.

Overall though, the Emmys timeline is still better than the Grammys. What about the Oscars?

Oscars

  • Timeline
    • Oscar written entry deadline: Dec 2
    • Oscar movie screening cutoff: Dec 31, 2015 (start of one-week qualifying LA run)
    • Oscar nomination voting: Dec 30-Jan 8
    • Oscar nominations announced: Jan 14, 2016
    • Oscar award voting: Feb 12-Feb 23
    • Oscar awards: Feb 28, 2016
    • Total time from cutoff to award show: 2 months
    • Sources: timeline, rules

Compared to the Grammys, the Oscar timeline is downright expeditious. It’s pretty simple: if your movie came out in calendar year 2015, it’s eligible at the February 2016 Oscars. That’s great!

A couple of notes:

  1. The above timeline is for “General Entry” films. Animated films, foreign films, short films, and documentaries have significantly earlier cutoffs.

  2. If a music album comes out on a certain date, that’s when everyone generally gets to hear it for the first time (critics used to get them earlier, but the fear of leaks has mostly ended that). On the other hand, movies are rolled out gradually. Especially awards-bait movies—-they’re generally shown off at Cannes, Telluride, TIFF, and other film festivals before their official release in, say, late December. So keep that in mind when comparing the Grammys and Oscars timelines.

  3. The cutoff for movies is December 31, but that’s only for a “one-week qualifying Los Angeles run.” Basically, as long as a studio releases their movie in one theater in LA, it qualifies for that year’s Oscar awards. So if a studio knows they have a solid Oscar contender, they could delay the movie’s wide release until closer to the actual award show, presumably hoping the extra press translates to more tickets sold.

The Oscars do a pretty great job of not stretching out their timeline too much. Where the Grammy awards give voters a MONTH to turn in their ballots for each round of voting, the Oscars give little over a week. And the award show itself is only 5 days after the voting deadline (the Grammys and Emmys, inexplicably, wait about a month!).

However, that doesn’t mean the Oscars process isn’t without its peculiarities either. Leading up to this past year’s Oscars, Julianne Moore was a huge favorite to win Best Actress for her role in Still Alice. I was excited and wanted to see the movie, but it wasn’t out in theaters yet. When she won the Oscar, I checked again for showtimes…but the movie STILL wasn’t out! That’s right, Julianne Moore won the Oscar for a movie that still hadn’t been released nationwide. I know Oscar voters usually get DVD screeners of nominated films, but it makes you wonder…did they all actually watch Julianne Moore’s performance or did they just vote for her because experts said she was the favorite?

All in all though, the Oscars have a pretty solid timeline. The eligibility period is timed to the calendar year (so it’s easy to tell which year of movies they’re honoring) and they don’t waste much time leading up to the award show.

Tonys

  • Timeline
    • Tony written entry deadline: not found
    • Tony play debut cutoff: Apr 28, 2016 (must open on Broadway)
    • Tony nomination voting: not found
    • Tony nominations announced: May 3, 2016
    • Tony award voting: not found
    • Tony award show: June 12, 2016
    • Total time from cutoff to award show: 1.5 months
    • Sources: timeline 1, timeline 2, rules

I spent a LONG time, looking very hard & trying every search term I could think of, to find details on the written entry deadline and voting periods for the Tonys. Alas, to no avail. If anyone has more details, please let me know so I can update this!

As far as I can see, however, the Tonys are the fastest of them all. From the time a play has to debut on Broadway to the actual award show itself, there’s only a 6-week turnaround. That’s great! I don’t know how the Tony Awards do it so quickly, but the other award shows could definitely learn from them.

BONUS: Golden Globes

  • Timeline
    • Golden Globes written entry deadline: Oct 30, 2015
    • Golden Globes movie screening cutoff: Dec 2, 2015
    • Golden Globes TV airdate cutoff: Dec 31, 2015??
    • Golden Globes nomination voting: Nov 25-Dec 7
    • Golden Globes nominations announced: Dec 10, 2015
    • Golden Globes award voting: Dec 21-Jan 6
    • Golden Globes award show: Jan 10, 2016
    • Total time from cutoff to award show: 1.25 months
    • Sources: timeline, rules

Just for good measure, I decided to take a look at the Golden Globes timeline too. The Globes are actually a very interesting case study for a few reasons. First of all, they honor both TV shows and movies. Moreover, their award timeline turnaround time is little more than a month. In fact, their TV cutoff is apparently only 10 days before the award show! (I couldn’t find a definitive deadline for TV shows, so I’m going by their rules PDF which says all TV shows in a calendar year are eligible.)

How can this be? For one very simple reason: the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which votes on the Golden Globes, has only 90 members. For comparison, the Oscars have more than 6,500 eligible voters. The Emmys have more than 15,000 eligible voters. The SAG Awards have 165,000 eligible voters. Compare that to NINETY.

So, basically, view any actual Golden Globes winners with a very heavy dose of skepticism. Heck, Globes voters have repeatedly rewarded studios who bribe them with fancy dinners & private concerts, free DVD players & watches, or even all-expenses-paid trips to Las Vegas. And that’s just the stuff we know about!

The worst part is that the general public views the Golden Globes as a worthy predecessor to the Oscars. In fact, winning a Golden Globe is better than winning an Oscar for a movie’s bottom line—around $14 million vs $3 million!

Long story short, the Golden Globes indeed have the shortest timeline, but that’s because you can’t take them seriously.

Conclusion

  • Summary:
    • Time from Grammys cutoff to award show: 4.5 months
    • Time from Emmys cutoff to award show: 3.66 months
    • Time from Oscars cutoff to award show: 2 months
    • Time from Tonys cutoff to award show: 1.5 months
    • Time from Golden Globes cutoff to award show: 1.25 months

I’m glad to see I wasn’t crazy when I thought the Grammys took unusually long to decide awards. They’re the only award show not timed to the calendar year (or TV season), even though the date of the actual awards show would suggest otherwise. In fact, they air around the same time as the Oscars, but the Grammys cutoff is 3 months earlier than the Oscar cutoff!

Grammys, step your game up.

UPDATE: After all this, turns out not all award show deadlines are actually final! A week after originally announcing their 10 nominees for Best Picture, the Critics Choice Awards just added the new Star Wars movie as an 11th option after an internal vote. More details in this Deadline story.

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Links to Sepinwall's episode-by-episode reviews for every show in his book, The Revolution Was Televised

UPDATE (2016-06-09): Just launched a new version of my site. If you had this page bookmarked and prefer the old version, it’ll be up at http://old.raviudeshi.com for a while. Thanks!

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 ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ searches, but it didn’t work. In the end, I went through Alan’s old and new blogs and hand-copied each link into a huge Excel spreadsheet. It took forever (and I accidentally spoiled myself on a few character deaths in shows I haven’t seen yet, grr), but hopefully every link is right. If not, or if you spot any typos, please contact me via email or, preferably, on Twitter—I’m @rkudeshi. Thanks!

Table of Contents

  1. Oz
  2. The Sopranos
  3. The Wire
  4. Deadwood
  5. The Shield
  6. Lost
  7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  8. 24
  9. Battlestar Galactica
  10. Friday Night Lights
  11. Mad Men
  12. Breaking Bad
  13. Game of Thrones

Oz

As far as I can find, Alan hasn’t written about Oz individually.

The Sopranos

Alan reviewed various Season 4-6 episodes for the Newark Star-Ledger and did a Season 1 rewatch in 2015.

The Wire

Alan made a list of all of his reviews of The Wire in 2014, so I’ve mostly copied from that list. The “Newbie” reviews are for people watching the series for the first time, while the “Veteran” reviews have future spoilers for the whole series.

Deadwood

Like The Wire, Alan did “Newbie” and “Veteran” reviews of Deadwood. However, after episode 208, he consolidated them into one and noted that first-time watchers should avoid the comments, where future spoilers are allowed.

The Shield

Alan only started reviewing this show with Season 6, so nothing available before then.

Lost

Alan reviewed Season 2 more sporadically, which is why not all episodes have reviews. After that, he covered everything though.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I believe Alan reviewed at least some Buffy episodes for the Newark Star-Ledger (some of his quotes are cited on Wikipedia pages for individual episodes), but I can’t find the full articles anywhere. However, he and Dan Fienberg did a re-watch of season 1 on their podcast in 2012. They also discussed the series finale on the podcast in 2015, so I’ve included those links below.

24

Another show Alan reviewed very sporadically (especially in its later lesser seasons), but he did review every episode of the 24: Live Another Day revival in 2014.

Battlestar Galactica

Alan’s early reviews didn’t include the episode name in the blog post title, so I matched the date of his blog posts with the show’s air dates. Please contact me if there are any mistakes!

Friday Night Lights

This is probably my favorite show of any on this list…if you haven’t watched it, go to Netflix right now and start! It’s so good!

Mad Men

As one of the newer shows, Alan reviewed every episode as it aired. Don’t miss his additional articles at the end too.

Breaking Bad

As one of the newer shows, Alan reviewed every episode as it aired.

Game of Thrones

Bonus! I compiled the links for this show because I figure it’s the next most likely Alan would’ve included in his book (and his reviews were VERY helpful for me when I caught up on the show a couple years ago).

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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’: A lot of people like the “night themes” in apps like Pocket and Tweetbot and Reeder. But I had no idea how many until I saw this short post by Marco Arment: more people want a dark mode in Overcast than any other feature! It’s also an accessibility feature for some people, especially because the flat design in iOS 7+ means most screens are much “whiter” than previous OS versions, as Matt Gemmell visually documented. Now that Apple has added options for Dark menus and docks in OS X Yosemite, it seems like this is on their radar. Hopefully, they build a system-wide toggle right into iOS so that you can enable a night theme in all apps at once.

Lock screen “Complications”: Apple still won’t allow widgets on the home screen, only in Notification Center. Fine. How about porting “complications” from watchOS back over to the mothership OS? Then, like on the Apple Watch, you could have the temperature or your daily step count or your next event right on your home screen.

Add stickers to iMessage: I’ll always have a soft spot for emoticons, but it’s clear emoji are better. But the new rage in Asia are “stickers” — think even larger, more intricately-drawn emoji. And instead of being based on a Unicode standard, which makes it hard to create new emojis, apps can add new stickers anytime. I think it’d be a lot of fun to see a bunch of Apple-designed stickers in the Messages app.

Allow all apps to use the NFC chip: I was ecstatic that the iPhone 6 finally included NFC. But Apple has restricted outside developers from using it, reserving it for Apple Pay. I get it, you want to keep things simple and make sure your new payment service is secure. But now, with a year under your belt, it’s time to open it up. Allow developers to make apps that can read the balance on your NFC-based public transit card, share contact information with nearby NFC-enabled phones, or change system settings based on proximity to NFC tags.

Third-party default apps: I feel like a broken clock saying this every year, but it’s pretty much the biggest low-hanging fruit left (that notably has existed on Android forever). I will not rest until I can make Mailbox or Outlook or Spark or Inbox or CloudMagic my default app for creating new emails from other apps.

Video player

Video mini-player: As I encounter more and more videos, I can’t help but increasingly feel hostage to them. On my computer, it’s easy to open a video in one window while you keep working in another. But on iOS, you can’t do that. My solution? A small mini-player, just like the YouTube and Twitter apps already have, but system-wide. Apple should look to their own FaceTime app’s “picture-in-picture” for inspiration—make it small and draggable so you can put it in whichever corner of the screen you want.

(I know Apple is working on split-screen apps, especially for the rumored 12-inch iPad Pro. But that’s a LOT more work for developers. Instead of just designing for the whole screen, they would have to make responsive designs that only take up 25%, 33%, and 50% of the screen. Think about how long it took most websites to adapt for smartphone screens. A video mini-player sounds a lot easier to implement now, right?)

Always horizontal videos (even if rotation lock is on): You hold your phone vertically while using it. But every time you come across a video, you turn it horizontally to see the video full screen. But if your rotation lock is on, it doesn’t work. Instead, I propose that iPhones always play videos horizontally. That way, you don’t have to disable rotation lock before and re-enable it afterwards every time.

Rewind 10 seconds button: Why does Apple’s default video player make it so hard to skip back a few seconds? After 8 years, it still only has rewind and fast forward buttons. Even the HBO GO app finally added a ‘skip back 10 seconds’ button. Get with the times, Apple.

Don’t force embedded videos to always play full screen: On an iPad, you can play embedded videos in place and still scroll around the web page, just like on a computer. On an iPhone, videos can ONLY be played in fullscreen. Sometimes you just want to listen to a video while reading other parts of the page; your iPhone shouldn’t restrict you from doing so.

Phone calls:

Caller ID for all numbers, not just those in your contacts: I know there are technical and financial reasons behind it, but it still sucks that landline phones have caller ID with names and cell phones generally don’t. But now, Android apps like TrueCaller and Facebook Hello can use the Internet to instantly find information about numbers that call you. Either Apple needs to open up the APIs to allow apps like this to come to iOS or build it themselves. I want to always see a name when someone calls me, whether they’re in my contacts or not.

Talking caller ID: If you’ve never experienced this on your landline, you’re really missing out. Instead of getting up and walking across the room just to see that a telemarketer is calling, my desk phone will literally speak aloud the name of whoever’s calling. It’s great and it’s time to have this option on my smartphone too.

Phone calls as regular notifications, not fullscreen: John Gruber has been making the case for this for a while. We use the phone apps on our smartphones less than ever and it’s annoying to have an incoming call take over your whole screen when you’re in the middle of something else. An option to have phone calls as regular banner notifications, that’s all we ask.

System improvements:

Option to quickly block future notifications from an app: Nice guy that I am, I always say yes when an app asks to send me notifications. Most apps are pretty good about only sending useful notifications…and then there are the troublemakers. The apps with spammy or way-too-frequent notifications. Instead of making users dig deep into the Settings app, it would be great if there was a way to instantly block future notifications, just like the spam button in email clients.

Really chronological notifications: Far too often, I pull my phone out of my pocket and use Touch ID to unlock it immediately without realizing I had notifications waiting for me on my lockscreen. So I go to Notification Center to find my most recent notifications and they’re all over the place. Instead of grouping notifications by app, maybe it’s time to sort them individually in chronological order.

Customize control center buttons: Having a bunch of system shortcuts consolidated in Control Center is great. But not everyone toggles the same options or needs the same app shortcuts. Time to let people customize both the top and bottom rows of Control Center.

More useful battery usage info: iOS 8 added a Battery Usage panel, but it’s not very useful. It just shows which apps you use most, which I already know because, well, those are the apps I always open. Instead, show me which apps use the most battery for every minute they’re open, or how long apps stay open in the background, or what small tweaks I can make to increase battery life.

Search bar in Settings.app: The Settings app is more bloated than ever and it’s getting nigh-impossible to find some settings. Like System Preferences on a Mac, it’s time to add a search bar.

Health app redesign: I was really excited last year for the debut of the Health app. I thought it would be fantastic to have a centralized place that analyzed your health data and surfaced interesting trends and suggestions. Instead, the current Health app is more like Excel with some graphs. I really hope Apple takes what they learned in making the beautiful Activity app for the Apple Watch and bring it over to Health. If nothing else, at least redesign the home screen of the app to feature more useful, actionable information.

Increase tab limit in Safari: When iOS 7 was announced 2 years ago, Apple promised you could open unlimited tabs in Safari. Unlimited! Unfortunately, sometime between announcing the OS at WWDC and actually launching it, they changed it to a 24-tab limit. With iOS 8, that limit increased to 36 tabs. But power users use more tabs than that on their computers. If they can’t honor the original promise of unlimited, I hope it at least gets bumped to 48 tabs this year.

Don’t overwrite open tabs in Safari: If you already have the max number of Safari tabs open and you open another one, do you know what happens? Safari silently overwrites your first tab with the new one. Even worse, you won’t even know you’re nearing the limit because, as of iOS 7, Safari no longer shows you a number for how many tabs you have open. So if you want to know whether you’re near the limit or not, you have to manually count your tabs. Stop it, Safari. Just stop it.

OS X 10.11

Here’s my complete list of things I want to see in the new OS X:

  1. Make it work again.

That’s it. I don’t care if we don’t see any new features, I just want everything to work well again. OS X used to be a bastion of amazing new features that worked perfectly on your computer thanks to Apple’s vertical hardware/software integration. But what world are we living in that Windows 10 now runs better on the new Macbook than OS X?!

Even decades-long Apple developers like Craig Hockenberry are fed up with Yosemite’s constant problems. When it gets this bad, it’s time to take a step back and re-assess.

I know it would be cool to see small things like a new Get Info screen or Control Center or Siri on the Mac, but the most important thing is fixing the existing problems. I said it last year and I’ll say it again: “for the love of god, just don’t screw it up.”

New Apple TV

What was Apple originally going to announce at WWDC?

  • iOS 9 (OK, but I wouldn’t mind no new features if it worked better.)
  • OS X 10.11 (Great, hope it’s focused on stability too.)
  • Apple Watch native apps (Better late than never.)
  • HomeKit (Could be big, could be nothing, we’ll see.)
  • Streaming music service (Yet another Spotify clone? Yawn.)
  • Streaming TV service (The first mainstream Internet TV service? Around $40/month for all the good channels? YES PLEASE.)
  • New Apple TV (YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!!)

And then the bad news rolled in last week: no new streaming TV service, no new Apple TV.

ARRRGGGH.

The Apple TV hasn’t seen a meaningful update in 5 years. Five years! I understand needing time to lock down the deals with TV networks for the streaming service, but I really thought they had turned the corner and were ready to show off a new super-powered Apple TV with 3rd-party apps. Alas, not yet. But when that day comes (hopefully just a little later this year), here’s what I’m hoping to see:

App Store with native apps

This one’s a no-brainer. Now that we know Tim Cook has given up on the full-fledged Apple television set for now, there’s nothing holding them back from letting developers build real 3rd-party apps for the set-top box, not just web apps like I previously expected.

Some people don’t think we need TV apps. But right now, only the big boys can make deals with Apple to get their apps preloaded on the set-top box. Your ESPNs and HBOs of the world. But what about all the smaller TV channels? What about web video networks? What about upstart streaming services, like Sling TV? What about iTunes competitors, like Amazon Prime and Vudu? A true open-to-all App Store would allow all of them to make TV apps too, not just Apple’s preferred partners.

Bluetooth or RF remote

The current Apple TV remote, like most remotes, uses infrared: you have to point it at your TV to get it to work. But once you’ve tried a remote that doesn’t require line-of-sight, like the Dish Hopper’s RF remote or the Amazon Fire TV’s Bluetooth remote, you can never go back. It’s glorious to not have to worry about how you hold the remote or angling it towards your TV. Even better, you can use them while staying cozy under the covers of your bed or even from another room. Time to step into the (very basic) future, Apple.

AirPlay via Wi-Fi Direct

I love AirPlay. It’s the single most compelling reason to have an Apple TV and the only reason anyone still cares about Apple’s current stagnating box despite impressive competition. But it sucks that it only works if both your phone and your Apple TV are on the same Wi-Fi network. It means that if a guest comes over to the house and wants to fling something to the big screen, I have to give them my very, very long Wi-Fi password (I like my router’s guest Wi-Fi network for security, visitors like it because the password is much shorter).

Fortunately, there’s already a solution. Wi-Fi Direct. Basically, 2 devices can see and talk to each other without needing a router in the middle. I know Peer-to-Peer Airplay was quietly announced last year, but it apparently requires Bluetooth and doesn’t work too well. I’m hoping to see a better implementation on any new set-top box. (And while you’re at it, how about making AirPlay more reliable again?)

Streaming TV service with full DVR

I can’t stress this enough: I don’t care what other innovations Apple comes up with for their eventual streaming service, I just hope it has a DVR. Store the recordings in the cloud, store them on a large hard drive in the new Apple TV, whatever…I just want to be able to record any show, watch it months later, and be able to rewind and fast-forward at will.

Around 15 years ago, ReplayTV and TiVo debuted. And it was glorious! You could record shows and skip over the commercials. But now, in a world where about 50% of cable subscribers have a DVR, television networks are increasingly fearful for the viability of their cash cows. Instead of recording your favorite shows to watch later, they want you to use the VOD feature, knowing you can’t skip the commercials (think Hulu, but on your cable box). And so services like Sling TV, while incredibly promising, don’t have true DVR capabilities—the networks won’t let them.

And so, as we begin to transition from DRM-free cable TV to IP-based streaming TV services, I really hope that Apple uses their bully pulpit as the largest company in the world and pushes back on behalf of their users. Viva la DVR revolucion!

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