The Best of Pixar, Volume 1

Happy Wednesday, b-rollers! As promised, here is the first part of the official b-roll guide to Pixar. To refresh your memory, here is a list of all 11 of Pixar’s feature films (excluding the short yet delightful films that usually precede the main features), in order of release:

Toy Story
A Bug’s Life
Toy Story 2
Monsters, Inc.
Finding Nemo
The Incredibles
Cars
Ratatouille
WALL-E
Up
Toy Story 3

As always, these rankings reflect the opinion of b-roll and no one else. Feel free to (politely) disagree with me in the comment section below.

So without further ado, here are numbers 6-11. Drumroll, please…

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Prelude to Pixar

Good evening, gentle b-rollers! I know what you’re thinking: Hey! You promised us a Pixar post today! What the hell?!

Yeah. About that. Allow me to explain, darling readers. I had an excellent plan for my Sunday. Step 1: Call b-roll Dad and wish him a happy Father’s Day (duh). Step 2: Go for a bicycle ride around the DC Mall. (Sure, I’m wildly out of shape, but it sounds like fun, no?) Step 3: Sit down to write part 1 of my Pixar ranking. It was to be a full yet delightful day.

Well, here’s what happened. By the time I finished Step 1 (hi Dad!) and headed out for my bike ride, it was early afternoon on a gloriously sunny summer day. Now, if you’ve never been to Washington in the summertime and need some background, the weather here from June through August can best be described as “outer circles of Hell, but more humid.” So I rounded the Mall in scorching 94-degree heat, enjoying the ride – it’s a marvelous trek, to be sure, although if you plan to bike the Mall you should be prepared to dodge visitors who stop abruptly to open a map and wonder aloud/loudly which museum is which – and by the time I was done, I felt overheated yet pleased that I had both exercised and avoided picking off any stray tourists. I walked home on increasingly-wobbly legs and cooked myself dinner (another energy-utilizing task to which I am not usually accustomed), and climbed into bed with my laptop to start my Pixar list, congratulating myself on my productive and satisfying day.

And here’s where the wheels came off the wagon, b-rollers. I had the best of intentions to commit myself to blogging, but alas, the heat and exercise finally took over. A state of semi-catatonia washed over me and all I could do was channel surf between the Red Sox game and the movie Remember the Titans while brief, uncomplicated thoughts swam through my head. Pedroia! I like him. Buchholz is pitching well. My legs hurt. Inning change – flip. The championship game scene. That’s exciting. Oh, the paralyzed guy. That was sad. My legs hurt. Commercial break – flip. Pedroia! I like him. My legs hurt. It was not a good time for an insightful and witty analysis of Ratatouille.

So in summation: The Pixar list has been slightly delayed. But fear not, faithful b-rollers, as I’ll be bringing you the first part of my Pixar list on Wednesday, with the second half – the top 5 Pixar movies ITHOOBR (In The Humble Opinion of B-Roll) – on Friday.

And in the meantime, I bring you a peace offering – a short animated feature to whet your appetite. This was produced as a student film at UCLA, and it came to my attention when it won an award from my company last year, and rightfully so, because IT. IS. AMAZING. Most Pixar movies make me weep by the ninety minute mark; this film gets me after four. So enjoy Sebastian’s Voodoo, and please return on Wednesday for The Best of Pixar, Volume 1. Til then, b-rollers.

Adventures in Toyland

Howdy do, b-rollers! It’s been a quiet week, my apologies. I actually read a few books in the absence of a packed television schedule, and I feel terribly cultured for having done so. And unless you care about my thoughts on Graham Greene’s The Quiet American (lest you think me too literary, my previous library selection was Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking), well, there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot to share.

Anywho, I’m checking in today to gleefully inform you all that I’m going to see Toy Story 3 in a few hours. My love of Pixar is duly noted in many a b-roll post, and according to critics, this is the best Toy Story yet. I don’t know how that’s possible since the first two were pretty damn perfect, but there you have it.

One observation I had after reading the scores of stellar reviews – and I found this interesting, maybe you won’t but humor me – was the varying ways that critics compared Toy Story 3 to the other Pixar films. Most agreed that it belonged with Pixar’s best – and let’s face it, the Pixar gamut goes from “really good” to “all-time amazing” anyway – but they don’t seem to agree on which films are Pixar’s best. Some thought early Pixar (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2) was the Golden era; another referenced the more recent films (WALL-E, Up) as Pixar’s “masterpieces”; and yet another said that Toy Story 3 was the best Pixar film since The Incredibles. Huh.

You probably see where I’m going with this – and if you don’t, welcome for the first time to the b-roll blog! – but starting Monday, plan for an official b-roll ranking of the Pixar stable, Toy Story 3 ranked somewhere among them. If you’ve read this blog in the past, you probably know which film tops my current list; but if Toy Story 3 is as good as everyone says it is, we may have a new contender for the top spot.

Until then, make your case for your favorite Pixar film here. Have a great weekend, b-rollers!

Live Blogging the Tony Awards!

7:54: Happy Sunday, b-rollers! Are we all excited for the Tony Awards this evening? No? Just me? Okay. I love the Tonys, myself – I’m a big theater geek (go ahead and snicker, see if I care) – and this award show features actual performances, and not in the MTV/Grammy Awards “stare blankly, what the hell” vein. Real live theater pieces. I’m delighted, I have to say. Back in 5!

8:00: “Ladies and gentlemen, Sean Hayes!” No offense to Sean Hayes, but who else was hoping they would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, Neil Patrick Harris!”?

8:01: Color me stunned that Sean Hayes is this talented a pianist. Although this transition to Elvis music was a tad awkward. Remember last year’s opening from Billy Elliot? No? Just me again? Okay.

8:02: You know what the Tony Awards are missing? A six-hour pre-show red carpet hosted by Ryan Seacrest.

8:03: Kristin Chenoweth! Maybe she’ll do this performance as her Glee character April Rhodes (ie, drunk).

8:04: I love Sinatra and Elvis and Green Day, but remember when Broadway musicals were filled with original music? Those were fun times. Thanks a bunch, Mamma Mia.

8:05: Five minutes in and I’m a touch underwhelmed. Apparently this was the year of the obscure musical. Last year’s opening had Billy Elliot, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Hair, 9 to 5, Rock of Ages…and this year, we’ve just seen some writhing and a spastic squeal courtesy of Fela! Kinda paling in comparison, frankly.

8:08: American Idiot – the current show I’m utterly dying to see. Loved, loved the album.

8:10: And Green Day is IN THE HOUSE! I hope this ends better than last year’s Bret Michaels’ performance, when he was leveled by a descending stage piece.

8:12: And the Tonys opening turns into the Green Day Show. This was clearly at the behest of a CBS executive who saw the roster of shows and scheduled performances and said to the producers, “For God’s sake, give me something to work with!!!!”

8:13: Crowd shots of Ryan Reynolds (yes, please), Matthew Morrison (Mr. Schuester!) and Will Smith (if he’s here to pimp The Karate Kid remake, so help me God…).

8:14: AND Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes make out. Take that, Newsweek!

8:15: Look at Angela Lansbury – stone fox even at the age of 117. She could still be solving murders in Cabot Cove.

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Odds and Ends

Happy Wednesday, b-rollers! I hope everyone’s having a lovely week. Just two short Wednesdays ago, we were crowning sweet, humble and entirely undeserving Lee DeWyze as OUR. NEXT. AMERICAN. IDOL. This Wednesday? I watched three episodes of Lost‘s first season on Netflix and am currently watching a hockey game. You read that correctly – HOCKEY. Just for reference, here’s the list of sports that I most enjoy watching, in order:

1. Football
2. Baseball
3. Basketball
17. Tennis
52. Figure skating
74. Olympic curling
97. Hockey
594. Golf
1,978. NASCAR

So, yeah. I’m kinda bored. (Sample analysis from one of the hockey experts: “We always say ‘play to win,’ not ‘play NOT to win!'” Insightful, thanks.) As I mentioned on Sunday, the slow summer season has begun. I’m kinda dying to live blog something, anything, but the only regular summer option – So You Think You Can Dance, slipping nicely into American Idol‘s place both in terms of format and time slot – requires actual, you know, watching. Also, the judges are constructive and useful, the host is damned likable (no Seacrest Memorial Staircase for Ms. Deeley, thank you very much, though she is a fan of Kara-esque sparkly couture), and my knowledge of dance technique is less, shall we say, defined. (When a judge says that a contestant needs to work on his “extension,” my reaction is less I was just thinking that! than Uh, sure. Whatever.) So there’s really less to critique since the show is, well, wildly better.

So since I’m without an overriding theme this evening, I thought I’d jump in with some random thoughts and updates. Sound good? Yes? No? Work with me, people.

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Getting Lost

Happy Sunday, b-rollers! It’s great to be back with some non-Idol thoughts (may it rest in peace until 2011). You’ll be happy to know that my work event went swimmingly, thank you for asking. And now that it’s over, I have time to focus on the important things in life. Like blogging.

This will be my first summer as a TV/movies/random entertainment blogger, and I’ve been contemplating how exactly this will work. After all, summertime is a bizarre stretch on the entertainment calendar. Most summer movies could best be described as “world goes kaboom!”, and of my list of personal television programming, there’s hardly anything left – Glee has only one episode to go, So You Think You Can Dance just started, and The Closer and Mad Men don’t premiere until July. (Fun fact: As I was surfing the AMC site to see when Mad Men would return, I got sucked into a “Which Mad Men character are you?” quiz. It turns out that I am Jane, a secretary who used a combo platter of pretty/young/stupid to break up the marriage of a Sterling Cooper partner, and subsequently became an alcoholic trophy wife. I think I may want a do-over.)

Anyway, with a barren TV season ahead of me and the gracious assistance of Netflix, I’ve decided to devote my summer to television phenomena that I have missed out on. This decision was brought on by the series finale of Lost, an event that – judging by entertainment sites, Twitter feeds and Facebook status updates – ranked slightly above the Obama inauguration for sheer grandeur and importance. Meanwhile, I identified strongly with this marvelous Twitter update: “Crap, I forgot to watch LOST. For six years.” And apparently, this wouldn’t do – as someone who blogs/tweets/Facebook updates about television, I felt overwhelmed by the shame that comes with watching the world become wrapped up in a HUGE CULTURAL EVENT as you stare blankly. And so, as everyone else dissects the series finale as if it were a Nostradamus text, I’ve gone back to the beginning. I’m seven episodes into Season 1 and feeling like a remedial student at summer school, but whatever. Hatches and island polar bears and utter bewilderment, here I come.

This isn’t the first time I’ve missed the boat; last summer’s project was Mad Men, which clearly went well, and I am ashamed to admit that I had to catch up on most of 30 Rock‘s debut season on DVD a few years back, as I thought the first episode was kinda “eh” at the time. There are plenty more shows that I let pass me by, some inexplicably, such as Friday Night Lights – liked the book, liked the movie, like the cast, no idea what the hell I’ve been waiting for. My only excuse is that I’m not paid to watch television (wouldn’t that be glorious?) and I can’t get to everything, hard as I try. So help me out, b-rollers: Which shows, recent past or present, should I catch up on? I’m talking critically acclaimed, fervent fan base, great characters and dialogue, something that I absolutely, positively should not have missed. To get you started, here’s a list of shows that I’ve heard good things about but never (regularly) watched: Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, Flight of the Conchords, True Blood, The United States of Tara, The Shield, Battlestar Galactica (the new one, obviously), Parks and Recreation, The Wire, The Sopranos, How I Met Your Mother, Rescue Me, Weeds, Party Down, Damages, The Big Bang Theory.

I’m sure there are others, and if you don’t see a show here or on my original list, holler back. Though I clearly cannot watch all of these, I’m open to your suggestions. Have at, b-rollers!

Radio Silence This Week

Hello, b-rollers! I almost don’t know what do with myself – a Tuesday night with no Idol to live blog?! Good God, how did people live before…um, January?

Anyway, it’s a busy week for me at my actual paying job, so no blogging for me until the weekend. I know I’ve been rather delinquent in posting anything non-Idol-related for a while now, so I promise that I’ll come back with some new and fascinating (ish) thoughts in the near future. It’s a long hot summer that I’ll have to survive without new episodes of most of my favorite shows, but we’ll get through it together. And if there’s anything that you’re just dying for me to tackle when I’m less overwhelmed, well, there’s a lovely comments section below. Have at, b-rollers. Until next week.