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Host Conrad Nagel with Best Actress winner Norma Shearer

After the pared down 2nd Academy Awards, the 3rd Oscars, as the awards show would come to be known, expanded the categories from seven to a whopping eight. It was a slight acceleration after just seven months; 1930 was the only year in which two Academy Awards ceremonies were held, to keep up with the eligibility period that was now established. The 3rd Academy Awards honored the best in film released from August 1, 1929 to July 31, 1930, and as sound films quickly improved, so too did the slate of nominees on offer.

Matinee idol Conrad Nagel hosted the event at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, one that would see ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT and THE BIG HOUSE tied as the “big winners,” with two awards each. THE LOVE PARADE was the biggest nominee of the night, with six of the eight possible nominations, but it failed to win any. The only audio and/or visual record of the show that I’ve been able to find is a seven-minute promotional film highlighting the Outstanding Production, Best Actress, and Best Writing wins, and it’s an interesting artifact of stodgy presentation. …


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The DC Extended Universe (DCEU, an unofficial name) was the result of an apparently spontaneous attempt on Warner Bros.’ part to compete with Disney’s immensely popular and (mostly) consistently entertaining Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). These “shared-universe” comic book franchises have fairly been criticized for their dominance of the motion picture industry. But for as much as I intellectually recognize the issues presented by these kinds of films, I also grew up with comic books, and in my need-for-comfort moments, many superhero blockbusters will do. However, much of the DCEU does not fit that bill. I wrote “spontaneous” earlier because this cinematic universe seems to have been put together hodge-podge, unlike the (nefariously and?) finely orchestrated MCU. In fact, the films of the DCEU have done enough to put me off DC’s comic book universe as well, making Marvel my preferred juvenile escapism between the Big Two of Comics. Nevertheless, it’s a marginal distinction in media away from the movies, and I’m always hopeful for good things coming from the DCEU. I’m usually disappointed, and with its future uncertain as multiple actors seem to be stepping away or distancing themselves from their roles (I’m looking at Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck especially), and other films in apparently constant development hell, the series probably won’t end up redeeming itself on the whole. …


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Australian group-turned-duo The Avalanches are plunderphonics’ celebrated practitioners. Plunderphonics! I learned that word recently! Basically, The Avalanches are samplers extraordinaires, moving from the Beastie Boys riffing on their debut EP EL PRODUCTO (1997, not ranked here) to the high acclaim of the SINCE I LEFT YOU symphony. But after its release in 2000, primary forces Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi (currently The Avalanches’ only members) were in a state of constant flux, working on new music here and there but not releasing another album until 2016’s WILDFLOWER, which as you might expect, was highly anticipated. With the release of the group’s only third album in 20 years, WE WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, a few weeks ago, I took to re-listening to the prior two releases as well to put together this brief tour of The Avalanches’ long and storied career that nevertheless has a relatively minimal output to speak for it. …


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Weezer is my favorite band. Frontman, singer, and primary songwriter Rivers Cuomo is of course a big reason why. I legitimately think Cuomo is one of the finest songwriters of his generation and beyond, and his and Weezer’s success is deserved in my book. Legendarily prolific, Cuomo nevertheless has never released a solo album of wholly original material; that is to say, new material. As part of a web development class he was taking (I mean, the guy is weird), Cuomo uploaded more than 2,000 demos to his personal site just a few weeks ago. He is selling bundles of his massive catalog, dating back to even the pre-Weezer years, including the impetus for this piece, THE BEST OF THE DEMOS. For although this unveiling of a big part of Cuomo’s history is not a traditional “album release,” I feel it must be acknowledged as an ultimate cumulation of his previous “solo” work. While I typically avoid compilation albums for these ranked lists of musical artists, Cuomo’s solo discography is exclusively made up of retrospectives of his demos and previously unreleased songs. …


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Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz with their win for I LOVE LUCY

Welcome to “Emmys Evaluated,” a series that looks at the nominations and wins in the television industry’s foremost awards ceremony and performs some revisionist history to retroactively pick the winners from the categories and nominees the The Television Academy selected.

I wrote about the 5th Emmy Awards that the awards ceremony was starting to get into the swing of things. That is partly because, by the middle of the 1950s, television itself was rapidly taking on the form we now recognize. The 6th Emmy Awards, held on February 11, 1954 at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, was also taking on the form of the awards show we now recognize. …


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Film history has been defined by men. Women filmmakers, and indeed there were women filmmakers before, I don’t know, the 1980s, have been relegated to relative obscurity. But those female filmmakers of note were making strides mostly in the silent era, before the sound era studio system mostly pushed them out once again. It rings of the marginalization of the up-and-coming class of women in film from the 1980s and early ’90s as they approached the 21st century. …


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Producer/host Geoff Keighley

Nearly a month ago, I made my predictions for The Game Awards 2020, full of many games I missed within the past year. With this ceremony, I was once again struck by how much of the show is based on announcements and “world premieres,” not the titular awards and celebration of the nominees and winners. For a show purported to be the “Oscars of video games,” The Game Awards is somehow even more crassly commercial, driven home by the number of presenters from outside the gaming world. And yet, I was excited to see Sephiroth in SUPER SMASH BROS. ULTIMATE (2018), an upcoming MASS EFFECT, and more. And producer/host Geoff Keighley should be recognized to some extent for making this show still happen every year, even in the face of a global pandemic. In any event, I’ve noted my guesses to the actual wins below, bringing the total number of categories down from 30 to 23 with the omission of esports/community awards that I really could not even begin to fathom. By my original predictions, THE LAST OF US PART II would be the big winner with seven wins of its 11 nominations, and that’s just what actually happened. Good start so far!


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The narrative of AC/DC, one of the most important hard rock bands of all time, went from one of turbulence to one of, euphemistically, consistency and, negatively, complacency. But the group has always been defined by the two brothers at its core, Angus and Malcolm Young, and following Malcolm’s departure from the band and subsequent death, Angus is really the only one running the show. AC/DC has now survived the deaths of two of their key members even as it puts out their latest album, POWER UP. The first was much more of a blow, as singer and frontman Bon Scott succumbed to alcohol at the height of the band’s success. Although fans divide the band’s eras between Scott and current vocalist Brian Johnson, AC/DC as a group has now been defined for much longer by Johnson’s voice and tenure. I recently returned to AC/DC fandom after years thinking they were corny, and they kind of still are. But their now basic, but initially pioneering hard rock ’n’ roll still attracts me, even as a large group of their 16 albums ranked here, from across 44 years, sound very similar even. Omitted from this list are AC/DC’s first two Australia-only releases, HIGH VOLTAGE (1975) and T.N.T. …


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The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards nominations were announced today, illuminating The Recording Academy’s celebration of the best in music from September 1, 2019 to August 31, 2020. The Trevor Noah-hosted 2021 Grammys are scheduled to be held January 31 from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, how that ceremony will play out is still unclear. It’s probably safe to say it won’t be a packed house, but in the meantime, I’ll take a crack at predicting who will win the biggest categories/categories that I can even remotely predict for. I mean, the Grammys has 83 categories! Instead, I’ve narrowed the field down to 31, across which Beyoncé led the nominations with nine. …


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Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball at the 5th Emmy Awards

Welcome to “Emmys Evaluated,” a series that looks at the nominations and wins in the television industry’s foremost awards ceremony and performs some revisionist history to retroactively pick the winners from the categories and nominees the The Television Academy selected.

By its fifth year, the annual Emmy Awards was kind of getting into a swing of things. It had gone national the year before, and after a more stripped down number of categories, the Emmys returned in 1953 with an expanded list, doubling the categories from six to 12. …

Tristan Ettleman

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