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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Facebook vs. King George VI? Mila Kunis is Missing? The Academy Hates Christopher Nolan? News and Views Talks Oscar Nominations

The Academy announced the Oscar nominees Tuesday morning. Yes, I know my post is a tiny bit late, but I was soaking up the sun in Mexico (be jealous!) Either way, Tuesday morning Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak and 2009 Oscar winner Mo'Nique greeted groggy-eyed Hollywood with the 2011 Oscar nominations. 

Watch the nominations announcement below:

While The Social Network swept the Golden Globes and critics’ awards, you would think it will most likely come out on top in the Oscars as well. But with The King’s Speech raking in the most noms (12), The Social Network (8 nominations) could now be a best picture underdog. As Moviefone’s Gold Derby points out, “The movie with the most nominations tends to win Best Picture 75 percent of the time.”

Additionally, The King’s Speech pulled off a bombshell Best Picture victory at the Producers Guild awards. “Over the past 20 years, [the] PGA and the Oscars have agreed on Best Picture 13 times.”¹ Not to mention that there has only been “one other instance where the winner of the Golden Globe for Best Picture actually won the Oscar.”² Not looking good for the Facebook flick, but as Slumdog Millionaire and Hurt Locker both proved, underdogs can take the cake (or the little Oscar statuette).

While the Best Picture buzz is always interesting and makes for a great debate, especially when you see all the odds, I find the surprise and snub talk by far the most entertaining.

There are the surprises:
  • Good job, 127 Hours! You’re up for Best Picture!¹
  • After being shut out at the Golden Globes, True Grit came back strong with 10 nominations.¹
  • Hats off to Mark Ruffalo (The Kids are All Right), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), and Javier Bardem (Biutful) who all received actor nominations, even though Williams' and Ruffalo’s co-stars got big snubs.¹
  • While mainstreamers may say “um, what?” Twitter blew up with happy shock over Dogtooth for a Best Foreign Film nomination and I Am Love's Antonella Cannarozzi for Costume Designer.⁷
And the snubs, which most definitely outweigh the surprises:
  • Why was 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld of True Grit announced as a Best Supporting Actress nominee when she is the film’s main actress?³
  • Why wasn’t Mila Kunis given a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her dynamic and captivating role in Black Swan
  • How could the Academy ignore Daft Punk’s phenomenal techno score for Tron: Legacy as well as the film’s innovative visual effects?¹
  • Not even The Town seems able to vindicate Ben Affleck, who has dropped some major theatrical bombs like Daredevil, Jersey Girl, and (shudder) Gigli and also hasn’t really been a presence in the awards scene since Good Will Hunting. However, he made a career comeback with “assured direction, superb casting, and solid acting” in this crime drama. It didn’t seem to be enough, though, for the Academy.⁵
  • Where the heck are Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right), Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine), Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter), documentary Waiting for Superman, and animated film Despicable Me?¹,⁶
  • And, finally, does the Academy just hate Christopher Nolan? I mean, sure, Inception got a Best Picture nom, but “Nolan—a three-time Directors Guild of America nominee for Memento, The Dark Knight, and Inception—has yet to be recognized in the director category by the Academy.”⁴
Now that I’ve run down the big Best Picture face-off and all the shocks and snubs, let’s hear what you think! I’d run through my picks, but they’d be heavily Black Swan and The Social Network-weighted. So, enough about me! Let’s focus on you.

What are your thoughts on the surprises and snubs? Did I miss anything? Who do you think will take home the major prizes? If the Academy was comprised of your patrons, what films and actors would make up the nominations and/or winners?

Share your thoughts!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2011 In Preview: Music

Justin Bieber. The King’s Speech. Freedom.

Each of them helped shape the entertainment world in 2010, but what sounds, images, and words will create 2011’s entertainment landscape?

Welcome to 2011 in Preview, a three-part series in which I break down what should be an eventful and exciting year on the charts, in the theaters, and on the shelves. Music leads off the preview, to be followed, in subsequent News & Views posts, by movies and books.

I’m starting with music because, honestly, who doesn’t like a good comeback story? Eminem and Taylor Swift constructed two of the biggest albums of 2010, but beyond those—and a handful of others—this past year’s release schedule was a bit anemic.

2011 should see a rebound, however, and it is looking as though it will be the Year of Pop… no wait, hip-hop… or maybe rock?

Let’s just say that 2011 should be quite a year for popular music.

The biggest story is likely to be the battle of the pop queens. Britney Spears’ first album since 2008’s Circus is set for a March release (tentatively, of course), while Lady Gaga’s third album Born This Way should be on shelves in late May. Not to be outdone, however, are Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne (both of whom are expected to release new albums this spring), and possibly even Beyonce—who may or may not be leading the holiday rush come November.

Regardless of who comes out on top, fresh sounds from someone other than Ke$ha or Bieber (no disrespect to either of their talents) will be a welcome reprieve.

While the ladies battle it out for pop supremacy, the gentlemen of hip-hop are slated to put on a show of their own. Two of the biggest names in the genre lead things off as Jay-Z and Kanye West’s joint effort Watch The Throne is expected early in the year and could be followed closely by the fourth installment of Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter series. There is also talk of a 50 Cent album later in the year.

Oh, and one more possible entry: some guy named Dr. Dre says that he is ready to release a modest effort by the name of Detox that may or may not be the most anticipated (and delayed) album this side of Chinese Democracy. I’ve always felt that Democracy deserved better than the criticism it received; here’s hoping Detox doesn’t suffer the same fate—although with all the buildup, I’m afraid the good Dr. may be over-promising and is in danger of “Axel-izing” his work.

And then there’s rock. Arguably the three biggest rock bands in the world—U2, Coldplay, and Radiohead—are all expected to turn in new releases by year’s end, but perhaps the most eagerly awaited new music is coming from a band that hasn’t been heard from in five years. The Strokes, who skyrocketed to fame in the early part of the 2000s before falling off the map after 2006’s First Impressions of Earth, are set to return in grand fashion with a new album called Angles and a world tour.

Have fans of The Strokes forgotten about the band during their five year hiatus? Not likely, as their early work as well as solo albums from band members Julian Casablancas and Albert Hammond Jr. helped build a loyal, rabid fanbase that is now clamoring for new music. I’m guessing the New York punk rockers will re-establish themselves as a major force later this year.

What albums are you looking forward to the most? Who will take the crown as the 2011 Pop Queen? Will Detox really see the light of day this year—if ever? Let us know what you think in the comments below and don’t forget to check back for our movie and book previews!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Case Transfers and Digital Processing Safeguard and Brand Product, Save on Labour

More and more studios are distributing their DVD titles in the eco-case, and the jewel case has been the industry standard for CDs since they first released. The problem with these two cases is that they cannot withstand the rigors of library use. Neither are drop-box safe and both wear out easily with frequent open-and-closes.

DVD Eco-Cases and CD Jewel Cases shown above. 

Because media buy-back stores will not accept product taken from public libraries, library labels digitally incorporated into product artwork is a proven theft deterrent. Libraries can also eliminate tedious sticker placement and offer patrons branded materials with CVS Midwest Tape’s VIP processing. Our exclusive program incorporates library labels into vendor artwork, perfectly placed and customized to your specifications.

CVS Midwest Tape offers a series of processing options that not only safeguard and brand your product, but also helps you save on labour and shelve product faster by eliminating in-house processing and storage of supplies. Here are some of our most popular options:

Starting at $2.25 per piece
Receive CDs in durable cases with full sleeve artwork and shrink wrap removed.
Starting at $2.50 per piece
Receive CDs in durable cases with shrink wrap removed and full sleeve artwork with VIP labels. Click here to view samples.

Starting at $1.65 per piece
Receive DVDs in durable cases with full sleeve artwork and shrink wrap removed.
Starting at $2.50 per piece
Receive DVDs in durable cases with shrink wrap removed and full sleeve artwork with VIP labels. Click here to view samples.

We also offer VIP processing for audiobooks and playaways. These two formats are packaged into durable, drop-box-safe cases and therefore have their shrink wrapped removed for all customers. However, libraries interested in VIP processing can do top or bottom band labelling starting at $2.50 per piece. Click here to view samples.

Interested in case transfers and digital processing? Fill out a Workflow Solutions brochure now, or contact an expert today at 1.866.698.2231 or

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Facebook on Film and in Libraries

I saw David Fincher’s The Social Network on opening weekend and was immediately enthralled by it. The witty, lightning-quick dialogue, haunting soundtrack, brilliant performances, and refreshing cinematography all captivated me and made the relatively low-budget film my absolute favourite flick of 2010.  The fast-tracked DVD and Blu-ray hit shelves today following a theatrical re-release to more than 600 locations domestically—all coinciding with the mounting awards buzz surrounding the film.¹  Do you think The Social Network will pick up any major awards?

And while a solid script, score, and talent easily explain why the film has grossed over $200 million worldwide (thus quadrupling its budget), there’s also the fascination with Facebook and the fact that the movie essentially represents “an entire generation of young adults reaching for its piece of the American Dream” that contributes to the movie’s popularity.² Did you see the movie? Was it your movie of the year?

With 71% of web users currently on Facebook³, the social networking site is the most visited site in the world. ⁴ It is valued at $50 billion dollars, and co-creator Mark Zuckerberg—named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year—is worth $14 billion.⁵
Clearly, Facebook is huge; it represents an era of fundamentally changed human relationships and communication. And libraries have noticed. According to the 2010 State of America’s Libraries, 11% of the country’s largest libraries (populations greater than 499,000) had a presence on Facebook in 2009, and that statistic is expected to be significantly greater among libraries of all sizes in ALA’s next report.

Simply scanning my RSS reader unveils numerous library blogs discussing Facebook. Stephen’s Lighthouse is always relating interesting stats and infographics on the social networking site to public libraries, and the Other Librarian posted an interesting entry on Facebook and library rapport.

With Facebook’s ever-increasing popularity and the Social Network film expected to perform well this awards season, it’ll be interesting to see how the site will evolve in 2011 and how libraries will put it to use for them.  Does your library have a Facebook? Why or why not? In what ways does your library or will your library use it to reach patrons? How could Facebook be improved for library use?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tic-Tac-True Contest Ends Today!

CVS Midwest Tape's Tic-Tac-True holiday contest ends today. Log into to play now!

Look for the following announcement on our homepage to enter the contest:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Rock Hall Welcomes The Class Of 2011

A few weeks ago, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its class of 2011 and, outside of Alice Cooper and Neil Diamond, some casual music fans were left asking “who are these people?”

Tom Waits, Darlene Love, and Dr. John round out the field of five, and while most music experts agree that all of this year’s inductees are deserving of the honour, these musicians aren’t exactly household names. Bigger names such as Bon Jovi, the Beastie Boys, and Kiss will have to wait at least another year to see if they make the cut.

With all due respect to this year’s class, I was not initially convinced that some of the inductees should really be in over a band that, 25 years after their first release, is still the biggest touring act in the country (Bon Jovi), a rap group that helped define the genre (the Beasties), or the band that turned rock music into a marketable commodity—for better or for worse (Kiss).

With this thought burning in my mind, I decided to research exactly what it is that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (or the “Rock Hall,” as it has come to be known) voters are looking for when they place their votes. I did not have to look far—the qualifications are addressed right on the Rock Hall website:

To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer, or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence.

We shall consider factors such as an artist's musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.

So how exactly have Mr. Waits, Ms. Love, and Dr. John met these criteria?

Tom Waits is a highly regarded influence in the music community—while a grossly underrated talent outside of it. The gravel-voiced crooner’s career was born in the early ‘70s, and his ability to paint stark images with his words is matched by few.

Darlene Love’s impact was mainly felt during the ‘50s and ‘60s through her work with Phil Spector and his “Wall of Sound” production. As a backing vocalist, the list of artists that she worked with during this time is a virtual who’s who of the rock & roll and R&B scenes including Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, and Sam Cooke.

In a career that has spanned nearly 60 years, Dr. John—whose musical styling ranges from jazz and blues to rock and pop—embodies the New Orleans music scene. His longevity and innovation are what landed him his spot in the Hall.

The one trait that all three of these talented musicians share is that their contributions and influences are well-documented within the music community (Waits’ emotional vocals have impacted artists ranging from Chris Cornell to Nick Cave; Love’s legacy can be heard in the work of Luther Vandross and Patti LaBelle; Dr. John’s unique sound has influenced the likes of Harry Connick Jr. and G. Love), but in a wider sense, are largely unrecognized.

The criticism of the Rock Hall has long been that popular “big name” artists are often inducted ahead of more talented individuals, and while I take nothing away from this year’s class (they all deserve the accolade), I’m not sure I agree that this is even a problem.

Hasn’t rock & roll always been about the fans? What makes a successful rock band is an intangible quality that many simply refer to as “it.” “It” is what allows the act to connect with its fans, regardless of factors such as technical ability or technique—either an act has “it” or it doesn’t.

A rock act’s musical talent should not be the sole barometer of success, and I’m not sure that the criteria listed above exhibits that philosophy. Rock musicians that challenge us intellectually deserve their due, but let’s not forget the acts that we worshiped when we were growing up—which is why we fell in love with rock in the first place.

For a collection of work from the Class of 2011, click the banner below:

Did the Rock Hall get it right with the class of 2011? Who got snubbed? Who would you have voted in? Let us know in the comments below!