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Top 5 everything of 2010

Once again, as hard as it is to believe, another year has almost already passed by and it seems like yesterday I was having dinner with the family at my uncle’s house for New Year’s day for this new decade. The more time passes by, the more it seems to fly away at the speed of light, and I’m again left wondering if this year will be the one where I’ll have time to do everything I’ve planned for the coming 365 days. Of course, it will not happen, but, before this year ends, I did manage to find some time to look back on 2010 and realize how good a year this has been. And, since the only things I’ve seen on social networks in the past days are Top 10s and Recaps, I decided I’d make my own Top 5. Ok, I’ve cheated on some categories, some are top 5 with honorable mentions, others may contain only 3 winners, but, you get the point.

This is of course my own personal opinion. No stats, no results, no expert analysis, just my own totally subjective, sometimes biased opinion. Let’s start it off.

BEST ALBUMS

1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
I said it recently, and I stand with my first impression, this is the album of the year, and critics (aka Rolling Stone Magazine) seem to agree. The creativity, the originality and the “I don’t care what you think of me” attitude that emanates from this album make it impossible to ignore. Mr. West has taken his music one step further and created a sound of his own, and for that, you get my gold medal Kanye.

2. Eminem – Recovery
Wouldn’t it have been for Kanye, first place would have gone to Mr. Mathers. Recovery is the return of the king, the road to redemption fulfilled for Eminem. It is his most mature album yet, and I think I’ll dare to say it also is his best album. It may not contain as many classics as The Eminem Show or The Marshall Mathers LP, but the overall ride on which Eminem takes you with his latest album is definitely something no Em fan has ever witnessed before. A must for any fan of hip-hop.

3. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
The Montreal band proved to the world that they are a force to be reckoned with this album. Their sound is unique, the lyrics are profound, and the overall experience that you go through while listening to The Suburbs is definitely something special that not many bands can match. For me, this is an instant classic, something that my iTunes play-count can start to fear.

4. Jònsi – Go
The Sigur Ros vocalist/guitarist released a solo album back in April, and I did not listen to it until earlier this month. To be honest, I’ve lonely listened to it twice, so I don’t feel like I know this album too well, but I couldn’t leave it off this list. This is musical ecstasy. Whether they make you joyful or nostalgic, Jonsi’s exotic melodies are sure to spark a lot of emotions inside you. It is hard to describe, so the best thing I can say is, buy it and let yourself be immersed by the sound of it, you will not regret it.

5. B.o.B. – The Adventures of Bobby Ray
Probably the hardest position to fill, because the list of contenders was endless, but B.o.B. had to have his place in my 2010 year. I listened to this album countless times during my trip to Costa Rica, and it just has a special feel every time I listen to it. Even if this is his first LP, B.o.B. shows an incredible maturity as an artist, mixing super catchy commercial pop songs with more dramatic, serious tracks on which the lyrics are certain to make some hip-hop veterans jealous. The artists collaborations are original (Hayley Williams, Rivers Cuomo…) and it is just a good, easy to listen album. Plus, Airplanes has to be one of the greatest hip-hop songs released in the past 5 years, so for all that, I raise my hat to B.o.B. who fills in the last position of my top 5 for albums.

Honorable mentions
Bonobo – Black Sands
Misteur Valaire – Golden Bombay
Travie McCoy – Lazarus

BEST MOVIES
Important notice: I have been a total failure as a 2010 movie-watcher. I’ve watched countless “classics” on my To-See list, but I’ve just not been into the new movies this year. I haven’t seen Social Network, Black Swan, Toy Story 3… So, this is of course my own best of, where I’m sure some of the movies I’ve just named would have had their place had I seen them.

1. Inception
How can this not be the best movie of the year ? It is a cinematic masterpiece, incredibly intelligent, well shot and brilliantly acted. Christopher Nolan raised the bar to another level with a very original story, brought to life by shining performances from DiCaprio and company. An instant classic in every genre, a movie that will be talked about for years.

2. The Killer Inside Me
Western movies are more and more noticeable nowadays since they are becoming more of a rare thing, but this one really slipt under my radar. I watched it just a few weeks ago, and I really enjoyed it. Casey Affleck is incredible, to the point he should easily be nominated for an Oscar. The mood of the movie is scary, tense, and the story really sucks you in. It is brutal, violent, sometimes disturbing, but always intriguing. A must-see, at least only to witness Affleck’s brilliance.

3. The Book of Eli
This movie did not get very good reviews, as do all of Denzel Washington’s films for the last 5 years. But I think critics were a bit harsh and have failed to see the strong points that this movie has to offer. It is visually flawless, every image is sure to make you wow at your screen. It might not be Denzel’s best performance, but you can’t say so for Gary Oldman’s. He just shines in his role as the bad guy and shows he’s one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood nowadays. Plus, the fight scenes, and especially the gun-fights are masterfully directed and now have a place in my personal best combat scenes in cinema history. Plus the ending is just incredibly surprising.

4. Ghost Writer
Roman Polanski’s latest film has a sort of Woody Allen feel, with endless dialogues and a fairly old style of editing, which make it stand out. The intrigue is good and the always entertaining Ewan McGregor is very good in the leading role. Not your typical Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s really worth a watch.

5. The Town
I rented this movie 4 hours before writing this blog post, as it was, surprisingly, on most 2010 best-of lists. You should have seen my level of skepticism before watching this film. I’m really not a Ben Affleck fan, but I decided to give it a chance. Surprise of the year for me. This is a very entertaining thriller, in which Affleck shows talent as both director and actor. The acting award in the film will definitely go to Jeremy Renner though, who is so believable in his role that you could think the producers found a guy from the projects to play in their movie. You won’t fall in love with the other characters, but they show some kind of depth, enough to make you enjoy this film, along with its good heist scenes.

MUSIC VIDEOS

1. Jay-Z – On to the Next One
One might wonder why this is taking the pole position, and it is for only one reason: It’s a music video. Hurricane and Runaway are closer to short films than music vids. Jay-Z’s video, directed by Sam Brown, portrays a funeral through multiple black and white, highly aesthetic images. It was the first music video released in 2010, and in my opinion, it is still the best. It is a shame it didn’t win any awards at the VMA, but let’s be honest, the VMAs are pretty much meaningless. Jay-Z proved once again his immense artistic talent by releasing a video of this caliber, and the 41-year-old rapper also proved he’s here to stay.

2. Kanye West – Runaway (extended edition)
Here it is, the video that will be at the top position of everybody’s list in 2010, and it deserves it. While to me this is a short film, it redefined what music videos are. It is artistic, different, colorful. It delivers powerful messages, and it is accompanied by one of the best soundtracks ever. As I said in my previous blog post, this is sure to make history with the likes of Thriller.

3. 30 Seconds to Mars – Hurricane
Another video that should be considered a short film, Hurricane will probably have its place in history also. While less visually appealing than Runaway, Hurricane is controversial, sexually offending, twisted, and beautiful. A video that the American public is not ready to see at all (and it got banned for that), and because of that, Jared Leto’s band deserves a lot of recognition. They dared, and succeeded in creating commotion.

4. Eminem – Love the way you lie
Eminem’s real comeback in the music video scene, because Not Afraid was definitely not it. This is also a controversial video that caused a heart stroke to America, because of its reference to domestic violence and dysfunctional relationships. Joseph Kahn used his enormous experience to direct a video that suits the song like few videos have been able to. The cinematography is amazing, Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan are good in their main roles and the Eminem/Rihanna duo just fills the screen with presence and intensity. One of the best videos of the year on all aspects.

5. Linkin Park – The Catalyst
Joe Hahn has slowly made the transition from turntablist to director for Linkin Park, and this change shows how much talent the guy has. He was a great DJ (he still is in fact) and is now one of my favorite director in the music video domain. His creativity is unmatched, and everything he does just fits the Linkin Park style beautifully. The Catalyst is no exception. The imagery is innovative, the editing is on-point and the Linkin Park guys really give one hell of a performance. Great use of slow motion throughout.

Honorable mentions
Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Linkin Park – Waiting for the End
B.o.B. – Airplanes

TV SHOWS

1. Breaking Bad – Season 3
Discovery of the year for me, TV-wise. A fresh, original concept with actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul playing two of the most fascinating characters to ever appear on TV. Be warned, this, like many other series, is highly addictive. Sometimes humorous, sometimes dramatic, and seldom highly violent, this show will get you through the whole set of emotions, and will also kill your social life, second warning here !

2. Entourage – Season 7
The second-to-last season of the series aired this summer, and deceived no fan. Vince, E, Drama, Turtle, and especially Ari were back in full force, with new relationships, new insults and new adventures. The dialogues were once again a work of genius, and Vince’s breakdown was amazingly put together. The Cameos were entertaining and the complicity between the characters was once again something so entertaining to watch that every episode made you wish you had their lives. If you haven’t started to watch Entourage at all, I also envy your life, because you’re in for 7 seasons of never -before-seen laughter and entertainment. Start now !

3. Sportscentre – Morning Show on TSN
Probably the most unexpected winner of my entire top 2010 list, but I couldn’t pass by it. Jay Onrait and Dan O’toole are the best start of my day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. They redefine sports news with their incredible sense of humour and amazing charisma. They don’t take themselves seriously at all, they’re spontaneous and it gives a whole other perspective to everyday sports news.

Honorable mentions
Mad Men

BEST ADVERTISEMENTS

1. Dulux – Let’s color
Adam Berg takes the prize two years in a row for me, with his masterpiece Carousel for Philips last year. The whole concept of this Dulux ad is so good that it goes beyond the final TV spot. The fact they used local people and gave them the chance to put some color back into their dull scenery is amazing, and the fact that they were able to render this live process into such a beautiful advertisement is just brilliant. This is advertisement at another level.

2. Nike – Write the Future
The biggest sports event in the world of course means, the best advertisements in the world, and W+K knew that they havd to give it their best shot, and they didn’t fail. This ad pictures the World Cup vibe with such epicness and bigger than nature reactions that it clearly makes it the best ad of the tournament. The overall idea is so clever and the production value is unbelievable.

3. Sussex Safer Roads – Embrace Life
A beautiful alternative to encourage people to always wear their seat belts, Embrace Life succeeded in doing what all the gory, violent ads about car accidents couldn’t. The ad created an enormous buzz on the web, and probably saved more lives today than any other commercial. The concept is so well-thought and the imagery is spectacular.

4. Gaz Metro – A Natural Evolution
It takes great patience and dedication to tackle a project like this one, but it takes incredible talent and vision to make a project like this one look as good as this. This entire ad, conceptualized by Sid Lee, was done in stop-motion over 4 nights and with more than 1500 pieces of chalk. The animation is unbelievably fluid considering it’s stop motion and the visual is spectacular. Another considerable piece by one of the most creative agencies in the world.

5. LG – Something Lurkingg
One of the toughest spot on which to deliberate, the final slot of my entire top 2010 goes to the very recent LG ad, created by Y&R and the masters of animation, Psyop. Read a couple of posts prior to this one to know how amazed I was by this ad.

Honorable mentions
Adidas – Cantina 2010
Sony – Eye Candy
Audi – The Art of Progress
BBC – Honk If You’re Human
AT&T – Rethink Possible

This is it ! Probably the most time I’ve ever invested in a blogpost. I hope, even if you don’t agree 100% with me, that this will make you discover some gems in the media domain and give you things to entertain you during this one-to-two-week holiday that is coming up. This will most likely be my last blogpost of 2010, so in advance, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year !

Art & Copy

I’ve been wanting to check out this documentary for a while now, so I decided to get it on the iTunes Store tonight. Rarely do you have the chance to watch or read in-depth interviews with the big players in the advertising business, but this movie gathers a lot of them and gets their honest opinion out of them. I especially liked George Lois’ bold statements and borderline-arrogant personality, which shows us that creative people don’t have to be pretentious hipster artists who think they’re too good for normal people to understand them, as we see way too often these days. Dan Wieden, Jeff Goodby, Mary Wells and Hal Riney are just a few of the top agency directors that give their insight on the ad business.

The movie explores some of the biggest and most successful campaigns, like I want my MTV, Got Milk ?, Apple’s Think Different, Nike’s Just Do It and a bunch of others that have shaped advertising’s young but exciting history. At times I felt like there was maybe too much glorification of the people interviewed, but let’s face it, they are the business’ greatest, so why not throw flowers at them !

If you have any interest in advertising and marketing, and I guess you do if you’re reading this blog, take 90 minutes of your time to watch this great piece of documentary film. It is well directed and the interviews are genuinely interesting. It’s worth your time.

Mountain Dew and P. Rod

While watching parts of the Alli Dew Tour this weekend (congrats to PLG for his win by the way !!), I spotted this ad from Mountain Dew featuring Paul Rodriguez. The ad introduces a contest where 35 shops across the US will have to design a Dew can, and the winner will hit the shelves once the contest is over. P.Rod teamed up with Don Pendleton to create his own can. The 30-second spot shows Paul Rodriguez skating around LA with some of Pendleton’s art popping all around him. I have no idea who directed or produced this ad, so I’ll try to look into it in the coming days.

UPDATE: I found on Motionographer.com that Evan Dennis from Shilo was behind this great spot, teamed up with Tracy Locke agency.

The compositing is really well made and Pendleton’s art really shines all around. Besides the compositing, the cinematography is great too, and that makes me wonder why this quality of production is not in every single skateboard movie out there. There are overwhelming budgets nowadays in the skateboard industry, and 90% of the movies we see have the same old fisheye-in-the-staircase cinematography that has been around since the old Plan B movies. I’m not going to start a rant here, but seeing this ad should open the skate producers eyes…

Anyway, there is a cool article and interview with Pendleton on Skateboarding.com to check out also.

Since I’m in a skateboard mood, I’ll take the time to dig out an old P.Rod ad from Nike that I really like, with some behind the scenes footage.

Sid Lee shows once again why they’re one of the best with Adidas

Wieden+Kennedy unleashed a viral tsunami when they released Nike’s Write the Future ad for the upcoming world cup. So, it was only a matter of time before Adidas counter-attacked with Sid Lee, probably one of the most creative agencies ever to come out of the province of Quebec.

Going in a totally other way, Sid Lee partnered with Partizan and The Mill, two huge players in the production and post-production domain, to create a remix of the Star Wars’ bar scene. The ad, or should I call it a short-film, features Beckham, Daft Punk, Noel Gallagher, Snoop Dogg and bunch of other celebrities. The compositing of the original Star Wars images with the images they recreated is really a thing of beauty. The lighting is perfectly similar and the color grading makes the fusion of the footage seemless. The script and scenario are funny and fresh and make you want to look at this ad over and over.

One thing I have to point out, is that The Mill was in charge of post-production on both this, AND Nike’s Write the Future. I don’t know how they managed to do that, but there must have been a lot of coffee and Red Bull drank at their offices in the last months. Huge props to them.

So, the battle is on between Adidas and Nike, who’ll get the most views by the end of the world cup…

Did Nike go too far ?

As simple as this: Did they go too far ? Is using the voice of a deceased man considered to be crossing the line. I’m not one to judge; I tend to be hard to offend in advertisement. My thought is, if Tiger (and his family) is ok with this, then why make a big deal out of this ? Whatever people think, I think Nike just scored the biggest talked-about ad so far in 2010, period.

Vancouver is closing in !

In less than 6 weeks, Vancouver will be hosting the Winter Olympic Games, and the excitement he starting to be felt even here on the East Coast, 5000km away. Of course, every single brand is using this opportunity to advertise like crazies, and I must say that some ads are really good. Up to now, 2 of them really stood out for me. The first one is Nike’s “Force Fate” with a bunch of athletes like Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf (who has not made the Canadian hockey team…? Are you kidding me ?). Except for the part of the wolves which I absolutely don’t understand, I felt like the ad really delivered it’s message and the script and cinematography was great.

The second one originated in 2002 for Salt Lake City, but I didn’t see it (or maybe didn’t notice it) back then. And unfortunately, after almost an hour of looking everywhere for it, I still can’t find the updated version I saw at the AMC theater. The ad is “He shoots, he scores” from Coca-Cola, produced by Spy Films (i think). This ad has such a fun and intense vibe, it really just makes you want to go out there and play hockey, and I’m not even a hockey player. Plus, the celtic soundtrack just gives me shivers it’s so good. If anyone knows the name of the song, please post it in the comments, and there is a guy on Yahoo Answers who is looking for it too. You can check out the old, extra crappy quality version of this ad below.

UPDATE: I have found a good quality version of the new ad on Youtube, thanks to Ads of the World for this !

Trail of Destruction

nikefootball

This Nike ad from Weiden+Kennedy really struck me with the intensity it transcends without any spoken words and little sound. Since I’ve started in video, I’ve become more and more difficult to impress with black & white, since in my opinion it is far easier to achieve a clean, contrasted professional look with it than color, but Emmanuel Lubezki, the DP, really impressed me.

Not only is the picture quality terrific, but the framing and the use of slow motion are great and really expresses the feeling the director wanted to give to this ad (at least I think).