NFL Super Bowl LIII

The NFL season comes to a head on Sunday, so I am going to take a  look at the two teams’ seasons to tell you everything you need to know before the big game. 

So, first of all, some general facts. The 53rd Super Bowl will be contested by the NFC Champions, the Los Angeles Rams, and the AFC Champions, the New England Patriots (boo). This is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, in which the Patriots defeated the heavily favoured Rams in what was their first Super Bowl championship victory in franchise history (first of many). That game served as a coming out party for now-considered Greatest Of All Time, quarterback Tom Brady, who won Super Bowl MVP and up until that point was their back-up. This year, the Patriots are making their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance, having lost last year to the Philadelphia Eagles and won the year before. The Rams, however, who only recently moved back to Los Angeles, are competing in their first Super Bowl since XXXVI, and are looking for revenge.

New England Patriots

The Patriots entered the 2018 NFL season as two-time defending AFC champions. They started out the season slow, going 1-2 in the first three games of the season, losing to Jacksonville and Detroit in the franchise’s first back-to-back double-digit losses since 2002. However, they turned their fortunes around and won 6 straight games before losing to the Tennessee Titans in Week 10. After their Week 11 bye, they won 4 more games and lost 2, ending the season with a record of 11 wins and 5 losses, undefeated at home. This record, despite being their worst since 2009, was good enough to place them second in the AFC after the regular season and afforded them their 10th straight AFC East division title, becoming only the second American major league sports team in history to win 10 straight division titles. The playoffs were a little bit easier for them however, as they waltzed to a 41-28 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, leading them to the AFC Championship game against the 1st seed Kansas City Chiefs. The game went to overtime, the first AFC Championship game to do so since 1986, and Rex Burkhead scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown to take the Pats to their third straight Super Bowl, becoming only the third team to do so (after the Bills in the early 90s and the Dolphins of the early 70s).

Los Angeles Rams

Before the Rams even played a game this season, they hit headlines as they brought in a huge free agent: defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Already a team with a good defense, the Rams lineup improved immensely with Suh, and it showed right from the start with the team going 8-0 before taking a high-scoring loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 9. They won twice more before their bye in Week 12, then closed out the season with 3 wins and 2 losses to earn a record of 13 wins and 3 losses, the best record not only in the NFC but the entire NFL (joint with the Saints, coincidentally). The Rams won a very convincing game against the Dallas Cowboys (boo) in the first round of the playoffs. It was their first playoff win as a franchise since 2004, and their first in Los Angeles since 1978, and they progressed to the NFC Championship game, lining up once again against the Saints. This game was much closer, also going to OT, albeit with some controversy. The Saints were dealt with one of the worst no-calls in NFL history, as blatant pass interference was passed over, allowing the Rams to take the victory and go to the Super Bowl for the first time in 17 years.

The Super Bowl

So, the big game is here. Los Angeles v Boston, another chapter in their storied rivalry (see Lakers v Celtics (NBA), Red Sox v Dodgers (MLB)). 43-year old Tom Brady v 24-year old Jared Goff. The villainous dynasty of the Patriots against the stacked defense of the heroic returning Rams. So who’s winning?

I want to say the Rams. The Patriots are the Darth Vader of the NFL, purely because they win-like, all the time. They’re the Manchester United, or the Golden State Warriors. And, of course, the Rams had the best regular season record and did dominate them Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs-they’re on form, no doubt about it.

But unfortunately, we don’t always get what we want. There is a reason that the Patriots are hated, and it’s because they just. Keep. Winning. Sure, the Rams had a better regular season record, but the Pats and Tom Brady switch into another gear in the Playoffs. And sure, the Rams defense is one of the best in the league, but, y’know, they haven’t had to deal with the Pats offense. Brady, Edelman, Gronk-good luck L.A. We are all rooting for you, but the Pats are my prediction. Sorry about that.

Maybe next year?

Oscar Nominations 2019

Earlier today, the full list of nominations for the 91st Academy Awards were announced, and it seems to me that this is a very revolutionary year in the business, with a huge amount of surprising nominations. This article will give a list of the nominations in the major categories, including the surprises, and also some snubs (there were quite a few of them too).


Best Picture

  • A Star Is Born
  • Black Panther
  • BlacKKKlansman
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book
  • Roma
  • Vice

Best Director

  • Spike Lee, BlacKKKlansman
  • Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
  • Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
  • Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
  • Adam McKay, Vice

Best Actor

  • Christian Bale, Vice
  • Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
  • Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
  • Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Best Actress

  • Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
  • Glenn Close, The Wife
  • Olivia Colman, The Favourite
  • Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
  • Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali, Green Book
  • Adam Driver, BlacKKKlansman
  • Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
  • Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Sam Rockwell, Vice

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams, Vice
  • Marina de Tariva, Roma
  • Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Emma Stone, The Favourite
  • Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Best Original Screenplay

  • The Favourite-Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
  • First Reformed-Paul Schrader
  • Green Book-Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly
  • Roma-Alfonso Cuaron
  • Vice-Adam McKay

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs-Joel and Ethan Coen
  • BlacKKKlansman-Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?-Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
  • If Beale Street Could Talk-Barry Jenkins
  • A Star Is Born-Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper and Will Fetters

Best Animated Feature

  • Incredibles 2
  • Isle Of Dogs
  • Mirai
  • Ralph Breaks The Internet
  • Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Snubs & Surprises

So, where was Peter Farrelly for Best Director? Damein Chazelle? Marielle Heller? Barry Jenkins? Ryan Coogler? Heck, John Krasinski? What on Earth happened there? Best Director was chock full of surprises, and also even more full of snubs. There were always going to be snubs in such a strong year, but to almost everybody, two films seemed guaranteed to get a nod for directing. And one of them wasn’t nominated.

How on Earth was Bradley Cooper not given recognition for A Star Is Born? He seemed like an absolute shoe-in, despite A Star Is Born not doing particularly well at other award shows, a nomination seemed almost certain from the moment it was released. And he wasn’t there.

And who has his spot? Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War. Now I’m not here to speak ill of any filmmakers the Academy deem worthy of recognition, especially those for films I haven’t seen. However, Pawlikowski, a Polish director who won Best Director at Cannes, has been barely even mentioned in award season prognostication. He was also nominated at the BAFTAs, but most people shrugged this off as ‘British whimsy’. After all, Steve Coogan also came out of nowhere and got nominated for Best Actor, so it was a reasonable response. Pawlikowski was nowhere in the DGA nominations, or the Golden Globes, or even the Critics Choice, who nominated 7(!) directors for that award. So where oh where did he come from? And where oh where did Cooper go?

Another surprise, although a perhaps more welcome one, was Marina de Tariva getting nominated for Best Supporting Actress. No one expected Roma, despite its Netflix production, to be short of nominations. However, de Tariva’s name did not come up in conversation. Why? Well, Roma is basically Alfonso Cuaron doing whatever he wanted, and boy was he the star of the show. Producer, director, editor, writer, cinematographer: he really was the star of this movie. And he somewhat overshadowed the fantastic performances of both Yalitza Aparicio and especially de Tariva that made the movie even better. So, while her nomination was probably more of a surprise than it should have been, it was a welcome surprise nonetheless. Of course, there were people who could have taken the space (Claire Foy, Nicole Kidman, etc.), but no one can complain really.

The final surprise/snub I’ll get into is Sam Rockwell making the cut for Best Supporting Actor. Well, surprise in the loosest sense of the word. The Best Supporting Actor nominations seemed set: Ali, Driver, Elliott, Grant and Timothee Chalamet for Beautiful Boy. However, Rockwell kept sneaking into other award shows, making one of these five a snub, much to the chagrin of many awards race experts. His detractors call his performance ‘an impression’ rather than a portrayal and suggest that there are numerous performances from all over cinema this year that deserve the spot over him (I’m inclined to agree). Despite this, Rockwell earned nominations for Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and now, the Oscars. This, aside from Cooper missing out for Director, is perhaps the most controversial nomination, which many people have attributed to the Academy’s apparent adoration for Vice. Arguably more worthy performances such as the aforementioned Chalamet, John Krasinski for A Quiet Place, and even Michael B Jordan for his excellent performance as Killmonger in Black Panther (villain of the year, fight me Thanos) were shut out of the most prestigious award show of the year. And, no matter your opinion on Rockwell, you have to agree that that is a travesty.