The NBA Should Create A Postseason MVP

Joel Embiid and Danny Green celebrating against the Toronto Raptors

I’m tired of the MVP debate. As great as NBA Twitter can be, this year’s MVP discourse on the bird app has been nothing short of insufferable.

I haven’t chimed in the debate so I’ll try to keep it under three paragraphs. Heading into April, three names had legitimate claims for the MVP. In order of where they stood in the race, the three players were Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. After Giannis dropped 44 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists in a Bucks 120-119 OT victory over the Nets on March 31, I told a buddy of mine that if the Greek Freak secured the one seed and won the scoring title, he would win MVP.

Obviously, that didn’t happen. Embiid dominated all season long and became the first center to win the scoring title since Shaq in 2000. However, when I looked at all the numbers and all of the circumstances surrounding each player, Joker gets my vote for MVP. Despite the Ben Simmons debacle, Embiid had Seth Curry, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris in the first half of the season before adding James Harden. In comparison, Jokic’s running mates are Aaron Gordon and Will Barton. Actually, there’s no comparison. Jokic’s supporting cast is as close to nonexistent as you can get.

Joker became the first player in NBA history with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 500 assists in a single season. The Joker is also a monster in the advanced analytics department. For all of the prominent voices in the media laughing at Joker’s advanced analytics, just realize that Giannis and Embiid are right there with him at the top. In VORP, Joker is first followed by Giannis and Embiid. In BPM, Joker is one followed by Giannis at two and Embiid at three. Win shares and OBPM follow the same order. You can’t shit on Joker for being first as a way to discredit his case when Giannis and Embiid are right behind him in these categories.

Ok, I lied. Last paragraph. The Nuggets are the 6-seed at 48-34. People are making the argument for Embiid to win because an MVP can’t be that low in the standings. The Sixers finished with three more wins, which was good enough for the 4-seed. You’re going to go on a tirade over THREE WINS? Enough. Both Embiid and Joker had amazing seasons. One guy can win MVP, and my vote is for Joker.

Time for my next rant. The Joker is averaging 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists in his series versus the Warriors while Embiid’s numbers are 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 assists. The Nuggets are down three games to none while the Sixers are ahead three games to none. Now, Embiid voters are using this to strengthen their MVP argument while diminishing Joker’s resume.

Really?

The MVP is a REGULAR SEASON award. It is NOT a postseason award. Why is that so difficult for fans to understand? Whether fair or foul, narratives determine the MVP. A good postseason performance might strengthen Embiid’s MVP narrative for next season, but it should not be used to diminish his competition for the current season.

I’m seeing too many tweets that say “Joker would be the worst MVP of all time.” Buddy, that’s a small group of candidates. If Joker is the worst MVP of all time, he’s still better than 98% of his competition. It’s like saying a player is the worst member of the hall of fame. At the end of the day, that player is still in the hall of fame, which is better than the overwhelming majority of players who will lever step foot on a basketball court.

That being said, Embiid is having a monster postseason, and if the Sixers end up making the NBA Finals, he should be rewarded for taking his team there. Even if he’s the best player on the court during those games, if the Sixers lose, the NBA Finals MVP will go to a player on the winning team.

Here’s my solution. The NBA should institute a postseason MVP. In order to win the championship, a team has to win 16 games. The number of games played in the postseason by the winning team can range anywhere from 16 to 28 games over the course of two months. That’s equivalent to one-fourth of the NBA Season. With that sample size, the NBA is doing a disservice to its players by rewarding one player with the MVP for four to seven games. It doesn’t tell the whole story of the playoffs.

Most of the time, the Finals MVP is awarded to the most deserving player on the winning team. However, changing the award to include the entire postseason will ensure that the best player for two months gets rewarded for their efforts. It will also prevent “prisoner of the moment” voting, where players are rewarded for having a few good games during the finals. The best example is Andre Igoudala in the 2015 NBA Finals. Iggy had a nice series, averaging just over 16 points and 5 rebounds. Iggy’s postseason averages were 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. The man who should’ve won Finals MVP, Steph Curry, averaged 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. If the Finals MVP were a postseason MVP, then Steph easily wins it with playoff averages of 28 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Awarding a postseason MVP instead of a Finals MVP also opens the door for a player on a losing team to win it. They should name it the “LeBron James Trophy” because he has multiple cases where he should have won the Finals MVP. James could have won the 2015 Finals MVP with averages of 35 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists. The King also had strong cases in both 2017 and 2018. In 2017, LeBron became the first player to average a triple-double in the Finals.

If the regular season MVP encompasses the entire season, shouldn’t the Finals MVP follow suit and encompass the complete postseason? The NHL already incorporates a postseason MVP with the Conn Smythe Trophy. The NBA should do the same.

Do you agree or disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 13 Recap: Wedding Day

The cast of This Is Us posing for a photo at Kate's second wedding.

As someone who has always wanted to play the piano, tonight’s episode of This Is Us made me want to take out the keyboard from under my bed, and tickle some keys. But first, the recap.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 13 Recap: “Day of the Wedding”

Welcome To Kate’s Second Wedding

This Is Us is on the move once again as we say goodbye to Katoby and hello to Phate. The show picks up at Kate’s second wedding where the flash-forward from Season 5 left off. Kevin is practicing his speech, Randall is helping Nicky to his room, and Kate is preparing to marry Phillip.

For Rebecca, her health is rapidly deteriorating. It’s come to the point where she constantly mistakes Kevin for Jack. Being the good son that he is, Kevin plays along and pretends to be Jack whenever his mother calls him by his father’s name. Speaking of Kevin, Madison and Beth find a bra, poem, and floral jacket in his room. Did Kevin sleep with someone? More on that later.

When Randall visits his mother, he notices Miguel’s blood pressure medication and begins to wonder if Miguel is sick. Randall’s questions about Miguel’s health increase when he notices his constant shaking when lifting his glass up for some wine. When confronted by Randall, Miguel cracks and says that everything is happening too fast. Miguel is playing the role of caretaker and he can’t slow down Rebecca’s Alzheimer’s. The stress has caused “whiplash” for Miguel, and he confides to Randall that he just wanted one normal day where he doesn’t have to talk about Alzheimer’s or be reminded of his dead best friend. It’s a heartbreaking scene. I will drink wine with you, Miguel. Name the time and the place and I’m there.

Rebecca’s Hair

In the past, Rebecca decides to do something drastic in order to spice up her routine. She gets the Princess Diana haircut, and it’s met with mixed results. Kevin says the hair reminds him of Peter Pan while Kate compares it to He-Man, which are both funny jokes in this blogger’s opinion.

It’s clear Rebecca finds the stay-at-home wife pattern repetitive while Jack finds a routine comforting due to his tough upbringing. To comfort his wife, Super Jack puts on his cape and shaves his goatee, leaving only his signature mustache behind. Later that night, the happy couple spend date night at a restaurant, which ends with Rebecca behind the piano, singing a song.

Piano (Wo)Man

It was time for the actual wedding, and everything went according to plan. Kevin goes the comedic route during his speech while Randall elects for a touching (but depressing) speech about time. Randall gets the nod for a better speech. Then, Rebecca is summoned to the piano to play a special song. Despite her fading memory, Rebecca is able to remember her notes, find the right key, and play a beautiful song for Kate and Phillip.

Kevin’s Mystery Woman

I’d be lying if I said the most interesting aspect of the episode was Kate’s wedding. I’m more interested in Kevin’s mystery woman. At the end of the episode, Randall asks Kevin how his night went, which leads to a flashback of the night prior involving three women: Sophie, Cassidy, and the wedding singer. When asked if it’s a good story, Kevin says that he does not know yet.

Well, next week is titled “The Night Before the Wedding” so we will get answers. Sophie is the sentimental choice. Cassidy is the choice that makes the most sense. The wedding singer is not the right choice, but she will somehow share her wisdom with Kevin which will inspire him to chase Sophie or Cassidy.

See you next week.

What are your thoughts on this episode of This Is Us? Tweet me, at @danny_giro.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 12 Recap: The End Of Katoby

Toby and Kate sit around a table in a scene from This Is Us

It’s a matter of time before the “Book of Katoby” came to an end on This Is Us. Last night’s heartbreaking look at divorce is in the running with Jack’s trip to Ohio for the best episode of the season.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 12 Recap: Katoby

Goodbye, Katoby

First of all, let’s revisit the original “Goodbye, Toby” from The Office. Hit it, Michael.

This Is Us sifts between multiple timelines in each episode, but this episode jumps back and forth through time like no other episode prior. It chronicles the downfall of Katoby, the rise of Phate (Phillip and Kate?), and the wedding of Phate.

The episode opens at Kate’s wedding to Phillip. She receives a call from Toby, and he tells her to remember what she told him on the day they signed divorce papers. If I were Kate, I would have hung up the phone on the spot. Receiving a call from an ex-spouse as you’re set to marry someone else is wrong.

Back in the present, Toby decides to take a job in LA and attend couples therapy in order to save his marriage. At first, things improve between Katoby, but as Kate becomes happier at school, Toby loses joy by the day. After Kate arrives late for a therapy session, a frustrated Toby leaves the session abruptly.

From there, the show jumps ahead to Kate’s engagement party with Phillip. Kevin brings a woman that won’t be in his life much longer to counteract the fact that Sophie is in the room with her husband. Randall finds time out of his busy Senate campaign to spend some time with the family. For Kate, she hits the stage to sing Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping,” which changed her relationship with Phillip a few years prior. It turns out that Kate met Phillip in Koreatown the day she signed divorce papers and ended up singing that song at karaoke.

The episode then gets in the Delorean and travels back to the future to Nicky, Franny, and Hailey’s second birthday. Kevin brings a different girl this time who happens to be a spokesperson for Trojan condoms. Practice safe sex, everyone! The cracks in Toby and Kate’s relationship split open again after Toby comments about his wife’s low-paying job. Kate escapes to the other room in order to cry and reveals to Kevin that her marriage will probably end. Hold that thought as we jump forward to Phillip’s proposal to Kate a few years later. Obviously, she says yes thanks to some help from Jack and Hailey.

Back in the past, we go as we sit in on a dinner between Kate and Toby. The gloves come off in this fight as Toby screams that he is a good dad despite Kate’s constant remarks about the mistakes he makes. Kate accuses Toby of being miserable with the kids, and Toby says that he’s miserable with Kate in the room. YIKES. Furthermore, Toby says he’s unfairly compared to Jack Pearson, believing Kate will only accept a father as good as Jack. Sorry Kate, but I’m with Toby on this one. The fight comes to an end when Jack yells for help after his Boba Fett action figure goes in the toilet. The couple regroups, and Kate finally decides that their marriage is over.

After their divorce, Toby meets with Phillip to discuss his future with Kate and the children, and Phillip reveals that he will propose to Kate. Who knew Toby would be put in the same situation as Kevin with Madison and Elijah? After the meeting, the show goes back in the past to Phillip and Kate’s first official date. When Kate asks Phillip about his intentions, he tearfully reveals that he’s looking for happiness. His first marriage ended in tragedy when his blind wife died in a car accident after a huge argument concerning their marriage and infertility issues. Moved by his own speech, Phillip kisses Kate.

A few days before the divorce is final, Toby makes one heartfelt plea to stop Kate from going through with this decision. Unfortunately, Kate does not budge, and the result is heartbreaking.

Once the papers are signed, Kate tells Toby that just because their marriage is over does not mean the story of Katoby has come to an end. A dejected Toby does not believe Kate and walks away. Guess what? Kate is right as a montage of Katoby post-divorce showcases happier times between the ex-spouses. Toby even starts a relationship with a new woman! This all culminates with an older Kate and Toby, alongside their significant others, meeting at a bar to watch Jack sing.

Do you know what else ended last night? My theory about Kate’s death. Oh well, you can’t be right about everything.

See you next week at the wedding.

What are your thoughts on this episode of This Is Us? Tweet me, at @danny_giro.

Stop What You’re Doing And Watch Severance

Mark S and the rest of the team stand together in a scene from Severance

Have you ever thought about what it would feel like to forget about work? Imagine you could shut out all of the struggles and hardships that come with commuting, date input, and awkward water cooler conversations as soon as you leave the building. If you could separate your work persona from your personal life, would you? After watching the (fictional) show, Severance, splitting up one’s memories is not as appealing as it sounds.

Severance follows Mark S (Adam Scott), an employee who works for Lumin Industries in the Macrodata Refinement division. Mark and his coworkers – Dylan (Zach Cherry), Helly R (Britt Lower), and Irving (John Turturro) – are all in the severance program, meaning work memories are completely separate from personal ones. Thanks to a computer chip implanted in their brains, severed employees have two different personas – innies (inside Lumin) and outies (outside Lumin). As soon as employees get into the elevator to enter or leave the office, the computer chip activates one’s innie or outie.

After watching last night’s brilliant season finale, this drama from Apple TV+ is now one of the best television shows in 2022. The show is equal parts sci-fi mystery and workplace comedy. It’s a true slow burn, but not one that wastes entire episodes on explaining exposition with little character development. Every episode peels back a layer of the show’s onion as the employees (and audience) try to figure out the underlying question of the season. What does Lumin do?

The four severed employees start as coworkers, but as the season progresses, they slowly become a family as they band together to figure out their purpose at Lumin. Unlike a lot of workplace dramas and comedies, Severance smartly focuses on the thoughts and feelings of its employees rather than those in charge. That doesn’t mean the higher-ups like Harmony Cobel (Patricia Arquette) and Mr.  Milchick (Tramell Tillman), who both give terrific performances (“Defiant Jazz” is an Emmy worthy submission for Tillman), are neglected along the way. They’re just as clueless about Lumin’s powers and capabilities as the Macrodata Refinement division.

Somehow, the show made cubicles and long hallways visually appealing, and that’s a credit to the show’s creator, Dan Erickson, and primary director* and producer, Ben Stiller. When the employees begin to venture outside of their department and walk the halls that resemble a labyrinth, the music becomes more ominous, and the lighting incorporates more colors to symbolize curiosity and rebellion. Severance takes uneventful tasks such as inputting numbers into a computer and spits out a thrilling adventure about human interaction and responsibility.

*Of the nine episodes, Ben Still directed six while Aoife McArdle directed three.

At the core of the ensemble is Mark, who became a severed employee after the death of his wife. Instead of grieving, he chooses to forget about her for eight hours a day. Mark’s journey from a depressed outie and conservative innie to a curious outie and rebellious innie is the heart of the show. Mark and the rest of the employees want to combine their two halves and become whole again. It’s this idea that the show successfully develops sympathy and understanding as to how people deal with loss and grief.

This brings me to the real reason I’m writing this post, the season finale. It’s one of the tensest and most thrilling 40+ minutes of television I’ve witnessed in the last ten years. Without spoling the plot, every stylistic decision made by Erickson and Stiller is perfect. The fluid camerawork from each character’s innie and outie felt like one continuous movement. The eerie music increasing as the suspense picks up made me want to take a Xanax. Each character’s climactic moment brought me off the couch like I just witnessed a buzzer-beater at Madison Square Garden. (Let’s fix the Knicks, Ben.) The finale is a triumphant victory in how to build suspense and pay it off while still leaving enough on the table to explain in subsequent episodes.

So please, go watch Severance. Season 2 hopefully arrives in 2023. Join this weird world with me and the rest of Lumin Industries.

If you have seen the show, leave your thoughts on the finale in the comments below or tweet me, @Danny_giro.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 11 Recap: Sinking Ship

Kevin, Kate, and Randall console one another in a scene from This Is Us

Kate and Toby’s marriage on This Is Us is sinking faster than the Titanic. Not good, folks!

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 11 Recap: “Saturday in the Park”

The Barbeque From Hell

The entire family flocks to Kate’s house for a barbeque to celebrate Rebecca and Miguel’s tenth anniversary. Kate and Toby are already on edge after the San Francisco trip, and their constant arguing starts to affect Jack. Despite a happy day at the park with the family, Kate and Toby cannot stop bickering, and it bleeds over to the party. When Randall and Beth arrive, Kate breaks down and cries on her brother’s shoulder. Kate remains hopeful that their marriage will turn around, but I’m not sure if she believes the words coming out of her mouth.

Things go from bad to worse when the ceiling starts leaking water from a plumbing issue. While yelling at each other, both Toby and Kate make careless mistakes. Toby does not lock the gate to Jack’s room and Kate fails to lock the door after letting the plumber in. Jack, who earlier tells Rebecca about his parents’ fighting, takes advantage of the situation, leaves the house, and walks to the park.

Upon realizing their blind son is missing, Kate, Toby, and the rest of the party begin to yell Jack’s name throughout every square inch of the house. Because of his missing rain boots, Rebecca realizes Jack went to the park, and sprints to catch up with him. However, the damage is done when Rebecca finds Jack on the ground with a cut on his head that requires stitches.

Tangent: Does anyone for a second believe that Jack could have made it to the park without being stopped by ONE person? There is no chance in hell that the kid makes it 20-feet down the sidewalk alone.

After returning from the hospital, Kate and Toby have their worst argument to date on the front lawn. It’s ugly, to say the least. Kate accuses Toby of only seeing Jack for his limitations while Toby counters by saying Kate is irresponsible for not admitting his deficiencies. Kate believes she’s the only parent in the family, and Toby says that’s the way Kate wants it to be.

As Toby starts to raise his voice, both Kevin and Randall intervene as they form the “Flying-V,” ready to take on their brother-in-law. An upset Toby laughs and infers that Kate has always put the Big Three over her marriage. This is a callback to a flashback in the episode when the Big Three defend each other from a babysitter who they feel was mean to Kate. Back to the fight, is Toby wrong? For Kate, it’s always been Kevin, Randall, and Toby in that order so he has grounds to be upset. The San Franciso debacle is Toby’s fault, but how would you feel if your significant other always sided with siblings instead of you? I, for one, would be quite upset!

At the end of the episode, Kevin and Randall console Kate after the argument with Toby. However, this blowup feels like the climax, not an early entry, to a rocky relationship. Even Kate doesn’t think the marriage will work. Unfortunately, her instincts will be proven correct.

Kevin Accepts The Truth

Meanwhile, Kevin heads to Madison’s house to visit the twins to escape the craziness at Kate’s house. While walking into her bedroom, Kevin catches Elijah with a ring sizer, meaning a proposal is on the horizon. This rocks Kevin to his core, who still holds out hope that he can rekindle his relationship with Madison.

Later that night, Kevin tells Madison that he’s removing her as an emergency contact aka he knows about the proposal and needs a way to break the ice. Funny enough, Madison admits she’s excited about her impending engagement to Elijah. Seeing her reaction is the “a-ha” moment that Kevin needs to finally move on and accept his co-parenting relationship with Madison.

I’m expecting Kevin to call Sophie in a future episode.

Next week marks the end of Katoby. Wear black and bring the tissues.

What are your thoughts on this episode of This Is Us? Tweet me, at @danny_giro.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 10 Recap: The Trip

Sterling K. Brown and Mandy Moore sit next to each other on This Is Us

And with that, the final Big Three trilogy has come to an end on This Is Us. We’re onto the last eight episodes, but first, Randall gets his moment in the spotlight.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 10 Recap: “Every Version Of You”

The Good Son

Since the day he joined the family, Randall Pearson’s number one job involves protecting his mother, Rebecca. He is a good son, which is not a reference to the 1993 horror movie of the same name. When Deja leaves the cabin to visit Malik, Rebecca supports Randall and accompanies him on the car ride to Boston.

Using her motherly charm, Rebecca convinces Randall to spend some quality time with her in order to calm down and take his mind off Deja. The plan works as the two bond over lunch and a glass of red wine. While spending the night together at a hotel, Randall shares news of a potential senate run to replace the retiring incumbent. Despite encouragement from his mother, Randall tempers his expectations as he cites family drama as a reason to pass up this opportunity.

The next day, Rebecca explains to Randall why she did not pick him to be her executor when her health deteriorates. Rebecca knows Randall will drop heaven and earth to take care of her even if that means sacrificing his own needs in the process. Rebecca won’t let that happen, which is why she chose Kate. Randall has always been the “man of the house” ever since Jack died. In a flashback, Randall talked down a police officer from arresting the Big Three for trespassing at the pool. As a young kid, Randall successfully persuaded the entire family to join him in the pool.

The mother-son duo eventually reach Boston, where they’re greeted by Malik and Deja. Malik informs Randall of their breakup due to the distance and stress it put on their lives. Randall respects Malik’s heart and lets him know that if their relationship is meant to be, it will work out when the time is right. Deja later apologizes to Randall, and the two reconcile.

Big Three Plans

The episode ends by spotlighting each member of the Big Three.

  • Randall is going to meet with the senator to talk about a succession plan.
  • Kevin returns home to Madison with a smile on his face as he finally realizes he can be a good father.
  • Kate asks Philip to consider her for the teaching job, and tells Toby she can’t move to San Francisco.

Next week could be the day when everything changes for Kate and Toby. See you then.

What are your thoughts on this episode of This Is Us? Tweet me, at @danny_giro.

2022 Oscars: Did That Just Happen?

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars

Did you happen to watch the Oscars? Well if you didn’t, they gave out some awards, edited some speeches, and oh yeah, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock across the face.

Like anyone who has been on the Internet for over a decade, I thought this was fake.

I was wrong.

This was as real as it gets.

This moment is heading full-speed into the Take Cycle. I’m expecting think pieces with the following themes to dominate the Internet:

  • Will Smith is going through a mental breakdown.
  • Chris Rock needs to be canceled.
  • It was just a joke.
  • Talk shit, get hit.
  • You never know the battles someone is going through.
  • It was a cheap shot joke.
  • You can’t hit someone like that.

Whatever your take might be, tonight is why I “lace ’em up.” This is why I spend hundreds of hours watching movies, writing about the Oscars, and reading every piece of journalism I can get my hands on about actors and actresses. I will NEVER forget this moment.

I’m going to be a dweeb here, but I want to celebrate CODA running a fantastic campaign, capping it off with a win for Best Picture. I’ll let Twitter settle the Smith/Rock debate for me.

Middle Man Dan strikes again!

2022 Oscars Discussion, Vol. 8: Who Should Win And Who Will Win

Emilia Jones on a boat in CODA

After the long and winding road, awards season has reached the end of its journey with the 2022 Oscars.

Remember when Belfast was the frontrunner for Best Picture and House of Gucci was going to dominate the acting categories? That was Fall 2021, which feels like 10 years ago.

Things have drastically changed the last few weeks as new contenders have emerged. I won’t waste anymore more time. Below are my predictions for every category.

P.S. Please move the Oscars back to February 2023.

BEST PICTURE

Belfast
CODA

Don’t Look Up
Drive My Car
Dune
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

This is a two-horse race between The Power of the Dog and CODA. The Power of the Dog dominated critics’ circles and picked up huge wins at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and Critics’ Choice Awards. On the other hand, CODA is the sentimental favorite and surged to wins at the SAGs and PGAs.

Best Picture is a preferential ballot, which means voters rank the nominees from most favorite to least favorite (1-10). If a film gets 50% of the first-place votes on the first try, it’s over. That’s not going to happen. The film that receives the least number of votes is eliminated. For the ballots that were eliminated, the Academy then takes their number two selections and applies those votes to ballots with that film at number one. This process happens with selections three and four until one film receives 50% of the vote. Here’s a quick diagram to explain.

Voter A: 1) The Power of the Dog 2) CODA 3) Don’t Look Up
Voter B: 1) Nightmare Alley 2) CODA 3) The Power of the Dog
Voter C: 1) CODA 2) West Side Story 3) Dune

Let’s say Nightmare Alley comes in at 10th place after round one so it’s eliminated. Go to Voter B’s number two selection, which is CODA. Essentially, CODA becomes Voter B’s new number one so it’s redistributed to ballots with CODA at one (like Voter C) and adds to CODA‘s first-place tally. The elimination process will occur until a film receives 50% of the vote.

Because of this balloting system, Best Picture is an award given to the film that voters liked the most, or close to it. Don’t think about which film is number one on ballots, but think about which film will fall at numbers two and three. This is why CODA has a legit shot at winning because it will probably fall within the top 3 on many ballots. Can the same be said for The Power of the Dog?

My heart says Coda, and after thinking it over, so does my head. From Sundance to the Oscars, what a run for this heartwarming film.

Who Should Win: Dune
Who Will Win: CODA

BEST DIRECTOR

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Stephen Spielberg, West Side Story

This is Jane Campion’s award to lose. The Power of the Dog is not my favorite movie, but I can’t deny Campion’s expertise and execution. Plus, she’s virtually won every directing award on the circuit. My vote would be for Denis Villeneuve and Dune… oh wait, he was completely snubbed. You deserve better, Denis.

Who Should Win: Denis Villeneuve, Dune (not nominated)
Who Will Win: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

BEST ACTOR

Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom!
Will Smith, King Richard
Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

The kid from West Philadelphia should give the speech of the night. I can’t wait.

Who Should Win: Will Smith, King Richard
Who Will Win: Will Smith, King Richard

BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos
Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Do you want chaos? Then this is the category for you! Jessica Chastain is the favorite, and as much as I love Chastain, Olivia Colman is tied with Frances McDormand as the best working actress in Hollywood. Colman is a master of her craft. I like all of these actresses so I won’t be upset with whoever wins. I’ll go with Colman in a slight upset because the Academy loves her.

Who Should Win: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Who Will Win: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Ciarán Hinds, Belfast
Troy Kostur, CODA
Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog
J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos
Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Troy’s Oscar moment.

Who Should Win: Troy Kostur, CODA
Who Will Win: Troy Kostur, CODA

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter
Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Judi Dench, Belfast
Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog
Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Ariana is the lock of the century.

Who Should Win: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Who Will Win: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Belfast, Kenneth Branagh
Don’t Look Up,
Adam McKay; Story by Adam McKay & David Sirota
King Richard,
Zach Baylin
Licorice Pizza,
Paul Thomas Anderson
The Worst Person in the World
, Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier

The screenplay categories are the hardest of the night. Is this the spot where the Academy rewards Belfast? Does Don’t Look Up have enough momentum following its win at the WGAs? I’m predicting the Academy rewards the man who has been knocking at the door for over two decades, looking for his first Oscar win. That man is Mr. Paul Thomas Anderson.

Who Should Win: Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson
Who Will Win: Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

CODA, Sian Heder
Drive My Car, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe
Dune, Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth
The Lost Daughter, Maggie Gyllenhaal
The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion

If Coda or The Power of the Dog wins this category, then they become the favorite for Best Picture. CODA picked up a huge win at the WGAs, but The Power of the Dog was ineligible. Campion previously won an Oscar for screenplay, and she’s a lock for Best Director. Does the Academy spread the wealth and reward Sian Heder of Maggie Gyllenhaal? I think they share the love so my pick is Heder.

Who Should Win: Dune, Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth
Who Will Win: CODA, Sian Heder

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Encanto
Flee
Luca
The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon

The Encanto momentum is real.

Who Should Win: The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Who Will Win: Encanto

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

Drive My Car, Japan
Flee, Denmark
The Hand of God, Italy
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, Bhutan
The Worst Person in the World, Norway

Had Drive My Car not been nominated for Best Picture, this would go to The Worst Person in the World. Both films are worthy of this win.

Who Should Win: Drive My Car, Japan and The Worst Person in the World, Norway (tie)
Who Will Win: Drive My Car, Japan

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Ascension
Attica
Flee
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised)
Writing with Fire

Will Questlove be drumming on Fallon the next night after his win? That is the million-dollar question.

Who Should Win: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised)
Who Will Win: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Don’t Look Up, Nicholas Britell
Dune, Hans Zimmer
Encanto, Germaine Franco
Parallel Mothers, Alberto Iglesias
The Power of the Dog, Jonny Greenwood

HANS ZIMMER, STAND THE F UP! The legend created new instruments for Dune. He wins easily.

Who Should Win: Dune, Hans Zimmer
Who Will Win: Dune, Hans Zimmer

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Be Alive, King Richard, Music and Lyric by DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
Dos Oruguitas, Encanto, Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Down To Joy, Belfast, Music and Lyric by Van Morrison
No Time To Die, No Time To Die, Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
Somehow You Do, Four Good Days, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren

Why Encanto submitted this song over “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is something I’ll never understand. This comes down to who the Academy wants to give an Oscar to, Lin-Manuel or Billie & Finneas? I think not submitting “Bruno” will come back to haunt Encanto. James Bond wins the Oscar.

Who Should Win: No Time To Die, No Time To Die, Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
Who Will Win: No Time To Die, No Time To Die, Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Dune, Greig Fraser
Nightmare Alley, Dan Laustsen
The Power of the Dog, Ari Wegner
The Tragedy of Macbeth, Ari Wegner
West Side Story, Janusz Kaminski

Let me just say that all five of these films look spectacular. But Dune is on another level, and its dominance in the technical categories continues.

Who Should Win: Dune, Greig Fraser
Who Will Win: Dune, Greig Fraser

BEST SOUND

Belfast
Dune
No Time To Die
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

I’m running out of ways to explain how Dune is a stunning technical achievement.

Who Should Win: Dune
Who Will Win: Dune

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Dune
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
The Tragedy of Macbeth
West Side Story

One word: Arrakis.

Who Should Win: Dune
Who Will Win: Dune

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Coming 2 America
Cruella
Dune
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
House of Gucci

With Jessica Chastain the favorite to win Best Actress because of her big transformation, it makes sense to reward the people behind her makeup and hairstyling.

Who Should Win: Cruella
Who Will Win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Cruella
Cyrano
Dune
Nightmare Alley
West Side Story

Emma Stone in Cruella / Disney

Who Should Win: West Side Story
Who Will Win: Cruella

BEST FILM EDITING

Don’t Look Up
Dune
King Richard
The Power of the Dog
Tick, Tick… Boom!

King Richard picked up a surprising victory at the ACE Eddies. However, Dune avenges its loss and wins yet another Oscar.

Who Should Win: Dune
Who Will Win: Dune

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Dune
Free Guy
No Time To Die
Shang-Chi and the Legend
of the Ten Rings
Spider-Man: No Way Home

In 10 years, we are going to look back and question why Dune won so many technical awards, but not Best Director nor Best Picture.

Who Should Win: Dune
Who Will Win: Dune

***Full disclosure – I haven’t seen any nominees in the final three categories. I’m using my best judgment as well as gambling odds to determine winners.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Audible
Lead Me Home
The Queen of Basketball
Three Songs for Benazir
When We Were Bullies

Who Should Win: The Queen of Basketball
Who Will Win: The Queen of Basketball

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

Ala Kachuu – Take and Run
The Dress
The Long Goodbye
On My Mind
Please Hold

Who Should Win: The Long Goodbye
Who Will Win: The Long Goodbye

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Aairs of the Art
Bestia
Boxballet
Robin Robin
The Windshield Wiper

Who Should Win: Robin Robin
Who Will Win: Robin Robin

Thank you for reading my discussions about the Oscars all year. I really appreciate it. Follow me on Twitter, @danny_giro.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 9 Recap: The Argument

Toby and Kate going for high-five in This Is Us

If you wanted a devasting fight about a marriage on the rocks, then this episode of This Is Us will be right up your alley!

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 9 Recap – “The Hill

If You’re Going To San Francisco

Next up in the Big Three trilogy is Kate. To save her f̶a̶i̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ marriage, Kate heads to San Francisco for a weekend with Toby. Right off the bat, problems arise when Toby can’t pick her up from the airport due to a work call. As someone who has to take inopportune work calls, I sympathize with you, Toby.

After the two adults have sex, Toby once again hops on a work call as Kate is left hanging in the bedroom. That’s strike two for Toby. Kate begins to imagine the old Toby, the one who made her laugh and more importantly, the man she fell in love with. I just want to say that the current version of Toby is so much better looking than old Toby. It had to be said. The bald and bearded version dunks on the Hawaiian shirt and horrible haircut.

Things are off to a “hilly” start, but “KaToby” made the most of their day in San Francisco and act like a happily married couple for the first time all season. That would end rather quickly when Toby brings Kate to a house he plans on buying for the family. As an outsider in this relationship, Kate has every right to be upset. That’s a major life decision, and for Toby to go behind her back and start getting preapproved for loans is ridiculous.

Trust me, things get worse. Before heading to a party, Kate suggests they walk, but it’s an uphill walk, and Toby pretty much implies Kate can’t handle it. At the party, Kate mingles with Toby’s coworkers, who all seem to love him. Then, Toby’s boss drops a nuke on the night when he tells Kate about her husband turning down a job offer in L.A. What a night from hell!

Back at the apartment, the globes come off, and Kate and Toby have a gutwrenching fight. Kate explains how she misses the old Toby, the man she fell in love with. In his defense, Toby tells Kate that his younger self suffered from depression and poor health and might not be here had he not changed his life. Kate wants to keep the kids in a familiar area because of Jack’s blindness, but Toby knows that Jack will need special schooling and teaching, which costs money. Both Kate and Toby admit that they are living happy lives outside of their marriage.

This was brutal, but an honest view into a dissolving marriage. This was my favorite scene from Kate and Toby in a long time. I couldn’t invest in all of the half-fights and backhanded comments. When all the cards were on the table, I was moved by the truthfulness from both parties. Toby and Kate are right about the happiness in their lives, and that’s what’s wrong with their marriage.

The next day, Toby apologizes, but still insists Kate and the kids need to move to San Francisco. In response, Kate walks up the hill, calls Philip, and applies for the teaching position at the school.

Game on.

The Pool

I’m not going to spend too much time on little Kate. She’s afraid to drown and uses Jack as a float in her life. When he died, she lost her life raft. Teenage Kate realizes that at the pool when she comments on her lack of a future. Fortunately, things will get better, but when Kate can’t climb the fence to escape the pool, she gives up.

Hang in there, Kate.

Next week, the trilogy will close with Randall. Here comes the drama!

What are your thoughts on this episode of This Is Us? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, at @danny_giro.

March Madness: Welcome To The Best Day Of The Year

Jabari smith

Welcome to the best day of the year. With all due respect to my Irish brothers and sisters, today belongs to March Madness. I’m more excited than a kid on Christmas. I want to sit at the top of my steps and wait until 12 PM to come down and see what Santa left for us basketball fans in the opening slate of games. As the great Jon Rothstein likes to say, “This is March.”

Last year, the tournament returned to our lives after COVID robbed us in 2020. Without huge crowds, however, the tournament felt different. Plus, it started on a Friday, which was the worst move in sports since the ghost runner on second base in the MLB. Thankfully, the tournament is back to its normal start day on Thursday* and the crowds will be rocking.

*I still don’t count the First Four as part of the tournament. I might get their one day, but it won’t be today.

Take a step back and appreciate what we’re about to experience over the next 96 hours. It all starts with wall-to-wall coverage from 12 PM – 12 AM. Arguments about which 12-seed will beat a 5-seed will dominate your group chats. Buzzer beaters will go viral and light up social media. TUMS will be out of stock at your local CVS due to indigestion caused by wings and beer.

Is this heaven? No, it’s ̶I̶o̶w̶a̶ March Madness.

Now I know what you’re all thinking. Where are my picks? Everyone might fill out a bracket, but have they ever won a competition where they got to spend time on a national radio show?

In my best Norman Osborn voice, “You know, I’m something of a scientist myself.”

There is some science to the bracket. Some numbers to keep in mind:

  • All four 1-seeds haven’t made the Elite Eight since 2016.
  • Look at offensive and defensive field goal percentages – champions typically fall inside the top 30 for both offensive and defensive field goal percentage.
  • A 13-seed has beaten a 4-seed in 8 of the last 11 tournaments.
  • Multiple 12-seeds have beaten 5-seeds in five of the last nine tournmanets. In 2019, three 12-seeds defeated 5-seeds.

Numbers are important, but it truly all comes down to luck. The phrase “better lucky than good” could not be more true during this tournament. I rely on a few “feelings” when completing my bracket. Here are some things I look for in a championship team.

  • Veteran guard play
  • At least one future lottery pick
  • If they lost in their conference tournament, was it a fluke, or a sign of what’s to come?
  • When in doubt, chalk.
  • Worry about the Sweet 16, not the first round upsets. If you have 11-12 of 16 teams left after the weekend with one being your champion, you’re in great shape.
  • Fill out two brackets. Screw the “integrity” crowd. Those people probably have multiple fantasy football teams. I always make two brackets so plan accordingly.

My First Final Four

  • Gonzaga over Kentucky
  • Auburn over Arizona
  • Championship: Gonzaga over Auburn

My Second Final Four

  • Duke over Baylor
  • Kansas over Tennessee
  • Championship: Duke over Kansas

Enjoy the tournament!

Tweet us your predictions at @unafraidshow, or let us know in the comments!