2021-2022 NBA Season Preview: Are The New York Knicks Back?

Julius Randle of the New York Knicks

Are the New York Knicks back? Let’s ask Amar’e Stoudemire.

Amar’e might have been 10 years too early on his declaration. But after a 41-31 record that resulted in the team’s first playoff appearance since 2013, the Knicks very well might be back.

In 2020, the Knicks were the scrappy underdogs under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau. The Knicks clawed and battled their way to the fourth-seed in the Eastern Conference through the defense (top 5 in defensive ratings) and rebounding (top 10 in rebounds per game).

On the offensive side of the ball, Julius Randle shattered expectations by becoming a dynamic playmaker on his way to a stat line of 24/10/6 and a trophy for Most Improved Player. Derrick Rose was a godsend at point guard, RJ Barrett improved in almost every statistical category including 3P% (32% to 40%), and Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, and Reggie Bullock all became solid contributed.

Last year was full of surprises. After a successful year, those surprises have now turned into expectations. The days of praying for a 30-win team are over, or at least fans including myself believe those days have passed. Now is the time to build on the momentum from last year and grow into a consistent playoff team.

Things That Must Happen For The Knicks To Take The Next Step

– The Knicks must make the playoffs: I can’t stress this point enough. If the Knicks don’t make the playoffs, then last year was a fluke. All of the building blocks put into place last year mean nothing if this team can’t play meaningful basketball in April. I don’t expect the Knicks to be the four-seed again, but if they don’t make the Play-In Tournament, then the season will be a failure.

– RJ Barrett must become a playmaker: If RJ Barrett wants to become a star in this league, then he must become a playmaker on offense. What do I mean by playmaker? Throughout last season, the go-to play for the Knicks was a Randle isolation. That either lead to a tough make, a missed shot, or a pass for a three. While Jules was amazing for most of the year, his playmaking was nowhere to be found in the Atlanta series. This is where RJ comes in. RJ needs to be able to take his man off the dribble and either get to the rim, pass for an open three or hit a pullup jumper. His 2020 game averages of 3 assists and 3.8 free throws are not going to cut it. Those need to get to 4.5 and 5 at the very least.

– Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier must ease the offensive load for Randle: It sounds obvious, but Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier were paid to play offense. They were brought in for their ability to create offense, especially off the dribble. As I stated above, the go-to play was a Jules-iso. Kemba is the best opening day point guard for the Knicks in over a decade. If he stays healthy, the Knicks have a true starting point guard. With Fournier, he must shake off his preseason shooting woes and become a threat from behind the arc. Anything less than 40% is a failure and I’m being generous with that number.

The Bottomline

Superstars win championships, and right now, the Knicks don’t have any superstars. That’s ok for now. The Knicks must return to the first round of the playoffs and play a competitive series. If the team ends up playing the Nets or Bucks in the postseason, then their season will most likely come to an end. However, if they run into a team like the Hawks, Heat, or Sixers, then the Knicks must last more than 5 games. If the Knicks win a playoff series, I’m doing cartwheels outside of MSG. I’m expecting 42-45 wins.

It’s time to take the next step towards becoming a winning franchise once again.

Playoffs or bust.

What are your predictions for the Knicks? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

2021-2022 NBA Season Predictions

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets / NBA

In my best Daniel Craig voice, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re back.” The 2021-2022 NBA Season begins tonight when the Nets take on the Bucks and the Warriors face the Lakers. After an offseason full of vaccine questions, trade requests, and unhappy stars, I’m glad to put that all behind us and watch some good basketball.

Oh, wait. All of that stuff is still happening because the NBA continues to be dramatic!

Sigh.

Last week, I described all 30 teams in one sentence. This week, it’s time for my predictions.

Key Storylines

The Ben Simmons saga is on a highway to hell: Seriously, what the hell is going on in Philly?

Countless NBA players have demanded a trade, but have we ever seen a player deliberately sabotage a team? I typically favor player empowerment, but this is where I draw the line. I applaud the Sixers for fining and suspending Simmons because what he did was bullshit. However, Daryl Morey had a chance to trade Simmons for James Harden. There have been conflicting reports as to who, Morey or the Rockets, sunk the trade. I look at it this way: if Morey truly wanted to give up Simmons and trade for Harden, he could’ve pulled it off. That’s on Morey.

Now, it’s a waiting game. Morey has to realize that he won’t get a star in return for Simmons. That doesn’t mean a Simmons trade can’t happen. Would the Blazers be willing to part with McCollum? Would the Kings give up De’Aaron Fox (probably not) or Buddy Hield (probably yes)? Could the Spurs package multiple young players like Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson? Trade Simmons now or play hardball and wait. It’s time to shit or get off the pot.

Will Kyrie Irving Play: While the Sixers must make a decision on Simmons sooner rather than later, the Nets can show a little more patience in their approach due to the fact that the team can get by with Kevin Durant and James Harden. Whether or not you agree with the vaccine mandate in New York City is irrelevant. It’s the rule and it’s not changing anytime soon. It’s possible things change when a new mayor takes office, but are the Nets willing to wait until the end of winter/early spring to welcome back Irving? If the Nets are at the top of the East during Irving’s absence, then they’ll continue to wait until the mandate changes. If Durant or Harden get hurt and the team stumbles, then Sean Marks will have to consider trading Irving.

Will The Two Storylines Listed Above End So We Can Talk About The Other 28 NBA Teams: We need something else to discuss.

Eastern Conference

  1. Milwaukee Bucks
  2. Brooklyn Nets
  3. Atlanta Hawks
  4. Miami Heat
  5. Philadelphia 76ers
  6. Boston Celtics
  7. New York Knicks
  8. Chicago Bulls
  9. Indiana Pacers
  10. Charlotte Hornets

Eastern Conference Finals: Bucks over Nets

I would pick the Nets to win the East if the Big Three were guaranteed to play together in the playoffs. However, it’s far from a lock. I’m picking the Bucks over the Nets simply because I can’t trust Brooklyn’s Big Three to play every game. I will believe it when I see it.

Western Conference

  1. Utah Jazz
  2. Phoenix Suns
  3. Los Angeles Lakers
  4. Denver Nuggets
  5. Dallas Mavericks
  6. Portland Trail Blazers
  7. Los Angeles Clippers
  8. Golden State Warriors
  9. Memphis Grizzlies
  10. San Antonio Spurs

Western Conference Finals: Lakers over Jazz

I realize I’m a hypocrite for not trusting Brooklyn’s Big Three to stay healthy, but then believing LeBron and Anthony Davis will play every game in the NBA playoffs. LeBron only gets hurt via freak accident so as long as that doesn’t happen, he’ll play every game in the postseason. AD is a HUGE question mark, but if Frank Vogel load manages Davis throughout the season, there’s a chance he doesn’t get hurt come next Spring. It’s a huge “if,” but I’ll bet on that over Brooklyn finishing the season with their three stars.

NBA Finals: Lakers over Bucks

I truly believe LeBron has one more title in him. Year 19 is when he wins his fifth and final championship.

NBA Awards

MVP: Kevin Durant

Rookie of the Year: Cade Cunningham

Coach of the Year: Quin Snyder

Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Most Improved Player: Ja Morant

Sixth Man of the Year: Jordan Clarkson

Here’s to a successful (and healthy) NBA Season.

Leave your NBA predictions in the comments or tweet us, @danny_giro

2021-2022 NBA Season Preview: Describing Each Team In One Sentence

Luka Doncic NBA

The 2021-2022 NBA Season is set to kick off Tuesday, Oct. 19.

This is not a drill.

Within the last 12 months, the NBA finished two seasons, crowned two different champions, and will start its newest season next week. Ever since the pandemic started in March 2020, I’ve lost my sense of date and time. The picture of Jimmy Butler on the scorer’s table after Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals was going around on Twitter the other day. Had I not seen the date, I would have guessed the picture was from 2018.

Regardless, I’m happy to have basketball back especially after an exciting NBA Finals. The league is in a good spot thanks to so many young budding superstars. Giannis Antetokounmpo sits on the throne as the best player in the league, but Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and LeBron James could easily take back the crown by the end of the year.

In this exercise, I previewed each team in one sentence. Some are funny, others are brutally honest, and a few might hit home. Let’s dive right in.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the best duo under 25, but do they have enough surrounding talent to become a top-4 team in the East?

Brooklyn Nets: James Harden and Kevin Durant can win a title as a duo, but will Kyrie join them to form the trio?

New York Knicks: Was last year an anomaly, or have things changed at MSG?

Philadelphia 76ers: Is the Ben Simmons relationship salvageable?

Toronto Raptors: If you know the full truth behind the Pascal Siakim injury and his projected return date, I’m all ears.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls: I like Zach LaVine more than most people, and the team is good on paper (Lonzo Ball, Nikola Vučević, DeMar DeRozan), but the Bulls have a date with the play-in game whether they like it or not.

Cleveland Cavaliers: This roster does not make sense especially in the frontcourt, but they are going to be exciting to watch because of Sexland.

Detroit Pistons: Let Cade do whatever he wants.

Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner is somehow still on this team.

Milwaukee Bucks: If Giannis gets a mid-range jump shot, then the Bucks can repeat.

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks: After getting a taste of what it’s like to win big games, Trae Young and co. should be back in the mix for a top-4 seed in the East.

Charlotte Hornets: If LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward stay healthy, the Hornets should once again battle for a play-in spot.

Miami Heat: After getting embarrassed by the Bucks, the addition of Kyle Lowry means the Heat will try to channel their 2020 success.

Orlando Magic: This could be the worst team in the NBA.

Washington Wizards: The countdown to a Bradley Beal trade continues.

Western Conference

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets: If Joker is the Joker and Michael Porter Jr. becomes a 20+ ppg scorer, the Nuggets are a healthy Jamal Murray away from truly becoming a contender in the West.

Minnesota Timberwolves: It might be time to pull the plug on the Karl-Anthony Towns-D’Angelo Russell pairing.

Oklahoma City Thunder: If the Thunder decide to try, then they could win 25 games, but that won’t happen.

Portland Trail Blazers: If the Blazers get bounced from the first round again, Dame is good as gone.

Utah Jazz: If the Jazz went 82-0, would anyone seriously believe they could win the title?

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors: If Golden State can stay around .500 by the time Klay Thompson returns, the Warriors could be the dark horse to win the West.

Los Angeles Clippers: Until Kawhi returns, keep dreaming, LA.

Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are the best team in the NBA if and only if their stars are healthy and that’s a huge “if.”

Phoenix Suns: With the entire core returning, the Suns should battle for the top seed once again.

Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks: Luka must win a playoff series this year if he truly wants to become “the guy.”

Houston Rockets: The Rockets could be the first team to score 100 points per game and give up 200 points per game.

Memphis Grizzlies: If the Grizzlies make the playoffs once again, we might have to change the trajectory on Ja’s ceiling.

New Orleans Pelicans: If the Pelicans are secretly trying to get rid of Zion, then they’re passing with flying colors.

San Antonio Spurs: With all due respect to Pop, is it time for a new voice?

How would you describe your favorite team? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Scream: The Brilliant Horror Still Shines 25 Years Later

Scream / Dimension Films

There are two camps involved when discussing Scream, the 1996 slasher film about a killer in a Halloween costume that wreaks havoc on a small town. You either believe Scream is a good movie or a great movie.

Let’s start with the first camp. Why is Scream a good movie? For starters, the story is pretty straightforward to understand. A killer known as Ghostface, who wears a ghost mask and black gown, targets a high school girl named Sidney Prescott one year after the murder of her mother in the town of Woodsboro, California. The killer begins to murder teenagers and townspeople as he fights to get closer to his main target, Sidney.

In two sentences, the main character and plot are established without confusion. It’s a classic “whodunnit,” as the audience seeks to learn the identity of the killer, and why they’re targeting a teenage girl.

Good premise? Check.

Good writing and direction? Double-check.

For the latter, you couldn’t find a better director in this genre than the “Master of Horror,” Wes Craven. As a pioneer in horror, Craven is the mastermind behind the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise as well as cult classics like The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, and Swamp Thing.

The script was written by Kevin Williamson, who was an unknown writer at the time. Williamson wrote a script called Scary Movie, which became Scream, that combined elements of a slasher film with a black comedy. Though mostly known for his horror projects, I always find it ironic that Williamson created the teen drama, Dawson’s Creek. Imagine a Scream and Dawson’s Creek double feature. Sign me up.

In terms of its cast, Scream elected to go with established actors at the time instead of unknowns, which was typically common in horror. Neve Campbell was on Party of Five, Courtney Cox was on Friends, and David Arquette had roles in Parenthood and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to go along with being from the famous Arquette family.

All of these elements (premise, script, director, cast) set Scream up for success. Add in a twist ending where it’s revealed Ghostface was not one, but two killers and Scream was an instant, entertaining thriller.

It’s a good movie.

But it’s not just a good movie.

Scream is a great movie. In fact, I’ll go one step further and describe it as brilliant.

The seismic impact of Scream in the horror genre cannot be overstated. Scream combined the meta-humor of a black comedy with the gore and frightfulness of a horror film. Williamson was clearly a huge horror fan as his script is an homage to Halloween. The concept of introducing characters who were self-aware and in on the joke was ingenious. The teens openly discuss horror films and poke fun at the cliches throughout the film. Everybody is a suspect, don’t have sex, don’t have alcohol or drugs, never say you’ll be right back, etc. Randy even explains the rules for survival in a horror film!

I left out one very important cast member, and her presence adds to the genius of Scream. The actress I’m referring to is Drew Barrymore. In 1996, Barrymore was a huge name in Hollywood. Barrymore was very established in pop culture by 1996, having been in E.T., Batman Forever, Guncrazy, and Poison Ivy. She even flashed David Letterman. Barrymore was about to hit the A+list, which is why it came as a surprise that she signed up for a small horror film after reading the script one night.

Barrymore was set to play the leading role of Sidney but had to drop out due to previous commitments. Most stars would leave the project entirely, but Barrymore stayed on and asked to play Casey Becker, the girl who appears in the opening scene. Although she’s in the film for around 10 minutes, it’s arguably the most important scene in the entire franchise.

As Barrymore mentioned on Hot Ones, she wanted to change the rules of a horror film. Most of the time, you never think the main character is truly in trouble since they’ll never die, and if they are murdered, it’s never at the beginning.

Not Scream.

Here’s your biggest star in the movie and she’s killed within the first 10 minutes. That’s a Red Wedding-type move. Killing Barrymore was jaw-dropping moment that confirmed nobody was safe. Anyone could be killed at any time. Even Henry Winkler (in an uncredited role)!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a special shoutout to Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard, who played Ghostface as a duo. To steal a phrase from The Rewatchables podcast, this duo gave the biggest heat check performance in the movie. It’s so over-the-top and filled with memorable one-liners, but it fits their characters. Psycho teenage murders are probably going to be a little dramatic and crazy.

Now, Scream is getting a fifth movie this January. It’s not an official reboot, but it appears to mirror themes and ideas from the first film.

Scream rewrote and revitalized the slasher genre, and its legacy should still be celebrated 25 years later.

Besides, if you remove all the humor and violence, Scream is simply an advertisement for landlines.

Scream / Dimension Films

Leave your thoughts about the movie in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

Say Goodbye: Best Final Movie For A Character Or Franchise

Logan / 20th Century Fox

Endings are so hard to get right. Viewers give so much time and emotions to the characters in franchises that span multiple years and movies that when the ending falls flat, it’s a disappointment all around. The poor reception Game of Thrones received for its final season is why I believe George R.R. Martin hasn’t finished A Song of Ice and Fire.

When certain characters or franchises receive proper endings to their stories, it leaves viewers satisfied. It’s reassurance for all the hours they spent committing to a story, that their time wasn’t wasted. With No Time to Die serving as Daniel Craig’s swan song in the Bond franchise, let’s explore some of the best final movies for a character or franchise.

Note: I tried to stick with characters or franchises with finite endings. I love Return of the Jedi, but Luke, Han, and Leia all returned in the Skywalker trilogy so Episode VI wasn’t a true ending to their story. If Iron Man returns to the MCU, I might have to adjust this list. Toy Story 3 was perfect, but then Toy Story 4 happened so I can’t count the third film as an ending as well.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

When describing the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a “masterpiece” is typically the noun of choice. There are little flaws in Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy adventure told in three movies. From the epic action sequences to breathtaking cinematography, LOTR became the gold standard for cinematic storytelling. Return of the King is 201 minutes long, and yet it moves so effortlessly and never drags. Every loose end is tied up and every character gets a proper ending to their story. Not only did fans love Return of the King, but critics and Academy voters praised the film, resulting in a perfect 11 for 11 at the 2004 Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Avengers: Endgame

Telling a complete story in one film is hard enough. Imagine crafting a story that spans over 11 years and 23 films?* From Iron Man to Captain Marvel, Kevin Feige perfectly pieced together every story in the Infinity Saga, which culminated with Avengers: Endgame. For 7 years, the Mad Titan known as Thanos was built up to be this unbeatable villain, and up until Endgame, he never lost. Not only did Endgame have to conclude the Infinity Saga, but it also had to set up the future of the MCU. Well, the future of the MCU was passed to Spider-Man, Black Panther (RIP Chadwick), and the Guardians of the Galaxy while Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans received admirable endings to their versions of Iron Man and Captain America respectively. Onto Phase 4, we go!

*Spider-Man: Far From Home is included in the Infinity Saga as the 23rd film, but it feels like a bridge between Phase 3 and Phase 4 instead of the last film in Phase 3.

Christian Bale’s Batman in The Dark Knight Rises

There are two camps. You either like Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises or you hate The Dark Knight Rises. I’m in the former. Dark Knight Rises had the impossible task of following The Dark Knight, which is the best comic movie of all time with the best acting performance of the 21st century, Heath Ledger’s Joker. Nothing could top that masterpiece, and when Rises came out, many compared it to The Dark Knight and picked it up apart. Eight years have passed, and The Dark Knight Rises has aged well in terms of its swan song to Christian Bale’s Batman. Bane’s voice is still confusing all these years later, but Bale’s heartfelt goodbye to the caped crusader is successful. It’s a proper and finite ending to a superb trilogy. With rumors of Downey Jr. and Evans returning to the MCU after Endgame, it’s refreshing to see that Bale’s Batman will never come back. He sacrificed himself for Gotham City and retired to Italy with a beautiful woman. If that’s not the dream, I don’t know what is.

Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in Logan

When comic book movies bring in directors with both dramatic and comedic success as well as a strong affinity for character development, good things can happen. Case in point, James Mangold masterfully wrote and directed Logan, Hugh Jackman’s final film as Wolverine. For such a violent film, Jackman played Wolverine with such nuance and compassion that for the first time, viewers could sympathize with Logan the person as opposed to Wolverine the mutant. Logan is a great movie that doesn’t need to add “comic book” as a qualifier.

What are your picks? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @unafraidshow.

Fury-Wilder III: Unpredictability Shakes Up Heavyweight Division

Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder

The best and worst thing about boxing’s heavyweight division is its unpredictability.

Who doesn’t love when an underdog like Andy Ruiz Jr. upsets Anthony Joshua to become a heavyweight champion? Actions have consequences, and Ruiz’s victory threw a wrench in the heavyweight division. Instead of Joshua moving on to fight Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury, the British boxer exercised his rematch clause and won the second bout with ease.

After Joshua won his fight, the logical next opponent would be the winner of Fury-Wilder II. In the second fight, Fury overpowered and dominated Wilder on his way to seventh-round TKO in February 2020. Shortly after the fight, Wilder exercised his rematch clause and Fury-Wilder III would happen sometime in the fall.

Then a little thing called a “pandemic” happened and shook up the entire world.

No one could have predicted a pandemic, but tumultuous contract negotiations should have been expected for Fury-Wilder III. Fury wanted to move on from Wilder in the Fall of 2020 and response, the Bronze Bomber accused Fury of cheating during their fight, which has never been proven. Sour grapes, anyone?

Fast forward March 2021 when Fury and Joshua agreed to a two-fight deal to unify the heavyweight titles, the first time an undisputed champion would be crowned since the days of Lennox Lewis. The heavyweight division was finally going in the right direction.

Not so fast my friend.

In May 2021, an independent arbitrator ruled that Fury must honor a contractual cause to fight Wilder for the third time. There were talks of paying Wilder “step away” money and wait to fight the winner of Fury-Joshua, but it never materialized. Fury actually wouldn’t let it happen.

Despite the ruling, the roadmap to a Fury-Joshua was not dead just yet. If Joshua took care of Oleksandr Usyk and Fury beat Wilder once again, Fury-Joshua would automatically be the next fight.

However, unpredictability struck again when Usyk dethroned Joshua by unanimous decision. Why can’t we have nice things?

Usyk winning could be good for the division in the long run as it presents another challenger for the big three. However, I can’t help but feel disappointed that a Fury-Joshua fight may never happen. If Fury loses on Saturday night, does Wilder then jump ahead of the Gypsy King and fight the winner of Joshua-Usyk II?

If you want Fury-Joshua as soon as possible, root for Fury to defeat Wilder. Want chaos? Cheer for Wilder.

If the heavyweight division has taught us anything over the last three years, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Who do you think will win Fury-Wilder III? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @unafraidshow.

Ranking Daniel Craig’s James Bond Films Before No Time to Die

Casino Royale James Bond

Daniel Craig is my favorite actor to play James Bond. If you just heard the sound of glass breaking, that’s because a brick was thrown through my window on behalf of Sean Connery. This is where I’m supposed to say “with all due respect,” and then throw a backhanded insult at Connery’s portrayal of Bond. But that’s not going to happen. Connery provided the blueprint for 007: charming, sophisticated, and an elite spy. He’s second-best in my book.

I compare the Connery vs. Craig debate to the exhausting argument over Jordan vs. LeBron as the GOAT in basketball. If you grew up with and experienced Jordan at the peak of his powers, then you’re going to say Jordan is the GOAT. The same argument can be applied to LeBron with the younger generation. Appreciate the greatness of both instead of tearing the other down to make a point.

Craig’s version of a gritty and troubled Bond who still retained his charm and elegance won me over from Day 1. Many forget that Craig’s casting as the seventh actor to take over this prestigious character was met with a lot of hatred. Craig wasn’t a star by any means. He was a classically trained actor known primarily for his work in the theater. Plus, he had blonde hair, and that pissed A LOT of people off. Guess who supported the decision to cast Craig? Sean Connery!

Ahead of No Time to Die, I revisited Craig’s previous four films. Two are excellent, one is solid, and one just doesn’t belong with the rest. Here are my rankings.

4. Quantum of Solace

One of these things is not like the other, and that’s Quantum of Solace. It’s not bad in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a movie that couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. The central theme is revenge as Bond sets out to find those responsible for the death of his lover, Vesper Lynd. 007 as a bat-out-of-hell, killing all those in his path to avenge his girlfriend is a solid premise, but it’s not exactly a James Bond movie. Revenge is a good theme, but the final mission somehow turns into stopping Dominic Greene from controlling the water supply in Bolivia. Is this a revenge movie or a statement about environmentalism? I left the film with more questions than answers. Craig is still good, and Olga Kurylenko was a badass that deserved better in this franchise. I don’t see myself revisiting this film for a long time.

3. Spectre

Solid is the word I keep returning to when describing 2015’s Spectre. The opening scene is spectacular and one of the best Bond openers ever. Casting Christoph Waltz to play the villain was an excellent decision because of his work as the main antagonist in Inglourious Basterds. However, his use in the film was more of a letdown than a high point. Craig and Waltz barely shared the screen together for the first half of the movie. The showdown between the hero and villain at the end didn’t provide the spark to generate excitement for future films. Essentially, Waltz set a trap and tried to escape before being foiled by Bond. I needed more in the final battle. Overall, Spectre is entertaining, but it could’ve been better.

2. Casino Royale

There are Internet stans, and then there are the stans who believe Casino Royale is the best James Bond film of all time. These fans won’t accept any other Bond argument if Casino Royale is not number one in the power rankings. I respect their ability to stand up and fight for what they believe in. Casino Royale is an excellent film and the second-greatest debut for a Bond actor behind Connery’s Dr. No. It was a return to form for the franchise, and the introduction of a darker, grimmer version of Bond. Craig vs. Mads Mikkelsen is some of the best Bond vs. the villain scenes in the entire franchise. Make no doubt about it, Casino Royale is a classic.

1. Skyfall

There’s only one right answer for Craig’s best Bond film and it’s Skyfall. This film rules from start to finish. It’s a 143-minute thrill ride that never allows the audience to catch its breath. It’s a Bond film at heart, but the story and characters can stand on their own. It’s a complete story with a satisfying conclusion.

Skyfall pulled out all the stops, bringing in the big guns to better the film. Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes was brought in to direct. Javier Bardem played one of the best villains of the 21st century, Raoul Silva. There is no excuse as to why Bardem didn’t receive an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The Academy held the fact that Bardem previously won as a villain in No Country for Old Men against this performance. Adele wrote and sang the spectacular theme song, “Skyfall,” which won Best Orginal Song. Frankly, Skyfall was good enough to receive a Best Picture nomination.

With the best director, villain, song, and Bond, Skyfall is the easy winner.

What is your favorite James Bond film from Daniel Craig? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

2021 Fall Preview: 10 Most Anticipated Movies

Dune

Are the movies back? Frankly, they never left, but movies haven’t felt special in over a year due to the challenges of the pandemic. Studios continue to push the dates back on films, which is the equivalent of punching me square in the face. I’m looking at you, Top Gun: Maverick and Mission Impossible 7.

However, the fall slate of upcoming movies looks very promising. It’s a great mix of tentpole blockbusters and Oscar contenders. In other words, movies made for me are coming out this Fall and for that, I salute you, Hollywood.

Below are my 10 most anticipated movies for Fall 2021. Studios, don’t you dare push these films back to 2022. We, the people, need these films!

No Time to Die

It’s the Bond swan song for Mr. Daniel Craig as he drinks his last martini in No Time to Die. The world has waited 6 years for 007 to return to the big screen, which is the longest wait between Bond films since the 6-year wait between 1989’s License to Kill and 1995’s Goldeneye. Craig’s films have been both critically acclaimed and box office hits, and this franchise will miss his presence. Before we start photoshopping Idris Elba into a tuxedo, let’s enjoy one last go-round with the baby blue spy.

No Time to Die will be released in theaters on October 8.

The Rescue

Ladies and gentlemen, the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature goes to The Rescue. Mark it down now because there’s no way this film loses in March. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, the filmmaking duo behind the Oscar-winning Free Solo, return to direct The Rescue, the story of the Tham Luang cave rescue. For those who don’t remember, a soccer team of teenage boys and their coach were trapped in a cave back in 2018, and a rescue team of divers had to work to extract them before they ran out of food and air. Watching the trailer, my jaw hit the floor multiple times. How did they film this? I can’t wait to find out.

The Rescue will be released in select theaters on October 8.

The Last Duel

If there’s a list of things I like, The Last Duel checks off a lot of boxes.

  • Matt Damon: check.
  • Ben Affleck: check.
  • Damon and Affleck writing a film together: check.
  • Jodie Comer: check.
  • Adam Driver: check.
  • Ridley Scott: check.
  • Ridley Scott directing an action movie: check.

I’m sure there are going to be A LOT of think pieces surrounding this film because of its brutal subject matter. However, I’m still in for all the reasons above.

The Last Duel will be released in theaters on October 15.

Dune

You had me at “directed by Denis Villeneuve.” Find a better thriller and sci-fi director of the last 10 years than Villeneuve. Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival, and Blade Runner 2049 are some of the best films of the 2010s. Throw in an all-star cast that would make the 2017 Warriors look like a CYO team and we’re cooking with gas. Dune is an incredibly hard book to adapt, and this film will be “Dune: Part I.” Why the film isn’t being publicly marketed like that makes me scratch my head. Regardless, early reviews of Dune have praised the cinematography but criticized the plot. I’m going to trust Villeneuve, who hasn’t let me down yet, to give me a satisfying film.

Dune will be released in theaters and HBO Max on October 22.

Eternals

The Marvel film I don’t know anything about is Eternals. The trailer looks like something Marvel has never done due to the little presence of CGI and a green screen. Imagine being Chloé Zhao right now. You won Best Picture and Best Director for Nomadland, and now you get to release a blockbuster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Right on, Chloé. If Eternals is a success, then it could lead to more indie and visual filmmakers entering the MCU, which will only benefit Marvel in the long run.

Eternals will be released in theaters on November 5.

House of Gucci

Father, son, and House of Gucci. Ridley Scott goes from an action thriller in The Last Duel to a crime film about the Gucci family, where Maurizio (Adam Driver) was murdered at the hands of his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga). The trailer toes the line between serious biographical film and parody because of the over-the-top accents. I’m intrigued, and if any filmmaker could make two successful films in one year, it’s Ridley Scott.

House of Gucci will be released in theaters on November 24.

West Side Story

I’m probably in the minority, but I’m all the way in on West Side Story. The saga between the Sharks and the Jets is one of my favorite musicals of all time. Many were skeptical as to why anyone would reimagine West Side Story after the 1961 film adaptation was downright perfect. Once a little-known filmmaker named Steven Spielberg (ever heard of him?) signed on to direct, West Side Story had my attention. The visuals and wide shots in the trailer look spectacular. In a world where CGI dominates the movies of today, West Side Story is a much-needed change-up from the norm. I can’t wait to sing my heart out during “Jet Song.”

West Side Story will be released in theaters on December 10.

Nightmare Alley

Guillermo del Toro, welcome back. In his first film since The Shape of Water, del Toro crafts up a good ol’ fashioned psychological thriller with Nightmare Alley. Bradley Cooper stars as Stan Carlisle, a manipulative carny that teams up with a dangerous psychologist named Dr. Lilith Ritter, played by Cate Blanchett. If you’re confused, then that makes two of us. However, Cooper is one of “my guys” so I’m obligated to see everything he’s in. Luckily for me, Nightmare Alley looks right up my… don’t do it… don’t do it… alley.

Nightmare Alley will be released in theaters on December 17.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

You may not like Marvel, but its ability to dominate pop culture is unprecedented. Case in point, the trailer Spider-Man: No Way Home racked up 355.5 MILLION views over 24 hours across all online platforms, which set a world record previously held by Avengers: Endgame with 289 million views. The MCU is shifting, and No Way Home will play a huge part in explaining the multiverse. In my best Dave Bautista voice, “GIVE ME WHAT I WANT!”

Spider-Man: No Way Home will be released in theaters on December 17.

Don’t Look Up

  • Leonardo DiCaprio 
  • Jennifer Lawrence 
  • Rob Morgan 
  • Jonah Hill 
  • Mark Rylance 
  • Tyler Perry 
  • Ron Perlman
  • Timothée Chalamet 
  • Ariana Grande 
  • Scott Mescudi 
  • Cate Blanchett
  • Meryl Streep
  • Chris Evans

The last time Adam McKay had a cast this stacked, he won an Academy Award for The Big Short. Giddy up.

Don’t Look Up hits Netflix on December 24.

What is your most anticipated movie of the fall? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

Giants Continue To Lose In Heartbreaking Fashion

Daniel Jones / New York Giants

Where do I even begin? Let’s start here. No team loses games like the New York Giants. No other team takes you on an emotional rollercoaster that ends in heartbreak quite like the Giants.

Add last night’s loss to the pantheon of bad Giants’ losses. After Graham Gano kicked a field goal to put New York ahead 29-27 with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, I tweeted this out. I, like a lot of other Giant fans, know how this works. We’ve seen how this script ends.

Lo and behold, the Washington Football Team drove right down the field and set kicker Dustin Hopkins up for a 48-yard game-winning field goal. The kick was no good!

I jumped off my couch, screamed at the top of my lungs, and pounded my chest in celebration.

That happiness ended within 5 seconds after I saw the flag. Dexter Lawrence, who lined up a nose tackle, jumped offsides, giving the WFT another chance to win.

Spoiler alert: WFT won.

The Giants build you up just to rip your heart out at the end. It’s a disease. The Giants do not know how to win close football games. Sure, they can beat the Cowboys and Bengals with a backup quarterback, but they couldn’t beat Taylor Heinicke, who threw for 336 yards and 2 TDs in an excellent performance.

There are people to blame, but one man deserves none of it. That player is Daniel Jones, who played one of the best games of his career. Danny Dimes finished with 249 yards passing and 1 TD to go along with 95 yards rushing and 1 TD. Jones did everything the Giants asked him to do and more. Jones is the best runner on the team right now and if it weren’t for a BS holding penalty, he would’ve rushed for close to 150 yards and 2 TDs.

I will be the first to say that Jones is not “the guy.” Jones hasn’t shown he’s a franchise quarterback. However, last night was not his fault. I understand the bar is not particularly high for Jones. That’s not a groundbreaking revelation. Jones is the butt of a lot of jokes, and a lot of the criticism is warranted. But last night isn’t on Dimes. Some will point to Darius Slayton’s drop and blame Dimes for throwing it too far. Could he have made a slightly better throw? Of course. But Dimes put that ball on Slayton’s hands. Slayton HAS to make that catch.

Slayton can catch deep passes. He proved it earlier in the game!

Dimes, you’re absolved (for now). Defense, take a seat. What happened to the Giants’ defense? This was supposed to be the strength of the team. Teddy Bridgewater and Heinicke, two quarterbacks that were backups heading into training camp, torched the Giants. The Broncos and WFT combined for over 800 (!) yards of total offense. That is unacceptable.

The pass rush is nonexistent. Who is the best pass rusher for the Giants right now? Anyone? My vote would be for Azeez Ojulari. When a rookie is leading the team in the sacks, there’s a problem.

Pound for pound, the Giants’ secondary was the best unit on the team coming into the season. Yet, they’ve been a massive disappointment. Terry Mclaurin became Jerry Rice last night. Patrick Graham has a “keep everything in front of you” mentality, which is fine in the first half. But when the game mattered, Heinicke carved the Giants’ secondary, scoring on two of the final three possessions to win the game. That can’t happen.

To the secondary’s credit, they did force a turnover in one of the biggest spots of the game.

This leads me to my final point. The biggest percentage of the blame falls on Joe Judge and the entire coaching staff. Judge coached an awful game last night. For a coach that prides himself on execution and doing the little things right, the Giants were an undisciplined mess.

In the first half, the Giants took a delay of game/false start out of a timeout. That led to a sack, and that resulted in a punt. Points disappeared before our very eyes.

After the big turnover late in the fourth quarter, the Giants needed one first down to put the game away and make it so they have the ball last. Jason Garrett, who wasn’t awful last night, and the offense only wasted 16 seconds before kicking a field goal. That’s unacceptable. (I want to rant about Garrett’s play-calling, but I have to wrap this article up.)

Then, Lawrence jumped offsides on the most important play of the game. Judge is supposed to be a special teams guru, and yet this team made the biggest mistake of the game on special teams. You don’t see good teams jumping offsides on field goal attempts. The Giants were undisciplined, and that falls entirely on Judge.

Last night hurt a lot. Many are saying the season is over. Are they wrong? I’m not sure yet. If the Giants lose to the Falcons in Week 3 on Eli Manning Day, then I’m out on this season.

At least Giant fans get to relax on Sunday.

P.S. Saquon… yikes. If he’s hurt, sit him.

What are your initial thoughts in regards to the Giants’ loss to the WFT? Tweet us, @unafraidshow.

2021 Emmys Predictions: Who Should Win And Who Will Win?

Ted Lasso Apple TV+ Emmys

It’s time to hand out some awards. The 2021 Emmys air live this Sunday night, Sept. 19, at 8 PM ET on CBS. This year will mark a return to an in-person event, but there will be a limited red carpet due to COVID concerns.

Streaming could dominate the Emmys as Netflix, Apple TV+, and Disney+ are all positioned to receive multiple awards in the biggest categories of the night. In particular, The Crown and Ted Lasso are poised to dominate in drama and comedy respectively.

Below are my predictions for the standout categories on who should win and who will win.

Outstanding Drama Series

  • The Boys (Prime Video)
  • Bridgerton (Netflix)
  • The Crown (Netflix)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
  • Lovecraft Country (HBO)
  • The Mandalorian (Disney+)
  • Pose (FX)
  • This Is Us (NBC)

Do not adjust your glasses and look for an HBO program because it doesn’t exist. This marks the first time since 2008 where HBO does not have a nominee in Outstanding Drama. The show I enjoyed the most on this list was The Mandalorian. Yup, I said it. I don’t care if you stuff me in a locker. The ending to Season 2 was one of the most satisfying scenes of the last five years. However, there’s only one pick to make and that’s The Crown. This is a must-win category for Netflix. The streaming service has never won Outstanding Drama, and this is undoubtedly the best chance it will ever have.

  • Who Should Win: The Mandalorian (Disney+)
  • Who Will Win: The Crown (Netflix)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
  • Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country) 
  • Josh O’Connor (The Crown)
  • Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton)
  • Billy Porter (Pose)
  • Matthew Rhys (Perry Mason)

Did anyone have a better year than Regé-Jean Page? I’d love for Page to win. Even though he’ll probably walk away empty-handed, Page will be one of the biggest stars in Hollywood within three years. This is a two-horse race between O’Connor and Porter, with the latter winning in 2019 in this very category. Does the Academy reward The Crown all night or can Porter and the final season of Pose receive some hardware? No actor in this category has won two Emmys for playing the same character since Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad. That changes on Sunday with Porter.

  • Who Should Win: Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton)
  • Who Will Win: Billy Porter (Pose)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Uzo Aduba (In Treatment)
  • Olivia Colman (The Crown)
  • Emma Corrin (The Crown)
  • Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)
  • Mj Rodriguez (Pose)
  • Jurnee Smollett (Lovecraft Country)

To Crown or not to crown. Both Corrin and Colman will be the favorites in this category. However, there’s always the chance that they split the vote. If that’s the case, MJ Rodriguez could follow in Porter’s footsteps and win for the shows’ final season. My pick is Corrin as Princess Diana. It’s a big year for Princess Di in entertainment as Kristen Stewart will probably receive a Best Actress nomination for her portrayal of the late English princess.

  • Who Should Win: Jurnee Smollett (Lovecraft Country)
  • Who Will Win: Emma Corrin (The Crown)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

  • Giancarlo Esposito (The Mandalorian)
  • O-T Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale)
  • John Lithgow (Perry Mason)
  • Tobias Menzies (The Crown)
  • Max Minghella (The Handmaid’s Tale)
  • Chris Sullivan (This Is Us)
  • Bradley Whitford (The Handmaid’s Tale)
  • Michael K. Williams (Lovecraft Country)

If there’s ever been a time to demand a revote, it’s this year. Please give the award to Michael K. Williams. He would have been my pick anyway, but after his tragic passing, the legendary actor deserves this recognition. Give the man his first Emmy. RIP.

  • Who Should Win: Michael K. Williams (Lovecraft Country)
  • Who Will Win: Michael K. Williams (Lovecraft Country)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

  • Gillian Anderson (The Crown)
  • Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown)
  • Madeline Brewer (The Handmaid’s Tale)
  • Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale)
  • Aunjanue Ellis (Lovecraft Country)
  • Emerald Fennell (The Crown)
  • Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale)
  • Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale)

I guess this is the perfect time to admit that I don’t watch The Crown so I can’t review the show. That being said, I know a splashy part when I see it, and the splashiest part in this category is Margaret Thatcher, played by Anderson. God Save The Prime Minister.

  • Who Should Win: Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale)
  • Who Will Win: Gillian Anderson (The Crown)

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • Black-ish (ABC)
  • Cobra Kai (Netflix)
  • Emily in Paris (Netflix)
  • The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)
  • Hacks (HBO Max)
  • The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
  • PEN15 (Hulu)
  • Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)

At this year’s Emmys, out with Schitt’s Creek, in with Ted Lasso. The AppleTV+ comedy is a runaway hit for good reason. It’s a thoughtful, inspiring, and heartwarming show, a much-needed change of pace from this cynical world. Special shoutout to PEN15 and Cobra Kai, two of my favorite comedies.

  • Who Should Win: Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
  • Who Will Win: Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
  • Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)
  • William H. Macy (Shameless
  • Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)
  • Kenan Thompson (Kenan)

Everything I said about Ted Lasso applies to the man who plays the titular role, Jason Sudeikis. Our American hero in England will win with the Emmy.

  • Who Should Win: Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)
  • Who Will Win: Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Aidy Bryant (Shrill)
  • Kaley Cuoco (The Flight Attendant)
  • Allison Janney (Mom)
  • Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish)
  • Jean Smart (Hacks)

When in doubt, pick Jean Smart. The critically-acclaimed actress is a double nominee, picking up a supporting nomination for Mare of Easttown in addition to her leading role in Hacks. Between those two shows and Watchmen, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who’s had a better two-year run than Smart. Watch out for Cuoco as a dark horse.

  • Who Should Win: Jean Smart (Hacks)
  • Who Will Win: Jean Smart (Hacks)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Hacks)
  • Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso)
  • Brendan Hunt (Ted Lasso)
  • Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso)
  • Paul Reiser (The Kominsky Method)
  • Jeremy Swift (Ted Lasso)
  • Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live)
  • Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live)

I wish this award could be split into pieces like the prom queen’s crown in Mean Girls. All four nominees from Ted Lasso are incredible. I’m still amazed at how well the show works. Out of the four nominees, Brett Goldstein, who plays Roy Kent, probably has the edge. However, I’m going to zag here and say SNL’s longest-tenured cast member, Kenan Thompson, finally wins an Emmy, which I won’t have a problem with.

  • Who Should Win: Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso)
  • Who Will Win: Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live)
  • Hannah Einbinder (Hacks)
  • Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
  • Rosie Perez (The Flight Attendant)
  • Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live)
  • Juno Temple (Ted Lasso)
  • Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)

There’s no other answer.

Ted Lasso / Apple TV+
  • Who Should Win: Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)
  • Who Will Win: Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)

Outstanding Limited Series

  • I May Destroy You (HBO)
  • Mare of Easttown (HBO)
  • The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
  • The Underground Railroad (Prime Video)
  • WandaVision (Disney+)

This category deserves some profanity in the form of “holy shit.” This is the toughest category to predcit. All of these shows were so well done. It’s hard to pick a winner. I give the slight nod to Queen’s Gambit. If Queen’s Gambit came out in 2021, it would have been a runaway winner. However, Mare of Easttown dominated pop culture this past Spring so watch out for HBO.

  • Who Should Win: All five shows
  • Who Will Win: The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

  • Paul Bettany (WandaVision)
  • Hugh Grant (The Undoing)
  • Ewan McGregor (Halston)
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton)
  • Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton)

Time for my Hamilton rant. I never saw the show on Broadway, but I loved watching Hamilton on Disney+. I still listen to “Alexander Hamilton,” “The Schuyler Sisters,” “You’ll Be Back,” and “Helpless.” It’s a fantastic Broadway show. However, Hamilton should not be allowed to win Emmys. It’s a broadway show that won numerous Tony Awards. It’s not a television movie. Out of all the nominees, Leslie Odom Jr. gave the best performance by far. Odom was incredible as Aaron Burr, but he already won the Tony for Best Actor. Something feels wrong about rewarding Hamilton with Emmys, and I mean that in the most respectful way possible. For these reasons, my pick to win is Paul Bettany. Marvel finally breaks through at the Emmys.

  • Who Should Win: Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton) – He gave the best performance even though he shouldn’t win.
  • Who Will Win: Paul Bettany (WandaVision)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

  • Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You)
  • Cynthia Erivo (Genius: Aretha)
  • Elizabeth Olsen (WandaVision)
  • Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit)
  • Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown)

I’m saying it again. Holy shit! This is the second toughest category to predict. It’s a three-headed monster with Coel, Taylor-Joy, and Winslet. Coel should win in the writing category so I’m going to cross her off the list. In any other year, Taylor-Joy wins this with ease. She’s a budding superstar that’s about to reach the A-list. However, the Emmys love rewarding big movie stars and Winslet is one of the best of her generation. Plus, Winslet was spectacular in Mare of Easttown, one of my favorite performances of the year. My heart says Taylor-Joy, but my head says Winslet.

  • Who Should Win: Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit)
  • Who Will Win: Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

  • Thomas Brodie-Sangster (The Queen’s Gambit)
  • Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette / Thomas Jefferson on Hamilton (Disney+)
  • Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You)
  • Jonathan Groff (Hamilton)
  • Evan Peters (Mare of Easttown)
  • Anthony Ramos (Hamilton)

For Wawa.

Mare of Easttown / HBO
  • Who Should Win: Evan Peters (Mare of Easttown)
  • Who Will Win: Evan Peters (Mare of Easttown)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

  • Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton)
  • Kathryn Hahn (WandaVision)
  • Moses Ingram (The Queen’s Gambit)
  • Julianne Nicholson (Mare of Easttown)
  • Jean Smart (Mare of Easttown)
  • Phillipa Soo (Hamilton)
Wandavision / Disney+

A coin flip between Hahn and Nicholson. I think Nicholson’s last scene in Mare is some of the best acting of the year. But, it was Agatha all along.

  • Who Should Win: Julianne Nicholson (Mare of Easttown)
  • Who Will Win: Kathryn Hahn (WandaVision)

What are your predictions for the Emmys? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.