• Best Picture: Parasite

    Best Director: Bong Joon-ho (Parasite)

    Best Actor: Edward Norton (Motherless Brooklyn)

    Best Actress: Rosa Salazar (Alita: Battle Angel)

    Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (Ford versus Ferrari)

    Best Supporting Actress: Mai Cat Vi (Furie)

    Best Original Screenplay: Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin-won (Parasite)

    Best Adapted Screenplay: Edward Norton (Motherless Brooklyn)

    Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 4

    Best International Feature Film: Parasite

    Best Original Score: Aladdin

    Best Sound Editing: Donald Sylvester (Ford versus Ferrari)

    Best Sound Mixing: Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler & Mark Ulano (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

    Best Production Design: Michael Ahern & Beth Mickle (Motherless Brooklyn)

    Best Cinematography: Robert Richardson (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

    Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Michael Wilkinson (Aladdin)

    Best Costume Design: Michael Wilkinson (Aladdin)

    Best Film Editing: Stephen E. Rivkin & Ian Silverstein (Alita: Battle Angel)

    Best Visual Effects: Richard Baneham, Richard Hollander, Eric Saindon, Kevin Sherwood  & Bob Trevino (Alita: Battle Angel)

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  • Ladies and gentlemen!

    Here is my very first review of a record released in the new decade. I have been listening to Apocalyptica for nearly two decades now. The band's new record Cell-0 is one of the quartet's strongest efforts to date.

    I have a couple of interesting stories related to the band. First of all, I discovered the band because they contributed to the soundtrack of French fantasy film Vidocq which remains one of my very favourite movies of all time. Make sure to check it out.

    The first time I bought a record by Apocalyptica, the group's third full length effort Cult, I had to attend the opening ceremony of a State Horticultural Show my class was involved in. It was a rainy afternoon and the opening speech was particularly uninspiring. I was attending the event with my father and thought I needed to stay for a while in order to leave a positive impression upon my teachers and classmates. A few minutes into the speech, my father looked extremely bored and asked me whether we should go home. I confirmed immediately and we were among the first two attendees to leave the ceremony. My teachers and classmates were surprised to see us leave so early but I didn't care at all and preferred listening to some new music instead of wasting my time.

    The first time I saw Apocalyptica live was during the FEQ ten years ago. The band was opening for German industrial rock pioneers Rammstein. It was such a hot day that several people in the crowd collapsed during the set. When the main band started to play, the big crowd was pushing aggressively forward. My then-girlfriend was suffering from a panic attack and I had to find a way to get her out of the front rows. People shouted at me, pushed me and even menaced me. That was the worst concert and festival experience I have ever had in my life and I have been avoiding big festivals ever since.

    Let's get to the point now and let me introduce you to my review of Apocalyptica's new album Cell-0:

    Apocalyptica - Cell-0 (2020)

    Finnish quartet Apocalyptica goes back to its instrumental roots on Cell-0 and delivers its best studio album since its self-titled effort fifteen years ago. The nine songs clock in at nearly fifty-four minutes and make this inspired release an early candidate for album of the year. Fans who were craving for the band's sinister sounds as heard on Cult or the group's more adventurous approach on Reflections will finally get what they have been waiting for so long. The band's weakness for thrash metal inspired by the group's recent world tour in support of the twentieth anniversary of its debut album also shines through as multiple songs recall trademark sounds by Metallica, Sepultura and Slayer in the heavier moments.

    Among the highlights, one has to cite the ambitious, adventurous and creative title track ''Cell-0'' that is the most entertaining song on the release despite being by far the longest tune with a length of almost ten minutes. Those who like Apocalyptica a little bit more structured, melodic and focused will certainly appreciate ''Rise'' as another shining highlight on this output. If you want the Finnish masterminds to sound more aggressive, chaotic and relentless, the appropriately titled ''En Route to Mayhem'' will tear your heads off. Another outstanding song is album closer ''Beyond the Stars'' that enters progressive territories with a short spoken word passage recalling Avenged Sevenfold's record The Stage and its shining highlight ''Exist'' in particular.

    There are only a few things the band could improve from here. The canny drum sound in the opener ''Ashes of the Modern World'' recalls Metallica's St. Anger which isn't necessary at all. Actually, if the band decided to go completely back to its roots, the drums wouldn't be necessary at all. This record also features a few minor electronic soundscapes in order to keep the album diversified. Again, those keyboard sounds weren't necessary as the music offered by the three cellos is diversified enough to carry this record on its own.

    Despite those little complaints, Apocalyptica's Cell-0 is an adventurous, creative and heavy record of classical music that entertains from start to finish with a balanced mixture of aggressive and smooth, fast and slow, short and long songs. Anyone who likes classical music or heavy and thrash metal should check this brilliant record out. Apocalyptica manages to go back to its roots with much inspiration without ever sounding old-fashioned but timeless instead.

    Final rating: 94% 

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  • New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne

    New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne

    New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne

    New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne

    New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne

    New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne

    New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne

    New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne

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  • Ladies and gentlemen!

    I have discovered some truly outstanding video games this year and I'm sure there will be many others to see the digital light of day next year. Most potentially intriguing releases don't have a specific release date yet but I wanted to include them anyway because several titles seem to be really promising. I still have numerous old and recent Playstation 4 games to Play. I will still try to keep an open ear, eye and mind on new releases as well. If you have heard about a truly promising horror or survival game I haven't listed yet, please let me know in the comments. I'm all about constructive suggestions!

     

    Scheduled video game releases:

    16/01: Yakuza: Like a Dragon

    04/02: Life Is Strange 2

    11/02: Ori and the Will of the Wisps

    13/03: Nioh 2

    16/04: Cyberpunk 2077

    22/05: Maneater

    29/05: The Last of Us Part II

     

    Unscheduled video game releases:

    Empire of Sin

    Ghost of Tsushima

    Skull and Bones

    The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope

    Twin Mirror

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