Top Ten Bond Theme Songs

As a movie buff, travel-holic, and music lover, the James Bond films hold a special place in my heart. They feature scenery-chewing villains, exotic locales, and memorable opening credit sequences (not to mention cool cars, hair-raising action scenes, and gorgeous female co-stars).

“Spectre,” the 24th Bond film not counting the one-hour TV movie “Casino Royale” from 1954 nor the 1983 “Sean Connery returns” vehicle “Never Say Never Again,” opened last week. I was fortunate to catch it during its Thursday, 11/5 sneak preview. While not the best in the franchise, it is a solid follow-up to 2012’s “Skyfall” and, if the rumors are true, a nice swan song for Daniel Craig’s James Bond. The song that plays over the opening credits, “The Writing’s on the Wall” by Britain’s Sam Smith, is worthy of inclusion among the pantheon of great Bond songs. I don’t know if Smith’s falsetto was the right touch for what is supposed to be a somber tune, but you can decide for yourself here.

Smith’s song, like so many others, opens with a full orchestra. Oscar-winning film composer John Barry scored most 1960’s – 80’s Bond films and wrote many of the title tracks as well. The strings and horns are commonplace in many (though not all) 007 songs, and Smith pays heed to the tradition. But there are better Bond songs out there. Below, with YouTube links to the opening title sequences from each film, are my picks for the Top Ten Bond Theme Songs:

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Oscar 2012-13 – recap and reactions

It is a curious thing about the Oscars: Millions of people watch the Sunday broadcast each year, talk about the show for perhaps five minutes at the office water cooler Monday morning, then never think about it again. Seeing as it’s already Tuesday evening, post-Oscars as I write this, methinks this blog entry is dead in the water. Still, I’m a completist, and I didn’t want to leave my Oscar predictions blog simply hanging in the GringoPotpourri wind without a proper bookend. I promise to keep this brief. No, really!

The Winners

So, not too surprisingly, it was Ben Affleck’s “Argo” as Best Picture, Life of Pi’s “Ang Lee” as Best Director, “Lincoln’s” Daniel Day-Lewis as Best Actor, and “Silver Linings Playbook’s” Jennifer Lawrence as Best Actress. I called ‘em all, of course. Supporting honors went to Christoph Waltz for “Django Unchained” and Anne Hathaway for “Les Misérables.” Waltz’s win threw me for a bit of a loop; I had Robert De Niro for “Silver Linings Playbook,” and in fact predicted that if there were any major category upsets they would be in favor of “SLP.” Alas, ’twas not meant to be. “Django Unchained” also earned Quentin Tarantino his second Best Original Screenplay Oscar; his acceptance speech was one of the better ones of the night, and about as humble as you could ever expect Tarantino to act. I failed to predict either of “Django’s” Oscar wins; although I’m a big fan of the film I thought it would go home empty-handed, considering that Tarantino’s superior effort, 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds,” lost in the Original Screenplay category. Waltz won the same prize in that same category then; I simply didn’t think lightning would strike twice, nor so soon after his last win.

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Oscar Nominations 2012-13 – predictions

My blog entry for today is not about Mexico. Nor is it about the series of events that led to my moving to Mexico. Before I fell in love with travel, I fell in love with movies – since I was a child, actually – and although I don’t obsess about them to the degree that I once did, they still provide much enjoyment in my life – especially when I’m not traveling.

Oscar season is a particularly fun time of year for me. I always enjoy predicting the nominees before they are announced, reacting to them once they are announced (well, not at 5:30 a.m. when they’re read off, but later that same day), and watching the big show, typically the only night of television that – at least in the U.S. – rivals the Super Bowl as the year’s most-watched broadcast.

In years past, my conversations about the predicted nominees were limited to a few seconds of office water cooler chit-chat, and a couple hours’ worth of internet movie message board postings. I always made it a point to see as many of the nominated movies as possible, so most of my moving-going friends simply couldn’t keep up. Alas, I’m a bit behind this year, as some movies released in the last months of 2012 still haven’t opened here (“Les Misérables,” for example, doesn’t open until February 15th). Still, I’ve seen two-thirds of the contenders, and the amateur critic in me has come up with my own “wish list” of nominees.

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