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Vampire Katherine just aged another year . . . – Happy Birthday, Nina Dobrev!

In honor of Nina Dobrev’s 22nd birthday, Ian Somerhalder baked her a cake . . .

Unfortunately, for Nina, Vampire Katherine (who shares the same birthday) got to it first . . .

“Mmmmm . . . red velvet blood  . . . my favorite flavor!”

22-years ago today, one of the most promising young actors of our generation was born.  (Nina Dobrev was born January 9, 1989 in Sofia, Bulgaria, but moved to Canada at age 2.)  Roughly 20-years later, Nina won the hearts of two-GORGEOUS vampires, and of millions of fans wide, through her portrayal of both the headstrong and plucky Elena Gilbert . . .

 . . . and the devious diabolical (and tons of fun!) Vampire Katherine Pierce . . .

You know, I spend a lot of time on this blog extoling the virtues of the dreamy and delectable Damon Salvatore . . .

 . . . and his sensitive, yet sultry, brother Stefan . . .

But where would either of them be without the two women who hold their hearts and their humanity in either hand?

I mean seriously, without Elena and Katherine, who would these boys MAKE OUT WITH?

They’d probably have to resort to lots of Air Kissing . . .

And no one wants that . . .

So, that’s why today, in honor of Nina Dobrev’s birthday, I’ve decided to take a short break from celebrating the oh-so-sexy TVD men, in order to pay homage to the one woman who is literally the Gal Friday to EVERY GUY IN MYSTIC FALLS . . . 

 

Sorry BOYS!  It looks like you are just going to have to share . . .

Since most of us already know Nina from The Vampire Diaries, I thought it might be nice, for a change, to take a look back at some of her most noteworthy pre-Elena roles . . .

(Special thanks to YouTube maven sciolist2b, who has BY FAR the most comprehensive and highest quality collection of Nina Dobrev clips on the entire Internet!  sciolist, I don’t know you, but I definitely couldn’t have written this post without you!)

Mia Jones – Degrassi

Nina Dobrev’s Season 6 debut on Degrassi: The Next Generation was MY first introduction to the actress.  On Degrassi, Nina played Mia Jones, an unwed teen mother, forced to transfer to a rival high school, after her’s burned down.  Forget 16 and Pregnant, Mia Jones had her baby, Isabella at age THIRTEEN! 

Mamma MIA!

Though no where near as complex and multi-layered as the two characters she plays on The Vampire Diaries, Nina definitely got the opportunity to flex her acting chops here, as a young mother, trying to balance the responsibilities of parenting, with her desire to do typical “teen stuff” like cheerleading, parties, and dating.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a real juicy Mia Jones clip on YouTube for you to enjoy. 

However, I did find this on-set footage taken from her first day on the job.  And it’s pretty darn adorable.  All I have to say is . . . hell hath no fury like a TV baby who WON’T STOP CRYING!

 

Ally – American Mall

Around the same time that she was starring in Degrassi, Nina also picked up the lead role in the very High School Musical-esque American Mall, an MTV original film about mall employees who sing their feelings . . .

American Mall certainly wasn’t going to win any awards in its time (and I may very well have been the only one who actually watched it when it first aired).  However, as cheesy teen musicals go, this one was surprisingly enjoyable.  And Nina was extremely likeable as Ally, the girl who worked at her mother’s music store, but would much rather make out with the hot singing janitor her OWN music . . .

Rosabella – Mookie’s Law

Sometimes I wish I was Canadian.  Because Canadian Teen Television is just AWESOME!  I don’t think there is any country in the world (including the United States) that almost exclusively caters its media products toward the young adult demographic, like Canada does!  It seems that every time I flip the channels, I am finding another obscure (but oddly awesome) Canadian teen show, on some obscure U.S. cable channel, and wishing I had access to it when it first aired, back in Toronto, or wherever. 

Did I mention that the same 8 young actors (including Nina, of course) seem to be in EVERY SINGLE MOVIE!  It’s like one big happy family up there, ay?

Nina Dobrev starred as the lead character’s love interest in Mookie’s Law, a short Canadian film that was written, directed by and starred Al Mukadam, who — if you are a Canadian TV junkie like me — you may remember as Ray from Radio Free Roscoe.  Oh, and you can bet that Degrassi star turned Big Time Rapper, Drake, is in this one too . . .  (See what I mean?)

Justine – My Daughter’s Secret

You know, people joke all the time about Lifetime movies, and how cliched and lame they tend to be.  But a lot of really talented actresses got their start in Lifetime movies, and Nina Dobrev is one of them.  In My Daughter’s Secret she plays Justine, a teen who got herself roped into a romance with a VERY BAD BOYFRIEND.  (And in Lifetime movies, aren’t they ALL very bad?)

Jessica Carpenter – Too Young to Marry

As far as Lifetime movies go, this one looks kind of fun!  (For starters, neither of Nina’s two leading men in it are abusive, or “bad news.”  YAY!)  In Too Young to Marry, Nina stars as Jessica Carpenter, a girl who married her high school sweetheart, Max, at age 17.  However, she begins to doubt the decision she has made, upon experiencing the joys of drunk college makeout sessions.  (And who can blame her, when, at least based on the clips, it seems like her “husband” spends half of the movie in bed . . . just sleeping?) 

It sucks to be the “Nice Boy” in a Lifetime Movie . . . you get no lines . . . and you never get laid, until the very end.

Interestingly enough, Dillon Casey, who plays Nina’s husband in the movie, also played Vampire Noah, the first bloodsucker who tried to attack Elena on The Vampire Diaries.

But Canadians will remember him better as the often-naked Trevor Lemonde on the hockey-themed soap opera MVP.  (He lasted a bit longer on that show, than on TVD . . . in more ways than one ;))

Loren – Never Cry Werewolf

I actually learned about this film when I was writing a recap for TVD’s Bad Moon Rising episode.  I came upon the movie poster, almost entirely by accident, during my search for a solid werewolf-themed picture to kick off the recap. 

In Never Cry Werewolf, Nina plays Loren, an innocent teen who learns that her next door neighbor is actually a bloodthirsty werewolf, in search of a hot young prepubescent mate, to howl at the moon with . . .  Interestingly enough, I read on Wikipedia that the film itself is actually a shot-by-shot remake of a VAMPIRE film from the 1980’s called Fright Night.  Only here, the vampire Big Bad Villain was inexplicably substituted for a werewolf one. 

Knowing this, as I watching the following scene, where Kevin Sorbo’s werewolf character ties up a scantily clad “Loren” and threatens to turn her into a “monster,” I couldn’t help but imagine how much BETTER the film would be if Damon Salvatore was in it . . .

Sorry, Sorbo!  I’m going to have to agree with Damon on this one . . .

 

Rachel – Hearts of War a.k.a. The Poet

Far from starring only in teen dramas, Nina also gained recognition in feature films as well.  In Hearts of War she plays Rachel, a rabbi’s daughter who falls in love with a Nazi soldier during World War II.

Bella – Fugitive Pieces

Going along with a World War II theme, Nina alsoplayed the enigmatic Bella in Fugitive Pieces.  Bella was the main character Jakob’s sister in the film.  Bella was taken away (and eventually killed), along with the rest of his family, by Nazis during the Second World War.  Only Jakob survived the raid.  As a result of this tragedy, Bella’s youthful and emphemeral image haunts Jakob throughout his life . . .

Anna – Chloe

Nina Dobrev provided some much needed levity (and pants-lessness) to this dark and twisted thriller about the complex psycho-sexual relationship formed between a married gynecologist (Julianne Moore), and the looney tunes call-girl (Amanda Seyfried) said gynecologist hires to seduce her husband (Liam Neeson).  Nina plays Anna, the girlfriend of the main characters’ son in the film. 

While she’s certainly nice to look at, “Anna” doesn’t exactly seem like the sharpest tool in the shed.  Check out Anna’s reaction when Julianne Moore’s character learns the young woman has spent the night in her son’s bed . . .

Goth Girl – Away from Her

Of all the Nina clips I’ve shown you today, this one, from the Academy Award nominated film Away from Her is probably my favorite.  It features Nina in a way we’ve never quite seen her before.  Goth Girl is a person who most of Nina’s other characters probably wouldn’t have anything to do with . . . well, except for maybe Vampire Katherine . . .

Something tells me these two would have A LOT of fun together . . .

Speaking of Vampire Katherine, I thought I’d end this tribute post with a fun little scene from The Vampire Diaries, in which Elena and Katherine come face to face with one another for the first time.  The scene is from an episode entitled “Memory Lane” from Season 2.  Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Nina Dobrev!  Here’s hoping your 22nd year provides you with as much fun and entertainment as your first 21 have given us!

[www.juliekushner.com]

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My Favorite Mobsters: My Picks of the Top Ten “Made Men” to Grace the Silver and Small Screen

Why are we so fascinated by mobsters?  Is it the way they talk?  (“Fuhgeddaboutit!”  “I’m gonna make him an  offer he can’t refuse!”  “Go to the mattresses.” “I amuse you?  I make you laugh?”)  Their funny accents?  Those snazzy suits and hats they always wear? 

Or perhaps it’s something deeper.  After all, mafia men are loyal to a fault.  They adhere to a strict code of honor.  They place the institution of  “family” above all else.  If you really think about it, mobsters were the first, and ultimate, “bad boys.”  The most successful ones are powerful, strong,  sexy . . . and deadly dangerous.

So, without further adieu, here’s my list of the Top Ten Fictional Mobsters of all time . . .

10) Fat Tony  – The Animated Mobster

Show of origin:  The Simpsons

Played by:          Joe Montegna (he does the voice)

Why he made the list: 

Fat Tony is a successful amalgamation of pretty much every movie and television mobster ever invented.  But he still manages to have his own unique style.  It’s really hard to be intimidating when you are drawn in colored pencil, and have a face like a muppet.  Yet, Fat Tony somehow manages to be genuinely menacing.  Interestingly enough, the character’s appearance is based on that of an actor who frequently appears in mafia films (and was just shy of making this list).

Paul Sorvino (Now can you see the resemblance?)

9) Sonny – The Mobster with a Heart of Gold

Film of origin:  A Bronx Tale

Played by:        Chazz Palminteri

Why he made this list:

Sure, Sonny may have shot a man in cold blood over a parking space, but it was really to protect Joe Pesci!  And, yes,  Sonny beat the stuffing out of an entire biker gang, but they had been destroying family-owned bars across the country!  When you really think about it, this New York mob boss was a pretty good guy, as far as racketeering murderers go.  And he seemed to really care about young Calogero (“C”). 

Sonny acted as a second father to C (His biological father was played by Robert De Niro, who is also on this list, TWICE.  However, not for this movie, where he played a law-abiding bus driver.)  He taught C the ins and outs of life, lectured him about staying in school, gave him advice on women, tried to keep him away from a life of crime, and, most importantly, saved his life.  Oh, and he also taught him how to gamble.  Gambling is fun!

8) Consigliere Tom Hagen – The Smart Mobster

Film of origin: The Godfather (Parts I and II)

Played by: Robert Duvall

Why he made the list:

Not all mobsters were Italian.  Some were of German and Irish descent, like Tom Hagen.  (Can’t you tell by the name?)  Tom was an educated man, a lawyer.  He acted as a sage, and mild-mannered advisor, first to Vito Corleone, and, later to his son, Michael.  Despite, living and working amongst mobsters, Tom more or less managed to keep his hands clean.  And while he remained loyal to The Family throughout his life, he did so without ever committing an act of violence.  (Then again, he did convince that one guy to commit suicide.  Not cool, Tom!)

7) Sylvio Dante  – The Loyal Rocker Mobster

Played by :         Steven Van Zandt

Show of origin:  The Sopranos

Why he made the list:  

Oh how, I love Sylvio, let me count the ways.  First and foremost, he has cool Elvis hair.

And the actor who plays him rocks out with a band from my home state of NEW JERSEY!  Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, of course!

Silvio was probably the toughest muscle of Tony Soprano’s gang.  However,  unlike the hot-headed Paulie Walnuts (we’ll get to him later), he never lost his cool.  When others came to doubt Tony’s leadership, Sylvio was unfailingly loyal.  Sylvio detested rats above all else, and most of his victims were snitches and informants of some sort.  (And no one likes THEM, anyway, right?)

6) Jimmy “The Greek” Conway – The Strong and Silent (but Deadly) Mobster

Film of origin:   Goodfellas

Played by: Robert De Niro

Why he made this list:

Like Tom Hagen, Jimmy is an Irish mobster (although, truthfully, it’s hard to imagine De Niro as anything other than Italian).   And like Silvio, he is the mild-mannered muscle of his crew.  Although, Jimmy’s origin of descent prevented him from becoming a true “made man,” he never complained.  While his hands may have been dirtier than anyone else’s in his Family, Jimmy never let his job diminish his sense of class and style.  A

fter a big score had left them with untold riches, Jimmy cautioned his crew against dressing and behaving too ostentatiously.  Oh yeah, and the dude can smoke a cigar like no one’s business . . .

5) Vito Corleone – The Old School Mobster

Film of origin: The Godfather (Parts I and II)

Played by:       Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro

Why he made the list:

Honestly, how could I make a mobster list, without including the original mobster himself?  Vito was the King of the Mobsters.  The mobster on which all subsequent film and television mobsters are undoubtedly based.  And if his character didn’t have to go and die on us at the end of the first Godfather movie (we saw him in the second one only through flashbacks), I have no doubt that he would be significantly higher on this list. 

You know what?  I’m not even going to tell you why Vito is so cool.  I’m going to let him show you for himself . . .

4) Paulie Walnuts – The Wal – NUTS Mobster

Show of origin: The Sopranos

Played by:          Tony Sirico

Why he made the list:

In short, Paulie made this list because he is bat sh*t crazy!  If Silvio is the man on the Soprano’s crew you’d most want to have your back, Paulie is the one you’d most want to take out for beers.  Between his kick ass one-liners, his random flip outs, and his childlike constant need for approval, hot-headed Paulie Walnuts is nothing if not entertaining.  And talk about loyalty to family, the dude beat up an old lady, just because she wasn’t playing nicely with his mother!  Plus, he has awesome Pepe Le Pew hair . . .

(Notice the resemblance?)

3) Tommy DeVito – The Loudmouthed Mobster

Film of origin: Goodfellas

Played by: Joe Pesci (Here’s another guy that I couldn’t dream of making a Mob Hit List without!)

Why he made the list:

I’m pretty sure, a lot of what is awesome about Paulie Walnuts was inspired by this guy.  Tommy DeVito was a hotheaded sociopath, who loved killing and beating the crap out of people. In fact, he did it regularly, often for NO REASON AT ALL.  Murderous tendencies aside, he seems like a pretty cool guy to spend an evening with.  Just don’t call him funny . . .

2) Michael Corleone – The Reluctant Mobster

Film of origin: The Godfather (Parts I, II and III)

Played by: Al Pacino

Why he made the list?

Do you even have to ask?  Michael Corleone was the quintessential mob boss.  But what made him so interesting and unique was that he never wanted to be one.  Born into a notorious crime family, Michael escaped his roots at the age of 18, and went on to become an Ivy League graduate, and war hero.  He then married the straight-laced daughter of a Baptist minister, in hopes of becoming a law-abiding family man, with a lowercase “f.”

But Michael soon gets sucked into the Family’s web.  When two nearly successful attempts are made on his father’s life, he is forced to avenge them.  After his father’s death, Michael is forced to replace him as head of the Corleone crime family.

Although throughout the trilogy, Michael makes numerous attempts to legitamize the Family business, he is continually thwarted by circumstances beyond his control, as well as his growing greed and hubris.  Of all our mob men’s stories, his is perhaps the most tragic.  And that’s why we love him.

1) Tony Soprano – Jersey Mobster Supreme

Show of origin: The Sopranos

Played by:          James Gandolfini

Why he made the list?

There are those of you out there who would undoubtedly like to give me flack for placing Tony Soprano above Michael Corleone on this list.  However, I have had eight years to get to know the former, and only a few hours to get to know the latter.  So, you will have to forgive me my sacrilege. 

Tony Soprano remains one of the most complex characters in television history.  On one hand, he is a hardened criminal, a violent and cold-blooded killer — a man who regularly cheats on his wife, who betrays his former friends and members of his family.  Sure, you could probably justify his murder of Tony Blundetto as a mercy killing, a rival family was going to do him in, anyway.

And his murder of Adrianna could be called a “protective measure.”  She was going to turn Tony and the rest of the Soprano family over to the FBI.

But his shocking “hands-on” murder of protégé and adoptive nephew Christopher Moltisanti during the show’s final season? 

I’m scratching my head over that one . . .

On the other hand, Tony Soprano was always somewhat of a flawed every-man.  He tried desperately to be a good dad to his two children, a good brother to his younger sister, and a good son to his spiteful, mean, and often unappreciative mother.  And before he killed Christopher, he really did care for him like a son or younger brother (if that counts for anything).  Tony also suffered from debilitating depression and panic attacks, both of which made him seem more fragile and human.

It was these physical and emotional ailments that caused Tony to seek treatment from psychiatrist Dr. Melfi.  During these therapy sessions,  we got to see a softer side of Tony — a side that experienced guilt and remorse over his actions, one that loved and deeply cared about those around him.

Dr. Melfi brought out the best in Tony Soprano.  And even though, these two never crossed the line romantically, the intelligent interplay and sexual tension between them was extremely HOT!

This is why Tony Soprano, tops my list.  And why, I REFUSE to believe that he died during that maddening fade-to-black series finale!  In fact, I am so certain, that Tony merely finished his onion rings, waited until Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing finished playing on the juke box, and drove home, that I’ve decided to leave you with a video of the awesome opening credits to one of the best television series of all time. 

After all, these credits show a living, cigar-smoking Tony Soprano commuting home from work on the New Jersey Turnpike.  And that’s what I truly believe he will be doing tomorrow evening . . . at least in TV Land!

 

 

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Filed under film, Mobsters, television, Top Ten Lists