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Friday Free Kick: Wonderful MLS Kits and Overrated Films

Crests and color reveals and movie fun. Must be Friday.

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

With MLS still on holiday, the main soccer story in the States yesterday was a crest and color reveal, with Los Angeles Football Club publicly revealing their crest and colors, a color scheme so similar to Atlanta United's scheme they probably purchased it at Home Depot. Almost immediately, Twitter called them out for the similarities, but it is the larger debate about which MLS kits and crests are the best that again captured my imagination.

After all, we're getting close to kit reveal season-- the time of year when MLS merchandise either flies off the shelves or sees marketers sitting in a dark corner muttering hushed tones about next year. MLS's kit season is nearly contemporaneous with the film industry's award season. In that light, I'd like to go two different directions in this edition of Friday free kick. First, I'll provide my rankings of the top 10 MLS kits from 2015, noting who has room to improve and who can only harm their brand in 2016. Second, I'll list what I believe are the five most overrated films of all time, fully expecting to be universally derided in the comments section. First, the kits!

5. Sporting Kansas City, Home

Plaid kits are risky kits, but there was something dapper about the nuanced, slight collar without any aggressive trim that made this one work. Sporting's rebrand has done wonders for everything about the club, so it is fitting the graph paper plaids were nice enough for dinner parties.

4. Columbus Crew, Home

Speaking of rebrands, the Crew's was one of the most successful in league history, and the home yellow, which avoided the tacky checkerboard of the road blacks, looked crisp and clean with the Bundesliga-inspired badges. The soccer they played in the land of dos a cero was pretty compelling too.

3. DC United, Away

Adidas didn't dip too far into their bag of tricks with this kit, which from the badge to the coloring looked eerily similar to the Germany 2014 home kits. The good news? Those were great kits, ambitious but also rooted in DC United's rich (by MLS standards) history.

2. Vancouver Whitecaps, Home

With a nod to the mountains that both surround Vancouver and remain in the club name, these white jerseys with gentle, minimal navy trim were terrific, innovative and interesting without being too full. It was the best kit yet for a club that had its best season in MLS to date.

1. Orlando City, Home

So many things went wonderfully for MLS in its return to Florida last year, and while that surprised some, it didn't surprise anyone who saw Kaka unveil the home purples, trimmed in gold, last winter. And while Orlando City bucked conventional wisdom by shying away from the staple blue, red and blacks most expansion clubs choose, they did so respectful of the club's historical roots, with the USLPro crest printed on the inside of the shirt, just behind the badge. That's ambitious, and really cool, and as they enter a new stadium this season amid turmoil, at least they have got the shirts right.

But what about overrated films?

With one exception, I'll stick to the last ten years. Here are five that were decorated at awards season but haven't aged well. Or weren't that good in the first place.

5. The Departed (2006, Martin Scorcese)

Scorcese's Boston mafia flick captured four Academy Awards (only DiCaprio lost) and several Golden Globes. I've seen it written that The Departed is one of the best cop films of the 2000's, which may be true, but the reality is that while the film is fun Scorcese, it is also messy and a bit hamstrung by an overbearing Jack Nicholson, who overshadows an excellent DiCaprio and efficient Wahlburg from the first horrific Boston accent voiceover (played over the Stones classic "Gimme Shelter") as the film opens. The last 30 minutes, where Scorcese tries to tie up loose ends from the film's ambitious narrative, felt forced and sloppy, a feeling that is even worse now that the film is on TNT every couple of weeks.

4. The Wizard of Oz (1939, Victor Fleming)

This movie doesn't make me viscerally angry but it comes close. And no, listening to Dark Side of the Moon while watching it doesn't make it any better, it just makes you kind of creepy. But back to the film, which won two Academy Awards and was nominated for six.

For starters, why doesn't Glinda just tell Dorothy how to get home at the beginning, before the Muchkins sing "Follow the Yellow Brick Road?" And how scary is a witch that can be defeated with water? The narrative of the film isn't particularly interesting no matter how much it accomplished technically. And shouldn't the film be punished for being the impetus behind James Franco and Mila Kunis embarrassing themselves in Oz: The Great and Powerful?

3. Slumdog Millionaire (2008, Danny Boyle)

Like The Departed, I actually enjoyed this film but I don't know how it won eight Academy Awards. It wasn't even the 8th best movie in 2008. I think it baited the Academy into believing it was a film about Bombay or some facet of Inidan culture but really it wasn't, it was just about seeing if Danny Boyle and a rather unheralded group of actors could sweep through the Oscars.

At its core, the script is lazy and silly, and Boyle brilliantly uses the hyper-realistic cinematography of Anthony Dod Mantle to brush that under the rug, as if to say: Bombay is abjectly poor, but look how much fun everyone is having? I need something more than that, I guess, and in other Boyle films, like Trainspotting or 127 Hours, I get it. Those are better Boyle films, though sadly less universally decorated.

2. American Hustle (2013, David Russell)

This film received an astonishing ten Academy Award nominations, but thankfully won none after capturing Best Picture at the Golden Globes. And while the film did see the incredibly underrated Amy Adams deliver an out-of-type performance highlighted by her squatting loverlorn in the bathroom, the rest of the movie fell flat, with predictable plot twists and a story arc that wasn't really ever dangerous enough for a classic crime thriller. Sure, J Law stole some scenes, but she felt underused and detached throughout the film, and wasn't ever enough to make ABSCAM a truly fascinating film subject.

1. Life of Pi (2012, Ang Lee)

Four Oscars and 11 nominations for an I-Tunes visualizer with a plot twist designed to make an irritating and quirky narrator likeable. This is why it is sometimes difficult to watch the Oscars. And keep in mind that while Ang Lee directed the hell out of this movie, this was the best year for movies this decade, with Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild (a better acted and more interesting version of Pi, in many ways), Moonrise Kingdom, Lincoln, The Master, Amour and many other contenders staring at Pi's Oscar success in shock.

The real problem with this visually pleasing movie to me wasn't just that it doesn't hold up well with its peers from 2012-- it is that the film sidesteps what seems to be its reaching moral lesson: that amid light and colorful symbolism a darkness can linger. Pi asks the writer telling his "true" story which version he prefers- the light and happy one or the one where he survives by being a murderous cannibal. The writer says "the one with the tiger." And Pi says "and so it goes with God." And that's more or less the end of the discussion. Huh? That's all? Really, I'd rather see Tommy Lee Jones scared in his rocking chair at the end of a film than that.

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