Finals are upon us. Colder weather has finally found its way south. Finishing the semester is a matter of staying alert through exams, papers and projects and staying warm. We’ve asked five of the Drag’s prominent coffee purveyors about their three top-selling cold-weather drinks and tasted and compared them. For each store, we’ve designated our favorites after considering their price, needed caloric investment and necessary heat factor. The results of the Great Daily Texan Coffee Taste Test 2012 below. — Aleksander Chan & Sarah-Grace Sweeney

222B Guadalupe St.
For when you’re not meeting your TA to discuss a paper.

Cafe Latte (BEST)
Price: $3.85 for a small
Calories: Not available (uses whole milk)
Heat factor: 4 (out of 5)
Taste: The best drink we tasted; steamed just right with a spiky espresso.

Regular Coffee (ALSO GOOD)
Price: $2.50 for a small
Calories: 0
Heat factor: 4 (out of 5)
Taste: Strong, bold flavor that’s aromatic and warming.

Cappuccino (BLEH)
Price: $3.50 for a small
Calories: Not available (uses whole milk)
Heat factor: 4 (out of 5)
Taste: Like a too-strong version of the latte.

W. 24th and Guadalupe St.
For when you don’t want to walk the extra block to Starbucks.

Gingerbread Cookie Latte (BEST)
Price: $4.06 for a small
Calories: 250
Heat factor: 3 (out of 5)
Taste: Of the many gingerbread-flavored drinks, this one is the best. You can taste the ginger, but it’s not too strong.

Red Velvet Hot Cocoa (ALSO GOOD)
Price: $3.25 for a small
Calories: 320
Heat factor: 2.5 (out of 5)
Taste: It sounds like a bad idea, but as translated, it’s not half bad. Flavorful.

Winter Dream Tea Latte (WHATEVER)
Price: $3.79 for a small
Calories: 200
Heat factor: 4 (out of 5)
Taste: There’s nothing necessarily bad about this middle-of-the-road drink, it’s just so ... blah.

504 W. 24th St.
For when you’re ready to admit you like it.

Gingerbread Latte (BEST)
Price: $3.55 for a tall
Calories: 190 (2% milk, no whip)
Heat factor: 1 (out of 5)
Taste: Of all the Seattle-based coffee purveyors overpowering flavored drinks, this is its most subtle and tastes just like the cookie.

Peppermint Mocha (ALSO GOOD)
Price: $3.55 for a tall
Calories: 250 (2% milk, no whip)
Heat factor: 1 (out of 5)
Taste: A liquid Andie’s Mint. A lukewarm, melted, liquified Andie’s Mint.

Caramel Brulee Latte (GROSS)
Price: $3.55 for a tall
Calories: 270 (2% milk, no whip)
Heat factor: 1 (out of 5)
Taste: Like regular coffee overloaded with CoffeeMate creamer and left sitting out for a few hours.

2404 Guadalupe St.
For when you need an excuse to get a bagel and schmeer.

Regular Mocha (BEST)
Price: $3 for a regular
Calories: 334 (with whip)
Heat factor: 3 (out of 5)
Taste: More like a cup of hot chocolate than caffeinated cocoa, it might be perfect for the coffee-averse.

White Chocolate Mocha (ALSO GOOD)
Price: $3.20 for regular
Calories: 419 (with whip)
Heat factor: 3 (out of 5)
Taste: It’s more like cookies and cream than white chocolate.

Caramel Macchiato (MEH)
Price: $3.20 for a regular
Calories: 250 (with whip)
Heat factor: 3 (out of 5)
Taste: Watery and not at all caramel-y.

2600 Guadalupe St.
For when you’re between paychecks.

French Vanilla Cappuccino (BEST)
Price: $1.19 for a small
Calories: Not available
Heat factor: 4 (out of 5)
Taste: Hot, buzzy Cocoa Puff milk. It’s your childhood breakfast, spiked with extra sugar.

Brazilian Bold (ALSO GOOD)
Price: $1.19 for a small
Calories: 0
Heat factor: 3 (out of 5)
Taste: Hot, bold brown water. There’s a definitely a body to this blend.

Exclusive Blend (BLAND)
Price: $1.19 for a small
Calories: 0
Heat factor: 3 (out of 5)
Taste: Flavorless. If you’re looking for something caffeinated to warm you up ... this will work.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Ever since 2000’s “Cast Away,” director Robert Zemeckis has stuck to developing motion capture cinema, most notably with 2007’s preposterously violent adaptation of “Beowulf.” “Flight” is his return to working with live action, and it is a triumphant foray into the field where he made his name, featuring some stylish, effective direction and a powerhouse performance from Denzel Washington.  

We’re introduced to Washington’s wonderfully named Whip Whitaker as he stumbles out of a flight attendant’s bed, does a line of cocaine, has a drink and boards his morning flight. Oh, and he’s the pilot. When the plane crashes, Whip is able to save most of the passengers and crew, but finds himself under public scrutiny once a pesky toxicology report is released. With a whip-smart lawyer (Don Cheadle) and an airline official (Bruce Greenwood) in his corner, Whip prepares for a public hearing while struggling with his alcoholism.

Audiences are used to seeing Washington as an assured, confident man in complete control of his situation, and “Flight” plays into that expectation rather brilliantly. Whip is in control, as evidenced by his ability to land the plane without killing everyone on board. Once Whip is forced to confront his drinking problem, Washington has some truly fascinating material to play with as Whip’s control starts to slip away.

As Whip begins to spiral into oblivion, faced with the realities of his problems, Washington is completely magnetic. Whip is helpless in his struggle against alcohol, and watching that sense of hopelessness and inevitability sink into Washington’s eyes is alarming, to say the least. It’s a remarkably likable but challenging performance, and Washington crafts a compelling hero in a film where the central question is whether we should be rooting for him at all.

It would be easy for “Flight” to become a one-man show, but the supporting cast is far too engaging to allow that to happen. The mostly unknown Kelly Reilly shines as a fellow addict whom Whip befriends, and the wounded tenderness she brings to the role is moving. John Goodman is an adrenaline shot to the arm of “Flight,” roaring through his handful of scenes with reckless, hilarious abandon, and it’s always a joy to see him pop up.

However, James Badge Dale blindsides the audience with his one-scene role as a cancer patient who runs into Washington and Reilly in a hospital stairwell. It’s a small part, but Dale makes it his own, bringing such life and vitality to the flickering candle of his character’s existence. His brief intrusion in the film is thematically and emotionally vital.

Clearly, Zemeckis hasn’t forgotten how to coax strong performances from his actors, but it’s also nice to see he hasn’t forgotten how to direct without a computer. His staging of the film’s pivotal crash is stunning, an absurdly intense sequence made even more so by Washington’s steely reserve. Even when the film is a bit more grounded, Zemeckis is at the top of his game, finding interesting ways to portray Whip’s wobbling sobriety and infusing tension into a foregone conclusion.

“Flight” isn’t the film that it’s been advertised as, and that’s not as big a problem as you’d think — thanks to one of the year’s best performances from Denzel Washington and a spectacular return to form for Robert Zemeckis. It’s much more drama than thriller, but it’s a strong, involving and refreshingly adult film, a mature examination of addiction that dares to ask some uneasy questions.  

Printed on Friday, November 2, 2012 as: Zemeckis soars to cinematic heights

Pittsburgh Pirate Andrew McCutchen follows through on a double to right field against the Washington Nationals. McCutchen has 12 home runs and 46 RBIs on .294 hitting this season.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Being an All-Star is one of the highest honors a baseball player can receive. It may only account for one’s first-half performance, but at the end of a career, the number of All-Star squads a player makes is used as a barometer to help measure their greatness. After all, baseball is a numbers game, which is what makes it so bewildering that these players didn’t make the cut for this year’s All-Star game.

1. Tommy Hanson – This is the player whose absence in the list of All-Star Game rosters is most baffling. Hanson has the MLB’s ninth-best ERA (2.52), third-best batting average against and third-best hits allowed per nine innings (6.17). His 1.04 WHIP is good for 12th and only five pitchers have more wins than Hanson, who has 10.

2. Paul Konerko – Usually 21 home runs, 62 RBIs and a .319 batting average would get you into the All-Star Game. But it wasn't enough for Konerko who was left off the American League roster due to heavy competition from Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera. Konerko may still get in as he gained an early lead in the AL’s Final Vote.

3. Andrew McCutchen – This Pirates outfielder is an incredible blend of power and speed as McCutchen has knocked over 12 home runs and stolen 15 bases so far. Pittsburgh’s closer, Joel Hanrahan, definitely deserves to be an All-Star as he’s converted each of his 25 save opportunities, but there’s no rule that says Pittsburgh can’t have multiple All-Stars.

4. C.C. Sabathia – Nobody has more wins than this Yankees ace, and even though almost all of his infield will make the trip to Phoenix, he deserves to be joining them. Sabathia has long been considered to be one of the best hurlers in the game, even before he began enjoying the benefits of playing for the most storied franchise in baseball.

5. Jhonny Peralta – It’s bad enough Derek Jeter is slated to be the American League’s starting shortstop in this year’s Midsummer Classic, but the fact that Peralta isn’t backing him up there is a mistake. Peralta is the only American League shortstop hitting over .300 and has just as many home runs and RBIs as the guy actually backing Jeter up at the All-Star game; Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera.

6. Mark Teixeira – Teixeira’s .244 batting average is subpar, but only Jose Bautista has more home runs (Teixeira has 25) and there are only three players who have more RBIs than Teixeira’s 65. Six of his teammates made the All-Star team and four of them are starting, but Teixeira is just as deserving as any of them.

7. Francisco Cordero – Cordero’s 17 saves won’t blow anyone away, but his microscopic 1.49 ERA, .085 WHIP and the .160 batting average opposing hitters have against Cordero should. Cincinnati’s closer is a big reason they’re in contention for the NL Central crown and should have a chance to suit up in the All-Star game for the NL.

8. Huston Street – Only three pitchers have more saves than this former Longhorn, who has converted 24 of his 26 save opportunities. Unfortunately for Street, each of those three closers (Heath Bell, Joel Hanrahan, Craig Kimbrel) pitch for NL teams. Regardless, someone as reliable as Street deserves a spot on the All-Star team.

9. Jon Lester – Boston’s ace is one of five AL pitchers to win at least 10 games in the first half of the season. Despite playing in a big media market, playing for a team on pace to reach the postseason and putting up solid numbers, Lester finds himself without an invitation to the Midsummer Classic.

10. Chase Headley – The San Diego third baseman has flown under the radar this season, with not many people paying attention to the Padres. Headley’s .306 batting average and .394 on-base percentage don’t seem too impressive, but both of those numbers lead all third baseman. Maybe if he played for the two-time defending National League champion Philadelphia Phillies like Placido Polanco, the NL’s starting third baseman, he would have made it.