Sunday, January 27, 2013

And the Oscar Goes Two...

Ok so these next picks shouldn't be quite as detailed. For one, there are fewer nominees in most of the categories, and two, I know less about them. 

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominees: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), and Naomi Watts (The Impossible). 

My pick: Quvenzhane Wallis

Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild

Let's be real, this girl should win just for her name! I mean really, she is going to have a hard enough time in life spelling that and every form she ever fills out will never have enough little blocks so let's give it to her so she can always say, "Yes, but I won an Oscar!"

Ok now for serious reasons. She was 5 years old when they began working on the film and does a good enough job to be nominated, that's saying something right there. The fact that this film has received such critical acclaim and stars a 5 year old, is why I think she deserves the Oscar. 

Also, and maybe a large part of why I feel Quvenzhane Wallis should win, the category is rather weak this year. Jennifer Lawrence is my second choice because she is good in Silver Linings, but is only really exceptional in one scene (this one scene is why I think she won the Golden Globe).

Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence with Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook.
 I do not think Jessica Chastain will win because of reasons stated in my previous post (see that here), and I do not think Emanuelle Riva from Amour will win because she is an old lady playing an old lady, nothing exceptional about that. Naomi Watts' film has not come to a city near me yet but I did like the trailers and previews I saw, but I just don't see her winning, even though it looked like a great performance by what I saw in the previews. 

Actor in a Supporting Role:
Nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

My pick: Tommy Lee Jones

Thaddeus Stevens
Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln 
Although my pick is Tommy Lee Jones, I picked it more because, of the performances I've seen, he is my favorite. I think more than the others, his acting really enhances this film rather than just contributes to it. This is also why I think Robert De Niro could also win and Alan Arkin will not win. 

Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook
Robert De Niro played a role that I think was a bit more challenging and out of character for him and I can't really picture anyone else in that role. Alan Arkin, on the other hand, didn't really enhance Argo in a way that no one else could. Yes, he brought some comedic relief and a unique sense of humor, but I feel like lots of different people could have played that role. 

Now, I must say, I am a little biased against one of the nominees in this category, and, unfortunately, I would not be surprised if he won. Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of my all time least favorite actors. He just gives me the creeps. I have never liked him in anything but I will admit that he must be a good actor because he is frequently nominated for different awards. I haven't seen the movie he is nominated for but believe he is always the dark horse who could win. 

Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master
I do not know much about the final nominee, Christoph Waltz, nor have I seen Django Unchained. I do not think Django will win an award, but this could be the lone award that it wins. What also makes me thinks Waltz could win is that he won in the same category in 2009 for Inglorious Basterds and his role in Django is much larger than the roles of the other nominees in their films. 

 Actress in a Supporting Role:
Nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

My Pick: Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway as Fantine in Les Miserables
I bet you couldn't guess that one! While Sally Field is wonderful as  Mary Todd Lincoln, I believe Anne Hathaway is a shoe in to win (knock on wood). She brings such raw emotion to the part of Fantine and raises the bar for all future Fantines who take on the role. 

If you have seen the movie and still are not convinced that she should win, compare the following YouTube clips of the same song, "I Dreamed a Dream." Clip 1 is Anne Hathaway, Clip 2 is sung by Ruthie Henshall who played Fantine in the 10th anniversary production of Les Miserables at London's Royal Albert Hall. 
Anne Hathaway
For me, this picture perfectly sums up why Hathaway should win. 

In clip 1, the same song from the movie, Anne Hathaway beautifully portrays Fantine's agony and desperation. However, in clip 2, if you were not familiar with the English language, and therefore could hear but not understand the words, and did not know the storyline or anything about Fantine's situation, you would simply think it was a beautiful song with beautiful music and singing. You would have no idea of the pain and anguish the song represents.

Hathaway's brilliance is that she maintains the beauty and magnificence of the song while at the same time conveying the wretchedness of life as well as Fantine's own personal despair. 

Although I do not think there is a close second, Sally Field is my number two for this one. 

Daniel Day Lewis
Sally Field and Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln
History has not been kind to Mrs. Lincoln as she is often remembered as a crazy woman who probably should have been institutionalized or at least heavily medicated. I have personally always felt bad for her (the real Mary Todd Lincoln, not Sally Field) because I felt as though we forget what all that poor woman went through. Only one of her four children outlived her, her husband was president in probably the most tumultuous time in our great nation's history, her husband's life was constantly threatened to the extent that he had to sneak into his own second inauguration and later he was assassinated, and she suffered from a variety of illnesses throughout her adult life, oh and she had to be the First Lady. Life was hard on the poor lady, and I feel like Sally Field portrayed that well. She didn't just convey a crazy lady, but a mother racked with grief, whose greatest fear is more loss. 

Oh, and Sally Field looks just like Mary Todd Lincoln. 

Mary Todd Lincoln on the left and Sally Field on the right. 
As for the other's, I do not think they even come close to either of these performances. That's just me personally, let me know if you feel differently. 

That's all for now, check back later for more picks and be sure to watch the Academy Awards on February 24th at 7 pm est on ABC!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

And the Oscar goes to....

Confession: I love award shows. Maybe this makes me a little shallow and a little too "of the world" or some other not great quality but I can't help it. 

I'm not completely sure what it is about them that I love but I do. It isn't that I am star struck or that I like seeing a bunch of rich people dress all fancy or hear them botch an acceptance speech (cough cough Jodie Foster at the globes cough cough). Maybe it is that I just like seeing the people and nominees I like win, I don't know. 

Although if I had to bet I would say it is just my competitive side coming out. I like picking the winner. I like being right (that would also probably be the shallow/slightly arrogant side coming out) and yelling that my pick got ripped off when they lose. It is almost like a sport to me. But all of this is just my rambling.

After seeing Silver Linings Playbook with my former roommate Caroline, we were discussing the Oscars and she suggested I write a blog about it. So I am.

I started writing this and it started getting really long so I've divided it up into a couple of posts. 

Disclaimer: I have not seen all the films and some of the categories I'm going to skip because, really, how am I supposed to pick a film editor. We will just say my default pick is Les Miserable because I'm a little obsessed with it. 

Best Picture
The Nominees: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty. 

My pick: Les Miserables

I think Les Miserables is the top choice because it is phenomenal. If you have not seen it stop reading and go now. But more than just my obvious bias, I picked Les Mis because it is held in such high regard in the theater world that it was a huge risk for all those involved in making it and they knew it would be held to the highest standard. It is not Mama Mia. It was bad and the world moved on. Some people, who must be tone deaf, loved it. Had Les Mis been poorly done, it would have been disastrous; all of the names of those involved would be mud! But what really pushed it over the top was that it was not simply good, it was incredible. A magnificent film adaptation of a legendary production.

Although Les Mis is my pick, it is not however a shoe in. I think this is probably the hardest category, as it should be. There are lots of nominees and, unlike other award shows, they are all lumped into one. Like I said, I haven't seen all of these but I think there are some other clear front runners: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Lincoln. 

Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild are definitely the wild cards. I have not seen either of these but I am always wary of films like these. To be really honest, I had not even heard of Amour until I saw it listed as a nominee. However, I think it is a front runner because the Academy likes foreign films in America. As for Beasts of the Southern Wild, I've seen trailers, previews, and interviews and heard reviews. The reviews are mostly outstanding but that's not why I picked it. It is artsy and different and the Academy likes that (i.e. The Artist last year) and it certainly helps that it has been well received. 

As for Lincoln, it is a great film, Daniel Day-Lewis is Abraham Lincoln, and Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones both do a good job. But, it just isn't over the top. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it, I will probably buy it when it comes out, which is saying something in the era of Netflix and Red Box, but I probably won't be counting down the days until it comes out and be at Target that day to get it, like I will be with Les Mis. 

Zero Dark Thirty is a toss up for me. I have not seen it and do not intend to see it because of some of the controversies surrounding it (although the day Osama Bin Ladin was killed I jumped up and down and celebrated like a 4 year old in a bounce house at a birthday party). Personally, I do not think it should even be a front runner but reality is that it probably should be, primarily because of political and historical reasons rather than the quality of the film. 

After telling this to my friend Caroline, she reminded that The Hurt Locker was similar and won several years ago (2010). Which is true, but, as the song says, "the times they are a changing." I think that the major difference is that The Hurt Locker was made several years ago, earlier in the War on Terrorism. Although Zero Dark Thirty is a different, but similar, story, it is the same war and polls from the election showed that Americans are tired of it, no matter what the political opinions surrounding it are. However, unlike the election, the American people aren't voting, the Academy is, and therefore I'm ruling it a toss up (but am secretly rooting against it). 

Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck in Argo

For the rest, I have seen some and not seen some. I'm sure all have their merits but they just don't strike me as Oscar winners. I did see Silver Linings Playbook and Argo. I liked both, although Argo is more my style than Silver Linings, but I would be shocked if they win.

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
Best Actor
Nominees: Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman, Joaquin Phoenix, Denzel Washington. 

Who I think will win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Who I want to win: Hugh Jackman

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln
Again, I'm a little biased. I loved Les Mis. But I have a case to make here. 

Both are incredible and deep down I wish they could share it. Like I said above, Daniel Day-Lewis is Abraham Lincoln. Everything you've ever heard about Lincoln Daniel Day-Lewis captures it. Every mannerism associated with Lincoln, he brings to life. The way he walks and talks and sits and grieves for our broken country,  is unreal. A similar performance would be Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in the Iron Lady. Both embody these historic figures. 

Hugh Jackman as Jean Val Jean In Les Miserables 
On the other hand, Hugh Jackman plays a legendary literary character. He pours incredible emotion into every word and every note he sings. He is my pick because I feel like his performance is critical to the overall success of the film by inspiring and enhancing the performance of the other actors and actresses. Whereas, I feel like Daniel Day-Lewis is the primary performer and the other actors and actresses, although good, don't quite live up to it. In the end I think Daniel Day-Lewis will walk away with it though because of the role he plays. When you see his performance, you compare him to Lincoln. When you see Hugh Jackman, you compare him to his past performances and other Jean Val Jean's you have seen. 

That's all for now. Feel free to comment. Check back later for more picks and be sure to watch the Academy Awards on February 24th at 7 pm est on ABC!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


After my parents helped move me out of my apartment we flew to New York City for a few days to see all of the Christmas festivities. I must say there is nothing quite like New York at Christmas time.  The lights, the windows, the decorations, the shopping, the shows- Christmas time is definitely the best time to visit.
Mom and I at Rockefeller Plaza. Dad was taking the picture. 

One of our favorite things to see every year is the decorated windows at stores like Macy's and Lord and Taylor. Even in years when we can't go to NYC we enjoy watching the HGTV special on how they design and put together the windows. 

Macy's Window 
Macy's Window

Macy's Window
Macy's Window
Although the weather wasn't great, not to mention I was a little under the weather, we still had a great time. We usually stay at a nice little Hampton Inn that is about two blocks from Times Square. It is nothing fancy but it is really convenient, affordable, and you always know what you are getting with a Hampton Inn.

The first day we were there I was trying to recuperate in the room and get my feet back under me while the rest of the family went shopping. That night we were able to get tickets to Radio City's Christmas Spectacular and see the Rockettes. Every year Radio City does a great job with it and it is a lot of fun.

The next day we did a little more shopping. We visited the shops at Central Park and dad and I got one of our favorite treats, a real Belgian Waffle. This is probably what my dad I look forward to the most when we go to NYC. They are delicious. 

Belgian Waffle
After that we went to FAO Schwartz. I am just a big kid when it comes to toy stores and I love FAO. Although I was a little disappointed that they didn't have their giant key board performers any more but I did love the giant lego people. 

StarWars LEGOs
FAO Guard made out of LEGOs

After some more shopping we went to see Annie on broadway. Annie has been one of my favorite musicals for my entire life and our Annie VHS tape was well used back in the day. It was excellent... duh it's Broadway!

Time's Square
All in all it was a great trip. The next day mom, dad, and I took the train from NYC to DC, picked our car up and made the 8ish hour drive home. And boy was it good to be home!

For those of you have never taken the Amtrak before, I would recommend considering it on your next trip. It is not always quicker or cheaper but sometimes it is and, unlike a plane, it has outlets to plug in your computer or phone and free wifi! Not to mention you can get up and walk around some if you feel like it. It was a fun little adventure for us!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Last day in DC

Well it has certainly been awhile. I have moved home from DC back to SC and am currently looking for a job. However, I have a few more DC posts that I never finished so I think I will finish them as well as posting any new adventures. 

My mom and dad came to DC to move me out of my apartment a little over a week before Christmas. That Saturday, after we packed everything up, we had a few last DC adventures. 

US Capitol at Christmas

One that we really enjoyed was the National Botanic Garden's Christmas decorations. They have models of each of the National Mall monuments made out of natural materials such as tree bark and leaves. It is absolutely incredible that they were able to do all of that. 
US Capitol Replica
US Capitol Building
Check out the details! It even had windows!
Freedom Statue
Even has Lady Freedom on top.

US Capitol Replica

US Capitol Replica
Just to give you an idea of how large this replica is. It was massive. 
Supreme Court Building with the Capitol in the background.

Library of Congress

Botanic Garden
US Botanic Garden

Washington Monument Replica
Washington Monument
Lincoln Memorial replica
Lincoln Memorial 
National Mall
Lincoln Memorial with Washington Monument in the background. Although I was slightly disappointed that Lincoln is backwards, but I do understand they were trying to make it easier for people to see. 

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson Memorial. I like how they left the stem of the gourd.

Smithsonian Castle model
The Smithsonian Castle

White House Model
The White House

They also had an extensive model train exhibit. All of the buildings and creatures were also made out of natural materials. 

I wish I had gotten a better picture of the dragon on top of the pagoda, its wings were made out of giant maple leaves. 

US Botanic Garden
The train zipping past. 

Then we ran through (quite literally I am afraid) the National Gallery of Art. I was able to show mom and dad the highlights and things I thought they would like. 
Fountain with Christmas decorations at the National Gallery of Art
After that we grabbed a quick lunch in the cafe in Sculpture Garden and watched the ice skaters as we quickly ate are lunch. (BTW it was quite tasty and not a bad place to stop and grab a quick bite if you are on the Mall for the day!)
Ice Skating rink in the Sculpture Garden in front of the National Archives.

Then we headed for the Museum of American History and saw some of its highlights like Abraham Lincoln's hat and suit in their new Emancipation Proclamation exhibit, the First Ladies Dresses, Julia Childs Kitchen, Kermit the Frog, and Abraham Lincoln's Rifle. 

Julia Child
Julia Child's Kitchen
Julia Child
Me inside Julia Child's Kitchen

Top Hat
Abraham Lincoln's Top Hat

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln's Suit

2nd Amendment
Abraham Lincoln's Rifle

After all this fun we met some friends of our who just happened to be passing through DC for dinner in Arlington at one of our favorite places, the Cheesecake Factory! 

Another busy day in the capitol but I thought it was a good way to say good bye! DC will always be one of my favorite places to visit. 

In closing, I wanted to share my last visit to the Rotunda for a while. I went by for one last visit as I left work that Friday. I had the place to myself for about 5 minutes. Maybe I teared up. I started to lie down in the floor and just look at it for a while but I thought that would be awkward if someone came through. I will really miss seeing this. 

Apotheosis of Washington
My last visit to the Rotunda