Monday, February 28, 2011
Y'all, I gotta come right out and say that the Oscars weren't so bad. They are long and boring every year. This year was really no different. And in some ways, I found it more enjoyable than usual. I realize I'm in the minority here, but I don't care. Just like Firthy said in King's Speech, or as I now like to call it, Stutter Island, "I have a voice!" Here's 11 things i dug about it.
1. James Franco being James Franco. Some people didn't like his aggressively i'm-so-over-it, is-he-actually-stoned?, perhaps-he's-appearing-via-satellite-from-another planet delivery but I totally enjoyed it. Furthermore, what else did you expect from James Franco? That's right in line with how he behaves ALL THE TIME. I definitely think the game plan was Anne Hathaway was gonna be turned up to 11 with being eager to please, and he was gonna be totally indifferent to hosting AND to his own nomination, and while they both knew they wouldn't be "funny" they'd at least balance each other out and enjoy themselves. I don't know what James Franco found so interesting to look at way up in the rafters of the Kodak Theater, but it amused me when he looked up there after delivering every single one of his lines. I wasn't surprised by his demeanor and i wasn't disappointed in it either. Also, I knew he'd show up for at least one bit in drag and I was right. Good on me.
2. The opening montage. It could've been stale since it's an Oscar tradition now to have the hosts show up in all the nominated movies. But an Alec Baldwin-centered Inception spoof complete with an Ambien Capri Sun-style drink box? That was totally giggle-worthy. Also bonus points for the outfits the hosts wore while exploring Black Swan and True Grit. Double eye-patches rule!
3. Autotune the Movies. He doesn't own a shirt. Short but sweet. And made me laugh out loud. Well played, Oscars.
4. Firthy, FTW! How can you not love Colin Firth? He's such a class act. If anybody deserves an Oscar on his mantle, it's that dude. A lot of ladies love him for Pride & Prejudice or Bridget Jones, as they should. But he was fantastic last year in A Single Man, and again just so great this year in The King's Speech. Just a lovely thing to see this guy have his moment.
5. Kirk Douglas extends the show by 10 minutes, but is not boring. Kirk comes out, hits on Anne Hathaway, delays announcing the winner of Best Supporting Actress in a delightfully excruciating way for the nominees in a way maybe only he could get away with, and then trades his walking cane for the arm of the F-Bomb spewing Melissa Leo. Awfully nice to see you, Kirk!
6. Writers give good speech. Aaron Sorkin won adapted screenplay for The Social Network and David Seidler won original screenplay for The King's Speech. Both men gave eloquent well-crafted speeches under pressure that reflected the very reason why they just won those awards. Sorkin was gracious and heartfelt and closed it out by telling his daughter, ''Roxy Sorkin, your father just won the Academy Award. I'm going to have to insist on some respect from your guinea pig.'' Hee! And Seidler, for my money gave the best speech just by starting with, ''My father always told me I would be a late bloomer. I believe I am the oldest person to win this particular award." Damn. Can you imagine? Plus as a stutterer, The King's Speech was a very personal story to him. It's nice to see that dreams come true at any and every age.
7. Cate Blanchett says what everyone's thinking. Cate, dressed in probably the most polarizing dress of a not-too-crazy fashion year, introduced the award for best make up and after the clip for Wolfman played, showing the wolfy change, Cate said just two simple words, "That's gross." Gross it was, and a funny moment it was, and Wolfman won, so it's no skin of his gross wolfy nose.
8. Luke Matheny needs a haircut. The Live Action Short Film winner looks amazed, delighted and slightly self-conscious when his NYU-thesis film God of Love took home a statute and he took to the stage ''Oh, I should've gotten a haircut,'' he said. Yes, he should've. Maybe you don't need to write a speech on Oscar Night, but you do need to get your hair did.
9. Best Song had a rough year. I didn't think any of the nominees were particularly strong songs. None of the live performances were anything to get excited about. The winner was Randy Newman for a song that sounded exactly like every other song he ever wrote. Newman has been nominated 20 times but has only won twice. Because there is almost always a better song out there than what Randy Newman came up with. But not this year. Newman acknowledged the lameness of the category even as he accepted the award. His candor was refreshing, even if the songs were not.
10. Dreams Come True, Kids Edition. Okay, so I'm heartless, but my initial reaction to the Staten Island kids singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow as the big finale to the show was, "They're not singing live? They're lip-syncing? Whaaat?" But then after thinking about it, it is such a sweet moment for all those kids to be part of the Oscars and I'm sure it was an incredible dream come true to fly across the country and be with movie stars and sing and close out the show. What a great memory for them all. So that's really great... even if I hate when people sing to a track at a live event. I'll cut the kids some slack. This time.
11. Miss Hathaway as the Universal Cheerleader. Anne Hathaway has a really strong "wooo!" She didn't miss an opportunity to "wooo!" for an upcoming presenter, or winner or clip package the whole night. It didn't matter if they cut her mic, there was a live mic somewhere on stage and Hathaway was loud enough to project and find it. I love her for her unbridled enthusiasm. She really wanted everyone involved to feel appreciated and supported. Bless her heart.
As for my voting, I only guessed 15 of 24 categories correctly. I'm not pleased. I should've been at least at 18 or 19. So it just goes to show that seeing all the movies doesn't always translate into knowing who's going to win. Still I think the ones that I missed were more a result of so many of some races running pretty even, and they could've gone either way. It was a strong year in movies, I think. So even if people wound up being bored by the ceremony, it wasn't for a lack of entertaining and intriguing films to honor. Can't wait to see what makes it to the top of the list next year!
Friday, February 25, 2011
We are past the halfway point! 7 episodes down, 6 left to go. When I'm running a marathon, just being over halfway there is a really good part of the race for me mentally, because I know that every step I have left is less than the amount I've already taken. So no matter what fatigue I might be feeling, I know I've already done the majority of the work and can totally make it to the finish line. This show is definitely like running a marathon.
Last Time on Fifteen: Ashley and Jake debate the likelihood of turning into an alcoholic by age 15. Jake continues to pressure Ashley to talk to Matt about his DRINKING PROBLEM. Courtney's new intense love for Dylan started to scare her (as well as everyone else. Including me.) The Principal decided to let Dylan play a concert during lunch hour. Brooke makes a play for Dylan now that his popularity is rising. Courtney could not handle the competition.
Episode 7 - Temperature's Rising. Hillside's having a heatwave! A Canadian heatwave! The Temperature's Rising. It isn't surprising. Brooke certainly can - Can Can!
Avalon The Hang out of people we've never met. Some of Matt's Douche Bag Basketball Friends are celebrating their recent victory and they talk to a strange-looking girl we've never seen before.
Seriously, who are these people? Where's the real cast? Oh here they come. Matt doesn't look happy. Oh, Ashley and Jake don't look thrilled to be there either.
They sit at the Loser's Table, even though they are technically winners. Hillside pulled out the victory 61-60. Problem is, Matt scored 14 points in the first half and then Coach Williams benched him because of his suck-ass attitude and selfish play. Jake's all, "yeah... that was weird how the Coach stood up to you..." Ashley is even less helpful, telling him he should be happy the team still won, since Matt cares about the team so much. Matt hates Jake and Ashley so much. He gets up to go play pinball. Jake tells Ashley this isn't the night to bring up Matt's DRINKING PROBLEM. Ashley hangs her head wishing she had better, smarter friends.
Hillside - Main Hall. Brooke and Kelly come in and Brooke tells Kelly about the amazing face Courtney made when she walked in on Brooke and Dylan together at the garage. It was pretty awesome.
Kelly's like "So you're into Dylan now?" And Brooke's all "No, Dylan is into ME." Kelly makes this face that says"Bitch, you certainly are a piece of work." Then Brooke demands to have the English Paper she had Kelly's sister write for her last night. Kelly hands it over, but not before she gets the $10 Brooke owes for it. Smart girl. They talk about the high quality of the work, and Theresa sticks her head up into the back of the shot, as she so often does when entering a scene. She stomps over to Brooke demanding to know what's going on, and Brooke shamelessly spells it out for her. She's handing in a plagiarized paper written by Kelly's sister. Theresa is totally scandalized. Theresa is also wearing a sweater with some strange writing knitted into it. I can't read the words and I suspect it might be written in the Black Speech of Mordor. Brooke can't deal with her Little Sister's whining, and leaves Theresa and Kelly alone together so they can start to plot Brooke's demise.
Avalon - Stools of Stank Attitudes. Matt starts yelling at Jake about how he's gonna go to school and tell Coach Williams off for benching him during the last game. Jake tries to talk him down, but that only makes Matt more intent to have it out with the Coach - even if he gets cut from the squad! Jake is finally like "fine, go get kicked off the team so we don't have to talk about it anymore." That makes Matt decide he can wait a few more days. Matt walks away from the register allowing Jake to pay for his... breakfast? Lunch? I can't tell what time of day it's supposed to be. Jake and the cashier handle the whole transaction without ever speaking to each other. It's totally weird because they stare at each other the whole time but nobody says anything. This show is a mess.
Hillside - Olaf's Corner. Olaf is trying to teach Billy chess strategy but Billy can't keep up. He's feeling all twisted up inside because he doesn't want to live with his Dad. He wants to move back to his house with his mom and Courtney. Things must be pretty bad if living with Courtney seems to be the better option. Billy and Olaf talk, but I'm distracted by a sign promoting "Romanoff and Juliet" in the background. That seems like a strange choice of play for a Canadian Middle school/High school to stage.
Olaf thinks Billy should talk to his family. Billy's parents didn't ask him where he wanted to live in the first place and Courtney can only think about Dylan lately, so Billy's kinda on his own. Olaf tells Billy he can always talk to him until his family stops sucking. Aww, something tells me someone's gonna throw a wrench in their bromance really really soon.
Hillside - Locker Labyrinth. Speak of the devil, in swooshes Courtney - all fire and brimstone. She stops at her locker... which is now two lockers away from Brooke? Oh my god, Show. I can't take it anymore!! How can this locker situation make any sense to anyone? Every episode it's something new. Anyway, these two bitches are off to the races. Who can be a bigger bitch? Brooke, but Courtney comes in a close second. Courtney is so angry for having found Brooke at Dylan's place after Courtney went and told Brooke that she liked him. Brooke is like "No, girl. You got it all wrong. Dylan's all yours." Courtney totally buys this because she is a fool, and Brooke giggles to herself as she goes off to find Dylan and make out with him.
Hillside - Girl's Locker Room. Courtney is explaining to Ashley how she got Brooke all wrong and that her dreams of happiness with Dylan haven't actually been crushed. Ashley thinks this whole drama with Dylan is beyond stupid. She leaves abruptly, forcing an end to the conversation. Hooray!
Hillside - Student Lounge. Dylan waits there for Brooke to come seduce him. And here she is! Brooke pretends to be a human with feelings and a sense of compassion, and has a decent conversation with Dylan until she gets all totally bizarro and gives him a SILVER MUSIC BOX FOR NO REASON!
And Dylan must get random music boxes as gifts all the time because he takes it in stride. Brooke goes away and Dylan winds up the music box. As it starts to play that's when Drunk Matt and his Douche Bag Basketball Friends stagger into the lounge. Matt slurs at Dylan about his wussy music box. Dylan calls Matt out on being benched. Matt AGAIN mentions the music box and this is too much for Dylan. They lunge at each other. Douche Bags try to pull them apart. Sadly, no one gets hurt.
Drunk Matt shouts at Dylan that one of these days Matt is gonna take Dylan's head off. It would've been more threatening if he wasn't walking backwards up a flight of stairs while saying this. It's just a little awkward. Nonetheless, Dylan stares him down and very dramatic music plays, as if someone just got killed in a Nightmare on Elm Street movie.
Avalon - Pinball Wizard Room. Jake and Ashley discuss Matt's latest drunken outburst and altercation. In case you couldn't guess, they are concerned. Ashley resolves she needs to whisper to Matt about this problem... NOW. But "now" meaning "later." First we have to deal with Courtney and Dylan.
It's the Main Hall! Pick a locker! Any locker! Courtney is all riled up in defense of her man. Matt had no right to start a fight with Dylan! Courtney is gonna talk to Matt about it right away! Dylan laughs it off and tells her he's fine and she doesn't need to involve herself. Courtney flirts with Dylan really strong and then tries to invite herself over to his garage that afternoon. He turns her down and then bails. I think the scene will be over but, oh dear god no! It's a Courtney Simpson Dream Sequence! I do not want to go to there...
Courtney dreams about Dylan giving his lunch hour concert and being pulled up onstage as if he's Bruce Springsteen and she's Courtney Cox. Hey, they have the same first name at least! Courtney is wearing mom jeans and dancing like she's the precursor to Elaine on Seinfeld. This is painful. This is the best this girl can do for herself in her own fantasies? So so sad.
Hillside - Olaf's Corner minus Olaf. Brooke and Kelly have taken over Olaf's spot just to talk shit about him. Booooo! Olaf's so much better than these two bitches. Billy comes over and wants to know what the problem with Olaf? Both of them pretend there's nothing wrong with him, except that he's weird and a geek and foreign and awful. This conversation shakes Billy to his core. Don't listen to them, Billy. Who are they to judge a person's character?
Courtney comes over and pulls Billy from the jaws of those two jackals. Billy asks Courtney what she thinks of Olaf and she's like "What? I don't know that dude. Who cares? I need you to spy on Dylan for me!" Billy finally clues into the fact that Courtney has a crush on Dylan, which seems so strange to me that it would take this long, since she's been making moves on him right in front of Billy for two episodes now. But whatever. Billy thinks it's hilarious, but agrees to do recon as long as Courtney rents him videos that weekend. You can't get something for nothing, Courtney!
Brooke's Gigantor Bedroom. This show really likes to shoot people watching their own reflections. There are mirrors everywhere! The sisters are fighting again. Theresa bitches at Brooke for toying with Dylan. Brooke plays innocent, but Theresa isn't having it, not while her feelings for Dylan are super real and Brooke is just a total fake. Theresa thinks someone should tell Dylan what's going on, and then should go tell Brooke's English teacher that she bought that paper. This sets off Brooke's warning alarm, and she gets tough on Little Sis. Theresa backs off... for now. She'll bide her time and wait for Kelly to come up with a plan to take Brooke down once and for all!!
Avalon - Pinball Wizard Room. Courtney is waiting for Billy to return with news about Dylan. Unfortunately, it's bad news, since Brooke is all up in Dylan's grill right now. Courtney is scandalized. Billy says she doesn't have to rent him the videos this weekend.
(Brooke just got a message from Alpha that Zordon's in trouble. Brooke makes up a story about a fake boyfriend to get away from Dylan and back to the Command Center before it's too late!)
Dylan's Garage Band. Brooke and Dylan discuss the hideous silver music box, she gave him for no reason. Dylan likes it. Brooke wants Dylan to play her a song. How about one by The Grapes of Wrath? They are her favorite band and they are playing in town next week... she REALLY wants to see them. Dylan finally takes the bait and asks her if she wants to go. Brooke's like "Whaaaat? Oh, sorry. I'm already going with my made-up boyfriend Terry who's in the 12th Grade! I'm supposed to be meeting him now. Byeeeee!" And then she runs away and he's all confused. Dylan, you're being played!!
Avalon - Conspirator's Corner. Brooke is retelling the whole story to Kelly about how she is playing hard to get with Dylan. Kelly can't believe Dylan fell for it. Me nether. Brooke isn't ready to reel him in yet either. She's gonna make him flop around on the line and get really jealous about fake ol' Terry before she snatches him up. Don't forget - she doesn't actually like him though. Brooke, you are so eeeeevil!
Avalon - Pinball Wizard Room. Ashley tells Matt they need to talk. Matt says fine and then goes to start playing pinball so that he'll have something to occupy his attention during their dumb conversation. Ashley's like, "no give me your full attention for once! You'll never be able to hear my soft voice over the whirring and chimes of the pinball machine!" Matt thinks the lecture that's coming is about his fight with Dylan, but no, Ashley tells him its about her thinking he's an alcoholic. Wow, she feels SO much better having said it! She explains to Matt that he drinks every night on the weekends, and now he drinks on weekdays AND he's carrying around that giant flask in his book bag. Matt wants to know how she found his flask. It's because she's a snoop going through his things! Matt wants them to drop the conversation immediately. Ashley isn't dropping the conversaion, because Matt needs to face his DRINKING PROBLEM. Ashley is worried sick and can't handle it anymore! Matt tells her if that's how she feels she can get a new boyfriend, and with that he bounces. Ashley stares after him... rather expressionless. Did they just break up? I can't tell, but it's not looking good for them. Hooray!
Next time, on Fifteen: Courtney is throwing a party! She tells Brooke that she hopes Dylan will come. Brooke tells her that Dylan is definitely going... because he already asked Brooke to be his date! Courtney shatters into like a million pieces. Billy starts to give Olaf the cold shoulder, putting their bromance on ice. Brooke and Dylan full on make out in his garage. As Dylan describes it, it's going to be "totally nuts." Can't hardly wait!
The Oscars are almost here! Awards season is almost done! HOORAY! I actually saw all the Best Picture nominees this year AND all the acting nominees, so I feel I can fairly rank all those categories - even if the Academy felt it unnecessary to solicit my opinion. So below you will find how I rank all the top contenders, a brief explanation of why I put them in that order, and then in gold is my prediction for who I think will actually win the award Sunday night. For the technical categories and some of the lesser known categories I just listed my choice for who I think will win on Oscar Night. (* - indicates a pick I'm totally guessing, having not seen enough of the nominees in that category to make an educated guess.)
Best Motion Picture of the Year:
1. “127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight)
2. "The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
3. “Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight)
4. “Inception” (Warner Bros.)
5. “Toy Story 3” (Walt Disney)
6. “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)
7. "The Fighter” (Paramount)j
8. “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
9. “True Grit” (Paramount)
10. “Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions)
My absolute favorite movie of the year is "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" and though it was a critical success, it's total flop at the box office meant it had no chance in this category. I think it really should have landed in the technical categories though - for special effects, editing and music categories - and it's disappointing it was overlooked there as well. It's also too bad that "Blue Valentine" couldn't find a space at the top. I think that film's amazing. As for these 10, i actually enjoyed them all. Not a lot separates them in my mind in terms of quality, and I actually think any of them would make a respectable Best Film winner this year. So in ranking, it just came down to personal reaction and emotional resonance. While I believe "The King's Speech" will take home the trophy, the movie that really was the most rewarding experience for me was "127 Hours." I thought what they did technically with the source material to turn it into a cinematic story was phenomenal. James Franco's performance is outstanding. This film provoked the most emotional response from me. Black Swan and Inception both bent my brain backwards and twisted it up in glorious ways, Toy Story 3 made me cry and cry with its brilliant conclusion, and the others were all really great films too. I know Social Network is the other front runner here, but for me, I enjoyed it without really feeling one way or another about it, so it falls closer to the bottom for me on the list.
Achievement in Directing:
1. “Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight) Darren Aronofsky
2. “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) David Fincher
3. “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Tom Hooper
4. “The Fighter” (Paramount) David O. Russell
5. “True Grit” (Paramount) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
If Christopher Nolan was on this list for "Inception," or if Danny Boyle was here for 127 Hours, I'd have voted for either of those, because I thought both of them were stunning achievements. Since they are not, I'm still thinking about Black Swan months later in a way that I'm not for Social Network or King's Speech. So I'd put that first. But conventional wisdom says Fincher, and a King's Speech Sweep would indicate Hooper.
1. “Inception” (Warner Bros.) Written by Christopher Nolan
2. “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features) Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
3. “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Screenplay by David Seidler
4. “Another Year” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Mike Leigh
5. “The Fighter” (Paramount) Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson, Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
I think "The King's Speech" might steal this one, but Inception was CRAZY and the dialogue in TKAAR was note-perfect, so I'd go for either of those first.
1. “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
2. “127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight) Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
3. “Toy Story 3” (Walt Disney) Screenplay by Michael Arndt Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
4. “True Grit” (Paramount) Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
5. “Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions) Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini
I think much of the good will granted to The Social Network can be attributed to the writing in that first scene between Eisenberg and Mara at the bar. It really set the stage for the exciting fast-paced movie about nerds at computers that was to come. Even people who aren't huge fans of the movie overall really admire that scene, and that's all Sorkin.
Achievement in Cinematography:
1. “True Grit” (Paramount) Roger Deakins
2. “Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight) Matthew Libatique
3. “Inception” (Warner Bros.) Wally Pfister
4. “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Danny Cohen
5. “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit didn't top my list in a lot of categories, but I like Deakins for the win here. Tough tough category though.
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:
1. Colin Firth in “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
2. James Franco in "127 Hours" (Fox Searchlight)
3. Javier Bardem in “Biutiful” (Roadside Attractions)
4. Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
5. Jeff Bridges in “True Grit” (Paramount)
These are all great performances, and I really connected emotionally with those I ranked 1-3, but there's something special about Colin Firth in "The King's Speech." Plus, he was absolutely stellar in last year's "A Single Man." Personally, I would've traded Eisenberg and Bridges for Ryan Gosling in "Blue Valentine" and Aaron Eckhart in "Rabbit Hole." Nothing against Bridges or Eisenberg, I just Gosling and Eckhart really nailed each of their dramatically difficult roles in their respective movies. Plus their on-screen wives who were nominated for Oscars wouldn't have had those great performances without them.
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:
1. Christian Bale in “The Fighter” (Paramount)
2. Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
3. Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)
4. John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions)
5. Jeremy Renner in “The Town” (Warner Bros.)
Christian Bale and Geoffrey Rush are both stellar in their roles. I really think Bale completely disappears into Dickie though, so I give him the edge. The other three actors are all really worthy nominees as well. I wasn't really taken with "The Town" so I might have liked to see that 5th slot go to Matt Damon for "True Grit."
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:
1. Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight)
2. Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine” (The Weinstein Company)
3. Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)
4. Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole” (Lionsgate)
5. Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions)
This was a very strong and diverse category this year. I give it to Portman because she was riveting as she went batshit crazy - and she had to dance! Williams, I think, gave the most brutally real performance. The other three were all fantastic and there deserves to be a 6th slot for Julianne Moore for her work in "The Kids Are All Right" alongside Bening. And a 7th for Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit. More on her in a minute.
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:
1. Amy Adams in “The Fighter” (Paramount)
2. Melissa Leo in “The Fighter” (Paramount)
3. Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
4. Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom” (Sony Pictures Classics)
5. Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit” (Paramount)
Hailee Steinfeld is the lead in True Grit. It is her character's story. It is her character's narration. I feel she should not be judged in a Supporting Category, which is why I placed her last. This is a little like when Zeta-Jones won for Chicago in this category when she was really a lead, but at least in that scenario you could argue that the movie version of Chicago's narrative really does follow Zellwegger's Roxie and not Zeta-Jones' Velma Kelly. With "True Grit," that argument just does not hold up. It's pure movie politics to get an award. Steinfeld is great, but this is not her category. I would've liked to see Barbara Hershey here for "Black Swan." Of all the performances nominated, I thought Amy Adams in "The Fighter" was the most deserving.
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year:*
“Biutiful” (Roadside Attractions) A Menage Atroz, Mod Producciones and Ikiru Films Production - Mexico
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year:
“Toy Story 3” (Walt Disney) Lee Unkrich
Best Animated Short Film:
“Day & Night” (Walt Disney)
Best Live Action Short Film:*
“The Confession” (National Film and Television School)
Best Documentary Feature:*
“Exit through the Gift Shop” (Producers Distribution Agency) A Paranoid Pictures Production Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
Best Documentary Short Subject:*
“Sun Come Up” A Sun Come Up Production Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
Achievement in Film Editing:
“Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight) Andrew Weisblum
Achievement in Sound Editing:
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Richard King
Achievement in Sound Mixing:
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
Achievement in Visual Effects:
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song):
“If I Rise” from “127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight) Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score):
“The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Achievement in Makeup:
“The Wolfman” (Universal) Rick Baker and Dave Elsey
(Alice in Wonderland was somehow not nominated for this which seems crazy)
Achievement in Art Direction:
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas, Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
Achievement in Costume Design:
“Alice in Wonderland” (Walt Disney) Colleen Atwood
So that's hows I calls 'em. We'll see how good I did with my predictions in my Monday morning recap. Will anyone wear a take on Bjork's infamous swan dress in an attempt to show support for Black Swan? Will that person in fact be host James Franco? Will everybody be thanking union workers in order to be political and stuff? Will the show run less than 4 hours? Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night!!
Another successful week without cookies and soda has come and gone! And now we are right on March's doorstep. That means it's almost 2 months without these sugary vices. Although this week saw plenty of other sweets in chocolate form being consumed. Brownies galore. Mini-chocolates too. And there was this delicious brownie bite thingy that bestie Sammy introduced me too. Mmmmm! I know I can't just overcompensate for a lack of cookies by packing on more kinds of sugary snacks. But cookies are an every day struggle and brownies and chocolate bars are more of a seasonal mistress. Now that Runaways Reunion and Oscar Awards Season are behind us, so go the need to have tasty dessert treats on hand. BFF commented last night that I looked thinner than usual. She knows the way into my heart.
This week I had a bit of a cold and when my throat hurts, I usually turn to ginger ale for soothing comfort. I had some in the house following Runaways Reunion, but I opted to stay soda-pure and stuck to drinking water, tea with honey, and Gatorade for relief. Now I'm back to feeling fine. Woohoo! I didn't even give in to my sickness crutch. I am stronger than ever. I know I can make it to double digit weeks! I know I can!
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Last Time on Fifteen: Courtney blabbed to the whole school that Dylan was an amazing musician and Dylan didn't like it! But then he sorta did. Theresa didn't have a huge crush on Dylan, but then she sorta did. Dylan wasn't gonna kiss Courtney, but then he sorta did. Billy and Courtney's parents maybe weren't gonna get a DIVORCE, but then they sorta did. Matt wasn't gonna turn into a raging alcoholic of a boyfriend who carries a flask around in his backpack, but then he sorta did. Sorta.
Episode 6 - Waiting In The Wings.
(Note: itunes thinks this episode is called The Party, but it is not. There's no party in this episode. The party comes much later. Amazing shit happens there, but we aren't quite ready for it yet. I had to search around online, but I've determined this episode is actually called Waiting in the Wings. I think it has something to do with Jake wanting Courtney to notice him. I swear he's better off without her.
Opening Intro: I am running out of things to say about the intro since it's like 40 seconds long, if that. So let me give you some free association about the phrase "waiting in the wings." For me that brings me back to being in elementary school doing a community theater production of Oliver. I'm pretty sure we did it at a high school or college auditorium and backstage on one of the wings was written the words "Natalie Wood doesn't float." Now even at this young age I knew Natalie Wood was in West Side Story, because WSS is one of the best movies ever. I didn't know she was dead though. Or that she drowned. My mom explained it to me. I still think the "what kind of wood doesn't float? Natalie Wood!" joke is in poor taste. Anyway, that's what the episode title made me think of. Back to the recap!
Hillside - Stairs of Sadness. Jake and Ashley enter and Ashley is wondering if she's over reacting about Matt's alcohol abuse. Jake doesn't think so because Matt is drinking on multiple weekend nights. Ashley tells him about the flask in Matt's backpack. Wait, she didn't already tell him that off screen? That's not what led to this current conversation? Oh, Show. Stop the nonsense. We're not even two minutes into the episode. Anyway, Jake asks her what was in the flask and Ashley hilariously spits out, "Buttermilk! What do you think??" Then as I mentioned last week, Ashley tries to convince herself someone can't turn into an alcoholic at 15, but Jake is quick to counter with an enthusiastic, "OOOHHHH, YES YOU CAN!!" I laugh and laugh at this.
Jake wonders if Matt knows she found the flask, but Ashley returned it to the bag without his knowledge. Ashley and Jake encourage each other to talk to Matt about his DRINKING PROBLEM, but Matt's such a defensive asshole about things neither of them wants to do it. That of course is Matt's cue to come swooping in. Matt asks if Jake is coming to the basketball game this evening, and Jake confirms he won't miss The Great Matt Walker in action. There is talk about how Matt hasn't run into Coach Williams yet today, so you know that will mean problems for him later on. Then Ashley and Jake stare at each other nervously until Jake wanders off. Matt wonders if something is going on. Ashley assures him nothing's going on... and then she gets nervous and her whispers get mad quiet even by Ashley's standards. She musters up the courage to stage a one woman Intervention right then and there, when two of Matt's douche bag basketball buddies come over and talk to Matt about the upcoming game. Ashley and I both sit here bored out of our minds by their conversation. Thankfully, the scene just sorta ends.
Hillside - Main Hallway. Billy and Olaf come in. Yay!!! Billy explains to his new friend that not only is Billy's dad moving out of the house, Billy is being forced to go with him. Olaf tries to make the situation sound not horribly bad, Billy won't take the bait though. He knows it's gonna suck. Olaf asks Billy if they are hanging out after school today. Billy says he's going over to Dylan's. Olaf takes it in stride, and says they'll hang out some other time. Olaf is the only character on this show who always makes sense!!
He leaves and passed Courtney on the stairs. He says hello and Courtney weirds out, trying to get passed him without brushing against him. Ew, what a bitch. She walks over to Billy and she's like "what's that dude's name? Omar?" Billy tells her it's Olaf. Courtney's like, oh yeah, from Sweden. Billy again corrects her that it's Finland. Courtney's like same difference, it's foreign.
Billy looks at his sister with an amazing amount of distaste. Seriously, her attitude sucks right now. Anyway, it turns out the only reason Courtney is speaking to Billy right now is because she has her antennae tuned to pick up any references to Dylan in a 5-mile radius, and she wants to know if he's actually invited Billy over this evening. Bill doesn't understand why he would have to ask permission, and Courtney is basically like "look dude I'm really glad you have Omar from Sweden to fall back on, because I am about to put the moves on your only other friend and make sure he becomes my boyfriend. I'll need privacy for that. So if the garage is a rockin', don't come a'knockin!" Billy can't stand it anymore and leaves her there alone. As she sees him go, she tries to ask him about how he's dealing with the DIVORCE, but it's too little too late ad Billy bounces. Billy walks away sad, and Courtney is' okay with that. I can't stand her selfish ways!
Avalon - Side Table of Side Conversations. Ashley is drinking a delicious chocolate milkshake! Courtney comes running in and says she's sorry to be late since she asked Ashley to meet her there, but it's all lip service. Courtney doesn't look sorry at all. She's got a huge goofy grin on her face. Ashley asks her what's up and Courtney is all, what do you mean? Ashley reminds her that SHE wanted to meet and talk. OH YEAH. It takes like five minutes, but Courtney finally tells Ashley that Dylan kissed her. Ashley looks horrified. No, really. She does.
Ashley asks Courtney hos she feels and Courtney reveals SHE IS IN LOVE! Courtney says that it's scary and that she's never felt something this intense before. All this after one kiss! Courtney is about to lose her mind right there just from thinking about it. Ashley tells her she thinks it's great, but her body language tells us Ashley thinks it's horrible and demented.
Hillside - Main Hall. Ashley returns from lunch and finds Jake sitting at the table in the middle of the hall. She's snippy and sarcastic to him about not being able to talk to Matt about his DRINKING PROBLEM. I love when Ashley has an attitude. She tells Jake she hoped to talk to Matt at the beginning of lunch, but stupid Courtney wasted all her time by being late to discuss "Secret Girl Talk." Jake assumes he can't know what's going on because he's an "un-girl." I think the word he's searching for is "boy." Ashley is cool to gossip though, and tells Jake that Dylan and Courtney are a couple and that they've sealed the deal with a major kiss. Jake's face is expressionless in the creepiest of ways. He. Is. Not. Pleased.
Hillside - Locker Labyrinth. Theresa is wrapped in a straight jacket talking to Kelly. Talk a look-see.
Amazing, no? Theresa assures Kelly she loves Brooke. She's her Big Sister! Kelly doesn't think that means much since Kelly has a sister of her own that she totally hates. Theresa continues to explain that it's really sorta Brooke's own fault that Theresa has problems with her because Brooke is selfish and thoughtless and then we all have to revisit the Missing Crystal's Birthday Drama. Theresa wants Kelly to give her a reason to still think Brooke is a good person. Since Kelly is Brooke's best friend, there must be some good quality about her right? Kelly is all, "Oh AM I? Oh IS there?" Theresa cannot deal with these mind games. She is well on her way to being Roderigo to Kelly's Iago. I love it.
Main Hallway. Courtney enters and Jake walks up to her. They kinda stare at each other. AWKWARD. Courtney gives Jake a disinterested, what's up? He shows her a sketch he's working on. We don't see it, but we can assume it's a drawing of a young teen rebel being thrown from his motorcycle and dying a bloody death while his somewhat-homely girlfriend is comforted by a geeky artist. Courtney tells him it's good. Jake thinks it had better be since he has no other talents for which people would notice him. Courtney then, amazingly, looks RIGHT PAST JAKE over his shoulder and maneuvers around him. Jake stares at her while she does this in disbelief all, "WTF? I am STANDING RIGHT HERE!" Courtney's just over talking to him and walks three steps away in hopes of ending the conversation.
Jake persists. He passive aggressively congratulates her on her new relationship with Dylan. Courtney is initially upset that Ashley gossiped, but then remembers that Jake is barely a person at all, so it was really like Ashley just told the wall or said it into thin air. How could she stay mad about that? Besides, everyone should know how awesome she is for having a rebel boyfriend. Let the whole world talk! Jake asks if it's official that they're in a relationship. Courtney says no... and right away we should know that it will never be. That Courtney will mess the whole thing up is a total given at this point. Jake tries to warn Courtney that Dylan is not the right kind of guy to be dating. Courtney becomes very annoyed with Jake and his stank attitude and accusations. Brooke finally makes an appearance this episode slinking into frame, but clearly she's been eavesdropping this whole time. Jake tells Courtney that Dylan got hauled down to the Principal's Office this morning, probably for murdering children Freddy Krueger-style.
Brooke dashes Jake's dreams by informing them that the Principal heard what an awesome musician Dylan is, and invited him to do a concert in front of the whole school. Courtney thinks this is amazing because (1) she was responsible for blabbing to the whole school about Dylan being talented and now she can take credit for his upcoming success, and because (2) soon she'll be known as the GF of the hot musician rebel. Jake retreats into the recesses of his mind and performs a haunting rendition of Mr. Cellophane from Chicago, but we don't see it because the show cuts to commercial. Jake can't get no respect. Never even KNOOOOOOOOW I'm there.....
Boy's locker room. The word practice on the chalk board is spelled incorrectly unless they spell that word differently in Canada. I supposed that's possible. Jake asks Matt if he's talked to Ashley yet today. Let's see, Jake. Is Matt screaming about how Ashley is hassling him about his DRINKING PROBLEM? No? Then they haven't talked yet. The boys talk about Dylan and his stupid concert and his stupid possible dating of Courtney. Jake asks Matt - hypothetically, of course! - what a guy should do if he's hung up on a girl that doesn't like him. Amazingly, Matt gives him good advice and tells him the guy should just give up and move on. I mean if she's not interested, what else can the guy do? Jake is all "yeah... I mean, I guess..." but clearly that's not the path he's gonna choose.
Lockers of the Bitches. Brooke and Kelly are at lockers that have been previously established as theirs. Miracle of Miracles. The art department lets us know that Brooke is a closet Les Mis fan. Would she favor Cosette or Eponine? I wonder... Anyway Brooke is going on about a 10-page paper she needs to write about a book she has no intention of reading. She wants Kelly's sister to write it. Kelly tells her that her sister is getting out of the plagiarism business. Brooke tells her that she'll pay $10 for it and needs it by tomorrow. Kelly starts to protest but Dylan walks by and Brooke is ready to move on to talk about Mr. Rebel and his impending Rock Star concert. It's the kind of thing that could make a girl like Brooke take an interest in destroying his life. Kelly thinks Brooke is horrible.
Billy walks up to Dylan and talks about the concert. Dylan informs Billy that he won't need a drummer for his songs. DENIED, BILLY! Then Courtney shows up and basically shoves Billy out of the conversation. Billy gets pissed off and walks away. Courtney goes on and on about the concert as if singing in the cafeteria is gonna launch his recording career. Dylan is so exhausted from talking about it, he thinks maybe he'll just skip the concert. Courtney freaks out that he can't mean that! Dylan plants the seeds of his own demise by telling us that the concert will only happen if he keeps up with his school work, and we all know that he won't. Courtney offers to do all his homework for him. She is pathetic.
Before Courtney can talk to Dylan about their new "relationship" Brooke comes over and pulls the same shit on Courtney that Courtney just pulled on Billy. Dylan bails on the girls. Courtney tells Brooke that she and Dylan have started dating. Brooke throws up a little in her mouth at this news.
Avalon - Side Table of Side Conversations. Ashley sits with Matt and the B-ball Douche Bags as they talk about the stupid game. Ashley looks like she'd rather be doing anything else right now. They go on and on about the game, but then Dylan walks in and the Douche Bags run over to him to talk about the concert. Matt can't believe he's no longer the BMOC, because of Dylan's concert!
Brooke's Gigantor Bedroom. Brooke is in shower prep mode when Theresa enters wearing another terrible outfit. She's really trying to steal Courtney's Queen Fugly Crown right off her head at this point. Brooke is picking out a sexy outfit to wear to Dylan's, but she won't tell Theresa that because Theresa would freak the eff out on her.
Avalon - Side Table of Side Conversations. Ashley and Matt are still sitting there having an unhappy conversation about Dylan's concert. Ashley thinks Matt is jealous because all he can talk about is the concert. Matt's like, "that's not true! it's just that I concert! concert! concert!" Ashley tries to explain that the Principal thinks this might be something to get Dylan heading in the right direction and Matt interprets that as charity towards a hopeless loser and that makes him feel better about himself. God, Ashley is so over him at this point. She wants to talk about his drinking right then so that they can fight and break up for good, but Matt checks his watch and then heads out for the Basketball game. Ashley's like great I have to keep dating this guy for another couple hours...
Hillside - Olaf's Corner. Yay Olaf! He is playing himself at chess again. Billy slumps over. He has no other friends and no place to go now that his sister is whoring it up over at Dylan's. Olaf offers to talk, but Billy isn't ready to open up. Olaf offers a game of Chess, but Billy reminds him it only takes 45 seconds for Olaf to beat him at chess. Olaf says he'll beat him in45 seconds and then Billy can curse him out for a minute and a half and Billy will feel a little better. Billy takes him up on the offer. Olaf is the best.
Dylan's Garage Band. Brooke has made her way over to Dylan's place before Courtney and she is in a turn-of-the-decade 90's cocktail dress. Why the hell is Brooke there? She's just passing through. Dylan is totally confused by her presence. He offers to play something for her. Well, if he insists. Courtney enters and finds Brooke with Dylan. Her entire world is destroyed just by seeing the two of them standing there not doing anything.
She gets totally flustered and runs away without seeking out even the slightest of explanations. Dylan runs after her, but then stops at the door remembering that Brooke, the prettier of the two girls, is still waiting for him inside. Brooke is all super-fake with a "did I interrupt something?" But really, getting rid of Courtney had to have been easier than even she anticipated. Oh, look! That's the end of the episode.
Next time on Fifteen: A fistfight between Drunk Matt and Dylan in the Student Lounge! Brooke and Kelly start playing mind games with Billy about his friendship with Olaf. Theresa lashes out at Brooke over her fake interest in Dylan. Matt and Ashley finally have it out about his DRINKING PROBLEM. Matt suggests Ashely finds herself a new boyfriend. I suggest it too!
My senior year of college I directed a show called Runaways. How does one describe Runaways? Well my friend Sassy did a better job than I ever could. She was in the cast. Let me crib from her for a second:
"The musical was Runaways. You probably don’t know it, because after a well-received eight-month run on Broadway in 1978, it never returned. A good way to describe it would be like A Chorus Line, but with emotionally disturbed, racially diverse, drug-abusing homeless children instead of dancers (and not the cute emotionally disturbed homeless children of Annie. Runaways makes Pepper and Duffy look like the Bloomberg daughters). The orchestra for Runaways included a toy piano and a triangle. It wasn’t what you might call an easy sell."
No it wasn't. But I totally love it. I've always had an intense fascination with the show. The experience of Runaways goes a bit deeper for me than just your run-of-the-mill musical. I did a community production of Runaways the summer before I was in 8th grade. So I guess I was... twelve? Almost thirteen? A long long time ago. Doing the show at that age had a huge impact on me. I really took the stories of these runaway and throwaway children to heart. Our young cast even took a trip into NYC to visit Covenant House to get a better understanding of what these kids were going through. As crazy as the show may seem now, it's always loomed large in my imagination, and from the time I first did it, I always wanted to revisit the show again.
So for two years in college I talked to my good friend LMM about how I was gonna direct this show my senior year, and he was gonna music direct. Then somewhere in the fall of my Senior Year LMM opted to be in the cast instead of music direct and my friend SJR took over music responsibilities. All was good, and I continued to talk about what I wanted to do with the show.
But for every conversation I had with LMM about wanting to do the show, I had two conversations in my head trying to talk myself out of it entirely. The show was too weird! The cast was too big! I didn't have the talent to direct it. There wouldn't be enough time to rehearse. Where was I gonna get the money for the rights? It would just be much easier not to do it. Yet somehow after all that talk, I did direct it and the process of doing it really affected my life.
Along with the production team and my cast of 17 actors (!!) and an 7 piece orchestra, we put this show on for four performances from Feb. 15-17th in 2001 in a 3-stories high production in the '92 Theater at Wes. I don't think I ever poured myself into accomplishing something so intensely in my life. Regardless of how something turns out, there's just a great sense of accomplishment from saying you're gonna do something and finding a way to get it done. Another remarkable thing about the show? Everyone involved was an awesome person. I mean, everyone was very talented. We've had more than one person involved in the show make it to Broadway (including our Light Board Op! Shout out to KMac!). But for real, with all that talent, there wasn't one asshole in the entire cast. That's hard to accomplish in a group that large. Everyone was, and continues to be. good people. I've always felt a deep affection for everyone involved in the show. I really cherish them for giving of themselves to make my dream become a reality. I know I'm making a college play into like this really really profound experience, but for me it was! It meant a lot.
So zoom ahead roughly 10 years, Sassy and I are out grabbing a drink. The concept of reunions comes up, since 2011 is my 10 year at Wes. I tell Sassy how I always wished people from multiple classes could get together instead of just one class at a time/ That reflects more of the actual college experience ti me. I tell her I want to do a Runaways cast reunion for the 10th anniversay of the show this winter, where we'd get together and watch the video of the show that I still have from back in the day. This seems possible to pull off because so many of us happened to currently be in NYC or at least on the East Coast. She encouraged me to go ahead with the idea, and although I again had a lot of back in forth in my head wondering if people would even WANT to come, I set a date and invited folks and started planning. To my delight, people were enthusiastic about the idea and it was full steam ahead!
So 10 years and 2 days after we closed the show up at Wes, we had our reunion at my apartment in Queens. I humbly called it "The Wesleyan Runaways 10th Anniversary Reunion Spectacular!" I'm SO GLAD we did this. I recommend cast reunions to everyone. It was so great seeing everyone and watching our younger selves and laughing at certain things we did and just having a good time enjoying each other's company. As it turns out, I saved a TON of memorabilia from the show as well. I have one small file box still left over from my college days, but practically everything inside is theater related. Most of the stuff I had no idea I had saved. I knew I had a songbook and the audition sheets from the cast, but there was so much more. Being a theater nerd pack rat occasionally comes in handy.
(Official songbook, Official script, original audition sheets from cast members where i asked probing questions like what's your favorite flavor of Fresh Samantha and do you have access to email over Winter Break?? They were different times back then...Oh, and the original vinyl recording of the broadway cast.)
(Memorabilia Pictured: Notes to Director from Cast, original program (with wrong year printed on it), original contact sheet for cast and crew, guidelines for being a house manager at the '92 Theater.)
(The goodie bags included a DVD of our show, a soundtrack of the original cast recording with added bonus tracks from our production, and a copy of their original audition sheet.)
The thing that really struck me about the reunion was how lucky I feel to still have these people in my life 10 years later (thank you, internet!) and how the experiences we had and the friendships we shared over the show still give me so much joy and satisfaction when I reflect on what we created together. I'm a very fortunate guy.
It's also interesting to me that right now the last decade of my life is book-ended by two shows that I poured all of myself into. Runaways started it off and now 10 years out, The Timing of a Day is just about to go back into rehearsal, for what we hope will be an incredible 3-week run through the end of March to mid-April at Center Stage, NY. Runaways was the first time I really pushed myself to the limits of what I could do artistically, and it's because of that experience I know I have it within myself to do it again when necessary. Without Runaways, there could be no The Timing of a Day. Fo Sho.
Revisiting Runways was an experience made special by the amazing people I got to share it with. I'm just filled with excitement and gratitude for the amazing friends in my life, the family that art continues to create around me and for the continued opportunity to artistically express myself and tell stories in this new decade of my life. It's really a blessing.
One of the great lyrics of Runaways is "We are not strangers. In fact, I know you well." No matter how many years pass, that's how I feel about my Runaways crew. I cannot help but love them all for all the happiness they've given me and the special place they occupy in my heart.
(yeah, i know. this entry was really mushy & sentimental. Couldn't be helped!)