Tag Archives: Oscars

Why Hitchcock Remains A Classic

It seems my last post about Alfred Hitchcock brought out some fans! Well, grab a bowl of popcorn, cause now I’ve done my homework! And I thought I’d share some fun facts about Hitch for Guilty Pleasure Friday.

Alfred Hitchcock (wiki images)

Over the span of 60 years, Alfred Hitchcock made movies that stuck with his audience. That’s pretty impressive considering he lived to be 80 years old, 3/4 of his life was spent in the film business.

And you know what? Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar! I was shocked to learn that, and had to do a little digging to see who could have beat out one of the greatest, most classic directors of all time!

Alfred Hitchcock’s Oscar Nominations for Best Director

1941 – Nominated for Rebecca, lost to How Green Was My Valley, director John Ford

His first nomination was for Rebecca, one of my all time FAVORITE flicks EVER! Hitch waited years to do this film until he had the money to buy the film rights. The movie went on to receive 10 Oscar nominations, and did win Best Picture! It is the only Hitchcock film to win that award.

Rebecca stars Lawrence Olivier (hubba-hubba) and Joan Fontaine. Rumor has it Olivier was vying for his then girlfriend, Vivien Leigh, to get the lead roll of the film. When Fontaine got it instead, he was reportedly very cruel towards her and Hitchcock played on that! He was a director who would go to great lengths to get what he wanted the camera to see. He told Ms. Fontaine that the entire cast and crew hated her, thus making her shy and uneasy on set, exactly like the character of Rebecca.

The real noteworthy character is the evil Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson). I’ve said it before, if my inner editor had a voice, it would be this woman’s! She’s EVIL!

If you’re feeling depressed, don’t watch this video clip. Go outside, make some water balloons, then throw them at those hellion kids that keep riding their bikes across your lawn! That always cheers me up.

If you’re not depressed, check out this clip! It’s the eerie “Why-don’t-you-jump-to-your-death?” speech Mrs. Danvers gives to Rebecca!

1945 – Nominated for Lifeboat, lost to The Lost Weekend, director Billy Wilder

During the making of Lifeboat, almost every single cast member became violently ill. Several of them caught pneumonia, and Hume Cronyn almost drowned during a storm scene in which he was caught underneath a metal wave activator. Actress Tallulah Bankhead overcame pneumonia twice, and supposedly Hitch gave her a puppy after filming. He had already named the dog Hitchcock. Charming.

Scene from Lifeboat

Demanding realism in all his films, the cast was surrounded by dry ice fog, storm waves, and a rocking ship, even though the boat never left the tank it was filmed in.

1946 – Nominated for Spellbound, lost to The Best Years of Our Lives, director William Wyler

Will he kiss me or kill me? That’s the question asked in Hitchcock’s Spellbound. The film won 1 Oscar, for best music. And it had 4 other nominations including Best Picture, but it lost both Directing and Best Picture to William Wyler.

Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck in Spellbound

Spellbound is noted as one of the first films to show psychoanalysis on screen. And had ‘Director’s Cut’ been available in Hitchcock’s days, the audience would have heard the phrases “sex menace”, “libido”, and “tomcat” in theaters. However, the censorship association had those terms cut.

1955 – Nominated for Rear Window, lost to On the Waterfront, director Elia Kazan

In 1954, when Hitch directed Rear Window, it was on the biggest constructed set of its time. Each apartment had running water and electricity. Actress Georgine Darcy lived in hers while filming.

Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window

Though it was nominated for 4 technical Oscars, it didn’t win a one. Now it is ranked number #48 in the American Film Institute’s Greatest Films of All Time, and #3 in its Mystery Genre.

1961 – Nominated for Psycho, lost to West Side Story, directors Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise

The film he wasn’t supposed to make. Psycho was nominated for 4 Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress for Janet Leigh. She lost to Rita Moreno who played Anita in West Side Story, a film that swept the Academy Awards that year with 10 Oscar wins – including Best Directing and Best Picture.

Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to Psycho from author Robert Bloch for $9,000. He spent $800,000 to make the film (considered low budget even in 1960), and the film earned more than $40 million.

Janet Leigh in Psycho

Psycho was the first movie to ever show a flushing toilet on screen. :D

This was made mandatory as the script writer states Marion flushes evidence down the toilet, evidence that is later found by her sister.

The shower scene? Janet Leigh and costume designer, Rita Riggs, perused several strip tease magazines in search of something that would cover Janet, while still alluding to nudity. However, the final wardrobe for the shower scene was made of glued together pieces of moleskin, a fleshlike fabric commonly used as a bandage.

After “that disgusting movie, Psycho” was released, Walt Disney banned Hitchcock from filming in Disneyland.

Psycho is now ranked #14 in the AFI’s Greatest Films of All Time, and it’s #1 in their list of Top 100 Thrills.

Alfred Hitchcock and wife, Alma Reville

Alfred Hitchcock may not have had all the fame he wanted. He did, however, marry the love of his life, the talented Alma Reville. Together, they raised their only daughter, Patricia.

He received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the AFI’s Lifetime Achievement Award, a Golden Globe for his “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” TV series, and 2 Hollywood Stars on the Boardwalk of Fame! His work won and was nominated for many other awards and tributes.

Today, over 30 years after his death, his work is still setting the bar for what makes a good story. He was true to his ideas, he collaborated with people he wanted to work with, and he pushed everyone and everything to their limits.

And that is why Hitchcock remains a Classic.

Curious where North by Northwest falls in all this?

So many of you named North by Northwest as a favorite film, so I was shocked to learn he was never nominated for this movie! It did get 3 technical Oscar nominations, including best writing and best film editing, but it lost all to the film that won Best Picture, William Wyler’s Ben-Hur.

Your turn! Are you shocked to see how Alfred Hitchcock’s career pushed boundaries? What do you think makes his work classic? Who’s your favorite Hitchcock character?

For more Hitchcock fun, check out my post about the recently released film, Hitchcock – the story of his life while making Psycho.

Or, for more inspiration and fun, read Julie Glover’s post If Hitchcock Tweeted.

*All research from IMDB.com, a movieholic’s dream database!

And the Oscar for Best Party Goes To…

Oscar StatueWelcome Friends! 

I had a fabulous time watching the Academy Awards last night!  How many of you did the same?  I loved popping in on Facebook and Twitter to see what everyone was thinking.

There was some ranting going ON!

But today it’s all about who stole the show with their looks, what wins were most shocking, and at my place, the FOOD!  :D

Let’s Start the Show!

First things first, Guests, please load up your plates with this year’s Oscar treats!  Food included:

  • Chilled Green Beans with Lemon and Sea Salt
  • Bacon and Blue Cheese Bruschetta
  • Crab Nachos
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Sunflower Crackers with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
  • Spinach Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
  • Potatoes with Lavender
  • Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
  • Hot Ham and Cheese Sliders with Mustard and Poppyseed
  • Aloo Mater with Rice

Dinner is Served

AND SAVE ROOM FOR DESSERT! 

There’s still our annual “Oscar-served” pudding parfaits with strawberries, and Lemon Curd Cake with Raspberry Sauce!

Time to Talk Wardrobe!

What were some of your favorite looks this year?  I do wish there had been more color on the Red Carpet this year, but everyone truly looked STUNNING!  There wasn’t a single dress I disliked.  The ladies who really nailed it though, I think are:

Best Actress Winner, Jennifer Lawrence

She looked amazing and was so charming on the Red Carpet!  She looked young, but glamorous and very natural with her make up!  I’m thrilled for her!  22 years old, her second nomination, and her first win!  She’s also been a phenomenal spokesperson for people with mental illnesses since her shooting of Silver Linings Playbook.

Nicole Kidman

Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman

Possibly my favorite dress of them all, I thought Nicole Kidman looked killer!  Presenting this year, I thought she had the whole package – a well fitted, gorgeous gown, romantic updo, minimal jewelry but all around great look!!!

Kerry Washington

I said I loved color, and Kerry Washington’s dress was so elegant and beautiful for spring on the Red Carpet!  Her jeweled bodice looked great on her, and I loved the soft, smooth skirt and train of her dress in that bubblegum pink!

Best Actress Nominee, Jessica Chastain

I caught Jessica’s pre-show interview and she picked this dress because it reminded her of Old Hollywood – Marilyn Monroe, and I couldn’t agree more.  Critics raved for her look and how the flesh tone dress is stunning on her pale skin with the pops of red from her hair and lips.  You know this redhead was a fan!  Plus, she took her grandmother as her date, y’all!  So cute!

Charlize Theron

Presenting with Dustin Hoffman, Ms. Theron looked amazing in her chic white gown and I loved the short hair with it!  And did you guys catch her dance number with Channing Tatum??!!  She reminded me of Julie Andrews in Sound of Music!

And the Oscar Goes To…

Were you pleased with the Oscar wins this year?  Here’s a recap of the big ones:

Best Picture:  Argo

Best Director:  Ang Lee, Life of Pi

Best Actor:  Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

Best Actress:  Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Supporting Actor:  Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Best Supporting Actress:  Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Best Original Screenplay:  Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

I was overall VERY pleased with the variety of films recognized this year.  I had expected a sweep of either Les Mis or Lincoln, and it wasn’t the case at all!  Almost all of the 9 nominated films for Best Picture won in some of the categories.  Amour won Best Foreign Film, Zero Dark Thirty won Best Sound Editing; the only film not to receive an Oscar but was nominated for many was Beasts of the Southern Wild.  I had high hopes it would take the Best Adapted Screenplay award, but that went to Argo.  I’m sure we’ll hear more from the cast and crew of this film in the years to come!

May I present your Oscar?

May I present your Oscar?

And I have to announce the winner of my Red Carpet Giveaway is…

*opens envelope*
Congrats to Patricia, and to all of you who entered my Oscar Prediction contest, it was a very close race!  Patricia chose 5 out of 6 nominations correctly!!!  You can make your acceptance speech in the comments section! ;)

Memory Making Moments

There were a few call out performances at the Oscars this year, including its theme of Music in the Movies!  There were stellar performances from Barbara Streisand during the In Memoriam portion, as well as the ENTIRE cast of Les Miserable joining together on stage for a Les Mis medley!

My favorites were of course – Adele! Taking home the Oscar for Best Original Song, Skyfall, from the James Bond film, Skyfall, she was awesome!  And it seemed so fitting with the Academy also recognizing 50 years of Bond movies!

I also loved the performance of my favorite Bond song, Goldfinger, by Dame Shirley Bassey!  This video shows the awesome montage of Bond films they made followed by Bassey’s performance.  Sing it, sista!

By the by, Joe took a shot of me pre-party start when I wasn’t expecting it, and now we’re calling it my Bond girl shot.  What do you think?  I believe my Bond girl name would be…Cinema!  But who will my James Bond be?!

Bond girl photo

Just For Fun

What would your Oscar face look like if you just found out you won?

(My friend, Cat, and I – AKA the Sequin Sisters – share some examples!)

Oh my God, I won!!!

Oh my God, I won!!!

We call this Screams of Success vs. Tears of Joy

We call this Screams of Success vs. Tears of Joy

Well, you win all the pudding parfait you can eat!

Happy Oscars Everyone!

Oscar Party

 

Countdown to the Oscars: Prediction Time

There’s only one more week until awards night.  The countdown has officially begun.  How many of the nine nominated films for Best Picture have you seen?  I’ve managed to catch five of the nominees!

And now it’s time to cast your ballots, Ladies and Gentlemen!  We’re having an Oscar Party here on The Happiness Project!

And you’re invited!

The Schwag:  The commenter with the most correct Oscar picks from the below categories wins

  1. Copies of all the delectable Oscar Party appetizers featured on next week’s blog.
  2. AFandago Gift Card to be used at the Cinema of your choice!
  3. A schwag bag fit for the stars filled with extra goodies!

And the Nominees Are:

Best Picture

  • Amour
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Miserables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln – *Who I think the Academy will pick
  • Silver Linings Playbook – *Jess’s pick
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Best Actress

  • Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) – *Academy Darling
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) – *Jess’s pick
  • Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
  • Qvenzhane’ Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  • Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Best Actor

  • Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) – *Jess’s pick
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) – *Who I think the Oscar will go to
  • Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
  • Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
  • Denzel Washington (The Flight) – *I’d be totally happy with him winning – impressive flick!

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams (The Master)
  • Sally Field (Lincoln)
  • Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) -*Let’s face it, she’s most likely to take home the Oscar.
  • Helen Hunt (The Sessions) – Would be very happy for Helen to win!
  • Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) – *Jess’s pick

Best Supporting Actor

  • Alan Arkin (Argo) – *Who I think the Academy will choose…maybe.  I’m most torn on this category.
  • Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
  • Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
  • Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) – *Jess’s pick

Best Original Writing

  • Michael Haneke (Amour)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) - *Jess’s pick
  • John Gatins (Flight) – *And the Oscar goes to…
  • Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
  • Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)

To see trailers, the full ballot list, and more Oscar buzz, go to ABCnews.com!

It’s totally fine if you haven’t seen the nominated films, just guess!  Cast your votes below in the comments section!  And just for fun, let’s all gush about what we’d wear to the red carpet!

Joe and I from the 2010 Oscar Party - Nooo, if we actually went to the Academy Awards, he would not be allowed to wear jeans.  And I have something even more fabulous planned for this year!

Joe and I from the 2010 Oscar Party – Nooo, if we actually went to the Academy Awards, he would not be allowed to wear jeans. And I have something even more fabulous planned for this year!

Countdown to the Oscars: Django Unchained

Reunited and it feels so good…

Back together again, Director Quentin Tarantino and Christoph Waltz, both nominated for their work in 2009’s Inglorious Basterds, share the silver screen again in Best Picture Nominee, Django Unchained.

Django is the story of an unlikely partnership between a German bounty hunter (Waltz) and a slave (Jamie Foxx) to collect bounties on several criminals, and ultimately find and rescue Foxx’s wife (Kerry Washington), a slave owned by one of the most ruthless plantation owners in the south (Leonardo DiCaprio).

I must admit, I have a crush on Christoph Waltz.  I love his acting, he’s brilliant, and I adore the sound of his voice.  He is quickly earning a slot in my Top 10 Cinematic Men Crush List.  Right up there with Gabriel Byrne and Jeremy Irons!  Rrrrawr!  The fact that we share the same birthday is further evidence that we must be kindred spirits!

Nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Waltz could very likely earn a second Oscar with this role!  His portrayal of Dr. King Schultz, bounty hunter and civil rights advocate, is equal parts charm and business sense.

In true Tarantino form, this film is quite gory.  But I’m a fan of his style, so I was one of those people in the theater seats shouting, “Oooooh, snap!

It also has a killer soundtrack, as all his films do.  If I had to compare the emotion of this film to anything, I’d say it’s like attending a tea party where everyone is loaded up like Rambo and when the bullets run out, get ready to break a dish and saucer someone’s a**!

Critics hailed the film for its different take on slavery.  At the heart of Django’s mission, he must pretend to be the worst kind of man there is; he must pretend to be a black slave seller.  In order to get close to Calvin Candie (DiCaprio) and his plantation, Django (Foxx) has to act as a scout for the toughest, strongest black slaves who can be sold into fighting.  In Django’s world, no one is more despised than a black slave seller.

While I loved the film, I sadly don’t think it’s a contender for the ultimate prize of Best Picture.  I am hoping that Christoph Waltz takes home the Best Supporting Actor title and that he calls me to thank him for my unwavering support and would I like to go out for dinner?

Eh-hem…  As I was saying, such a well made movie!  I highly encourage you to see it!  Still, I’m betting my bucks on Lincoln or Les Mis to take home the Oscar!

Are you a Tarantino fan?  What’s your favorite flick of his?  Have you seen Django Unchained yet?  What did you think?  Who are you rooting for at the Oscars?

Countdown to the Oscars: Beasts of the Southern Wild

I take back everything I said about this film.  Now that I’ve actually seen the film!

I had previously passed aside this film as this year’s artsy nominee that would be visually stunning, but not make much sense.  Very similar to last year’s The Tree of Life.

I was wrong.

Available to rent on DVD already, this summer 2012 release is visually stunning but it’s also a very touching tale of survival, strength, and the many different groups we call family.

Introducing:  Beasts of the Southern Wild

I owe Quvenzhane’ Wallis an apology.  As the star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, and at only 9 years old, I think she is well deserving of her Oscar nomination.  And remember, she’s the youngest ever to be nominated!  Wallis plays Hushpuppy, a little girl growing up in the bayou whose way of life is threatened both by an increasing ill father and melting snow caps that will flood her swampland home, nicknamed  ‘The Bathtub.’

I wasn’t totally wrong about this film.  It is artsy.  But artsy is an understatement.  It’s not facetious in the way where it’s a beautiful film, but no one understands it.  It’s just a pure, breathtaking capture of someone’s different world.

I have never lived in the deep south of Louisiana.  Though my city is on the Mississippi, I’ve never lost my home due to flooding, or been forced to live in a shelter.  I am grateful for this film because it’s been the first picture I could see why the resiliency of these people is something to be proud of.  As outsiders, we watch the news and we think, “Oh good, they’ve opened up a shelter for these people to go to.  They are being helped!”

What if that’s not what they wanted?  I’d never even thought of that!  Far away, from my safe midwest homebase, I thought a shelter was a place of comfort.  I hadn’t considered that you’re thrown in there with people you don’t know, possibly separated from your family, wearing clothes you’re not used to, eating food you’re not used to, and that you’re not allowed to go home if you choose.

Don’t misunderstand me, this film is by no means a lecture for the privileged, that’s not its intent.  I’m only speaking for myself, this film taught me a reality I’d not considered and I’m grateful for that education.

And when something opens your mind, how can it be anything but beautiful? 

Having won Movie of the Year at the AFI Awards, it’s up for four Oscars!  Wallis, again, the youngest nominee for a Lead Actress role, the film itself is up for Best Picture, Benh Zeitlin is up for Best Directing, and it’s also up for Best Writing, adapted from previously published material.

Zeitlan and Wallis

I was curious about Zeitlin and where he came from as a new name to the Oscar realm.  A New York man, born and raised, he was making films from the age of 6!  He’s a film school graduate from Weslayan University, whose previous work had been shorts up until this point.  Another tremendous accomplishment for one so young!

He had some great quotes out there about the making of this film so I’ll share a few of my faves with you!

There are funny stories about [the making of "Beasts"] how I went knocking on someone’s door and he came out with a shotgun. Even then, that guy showed up at our gas station two days later, and was like, “I’m sorry. I thought you guys were trying to kill me or you’re from Witness Protection or something like that. I didn’t mean to scare you. You want any red fish?” He’d just caught a bunch. You get real hospitality in Louisiana. I think it’d be much harder in another place because the state is extremely open and a more accepting, hospitable place.

I’m even impressed with the liberty he granted Wallis to define her own character!

She was so focused and poised and just was fierce. She wouldn’t do just what I told her to do, she questioned what I was saying. She’d say, ‘I don’t like this word’ and she’d delete it. I allowed her to own the words and understand what they meant.

One fun fact for you is that both of Zeitlan’s parents are urban folklorists and the founders of City Lore in New York.  They work with and support all cultures in order to document, preserve, and celebrate traditions and all forms of artistry.  Their site is pretty impressive actually.  And it’s no wonder that their son has an element of folklore in his film, Beasts of the Southern Wild.

The people in Hushpuppy’s world believe in the legend of aurochs.  Now an extinct form of cattle, aurochs are the much larger versions of today’s cattle species:  oxen, buffalo, cows.  The last known auroch died in 1627.  They had immense protruding horns.  None of the research I found even notes their discovery in North America, this creature came from Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa.  Early attempts at domestication started with the auroch, and where Beasts of the Southern Wild comes into play is the auroch’s anger toward humans.

What do you think?  Are you interested in seeing this movie?  Check out the trailer to learn more!

Are you on your way to the movie rental?  What do you think about Wallis’ and Zeitlan’s nominations so new in the business?  What have you heard about this film?

Countdown to the Oscars: Silver Linings Playbook Gets All Gold Stars!

As I work my way through all the nominees for Best Picture, they keep getting better and better!  First, why are there so many?  There used to only be 5 or 6 nominees, and the last few years there’s been 10!  And second, how will I ever choose my absolute favorite?  

If I had to put my vote in for one so far, I’d pick Silver Linings Playbook.  Nominated for 8 Academy Awards including Best Directing and Writing by David O. Russell, you may recall his work from the previously nominated film, The Fighter, as well as the existential comedy I Heart Huckabees.  Silver Linings Playbook stole my heart.  If I had to compare it to anything, it reminded me of Zach Braff’s Garden State, because it is a story about finding oneself again after dealing with depression.

In this film, SLP tells the story of Pat Solitano (played by Bradley Cooper – who, if anyone was going to steal an Oscar from Daniel Day-Lewis, it should be this man!).  Pat has just been released from a mental institution after a breakdown and diagnosis of bi-polar disorder have overtaken his life.  Moving back in with his parents, and facing a restraining order from his ex-wife, he tries to put his life back together.  To help him along, comes the most unusual of friends, a girl by the name of Tiffany, who is dealing with her own struggles, but finds a way for them to help each other.

The cast in this movie blew me away!  It’s no wonder with all the acting nominations this film received.  Bradley Cooper, of course, is nominated and I’m so impressed with his dramatic role.  I already adored Jennifer Lawrence, and at only 22 years old, this is her second nomination for Actress in a Leading Role!  She was previously nominated for Winter’s Bone.  She has already taken the Golden Globe for Lead Actress in a Musical/Comedy genre.  I truly hope the “Curse of the Golden Globes” does not take her out of the Oscar running!  I would weep!

bostonartsdiary.com

To round out the supporting cast, we have two additional heavy hitters, the biggest being THE Robert De Niro, playing Pat Sr. and nominated for Best Supporting Actor.  He is brilliant as a father who doesn’t know how to communicate to his grown boys beyond watching baseball.  And funny!  In an entirely different way from Meet the Parents comedy.

Jacki Weaver – imdb.com

My favorite performance of the film goes to Best Supporting Actress nominee Jacki Weaver!  This is her second nomination, you may remember her role in Animal Kingdom, which was a violent story of a boy trying to get by in his criminal household.  Playing Dolores Solitano, Weaver is the typical mom who is trying to keep everyone together.  Keep the peace, and you keep the family kind of mentality.  “C’mon, stay!  I made crabbysnack and homemades!”  I love this woman!  She is brilliant.  I’m rooting for Weaver to take home an Oscar!

Though he wasn’t nominated, I give nods to Chris Tucker who plays Danny, a friend and recovering drug addict that Pat befriends in the hospital.  His performance lent much to the comedic value of the movie.  And, I will forever love Tucker who played Ruby Rhod in the sci-fi cult classic, The Fifth Element.

To give you more of the meat of the story, while marketed as a comedy, be aware it’s a dramatic comedy, a dramedy, if you will.  But I tend to love those.  Sometimes life is so heavy, all you can do to lift yourself up is laugh!  Yes, Pat is a man who must deal with a lot.  His undiagnosed bi-polar disorder is something he and his family aren’t use to.  He must find new ways to control his anger.  We see the uphill and downhill battle that is medication.  We see him lose control at seemingly harmless circumstances.  What helps him is his belief in a “silver lining.”

silver lining

noun – a sign of hope in an unfortunate or gloomy situation; a bright prospect

His motto for life becomes Excelsior, a latin word meaning “ever upward.”  So as much as life became difficult and trying for Pat and his family, his story was a message of hope.  The belief that things will always get better, and that those who try to get better, will.

collider.com

I’m betting each of us has experienced a period, or more, in our lives where life was not what we thought it would be.  For me, it was my sophomore year of college.  I was living with a girl who I thought was my best friend.  A girl I wanted to someday be in my wedding, go get our dream jobs, and laugh about the funny things our kids did.  During the school year, I noticed she was depressed.  She had gone once or twice to a counseling group, but didn’t or couldn’t connect with the individuals there.  I tried to be there for her.  I listened to her, offered advice, suggestions for other groups or questions to ask.  She wasn’t ready.  In the end, it seemed I was caring too much and so her anger came out at me.  She would pick fights with me all the time, drawing hurtful things and placing them by my bed.  I began avoiding our dorm room altogether.  I did it for months.  Just going from class to class, hanging out in study areas and sometimes sleeping in a friend’s room.  It got so bad I moved out.  And shortly after that, I also got dumped by my long distance boyfriend, who I thought I was going to marry.  Was I naive?  Yes.  Was I blaming myself for her behaviors?  Yes.  It was an awful end to the year.  I lost a bunch of weight and didn’t even notice til I went home and my dad and old boss asked me if I was eating ok at school.  I lost a bunch of friends in that move because she lived on the same floor with them, so they usually asked her out and didn’t come to see me, when I was one floor down.

It was an incredibly hurtful time.  Even though the move was difficult, it was for the best.  I was able to focus on school and earned some great opportunities working with literary journals.  I joined the women’s student organization that I would later lead as president.  And six months after all the drama, I met the wonderful man I’m still with today, 6 1/2 years later.

*****

I thoroughly loved this film.  I am hoping that it earns many awards.  It is incredibly well written, and exceptionally well acted.  I think Pat’s story is one all of us can relate to.  And each of us is responsible for finding our own silver lining.  And who knows, we could also be the silver lining for someone we least expect.

Have you seen Silver Linings Playbook yet?  Do you want to?  

Share with us a time you felt set back in life.  What was your silver lining?  Are you feeling down right now?  Let me be your silver lining!  I wish nothing but hope and excitement for life for each of you!  Ever upwards, friends!  Say it with me, “Excelsior!”

Countdown to the Oscars: Will Les Mis Stand Les Chance?

imdb.com

With eight Oscar nominations, Les Miserables stands just behind Lincoln as the popular choice candidate for 2013’s Academy Award winners.  Having already done quite well at the Golden Globes, earning Best Picture in the Musical/Comedy genre as well as honoring both Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway with new statues of their own, I’m torn!

Usually, when an actor or film is nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar, this skeptical fan always watches for “The Curse of the Golden Globe!”  Sometimes, winning a Golden Globe can just about guarantee that you will NOT win an Oscar.

However, Les Miserables won Film of the Year at the AFI Awards!  And, it’s also a well known assumption that musical nominees do very well at the Oscars…

What’s a girl to go by?!

Les Mis, if you haven’t heard about it, is the tumultuous story of Jean Valjean, a paroled prisoner who tries to start over in life with a new identity, righting his wrongs by caring for an orphaned child.  Constantly in the crossroads, a military officer by the name of Javert suspects Valjean as the prisoner who got away.

Meanwhile, around the corner, the French Revolution is brewing in the city streets.  Les Miserables is a love story, between a parent and child, between a man and a woman; it is an inspiration for a better life, better world, and new beginning.

So where will it win? 

I JUST DON’T KNOW!!!

Seriously.  As phenomenal as the music is, I can’t honestly give this film my vote for winner in any of the key categories.

I know. I know.  Don’t hate me!

You know what I’m going to root for?  I do hope that Les Miserables takes the win for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing.  Gracious, aren’t I?  But it is a very, very well done musical and the performers are talented singers.  I think the team that worked on assembling the sound to be spot on deserves beau coup credit!

But as I stated before, I don’t think Les Mis will take home an Oscar for Best Original Song.  Added in to the already phenomenal set list, theater and composing royalty joined forces to create the nominated, “Suddenly” – a song written to describe the paternal love Valjean feels after rescuing Cosette the orphan from the shifty innkeepers she’d been living with.  Take a sneak peak!

Beautiful song!  But will it hold up against Adele’s nominated “Skyfall”?  I’m betting on her.  But the Academy could go old school on me and prove me wrong.

Now I’d like you to take a little trip to Logic Land with me. 

Earlier, I stated how I wasn’t so amped about 9 year old Quvenzhane’ Wallis‘ nomination for Best Actress being that it seemed an affront to say the BEST acting job of any female in the last year was a child, and not perhaps an actress who had trained, researched, and practiced her craft for years.  And I guess I’m getting picky again, but Anne Hathaway’s Best Supporting Nomination is tough for me to root for when she dies so early in the film!  *Sorry, minor spoiler!*

One can’t deny her rendition of the critically acclaimed “I Dreamed a Dream” is powerful!  I read that Hathaway lived on two squares of oatmeal paste before filming in order to lose 25 pounds for her impoverished character, Fantine.  That is impressive.  And probably very bland. 

Despite my frustration for a “worthy” candidate, I fully admit I could end up eating my words come award day.  Hathaway and her co-star Hugh Jackman have both been Oscar hosts in the past!  This could put them in a very good light by the Academy, especially since they even performed together on the Oscar stage in 2009!

Hugh Jackman

Anne Hathaway and co-host James Franco – Who could forget the Academy’s attempt to Youth-inize the Oscars?

Note:  Anne doesn’t come in to the dance number til about 4:00 minutes, so zoom ahead as desired!

*****

What do you think?  Are you rooting for Les Miserables?  Am I being too picky over the nominees?

 

 

 

 

 

Countdown to the Oscars: Most Nominated Film Goes to Lincoln

Some movies are fortunate enough to have their whole ensemble be absolutely stellar.  And that is why Lincoln wins with the most Oscar nominations this year.

imdb.com

Check out the full nomination list from IMDB:

Academy Awards, USA
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
2013 Nominated Oscar Best Achievement in Cinematography
Janusz Kaminski
Best Achievement in Costume Design
Joanna Johnston
Best Achievement in Directing
Steven Spielberg
Best Achievement in Editing
Michael Kahn
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
John Williams
Best Achievement in Production Design
Rick Carter
Jim Erickson
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Andy Nelson
Gary Rydstrom
Ron Judkins
Best Motion Picture of the Year
Steven Spielberg
Kathleen Kennedy
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Daniel Day-Lewis
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Tommy Lee Jones
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Sally Field
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Tony Kushner

I mean, look at it!  It’s nominated for all aspects of film-making!  It’s no secret that Lincoln is going to be a tough contender to beat at the Academy Awards.  Daniel Day-Lewis has already won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama and the film won Movie of the Year at the AFI (American Film Institute) Awards.  And let’s face it, Day-Lewis has won half the times he’s been nominated!  If this were the Kentucky Derby, I’d put my money on the horse named Lincoln!

The prize players are of course, Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role, Sally Field, playing his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, up for Best Supporting Actor!

But there are quite a few in this cast I would call out!  For starters, who would have ever thought James Spader had it in him?!  Spader plays W.N. Bilbo, a lawyer and lobbyist who fought for the 13th amendment.  The last time I saw a movie and was like, “Yah, James Spader!” was Stargate!  Kudos to him on his acting in this film!

John Hawkes – CC Wikipedia Commons

Standing beside him is John Hawkes, a particular favorite of my boyfriend and I, who some of you may recognize from the indie flick Me and You and Everyone We Know.  Not to mention his performance as Sol Star on HBO’s Deadwood series, and then as Teardrop in the 2011 Oscar nominated Winter’s Bone.  If you ask me, he’s one to watch!  A second film Hawkes played the lead in is up for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for costar Helen Hunt, called The Sessions.  But in Lincoln, Hawkes plays Robert Latham, quite the dignified historical figure.  Latham was a lawyer who became well known for winning a land case for the Eastern Cherokee Nation, and then became a U.S. Senator who fought against child labor and also gave us the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 which amounted to our current banking system and tender, the U.S. dollar.

Rounding out the trio of behind-the-scenes vote capturers, was Tim Blake Nelson as Richard Schell.  Schell was another Senator, and later served in the House of Representatives.  I’ve been a fan of Tim Blake Nelson since he did his own singing in O Brother, Where Art Thou.

And lastly, I had to smile when I saw Hal Holbrook on the screen portraying Preston Blair.  He’s an Emmy and Tony Award winning actor, but he captured my heart portraying the older Jacob in 2011’s film version of Water for Elephants, a movie and book I enjoyed so much I smashed my face into a circus wagon to prove it!

The film Lincoln, I’ve heard, does shed the famous president in a very sunny light.  I still think it’s incredibly well done and will always be prevalent to us as a society.  It depicts the time right before Lincoln passed the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.  147 years ago, the country was torn with the civil war.  Death counts rose everyday.  A possible peace treaty was in the works, and yet the amendment may not have passed had that treaty come to be first.  Everything was about to change.

goodreads.com

Interestingly enough, you can get a different perspective about the president with the release of Jennifer Chiaverini’s historical fiction, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker.  It just published January 15th, and it’s on my To Read Shelf.

I caught the title in the newest issue of BookPage.  Chiaverini used the memoir written by Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, Behind the Scenes:  Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House, to write her new work.  Keckley was a former slave turned dressmaker for society’s elite, eventually becoming the First Lady’s seamstress.  While employed by the Lincolns, she witnessed her share of private moments between the tumultuous couple, and apparently the release of her memoir caused quite the scandal resulting in Mrs. Lincoln severing all ties with her after its publication!

I’m intrigued, are you?!!

Your take!  Have you seen Lincoln?  What did you think?  Do you think a film about this period in history is still relevant?  

What about Chiaverini’s new book?  Don’t you want to know what Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley really thought about the Lincolns? 

Countdown to the Oscars: Nana Nana Boo Boo, My Predictions Were Right…Mostly

I’d originally planned to get my year end review of 2012 books out there, but you all know it was going to go on hold with the announcement of:

The 2013 Oscar Nominees!

With nine nominations for Best Picture, y’all better tie your kicks and scurry them butts to the theater in time to catch these flicks before awards night!  On your mark, get set, say “Cinema!” 

Are you ready?  Cause I’m gonna call it like I see it!

Best Picture Nominees:

  • imdb.com

    Amour kicks off the list, from Austria, and most likely to win Best Foreign Language Film, starring oldest Oscar nominee in history, Emmanuelle Riva (age 85), and Jean-Louis Trintignant as a retired couple whose love is tested when Anne (Riva) suffers an attack which will forever change their lifestyle.

  • Argo - The surprising film that made it in, despite being released back in October of 2012, which in Oscar world may as well have been dog years earlier.  Kudos to Alan Arkin for notching a second Oscar nom for the flick in the role of Best Supporting Actor.  Arkin’s made a bit of a comeback for himself in indie comedies like Little Miss Sunshine and Sunshine Cleaning, alas as the film received no major notes for Best Actor (wasn’t shocked there, Ben Affleck, but still proud of ya!) or in Best Director, I’m afraid I’ll have to count this one out as a true contender for Best Picture.
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild - Or what I’m calling, “This year’s slightly better contender than The Tree of Life“.  Ah, remember that one?!  It was nominated last year for Best Picture and it starred Brad Pitt.  Millions of you flocked to the theaters and movie rentals and then came out going WTF???  I think Beasts of the Southern Wild is going to be this year’s art film entry, but one that is going to make a lot more sense.  It’s a magical tale of a little girl named Hushpuppy (artsy film hint #1) who comes of age one summer amidst her father’s ailing health and some melting snow-caps that are causing flooding in her bayou home.  There’s something about mythical beasts in there too… (artsy film hint #2)  The film did wonders at the Sundance Film Festival and now, Quvenzhane’ Wallis (age 9) is the youngest person to be nominated for Best Actress.  I gotta say, I think it’s sweet, but I don’t think the Academy…at least I HOPE the Academy would select another contender.  Seems a lot to assume this 9 year old (8 at the time) performed better than any other actress out there!  Especially ones who’ve trained and practiced their craft for years.  Don’t wanna be an ageist, but I can see Naomi Watts throwing knives!!

imdb.com

  • Django Unchained - Well, bite my tongue!  They decided to let Quentin Tarantino in again!  I’m ecstatic!  But I’m afraid this nomination is all the glory Tarantino is going to see.  Without other nominations in the key categories, I think we can safely eliminate this film from winning Best Picture.  Too many rumors fled the entertainment news for me to be surprised that neither Kerry Washington nor Jamie Foxx were nominated.  It’s a bit of a snub, if you ask me, that Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t receive one, but wild card winner could award a Best Supporting Actor to Christoph Waltz, now a Hollywood favorite since Inglorious Bastards.  With a new spin on the story of slavery, I’ll be eager to see how the action drama does!
  • Les Miserables - For the last several years, any musical that gets nominated typically wins Best Picture.  Remember all the hype Chicago got in 2002?  Probably couldn’t pay most of you to watch the film now!  But Les Miserables has all the facets:  an all-star popular cast full of eye candy and talent plus a slew of pop culture trends and rising!  Yes, yes, even Miss Susan Boyle, our very own Britain’s Got Talent queen has made the music from this movie popular!  And well done Anne Hathaway, scoring a Best Supporting Actress role along with co-star Hugh Jackman, up for Best Actor!  *wipes drool*
  • imdb.com

    Life of Pi - Nominated for Best Director, Ang Lee, the awesome one who gave us Sense and Sensibility, is back with another Best Picture Nominee.  Life of Pi, masterfully illustrates the story of Pi, a shipwrecked and castaway boy who faces the perils of the sea with the odd, but only other survivor, a Bengal tiger.  I don’t know about this one yet as I haven’t seen it.  I think Ang Lee stands a chance, but without any acting nominations, could it take home Best Picture?  We shall see.

  • Lincoln - Of course!  Of course Daniel Day-Lewis comes out of actor hiding to score another Oscar nomination for Best Actor!  Rewind to There Will Be Blood, Gangs of New York, and My Left Foot!  The man is unstoppable!  And with Steven Spielberg in the running for Best Director, this could be a triple threat!  Except…it doesn’t end there!  Sally Field is up for Best Supporting Actress and Tommy Lee Jones for Best Supporting Actor (Those of you who read my review of Hope Springs may be shocked to know I’m actually rooting for him this time!) 

imdb.com

  • Silver Linings Playbook - Fantastic news for fans of The Hunger Games Winter’s Bone, Jennifer Lawrence scores another Best Actress nomination opposite her co-star, Bradley Cooper, who has his own Best Actor nom.  Kudos to Cooper for breaking away from such comic roles as The Hangover and The A-Team to take on more in depth characters with Limitless, The Words, and of course, this nomination for Best Picture.  David O. Russell, up for Best Director, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver both up for Best Supporting Actor/Actress leads me to believe that Silver Linings is going to be the strong contender against Lincoln and Les Mis.
  • Zero Dark Thirty - The cinematic retelling of the Navy S.E.A.L. team that took out Osama bin Laden.  From The Hurt Locker director, Kathryn Bigelow, first female to win the Best Director Award, Zero Dark Thirty has been highly anticipated.  However, will this film hold the same weight for the Academy as The Hurt Locker?  Bigelow was not nominated for director this year, but Jessica Chastain is up for Best Actress!  Careful, Quvenzhane’, Jessica’s got guns!  You guuuuys, I’m talking about her acting chops!  Didn’t you see her in that artsy film The Tree of Life?!

There you have it!  The 2013 Academy Awards nominees for Best Picture.  For a full list of nominees, check out ABC’s ballot of all categories! 

Your reactions?!  What flick is your pick for the winner?  Any titles you think were robbed of a nomination?  Inquiring minds HAVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING!!!

Oh, and want to know what I was slightly right about, but mostly wrong?  The Hobbit!  No nominations for Directing, Cinematography, Costume, or Original Song!  It did however get noms in Visual Effects and Make-up, leaving me to fess up, I was “mostly” wrong, but slightly right.

Countdown to the Oscars: Just how many nominations will The Hobbit get?

Hello fellow movie lovers!  The holidays are come and gone, and many of our favorite shows are starting to return to television (Downton Abbey anyone???).  But it also marks the countdown to one of my favorite things of the whole year!

The Oscars!

As the Golden Globe nominations have already been made, the internet is abuzz with Oscar  predictions too.  Many people say that The Oscars is an old schoolers game, and that the Academy will follow suit and stick with their “Hollywood darlings” to win.  But I think in the last few years more and more wild cards have made an impact.  Just think Melissa McCarthy nominated for Best Supporting Actress last year in Bridesmaids!  Or the surprising inclusion of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, where he was nominated for Best Director, and Christoph Waltz took home an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Most of you know that I am an Oscar freak fanatic!  I love trying to guess who will be nominated and who’s going to win.  I even host an annual Oscar Party at my house!  It’s themed each year, full of wine and appetizers to die for!  All guests receive a ballot of all the nominees and must mark their winning selection before the ceremonies begin.  And then it’s pencil’s down!  I collect all writing utensils and replace them with a colored marker.  Guests check off and count how many correct selections they made and the top 3 people with the most right all win fabulous Hollywood worthy schwag bag prizes!

So with the slew of big films all releasing now, I thought I’d better get my butt to the movies!

Hollywood Darling and Tolkien Geek Nominee:  The Hobbit, 3D

Over the course of its three films, The Lord of the Rings trilogy won 17 Oscars, and was nominated for a total of 30.  I’d say that’s pretty good odds.  They made almost all the big categories, with director Peter Jackson earning his award for Best Director.  So what do we think will happen for this returning director and crew with their recent release of Part 1, The Hobbit?

(amazon.com)

Sadly for Martin Freeman, I don’t think he’ll be nominated for a Lead Actor.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved him as Bilbo!  He did fabulously!  But, I think he’s up against too many Hollywood Heavyhitters like Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, and Hugh Jackman.

I’m actually not so sure there will be any acting nominations, but let’s not rule out Ian McKellen as Gandalf for a Best Supporting Actor just yet!  He’s been previously nominated for the role, so it could happen.

Where I think The Hobbit is going to shine is in the special effects categories.  Let’s face it, they’re all well deserved!  The credits for this movie were intense when you see how many people were involved in the making of the film.  They had their own medical staff on hand!  And model makers for those Tolkien landscapes.  I’m expecting heavy nominations for The Hobbit in all Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Art Direction categories.  I think it’s going to also see nominations in the Costume and Make-up Categories.

(goodreads.com)

Who knew Tolkien dwarves could be so sexy?

Another thing Jackson does well is the musical scores and credit song.  Annie Lennox took home an Oscar for LOTR: Return of the King’s “Into the West” and Enya was nominated for The Fellowship of the Ring’s “May It Be.”  I would be quite happy for Neil Flinn to be nominated for “Song of the Lonely Mountain”.

With that said, I don’t think The Hobbit will take the win for Best Original song, assuming Adele is nominated for Skyfall, but it’s still a strong contender.  Good luck, Neil Flinn!

And lastly, Peter Jackson and his film, The Hobbit, will both receive Oscar Nominations.  I think Jackson stands a chance for Best Director again, but I don’t think the Academy is going to vote The Hobbit as best film.  There’s not many science fiction/fantasy films that have earned that title.  If you ask me, it’s going to go to a more acceptable indie flick like Silver Linings Playbook, or something more historic for the times like Argo or Zero Dark Thirty.  We shall see…

For more Oscar fun, check out this movie byte for more Academy Award Predictions!

And stay tuned for more of my Countdown to the Oscars!  Who do you think will be nominated this year?

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