film

Magic?, Measure for Measure, and the Tribeca Film Festival - "Farewell. Nope. The mayor is a drunkard as well, tell him I said so!" - Lucia, Measure for Measure

Going into the last half of April, there was a part of me that thought I'd be able to find time to keep up this blog while also being in Magic?, Measure for Measure, and working the Tribeca Film Festival. That was straight up a bald-faced lie to myself.

So now instead, let's review!

The Tribeca Film Festival is one of my absolute favorite things, but this year it just flew past me. I only got to see five films, and I just barely eked in the minimum number of shifts. But I always love being around the energy of the festival. There's always a feeling like new and exciting things are happening there - it's not about having the films that are going to win Academy Awards, but telling stories and using media that represent the future of storytelling.

Also, I got to experience VR for the first time there this year. IT'S SO COOL. I don't think it's a replacement for cinema as we know it. But what a weird and interesting experience to slip a headset on over your eyes, and look around underneath the ice in Antarctica.

Definitely did not attend opening night of the festival, though. That's because it was the same night as the performance of Magic? at Dixon Place!

Photo credit: Mo Rabbani

Photo credit: Mo Rabbani

What a ride of a show. Going from being cast to putting the show up in less than three weeks? It was so insanely intense. And it never could've worked without my talented, giving castmates, and more than that, our dedicated director, Chris Erlendson. I already wrote about how great they all on my last post. Even if that was a month ago. But it deserves repeating again. And again. And again.

The cool thing about this show was how much everyone was willing to give to make it work. When you do a show with a certain level of intensity - you especially see this in high school and collegiate theater, or touring companies - everyone in the cast and crew becomes family. You just spend too much time together not to. And it's interesting to me that we were able to attain that even though we did the show so quickly. Maybe it's because our lives revolved around each other so much for that time. When all day every day is devoted to the same group of people, maybe you're just bound to get that connection, even if that experience only happens for a relatively short length of time.

And then after the Tribeca Film Festival, I was in Measure for Measure! This one was just a ton of fun, and it reminded me so much why I enjoy playing comic characters.

Photo credit: Dylan Lopez

Photo credit: Dylan Lopez

I played Lucia (genderbend of the original character Lucio) and what a character arc that story has, man. She's funny, and she's part of the comic relief of the show, but she's not just a dumb delinquent meant to amuse the "common people" in the cheap seats back in Shakespeare's day. She has a point of view of what Deputy Angelo is doing in Vienna, and she is very deliberate at every turn in how she chooses to stick it to the man. She does it with a smile on her face and a clever insult on her tongue, but she does it well. It turns out that the man gets to stick it back to her in the end. (Shakespeare did have a thing about the innate goodness of nobility. I guess you have to when they're the ones paying your bills.) But she's an interesting, fun, crafty character, and it means the world to me that our brilliant dramaturg and director Jenna Schlags entrusted me with her. If it had been up to me, I would've thought of myself as more of an Isabella. But I so, so prefer having been Lucia. She's a character that's going to stick with me for a long time.

And what's coming up next? I don't know, man. I'm gonna try to stick one more show in there before the move to LA, I think. Because if Magic? taught me anything, it's that you can easily do a show in two weeks! Or, if not easily, you can at least do it. So I'm going to see what can be done. It's part of the spirit I love so much of New York.

"Yeah, we're going on a date next week! It's gonna be KILLER." - Confessions of a Teenage Cannibal

In early January, I was the lead in what will possibly be my favorite short film of the year. The thing that I loved so much about this was how easy it was to make. We had a camera with only a couple of different lenses, two lights, and a boom mic.

And a fantastic script along with clever and organized directors.

And they're in high school.

Two days ago, I got the footage back. Check out Confessions of a Teenage Cannibal!

Right now I'm also in a beautiful little one act at Manhattan Repertory Theater called A Kreutzer Sonata. It touches on issues that are important to me, and it does it in a simple but elegant way. It's not overloaded with fancy effects or weird schtick. It just tells the story of a college freshman trying to reconcile his orthodox Judaism with a secular world with exactly as many props, characters, sound effects, et cetera as it needs. And, similarly to Confessions of a Teenage Cannibal, it's minimalist, but excellent.

It's making me think of what it takes to "just do it" and create art, whether it's theater or film. It doesn't take a ton of money, or fancy tools, because in both examples, we didn't have much of them.

Is it offensive to techies if I say it's the script, performance, and direction? Because things like costume design, art direction, all of the "below the line" categories are important, absolutely. But they can all be excellent, and lead to a terrible film or show. (Suicide Squad is, for instance, an Academy Award winning film for makeup design, even though it was critically panned.) But if you have a good story and you tell it well, then I think it doesn't matter as much how good it looks.

By no means am I trying to say that everything else is unnecessary. It is difficult, if not impossible, to act in a vacuum without any props, for instance. And if I had a dollar for every time a director told me that he doesn't especially care what I wear, I'd have enough money to hire a proper costume designer who would change the whole way I carry myself with the way I'm dressed.

But what I am saying is that anyone who thinks that you need a ton of money to be able to make things studio-quality is full of it. And if you have a good story, then you should just do it, because it's definitely doable, regardless of your budget!

"Come on brain, think of things." - Lin-Manuel Miranda

I'm gonna be honest with you guys. I have no idea what to write about today.

There's the ever-relevant topic of politics, but that's already been talked to death, and I don't know what I could say to make people more politically active other than "do it". So that's pretty boring.

I've been thinking a lot lately as I organize a fundraiser staged reading of Almost Maine for the ACLU about how hard it is to do things and how many details there are to something that seems like it would be simple. But I've already written about discipline, and beyond that it's just kind of complaining about the hard work it takes to do something that I love.

I just finished a new short film called Lesbihonest, and I don't know that I'm allowed to post it online for everyone to see. I've been submitting it to contests and festivals, and I know that sometimes there are rules about not publishing your entries before they screen there or are rejected. But there's nothing interesting to anybody else about me posting on Instagram about having to look up rules and regulations.

Valentine's Day was this week, and since I'm single, I spent it mostly reveling in self-love and love for my friends. I used things that made my face all soft and pretty, and I ate chocolate, and got myself a smoothie, and went through Insta liking my friends' couple photos. But nothing, like, special happened.

I dunno, guys. I think it's just interesting how you can do a ton of things over the course of a week, and when someone asks what you've been up to, the answer has to be "nothing." Like when we actors post a regular selfie on social media with the caption "Super excited for projects in the works!" because we're not allowed to post anything more concrete, or our content isn't social media-ready yet. We want to share how hard we've been working and we want validation for all the little things we've done, but we don't have anything real to share yet.

The real MVP of that is Lin-Manuel Miranda. He spent seven years writing Hamilton. Damn.

So, in conclusion for this post, I want to be super clear. I was grasping at straws. I couldn't think of a single real topic for this week. And I still humble-bragged about my production of Almost Maine and Lesbihonest, along with comparing myself to Lin-Manuel Miranda. The self-love thing on Valentine's Day clearly worked.

I hope you all have had a productive week, even if you also can't figure out anything to really say about it!

Resolutions for the New Year - "Be slow in considering but resolute in action." - Bias of Priene

Well you guys, I finally have my New Year's resolutions together. And it only took me, like, two weeks! (#awks)

So I guess we should first go over how I did on my 2016 resolutions.

2016 New Year's Resolutions

2016 New Year's Resolutions

Not as well as I'd hoped, to be totally honest. Which isn't to say "badly," but last year I had definitely, in some way or another, completed all of them. And this year, not as much. I think I was too specific for 2016, so when my life and priorities changed, these didn't change with them. But let's go through them all:

Write the Uglies screenplay: I just didn't do this one. I still want to. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is still one of my all-time favorite novels, and I think it'd make a fantastic movie. But I just didn't do it. I worked on other feature-length projects. But I didn't finish this one.
Get my own apartment: Well, THIS one I very much completed!
Go to South America, Asia, and/or Africa: Hello, my trip to Peru!
Get my reel together: Well, yes and no. I don't have one video of clips of my work. But if you go to my Actress page, you'll see tons of clips of my work that are all labeled and easy to watch. So... I think that counts.
Go to another city in the USA: Well, technically I traveled to Boston, but I meant a new city. So I didn't do that in the USA. But I did see a new city in the UK, so I feel like I still fulfilled the spirit of the resolution. Mostly.
Start my 401K: I was too specific here, but I was also lazy with my finances. Sure, I've been saving money, but I haven't started a retirement account. I have, however, gotten a credit card and started to build up my credit. So I've advanced the planning of my financial future, even if I haven't started a 401K, which is within the spirit of the resolution. But I also could've started all of this way earlier in the year and then done both, so I'm not sure that I get to consider this a win.
Write/Act in 2+ shorts and submit to FESTIVALS: I've acted in so many shorts this year. But I've only written/produced one short in which I've also starred. It's a bigger production than I expected. And I'm very proud of it. So maybe I just overshot with this resolution. Either way, I'm proud of the work I did last year. It just wasn't the work I thought I would do.
Attack life with the confidence of a mediocre white man: Done and done.
Do 10+ industry seminars/workshops: I easily did more than ten!

Overall, not a terrible showing for my New Year's resolutions. But I think I can do better in 2017. Here's what I have coming up!

2017 New Year's Resolutions

2017 New Year's Resolutions

Most of them are much more vague 2016's. But I think that's good. It makes them more flexible and reasonable for a life that's changing and constantly in flux. These are resolutions I can achieve even as my priorities change over the course of the year.

Move to Los Angeles: This one, I think, is pretty self-explanatory. I'm heading out in June. It's time. I can't be bi-coastal if I'm only ever on one coast.
See 2+ new cities in the USA: Sure, it was within the spirit of the resolution to have seen Edinburgh instead of a new American city last year. But this year I am so specific. I have to see more of my own country. New York, LA, and Boston do not count. They have to be new cities to me.
Increase my future financial security (401K/credit score/fuck you money!!): This one, also, is pretty self-explanatory, I think.
Get a new doctor and have a check up: Guys, it has been embarrassingly long since the last time I saw a doctor. Long enough that, technically, my doctor is still my pediatrician from when I was a child. That's just not acceptable. I don't think there's anything wrong with me, but it sure would be nice to know for sure.
Be the Blood of the Dragon: Guys, I've been really inspired by Daenerys Targaryen lately. Her leadership, her self-assurance, and her ability to make people believe in and follow her. I want to emulate that. Sure, she's a fictional character. But they're admirable qualities, and I'm gonna get them.
Get at least one of the following: agent, manager, union status: It's time. I can't control who will like me, or if a union project will cast me. But I think it's reasonable to expect to achieve at least one of those over the next year.
Finish at least one feature-length project: I have so many things that I'm working on that I never finish in favor of shorts. But this year, I don't care what it is, but at least one feature screenplay or full length play is gonna get written.
Simplify your material life: For all that I bitched about getting rid of all of my childhood stuff, I felt so much freer and stronger once it was gone. And, frankly, I don't really miss it. I'm gonna try to keep getting rid of stuff as much as I can. I don't need a lot of things. And I like how I feel when they're gone.
Have/Complete monthly goals. January: shoot WICF film, go to Planned Parenthood about an IUD, send out industry updates: I think it would be a good idea to set these kinds of goals for myself more regularly than once a year! So I'm shooting a short film on Saturday for the Women in Comedy Film Contest, I'm gonna send out updates about the work I've been doing since the holidays to my contacts throughout the industry, and I'm gonna go to Planned Parenthood and see if I can't get an IUD before Planned Parenthood gets fully defunded.

What do you guys think? Do you have any resolutions of your own that you're actually going to keep up throughout the year?

Cuffing Season - "Don't you need a man to raise a man?" "No, I don't think so." - 20th Century Women (2016)

I've been thinking about an ex of mine a lot recently. Not that I want them back, but it's cuffing season and I've still elected to remain single, and even if it's by choice, it's still a little bit lonely.

I know exactly what my priorities are. I know that I usually work evenings, and the nights I have off I want to be writing or watching movies, not going out with somebody just to go out with somebody. If I'm not feeling ~*that feeling*~ for a person, then it seems like a bit of a waste of time. In 20th Century Women, someone describes to Annette Bening's character his casual relationship, and she asks "if it's not serious, then why do it?"

Life is exciting and layered and interesting and stimulating and fun. Or at least it can be. It's supposed to be. I try every day to make it be. (Is that terrible grammar? Yes. Do I care because the literary device there still works? Hell no.)

And if I get more excited by hearing my favorite Christmas songs and making slutty brownies but with CANDY CANE JOE-JOE'S (you're welcome for that idea) than going on a particular date, then why should I?

To be clear, it's not that I'm uninterested in dating altogether. It's just that I only want to bother dating people I really want to date.

Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm rejecting people before I've given them a chance because I'm scared of commitment. Maybe it's me having imposter syndrome, and/or feeling this Groucho Marx quote: "I don't want to belong to any club that would have me a a member!"

But also... so what?

Plus, I never want to toy with anyone the way that ex toyed with me. I never want to have someone relate me to the Paulo Coelho quote "it's important to realize you can miss something, but not want it back."

Anyway, you all should check out this movie because it grapples with a lot of the same topics about what it means to be a good person and figuring out life and Annette Bening's performance is just ridiculous in how nuanced and casually emotional it is.

Politics and Peru - "South America! It's like America, but SOUTH!" - Up (2009)

I wrote out this whole long political post. I had been working on it for a while. And then I hit the wrong series of buttons on my keyboard, and it all deleted.

Which is okay, really. I haven't posted in a month, but I think you can all guess generally what my post was about if it was political. And frankly, I don't have anything new to say. It was mostly going to be an advocacy for using logic, even when it doesn't benefit the immediate point we're trying to make, because if we can't be simultaneously filled with humanity and logic, then our beliefs are based on nothing. (I don't know about your Facebook feeds, but I've noticed that a lot of the people using #notmypresident are the same ones who were pissed when President Elect Trump said "your president" during the debates about President Obama. Saying that President Elect Trump, who won based on rules that we agreed to beforehand, isn't our president is a glaringly obvious double standard.) So really, most of what my post was can be summed up with the Your Logical Fallacy Is website. (See also: Logical Fallacy Referee!)

So I guess I'll just do a quick catch up here from the past month instead! I meant to tell you guys at the end of October that I wouldn't be posting for a couple of weeks, but, if you read my last post, you'll understand why I was distracted.

The reason I knew in advance I wouldn't be posting for a couple of weeks, though, is that I went to Peru! BOOM! Surprises everywhere! I know, I know, I had just been to London. But I always wanted to see Machu Picchu. So I did.

I really like ruins, you guys.

I really like ruins, you guys.

I've also moved over the course of the past month! Still in Manhattan, but now I'm in a new apartment in a new neighborhood. That involved having to go through all the stuff in my childhood bedroom and throw out/donate almost all of it, but the discussion about dealing with that is a post for another day.

I also went up to Boston to shoot the indie feature Tales From Shakespeare!

You should check out that Tales From Shakespeare link to see why I'm such an angry bride. Just sayin'.

You should check out that Tales From Shakespeare link to see why I'm such an angry bride. Just sayin'.

In addition to shooting, Ingot to visit with friends I haven't seen in a while, and see my old college campus, and it lowkey highkey ripped my heart out. But, like, in a good way.

It feels weird to think about things that I'm doing instead of freaking out about how an anti-Semitic man who thinks that only property owners should vote is going to be the new chief strategist. Has anyone else noticed that? You'll be in the middle of something totally unrelated, and then you remember that we've elected someone supremely unqualified to the highest office in our country, and you wonder what the hell you're doing?

But also, life goes on, and we have to go on with it. I have to pay rent on this new apartment, after all. Keep calling your congresspeople. Keep protesting. Keep researching all of President Elect Trump's cabinet picks. But a month into it, this is the time to go to work. In every sense of the phrase.

Avoiding Burnout

If you had told me a year ago that I would come close to burning out, I never would've believed you. I would be coming straight out of NYFF 2015 having seen a bunch of the movies that would come to compete in Oscar season, hella inspired, and wanting to tell all of the stories and explore all of the human condition.

I've worked a lot since then. Both as an actor, and at my day job just to keep myself stable.

Now, in all fairness to me, I've been doing pretty well for myself. Over the summer, I was the lead in three student shorts, I was cast in two features, I did a play, I went through a solid portion of the post-production process for my own short film, and I started work on my new solo show. I'm literally living the dream, and it's pretty awesome.

In fact, I was so happy with the work I had been doing that I didn't realize that, between all of that, working at my day job, and trying to have some kind of a social life, I was burning out until I got on the plane to go on vacation, and my whole body lit up at the prospect of just being on holiday.

Oh yeah, a couple of weeks ago, I went to London! There is a massive blog post coming up about everything I did, the love I feel in and for that city, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I'm wearing my new Slytherin necklace now and everything. It's pretty badass. I also went to Edinburgh. I had never been there before. It's so beautiful I can't stand it. And I ate haggis. I'm pretty brave.

Now, part of all that is just me and how much I love to travel. But it was such a change to wake up in a hostel room at 7am after maybe five hours of sleep and instantly be awake and excited for the rest of the day instead of oversleeping if I try to make myself have any less than seven and a half hours.

I'm not really sure what the answer is here. I still do the work now that I'm back in the US, and I love doing the work, and it makes me happy. Maybe it's just that it's that much easier to be excited while on vacation because you know you only have a week to do everything so you want to soak it all in while you can, and it's a totally normal thing.

It does help me remember how lucky I am, though, that I can be an actress and still travel the world, it helps me remember how important my discipline is while working at home, and it makes me especially excited to go to Peru later this month! So there's still all of that.

Is it Bragging if I'm Really Just Proud of Myself?

I was going to write a post about talking with people when you don't really have anything to say, but as I got into it, I quickly realized I didn't actually have all that much to say on the topic. ~Irony~

But there are a few quick announcements I want to throw out there for my Thursday post! Turns out, people think I'm a good actress, and they like casting me in things, and that's been especially true over the past couple of weeks.

First, I was cast in an NYU short called Ideal Versions of Us. In fact, I was cast in that, shot it, and, because it was shot in a three camera studio, the director finished with post incredibly quickly, so I already have it back! Here's the thing:

Second, the same day I was cast in Ideal Versions of Us, I was also cast in a short for the International Film School of New York called Acceptance, and I shot it the next week! I don't have that back yet, but I'll put it up as soon as I do.

Finally, remember how I mentioned last week that I had "rocked an audition earlier today"? The director agreed with me about that, and I've been cast in yet another short this summer called Burnout. That one is filled with all kinds of special effects, so believe you me, you are going to see plenty of pictures and things from it when we start shooting on Saturday.

Who says the summer is slow?

Ghostbusters and How I'm a Hypocrite - "No fun allowed!" - Me, apparently, two weeks ago

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about the importance of being intellectual, and doing more in the arts than having fun.

Today's post is about how I'm a hypocrite. Or balance. Or how I saw the new, female Ghostbusters last night and loved it, even though it wasn't the most intellectual film in the world.

Guys. Ghostbusters so much fun. There are going to be people who are purists who are going to knock it down just because it isn't the original. And there are going to be people who are straight up sexist and say that it's bad because it has four women as the leads. And you're going to have the pretentious "I only go to see arthouse cinema" assholes who won't like it because it's a studio movie.

That's all dumb. Because it is such a fun movie. It's not going to change the way you see the world. It doesn't have much to say about the human condition. But I had a great time watching it, and it's funny, and Paul Feig is a beautifully feminist director.

I guess, like all things, fun versus intellectual is all about moderation. And I've probably been going in way too hard on the intellectual side. As great as the movies shown at film festivals are, sometimes it's nice to have a movie that is just a good time.

That doesn't mean that you should have to shut your brain off to watch it. At no point should anyone have to do that. If you have to stop thinking critically in order to enjoy it, then the writer has failed at the basics of storytelling, and that's not interesting for anyone. And there are some movies that are just that dumb, or treat women that badly, or have such gaping plot holes that you can't choose to ignore them, and they're terrible.

But once in a while, it's okay to just have fun at a movie, and enjoy the special effects, and some of the best comedic actresses working today, and the new Ghostbusters is an excellent film with which to do that.

Gettin' Naked in the Movies - "This is not a porn film, but..." - A casting call about a month ago

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post that referenced stripping in the title, and it got more hits than anything else I've written on this blog in ages. So I figured, why not give the people what they want?

Is it possible that you, my readers, were actually impressed by the fact that I was making movies and living the dream with spectacular castmates and crew, and that's why you all read it? Sure. But there aren't any updates on The Slightly Awkward First Date of John and Joanna right now, so I can't do more of that. (Check back here next week, though!)

So instead I'm just going to write about doing nudity in film! And why I don't do it.

(Hee. You see what I did there?)

About a year and a half ago, a couple of other actresses and I were brought in to a class for film students about how to direct actors at a prestigious university. The professor wanted to give these future film professionals an idea of what it's like to experience the industry from an actor's point of view, so we did a Q&A with them. And eventually, one of the students asked us about doing nudity, and what does and does not make us comfortable with it/when we were willing to do it. The other actresses in the Q&A both said that they didn't love doing it, but they're artists, so if it was really called for in the story, it was a good enough story, and they were respectfully treated, they were okay with it.

It's amazing how quickly an entire room of aspiring directors got angry at me when they looked to me for my response, and I said "Really? Because I don't do nudity. Not ever. Especially not for unpaid student films. Hell no."

I promptly found myself in a fight.

"But what if you need it to tell the story?" "We're all trying to make art here and we're supposed to collaborate and each give our all." "So you're saying that you never want to tell stories about relationships and sexuality?" "Don't you know how many roles you're losing out on if you won't do nudity?" "You know, I think it's kind of really beautiful, and you're being a little bit closed-minded about it."

They were really not happy that I had such a strong reaction against nudity. And none of them wanted to hear my self-branding reason ("My type is the girl-next-door, innocent and sweet. If there are any nude images of me out there, they will find their way onto the internet, and then that image of me will be ruined forever and I won't be cast-able,") or my business reason ("I mean, if Game of Thrones called tomorrow and said that they had a huge part for me with a huge salary to match, then I'd consider it, but you're asking me to give away a lot, for free, for your student project,") and they DEFINITELY didn't want to hear my artist/storyteller reason ("Besides, nudity is a crutch anyway. You absolutely never need it to tell your story, and 100% of the time you can find another way to show levels of intimacy, attraction, or whatever else.")

To be clear, I don't think any less of people who do, in fact, do nudity. I don't think it's a good business decision, but it's their body and they can do whatever they want with it. I'm also the kind of liberal hippie that says that we shouldn't be vilifying anyone in the sex industry either, though, and that natural bodies are nothing about which to be ashamed. All of these things are personal decisions, and we have to make the one that feels right to us.

But you know, a year and a half later, I don't feel like my career is in any worse of a place than it would be if I did do nudity. And I don't think I've lost anything by speaking my mind, even when those student directors didn't agree with me or want to hear it. I may not have anything against people who do nudity, be they actors or writer/directors who insist on it. But I do like winning fights!

Making it Happen!! - "This is legal! It's okay! This is totally legal!!" - Me, as I had to change my shirt in the middle of Sheep Meadow in Central Park

I've acted in films before. I've written films before. But I had never executive produced a film before this past weekend. Holy shit, you guys, I have such insane respect for producers and executive producers right now.

First off, huge ups to my cast and crew. Do you know what it's like to have friends come out on an uncomfortable, rainy weekend and work long days to create a short film that you wrote just to let some stuff out? Because I do. And they're all amazing. Ryan Fitzmartin, Thaddeus Bouska, Haley Bierman, Marcus Jones, Alex Spear, Nico Ferranti, Sara Bowie, Christopher Erlendson, Evan Dunbar, and Simon Diamond Cramer on the crew side, and my castmates Raja Burrows and Shane Tully. There is no film without any of them. Without them, there's just some chick (me) with a script (the second or third draft, not the good, final one) and a smartphone (my cheap one) saying "the shoddy production value will make it look artsy!" (It wouldn't.)

I don't want to say too much right now about what the film will look like since we're only just starting in on post-production. And I'm still low-key in shock that it actually happened. It's like I'm a real filmmaker or something!

But I wanted to let you all know that it's happening. The working title is The Slightly Awkward First Date of John and Joanna. (The title, too, is a work in progress.)

You guys, it was rainy on the second day but not the first which is problematic with continuity and we had problems with our sound equipment throughout and I was never sure that I'd be able to make all of the logistics like scheduling crew and getting craft services happen and I definitely nearly cried from stress the night before each day of shooting (and I never cry over anything in real life) and there is absolutely nothing I would rather have been doing this past weekend.

This post is becoming awfully #blessed and #grateful and I hate those kinds of social media posts, so I'm going to leave it here. I just couldn't let this week go by without mentioning it. I am the queen of making things happen, but if I am the queen then my friends here are the gods who gave me the divine right to do it.

(Does that make sense as a metaphor? I think that makes sense as a metaphor. I'm pretty sure that's the appropriate, high level of complimentary I want to be to them. That sounds like it makes sense for my metaphor, anyway.)

Tribeca Film Festival 2016 - "Shit just got REAL!" - Ricky Baker, Hunt for the Wilderpeople

So I just disappeared off the face of the earth to be at the Tribeca Film Festival. #sorrynotsorry

Not only are film festivals a wonderful orgy of movies where you just go see film after film and you take it all in and discuss them with other people who absolutely love cinema, but they're also an artistically interesting combination of films made by people who have been working in the industry for years and are masters of their craft juxtaposed with shorts made by first time filmmakers.

And it's so inspiring and reassuring for someone like me who has incredible impostor syndrome. Maybe I'm not yet good enough for my films to get global distribution, but I could make a film that's good enough to be shown next to one that is.

It's also refreshing to see friends again at these festivals who are every bit as driven as I am. Remember me talking about a month ago about my priorities and the work/life balance? Theirs are the same as mine! Maybe I haven't seen them in months, but that's because they've been working just like I have, and are just as excited to take the time to see me now as I am to see them.

I dunno, man, it's just a fabulously inspiring incubator for people who love films, and love making films. There's so much energy to it, and a feeling like interesting, artistic things are happening. I feel like I'm not explaining it properly. But I also think it's not always possible to fully describe an emotion in words, and all the writer can do is try.

I guess at some point I'll just have to pretentiously ~*ACT IT OUT FOR YOU*~!

For the record, there was one film in particular that showed at the Tribeca Film Festival that is getting a theatrical release in June, and it's so wonderful. It's Little Miss Sunshine levels of funny and touching and feel-good. It's called Hunt for the Wilderpeople from New Zealand by Taika Waititi, and it will make you feel all of the things. You're welcome.

Heart and Brain in Film - "Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed." - Paul Gallico? Red Smith? I Dunno Who Said It, Really

I don't have a lot of time today, so this is gonna be a hella short post, but I've been thinking a lot over the past week about what makes a movie smart, and why is that good.

Spotlight won the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday, which people tell me was an upset. These are primarily people who had put money down on The Revenant winning Best Picture. (I didn't post my predictions here this year, but I definitely had Spotlight and I wish I had bet on it, myself.)

But I really wasn't surprised because it was just such a smart movie. But what is it that makes it so intelligent? Is it having smart characters? Does that always coincide with having intellectual characters? It oftentimes seems to, especially with Oscar winners, but there were Oscar nominees that don't.

And, at a time where films like Zoolander and Dumb and Dumber are incredibly popular and get at least one sequel, is intelligence the most important thing in making a good movie? Do these count as good movies? They may not have smart characters, but they're made by smart people, they make smart people laugh, and they have tons of heart.

I'm not even gonna try going into what it means to have heart. That's a discussion for a different day/blog post. But what means more? And how is that meaning shown? Through box office returns, or awards? And what about films that get neither of those things, like Steve Jobs? What about films that have both, like The Martian?

At the end of the day, there really ought to be films across the board with characters of all kinds of intelligence, just like there ought to be characters of all kinds of different genders, sexualities, cultures, races, et cetera. That's certainly the moral answer. And it's not untrue.

But (personal opinion time) I think intelligent characters are the best because they make the most interesting decisions. It's harder to put them into comedies, but that makes it all the more impressive when someone can. (I'm looking at you, Mean Girls, 30 Rock, and anything produced by Michael Schur and/or Amy Poehler.) And I think interesting decisions are what really hold us with a good movie. Not random ones, but interesting ones.

And now, to end this blog post, I have to nerd out at least a little bit over the Oscars.

I'm so excited for Leonardo DiCaprio winning his first Academy Award!! I know, me and the rest of the internet. But it's been a long time coming, and I'm psyched for him.

Gerda was not a supporting character. But since no one was ever going to beat Brie Larson for Best Actress, I was really rooting for Alicia Vikander to win Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl. Also, I'm so happy The Danish Girl got at least a little Oscars love.

Mark Rylance one billion percent deserved Best Supporting Actor award.

A year ago, even though I'm a film score nerd, I couldn't have told you who Ennio Morricone is. Now I have such insane respect for him. He's incredible. And it's even more amazing that this is his first Academy Award as well!!

Go Mad Max for practically sweeping the production categories.

...Oops. Remember that time this was supposed to be a short blog post?

Creative Excellence - "Stop worrying if your vision is new. Let others make that decision. They usually do." - Sunday in the Park with George

My mother once heard a story about a grading scale for some non-traditional school. It was a 1 - 10 scale, with 10 being the best. And a colleague of hers had once had this amazing semester where she got straight As on her assignments, she was always on time for class, she participated consistently, and the teacher loved her.

And when it came time to get grades back, she got an 8.

After class she marched up to the teacher's desk and demanded an explanation. She felt that she deserved a 10, or at least a 9. And the teacher told her "10 is for God. 9 is for me. The best you can hope for is an 8. And that's what I gave you."

Now, I'm not saying that all attempts at excellence are met with such an unjust response. But I am questioning what excellence is, what kind of response it merits, and who gets to judge it in the first place.

When I was in high school, I had the same English teacher for two years in a row. (And I loved her, she's one of the best teachers I ever had!) The first year I would consistently get grades in the high eighties and low nineties on my assignments. And on report cards and in parent-teacher conferences she would say that I'm a good writer and I understand literature well, but there was just a little something that my writing was lacking, and she would love to see me break through that ceiling and produce really excellent work.

The next year, everything I turned in got a grade in the high nineties. And about halfway through the year, she asked me if I could feel the difference in my work. I told her "yes" because I wanted her to be proud of me and how much I had learned and grown.

I have no idea what it is that I did. To this day, when I look back on it, I remember myself putting forth the same level of effort and writing the same kinds of pieces. I really just don't know what changed.

So I've been thinking about what makes excellent work. Whenever I put up a scene in my scene study class, I think about what other people have done that has been really extraordinary, and I try to use whichever of their techniques work for me. I break down the script. I work on the character in depth. And it still feels rough and shallow whenever I actually do the scene for the first time in front of people.

When I'm writing a script I start off excited about the idea, and then I look at other, extraordinary scripts, and I always feel like my own is lacking something meaningful no matter how much planning and outlining I've done with it.

Now, that's probably in some part because we are all our own worst critics. Most creatives never feel good enough. So I suppose I'm in some pretty good company.

But also, will I ever know when the work I'm doing is really good? I can't just produce everything I ever write, after all. How do I know what's really worth it? Or do I just produce all the things I like the best, and keep chugging along, and hope other people like it because that's all I can do?

Boy, I hope one day I have an answer to that question.

#OscarsSoWhite. Again.

Happy half-birthday to me! Today I'm going to talk about why I've been considering giving up one of my favorite things of the year this year. Whee!

If you've been following me for any length of time, you'll know that I absolutely love awards season. Sure, Hollywood awards are meaningless, given by a self-selected group of elitist white men, and are, in the end, almost entirely about the glitz, glamour, and self-congratulation of the awards ceremony on TV. I get that. I really do.

But oh my god, I love them. Everyone is so pretty! And you get to watch the winners' dreams come true! And it's all about celebrating some of the best told stories of the year! And if I could, while I'm one billion percent on board with #AskHerMore, I would wear couture gowns all day every day.

The thing is, it's kinda impossible to ignore #OscarsSoWhite. Two years in a row? Even the one year in a row it was last year was too much. And I saw calls going around for a boycott this year. I am a firm believer in being more of an activist than making Facebook statuses... or writing blog posts on a personal website. Which means that I should put my money where my mouth is (or, rather, take that money away from ratings agencies and advertisers) and join the boycott.

But at this point, what would that actually accomplish? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has already said they're going to double their number of minority and female voting members by 2020. There are definitely performances and films by people of color and women that came out this year that deserve awards-level recognition. What we need is a culture that actually recognizes them. The SNL sketch is actually pretty on the mark about it.

Here's the thing: If what we need is a complete change of culture, I don't think a boycott is going to accomplish that. The fact that the AMPAS is increasing their number of minority and female members shows that they know the community is upset. A boycott isn't going to completely change the culture in the way it needs to be changed. Complaining that underpriviledged people aren't being let into their elite club isn't the way to get them to admit underpriviledged people into their elite club.

I'm gonna be honest: I'm not sure what the next step to take would be, if it's not a boycott. There are means out there for female filmmakers and filmmakers of color to make movies and get them out there. Not nearly as many, and we are not a part of the white, straight, cisgendered boys club that is most filmmakers, but it's not impossible. We can do more, though. I just wish I knew what that more is.

In the meantime, I'm probably not boycotting the Oscars. It would just be not taking advantage of something I love, and, in the end, for zero net gain. But I don't think I'll be making picks, analyzing each nominee's chances, or doing a write up of any of it. I just don't feel like analyzing Charlotte Rampling in conjunction with other wonderful actresses.

(I mean, come on, Charlotte Rampling. The outcry is "racist against white people"? That's not even a thing. We're not on the bad end of systemic oppression. She's excellent at the craft, but damn. If nothing else, this controversy has made an excellent litmus test for how racist most white people in Hollywood are.)

And, at the very least, I can start to look forward to next year's Oscars. The Birth of a Nation just sold for $17.5 million to Fox Searchlight at Sundance, the highest amount ever paid for a film there. They went with Fox Searchlight instead of Netflix, which was offering $20 million, because they agreed to have screenings of it in high schools and do other community things like that. And it's already being seen as an Oscar contender. So there's hope for the 2017 Academy Awards yet.

Goals and Resolutions for the New Year! - "Don't get a girl pregnant." - Me, a year ago

Happy New Year! Sure, as we're already a week into 2016, it's a little bit awkward to say it. But I hope you have a wonderful rest of the 51 weeks left!

And I'm feeling good about this year. It still feels shiny, sparkly, and new. It's a leap year, which always seems special to me! And it's an excellent time to set new goals for ourselves to reach.

Last year I experimented with writing down my resolutions and goals for 2015 and putting them up on the back of my bedroom door where I could always see them. I probably shouldn't be as surprised as I am at how well that worked. But, I kid you not, I made nine resolutions, and I basically accomplished all of them. In fact, I did most of them by halfway through the year.

So now I want to take a moment to look at last year's resolutions and how well they worked, and also share my goals for 2016.

New Year's Resolutions: 2015

New Year's Resolutions: 2015

Take less shit: Guys, in years gone by, I was kinda a doormat. For a variety of reasons, I never really fought back against anybody, aside from in the context of academic debates. This year, I wanted to take less of the bullshit people will sometimes try to feed you to take advantage. And I suppose I can say I did it. I've certainly started standing up for myself more than I used to. Because I didn't put a way to qualitatively say that I've done it, I guess I just have to use my own analysis. But I do take less shit than I did a year ago. I still take more than I'd like. But less than I have.

Build up savings: Kind of. Not really. 2015 was a turbulent year in terms of day jobs for me, so I had issues putting money away just to have in savings. But I've since gotten a new day job that pays more than my old ones, so at least I'm on the right path towards building up my savings!

Get a better job at the museum: At this time a year ago, my day job was at the American Museum of Natural History as a Visitor Services Representative. It was an incredibly cool place to work, but the job itself wasn't exactly interesting, and it didn't pay as well as I'd like. Since then, I've gotten a better job than the museum. So while I still miss working in one of the greatest museums in the world, I make way more money than I did, which is what helps me pursue my true goal. (You know, the whole "acting" thing.)

Take 2 acting classes: I took four. Boom. Thank you, The Barrow Group.

Get vouchers from the union (SAG-AFTRA): Two things have happened in the past year. One is I learned that I don't really need to collect those vouchers for where I am in my career right now. The other is that I started accidentally doing it anyway. So... success!

Start sending out an industry newsletter: I don't send out a monthly news update from a mass email service. But I do know people in the industry who I personally update with news about when I get cast in things, or when I get footage back from new projects. Which is close enough for me to consider this a job well done!

Write/Act in 2+ shorts: It really depends on how you want to define this one, I think. I acted in at least a dozen shorts over the year, and I wrote a whole handful! Now, what I meant when I wrote it was that I would write and act in at least two of my own projects, and for that, I only did one. (And it's pretty sweet, short, and worth watching. Just saying.) I have a lot of excellent projects coming up for this year, though, born from the work I did towards this resolution last year!

Go to London: What do you think?

There are giant teddy bears like this all throughout Harrod's!

There are giant teddy bears like this all throughout Harrod's!

AND I went to Reykjavik, Iceland.

This shot is from the mountains in Iceland, when I did a Viking Horseback Riding tour!

This shot is from the mountains in Iceland, when I did a Viking Horseback Riding tour!

Don't get a girl pregnant: Smashing success.

And now, looking ahead, are my RESOLUTIONS FOR 2016!!!

New Year's Resolutions: 2016

New Year's Resolutions: 2016

Write the Uglies screenplay: Have you read the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld yet? No? Well damn, you better get on that. I'll wait. Now do you see how groundbreaking this series is in terms of societal norms, beauty standards, and the way we treat looks and intelligence? And how good it would be as a movie? And the best thing I can do to make sure it happens is to do it myself. Sure, it's highly unlikely that my script for it will ever come to anything. But hey, what if it does? What if it does, and I can then play Tally? Guys, that would be such a dream come true. So I'm gonna kick it into high gear this year and just write the damn script.

Get my own apartment: Confession time: I still live with my parents. Sure, it's a great way to save money, especially living in NYC. But I'm also an adult who needs her own place. I'm not saying that I'm going to live entirely on my own without roommates or anything. But I need, as Virginia Woolf has said, a room of my own.

Go to South America, Asia, and/or Africa: I dunno whether or not you've noticed, but I really like to travel. And I used to think of myself as someone who has been all over the world. After all, I've been to over a dozen countries. And then one day I realized... almost all of that has been within Europe and North America. And that is an unacceptable for a "world" traveler. So, somehow, I want to make it to one of these three continents. I may not yet know how I'm going to afford the flights or anything. But this year I am determined to make it happen. And I am really good at making things happen.

Do 10+ industry seminars/workshops: I'm already signed up for one. And it's pilot season, so everyone is gonna be trying to meet everybody else. This goal is pretty straightforward, and I have every intention of and belief in meeting it.

Attack life with the confidence of a mediocre white man: If you're a straight, white, cisgendered man reading this, don't worry, I probably don't mean you. I don't mean every straight white man. I mean the guy who sends unsolicited dick pics to women with whom he's only just begun chatting. I mean the guy who says sentences that begin with the phrase "Okay, no offense, but-". I mean the guy who thinks it's deep to be angry and sad, and tries to force that on the people around him. Haven't you ever noticed how that guy always seems to have an extraordinary amount of self-confidence and belief that the world is, or at least should, belong to him? I want nothing to do with that kind of person... I just want to live my life and approach my career with that incredible level of self-confidence.

Write/act in 2+ shorts & submit to FESTIVALS!!: Similar to my goal from last year, but this time I want them to be finished enough that I could actually get my work in front of an audience instead of simply posting them online.

Go to another city in the USA: I have seen depressingly little of my own country. So I'm thinking New Orleans. Or maybe Chicago, or Detroit, or Seattle. In fact, if you have any particular suggestions, I'd love to hear them! I'd love to see more of the rest of America.

Get my reel together: I have plenty of clips available online. But I'd like to get cohesive reels together. At least one, but preferably have them sorted into a dramatic reel, a comedic reel, and a commercial reel.

Start my 401K: I am an adult. I should probably act like one. And save money like one.

That seems like plenty to start with, right? I'm pretty psyched to make all of this happen.

What about you guys? Do you have any resolutions? Any extra goals I can steal and claim for my own??

Live from New York, it's Saturday Night Weekend Update! - "You thought I was gone, didn't you?" - Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton, SNL 2008

D'ya think Lorne Michaels is gonna sue me for using his thing? I mean, I don't think he would. It's such a famous phrase that once I thought of it, I couldn't think of anything else. And it does technically describe what I'm doing, so I'm technically in the right. Right?

You're all getting a rare Saturday update because I've been getting so much footage in from so many interesting, beautiful, and emotionally spot-on short films I've done that I just couldn't wait to share it!

First and foremost is the short I made inspired by the Studio 360 It's a Wonderful Short contest: "The Subscription". It's sweet, funny, and intense, all while being 30 seconds long! Anyone who knows me and how much of a not-so-secret romantic I am can absolutely believe I made this movie.

Written and Directed by Emma Lieberman Director of Photography: Thaddeus Bouska Production Sound Mixer: Julian Seltzer CAST Becca - Emma Lieberman Rachel - Amanda Jane Stern Thomas - Jesse Boone

Secondly is a film called "Arranged". My Jewish identity is very important to me, but this film is an exploration into how far I would let that take me. I'm also not wearing any makeup at all in it, which I'm pretty sure basically makes me Scarlett Johansson. I'm fairly certain that's how that works.

And finally, I present to you "Trapped"! I genuinely wasn't sure whether to call this a drama or a comedy, and that makes it one of my favorite kinds of films.

Right? They're pretty intense.

I was also in a sketch show with The Mailroom NYC at The PIT earlier this month! There isn't video of that (yet) though, so I don't have fancy proof. You'll just have to trust me that it happened and was hilarious. But don't worry. I'm pretty trustworthy.

Next up as of now is another screenplay I'm working on! Still untitled (god, titling things is the worst) about a couple of young lawyers having to work together towards what they both know is an impossible goal. Looking to shoot towards the beginning of 2016, so be sure to look out for that soon!

Drink-y Oscars Nominations! (You know, the Golden Globes.)

UPDATE: It is about 6pm EST on Golden Globes night, and I want to revise some of my predictions based on the campaigning season so far. Edits are incorporated through the rest of the post!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

By which I mean it's awards season!! This is when the best films of the year come out! And there are swanky awards nominations and everything everywhere! Including the noms for the Golden Globes!

So I'm freaking out over those and making my pics way too early in the season. These will probably change. But also, screw it, I want to do them anyway.

Ordinarily I pick only a few categories for which I really make predictions. But I don't think there's a single category of the Golden Globes that means less to me than any other. So if my analysis is short... I'm trying to do picks for twenty five categories in a single blog post. Give a girl a break!

As always, the category title is in bold, my pick is in italics, and everything else will probably be marked off with some kind of *asterisk.

Best Motion Picture - Drama
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Room
*Spotlight

1/10/16: Whoops, just kidding! I definitely think it's Spotlight now.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
*Cate Blanchett - Carol
*Brie Larson - Room
*Rooney Mara - Carol
*Saoirse Ronan - Brooklyn
*Alicia Vikander - The Danish Girl

God, what an insanely strong category this year. I couldn't possibly pick just one. I'm not even rooting for any one of them over the others from pure, personal, emotional preference. They are all extraordinary, and they all deserve it.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Bryan Cranston - Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant
Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne - The Danish Girl
Will Smith - Concussion

Yes, I know I picked two people. But, between the two of them, it was impossible to decide. The performances in both Steve Jobs and The Danish Girl were so extraordinary I couldn't so much as have one pick and then one as my second choice. Which is probably cheating for my count after the awards themselves happen, but I don't care.
I can tell you who isn't going to win. I'm sure he's fantastic, but Leonardo DiCaprio isn't going to win, and he is going to flip his shit.

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
*The Big Short
Joy
*The Martian
Spy
Trainwreck

1/10/16: I'm not saying Trainwreck isn't great, but I definitely am saying The Big Short is gonna win.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Jennifer Lawrence - Joy
Melissa McCarthy - Spy
Amy Schumer - Trainwreck
Maggie Smith - The Lady in the Van
*Lily Tomlin - Grandma

I think Grandma was too small an indie film to have the funds to campaign and win awards season categories. I just wanted to point out Lily Tomlin in this movie because she was wonderful.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Christian Bale - The Big Short
Steve Carell - The Big Short
Matt Damon - The Martian
Al Pacino - Danny Collins
Mark Ruffalo - Infinitely Polar Bear

Best Motion Picture - Animated
Anomalisa
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie

If Inside Out doesn't win, it'll be an upset on the level of The Lego Movie not winning at the Oscars.

Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language
The Brand New Testament
The Club
The Fencer
Mustang
Son of Saul

Number of films I've seen in this category: 0. Amount to which I am certain of my choice anyway: 100%.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture
Jane Fonda - Youth
Jennifer Jason Leigh - The Hateful Eight
Helen Mirren - Trumbo
*Alicia Vikander - Ex Machina
Kate Winslet - Steve Jobs

1/10/16: Ohhh man. I might be reversing Alicia Vikander and Kate Winslet? Because I just haven't seen Steve Jobs campaign for much beyond screenplay and Best Actor, and Alicia Vikander has been everywhere! So I think this is going to Alicia Vikander after all, and it'll really be more of a combo win for both this and The Danish Girl.

I don't think Alicia Vikander is going to necessarily win for Ex Machina, especially not over Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs. I just wanted to draw attention to her because I really want her to get all of the things.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture
Paul Dano - Love & Mercy
*Idris Elba - Beasts of No Nation
Mark Rylance - Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon - 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone - Creed

Best Director - Motion Picture
Todd Haynes - Carol
Alejandro G. Inarritu - The Revenant
Tom McCarthy - Spotlight
George Miller - Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott - The Martian

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Emma Donoghue - Room
*Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer - Spotlight
Charles Randolph, Adam McKay - The Big Short
Aaron Sorkin - Steve Jobs
Quentin Tarantino - The Hateful Eight

Steve Jobs may have bombed at the box office, but Aaron Sorkin is amazing and I don't think I could be capable of not picking him for any screenplay category ever.

Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Carter Burwell - Carol
Alexandre Desplat - The Danish Girl
Ennio Morricone - The Hateful Eight
*Daniel Pemberton - Steve Jobs
Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto - The Revenant

...I'm literally listening to the score from The Danish Girl now, so it's very possible that I'm highly biased.

Best Original Song - Motion Picture
"Love Me Like You Do" - Fifty Shades of Grey
"One Kind of Love" - Love & Mercy
"See You Again" - Fast and Furious 7
"Simple Song #3" - Youth
"Writing's on the Wall" - Spectre

Best Television Series - Drama
Empire
Game of Thrones
Mr. Robot
Narcos
Outlander

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama
Caitriona Balfe - Outlander
Viola Davis - How to Get Away with Murder
Eva Green - Penny Dreadful
Taraji P. Henson - Empire
Robin Wright - House of Cards

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Rami Malek - Mr. Robot
Wagner Moura - Narcos
Bob Odenkirk - Better Call Saul
Liev Schreiber - Ray Donovan

Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Casual
Mozart in the Jungle
Orange is the New Black
Silicon Valley
Transparent
Veep

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Rachel Bloom - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Jamie Lee Curtis - Scream Queens
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
*Gina Rodriguez - Jane the Virgin
Lily Tomlin - Grace and Frankie

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Aziz Ansari - Master of None
Gael Garcia Bernal - Mozart in the Jungle
Rob Lowe - The Grinder
Patrick Stewart - Blunt Talk
Jeffrey Tambor - Transparent

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
American Crime
American Horror Story: Hotel
*Fargo
Flesh & Bone
Wolf Hall

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Kirsten Dunst - Fargo
Lady Gaga - American Horror Story: Hotel
Sarah Hay - Flesh & Bone
Felicity Huffman - American Crime
Queen Latifah - Bessie

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Idris Elba - Luther
Oscar Isaac - Show Me a Hero
David Oyelowo - Nightengale
Mark Rylance - Wolf Hall
*Patrick Wilson - Fargo

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Uzo Aduba - Orange is the New Black
Joanne Froggatt - Downton Abbey
Regina King - American Crime
Judith Light - Transparent
Maura Tierney - The Affair

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alan Cumming - The Good Wife
Damien Lewis - Wolf Hall
Ben Mendelsohn - Bloodline
Tobias Menzies - Outlander
Christian Slater - Mr. Robot

Full disclosure: I know very little about this year's limited series television shows. I'm mostly basing this off of what I've seen online and what the Emmys did!

This is a really weird year for the awards because, while there are plenty of excellent films and TV shows out there, there isn't any one absolute standout! Or even a few! Which makes this so much harder.

And, you know, of all of the problems out there in the world, having to think a bit more about who my picks are for the Golden Globes is definitely up there. Probably.

The moral of the story: Yay awards season!!

Love in Relationships, a Surprisingly Not Obvious Thing - "I believe that I am a woman." "And so do I." - The Danish Girl

On Saturday I saw The Danish Girl followed by a Q&A with Tom Hooper led by the editor-in-chief of Backstage. Afterwards I ended up chatting with one of the producers for a while about how the film has been seen in the trans community. It was all pretty wonderful, so thanks for tweeting about it, Backstage!

20151128_222816.jpg

Now, I could go on for ages about how the film itself is stunning and how the Q&A and discussion was insightful and interesting, and I would be right about all of it. I don't care that those are all subjective statements and matters of opinion. I would be right.

But that's not what I want to do here today. I want to focus on one very specific thing. Or, rather, person.

To me, Eddie Redmayne is pretty much a perfect actor, and I'll tell you why.

(#sorrynotsorry for putting what is essentially a clickbait title in the middle of my blog post.)

Tom Hooper said during the Q&A that he enjoys working with Redmayne because he's so emotionally open while performing. He said that, especially among British actors, you can oftentimes see not just their emotions, but their internal dialogue as part of them fights showing their emotions. And that can make for interesting acting in and of itself, but Redmayne is very in touch with who he is and what he's feeling, and he just... lets everything else go, and just shows what he's feeling right then and right there in the moment. And that's all true and wonderful.

But I think there is something else that makes him so good. He's just extraordinary at finding the love.

The material on which he chooses to work certainly helps with that. The Danish Girl, and last year's The Theory of Everything, are both filled with love. Like, you would have to find the love to do those well.

But on the way home from seeing The Danish Girl, I had the epiphany that everything is about the love. Every great story is a love story. It's not necessarily romantic love, it can also be platonic love, or passion/drive for or towards a specific thing. But it's all always about the love. And he knows how to find it.

The drier, more accurate and academic way of phrasing it is probably closer to "he clearly defines his relationships with everyone and everything around him in each of his roles." And, like, yeah. That's true. But I think, more than that, he also finds the love in each of those relationships somewhere.

Before I start repeating myself too much, the thesis I'm going for is that Eddie Redmayne is such an extraordinary actor because he not only defines his relationships in each role that he plays, but he goes beyond that to find the love in each of those relationships, which is what makes each of them effective, gorgeous, and human. And he's so good at it that he's made it exactly the kind of work I want to be doing.

Besides, it's also a beautiful way to take in the world.

...I may have spent this entire post fangirling over how good an actor Eddie Redmayne is, but I couldn't write a post about The Danish Girl without acknowledging Alicia Vikander and how extraordinary she is in this film as well. Not only is she also wonderful at finding the love, but she's also heart breaking, intelligent, and compelling. During the Q&A, Hooper said that Vikander is an actress who can make pure goodness interesting, which is a very rare trait in an art form that is attracted to conflict and discord. And her Gerda is so feminist while still being human and feeling pain. She's such a standout, and you should be on the lookout for everything that she does. Just sayin'.