Guardians of the Galaxy

Parks and Recreation Finale - "Turns out that passion can heighten things in the same way that conflict does. And that delights me." - Tim Carvell, about Parks and Rec

I watched all of Parks and Recreation prior to this season in a binge watch session of about two months. I know this because I started watching it in late-August just after I finally got around to seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, I was well underway with my binge watch by late-September when I couldn't not post about it in my third ever post here, and I finished catching up by late-November, which is when I started watching The West Wing.

Let me tell you, following Parks and Recreation with The West Wing really does make for a very strange Rob Lowe experience.

Two weeks ago, I took a fictional holiday from Parks and Rec, Galentine's Day, and I really celebrated it with friends. Along with enough other people that #GalentinesDay started trending. It was wonderful.

And tonight, I cried at the series finale in the best possible way.

I typed out a whole essay about how great Leslie Knope is as a character, and why this show is beautiful, and how I think it's exactly what we needed in our cultural landscape. But it was very sloppy, not very well thought out, certainly not worthy of Leslie Knope and the Pawnee Parks Department, and derivative of pretty much everything everyone else in a position similar to mine will write about this show tonight. So I deleted it.

And then I typed out a whole other essay about how this ending was just a perfect way to bookend our experience of our characters, and didn't try to do too much... and then I was going to go into other series finales that have disappointed me. But spreading a sentiment like that is the opposite of the point of Parks and Rec, and one of the things this show has given me the most is a solidification of the fact that that's not the person I want to be. I want to be passionate, loving, and eager, not cynical and bitter. I want to be like Leslie. She would never write something like that. So I deleted that, too.

I'm not sure I can properly summarize my feelings for this show or give it a proper tribute in the kind of feelings-vomiting-onto-my-screen blog post this is becoming.

So I'll just say that I'm so glad we had a beautiful, fitting ending to this wonderful show that has more heart to it than any other I've seen. It makes people happy. It certainly made me happy. And I know it will continue to make me happy every time I see it. I'm sure I'll see it a lot.

More than that, I can't wait to see what comes from the legion of people inspired to be more like Leslie Knope! Those beautiful land mermaids will literally be nothing short of extraordinary.

Parks and Recreation themed recipes!! (I can't think of a particularly appropriate life hack or fun fact, so I'm just going to do a recipe for all of the main characters because food seems like  a particularly good way to deal with my sadness at the show ending.)

Leslie Knope: Belgian Cookie Dough Waffle with Chocolate Whipped Cream. (Is it just like the waffles at JJ's Diner? No. Does it still look amazing? Hell yeah.)

Ben Wyatt: Roasted Garlic & Sun Dried Tomato Calzone.

Ron Swanson: Grilled Meat. Also, the Ron Swanson Turkey Burger.

Ann Perkins: Waffle Iron Cinnamon Rolls. (Again, not exactly a recipe, but damn, do you know how hard it was to come up with a specific food for Ann?? If anyone has any better ideas, please do share them!)

Chris Traeger: The Green Machine Smoothie.

Donna Meagle: Treat yo self.

Tom Haverford: The Tom Haverford Cocktail. (Also, if you ever need to know this proper name for something, this is your go-to site.)

Andy Dwyer: Andy's Mouth Surprise.

April Ludgate: "Thank you, alcohol."

Gerry Gurgich: Bacon, Egg, and Toast Cups.

Oscar Picks 2015 - "I used to think that awards ceremonies were... just for publicity purposes. Until you win one. And then you realize it's the people's voice wanting to be heard." - William H. Macy

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the Academy Awards are on Sunday. So, with a few days left to edit them if I change my mind, I'm making my picks for the 2015 Oscar winners!

I'm mostly keeping it to "above the line" categories, just because it would take me hours to type out my thoughts on every single award. I have learned from my mistakes blogging about the Golden Globes. I'd rather just obsess over all of them than obsess over all of them AND type it all out! But, of course, like any liberal arts degree holder, if you are curious I am more than happy to give my opinion.

Best Picture
American Sniper
Boyhood
Birdman (or, the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

So this is a tighter category than I expected it to be at the beginning of the awards season! I didn't think that Whiplash, Birdman, or American Sniper would make the showing that they have. I still think that Boyhood is going to pull ahead as the winner - it's won more Best Picture awards over the course of the awards season than anything else - but with how well the other two have done and campaigned, it might not be the upset I originally would've thought it would be if they won. The mock odds in Las Vegas agree with me, putting Boyhood's chances at 2 to 5.

Best Actor
Steve Carell - Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper - American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton - Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything

This pick can't possibly be a surprise to anyone who knows me. Or, really, anyone at all. Michael Keaton has had a very strong showing this season, but not only has Eddie Redmayne won all of the biggest awards for Best Actor so far (BAFTAs, Golden Globes, SAG Awards), he also still had the most transformative performance of the year. That being said, the Vegas oddsmakers disagree - they have it as a very tight race between the two of them, with Michael Keaton just pulling ahead at 5 to 6 odds, while Redmayne has 11 to 10. I guess the professional oddsmakers are wrong, and this young woman who doesn't know squat about odds is better than them.

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon - Wild

Between her record this season, the subject matter she's dealing with, and, you know, the performance she gave, I think Julianne Moore has this one in the bag. This was a pretty simple choice, really. And she has the best individual odds of the season, at 1 to 9. Easiest pick of the night.

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall - The Judge
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Edward Norton - Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons - Whiplash

I think this is Whiplash's big category. I haven't even seen it yet (I know, I know) but I've heard so many good things about it that it kind of should be getting more... aside from how all of the other films also deserve it. But J.K. Simmons' performance is so widely well received, he's been campaigning beautifully for it, and it's been showing pretty much all season. And his odds are at 1 to 5. This is the one Whiplash really has down.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Laura Dern - Wild
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Emma Stone - Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep - Into the Woods

She's been winning the Best Supporting Actress awards all season. After Julianne Moore for Best Actress, Patricia Arquette for Best Supporting Actress is the second easiest pick of the night. And, fittingly enough, she has the second best odds, at 1 to 7. Between this and Best Actress, I have all kinds of things to say about the competition in the female acting categories, but for now I'll just leave it to the fact that you should put your money on her in your office pool.

Best Animated Feature Film
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

I'm pretty ashamed of myself - I only saw one animated film all year, and that was The Lego Movie. Meaning that I have no idea from experience what any of these films are like. So my pick is going entirely off of the Golden Globes win for How to Train Your Dragon 2. But the various ceremonies so often give awards to the same films that it still seems like a pretty safe choice.

Best Director
Alejandro G. Inarritu - Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum - The Imitation Game

The man directed a film over 12 years. He's been winning all season. I'm pretty sure he's got this one. Vegas agrees with me, putting his odds at 1 to 6.

Best Screenplay
Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., and Armando Bo - Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater - Boyhood
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman - Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson (and story also by Hugo Guinness) - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy - Nightcrawler

I think this is the one where The Grand Budapest Hotel finally gets actually recognized in the Oscars. I think that Birdman and Boyhood are also a very, very strong possibilities. And maybe it's my own sense of wanting them to win that's making me say this as opposed to looking at the facts of what has won over awards season so far, since the three of them have been pretty tied. But I think The Grand Budapest Hotel is going to actually pull ahead and win.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jason Hall - American Sniper
Graham Moore - The Imitation Game
Paul Thomas Anderson - Inherent Vice
Anthony McCarten - The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle - Whiplash

The Imitation Game was the favorite for this award going into this season. But after The Theory of Everything upset it at the BAFTAs (yay more awards for The Theory of Everything!) I think another film can, and will, upset it here, too. Right now, I think that film will be Whiplash because it's been getting so much buzz. But it's also the category on which I've had the hardest time deciding. I would, of course, be happy if The Theory of Everything won! And American Sniper wouldn't surprise me either, since this is just about the only award it would win. But right now, I'm thinking it's going to be Whiplash.
Which is a little sad for The Imitation Game. This is the only category for which it was a favorite, and now it's not getting this, either. And it wasn't a bad screenplay! It just didn't have anything new. Which is unfortunate.

And now, some film categories I like to pretend I know something about...

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki - Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Robert Yeoman - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski - Ida
Dick Pope - Mr. Turner
Roger Deakins - Unbroken

They managed to make a film that looked like it was shot entirely in one take. That's such an extraordinary feat of cinema that it's never been done before. It's gotta be recognized for that, right?

Best Costume Design
Milena Canonero - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mark Bridges - Inherent Vice
Colleen Atwood - Into the Woods
Anna B. Sheppard - Maleficent
Jacqueline Durran - Mr. Turner

I think Maleficent doesn't exactly have a bad chance at this one, but Into the Woods took us successfully into a whole other world that was a combination of several different worlds, and made it work. Not that I've seen any of these, but... just from the trailers alone, I think this one goes to Into the Woods. Maleficent looked fantastic herself, but I remember nothing about any of the other characters, and I remember several costumes from Into the Woods.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard - Foxcatcher
Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White - Guardians of the Galaxy

It just about always goes to a fantasy film for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Besides, they made a green and a blue woman! Along with all of the other characters they did who weren't computer animated! Foxcatcher did this beautifully subtle transformation of Steve Carell, but I still think Guardians of the Galaxy is gonna get one Oscar, and it's gonna be this one. 

Best Score
Alexandre Desplat - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alexandre Desplat - The Imitation Game
Hans Zimmer - Interstellar
Gary Yershon - Mr. Turner
Johann Johannson - The Theory of Everything

Between the fact that it won at the Golden Globes and the fact that I can't stop listening to it, I think The Theory of Everything has this one. Now, that may just be the fact that it is undoubtedly a pretty score coupled with I-want-it-to-win syndrome. After all, Alexandre Desplat is nominated twice - shouldn't that mean something? But based on its performance thus far, I also think I genuinely do have good cause to believe The Theory of Everything will win best score.

Best Original Song
Shawn Patterson - "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie
John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn - "Glory" from Selma
Dianne Warren - "Grateful" from Beyond the Lights
Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond - "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell... I'll Be Me
Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois - "Lost Stars" from Begin Again

After the incredible outcry against how snubbed Selma was at this year's nominations, I can't imagine it wouldn't get the only category where it actually has a chance of winning. Not only has it won at the biggest award ceremonies (mostly just the Golden Globes, but that's a pretty big awards ceremony!) but it's also been getting the most buzz. Don't get me wrong, "Everything is Awesome" is an absurdly catchy song. Just from thinking about it, it's making its way back into my head, and it'll probably stay stuck there for a few days now. But it would be a major shock if "Glory" didn't end up winning.

If anyone is interested, all of my statistics for the Las Vegas odds for Oscar winners come from here!

Finally, I'm going to try something new here - to make my posts more interesting/to make more people want to read them, I'm going to put life hacks, recipes, and/or other useful things at the end of one each week! So...

Emma's Weekly Internet Finds!

Life Hack: Use waxed, unflavored dental floss to cleanly slice across a cake.

Recipe You'll Mean to Try All Week and Forget But Is Still Really Pretty: Rainbow Heart Cookies - Eugenie Cookies