The Oscars

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?

#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.

Emmy Wrap Up - "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that simply are not there." - Viola Davis

Hey guys, remember how for the Golden Globes I was gonna go award by award and talk about my predictions vs. who actually won, and then said "lol nope" when I realized how long it would take?

GUESS WHO IS A DAMN FOOL AND SURE IS DOING IT NOW FOR THE EMMYS?? (It's me.)

Outstanding Drama Series
My prediction: Mad Men
Who actually won: Game of Thrones

My mother nearly threw her tablet through the TV screen when Mad Men kept losing categories to Game of Thrones. And while I sympathize (I thought Mad Men would clean up the drama Emmys, myself), I still think it's wonderful. I think that it shows that the Emmy voters in the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences are starting to skew a little younger, with slightly more open minds about the validity of fantasy as genuine art. Which is awesome.

Outstanding Comedy Series
My prediction: Parks and Recreation
Who actually won: Veep

And now here's the thing I don't like about the way the voters of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences vote: They vote for their friends. And their friends don't change on a year to year basis. Which is why you get the same shows winning some of these awards year after year. A few years ago, it was Modern Family. And now it's Veep. Don't get me wrong, I think Veep is a wonderful, intelligent, interesting, and hilarious show. It's not that I think it doesn't deserve Best Comedy. I just think it won Best Comedy last year. And Parks and Recreation deserves way more recognition than it got. (Which, at the Emmys, was no recognition at all.)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
My prediction: Mad Men - Jon Hamm as Don Draper
Who actually won: Mad Men - Jon Hamm as Don Draper

There's no analysis that needs to be written here. We all saw this coming from a mile away. Well deserved. So instead, I'm just gonna include a gif of when Jon Hamm rolled on stage to accept it. Please do enjoy the view.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
My prediction: Orphan Black - Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, Alison, Cosmia, Helena, Rachel, and Krystal
Who actually won: How to Get Away With Murder - Viola Davis as Annalise Keating

Tatiana Maslany will get her turn for her incredible performances in Orphan Black. But Viola Davis was the right choice. I didn't even realize beforehand that this made her the first black woman to win the lead actress Emmy. (Shows how far I need to check my own privilege.) Now there's nothing I can say that she can't say better herself. So I'm just including her acceptance speech. This is required viewing.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
My prediction: Transparent - Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman
Who actually won: Transparent - Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman

If this is at all puzzling to you, you haven't yet seen Transparent. And that's all I have to say about that.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
My prediction: Parks and Recreation - Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope (although I highlighted everyone)
Who actually won: Veep - Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer

I suppose this was slightly wishful thinking on my part. But Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a class act, and this was a crazy strong category this year. I just wish it meant that I didn't know she is now going to win just about every year for the rest of Veep's run. I think she's wonderful. I just think the other comedic lead actresses are wonderful, too.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
My prediction: The Good Wife - Alan Cumming as Eli Gold (although I highlighted Game of Thrones - Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister)
Who actually won: Game of Thrones - Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister

I'm not really sure why I picked Alan Cumming, to be honest. He's quite good, but I knew from the start that Peter Dinklage is the best in this category. So I'm just going to copypaste my analysis from my Emmy predictions post, and we can all laugh at what an idiot I am.

Alan Cumming has been consistently nominated for this role. And this year The Good Wife got mostly snubbed. And the Emmys don’t really have love for high fantasy. Alan Cumming has been pretty present in the culturally conscious mind after his run with Cabaret earlier this year, and then co-hosting the Tonys with Kristen Chenoweth. There’s no one in this category I’m especially excited about, aside from Peter Dinklage (who would really be winning more for his performance last season than this one; he was excellent this season, but he just shone last year in the trial and the finale especially) so... it’s pretty much just that it’s Alan Cummings’ time.
— Me being dumb

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
My prediction: Orange is the New Black - Uzo Aduba as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren
Who actually won: Orange is the New Black - Uzo Aduba as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren

I like being right. Sometimes I like being right more than others. Watching Uzo Aduba make history as she won Emmys in both drama and comedy for the same role, and seeing how much it means to her, is one of those times I especially like being right.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
My prediction: Veep - Tony Hale as Gary Walsh
Who actually won: Veep - Tony Hale as Gary Walsh

Not gonna lie, this one was pretty arbitrary. So it's just cool that I got it right. Yay Barrow Group alumni!

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
My prediction: Transparent - Gaby Hoffman as Ali Pfefferman
Who actually won: Mom - Allison Janney as Bonnie

My takeaway from this award is that I should probably be watching Mom. Like, full disclosure: I've never seen it before. And I thought I had an idea as to what it's about and the feel of the show. I was clearly quite wrong. And Allison Janney is so, so classy.

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
My prediction: Inside Amy Schumer
Who actually won: Inside Amy Schumer

Dude. Go Amy Schumer. She's awesome.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
My prediction: Transparent - Bradley Whitford as Marcy
Who actually won: Transparent - Bradley Whitford as Marcy

Transparent. Is. A. Gift. To. Us. All.

Outstanding Main Title Design
My prediction: Manhattan
Who actually won: Manhattan

Yooooo this one I knew next to nothing about any of the other nominees I just wanted to highlight the one category in which Manhattan was actually nominated for an Emmy and it totally won that's awesome. (I really, really like Manhattan, you guys.)

...Looking over my predictions post, it seems I didn't make writing predictions. That's weird. But I certainly would've gotten them wrong, as I would've picked Transparent and Mad Men, not Veep or Game of Thrones. You guys fantasy is so legit now it's awesome.

See you all next time in Oscar season!! I mean, also many times before that. But definitely then as well. What I'm trying to say here is I'm a huge sucker for awards shows.

Reflecting on my Actor's Journey - "Who is that girl I see staring straight back at me? WHEN WILL MY REFLECTION SHOW..." - Mulan, or college kids belting Disney songs

Oops I haven't really updated in about two weeks.

My bad.

It's been a crazy busy time, though, let me tell you. (You do kind of have to let me tell you if you're reading this blog.) And there's been a lot of stuff that has happened that I promise I'm going to write about! Stuff like how I saw The Heidi Chronicles on Broadway with Elizabeth Moss! And how I also saw all of the live action Oscar nominated short films! And how I began a new day job! And how I was in a music video on Saturday, and what it's like to have a role as anything from a background actor to a lead actor! And all kinds of other things that you'll hear about from me in the near future.

But in the meantime, right now, I want to talk about the importance of reflection, especially on an acting career.

...Even if I don't have a ton of time to do it when my computer has 13% battery and I don't have my charger at work.

The thing is, I noticed a change in me, even over just two weeks of not blogging about my ~journey~.

Reflection is the way we take stock of where we are as people, where we'd like to go, what steps we're taking to get there, and how we're doing. And that's true and important for any person in any career ever, not just acting. It is particularly useful as an actor, because by reflecting on the roles that we've booked, the auditions that we've had, and the patterns we see in them, we can see what our type is, how well casting directors like us, and what our technique is doing for us.

It doesn't necessarily have to be done in blog form, even though I tend to like it for myself. It can be done through meditation, keeping a journal, the creation of art, exercise, or yoga, or something. Which probably has something to do with actors constantly being associated with a heavy interest in what most of the rest of the world calls "New Age-y crap."

But when I'm not reflecting on myself and my life, I find that things slip away from me more easily. Time passes without my realizing how quickly it's going by. I forget to do basic tasks that should be the most obvious things to do as an actor - sometimes that even includes submitting myself for roles in films or shows! And it almost always leads to a decline in how quickly I respond to messages. Case in point: On my personal Facebook, I have no fewer than 15 unread messages currently in my inbox. (Before I sound too unprofessional, I just want to say that most of those are from friends, not about films or parts or anything!) (Also, if you're one of those people who sent me a message on Facebook literally weeks ago, I'm sorry!! I'll get to it soon, I promise!)

It feels counter-intuitive when I say it. That, in order to be more productive, I have to take time out of my schedule to think about my journey and where I am in my career. I certainly always feel self-conscious when I think about it in as many words. I never wanted to be one of those actors who constantly talks about their spirituality; even if it is something I believe in, no one wants to hear about my spirit in everyday conversation. Not to mention that it's pretty pretentious. And besides, saying that I'm going to take time out of my very busy schedule to think about my very busy schedule just feels dumb, and like a terrible use of my time.

But, of course, that's dumb. As I've just spent the majority of this blog post explaining.

So I suppose that the point I'm going for here is that, no matter how ridiculous it feels, reflection needs to be a higher priority. For me, as well as all of the rest of us.

Or, phrased differently... I'll update more reliably! Really! I promise!

...7% battery. Damn.

#TheDress #whiteandgold #blueandblack

I had a wrap-up post about the Oscars planned. But I wanted to make sure I really thought through my opinions on things like Patricia Arquette's speech, the prevalence of suicide mentions throughout the ceremony, the ceremony itself, and the winners.

And by the time I finished doing that, the internet had moved on, and any such post would've been utterly irrelevant.

By this point, you've probably heard about The Dress, but in case you haven't been online in the last 12 hours, it's about whether this dress is white and gold or blue and black.

(For the record, I can see both. Suck it, losers who can only see it one way.)

Almost everyone on almost every social media feed I follow has been talking about it, or at least has put in their opinion as to what colors the dress is. And I know a lot of people who have gotten angry at how much everyone seems to care about it when there are, admittedly, many things of far greater importance in the world.

I've also seen people who are angry at how shallow an "issue" this is. Which isn't inaccurate. At least with, say, last year's ice bucket challenge, money was being raised for ALS research. But this is just people having heated arguments over perception.

But, to be honest, I kind of like it. I don't mind small, shallow things sweeping through social media quickly and then vanishing as this undoubtedly will in a few days. I'd far rather we think so little about something as inconsequential as this - a matter which is easy to discuss, simple to form an opinion about, and good for connecting with people - than think equally little about issues of actual importance.

I like memes because they give us a shared cultural experience that we don't have to worry about rushing or under-thinking. And we can then put more thought into things that actually matter.

I am working on a short film now. It's about millennials, sexism, and what it means to be a professional in the modern world where everything about everyone's life is scrutinized and the news can change in an instant. It's something I've had to put a lot of thought into, and every time I have friends read the script, the feedback I get this most is to "go deeper." And I love it. It doesn't have to get published right away - in fact, it won't come out for a while, considering how I'm still in the writing stages - so I can state a fully formed opinion, one that I have truly thought through and considered from every side.

And you know, people still go to the movies. People are still interested in points of view that have been deeply considered every bit as much as they are in #TheDress. After all, everyone had an opinion on the Oscars, too. You have to have seen at least one or two movies over the course of the year to care about the awards that much.

Maybe I'm just being an silly optimist. But I'd much rather be an optimist than be legitimately angry over people talking about a dress.

Recipe of the Post: Chicken Marsala

Life Hack: Put a bit of colored tape on the top of all of your USB wires - that way, you'll never try to plug one into your computer while upside-down again!

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

Oscar Nominations and the Lack of Diversity - "I'd like to formally nominate more diversity in film, please." - Jessica Williams

When I saw who the Oscar nominees were after waking up this morning, it took me a while to realize that anything was wrong. I got excited for the nominees, surprised over a few snubs, and started to think about who my picks would be to win in each category.

If you've visited any other page of this website, or if you have been following this blog for any length of time, or really just know anything about me beyond what you've read so far in this blog post, you'll know that I'm white. And that comes with an incredible amount of privilege. It's a privilege I've experienced my entire life, to the point where I sometimes even forget that I have it; it's so normal to me. Almost everyone on every screen that I watch looks like me, "The Greats" of most art forms - especially including film - look like me, and the people who praise and critique those people look like me. And while I am aware that it's an issue, it's so common that it's become normalized and I don't always remember it.

So when I saw the list of Oscar nominees, it didn't occur to me that just about all of them were white men. I didn't think of Ava DuVernay, who nearly made history as the first nominated black female director. I didn't think of the fact that Top Five was nowhere to be found. All the films that had been nominated were (in my opinion) deserving, so everything was generally fine.

Thank god for my friends who can see things more clearly than I, and who pointed some things out to me that I am now very disappointed I didn't notice for myself.

It's true that awards shows grow increasingly irrelevant as they continue to ignore the films that the average moviegoer actually sees. The Academy expanded the Best Picture category in order to include big blockbuster films, but generally doesn't do so. Award winning films are not taking in more money after their awards, and the Academy has had many famous instances of not giving statues to films that have stood the test of time and become cultural icons. The classic example: Citizen Kane didn't win Best Picture when it came out. The more modern example: Neither did The Social Network. Whether or not a movie won an award tends to ultimately mean nothing after a month or two.

But whether or not women and people of color are recognized for their work and taken seriously can mean everything, forever.

I'm not arguing that we should give award nominations to any old film that was made by women or people of color just because it was made by women or people of color. Giving awards just to help advance a movement does nothing but cheapen the award, make the movement seem weak, and overall prove itself to be a useless and meaningless action. And I'll even argue that, although Selma is nominated for Best Picture, there's no way it's going to win out over Boyhood. Selma is a great film, but Boyhood has literally changed the way we perceive cinema and the way it can be done. We can - and very much should - make other films telling black stories, but it will be a very long time before we see another movie like Boyhood.

But the fact that, in a year with films like SelmaTop Five, and also Annie, Wild, and Gone Girl, the fact that there aren't at least more nominations and recognition of the work of women and people of color is at best saddening, and, honestly, a bit closer to terrifying. We as a community can do better than this. We as a community can represent the people we strive to entertain better than this. And while it's too late for the 2015 Oscars, the silver lining is that at least we can do better next year.

Seriously, though. We have to do better next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. And every year, until even a white girl like me who has grown up surrounded by her skin color being the norm on screen would notice an Oscar nominees list that is almost entirely white men. And every year after that, until there is no such thing as just one skin color being the norm on screen. It certainly isn't in real life. And isn't it our job as artists to hold a mirror up to society - all of society?

The Academy Awards 2016: We can do better.

 

Golden Globes 2015 Wrap Up - "I can't believe I f@!%ing won," Kevin Spacey, The 72nd Annual Golden Globes

Firstly, some website housekeeping stuff: I updated my Actress Page! You should wander over there, especially if you want to see some of the things I've been in most recently! It looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.

As for the Golden Globes...

Gosh, I didn't do so well for myself last night, huh? I only went 10/25! Although, in all fairness, we did get to see our favorite stars at varying levels of drunk while beautiful, Kevin Spacey finally got a Golden Globe, and Benedict Cumberbatch photobombed Meryl Streep and Margaret Cho, so I'm pretty sure, to a certain extent, we all did well enough for ourselves last night.

Besides, in my own defense, some of those that I missed were real surprises to everybody! And even Variety agrees with me on at least a few of them, so I figure I'm not doing too badly.

My original idea here was to write a breakdown, award by award, of why they won and what I think, but then it occurred to me that there is literally not enough time in the world for me to say everything I think and feel about movies and television. Even just these few movies and TV shows.

Besides, I'm listening to the (Golden Globe winning!) The Theory of Everything soundtrack as I'm writing this, and it's mildly breaking my heart and stomping all over it. In the best way possible, of course! But my soul is also crying with how beautiful it is.

That being said, it was certainly a big night for Amazon, huh? Winning their first ever Golden Globe gives them a Netflix-style legitimacy that they just haven't had before with their original series. Obviously, Transparent deserves it, but it's not something the overall corporation has had. And if this level of quality holds for Amazon as well as Netflix, it bodes well for other web-produced studio content. (Like, for instance, season 6 of Community as produced via Yahoo!) It also shows a clear shift towards studio/corporate level productions for the web, meaning that they are finally following where the consumers have long gone... although what that means for television overall, I still can't say I'm sure.

Also, what a surprise that The Grand Budapest Hotel beat out Birdman for Best Comedy! I still don't think Birdman exactly qualifies as a comedy - I still consider that it was just put there so it could have the chance to win an award of its own, since nothing ever had a shot of beating Boyhood for Best Drama - but that it was beaten there, too! I don't think it'll be repeated come the Oscars, as the Oscars just has Best Picture overall, but it was, for me, the biggest surprise of the night!

I'm starting to write the epic length novel I really didn't mean to do about all of this, so I guess I'm just going to have to cut myself off and stop here with my awards discussion before I really do write a breakdown of every single film and TV show and how it did!

Until the Oscars come around, of course! Then we get to do this all over again.