Friday, February 27, 2009

Just thinking a lot about my mom today

We're coming up on the 2nd anniversary of my mother's death and I'm finding that it's actually harder for me to deal this year than it was last year at this time. So many memories are crashing in. So I'll leave you with one of my mom's favorite poems and one of my favorite pictures of her. Have a blessed weekend!

Song of Shattering I
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The first rose on my rose-tree
Budded, bloomed, and shattered,
During sad days when to me
Nothing mattered.
Grief of grief has drained me clean;
Still it seems a pity
No one saw, -- it must have been
Very pretty.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar 2009 tally

Some 2009 Academy Awards ceremony thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed the new format of the show. They were hands down the most entertaining Oscars in years if not decades. It goes without saying that my boyfriend Hugh did a great job as host. Charming charming charming.

Some highlights:

  • The opening musical number was great. Seriously, Hugh Jackman is made of awesome. And Anne Hathaway was good as well.
  • The new way that the acting awards were presented was really well done. I was worried when I heard what they were proposing. And in practice it seemed like it took a much longer time to present these awards but the time didn’t matter because it was executed so well. Ok, some people did better (Shirley Maclaine) than others (ahem Alan Arkin), but still, I liked what they did here. Now I don’t know if I want to see this done every year, but I liked it last night.
  • Another reason why the aforementioned length of the acting awards didn’t matter so much? They grouped together most of the other awards so that there were fewer presenters. The result was that these awards took less time to present and grouping things like “Art Direction”, “Costume” and “Make Up” just made the show more seamless.
  • Ben Stiller’s Joaquin Phoenix impersonation. Stiller usually bugs the crap out of me on these things but gawd, if he wasn’t hilarious making fun of Phoenix’s strange behavior of late.
  • All of the kids from Slumdog Millionaire. SO FREAKIN' ADORABLE!
  • The presentation of the movie genre groupings for 2008. I know a lot of people hated these segments but I really enjoyed them. Especially the comedy section that was presented in a sort of digital short mini-movie format with James Franco and Seth Rogen spoofing their characters from their movie "Pineapple Express". And the fact that award-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski played along was brilliant.
  • Dustin Lance Black’s acceptance speech for winning the best original screenplay award for “Milk”. Perfection.
  • The winners. Seriously, except for “Waltzing With Bashir” not winning the Foreign Film prize, I was happy with all of the winners. That may be a first for me. And you know how I love to complain.

The lowlights (speaking of complaining):

  • As much as I love musicals, and musical numbers, and boyfriend Hugh, and in small doses Beyonce, I really disliked the second musical extravaganza of the evening. It was a tribute to musicals even though there weren’t any musicals nominated from last year? And why were Vanessa Hudgens, Zac Effron, that annoying Seygfried girl and that Dominic guy who was in “Mama Mia” with her, all on stage singing back up and “dancing” behind Hugh and Beyonce? The whole unnecessary performance came off as forced, and twee. I mean we get it, Jackman’s a triple threat. That doesn’t mean that he has to sing and dance every 5 minutes, especially when it’s such a waste of time. That was 15 min that they could have cut out of the show.
  • Sean Penn's hair. It's so crazy; it comes off his head in this big bouffanty way and makes his noggin look HUGE. gah! But I'm very happy that he won and that he didn't make too much of a political speech. It was just enough.
  • "Departures" and the country of Japan for ruining my perfect winning streak in the Oscar winner pool at my work. Because this movie won Best Foreign Film instead of my pick "Waltzing With Bashir" or my chief rival in the game's pick of France's "The Class" there ended up being a 3-way tie so we had to split the $100 pot. least I still technically came in the lead - I just share the top spot with two others.

Regarding my Oscar winner picks - I missed 2. The aforementioned Foreign Film and Best Actor. As the ceremony started I knew in my heart that Rourke wasn't going to win. Again, I'm very happy that Sean Penn won. His work in Milk was amazing.

One last thing I enjoyed? The previews of the 2009 movies during the ceremony's credits. Made me so excited.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Oscar Predictions 2009

My friends and family know how much I LOVE the Oscars. I adore everything about the ceremony and all things leading up to it –
- The onslaught of “quality” films that come slamming into each other every December just before the Academy eligibility cut-off date.
- All of the lesser awards shows like the SAG, DGA, WGA, Golden Globes etc. that come before – and then the actual Oscar nomination day itself.
- I have been known to actually wake up at 5:30 AM PST on that cold January morning to watch the nominations live. I know… I need help.
The Oscar season brings out the film nerd in me. I make sure to try and see all of the films nominated in the major categories, and I feel disappointed with myself when I don’t get to see everything. This year I did pretty well, although I missed Happy Go Lucky and a few of the documentary and foreign film nominees.

This year I have even more of a reason to celebrate because my #1 boyfriend, Hugh Jackman is hosting!! (squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!)

I don’t know if you know this but, I am very competitive. I participate in an Oscar pool at work and I am the undefeated champion 5 years running. My friends have stopped doing their own Oscar pool contests with me because they say that it’s unfair to play against me! I think it’s unfair that my friends are denying me the chance to beat them fair and square! It’s not my fault that I’m so good – people should do their homework.

Every year I enter Roger Ebert's contest that he does through the Sun Times where he encourages people to try and beat him. I have yet to do so (damn you Ebert!) but one of these days I'm going to win that prize (a ticket to the following year's ceremony).
ANYWAY, here are my predictions – feel free to use them for your own Oscar contests. My guesses below are only for the "major" awards; but here is the full list of nominees just in case you actually have a life and aren’t obsessed about them like I am.

The Duchess's 2009 Oscar predictions:

Best Picture:
Slumdog Millionaire. If ever there was a Dickens story for the 21st century, this is it. And it's a phenom that's broken almost every rule of Hollywood marketing. Another reason why I think this film will win the big prize? Danny Boyle, the film's director, won the Directors Guild Award a few weeks ago, and in 52 of the last 58 years, the DGA winner's film has won the Oscar as best picture. So don't bet against it.

Best Director:
Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire, not only because it was an awesome directorial challenge, using untrained actors on unfamiliar locations, but because he won the Directors Guild Award (see above).

Best Actor:
I have been battling back and forth on this race. It's between Sean Penn in Milk and Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. As of today, when I submitted my choices to the office pool I have Mickey Rourke, but I am sort of starting to backtrack and think the Penn might get it again. And I usually don't let my sentimentality cloud my predicitions but, in this race I'll say that I think Richard Jenkins should win the statuette but he won't.

Best Actress:
I've got to go with Kate Winslet for her inCREdible performance in The Reader. I suppose Meryl Streep is a dark horse favorite who could steal it from her, but since Winslet also gave a pretty great turn in Revolutionary Road I think she has this race sewn up.

Best Supporting Actor:
Duh. Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight. No doubt. No contest.

Best Supporting Actress:
This has been the hardest race to call for me. Like with Actor, I've changed my mind about 50 times. But unlike the Actor race, I can actually see any of the supporting actress nominees winning. Penelope Cruz has the most buzz; and maybe it’s because while I thought she was good in “Vicky Cristina” I didn’t think she was all that, but I don’t necessarily think Cruz is a definite. So I went with Cruz in my pool, but I think that both Viola Davis and Marisa Tomei have an outside chance, with the edge to Davis because Tomei already won this award (undeservedly IMO).

Best Foreign Film:
I'm going with Waltz With Bashir. But the other contender is the French film The Class. "Waltz" was the only one of the nominees that I saw.

Best Animated Film:
WALL-E. Almost as sure a bet as Supporting Actor.

Best Documentary:
I'm going with "Man On Wire", only because it's the one with the most buzz. "Trouble The Water" about Katrina could steal it though.

Best Original Screenplay:
Will probably go to Dustin Black for Milk. Mcdonagh has a small shot for his writing In Bruges.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
I can't imagine the Oscar going to anyone other than Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire. But boy did David Hare do a great job with The Reader.

Best Cinematography:
Another tough race. This is the tie-breaker category in my work Oscar pool. I went with Dod Mantle for Slumdog Millionaire, but it could easily go to Wally Pfister for The Dark Knight.

Best Visual Effects:
The last two awards I'm giving up to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Best Make-up:
"Benji Button" -I mean seriously, how could you not?

Happy Oscars 2009!!! Here's another pic of my boyfriend to end things right.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

TV show break-up - "Ugly Betty"

It's been coming for awhile; for a few episodes this season, it looked like we'd be okay, that our relationship was getting back on sure footing. But alas, these past several episodes you've disappointed me beyond repair.
So I've deleted your season pass from Tivo Ugly Betty. If you ever decide to do the "Marc and Amanda Show" let me know. We'll talk.

Friday, February 6, 2009

"Brooks was here"

I have to admit, Whitmore falls into that category of "They're still alive?"for me, but nonetheless, I'm sorry to hear that he's passed.

Whitmore is one of my favorite characters in one of my favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption. Brooks Hatlen is one of the most touching and poignant parts of that film.

RIP James.