All About That Oscars, Take 3

New year, new Oscars. That’s how the saying goes, right? Anyways, it’s my favorite time of the year, once again. Legitimately, I’ve been on edge all week waiting for Sunday. Yes, I understand it is just another awards ceremony, but we can dive into my bad habits another time. Truthfully, this has been an outstanding year in film and I’m very excited to see what the Oscars brings to the table.

Best Supporting Actor

My Pick: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Who Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

If I had to pick one performance that truly outshone the rest this year, it would be Mahershala Ali’s turn as a lovable drug dealer in Moonlight. What’s even more remarkable is the imprint he leaves, despite only starring in the film for maybe 20 minutes. How was his performance so effective? Every little detail. The way he carries himself, the inner turmoil you see on his face when dealing with the main character, his heart and, honestly, the list could go on and on. One thing I constantly highlight is how his presence is still felt after he is gone. He played such a significant role in the main character’s life, and this type of feeling is unmatched by any of the other supporting actors.

Best Supporting Actress

My Pick: Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Who Will Win: Viola Davis, Fences

On any given Sunday, you would hear me singing all of the praises for Viola Davis and that isn’t going to change today. Viola Davis is a master class actress who is in a league of the best and brightest, but the problem here in the category she is in. Davis rightfully deserves to be the in the Best Actress race. Unfortunately, the supporting actress category was viewed as less crowded and a guaranteed shoo-in for a win. This leaves true supporting roles, such as Naomie Harris and Michelle Williams, out in the cold. Don’t get me wrong, Viola deserves this award. I just wish she would have chosen to run in her true category.

Back to Harris, who was a marvel in Moonlight. She dominated what a supporting role is supposed to be. Although she was a hard character to support, you wanted her to be the type of parental figure needed. You witness her cruelty driven by an addiction and the heartbreak she experiences a little too late due to the deteriorated relationship with her son. It’s a role worth examining and praising, and Harris pulled it off in three days. Just remember that years down the road.

Best Actor

My Pick: Andrew Garfield, Silence

Who Will Win: Denzel Washington, Fences

No, your eyes do not deceive you, I did say Silence. And no, I do not mean Hacksaw Ridge. I know what movie Andrew Garfield is nominated for, but we all know what role was Oscar worthy. I think very, very highly of Garfield and his acting abilities, and I think they are something that gets overshadowed because he played Spider-man. Side note, I will happily argue with you as to why he is the best Spider-man to date. Back to the main point, Silence was a hard film that was very much carried on Garfield’s back. I do not think it would have had the same soul without his presence, and I don’t think Scorsese’s passion project would have its heart without him. I would continue to layer on the compliments, but we need to get back to the actor’s race at hands.

With those nominated, Denzel Washington brings another award winning performance in Fences, even if it isn’t his best to date. It still feels raw and vulnerable, which is one of the reasons people love watching Denzel onscreen. Similar to Harris, this isn’t a character you root for, but it is a role that feels real and worthy of telling. While there is a lot of stylistic choices that I would change to Fences, Denzel and Viola’s chemistry and, at times, volatile relationship is one that I wouldn’t. It sticks out like a sore thumb and keeps you watching as you journey through this life with them.

Best Actress

My Pick: Emma Stone, La La Land

Who Will Win: Emma Stone, La La Land

Genuine, heartbreaking and loving. These are the three words I would use to describe Emma Stone’s performance in La La Land. Want another one? Effortless. While this is a musical, this film isn’t built upon her singing or dancing abilities. No, that’s just part of the charm. La La Land is based on ordinary people who dream of tackling something greater in life. If you don’t understand Stone’s talent, watch her face throughout the movie. She carries all of her best dialogue through her posture, her eyes and the subtle way she moves her mouth. She conveys emotions with ease but holds firmly in a role surrounded in reality. Fall and onwards is carried on her shoulders. Through her audition to the tear duct inducing ending, Emma Stone is the one who whisks you away and makes you feel the heartache and memories of love.

Best Director

My Pick: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Who Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Whiplash was not a one-hit wonder, and we should all be wondering what else Damien Chazelle has up his sleeve. While there is a lot of deservingly wonderful directors here, Chazelle created something that couldn’t be done: a modern day, original musical. The weight of those words might feel light, but we haven’t seen a musical with this much heart and soul for ages. The film serves not only as a love letter to LA but to those who try to embark on their dreams each day. Between the technicolored wonderland and intimate relationship built between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, Chazelle never misses a beat. He has created something that will last for ages to come.

Best Picture

My Pick: La La Land

Who Will Win: La La Land

You’ve made it to the big prize, and if you read my other picks then this one comes as no surprise. La La Land stole my heart, and I partly think it is because it is the first film that has shocked me and affected me in such a long time. As I’ve mentioned before, I was lucky enough to see this at the opening of the Denver Film Festival. My god, I was blown away. Every movie should be seen in an opera-worthy auditorium. Here’s the thing, with each repeat viewing I’ve fallen more in love. In its flaws, I see a story that has been waiting to be told. At its best, it is a feeling that I want to be wrapped in forever. I don’t think I’ll ever be over the ending, and I don’t want to be. Ultimately, La La Land is something that will haunt me and move me, and I can’t wait to experience it again.

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Things to Make You Smile: Best of 2016

What’s better than beginning a new year by looking back at what was good from the last? 2016 wasn’t one of the best years on the books, but it had it’s moments that reassured everyone maybe it would be okay after all. I mean, if you can’t escape with a good movie or book, then what even is the point? If you are still looking for a little bit of sunshine, I hope this list provides you with everything you need. Here are the ten things that made 2016 all worth it (well, kind of).

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La La Land

Damien Chazelle created a Hollywood musical masterpiece, and he knows it. Unlike traditional musicals, La La Land only boasts 6 songs with actual singing, but it’s soundtrack isn’t something to brush off. The songs littered through out the movie will make you fall in love and leave you humming for days. Maybe that’s just me, I have bought the soundtrack digitally and received the vinyl for Christmas (I can’t stop singing it, and I know I’m driving my loved ones crazy).

Much like the tagline, this movie is for the fools who dream. If the opening scene doesn’t draw you in and the last 15 minutes doesn’t get your tear ducts working, then I think we need to talk. Bring back the chemistry from Crazy, Stupid, Love. and Gangster Squad, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone sparkle like they never have before. Gosling hit a stellar year with film, and has already partnered up with Chazelle for a Neil Armstrong-biopic, but it is Stone who steals your heart and doesn’t stop running. Stone brings sincerity to every role she touches, but La La Land is the next level and her career best. I’ll be forever grateful for this 2-hour romantic stroll about the ones who dream. Until it is on DVD, I guess I’ll just be humming along to the soundtrack every day (sorry loved ones).

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Sarah Kuhn’s “Heroine Complex”

Lately, I’ve had a hard time connecting to books. Graphic novels are a different story, but traditional books have eluded me this year. That was, until I stumbled across Heroine Complex at our local Barnes and Noble. If the cover didn’t suck me in, the story did. A fine mix between your soapy fantasy love story and the baddest female super heroines previously missing from DC and Marvel movies,  you’ll fall in love with Evie and her fellow companions and see why representation is so important in storytelling (and, of course, every day life).

With the sequel, Heroine Worship, set to be released in July 2017, I can’t wait to fall back into the comfortable, sassy mind of Evie Tanaka and see if her life is still ridded with evil cupcakes. Cheers to Sarah Kuhn for making such an easily lovable character, and for reminding me that good books are always waiting around the corner.

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Arrival

Speaking of women who kick ass, have you seen Arrival? One of the sharpest sci-fi movies to date, I instantly fell in love and connected to Amy Adams‘ character, Louise Banks. The story felt familiar (in the best way), and the structure of the film will make you long for more science fiction stories. The movie is based on a short story by Ted Chiang called, “Story of Your Life.” If you connected to this film like I did, I highly recommend checking out the short story and connecting to some of Chiang’s other material.

I don’t want to spoil the plot of Arrival, but if you follow along closely you will catch little bits of detail that unravel for a very hard hitting final act. Don’t sleep on this film. If it is still in theaters around you, I urge you to go out and see it now.

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Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

One of the few new shows I actually loved this year, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency captured my heart with episode one. The titular character, Dirk Gently, is such a gem, but he doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the supporting characters. Ultimately, this feels like the love letter Douglas Adams deserves, whose novel the show is based upon.

To anyone worried about getting too attached to a show, Dirk Gently’s has already been renewed for a season 2! That means another season full of ridiculous adventures, a new mystery to explore and an opportunity to show this show to the people you care about most in your life. With all of its quirks, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency was the show I needed in 2016.

Added bonus: If you love the show as much as I do, be sure to follow their Twitter account for a little extra pep in your step every morning.

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The Nice Guys

Shane Black created a very raunchy buddy-cop comedy, and I’m here for every second of it. I remember seeing previews for The Nice Guys in February and wanting to see it, but alas my husband and I waited until it was out on DVD. Out of all the movies we saw in 2016, I wish we would have saw this one in theaters. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe had some of the best on-screen chemistry I have ever scene, and, much like Dirk Gently, the Twitter account did a great job of promoting that fact (enjoy).

The movie itself found a way to pair up two unlikely candidates to solve a mystery that is so ridiculous, that you will want to follow it until the in. Sprinkled with inappropriate jokes, Gosling truly owns every scene, but his character’s daughter, Angourie Rice stole the show in her own way. Crowe reminds you that he can be charming, but more than anything the movie left me wanting a Yoo-hoo! If that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.

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Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr’s Batgirl Issue 50 (and before)

Why Issue 50? Well, that is the last issue that the Batgirl trio, Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr, worked on together. Batgirl of Burnside, as I like to call the journey (but it also the name of the first volume), was one of the greatest re-envisions of Batgirl and I relished in every issue. If you ever glanced at any of Tarr’s work, then you know exactly the kind of beauty you are getting yourself in for. As for Stewart and Fletcher, they help bring the images to life and create a story worth living in.

Don’t be too sad that they aren’t creating any more issues for Batgirl (even if I’m still silently sobbing in my pillow), they developed a new comic series through Image Comics called Motor Crush and it is worth diving into. Just as vivid and lively as Batgirl, this is a dynamic trio that I would keep my eye on in years to come.

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

When I recently read Danielle Gutierrez’s article about Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, it was everything I’d been feeling and more. With little promotion before it’s release, Popstar was one of the best comedies I’ve indulged in. The Lonely Island has always had a direct line to my funny bone, but this felt like a refinement over their past material and built a monster that I’ve watched multiple times since purchasing on DVD. Unfortunately, like Gutierrez mentioned, I was one of the few who saw it in theaters, much less to tell all of our closest friends about it who didn’t even know it existed.

If you are looking for a good laugh or some good weekend entertainment, rent it. Get stuck on the comical soundtrack, buy it and play it on repeat. After a gloomy 2016, who doesn’t need something like”Incredible Thoughts” to brighten up their day? If this is any sign of what is to come from The Lonely Island, sign me up for more. Like usual, I’ll be there waiting for it the day it releases.

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Kate McKinnon

If you’ve made it through 2016 without anyone bringing up Kate McKinnon, I’m utterly shocked. One of the brightest stars of 2016, McKinnon not only dominated SNL, but also made a name for herself in Ghostbusters amongst other comedies released this year. Even with lackluster releases of Office Christmas Party and Masterminds, McKinnon found a way to make herself stand out against a crowd of comedic superstars. If she didn’t steal your heart as Hillary Clinton on SNL, then I truly have no hope for you going forward.

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Mahershala Ali

The best parts of Moonlight and Luke Cage, I’ve been a huge fan of Mahershala Ali since his role as Remy in House of Cards. Every time Ali graces the silver screen, he brings something new to the show. Whether charming or threatening, I’m almost always captivated with what he is selling. The most disappointing part is that Ali is almost always in a supporting role. Somehow, he never lets that stop him from dominating every scene, usually stealing the light from the main performer (looking at you Mike Colter). Let’s leave it at this, there is a reason he is sweeping the awards for best supporting actor this season.